In the vilest column I’ve ever seen, Holmes comes out swinging against Maori. The column is undeniably racist. At several points Holmes slurs the entire Maori race. For example, Holmes taints Maori as “loony” and “irrational”. The offensive and unfair language he deploys and the overall message of the piece encourages discrimination. Take this, my favourite passage in which Holmes asserts the following:
“No, if Maori want Waitangi Day for themselves, let them have it. Let them go and raid a bit more kai moana than they need for the big, and feed themselves silly, speak of the injustices heaped upon them by the greedy Pakeha and work out new ways of bamboozling the Pakeha to come up with a few more millions”.
Initially, I was furious with this. Well, I was furious with the whole piece actually, but this paragraph really rarked me up for some reason. After stewing on it, I just found it sad. Sad that someone would say something so nasty, hate filled and utterly unfair. This would go unnoticed in private, but this was published in New Zealand’s leading daily – the Herald. It was totally irresponsible for the Herald to publish Holmes’ hate speech. And that’s what it is, hate speech. Holmes, in the most blatant terms I’ve ever seen, disparages and vilifies Maori, thus encouraging prejudice against Maori. That satisfies the definition of hate speech for me.
Sadly, Holmes doesn’t distinguish between individuals and Maori as a race. Although Holmes’ bases his hate on the actions of a few individuals, he taints the entire Maori race. It’s unfair and it’s racist. What also annoys me is that Holmes is furthering highly offensive and unfair stereotypes.
There is no place for racism in the media. Of course, some people are going to rush to Holmes defence. This is the saddest part. No doubt some people will prasie Holmes for ‘telling it like it is’, but he isn’t telling like it is. Holmes is basing his claims on spurious grounds. He isn’t taking into account the deeper meaning of Waitangi day, he isn’t taking into account the socio-political context and, quite simply, he is misinterpreting the actions of Maori at Waitangi. Waitangi protest needs to be interpreted taking into account the history of the day, the history of Crown-Maori relations and the contemporary political situation. You can’t boil it down to lunacy or irrationality. I guess it goes to show that Holmes mind operates on a very, very shallow level.
Others will defend Holmes right to free speech. A right he undeniably has. However, free speech does not extend to hate speech. The line is drawn when ones speech incites prejudice or disparages another. There is international consensus that hate speech is irrelevant to free speech.
Unsurprisingly, Holmes also makes a number of factual errors. For example, he speaks of the “never defined principles of the Treaty”. This is a ridiculous claim. The principles of the Treaty are well defined and are, to quote a legal expert, not vague and unknowable. After over two decades of judicial refinement, the principles are unambiguous.
Holmes then takes aim at breast feeding advocates. This part of the column was just as nauseating as the beginning. No mean feat may I add. Holmes then tops it off with a crude and simplistic reading on the situation in Syria.
He must be in a bad place, old Paul Holmes. I tend to think his column was an attempt to comfort and confirm his own self righteousness. Pretty sad really. If the Herald had any sense (or dignity), they’d sack Holmes. The rubbish he produces is unbecoming of our major daily. You can make comparisons with Michael Laws, but Laws knows where to draw the line – and at least he’s literate. I suspect Holmes is not. He must go.
Over the next few days I’ll be laying a complaint with the Editor of the Herald, Tim Murphy, I’ll also be laying a complaint with the Race Relations Commissioner. Lastly, I’ll be boycotting the Herald as long as Holmes remains. I encourage you to do the same. Send the message that there’s no place for Holmes and his hate in our public discourse.
As an aside, it's interesting to compare the contrast between Holmes piece and this from John Roughan. Where Holmes is offensive, ill considered and rude, Roughan is sober, analytical and fair (even though I don't really agree with what he says, but that's for a post on Monday).
(You can, I think, complain to Tim Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(You can also lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission here)
(For another perspective see this at Reading the Maps, this from TW.com and Danyl writes here)