Monday, October 04, 2010

Not Acceptable

This is one of the relatively few occasions when I'm ashamed to be a New Zealander. It's bad enough that a mindless buffoon like Paul Henry gets air time at all, but on a state-owned broadcaster that is supposed to be in some way representative of our society it is truly beyond the pale.

What really takes the cake is the official response from TVNZ, that: "The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he's prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud"

So ok, New Zealand has an ugly, narrow-minded, ignorant, reactionary underbelly. TVNZ thinks it's ok to not only acknowledge this, but to embrace and perpetuate it? And who is this "we" that they refer to?

I can't actually bring myself to watch the clip, so can't comment on John Key's initial reaction, but as the Prime Minister ought to have made a stronger response in the aftermath. Likewise, how limp is Phil Goff's comment that: "I think it's just Paul Henry being Paul Henry"? (If the focus-grouped strategy to get back in touch with working class voters by not appearing too "liberal" requires you to assume they're all stupid bigots, this may not be a good start).

My long-ago post on political correctness has some relevance here. But a more concise summation of what's wrong with Paul Henry comes from the Unite Union's Mike Treen:

"Unite Union national director Mike Treen said he did not call for someone’s dismissal lightly. “However Paul Henry legitimises racism and bigotry in the workplace. I deal every day with problems associated with managers and even co-workers abusing staff because the look or sound different,” he said. Workers could end up “tormented and bullied out of their jobs by the so-called humour being practiced by Paul Henry”.

“When we try to protect the workers, the inevitable response is ‘well, Paul Henry is allowed to use this language on national TV why can’t I?’ Paul Henry has become the poster boy for bigotry.”

Another good comment from Public Address commenter Deep Red:

Seriously though, to those who say "harden up, ya PC wankers!", Mr Henry's latest sewage-mouthing reminds me all too well of my high school experiences. Not just any old high school, but a reputed First Four Ships/Ivy League one.

It reminds me of my high school as well. And authority figures there who could have expressed disapproval ignored or laughed it off , too.

Update: and then he comes out and "apologises" by talking about gypsy ancestry, which is "much, much worse" than being British. Seriously, wtf?

Update: TVNZ has suspended Henry until the 18th of October. So that's something.

1 comment:

Cecilia said...

I have watched the video clip and it's utterly cringe-inducing. In John Key's defense (admittedly, I am John Key supporter anyway), he was totally blindsided by the comments and looks visibly uncomfortable.