Written By: - Date published: 1:50 pm, February 16th, 2012 - 93 comments
Categories: accountability, Media - Tags: hone harawira, michael laws, paul henry, paul holmes, public broadcasting, waitangi day
Sad as I am to acknowledge it, there is a nasty streak in New Zealand culture. Angry, authoritarian, often racist, thoroughly unpleasant. One of its symptoms (and of course one of its causes) is the way we tolerate, indeed sometimes glorify, thoroughly toxic commentators and “media figures”.
Take Michael Laws with his multiple rants, and calls for listeners to take a shotgun to reporters (he’s now back on the air). Take Paul Henry, with his adolescent racist dribble (currently polluting the airwaves again until March, then off to Oz). Take Paul Homes, who should never have been taken seriously again after the “cheeky darkie” incident.
But Holmes is back too, and disgracing himself again with a thoroughly nasty and bigoted piece in The Herald after Waitangi Day:
Waitangi Day a complete waste
Waitangi Day produced its usual hatred, rudeness, and violence against a clearly elected Prime Minister from a group of hateful, hate-fuelled weirdos who seem to exist in a perfect world of benefit provision. This enables them to blissfully continue to believe that New Zealand is the centre of the world, no one has to have a job and the Treaty is all that matters.
I’m over Waitangi Day. It is repugnant. It’s a ghastly affair. As I lie in bed on Waitangi morning, I know that later that evening, the news will show us irrational Maori ghastliness with spitting, smugness, self-righteousness and the usual neurotic Maori politics, in which some bizarre new wrong we’ve never thought about will be lying on the table. …
Well, it’s a bullshit day, Waitangi. It’s a day of lies. It is loony Maori fringe self-denial day. It’s a day when everything is addressed, except the real stuff.
Never mind the child stats, never mind the national truancy stats, never mind the hopeless failure of Maori to educate their children and stop them bashing their babies. No, it’s all the Pakeha’s fault. It’s all about hating whitey. Believe me, that’s what it looked like the other day. …
On and on and on he goes, and if anything the piece gets worse and worse. The Herald soon disabled comments, but the reaction spread far and wide. Good to see, for example, Hone Harawira’s powerful piece in reply. If you haven’t read it already head on over and do so now.
So what to do about toxic commentators? For all that they are pumped up with their own egos, in reality these people are just pawns in the media market. They are used to generate “controversy”, and thus viewing numbers or hits, and thus (bottom line) more advertising revenue. If it wasn’t these individuals spouting their bile it would be others just like them. The real issue is that New Zealand, like the rest of the world, is poorly served by profit-driven media, and needs strong public broadcasting as counter-balance. The Nats, of course, are in the process of killing off public broadcasting. So you do the math – more toxic nonsense and a further steady deterioration of the quality of our media looms inexorably ahead…