Wednesday, August 2, 2023

My invitation to Professor Mohan Dutta

Professor Mohan Dutta has written about me again in a piece published on the Massey University website yesterday:  Opinion: The Far-Right, Misinformation, and Academic Freedom (

Among other things I'm accused of communicative inversions and linked by association with online misogyny and even death threats. I can't say which accusation is more damning because I'm not sure what communicative inversion is.

I'm happy to link to Dutta's article here because I believe in free speech and the right of reply. I could respond point by point but that would be several hours of my life that I'll never get back. 

I do, however, repeat my invitation to Prof Dutta to debate me face to face. Just in case he missed that suggestion in my last post, I have communicated it to him directly via email.


Doug Longmire said...

Well - he clearly won't accept your invitation to direct debate.

Doug Longmire said...

His outlandish attack piece on you is just so ridiculously untrue !
His lead-up to "Mr Du Fresne" was, yet again, a long and wildly exaggerated diatribe about supposed extreme right wing attitudes in America. These (of course) included death threats, racial violence etc etc.
This was a deliberate ploy by him to tar you with the same brush.
Rubbish journalism !!

Paul Peters said...

His latest piece reconfirms your comments about his role . It is way beyond the kind of cliched rhetoric I used to believe more than 40 years ago in my angry left SUP days/ Paul Peters

Ken said...

Are the TAB offering odds on this happening?
I'd think 200 to 1 may be fair, but perhaps I've done the prof a disservice.
Thanks Karl

Ken Maclaren

Anonymous said...

You are arguing with some sort of careerist professor in communications, you might as well use the appropriate language. Mohan Dutta is a professional sophist who understands the winds of influence and power, turning his sophistry to support whatever he is arguing for.

The reality is, you run a tiny little blog and massively exceed this sophist's influence. He uses this immense dense, heavily latinate language which is the calling sign of our university educated priest caste. He misunderstands that potent rhetoric uses primal and base language, spoken with heart and meaning.

Max Ritchie said...

Do you really want to spend time with this bloke? He writes In gobbledygook, sort of proto-academic terminology, and I imagine speaks the same way. His mind was made up before he came to NZ - whatever he experienced in the USA also happens here apparently. I’ve lived in both countries. Both are unique. Dutta should try to learn before he opens his tin of word soup. And you, Karl, should ignore him. Maybe he’ll find another place to irritate once NZ gets rid of this terrible Labour government.

Neil Keating said...

How can the people who lead / manage Massey University justify employing this man? Shouldn't the vice-chancellor be called to account?

Doug Longmire said...

Well said, Max.

Good advice. This bloke is just a waste of time and space. Karl, you are never going to get anything like a balanced or reasonable response from this clown.

John said...

Dutta is a Troll and CARE is a communist group.

Libertyscott said...

He expounds the post-modernist approach to simply pigeonhole you into the oppressor category and everything that comes with it in terms of pejoratives and every stereotype he has about his opponents.

At best he is a person of not good faith to just engage in borderline defamatory behaviour, at worst he's an obsessive fanatical radical. You live in his head rent-free.

Alex said...


Dutta will consider it a victory that you engaged in his scheme.

He is clearly envious of your body of work and, since he would find it difficult to emulate it, he instead tries to redefine it and you.

If he were a more capable man it could almost be possible that you could regard his attention as a compliment.

Maybe just thank him for managing to spell your name correctly ( we know he copied and pasted it but don't say anything ) and move on.

Ben Thomas said...

You would not be permitted to debate with Mr Duta. You would be cancelled and the venue for the debate would be threatened for permitting a 'far right extremist' to air his disgusting views.

J. Neil said...

Well done Karl, he has shown how entrenched CRT is in his Department.

Scott said...

Professor Dutta appears to find far right ideas everywhere. A quick google search reveals he accused a Hindu group of far right ideas. At least he didn't accuse them of white supremacy. 😁

Anonymous said...

OMG, I read that crazy article and unfortunately will never get those 10 mins of my life back. What an idiot. And worse to think he’s teaching our kids. Although I did agree with the following paragraph… "The poor working schmucks whose taxes fund these institutions have no knowledge of, and even less control over, the radical agendas they enable. Unfortunately the same is true of New Zealand taxpayers who involuntarily fund activist academics and their tireless promotion of a world view that’s at odds with that of the majority of New Zealanders."

Phil said...

Professor Dutta laments the influence of the American Right in New Zealand. The US Embassy, which really means the US Government, pays out grants in New Zealand to organisations 'educating' us against misinformation. Why would the US Government fund such activity here unless it is politically motivated.

Don Franks said...

Professor Dutta asserts:" Hate is both a political and an economic tool” and proceeds in a grand manner to build his case on that. This new popular misuse of the word hate gets us nowhere. “Hate” is a feeling, which may be about anything bad or good, rational or irrational. One might hate lift music, low wages, broccoli or people from another country. Hate is no more a political or economic tool than love.

hughvane said...

I do hope you’re emailing Dutta your blog episodes concerning his puerile comments about you and what you pen, and more importantly, the comments that follow them.

That man’s ego must be gargantuan, but I wager it’s also extremely fragile. He needs to be told in no uncertain terms what many (I suggest) readers think of the rubbish he writes.

David McLoughlin said...

You're really rattling the professor, Karl. Ka pai!

Michael Johnston said...

I respectfully disagree. People like Dutta are part of a push towards censorship and control of media that has gained real momentum under the current government. The Disinformation Project has been highly influential proposed legislation that could either censor blogs like Karl's, or impose compliance requirements that would make them prohibitively difficult to maintain. While a change of government now seems likely, these people are not going to stop. They will be back with a vengeance under the next leftwing government. Karl is right to call Dutta out. We ignore them at our peril.

Anonymous said...

I have refused to continence my grandchildren going to Massey as the university fails to understand freedom of speech.

R Singers said...

It's amusing that the only readers he will get are likely to be referred from your posts. I'm sure that is going to just deepen the crush he has on you. :-)

David McLoughlin said...

People like Dutta are part of a push towards censorship and control of media that has gained real momentum under the current government.

This overlooks that many in the media -- a majority now, it seems -- are very much in favour of censorship of views and news that doesn't fit their world view. I have been astounded this past few years to see increasing numbers of journalists here and overseas speak against freedom of expression, and paint freedom of expression as a right-wing, if not fascist, construct.

I think this has come into journalism via academia, where overwhelmingly, only the "correct" view on any subject can now be spoken. Virtually all new journalists have come through universities for decades now, so the former journalistic support for freedom of (even media) expression is vanishing.

It has been awful to watch first academics, and now many others, even lose their jobs for expressing the "wrong" view.

All his cannot end well for democracy. Many academics, journalists and other opinion-formers often now view democracy with disdain, highlighted by the lack of support for the concept of "one person-one vote, with votes of equal value" which is under attack in this country by academia, the public service and some politicians.

Eamon Sloan said...

Regarding communicative inversions. I have a paperback copy of Fowlers Modern English Usage which has just on a half-page on inversion. I am not a grammar wizard by any means but delve into matters grammatical very occasionally. To which point this is the first time I have gone away to look up about inversion. The simple meaning is to reverse the order of nouns, verbs, adjectives, for emphasis and effect etc. To me, Fowler’s inversion piece is a very snobby way of saying it is Ok to indulge in poetic licence. Dutta is however expanding the meaning of inversion into some type of obscurantist theory.

Dutta has insultingly portrayed Karl as being unscholarly and unteachable – and by implication so are the blog followers.

These days so many of us are accused of falling into all sorts of phobe categories. Could Dutta now be labelled a bloggerphobe? In general he has put himself out there as a totally precious and closed mind academic. Not worthy of any further commentary.

Ray M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy Espersen said...

Andy Espersen said...

Allow me HERE to copy and paste my comment to your last blog. I insist that is quite justified in this case. In short : Dutta's logic is based on false premises. Therefore its conclusion is wrong. PERIOD.

"Ha, Karl : I have now read both yours and Dutta's articles - also looked up more about him. Yes, you are doing just fine in your response to his article. But alas, what your are telling him will run off him like water on a goose-back. During his professional, academic life his grey matter has ossified to his particular view of life - he is simply unable to read what you write with a logical mind.

Everything he writes is suffused with his own ludicrous, mysterious "logic-of-a-sort". Your sober comments will not change him, Karl (you probably know already). But I'm sure he is very happy : he bravely confronts the "frenzied conspiracy-attacks" from you and your ilk on him and his steadfast followers".

Simonda said...


For a Professor of Communication, he doesn't seem to communicate very well.
Strip away the obfuscation (in his case, language) and you realise he is little more than others who cry 'Racist!' or 'Transphobic!', or 'Far Right'at the first opportunity.
In other words, indicative of those who (lacking the means to withstand scrutiny or criticism) resort to the kind of argument that might be made by a toddler throwing a tantrum.

Anonymous said...

It could tarnish both of your reputations although I admire your courage. This guy is a loser and will eventually be consigned to the rubbish heap of history as a complete zero. He won’t debate you - ever. He’s on a hiding to nothing.
Keep up the good work Karl.

B DeL said...

Do academics have to be left wing?

Damon said...

This latest piece comes in at a turgid 3023 words, following part one's 1821 words. There are three more parts to come apparently, which causes me to worry about Prof Dutta's health - he may expire from the effort before he reaches the end of this saga.

Worth remembering, this is in response to your 1000 word post, half of which quoted Dutta's bio.

David Lupton said...

Is the professor's diatribe an example of a communicative inversion? He is certainly displaying the characteristics of which he accuses you.

John Hurley said...

Dutta writes:
The deployment of communicative inversions, turning materiality on its head, is a necessary tool of white supremacist attacks on anti-racist pedagogy.

These attacks, as we witnessed in the attacks of the Trump administration on the teaching of Critical Race Theory, play out through the portrayal of anti-racist interventions as racist. 

For instance, critical analyses of white privilege are projected as racist toward white people. To perform this communicative inversion, the very nature of the critique is inverted, displaced from the analysis of structures of whiteness to individualized performance of hurt expressed by white individuals.

For white supremacists, the denial of anti-racist critiques through their portrayals as racist, uncivil, terrorist, and even extremist, as not belonging in civilized society, serves as the basis for the ongoing politics of erasure of whiteness, a system that as upheld and reproduced as universal the value of Eurocentric white culture.

This politics of erasure is necessary to hold up the architectures of white privilege. 

To the extent that any critical interrogation of white privilege can be inverted and labeled as racist, white supremacy continues to perpetuate itself. Any call for racial justice by marginalized communities then becomes racist, and therefore, illegitimate.

In Aotearoa, Māori claims to Te Tiriti are inverted, projected by white supremacists as separatist. Ethnic minority communities documenting the workings of white privilege are marked as racist, terrorist, extremist. The tropes of civility, mired in the logics of whiteness, are deployed to silence the critiques.

It is therefore vital for anti-racist interventions to call out the communicative inversions of whiteness as white supremacist strategies. It is necessary that those that perform such communicative inversions are called out as white supremacists. It is necessary that the whiteness that shapes the conversations on civility be interrogated.

To build and sustain a society that is inclusive is to protect and safeguard the right of the marginalized to render visible the workings of whiteness.

John Hurley said...

This report [below] was referenced by Paula Penfold re giving subjects a right of reply.

What it is saying is some ideas shouldn't be given exposure. In particular "basket of deplorables" became a meme which was swept up by the dark forces (including Daily Stormer). It lead to the election of Donald Trump.
They are stretching a point that there is some X factor in social media and meme-ing which means journalists should selectively report/censor.

As a former editor you will know that that for journalists this is a departure from the norm.

[Eric Kaufmann and Anne Applebaum discus populism here - Human nature versus Bad Actors
Gad Saads tribute to Harvard biologist E O Wilson - the father of sociobiology]

Trev1 said...

I agree with Michael Johnston. These people may spout nonsense but they have the ear of the current government and its bureaucrats who are preparing to censor the Internet via the Department of Internal Affairs' "Safer Online Services and Media Platforms" project. Karl has performed a public service in exposing the disturbing orientation of so-called "media studies" whose purpose appears to be hardline Marxist indoctrination. Why anyone would take on a student loan to pursue this nonsense is beyond me.

Anne Shirley said...

I'd quite like you to reply to Dutta, point by point, myself. He appears to think academics are immune to deft employment of the "hate speech" they so readily accuse others of. Slay the dragon Karl.

Birdman said...

Good to see this conversation continues but how to counter Dutta's mis/dis/whatever information on a wider stage? There will be no help from the MSM, quite the opposite, even though they too will ultimately suffer under the internet/media censorship the DIA bureaucrats want to introduce.

A good example of the MSM not even recognising censorship is the attempt to cancel one Murry Cave, the principal scientist of the Gisborne District Council - see this link to a Stuff article.

I've never heard of Mr Cave and the article is by a Matthew Rosenberg, a reporter for some outfit known as Local Democracy Reporting.

There is reference to Mr Cave's "vitriol" (definition: bitter criticism or malice) but I can't find an example of it in the article, as he just appears to have views we read and hear every day. It even states that "Cave also defended being white and male...." - no, he didn't did he.

The disclosure at the end of the article notes "Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air" - is that the Pravda fund?

When there seems to be no reference to seeking Mr Cave's side of the story, what are we to think of an editor, of what claims to be a MSM organisation, allowing this to be published as apparently balanced journalism.

Paul Peters said...

Rob Campbell attacks the govt and becomes a media darling with a regular column....because he is attacking it from the Left.
Mr Cave will be deplatformed.
The Taranaki Daily ''News'' still seems to have older subscribers here who get it because it is ''just a newspaper'' they tell me. But not as good as it was. It is puff and opinion galore and road prangs.
The others I know in teaching, council and a swathe of ex-media folk get it because they believe in it wholeheartedly and its bias because it is their ''truth'' in a war on everything Right. MSM bias, just like changing ''democracy'' is all justified.
I recall that after Trump was elected about 150 papers worldwide that regarded themselves as ''Liberal'' (ie Left, Guardian etc, NYT etc) and Stuff formed an alliance of ''progressives'' to counter the Right. They said they would be changing the way they reported. Indeed they have.

John Hurley said...

Communicative inversion:

"they turned my argument on it's head. But we know they are wrong because we have the Politically Correct paradigm that informs us who are the good guys and who are the bad guys."

Bill Moore said...

Prof Dutta got one thing correct: The Far Right DOES thrive on hate. So does the Far Left; he forgot that bit.
His conclusions about you are so hysterical that his real objection to your words becomes clear. You can write. He can't.

David McLoughlin said...

A good example of the MSM not even recognising censorship is the attempt to cancel one Murry Cave, the principal scientist of the Gisborne District Council - see this link to a Stuff article.

The same article was also on the NZ Herald website. When I saw it yesterday, I posted this comment in an online journalism forum to which I belong:

Scientists of course are meant to keep to the same line, as per the "consensus" we're told they follow. But it's most unwise for them, or anyone in any kind of paid work to make critical comments of the wrong kind on social media, including in a private capacity, with the mainstream media always ready to pounce to get you sacked. Interesting this journalist's use of the loaded word "vitriol" in the intro, too. You sure know where the story is coming from.

My comment there was meant to be a cross between raising a serious issue and irony and sarcasm, and so far only one other member has attacked me for it ("On what planet do you live on." [sic] was the retort) which is a good sign, I think (I was expelled from what was the country's biggest media discussion group several years ago for asking the wrong questions).

On Friday, in the same forum, I posted a comment in a similar vein about a journalist's complaint about (madcap) lawyer Sue Grey being dismissed:

Interesting, well, to me, that this complaint about lawyer Sue Grey was made by a journalist (one with whom I have worked, years ago). And the Lawyers Disciplinary Tribunal has dismissed it. I know that the media have been very hostile to Grey, but I wonder if journalists actually making formal complaints like this about someone the media abhors is a step too far? Personally, I feel sorry for Grey, who seems to have fallen down the same rabbit hole as journalist Liz Gunn and a few others I have known over the years. They're examples of how intelligent people can fall with incredible fervour for demonstrably erroneous ideas. But to try to bring Grey down by attacking her livelihood like this when she has broken no law? Rhetorical questions, of course.

I posted that and my comment about Murry Cave because I am concerned about the growing media activism to destroy people with the wrong views, such as Sue Grey and Mr Cave. I don't endorse or support the views of either, but I do believe people should have the right to hold whatever views they wish without the media trying to destroy their livelihood.

Phil said...

In Murry Cave's case I doubt he would be all over the media if he criticised a National Government. The media jumping on criticism of this Labour Government is what you would expect in Russia.

Anonymous said...

Mr Dutta extends his sociopathic focus on Karl to a third article.

Anonymous said...

As others in the comments have said, at the first opportunity to label something “far-right” he will. That is an absolutely fact. I’m fairly centrist, but I hold right leaning views on many things. However, I don’t consider myself “far-right”.

As one reply above pointed out, there is also a far-left. In fairness, some other staff in the communications and media faculty recognise that fact, even if they are left-wing. They acknowledge both sides could do much better at communication, if it weren’t for the “far” appendage and vitriol.

Karl, I can say this with qualification, your initial piece on Mohan was absolutely spot on. I know this because I spent a full semester in one of Mohan’s courses at Massey recently. I got the pass, but I certainly had to censor any of my lifelong held political beliefs in order to do so.

Anonymous said...

Hello there, Karl

I saw Dutta's article first, then I thought I'd at least better come and check out what "far-right" opinions got him so worked up, just to be fair. Turns out I find quite a bit here I agree with! In fact, I think the way that academics like Dutta express themselves is a major reason why people don't want to come to university any more, especially to study the humanities. Even I have become deeply cynical about universities in general, even though I worked for years to become an academic.

I'm not going to drop hints about what I teach or where I do it, all I will say is that I think do a pretty good job in a tertiary institution of getting students to question a lot of the current academic orthodoxy by teaching it in a roundabout way and exposing its contradictions. I also try my best to teach students WHY other people might think in certain ways or believe certain things, rather than applying a critical name to them for doing so.

I think there is some good in media studies research when it involves empirical analysis. People who can analyse discourse to track changes in public sentiment or changes in belief over time have an important place in our society, the subject doesn't have to have this type of political slant but because of the types of people who are attracted to it, it often does.

As a member of one of the sexual minorities supposed to be oppressed by "far-right hate infrastructures" I can say that I have not really suffered from this much in New Zealand at all. Perhaps because I don't go around grandstanding and constantly shoving it in everyone's face on Twitter. I don't buy it when people say that bigotry is on the increase. Several decades of life experience tell me it's quite the opposite case.