Eyebrows have been raised at a couple of Press Council decisions last month. The Council upheld complaints against newspaper columns by Paul Holmes (Case 2254) and Michael Laws (Case 2253) for inaccurately and gratuitously denigrating Maori as a race.
Holmes was attacking Waitangi Day. “Well, it’s a bullshit day,” he wrote. “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.”
Along the way, Holmes slated the rudeness of Maori protesters, their sense of entitlement to “a perfect world of benefit provision”, and the way Maori extort millions of dollars from Pakeha by inventing bizarre breaches of “never-defined principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”.
Some of it was plainly aimed at specific “hate-fuelled weirdos” who protest at Waitangi. But most of it seemed to be about Maori as a whole, as the Press Council noted….
This is a close call, and I can see where the Press Council was coming from. But I’m inclined to think it’s better to debate these columns and scoff at them, rather than say they should never have been published.
For full report go to: http://www.nzlawyermagazine.co.nz/CurrentIssue/Issue187/187C3/tabid/4416/Default.aspx
Steven Price is a barrister specialising in media law. He writes a blog at www.medialawjournal.co.nz.
NZLawyer. issue 187. 29 June 2012