A blow for free speech: Wi Popata has used the N word without Joris (so far) disapproving

Good news, old boy - Wi Popata says you don't have to be given a new name.

Dunno if this means Alf can put the N word back into his vocabulary.

Probably not.

But it’s heartening to learn that no arrests have been made – so far as Alf can ascertain at time of writing – in connection with the N word being bellowed at Maori politicians at Waitangi.

And Joris de Bres, our Race Relations Commissioner, has not denounced the use of the word during yet another boorish demonstration of hate and belligerence against The Boss and other political leaders.

Sure enough, the name Popata comes into the story.

The NZ Herald reported –

The Prime Minister’s visit yesterday was cut short as a handful of anti-mining protesters led by Wi Popata, who was convicted of assaulting Mr Key in 2009 with his brother John, drowned out speeches.

The Boss was accompanied by the likes of Education Minister Hekia Parata, Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples and Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell. And they

… were targeted by Wi Popata on a loudhailer calling them “John Key’s niggers” and telling them not to return to Waitangi.

Dear old Pita said he was hurt at being personally targeted, especially when he had put his “job on the line” over the deletion of a Treaty clause from pending legislation.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and Ngapuhi kaumatua condemned the protesters’ actions.

Ngapuhi speaker John Komene, who welcomed Mr Key, later told the Herald he was sick that a small number of protesters could disrupt the whole powhiri.

“I was disgusted with these young people doing that. This sort of stuff [protesting on the marae] all finished long ago and now they’re starting it up. They’re trampling on the kaumatua and the tikanga of the marae.”

The country’s top Maori police officer, Superintendent Wally Houmaha, called the protest “disgraceful” and the “height of rudeness”, but said no one would face charges.

Ngapuhi leaders needed to do something about the Popata brothers, he said, because on a private marae, police could step in only if personal safety was threatened.

The charmless Popata brothers are nephews of Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, of course, and Hone is a great champion of tikanga and having things done in a Maori way.

He has not publicly denounced his rellies for calling Maori politicians niggers.

This suggests he has given the word his stamp of approval.

More fascinating, Alf can’t see that anyone has gone rushing to the Race Relations Commissioner or any other authority to have Wi Popata chastised, denounced or pilloried for using the word nigger.

This is heartening.

On previous occasions when naughty words have been used publicly, a public controversy almost immediately has been triggered and the media have been full of huff and puff from both sides of the argument.

Maybe the country has grown up.

This would mean Peter Jackson and his team, who are re-making The Dam Busters, don’t have to worry too much about the name of the hero’s dog.

Broadcaster Michael Laws has described the film-maker’s dilemma like this –

The canine pet of the RAF squadron leader Guy Gibson is threatening to derail the sensibilities of the over-sensitive despite having been bowled by a car back in 1943. All because his name was “Nigger”.

At which point everyone starts running. The word is worse, according to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, than almost all Anglo-Saxon curses and swear words. It is a word that upsets the most powerful nation on the planet. Even words that sound like it cause offence. University campuses have faced student strikes after lecturers described inadequate responses as “niggardly”.

Such hyper-sensitivity has been assumed by most of the mainstream media.

Oh, and it’s fair to say sports commentator Murray Deaker doesn’t have to censor himself next time he wants to express himself in his own terms when saying someone is hard-working.

It’s worth noting that Joris de Bres was quick to involve himself in the brouhaha a few months ago when Deaker came under fire after describing someone on his Sky TV show as “working like a nigger”.

Deaker, who has hosted several controversial moments on his talk show, was describing a person who ran a sheep farm on Wednesday night.

He slipped in the controversial phrase without missing a beat and it has since been doing the rounds on social media sites.

Sky Television spokesman Tony O’Brien said the network had not received any complaints about Deaker’s comments.

“I’m not defending him, but that’s a phrase that’s widely used.”

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said the phrase was “not appropriate”.

“Some of these phrases have a long history… and it appears Murray Deaker is from that generation. It’s not acceptable to describe someone as working like a nigger.”

Wi Popata has done us a favour on a another front.

In this country, anyway, it seems we should be able to read an unbowdlerised version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.

In the US not too long ago, NewSouth Books decided to publish a version of Mark Twain’s classic text with every instance of the “n-word” replaced by the word “slave.”

On “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart derided the decision in an interview with “Senior Black Correspondent” Larry Wilmore.

“Look, Mark Twain put that word in for a reason,” Wilmore said convincingly. “The n-word speaks to a society that casually dehumanized black people. Slave was just a job description. And it’s not even accurate — in the book Jim is no longer a slave, he ran away. Twain’s point is that he can’t run away from being a nigger.”

Can the same be said of our Maori politicians?

Alf hesitates to put this reasoning to the test by using that word.

But he is delighted to learn it’s okay with the Harawira family.

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2 Responses to A blow for free speech: Wi Popata has used the N word without Joris (so far) disapproving

  1. robertguyton says:

    The marae atea is the place for vigorous challenge and strong words and always has been.
    This new ‘pc’ view is disappointing, Alf. Trying to tidy up those messy natives and their rude ways seems at odds with your previously stated dislike for political correctness.

    • Alf Grumble says:

      The post was intended to convey Alf’s delight that the N word has been used without disapproval. This is a matter for rejoicing from a PC-hostile perspective.

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