In the contretemps surrounding Paul Henry’s racist comments about the governor general we’ve (well I have, any way) forgotten about the also notorious and recent ‘dickshit’ remarks and juvenile giggling. But it can’t be left aside any longer.
Henry deliberately mispronounced and ridiculed the second name of Sheila Dikshit, who has been in the news after taking charge of the Commonwealth Games preparations.
Henry mispronounced the minister’s name as “Dik-shit” on air, despite being told it was pronounced “Dix-it”.
The Times of India is carrying the story prominently on its website.
This clip is very embarrassing. You can see how Henry’s colleagues are grimacing and trying to shut him up. But Henry is an out-of-control clown.
The man is a national liability. He certainly doesn’t showcase the clean, green image of New Zealand that the country is trying to project overseas.
There’s quite a bit of chatter now about Henry, including an interesting attempt at psychoanalysis by media commentator Brian Edwards. But does it end up excusing his juvenalia?
Update: I just need to say a belated congratulations to Ben Gracewood the technology guy who resigned his Breakfast gig to protest Henry’s racism.
What dignity and courage.TVNZ should sack Henry and ask Ben Gracewood to come back.
Check out Ben’s statement at No more breakfast.
The “dick shit” incident gloriously combines Henry’s racism with his juvenile wit and toilet humour. It’s totally unacceptable for the New Zealand national broadcaster to allow this stuff to continue.
Yesterday I raised the issue of Henry’s proposed return to TVNZ on the 18 October and mused about whether this would be allowed to happen. I don’t think TVNZ has the bottle to sack Henry, so if he does go back on air it will be compulsive viewing. John Drinnan’s column in today’s NZ Herald, talks about this issue too.
Television New Zealand is reeling from the Paul Henry race slur, raising the question: Can the shock jock come back to Breakfast as usual when his two-week suspension ends on October 18?
Henry and his overweening confidence is clearly the biggest part of TVNZ’s current problem – using Breakfast to be a stand-up comedian and shock jock.
[Drinnan: Henry's return will test audiences]
There’s also quite a lot of chatter about this in blogosphere and Youtube where most of Henry’s gaffes are well catalogued.
A lot of the social media commentary is the usual dribblejaws’ rubbish; particularly on YouTube and Facebook where there are competing groups vying for attention. this is not so much an informed debate, but a slanging match with bigotry and abuse on both sides. Like this exchange from YouTube:
1 hour ago
Let this man know what is the meaning of NEW ZEALAND in Indian language.
Land= Dick = Penis
Hence, New Zealand = New fucking penis.
We Indian know this meaning since we know this nation.
But we never make fun of it.
Because we are modest and not at all racist.1 hour ago
@drvivek08 FUCK YOU!!!YOU INDIAN TRASH
1 hour ago
Sooooooooo Funny!!! Lighten up and have a laugh,way TOO SERIOUS. It’s only poking fun at a surname. There are many europeon names that are equally as funny!!! Whats the next thing to happen….oh yes..burning the NZ flag in the streets of India??? The population of that country seem to take that approach to anything they disapprove of. As for judging the two countries….India – FILTH, POVERTY, OVER POPULATED, DISEASE, OVER 1/2 THE PEOPLE LIVING ON LESS THAN $2 PER DAY…..NZ – NONE OF THIS!!!!!
Yeah, great stuff. Now we’re also seeing the whole ‘PC’ argument begin to surface. You know the line:
Henry’s comments have been taken out of context. He was only joking. You PC brigade are too sensitive and see racism everywhere. Henry wasn’t being racist he was only making fun of someone’s funny name. And so on, etc, etc.
In the blogosphere, Whaleoil is out in front with an attack on political correctness:
Look the simple facts are this, a entertainer, I refuse to call him a journalist, made comments on a Breakfast magazine show, in jest. They are no more racist than any number of comedians have made before, or indeed other commenters have made about foreign born New Zealanders. Now we have an official government apology for causing upset.
This is utterly ridiculous, what next? The Prime Minister apologising for comments made on blogs that are deemed to be offensive to someone anywhwere, just so long as they take umbrage.
Jesus H. Christ! New Zealand has become sick inducing in its totally politically correct sycophancy to group think and speak.
[Whaleoil: What next?]
Well Henry might be an entertainer and he was trained as an actor, but he is the anchor of a show that takes itself seriously and covers current affairs. He made his comments about the governor general during an interview with the prime minister.
Another conservative blogger Cactus Kate is also blaming the liberal hand-wringers and excusing Henry:
I don’t really care what Paul Henry says on television. He has his job for a good reason. He is good at it in a market where very few are. His Boss went all classic SOE soft-cock on him today and suspended him.
Henry is now a victim of the white middle-class male bashing machine that exists so prevalently in New Zealand. David Garrett had his turn a few weeks ago, now everyone hand-wringer has forgotten that and Henry’s been subjected to similar lynching. Lynch the white middle-class man, especially those with right-wing tendencies. Simple. Henry even earned a Minto/McCarten protest special today. How rare is that?
So Whale and Cactus, the comments are more serious than you give credit for and they were racist. Whether or not they were ‘no more racist’ than comments by others, including comedians, is irrelevant. Is it OK to be racist if you’re a stand-up comedian.
You know the drill: “I’m not a racist, but have you heard the one about Mrs Dickshit?” Oh, yar, ha ha hillarious. NOT!
David Farrer at Kiwiblog says that TVNZ has done the right thing in suspending Henry, but also defends him in a soft way:
TVNZ have taken my advice and suspended Paul Henry without pay until 18 October. Okay, may not be on my advice, but I do note that most people were calling for either just a better apology or outright sacking. As far as I know few people advocated suspension as the appropriate response.
I enjoy Paul Henry’s humour greatly, and think he is remarkably talented broadcaster. However what he did yesterday was not humouous. It was simply ugly. And I don’t think TVNZ (or Paul) have realised how different this is to other incidents.
Again with the “he was only joking” line. We should be clear that this is not a laughing matter, the effect is the same as hate speech; it incites more racism and actually even racist actions.Take a look at the comments threads I mentioned above if you don’t believe me. For the really racist, defending Henry is an excuse for even more racism.
Dan Satherley’s brave attempt to document the social media Henry-mania is worth checking out, here’s a sample list that he prepared earlier:
A quick count by 3 News brings up 25 brand new pro-Henry groups on Facebook since the beginning of the week, with a total of 11,792 members.
Perhaps suffering from anti-Henry fatigue, his detractors have only set up 10, and only 2044 people have joined up.
There’s one thing in common some of the opposing groups have though, and it could cause headaches for TVNZ: they’re both boycotting Breakfast.
Backing Henry there’s Paul Henry makes Breakfast – No Henry No Breakfast, I am boycotting TVNZ until they bring back Paul Henry, LOL, TVNZ’s ratings are gonna shit themselves without Paul Henry and Boycott TVNZ Untill They Bring Back Paul Henry; but on the flipside, there’s also I am boycotting TVNZ until they sack Paul Henry.
The insults are also flying: Paul Henry is dick turns the tables on the presenter, applying the caption ‘dickshit’ to his mugshot. There’s also the internet-appropriate Paul Henry is a racist troll, and bringing Paul ‘cheeky darkie’ Holmes into the debate, the elegantly titled Paul Henry & Paul Holmes Suck Cock!.
Others think Henry should use the publicity to kick-start a political career – perhaps even taking over from Satyanand (Paul Henry for Governor-General) or making a very, very late play for mayor of Auckland (Paul Henry for super city mayor).
But if he ever wanted to run for Prime Minister, he could rely on at least 2,443 votes.
[Dan Satherley: Henry groups on Facebook]
There’s a straight report on The Standard that concludes with Henry has to go.A second post argues that TVNZ is dysfunctional and has lost its way under the fiscal pressures imposed by the National government. It’s not hard to agree with that line.
The TVNZ that this government presides over is dysfunctional. As the government is only interested in profits and getting its dividend, they are creating a culture of ratings-driven drivel. Bigotry, incitement and emptiness are all fine, if they bring in a couple more advertiser dollars.
But with Paul Henry’s outburst on Monday morning, John Key’s weekly vehicle to be asked soft questions by a former National Party candidate on state TV went all awry. The ratings-driven culture where nastiness is fine showed far too close to Teflon Jon. And all he could do was Smile and Wave – or in this case laugh.
Yesterday morning Radio New Zealand tried to contact the board of TVNZ. Only 1 was contactable, and they refused to comment as they didn’t know anything of the latest furore… After it had been the biggest news story all day, it seems there must be very close governance going on….
There’s also quite a backlash developing from multicultural New Zealand as well. No doubt the racists and Henry supporters (there may be a distinction) will dismiss this as more liberal, PC hand-wringing, or worse [ie: they'll just cover it in more racist abuse], but John Key may be a little more cautious. If he wants to court the usually conservative migrant vote he won’t want to be seen to be laughing and nodding at Henry’s goonish ad libs.
An editorial in the Indian Weekender puts this line very well:
If Kiwi Indians have been outraged by Paul Henry’s racist comments against India and Indians throughout the run up to the Commonwealth Games these past few weeks, they are appalled by Prime Minister John Key’s pitiably lame and unconscionably delayed response to Henry’s mindless insult to Governor General Anand Satyanand on Monday’s Breakfast programme.
The Prime Minister seemed to merely smile and generally go along with the offensive comments without so much as even the feeblest of protests. Hours later he said that he was taken aback but also added that he would go back to the show next Monday. This has sent all kinds of signals to the Indian community’s highly sensitive political antennae.
On one level, his immediate non-reaction and continued on screen smiling could be construed as tacit approval of the comment. On another, his delayed but lame response betrays a lack of political nous and the absence of the artful skill of a seasoned politician to be able to think on their feet and turn an offensive comment to their advantage by seizing the moral high ground.
[Dev Nadkarni: He's had breakfast, now put him out to pasture]
TVNZ could also be facing a boycott as migrant and multicultural groups also target the network and its advertisers.
Finally, Brian Edwards’ analysis of Paul Henry is quite interesting. The child-like Henry giggling like a silly-ass kid as he says “dick” and “shit” over and over again. Is he regressing to playing with his poo (snicker, snicker)
What strikes me about this clip it that the fun Paul has in saying ‘Dick-Shit’ over and over again is infantile in the most literal and non-judgmental meaning of the term. He finds it funny in exactly the same way that a small child might find it funny to keep repeating a ‘naughty’ word like ‘poos’ or ‘wees’ or ‘bum’. And he’s completely lost control of himself, ‘wetting himself laughing’, as my mother would have said.
From an ‘Adult’ point of view this is not reasonable behaviour for the presenter of an early morning programme on state television. It is highly offensive and insulting to a very senior politician from another country. Newsreader Peter Williams, adopting the ‘Parent’ role, speaks quite sternly to naughty Paul, but to no effect. The Child is on the rampage.
The DayLife aggregator has plenty more on this story – updates constantly