Sunday, 10 October 2010

paul henry resigns

woohoo!!! yes!! yippee!!! hooray!!! and about damn time:

Breakfast host Paul Henry has resigned after mounting pressure over his ethnic slurs against Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand and a senior Indian Government Minister.
TVNZ made the announcement at 6pm today.

Henry appears to have resigned from TVNZ before he was pushed, with chief executive Rick Ellis admitting for the first time that the shock-jock's on-air ethnic jibes was threatening advertising.

"It is no longer practical in the current environment for me to do the job I was employed to do, and have so enjoyed doing," Mr Henry said tonight.

"It is also difficult for TVNZ to get on with the business of being a first class broadcaster as long as I remain."

[emphasis added]

who says activism doesn't get results. the question is, though, where is he going to go next. because it's not like he's going to stop doing what he does. i'm predicting increased talkback radio time at the least. let's hope the other television networks in this country stay well clear from him, as his brand has definitely been tarnished.

edited to add: here is the statement from TVNZ chair rick ellis:

Paul Henry and I met earlier today and Paul offered me his resignation, which I have accepted.

In doing so, I offer my sincere apology on behalf of myself and TVNZ, to all those who have been offended by Paul’s inappropriate on-air comments.

I will be apologising in person to the Governor General.

I also apologise to the Indian community, both here and in India.

Paul has many loyal supporters and there will be those who question whether his resignation was the right outcome.

I believe Paul has done the right thing.

The reality is that his comments have split the community and damaged New Zealand’s international relationships, and there is no going back from that.


Brett Dale said...

I hope this doesnt set a trend, with several TV people geting fired for their on air comments.

Im guessing not, because protest groups are very selective about the bigotery they protest against.

stargazer said...

lol, "brett dale". you left exactly the same comment with exactly the same spelling mistake as jeff price on facebook.

i hope this does set a trend: that we have broadcasting standards in this country for a reason, and that those standards should be adhered to.

and i see you still haven't actually given us a concrete example from willie jackson (ie actual words, date, time). though i stopped listening to him on radio live a long time back because of his defence of clint rickards & his general attitude around issues of sexual violence.

Brett Dale said...

Hey at least Im consistent, Jeff Price is a good guy, he stops Brett Dale from getting a lot of hate mail. Thasts why I use that name, most people who post on sites like the standard dont use their real name wither.

Brett Dale said...

What's wrong with my typing???

Anyway, this is dangerous with what has happen. You know right wing groups can protest too, free speech applies to both sides.

It's open up a nasty can of worms, and I hate to see what's going to happen in the next 12 months.

stargazer said...

well then, it's probably not wise to leave a word-for-word comment in such a public space! and it's bigotry without an "e" - although i make many typos myself, it was just easier to identify you with this one.

but you're right that this could get quite ugly as the henry supporters get mobilising. this is why quick and decisive action would have been helpful (actually, it would have been even more helpful it the producers & mr henry thought about the consequences before this pre-meditated line of questioning happened on air; i guess they thought they were bullet proof because they were getting away with so much nastiness without consequence).

i can't help but think fondly back to chris carter's responses to these kinds of issues - and yes, i know he's not mr popular at the moment. but he used to get a decisive press release out within hours, setting the tone & having a real impact. i'm thinking about the somalian woman who hijacked a plane, and he came out strongly saying that it was inappropriate for the somalian community to be targetted for the actions of one individual known to have mental health issues. similarly, when the mosques were attacked in auckland, he personally visited every single one. by actions and words, i think he had a real impact in diffusing potentially divisive situations.

in this, he was backed by the leadership, and helen clark was also decisive and clear on issues like this. inclusiveness was one of her key platforms, right from her election speech the night she first became PM, and she never wavered from that. because there was clear leadership in the country, the potential for divisiveness was a lot less.

we've had a total vacuum with mr key, and it's showing. he has been neither clear nor quick enough in his response. mr mcully is the only other person who has spoken for the government on this, and again, only after it had become an international incident because our high commissioner had been called in.

even though government can't get involved directly in matters of employment (and neither should they), they can do a lot in setting the tone and keeping the peace. it's really hard to see how they'll be able to do that now.

Once Were Haters & Wreckers said...

Wow, Helen Clark was inclusive? That is some short and/or selective political memory there.

Hugh said...

To be fair to McCully, he's the Minister of Foreign Affairs - this sort of thing only becomes his responsibility when another government gets involved.

Pansy Wong's silence, OTOH, has been deafening, and she's supposed to be the government's go to person on this sort of thing. Ditto Johnathan Coleman.

Carol said...

I find it so depressing to see the responses online, eg. on TVNZ site, in support of Henry. Especially so for the comments that claim Henry represents "true New Zealanders" (can't find those comments now because TVNZ's site seems to have crashed).

This sort of claim shows a kind of self-centredness in which some only see people as being Kiwis when they are pretty much like themselves. How can people who are born here and/or have lived here for a long time not be New Zealanders?

IMO, this is in keeping with people failing to see how hurtful, offensive and divisive the humour of humilation, bullying and ridicule of "difference" is for many people.

Also many people fail to see that it is not appropriate for such serial attacks on "difference" on our state supported broadcaster - a platform where all sections of the community should be treated with respect, especially groups that are more marginalised elsewhere. Such attacks on "difference" occurs more regularly in a context of a selected and self-selecting audience on talk-back radio. In this context, such attacks in "difference" don't cause the number of protests TVNZ got against PH's offending remarks.

I looked at some of those pro-PH comments last night and felt immobilised. I felt unable to articulate any response to those who seem so oblivious to the damage PH's TVNZ example can have be doing to already marginalised and disempowered people.

This morning I'm wondering if it's time to mobilise a movement FOR inclusiveness, to show the benefits of a more positive approach to the diversity within NZ. This would be timely, IMO, being in-keeping with Len Brown's aim to unite Aucklanders.

Henry has been making his vicious and divisive kinds of remarks for a while, but, it seemed to reach a tipping point this week, when TVNZ got record numbers of complaints. Is there a new mood in the country? One that's happening in spite of the numbers who support Henry's divisiveness? A desire by a large number of people to end the self-centered viciosuness that has accompanied the reign of individualistic neoliberal philopsophy?

Boganette said...

"You know right wing groups can protest too, free speech applies to both sides."

If Willie Jackson is so racist Brett/Jeff how come you've not protested and complained about him before?

"It's open up a nasty can of worms, and I hate to see what's going to happen in the next 12 months."

I'm pretty sure the world is going to end. It's a slippery slope - Paul Henry's resignation is pretty much going to lead to the apocalypse. There's no doubt about it. People will die screaming in the streets. It's going to be horrific. So we should arm ourselves with rice and guns to prepare.

Oh and on topic: YAY! YAY! YAY!

stargazer said...

Wow, Helen Clark was inclusive? That is some short and/or selective political memory there.

um, that comment was directed at particular individuals & not a race so a big difference. although i have issues with the F&S legislation that went through, i still don't think you can accuse HC of not being inclusive.

Hugh said...


While it may not be profitable to relitigate the Foreshore & Seabed, it's worth noting that almost everybody who sets out to castigate an entire race will claim that they're actually only castigating a small group of individuals who happen to belong to that race. That was Don Brash's line re: Maori and Winston Peters' line re: Muslims. Not to say it's definitive, but many Maori people felt deeply hurt by Helen's "haters and wreckers" line, and I think dismissing their feelings as misguided is a bit of an oversimplification.

stargazer said...

i don't dismiss their feelings as misguided, but i do stick to my point that it wasn't a comment directed at all maori. i'm actually comparing to PH's statements ("it's appropriate cos she's indian" really is directed at all indians, "will he look & sound like a nz'er" is directed at all people PH thinks don't look & sound like nz'ers). and i'm thinking you really have forgotten what dr brash & mr peters said - mr peters was absolutely 100% talking about all muslims. google his "end of tolerance" speech if you're not convinced. as was dr brash when he talked of all maori being treated as privileged.

that is not to say that i think HC should have said what she said on that occasion nor that i agree with the outcome of the F&S. but when we're talking about the potential for divisiveness & speaking clearly against racism, she was quick and forthright.

Brett Dale said...


Actually I dont think anyone will die screaming in the streets, or the apoclaypse will happen. So no neded for rice and guns.

I do think everytime someone might say something stupid on TV (which is a hell of a lot of people) there may be certain groups protesting for that person to be fired.

I havent protested Willie Jackson or others on TV, because I take the Lisa Simpson point of view, "Just dont look" and in the end they go away.

No matter how disgusting I find someone on television I will never protest for them to be fired.

Each to their own I guess.

Carol said...

Brett, some of us have been taking a "just don't look" approach to Paul Henry for a long time. But (until yesterday) he hadn't gone away, and he'd got worse. He just went too far this time. Time for TVNZ to clean up their act. And some times it's necessary to stand up and say this level of abuse and disrespect is way beyond acceptability.

I doubt Henry will be gone for good. But people need to re-think the way he was performing on a our state broadcast TV, on a show meant to be for a cross-section of the population.

Boganette said...

Brett your approach doesn't really work. Let's consider it for a moment:

You think Willie Jackson is racist so you've ignored him. Nothing has happened.

Lots of people think Paul Henry is racist. So they made noise about it. He's now unemployed and has been taught a lesson.

I'm pretty sure the "make noise" approach works better than the "ignore" approach.

I personally won't ever ignore racism. But as you said "each to their own I guess".

Brett Dale said...

I dont Ignore racism in my every day life.

If it was happening at work, I would be first to raise a complaint and have raised a complaint in the past.

If I was in Invercargill I wouldnt go into that Cafe that refused to serve Israeli's. I wouldnt support any business, when I knew the owner was a racist. I hate any sort of bigotery.

I wouldnt buy a CD from a artist that uses racist lyrics.

When it comes to television, the best thing I can do is to turn off the TV and not support the programe. I wouldnt protest against a TV presenter to be fired.

Whats going on in Paul Henry's mind is not going to change.

Like we both agree, each to thier own.

A Nonny Moose said...

Brett, fighting racism is a broader fight than just decisive action at work, turning of the TV, or not visiting a cafe.

It has to do with creating a larger discussion with people around you. Yes, even if that is ridiculous arguments on Facebook. You don't draw a line in the sand and say "this is where I start to fight racism". If you're intent on eradicating hate, it's starts with the lowliest "hey bro, that's not a nice thing to say about a person" up to protesting your government and holding people with power in the media accountable, because those people have the ears of society. And yes, people are swayed by celebrity and will think what they say is right, come what may.

You are complicitly advocating people's behaviour with your silence.

"something stupid on TV"

By the way, there's a difference between "stupid" and hate. A BIG difference, and its a difference that cause violence, discrimination and death.

Hugh said...

You are complicitly advocating people's behaviour with your silence.

Really, A Nonny? Everybody who doesn't protest against Paul Henry in some way is enabling him? That's a long bow to draw.

Anonymous said...

What makes me angry is the backlash now that Paul Henry has rightfully resigned. Reading the Facebook pages that support Paul Henry is just horrible. Paul Henry is not a victim here, yet he is portrayed as one. All that's happened to him is a consequence of his racist, purile, hurtful comments.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I forgot to say who I was. That previous Anon was Kailash

- Kailash

Boganette said...

Brett I don't understand. If you stand up against racism in "every day life" what is it about racism on TV that makes you ignore it? Where's the line on "everyday" racism? I don't get it.

James said...

If Henry was over the top for a state owned broadcaster how do you ladies feel about this sexist and patronisingly racist ad from our state owned airline?

Que massive anger....;-0

"All we need now is a nice Kiwi bitch!".....

Once Were Haters and Wreckers said...

Hugh: yes!

Stargazer: leaving aside that the "haters and wreckers" comment was spoken directly against well over %10 of our entire population, a %10 that REPRESENTS the overwhelming majority (rare is the Maori that didnt tautoko the FSB hikoi - fact is Helen Clark's FSA 2004 excluded all Maori from the colonial justice system.

Helen Clark was no more or less a toxic racist than anyone else who has been No. 1 colonial overlord of our lands - you simply don't get to a position of power in a colony without being deeply racist.

"directed at particular individuals & not a race so a big difference" is an argument that could equally be applied to PH's disgusting comments about the GG. He was implying the GG - an individual - doesn't look, he didnt say "all Indians don't look like kiwis. But of course most accept that the GG, amongst other things represents more than just himself right? He represent the colonial regime and the expat Indian community, and a whole bunch of other things.

In the same way the "haters and wreckers" represented an entire people.

James: I think you a troll ('this blog'I'm guessing is not like a political party/lobby group so I assume doesnt have a single 'position' on anything), but yes Deborah Russel's comments in the NZ Herald were distinctly ignorant and makes me wonder whether she reads any of fine words of black/brown feminists that sometimes show up round here on a friday.

Sheesh, this place reminds me of Public Address more n more every day

Once Were (aka Mkura)

Anonymous said...

"Everybody who doesn't protest against Paul Henry in some way is enabling him?"

Absolutely. Here is a scenario I sat through just the other day. I was in a group of colleagues where the social discussion turned to Henry. I of course was arguing against his racism, while a couple of colleagues were doing the usual rhetoric ("just a joke", "larger things to worry about","just saying what we think" etc). Other colleagues in the group didn't say anything when the discussion got heated, but I could tell they were uncomfortable with the racism...but they didn't say anything.

By not coming to my defense, or speaking out against the racism, they implied by their silence that ignoring the problem will make it go away.

No, ignoring a racist alloys them to continue because they have not been censured or given consequences to their action.

Carol said...

Once were haters....
Many of us spoke out against Clark's & Labour's actions and comments on the FS&SB issue. It was the main reason I gave my party vote to the Greens in the last couple of elections.

So, just for the record, some of us who have been speaking out against PH's racism, also spoke out against & acted against Clark on the FS&SB. But, I think Clark has been anti-racist on other issues.

I did think the Haters & Wreckers comment was most strongly directed more towards Maori leaders like Turia, but, I agree there is a way that it impacted on all Maori.

James said...

Deborahs comments were spot on....its the critisism of what she said and that she in fact said it that is truely ignorant,indefensible rot.This silly,moronic stoneage BS has no place in a public facility in a supposed secular society.

And this story is going around the world....

From the US blog
Classically Liberal

PC madness: motes and eyes

..."Here is an unusual story out of New Zealand. Te Papa is the national museum on the Wellington water front. As far as museums go it is fair collection, and certainly a lovely building. I attended the "Lord of the Rings" showing there as well as a banquet there with Bjorn Lomborg so I know the place.

Recently they sent out invitations to regional museums for a "behind-the-scenes" tour which would included the Taonga Maori collection. The museum, however, informed guests that women would be excluded if they are either pregnant or menstruating. Maori religious beliefs consider this a taboo.

Feminist writer Deborah Russel, who I often don't agree with, said: "I don't understand why a secular institution, funded by public money in a secular state, is imposing religious and cultural values on people. It's fair enough for people to engage in their own cultural practices where those practices don't harm others, but the state shouldn't be imposting those practices on other people."

Let me be clear—this taboo is irrational superstition belonging to a primitive era, not to the modern age. And, it most certainly is not a taboo that a state museum ought to be imposing.

A spokeswoman for the museum, Jane Keig, offered the irrational explanation that the "policy is in place to protect the women from these objects." That is, since some of the items were weapons used to kill people, and since woman are cursed if they are pregnant or menstruating, then their near presence to the weapons could harm them. In other words, Keig is protecting them from supernatural occurences in the same way that one would intervene if a thug were stabbing a woman.

That, of course, is known in technical jargon as bullshit."...

Brett Dale said...

A Noony Moose and Boganette

There is no way Im advocating racism, just because I dont join in a protest asking for Paul henry to be fired or any other tv host who make rascist comments.

Protesting him wont change whats in his heart or mind or wont change his viewers hearts or minds.

We all have different ways of fighting rascism, when someone says something that I deem to be racist on TV, I switch the channel, and they lose a viewer so less money for them and the advertisers.

Can that be considered not going far enough, Maybe? But theres not a chance it can be considered advocating racism.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon at 10:21 - Nicely put, but only true if the person actually knows about it and still does nothing.

When it's right in their faces, as you describe, and they still don't speak up or out, or give any signals as to their disapproval, then implicit acceptance is the effect, whether they mean it to be or not.

Some people are not confident to speak or act their mind, and, if pushed, will run with the crowd to avoid making trouble. That tendency explains in part how many historical atrocities were able to come about. That is why I speak out.

- Madeleine

stargazer said...

anon, i have deleted your comment. please repost by putting in a handle, as requested in the paragraphs above the comment box.