I often wonder to what extent the public’s comments on news portals represent the views of New Zealanders. The old Telecom Xtra website used to have message boards which crawled with bigots happily disgorging their creepy views. The boards became so extreme that they were closed, but not before the lead up to the 2008 election when many of the anti-Helen Clark posts plumbed the depths of personalised viciousness.
Now named Yahoo! NZ, the site allows people to make brief comments under certain news items. I recently had a dig at the editorial staff for publishing a story they had dug up out of the Daily Mail about a young UK mother who'd been jailed for leaving her 6 year daughter alone for 5 days. They also published her photo and permitted comments on the story. On cue, the racists shuffled out to post their vile views.
Granted, this was an appalling thing for a parent to do, but why did YahooNZ choose to run and headline that particular story? Of all the stories in the world about child abuse, why print that one? Why print the photo and why allow comments on it? Seems to me they are either remarkably slack or there's a more sinister political motivation. Either way - it's crap journalism.
But what do I expect - I read a story in which the churno wrote ' I would of done....'
Because I'm a tad obsessive I’ve been collecting some of the kiwi Yahooisms – for posterity. I thought long and hard about giving bigots any further opportunities to air their disagreeable views but I decided that decent Kiwis need to know what’s lurking in their midst. So here’s a small sample of some of the more objectionable - the spelling and grammar are original.
One person, who I shall assume is male, gave himself the moniker ‘Paul henry 4 primeminista’. He eptitomises the really creepy, slightly unhinged element. Evidence of the intellect driving this voice of extreme rightwing battiness was his question -‘does Russia even exist anymoe?’
Goaded into completely releasing his tenuous grip on reason by another poster, he wrote “ clearly you are a fat communist pig. no I'm not english you idiot. have you considered hanging yourself clearly overdosing yourself on cream buns isn't working.”
This was followed by, “I'd put my fist in your fat communist face if the cream bun wasn't in the way hahahahaha”
When the target of his splenetic fury asked what made him think s/he was fat he delivered what he clearly thought was the coup de grace, “skinny, hairy armpitted, goggle eyed commie scum with a smelly minge perhaps??? one or the other. thats the usual trait of red scum.”
The fact that there is no real editorial control and that people are allowed to hide behind pseudonyms, encourages these gonzos to dispense with all normal social conventions. Commonsense and eloquence drive them into a frenzy, but the vitriol that’s unleashed on any one suspected of being left wing and/or a person of colour is sometimes disturbing.
Paul henry 4 primeminista clearly has a thing about leftwingers–and Jews. Not even the PM was exempt. “John Key is just another lying jew.”...”Adolf Hitler wouldn't trade with john key.. jk is jewish. jk would be off to the showers and our country would be sweet. too bad the holocaust was just another jewish lie.”
Now this would be bad enough if it was just one sad cyberonanist but the ugly underbelly was on full display in reaction to the story about Maori academic Margaret Mutu's observations on a study about Maori views on immigration. Again, spelling and grammar are original:
“… Maori (part Maori) are the most pathetic incapable people on the whole earth - propped up by others and complaining every step of the way - would the world even notice if every last one was to dissapear.”
“Mutu should be thankfull for white immigants. 200 years of white inbreeding with her race has at least raised maori IQ to a now measurable level”
“This racist cow has got it all wrong. Has she never heard of Hone Harawira? Also, she is wrong to say that whites bring with them racist attitudes. They don't. Any move towards being racist by an immigrant comes about because of pronouncements like this nutter's and after being met almost daily with Maori overt racism, physical aggression, intimidation, theiving, work shy attitudes and general anti social feral behaviour together.”
“What sickens me is that "it" will get away with the comment only because "it" is not European. The most destructive immigrants are those third-world races, the whites will build and innovate but sadly the others remain backward - ever seen a black invent a car. aeroplane, fly to the moon? When will these halfbreeds admit that the human blood we put into their gene pool has benefited them more than they have benefited us. Tell me what stone age, illiterate, cannibal Maori have given the civilised world. I expect a deathly hush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Give these malcontents parts of northland in proportion to their numbers, fence off their portion and remove ALL human artifacts including clothing...”
“To all the white people, please spare a thought for moari people, They come home and look into a mirror and all the see is an ugly black face, and same the next day , and the same next day the same, etc Shame it must be terrible”
“mutu wanabanana - she da smart monkey learn to take the skin off - but want to keep NZ dumb for the interest of her race = racist little mutu maori”
“YES she should be sacked just another Maori racist bludger.”
If these comments were atypical it would be bad enough, but on that particular thread they were in the majority. Is it just the case that a disproportionate number of unhinged bigots have the time and opportunity to post this sort of vileness on the internet? Or does NZ have an especially large number of sufferers of that increasingly common condition, spina erectus - popularly known as ‘getting your back up’?
Anyone who has studied this condition – as I have - will know that SE results in a reduction of blood flow to the prefrontal cortex and a rush of blood to the amygdala. As a result, those in its grip cannot be reasoned with nor can they exercise normal social control. (The fact that this primitive behaviour is being given expression via the internet is a wonderful irony.)
Whilst some leftist or brown people get drawn into a mud-slinging contest with the bigots, it’s almost always defensive. Put simply, they seldom start it.
No matter how extreme and vile the comments become, the people expressing them seem to have convinced themselves that they are justified because of the ‘racism’ of Maori like Mutu and Harawira. Underlying this is the belief that racism is a natural human characteristic – ie life really is nasty and brutish, albeit no longer as short, well, not for the affluent of the world at least.
That some Maori demonstrate ‘racial’ prejudice cannot be disputed and no-one can seriously claim that only white people have the capacity to be prejudiced. But, if we apply the term racism to any and all prejudiced conduct we risk emptying it of political meaning. And if we don’t engage with that political meaning – we will never learn the lessons of history and will be doomed to repeating its mistakes.
To understand ‘racism’ you have to understand the power that gave rise to it, legitimated and perpetuated it. It was Europeans who attempted to scientifically classify humans into sub-races. This became entangled with beliefs about innate predispositions of the different groups with the most desirable characteristics being attributed to white people - and the least desirable to black people. The ideology of race was developed and fine-tuned by Europeans and it was used to justify the gross exploitation of people of colour – most brutally through the mechanisms of the Atlantic slave trade and early colonisation.
Anyone who fails to acknowledge that there is such a thing as ‘white flight’ from countries like the US, UK, SA and Zimbabwe and that NZ receives a significant number of such migrants, is either being disingenuous or has a political agenda.
Why on earth would anyone be surprised that Maori would be concerned or that a Maori academic would comment on it? I'm not Maori and I am concerned about it.
Margaret Mutu responded to her critics by pointing out that racism is not just being prejudiced against others because of their ethnicity, it’s having the political, economic and martial authority and power to act on those prejudices to the others’ detriment.
Those who vilify Maori need to face the simple and incontestable fact that the tangata whenua suffered grave injustices as a result of European colonization. If we use the more evolved parts of our brain to analyse the current demographics of the Maori population, we have to acknowledge that they still do.
It’s true that Maori have also benefited from colonisation but Pakeha on the whole still get the bigger share of the benefits, and they remain in the great majority. There is no credible threat to Pakeha historical or contemporary hegemony.
NZ is happy to trundle Maori culture out when it suits but let Maori refuse to go back into the cupboard, let them assert actual sovereignty or express concern about the threat which white immigration might pose to it and the voice of reason is drowned by the howls of outrage.
The fact is that we live with a huge shame – which is not solely of Pakeha’s making, Maori leaders also carry some responsibility - the grossly disproportionate rates of Maori incarceration, infant mortality, unemployment, child poverty, child abuse and a significantly lower life expectancy.
Those in the grip of full-blown spina erectus are unlikely to accept there is any explanation for this other than most Maori being self-inducted members of a feckless or feral underclass.
So it falls to those of us with fully functioning prefrontal cortexes to do something about it.
Perhaps Yahoo NZ could set an example and take responsibility for the means by which their namesakes are able to give expression to their boorishness.
Making it obligatory for people to use their real names might be a good starting point.
So come on Telecom – not only is your service pretty poor and your prices too high – your news portal is embarrassing.