1. That's just the way Paul Henry is; he challenges the PC world we live in and that's a good thing
How can anyone think we truly live in a PC world when a major media figure can say something incredibly racist, having escaped unscathed and unbowed from previous racist, sexist, ableist and generally mean and nasty blurts in the past, and be defended not only by his employer in a manner that said we're all racist on the inside (initially), but unchallenged at the time by our own Prime Minister?
If trying not to denigrate people on the basis of their race, gender, physical appearance, or sexuality is Political Correctness Gone Mad then what do we call being respectful to others these days?
Paul Henry was not speaking truth to power. He was not challenging authority. He was not championing that downtrodden minority that is so disempowered in our society (heterosexual white men of a certain age and income bracket).
What he was doing was, yet again, using a position of power to put down people who are already discriminated against and judged unfairly.
2. Because his People's Choice award speech was funny
Guilty confession: I really enjoyed Henry's speech. And I've written complaints in the past to TVNZ and/or the BSA about Henry, although none of them included the kind of language or sentiments of the one he read out.
Just cos someone is funny once, or even more than once, doesn't give them a Free Pass For All Time. As another example, I enjoy 7 Days, when I can stay up that late, and sometimes I have been known to even laugh out loud at something Paul Ego says on it, but by and large I find his attempts at humour sexist. And there seems to be some kind of one prison rape reference, supposedly a joke, per episode, which is sick. Other than that I find it pretty good telly.
3. To criticise Paul Henry's behaviour/call for consequences for it is a threat to Our Holy Right To Freedom of Speech!!11!!
No one has said Paul Henry can never be a racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, offensive arse at the pub, in his own home or even at an informal gathering of his National party mates. To do so, to say he should never ever say this stuff, would be to curtail his right to free speech. But that's not what people are concerned about, what he says as a private citizen on his own dime and in his own time. It's about abusing his position as a broadcaster to spout this crap, particularly as he doesn't seem to be learning that it's not ok from previous concerns raised.
Even the Blog Defender of the Tory Faith, David Farrar, has said that freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. Henry is entitled to natural justice from his employer, and I hope he got it before the suspension. Remember this is the same employer, TVNZ, who fired a security guard who dared to challenge Christine Rankin off air after she said some racist stuff on the show.
4. Cos Hone Harawira said stuff about not wanting his kids to date Pakeha
Extended version: ... and no one said anything about that/he got away with it/he's still an MP
This one I've seen quite a bit. There's a lot of rewriting history in this trope, which is necessary because the reality is pretty different from what those using this argument require for this one to work:
- Harawira actually didn't quite say what was reported, whereas Henry's quotes are accurate and have been repeatedly played verbatim
- There was a lot of outcry about his comments, and calls for him to apologise, including from other Maori, the Prime Minister** and the Race Relations Commissioner
- Many of the same people who have been critical of Henry have also been critical of Harawira, and it is possible to oppose racism towards Pakeha and oppose racism towards other groups simultaneously, whatever your own skin colour.
5. There are so many bigger issues we should be concentrating on
Bigger than racism? Really?
Especially as Henry has so much past form, judging based on appearance, and he seems to have a particular problem with those of Indian descent, ranting about petrol station attendants and Cabinet Ministers alike.
Also: multitask, people. I may have more than the normal level of outrage to go around, but surely it is possible to be concerned about more than one thing at once?
Any other crap reasons you've come across?
* See how I managed to not say "lame reasons"? I used to do it too, before Deborah rightly schooled me.
** Yes the same Prime Minister who shamefully just giggled with Henry. And to those who say he was boggled by it and didn't have time to compose a reaction - the man deals with difficult queries designed to trip him up in Question Time three days a week when the House is sitting, with no notice of what blind-sides he will get. Thinking on your feet is a core competency for PMs.