Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Karl du Fresne: De Bres and Henry

If anyone was to compile a list of the enemies of free speech in New Zealand, the name of Joris de Bres would have to be on it. The Race Relations Commissioner was in full cry again today, demanding that TVNZ do something about Paul Henry for his silly comments about the Governor-General, Sir Anand Satyanand.

I’m neither a cheerleader for Henry nor one of those people who splutter with indignation every time he offends someone. I do think that on this occasion he made an oaf of himself, and he probably realises it himself. It’s not just a matter of whether Henry's question to John Key about whether Satyanand was a real New Zealander had a racist undertone (which it did). Almost as shameful was that the fact that it was downright ignorant and unprofessional, since a broadcaster of Henry’s standing could surely have been expected to know – or made an effort to find out – that Satyanand has as much claim as anyone to call himself a New Zealander.

But we don’t need a state commissar like de Bres to point all this out. People are perfectly capable of coming to their own conclusions about Henry’s behaviour without guidance from left-leaning government functionaries as to the proper exercise of free speech.

As de Bres himself pointed out more than once when interviewed on Morning Report, anyone offended by Henry’s line of questioning can seek a remedy through the broadcasting complaints procedure (as they appear to be doing). So why does de Bres need to butt in? His intervention struck me as completely gratuitous.

His justification was pretty wobbly too. In an attempt to demonstrate his commitment to free speech, de Bres argued that it wasn’t a question of whether Henry should be allowed to say what he said, but rather whether his employer should condone it. Hmmm … that seems a pretty fine distinction. One way of interpreting it is that de Bres regards Henry as beyond redemption, but sees TVNZ – as a state broadcaster – as politically more open to correction.

I was also intrigued by his comment that one of the Breakfast programme’s major advertisers is Heritage Hotels, which he pointed out has a lot of Indian employees who have reason to feel aggrieved by Henry’s remarks. The clear implication was that the hotel company might consider withdrawing its advertising. I wonder, is it the function of the Race Relations Commissioner to raise the idea of an advertising boycott as a way of exerting pressure on a rogue television host? I wouldn’t have thought so – but it wouldn’t be the first time de Bres has overstepped the mark.


Anonymous said...

Well said, Karl.

Honestly, the furore over this whole thing is ridiculous. Talk about a PC culture!

People should just chill out - and get a life.

And keep up the entertainment, Paul!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Joris de Bres should start listening to Willy Jackson on Radio Live. Plenty of racist comments and sentiments there. But silly me, obviously maori people are allowed to make racist comments.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Karl, de Bres, like Minto is strictly one eyed and against anything white - why doesn't de Bres rule against Hone Harawera's hatred of whitey? Both de Bres and Minto are liabilities to our country. We used to have a sense of humour in NZ, but we are allowing it ot be destroyed.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Goebbels seems to be alive and well and living in New Zealand. Show some guts Nzers, stick up for individuality. We need people like de Bres and the thought police in the media like a hole in the head. Good on Paul Henry for saying what a lot of people think.

Anonymous said...

If we can't find a better candidate for the race relations commissioner's job, the Race Relations commission should be abolished - under deBres' stewardship it has does nothing but make mischief!

James said...

Why do we even have a RRC? Its another lefty tax sucking fluff piece of PC crap that chokes NZ .

Anonymous said...

De Bres needs to go and arguably, so does the actual position he fills. There is little point to it, particularly when the holder of the position weighs in against silly rudeness like Paul Henry's, but leaves Harawira's much more virulent racism uncriticised and had nothing whatsoever to say about racist statements which erupted when a blonde part Indian woman won an Indian beauty pageant. By behaving in this manner de Bres shows firmly which camp he has aligned himself with; the very noisy group of left wing zealots who believe that a non-white person cannot possibly be a racist in anything they say or do. If you have a shred of honour or common sense Boris, fall upon your sword as did Paul Henry. Go and get a real job.

Anonymous said...

This link reveals De Bres to be a lifelong Marxist-Leninist dedicated to fomenting racial discord with a view to one day bringing about revolution.

Anonymous said...

Was Henry under the influence of drug like alcohol, or a strong medication that made him turn his brain off?