Diatribe - 15

On Wednesday the 1st of June on live television, Murray Deaker described a man working on a sheep farm as “working like a nigger”. I write this on the evening of Friday 3rd, just a few hours after the ‘professional media’ wrote its first online article on the events. Two days late. Cue Sky TV spokesman: “I’m not defending him, but that’s a phrase that’s widely used”. I’m at a loss to decide which out of Deaker’s manifest bigotry or Sky’s paradoxical, bullshit response makes me want to hurt myself more.

I have little doubt that this phrase stems, in some way, from the days of slavery that black people were subjected to, and that it is used with some portion of the same disdain.
In a search for justification we begin at Sky’s inherently nonsensical ‘defence’. Asserting that they are not defending Deaker, they do so in the same sentence by claiming it is a common phrase. In my twenty years I have not heard this phrase. Pardon my ignorance. And how, exactly, is countering that an offensive slur is ‘widely used’ an excuse? I guess Murray is from ‘that’ generation where it may well be and/or have been widely used. So fucking what? Today, Deaker has a legal and moral responsibility, as a broadcaster, to not say things like this. Being subjected to a generation that endorsed racist carry-on goes no further towards justifying such carry-on than me saying that I hated my cat as a child. And this is by no means Deaker’s first racial ‘slip up’.
Comparisons to Paul Henry scream through the walls. By comparison, Henry might only be accused of cultural insensitivity and ignorance. Henry is no longer on TV; why is Deaker? Deaker isn’t on a comedy show or MTV where contemporary use of the N-word has transitioned, having shed its malice and derogatory nature. He is a reputable serious-news journalist. One must perhaps concede that Deaker works for a private company eager to exploit publicity, as opposed to Henry who was axed from our government-owned broadcasting company eager to resolve a sizable relations issue.
The bottom line is that the phrase is derogatory and inhumane to the full extent of both words. Is it any different from using other derivations of the N-word such as a ‘defect’ from the phrase ‘nigger in the woodpile’ – denoting escaped slaves hiding in woodpiles on trains? No, not really, and that is a horrible phrase.
Over 150 years beyond the inauguration of New Zealand there remains both a political and a cultural divide between Maori  and Pakeha. Is that such a surprise? When we have people like Murray Deaker expressing directly to people throughout the country, that he holds other races of human beings in contempt of that of his own? Having such a person as a famous voice in our country can only serve to our detriment as a society, a culture and a people.
Posted 4:41am Monday 11th July 2011 by Nick Gavigan.