But if we muzzle Paul Henry, don’t we have to muzzle the Duke of Edinburgh, too?

Well, well, well. Look who is demanding more than an apology from TV presenter Paul Henry over the daft comments he made about Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand.

Yep. The bloody Race Relations Commissioner.

Most people – Alf supposes – know that Henry was interviewing Prime Minister John Key when he suggested Sir Anand’s successor should look and sound more like a New Zealander.

“Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time … Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander this time?”

Oooh. Crass, provocative and highly offensive.

Racist, too, let’s make no mistake.

Mr Key seemed taken aback and said that Sir Anand was a New Zealander.

About 3.30pm, TVNZ issued a statement in Henry’s name apologising to the Governor-General “for any offence I may have caused”.

Whether the apology is acceptable should be up to the bloke who was the butt of Henry’s crass remark.

That’s Sir Anand, who is at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Sir Anand is a man of great wisdom and dignity and his spokesman said he did not want to respond “because to do so would give them a status they don’t really deserve”.

That’s an admirable response.

But nah, Joris the Bray couldn’t resist an opportunity like this.

He said

…the apology was not good enough, and should be aimed at all New Zealanders.

“When you say, ‘I’m sorry if I offended you’, it makes it sound as though the person who was offended is at fault.”

The question had to be asked whether TVNZ was using Henry “as a shock jock and whether that is appropriate for a national state television current affairs programme”.

“Television New Zealand probably has some responsibilities as a public broadcaster.”

Actually, the question does not have to be asked whether TVNZ is using Henry as a shock jock.

TVNZ settled any doubts on that score when it issued a separate statement defending Henry.

Issued by spokeswoman Andi Brotherston, it said: “The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he’s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud.”

Hmm. Alf on occasion has harboured thoughts of the sort he would never articulate, because his constituents would highly disapprove.

He has mused (now and again) on what he would do if he found himself in bed with the three charming young ladies who promote beef and lamb on telly, for example, and they were naked and liberally smeared in whisky-flavoured chocolate, and he was liberally supplied with viagra.

Betcha other blokes harbour similar grubby thoughts.

The question is whether Henry would give broadcasting time to airing these fantasies.

That Brian Edwards feller is another who has burst into life on the issue.

Veteran media commentator Brian Edwards said it was as if Henry had a policy of offending people. “It’s just the latest and probably the most offensive of a string of remarks he has made, to the point that offending people is a policy of this presenter.”

Dr Edwards said Henry’s apology was the “characteristic” template he used when apologising to people.

“Paul is constantly using ‘If they take offence, then sorry’. There’s no way around this. This was really a racist remark.”

Well, yes it was.

And Edwards should have left his rebuke at that.

But he opted to rewrite “Animal Farm”, in which all animals were equal, but some were more equal than others.

He says Henry has offended lots of people but offending some people is more repugnant than offending other people.

His friends, it would seem, deserve to be given greater respect than people who are not his friends.

He said he was a good friend of Sir Anand and found the comments “doubly offensive” for that reason. “He couldn’t talk about a more delightful, charming and wonderful born and bred Kiwi.”

Dr Edwards said TVNZ should look at itself and ask whether it was worth keeping Henry. “He’s offended a whole lot of people before, but they weren’t in the same calibre as Sir Anand.”

Well, bugger me, Alf muttered.

Maybe we should consult Dr Edwards about who we can mock, taunt and so on before we land ourselves in trouble.

Actually, Alf happens to think Henry made a fair fist of apologising.

In his statement, Henry said: “I am aware that Sir Anand has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand.

“Anyone who knows anything about me will know I am a royalist, a constant defender of the monarchy and the role the Governor General plays in our society.

“If my comments have personally offended Sir Anand, I regret it deeply.”

Alf is a staunch royalist, too, and he has a huge regard for fellow royalists and for royals, even those who are prone to saying daft and racist things.

The Duke of Edinburgh springs to mind.

Perish the day when such people are muzzled or sacked or locked away and we no longer know what they really think about this, that or whatever.

Even if their remarks do cause outrage.

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