If Murray Deaker had been watching his P’s and Q’s, he would have avoided the N word

The Dambusters with Guy Gibson (Richard Todd) and his dog whose name should not be mentioned in polite company.

So what does sports commentator Murray Deaker have in common with a celebrity hairdresser and a perfumier? They have all startled people and maybe upset some by using the N word.

The thing is, it has become increasingly naughty to use the N word over recent decades as attitudes change and its offensiveness is increased.

Alf wouldn’t mind betting he would be in bigger trouble if he publicly used the N word than if he brought the C word into play.

Mrs Grumble referred him to an on-line dictionary which says –

The term nigger is now probably the most offensive word in English. Its degree of offensiveness has increased markedly in recent years, although it has been used in a derogatory manner since at least the Revolutionary War.

Definitions 1a, 1b, and 2 represent meanings that are deeply disparaging and are used when the speaker deliberately wishes to cause great offense. Definition 1a, however, is sometimes used among African-Americans in a neutral or familiar way.

Definition 3 is not normally considered disparaging—as in “The Irish are the niggers of Europe” from Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments —but the other uses are considered contemptuous and hostile.


1.Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive .

a. a black person.

b. a member of any dark-skinned people.

2. Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.

a person of any race or origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, ignorant, etc.

3. a victim of prejudice similar to that suffered by blacks; a person who is economically, politically, or socially disenfranchised.

The Herald therefore sees itself duty-bound, presumably, to expose all users of the N word. No doubt they do this in what they construe to be the public interest.

Then again, they seems keen to bring any matter to public attention, whenever one of this country’s taller poppies says or does something that will outrage someone.

In their report on Deaker’s use of the N word today, the venomous buggers recall why Breakfast show co-presenter Paul Henry last year resigned from TVNZ; how Newstalk ZB host Paul Holmes’ sparked a public outcry in 2003 after referring to the then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a “cheeky darkie”; and how Deaker was pulled off air that year “after a prescribed antidepressant propelled him into a manic state that led to his verbally attacking several guests”.

The pretext for digging up that pap is that –

Sky TV sports commentator Murray Deaker has described somebody as “working like a nigger” on air – an expression his network claims is widely used.

Deaker made the comment on Wednesday night when referring to a South Island farmer. ..

“It was a guy who was a sheep farmer in Central Otago and somebody asked him why he was running the biggest sheep farm,” Deaker said.

“And he was working like a nigger at the time. He was just throwing things around.”

Most farmers in Alf’s experience work in that way.

Perfumiers, too.

French perfume-maker Jean-Paul Guerlain faced prosecution by anti-racist groups after telling a television interviewer he “worked like a nigger” to produce one of his most successful scents.

Anti-racist campaigners said a trial would have great educational value. And they called on LVMH, the company which now owns Guerlain, to dissociate itself from the outburst.

Politicians lambasted the poor bugger, too.

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde on Saturday dubbed Guerlain’s remarks “pathetic”.

“I just hope that this is senile and crude and that the apology is really sincere and gracious,” she said on Saturday.

In Britain the other day, celebrity hairdresser James Brown fessed up that he was the man who used the “N-word” several times in a few moments during an exchange with Ben Douglas, a television presenter and theatre academy founder.

Douglas revealed what had happened in a newspaper article, but did not name his abuser because he did not want to “destroy his career”, describing him only as “a leading figure from the fashion world who numbers Kate Moss and Lily Allen among his closest friends”.

But as speculation mounted about the abuser’s identity, Brown decided it was best to declare he was the guilty party through a statement.

“I’d like to make a public apology to Mr Douglas, to his friends and to Bafta for my offensive and stupid comments,” said Brown, who is a celebrity in his own right, thanks to a reality TV show.

“The simple truth is that I had drunk far too much on the evening and my behaviour was totally unacceptable.”

Fine. But what was said?

According to Douglas’s account in the Mail on Sunday, the exchange began when his female friend was asked by Brown if she was with him. On being told she was, he reportedly said: “You’re a nigger’s bitch, that’s what you are.”

Douglas said Brown had then attempted to claim that he was merely using street slang he had picked up in New York, saying: “Nigger’s not offensive. Nothing wrong with nigger. I know loads of niggers.”

The N word has become so offensive, of course, that Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has has been re-edited.

A new edition replaces occurrences of “nigger” in the text with “slave”.

Film-maker Peter Jackson faced the same problem with his re-make of The Dambusters.

Nigger, a black Labrador, was Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s faithful companion and the mascot of the RAF’s 617 Squadron, which carried out the successful 1943 bouncing bomb raid on Germany’s Ruhr dams.

Peter Jackson, the New Zealander who is producing the remake of the 1954 epic starring Richard Todd, is known to be passionate about remaining faithful to the authentic details of the story.

But others working on the blockbuster, which is backed by Hollywood studios and has a £ 26 million budget, are insisting that the dog’s name is too racially offensive, particularly in the crucial United States market.

Nigger was mentioned 12 times in the original, and also featured prominently in the book by Paul Brickhill, published three years earlier, on which the film was based.

As to Deaker and Sky Television, Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres inevitably has been dragged into proceedings.

More likely, come to think of it, he was glad to be asked.

He told the Weekend Herald –

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a broadcaster to use it; it isn’t an acceptable term. It used to be quite widespread, but I think we’ve moved on since then.”

Asked if Deaker should apologise, Mr de Bres said: “I think he should reflect on it.

“I think it’s more of a phrase than a provocation. I think when broadcasters deliberately provoke and express racist sentiment, it’s more serious than when somebody uses an outmoded phrase.”

Sky’s corporate communications manager, Kirsty Way, said Deaker had full editorial control of and responsibility for his show.

She said –

“We’re quite sure there was no offence intended by that statement … I can say it’s probably not something I would choose to use. But we’ll have to talk to Murray before we get further comment on it.”

Deaker could not be reached for comment last night.

Dunno what he would have said, if he had been reached.

Alf’s strong inclination, in the same circumstances, would be to bring the F word into play.

3 Responses to If Murray Deaker had been watching his P’s and Q’s, he would have avoided the N word

  1. Brett Dale says:

    Deaker has to go, any other Journo in any other part of the world, would be fired by now.

  2. nasska says:

    Mr DeBries must have recovered from the laryngitis he was afflicted with just after Hone Harawira’s hate speech.

  3. Bob says:

    This is a good blog, certainly more interesting than some of the bile on this subject I’ve seen on other sites. But I think the blogger is missing the point.
    It has nothing to do with whether or not Murray Deaker is a racist. The contents of Deaker’s heart are about as interesting to me as his opinions on sporting matters.
    No, this is about broadcasting standards. He is a broadcaster on national television so the debate is about whether that word is acceptable to the average New Zealander.
    The blogger’s apparent sympathy for various historical uses of the word is not relevant since none of the people involved used the word in a deliberate communication to the public. (The question of the use that word in art is an interesting, but separate issue).
    For my money, it was wrong for Deaker to use the word because it goes beyond the bounds of what I believe to be good taste in a sports talk show. If I was being expansive I’d say I don’t want to have to raise my young daughter in a country where I have to have uncomfortable conversations about why people on TV are allowed to use a word that is so hateful to her.
    As a final little observation on a related topic, I find it depressing how some people’s crusade against so-called “political correctness” makes them believe it’s OK to air their bigotry.

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