Friday, March 10, 2023

Meng Foon should pull his head in

Going by what little I know about him, Invercargill mayor Nobby Clark doesn’t strike me as a man likely to back down in a fight.

And neither should he. Meng Foon’s call on him to apologise for using the n-word should be brushed aside as the grandstanding it is. The Race Relations Commissioner should pull his head in.

It would be different if Clark had casually used the word in circumstances indicating he approved of it, but the reverse is true. He says he finds it abhorrent, would never use to refer to anyone and is offended when he hears it used in rap music.

His purpose in using it was to ask how far artistic licence should be allowed to go in tolerating words that cause offence. He cited other examples including the phrase “f*** you, Bitch”, which the poet Tusiata Avia uses in a poem that appears to relish the idea of exacting revenge on the descendants of white colonisers such as James Cook.

Avia’s poem, parts of which ape the jargon of American rap culture, drips with allusions to violence against white people. But far from her work being condemned by the Race Relations Commissioner (no one would be so naïve as to expect that), $107,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent through Creative New Zealand on a stage show called The Savage Coloniser, which is based on the book the poem comes from.  

ACT recently called for the funding to be withdrawn, accusing the government of supporting a work that incites racially motivated violence, but Creative NZ says one of its functions is to uphold people’s right to freedom in the practice of the arts.

As it happens, that’s exactly the subject Clark was exploring. He asked whether poetic expression overrides social norms – a perfectly legitimate question. We need to have these tough debates, he says. But the same right of expression that Creative NZ invokes in defence of Avia is one that Meng Foon apparently wants to deny Clark.

The striking thing here is that it’s not Avia’s provocative and mostly incomprehensible poem that attracted the mainstream media’s attention, despite its references to shoving a knife between Captain Cook’s white ribs (aren’t everyone’s ribs white?) and a car full of brown girls driving around looking for his descendants, with the suggestion that a pig-hunting knife might be used. On the contrary, Stuff’s Sunday magazine carried a long article by Michelle Duff purring with approval.

Neither was it the spending of public money on a stage show based on Avia’s work that generated headlines.

No, what got the media fired up was Clark using the n-word in the course of a discussion about how far artistic licence goes and who controls it – fair and reasonable questions.

Fortunately, it’s true as a general rule that the further you get from the epicentre of the culture wars in Wellington, the more impervious people become to the posturing of people like Meng Foon.  

Demands that people apologise for speaking their mind may work elsewhere; in fact they work far too often, much to the gratification of the bullying class. But they carry less weight in places like Invercargill.

In any case, Clark is not answerable to Meng Foon; he’s answerable to the laws of New Zealand (none of which he has broken) and to the people of Invercargill. If they don’t like the things he says, they can vote him out at the next election.

Sadly the same can’t be said of Meng Foon, safe in his highly paid (and unelected) sinecure.


Philosophical Crumbs said...

Imagine being so completely propagandised as a society that certain words, and by extension, certain thoughts, are considered impermissible. And it's demonstrably got nothing to do with preventing "offence" or "harm" to the referent, because it is perfectly acceptable for black people to self-refer using the word, while it's perfectly fine to use derogatory terms in reference to white people. If black people are fine calling themselves n-words, then the word can't be the problem – the "problem" is clearly white people assuming that they can think and say whatever they want.

rouppe said...

I complained to the hrc over the poem.

The response I got was that the bar set by s61 of the hra was set high, and the poem didn't meet that threshold.

I then replied with three published examples of meng foon making public statement accusing people of racism or "harmful" speech for things as serious as making fun of people's culture.

If he's prepared to comment on those, but not that poem, then he is not fit for the position.

Karl du Fresne said...

The Human Rights Commission is a travesty that takes a highly selective and self-serving approach to rights. National and ACT should pledge to abolish it.

R Singers said...

Meng Foon has cemented my party vote for Act. I believe this is the interview where David Seymour discusses the practicalities of replacing the Human Rights and Race Relations Commissions with a tribunal.

Trev1 said...

Whenever I think of Messrs Foon and Hunt, I am reminded of Laurel and Hardy and their saying,"No one is dumber than a dumb man who thinks he's smart".

Doug Longmire said...

This is the same old woke attitude that Hunt and Foon have:-

If you are black or brown you can say anything you like about
white people, no matter how racist, threatening or inciting violence. That's all OK, folks.

But Hullo ! Put the boot on the other foot - if any white person was to say similar things regarding coloured people then they are dumped on from a great height, as being racist, ultra-right (whatever that is) hate speakers.

Paul Peters said...

I looked up and read Duff's interview with the ''poet''. It fits neatly into Duff's world view

No doubt the people defending artistic freedom in this instance would be among the first to want Rising Damp and It Ain't Arf Ot Mum banned, not to mention old Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and Archie Bunker. Even though it is satire, it still should be banned. Are You Being Served as well, because of the camp parody.

I remember during Stuff's great apology campaign writers being wheeled out deploring things they used to watch or believe.

I know some people who hold such views, ALL ''news'' media or former, or teachers, and they are unswervingly driven by a belief they are right and it must be done, totalitarian or not. It can't be totalitariam in their eyes as they are right.

I am surprised the govt isn't giving the teachers what they want; after all they are (willingly?) implementing the slanted history programme and encourage kids in their climate screaming. After all the DDR paid its teachers well to implement policy in schools.

Debate will not be allowed. I expressed a contrary opinion while at a journalist friend's place a couple of years ago and was told such views were not welcome in this house.

Andy Espersen said...

What amazes me in all this hullabaloo is the completely lack of logic in the media’s attitudes. Can’t they see that it is illogical to condemn Nobby Clark for using the n-word in the context in which he used it? The word in itself is not poisonous, for heaven’s sake. It only becomes unacceptable if used in a context of racist writing.

ACT New Zealand accuses the government of supporting a work that incites racially motivated violence. David Seymour proves this logically. But fact is that neither Meng Foon nor our inane, childish, woke journalists have any knowledge, understanding or respect for the philosophical concept of logics - whereas David Seymour has a BA in Philosophy.

Roll on, October elections.

Ben Thomas said...

I am afraid that I have nothing but contempt for Mr Foon ever since I learned that he operated a poke bar (Meng's Place) in "deprived Gisborne suburb of Kaiti". I am not suggesting that the operation was illegal in any way, but I think it is sheer hypocrisy on his part now to put himself forward as as some sort of defender of the oppressed. Anyone operating that sort of abomination leaching money from the local community should be permanently barred from any public office.,3%20Lost%20documents%2C%20delayed%20and%20declined%20requests%20

Richard Arlidge said...

Having followed this matter from it's first public outing on The Platform, I have reached the conclusion that Foon, himself, is nothing other than a racist. This "poem" is the most vile piece of work I have seen in a long time and it's clear that a great many of the public feel similarly. It incites and condones violence against one of history's greatest navigators and cartographers (and his descendants) and which only underscores the ignorance of the writer about Cook's accomplishments and conduct. If Foon can't see what is wrong with this "work" then he simply isn't fit for his job and is displaying race and/or gender bias in favour of the 'poet'. I'm incensed that my taxes are paying for this woke bigot who is not doing his job, and also for the public promotion of this piece of patent invective.

I was tempted to remark, what is wrong with the world? But I suspect we all know...

Alex said...

Hi Karl

I was going to start by saying the poet has shown courage in publishing her poem, however, courage shouldn't be a prerequisite for freedom of speech.
Same goes for Knobby and his right of reply.

The problem seems to be our interpretation of the word free.
Free is a concept that is absolute. Any attempt to qualify or restrict its meaning renders it meaningless .

Consequently , the acceptance of the concept of true freedom of expression is a leap of faith that most people cannot make.
I think that it is a trust issue. We fear ridicule more than we fear new ideas.

Suppressing bad ideas can't be done without suppressing good ideas.

We have to learn to trust each other and the only way to do that is by knowing what each other thinks. Good or bad


Doug Longmire said...

Regarding that (so-called) "poem" to James Cook itself.
It is a vile racist rant - nothing more or less.
If there was ever an example of what "Hate Speech" really is - this is it.
Also there was the clear inciting of racist murder.
The writer of this filthy piece of hate filled diatribe is clearly sick in the head.

Karl du Fresne said...

As a believer in free speech, I would defend Avia's right to publish her hateful, rancid poem. Better that such attitudes are out in the open where we can see them.
The real issue here is the hypocrisy of the Human Rights Commission in turning a blind eye to Avia's incitement of racial hatred while tut-tutting over a statement by Nobby Clark that wasn't intended to (and doesn't) harm anyone.

Philosophical Crumbs said...

I assume most of the commenters here would categorise themselves as "right wing," as inexact a term is that is, and are also probably white males. You need to get smart very quickly guys: "racism" has no meaning–and nobody has any interest in the concept–outside of its usage as a political device designed to handicap and heckle white people. Stop pretending that it is a idea that is universally applied to all people regardless of their racial identity, because it isn't.

What do I mean? I mean that the "left" (another inexact term) aren't confused when they say that "only white people can be racist." This seems like a confused idea only on a naive assumption that 'racism' is a concept applicable to everyone who behave in a certain way. Wrong. It is never universally applied. It is particularly applied to white people only.

Think about it: a Pacifika poet says that she wants to kill white people, and nothing much comes of it; a white man references the n-word, and howls of derision result. Why the double-standard? Well, I've just explained that there IS no double-standard. It is single standard, that all white people are racist, and nobody else. It is a language game in which a brown person CANNOT be racist. Sure, non-white people can hate people of a different race, but that is not what it means to be racist. The left use the word in a very specific way (i.e. to hinder white people), while people on the right hinder themselves by assuming that the word has a universal application. It doesn't.

A brown woman can say what she wants, while a white man can't. That is the basic reality. To then see these deluded white politicians and commenters trying to assure everyone that "no, no, you've got it all wrong. I'm NOT racist!" simply misses the point – on the racist formula, if you are white you are necessarily racist.

What to do? Stop acting as though racism has any meaning outside of the specific political context I have described.

Alex said...

I agree with you, I was attempting to highlight the cause rather than the symptoms in the hope that tolerance of opinion would negate the need for intermediaries such as Foon and the HRC and their flawed ideology .
Exposure to extreme opinions has value, in this case the value is in the thoughts that have been expressed in forums such as this.
Thanks for the opportunity.

Andy Espersen said...

Karl - Yes, Avia has every right to publish her vile hatred - but she should be forced to pay for it herself. I even think there is a case for Google, Twitter or Facebook to blacklist anything as evil as this. And it is unconscionable that taxpayers of New Zealand are paying for it to be published.

Would you have published a rant like this when you were the editor of The Dominion? Would any other newspaper editor in those days?

Karl du Fresne said...

Philosophical Crumbs,
I have no problem defining racism. A racist is someone who believes certain races are intrinsically superior or inferior to others and that discrimination, or even persecution and extermination, is therefore justified. Think of the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. I've never known anyone who matches that description. But I agree with you that in contemporary usage, the word has been so twisted as to render it virtually meaningless.

Karl du Fresne said...

No, I wouldn't have published it, and neither would any other editor of that era. But that was a lifetime ago.

david said...

P Crumbs if all white people are racist, then i am not going to worry about being called that. If saying people should be judged on their merits and not on their ancestors is racist, I am proud to be one. If anyone thinks that equality of outcome requires Maori to be given preferential treatment, they are the white supremacists.

Alex said...

I like the way you think.

How about we do what some gay people have done with the, previously derogatory, term queer.

We could redefine the word racist to mean someone who believes all people are equal.

I know it's ridiculous, perhaps a reflection of the standards of our day.

JohnC said...

There's a large body of people, entirely on the Left, who adhere to the view that if it insults, alienates and penalises white heterosexuals it must be good. Furthermore it should be compulsory and funded by the taxpayer. The writer of this so-called poem must be loving all this air time. Two months ago, 99% of New Zealanders wouldn't have heard of her. So perverse is contemporary New Zealand, that her stocks have probably gone through the roof with arts funding bodies. Thank God for the Nobby Clark's of this world.

granddad said...

Perhaps he should change his 1st name to Buffy (Buff for short) to help align with his views?

Paul Peters said...

In reply to Philosophical Crumbs, no not all define ourselves as right wing. Others may define me or others as that in relation to their position.
I move across the spectrum issue by issue . In my very early adult years I believed Soviet communism was the way forward and quietly supported the SUP. Long ago.
I see Stuff in its element with a long ''analysis'' defending the poem et al, which I would expect.
I have no issue with Stuff pushing its barrow and ideology but NOT with the money of taxpayers. It should be funded by its supporters. I am sure Soros would help but that would make it a foreign agent as well.

Also headlines about ''incorrect'' history on the ferry. The word cannabalism has annoyed a ''Pakeha'' traveller who, while acknowledging people ate each other, says it is not cannabalism, and laments none of the evils of Cook and colonialism are mentioned. The ferry folk will of course change it all. Sanitised.

The ''white'' folks in this country who lament colonisation need to ask themselves one awkward question. Do they believe in any form the colonisation of NZ was justified. If the answer is no they should take the following steps
1. Consult local iwi and return free or at an agreed fair discount price, all land they may own.
2. This would return land to Maori (except they are all part white coloniser, mmm)
3. Then the persons should return to the country or one of the countries their ancestors came from.
4. This would give them the moral high ground.
5. They would help decolonise by leaving. A win win all round for Maori identifiers and the guilt plagued.
Of course they will say that's silly I didn't do it. However, they are culpable, following their line on colonisation, of being LEGACY colonisers. They are guilty because they benefit from colonisation while making approriate noises against it. Bit like receiving stolen goods. I didn't do it but I have the goods.
I wonder if the next step to fund Maori (as defined these days) will be a levy on rates to go to a central fund for dissemination to iwi etc. It need only be 1pc but effectively gives Maori a spiritual ownership of all land.
I am not supporting it. I believe some authorities in Victoria are doing this re aborigines. Need to confirm and find out more.

Odysseus said...

"I always say to white people, "you actually still have a lot to contribute to society". Meng Foon to Sean Plunket on the Platform, 14 March 2003. So no need to be concerned Karl.

Jim Trask said...

I favour "Anti-white or Anti-whitism" over "racism".

"Racism" has now come to mean what Meg Foon says it means. In practice, as a political football, it does the same job that it did for the man who popularised the term politically: Vladimir Lenin.

Like anti-semitism, anti-whitism has its own distinct characteristics. It is similar in some ways to anti-semitism. It posits that whites are a racial conspiracy, working towards their own benefit to the detriment of others. Anti-whitism assumes a blood libel. Instead of the original sin of killing Christ, whites are said to have committed the original sin of destroying Eden.

Pearce said...

If he finds it so abhorrent why did he keep repeating it on television? I suspect he just enjoys having what he believes is an excuse to say it. A guy who calls himself Nobby using a tv interview to repeat the n-word six times in a couple of minutes seems far more posturing than a race relations commissioner criticising him for it.

Honestly though Tusiata Avia should be thanking him, poets don't usually make the news even when quoted by a 70 year old mayor.