Stephen Franks on speaking freely

Stephen Franks is a brilliant guy, and has seriously strong principles.

His blog about his refusal to comment on the “boat nigger’ scandal without redacting the word nigger shows his mettle.

I was recently asked for a legal perspective on the RHOA Boat Nigger story, but told expressly not to use the N***** word when talking about it.

I declined to speak under that gag.

Nigger is not a word I’ve used for years, since it was part of Eeny Meeny Miny Mo. I have no interest in using it. But I will not appear to show respect for a gag. Not a gag imposed by people who have no problem with broadcasting words like ‘motherfucker’ in songs.  

For me it would be demeaning  to submit to the media airheads manufacturing the uproar. The recent invention of new taboos around words, not even words that have been important in New Zealand, is insulting to New Zealanders. People who pander to those who claim to feel faint at the ghastliness of a verboten word are abandoning their own dignity (and accelerating the loss of freedoms to the neo-puritans).

The effete elite have found a way to recreate the frisson they got as weedy kids running screeching to Mummy that ‘Alfie’ is using rude words after they’d got him to say “album”, and “shampoo”.

So I won’t add support to their neo-puritan religion. Accepting that kind of gag to pretend respect for an alien culture, from New Zealand, is implicit support for the book burners. It is endorsement of those who think free speech comes second to not giving “offence”. People refused to play rugby with race selected teams and decline to appear on stage in line-ups where prejudice has eliminated a view-point, for the same reason.

A brilliant explanation of how gagging people is affecting our ability to have decent and serious discussions of issues.


– Stephen Franks

  • shykiwibloke

    Heh – shouldn’t get too many leftie comments – they will be all rushing to their safe rooms at the university to listen to speakers talk about the religion of peace – just to calm their nerves you understand.

  • phronesis

    The really interesting thing about the word n****r is that it is apparently only offensive to use the word if you have a certain skin colour. Rappers who are black are not condemned for referring to each other as n*****rs. This isn’t only about free speech it is about the pervasive racism that actions can be morally right or wrong depending on your skin colour. Given our hate speech laws I suspect the use of the word n****r could even be criminally wrong, depending on your skin colour of course.

    • phronesis

      Hilariously I had to edit this comment to insert the *’s to get it through moderation. I wonder how they knew I’m white?

      • [MOD] the word is auto moderated so mods can check for context.

    • Cadwallader

      Perfectly written. There is a creeping process where fewer words are tolerated all the time it seems. There are now two “n” words which refer to the same group of persons. The latter one is now frowned on despite it being an abbreviation of negroid. White people are of the grouping caucasoid but I doubt whether being called that albeit in an abbreviated form will ever be banned. This movement doesn’t stop with racial descriptions. Think back to all the labels thrown on homosexuals which are now disparaged, or earlier titles for those with Downs Syndrome etc.. The label which irritates me is “differently abled” for those with handicaps or disabilities. Simply because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they have a compensatory ability, hence, “differently abled” is ridiculous. The more a language is used as a curtain rather than a device for communications, the less utility it will become.

  • I like that man. On that basis I took the effort to write into the (I forget the right name) nz place names board who are changing nigger hill and nigger stream. It is erasing history, it doesn’t actually mean today what it meant then, and it is part of the fabric of how we developed as a nation.

  • axeman

    There was the film that Sir Peter Jackson was making and the dogs name was Nigger, and he was being forced to change the dog name.
    Is it Biggles??

    • Mick Ie

      I can only imagine the conversation that took place with the Movie Studio investors:-
      “We are delighted you want to make a film based on the Dam Busters, Sir Jackson, but we will require you to change some facts to ensure some of our audience don’t get offended.
      For instance, we have to consider the pacifists. Could we change the War to a Morris Dance Festival?
      These were male soldiers and some women hate men. Would you consider the main cast be LBGT to ensure you are being inclusive?
      Some of the audience may have lost relatives in a plane crash, could you choose a transport option that may be a little less aggressive? Perhaps a Segway?
      The bombing was over water and some of the audience may have lost love ones to a bombng or drowning: Would you consider dropping water balloons onto a paddock?
      And lastly, the dog. People have allergies that can cause death Sir Jackson. Have you considered replacing it with a pet rat…?”

    • John Q Public

      Yeh there was a lot talk about the Dam Busters remake, but it doesn’t show up in his “upcoming projects” on IMDB. Maybe its been scuttled.

      • Boondecker

        It could well be due to the dilemma of using the dog’s real name too.

  • cows4me

    I guess it’s a bit like being a little bit pregnant, once it takes hold it’s to late to turn back. Yes let’s ban all the words some find offensive and when we’ve done with that we can ban words that will take there place. It’s just another road to nowhere and when the baby finally arrives it will be an abomination.

  • peterwn

    Yes. ‘Nigger’ was also the codeword used to signify the success of the raids. And in any re-make of the movie the dog would have to be found another name and there will be no smoking (in that era many if not most people smoked like chimneys including the RAF people on the raid).

    • biscuit barrel

      Please dont make it a dachshund.

    • Boondecker

      It’s probably why Peter Jackson has refrained from continuing his remake film production. He’s likely giving plenty of breathing space in terms of time before doing more for fear of being roasted for not using the dog’s real name by the combatants surviving relatives.

  • Jaffa

    I remember when it was OK but a little rude to use the word “Nigger”, then the correct term was “Negro”, then it became “Blacks”, and then “African Americans”,now I think it is “People of Colour”.

    I wonder what the next correct term will be.

    I am a “White Honky” or whatever Harawera now calls me now.

    • Usaywot

      I have always believed this ridiculous notion of calling people sight impaired instead of blind or hearing impaired instead of deaf or wheelchair bound instead of crippled is ridiculous. As Shakespeare said (paraphrased) “A rose by any other name is still a rose”. Changing the name does not make the handicap disappear. What it does is make the handicap seem too shameful to mention, which, of course it isn’t. it’s a bit like the Americans calling a lavatory a bathroom…it’s still a lavatory.

  • Big_Al

    My, how times have changed from when i was growing up. Back then, this “word” was in nursery rhymes and associated with several toys. There was never any conotations or thoughts of racism attached to it. Hell, we did’nt even know what racism was back then.
    As time has progressed, we have developed into a society of “precious” people, who are “offended” by almost everything. I’m sure they don’t know why most of the time, but they just are. Funnily enough though, they don’t seem to be “offended’ by the disgusting and outright foul language that is often on out TV’s, in many Movies, in many modern Songs and heard frequently in the School Playgrounds and the Shopping Malls. Or the often insulting remarks that are thrown at us non coloured people by coloured people.
    Personally it does’nt bother me as it is mostly done in jest or similar and i don’t take offence. Trouble is, if i give it back, i’m a racist. The old word “Hypocricy” often comes to mind.

    • Usaywot

      And there are heaps of low class individuals walking round in foul worded tee shirts. No way of protecting children from that, is there?

  • biscuit barrel

    On racing yachts the BN is an important gig
    “Little boy, that’s not what being a BN is. A BN commissions the boat, arranges for the crew, stocks all of the supplies, transports the boat, arranges for slips, moorings, crew transportation and housing, etc….”

  • Boondecker

    Geroge Carlin excellently once put word selection such as this into “context”…

  • Blockhead

    It OK when blacks use the term.

    This is funny, but there is a serious message too.
    Chris Ross can get away with saying things a white person would never be allowed to utter in public

  • Kiwi As

    I recently showed my 7 year old grandson my nigger boy money box. He shared the experience and description at school, and all hell broke loose. His mother took the phone call from the principal and was reduced to tears. I so regret not receiving that phone call. The saga continues, and I may get the opportunity to state my case.
    For not wanting to expose my loved ones I have refrained from opening the worm can on this to all and sundry. All suggestions for my retort to said principal will be gratefully received.

  • Dumrse

    The headstone is outside the CO’s office adjacent to the road if my memory serves me correctly.

  • CacheSpotter

    Whenever I hear this conversation I always think back to this piece that when first played at the Royal Albert Hall there was a gasp of horror