Human Rights Commission goes to war with the media

It seems the response to Dame Susan Devoy’s endorsement of decisions to not mention “Christmas” so as to not offend those precious thin-skinned Muslim immigrants has hit a nerve. She has lambasted media bias.

Most of us already realise our mainstream media has a powerful influence on people. What some of us do not already realise is that our media is neither neutral nor objective.

Chinese New Zealanders, Muslim New Zealanders, Jewish New Zealanders, Pacific New Zealanders, Indian New Zealanders, African New Zealanders and of course Maori New Zealanders: regularly tell the Commission that the media too often misrepresents, sensationalises or fails to include their voices in news stories about them.

Often news stories about ethnic minorities have negative themes and present minorities as problems and not as people. This is not a new phenomenon and with the advent of social media, these prejudices are often amplified.

Dame Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner, who recently spoke at the Ethnic Migrant Refugee Community Engagement Summit about this issue, says that while the media may not be neutral or objective, it does reflect the society we live in.

“There have been a number of examples in recent times of the media’s incorrect treatment and portrayal of ethnic communities in New Zealand.

“The “ban on Christmas’ coverage last year was particularly telling – taking The Commission’s defence of a Migrant Trusts right to use secular language and turning it into a story about how New Zealand’s way of life was at risk from migrants and newcomers.

“The article pushed the buttons of fear and intolerance and served an existing undertone of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric: and the immediate response from many New Zealanders was angry, abusive and offensive.”

The article definitely got people talking, but after a month or so the majority of editorials and commentators had realised what we had been saying for weeks: no one was banning Christmas; Kiwis can decide for themselves; New Zealand’s way of life was not in danger.

Oh dear lord, perhaps Dame Susan needs a box of tissues to dry her eyes.


While I’m sure we can all agree that the media are not fair and indeed highly biased with their reporting, it would have been nice if the HRC had referred to a BSA rulings or more objective evidence. After all, when those lines are crossed there can be little debate that an egregious error has been made.

Wallace Chapman, for example, was found guilty of imbalanced reporting when he interviewed Kolin Thumbadoo about Israel in 2015.

Imbalanced reporting is irresponsible journalism. Since 1991, there have been only 14 breaches of the balance standard by a radio network. In August, the BSA upheld a complaint against RadioNZ for its biased reporting of the Gaza conflict last year, ruling that it does not “consider that this broadcast enabled listeners to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion about the July/August 2014 developments in the Gaza conflict.”

The BSA said that some of the comments during Wallace Chapman’s interview with Kolin Thumbadoo “were so extreme and focused on a particular aspect of the issue that they could not be balanced by other broadcasts dealing with the Gaza conflict generally”. The BSA also said that Mr Chapman “could have prepared for at least some of the comments made by [Thumbadoo], given that even a simple internet search identifies him as an activist who regularly participates in pro-Palestinian protests.”

HonestReporting gives more details.

And Radio NZ is under the hammer again for biased reporting against Israel:

A pair of Radio New Zealand Morning Show segments included incorrect information about Israel and a proposal, now withdrawn, to expand the use of the death penalty against terrorists.

During the first segment, they interviewed journalist Kate Shuttleworth (whose anti-Israel bias HonestReporting have exposed before, most recently in this article) who claimed that Prime Minister Netanyahu:

Supported an Israeli soldier who was filmed shooting a Palestinian attacker in the head while he was already disarmed and lying on the ground.”Kate Shuttleworth

Netanyahu actually said that the soldier’s actions:

…do not represent the values of the Israeli Defense Forces. The IDF expects its soldiers to act calmly and according to the rules of engagement.”Prime Minister Netanyahu

In the second segment, RNZ  interviewed Mouin Rabbani with the Institute for Palestine Studies. His main point was that under current law, an Israeli military court must vote unanimously to impose the death penalty and under the proposal, that requirement would be changed to a simple majority. This change, according to Mabbani, would lead to a wide expansion in the use of the death penalty as prosecutors would be expected to “demand” and “implement” capital punishment because of the change.

What he did not mention is that despite the fact that the law exists on the books, for over 20 years, it has not been sought by prosecutors — even in response to the most heinous terrorist acts. There is not a single example that Mabbani can point to where the number of judges required to enact a death penalty verdict would have made a difference. Also left out of the report is the fact that when the Knesset considered an expansion of the death penalty last year, the proposal was voted down 94-6.

Most disturbing is when Rabbani tells the interviewer:

As you are probably aware, summary executions without even the pretense of a court process are more or less routine in the occupied territories.”Mouin Rabbani

Yet he is never asked to produce any data to back up his claim of routine executions. It is worth noting that with regards to the shooting in Hevron, it is the IDF soldier who is standing trial, accused of manslaughter.

So, while Susan Devoy gets upset about insults to Maori and to Muslims she remains utterly silent on the treatment the media mete out to Israel and Jews in their reporting.

Is it too much to ask for some consistency from her office?


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  • Mike

    Mother Teresa Devoy would have us bend over like Germany/Sweden and accept millions of these people who do not share our values (which are freedom of speech, women’s right to education, women’s right to sexual health, women’s right to freedom from oppression, women’s right to not be a slave to her husband etc). Thankfully the Dalai Lama put her right. Whoops, I forgot, the HRC has probably labelled the Dalai Lama as a Nazi racist.

  • sandalwood789

    I say “axe the HRC and RRC.” They’re both a waste of time and money.
    The same goes for Women’s Affairs – axe them too.

    What “expertise” does Devoy have in her “waste of time” position when Islam breaks every known “human right” that there is?
    Maybe she should read the Koran and hadith sometime and enlighten herself.
    ( Knowing her, she would just ask an imam about Islam and he would tell her exactly what she wants to hear.
    *They* aren’t stupid. )

  • papagaya

    Devoid’s got to justify her salary and her office somehow. So now and then we have to be subjected to these holier than thou diatribes.

    • sandalwood789

      Sickening, isn’t it? All of the finger-wagging and being lectured at when you know darned well that you know *vastly more* about the topic than she does.

  • Eddie

    To be fair, she did mention “Jewish New Zealanders” but all her whinging is just a pretense to try and shut down free speech and impose her version of Sharia law. She doesn’t seem to get the difference between free speech and lying. All media are biased but only those like you say who are found guilty by the BSA or worse are a real problem. Dame Fatimah Devoid is just sad the “journalists” didn’t like her attempts to shut down Christmas. Did she lay a formal complaint or is she just whinging?

  • WBC

    I do hope she doesn’t refer to Ramadan in a few days time. For a little constancy maybe just calling it a month of fasting during the day would be more appropriate. Anything else would insult every other part of New Zealand society.

  • D.Dave

    I have no problem with not mentioning Christmas, so long as Ramadan, Matariki, Halloween, and any other pseudo religious “festival”is included in the ban. Along with any insistence that I bend over backwards, so as not to offend any poor person suffering from delusions of race or religion, that may cause them to be indignant, or petulant, in my immediate vicinity. So, no mosques, synagogues, churches or maraes blaring out their moaning and shrieking, please; it offends me.

  • Superman

    New Zealanders celebrate Christmas, always have and always will. Other cultures who have ended up here can celebrate their special events but they can’t insist we have to fit in with them and deny our rights. This includes the Race Relations Conciliator. This type of thing is the main reason Donald Trump is doing so well in the USA.

  • JustanObserver

    Why are un-elected mouthpieces, Devoid, Angry Little, Material Girl, Vandrea Ance all trying to stuff our NZ with their agenda?

  • Keanne Lawrence

    Devoy is attacking the Media party? That’s a joke but no surprise there since she is a joke. She also overlooks that New Zealanders have a vast experience or more correctly exposure to dealing with the excessive demands of minority groups. Particularly the local minority native population. Not only do they number significantly in the prison population and crime statistics but are even more dominant at the front of the hand-out queue.
    Insulting the culture and heritage of the majority along with a false assumption that there is broad rejection of ALL migrants is just adding further insult. Most are crystal clear that they reject Muslims since too many claims that they are moderates have proven to be false. In their case it has nothing to do with skin colour but rather more to do with their religion/doctrine which is a diametrical challenge to ours.
    It is an oxymoron for the so called Race Relations Conciliator to refer to migrants from various countries as Muslim migrants as there is no such place. Can it be that Devoy is so devoid of any understanding or knowledge of what “race” really is?

    • kereru

      Why have a Race Relations Conciliator at all? Dame Devoid has stretched the word ‘race’ to mean anything she wants it to mean, thus ensuring the continuation of her fat pay packet. Her role is outdated and unnecessary.

      What many of us object to is special preference on demand. Why is it necessary to have a costly department supposedly dealing with racial issues, which has the gall to suggest that calling a Christmas dinner a ‘Christmas dinner might offend Muslims and others. It was nothing to do with race but purely a cultural issue – and there’s nothing admirable about attacking a soft target either. People of all races can celebrate Christmas and accept the fact that it’s a Christian tradition. So is she going to go into bat about any other cultural celebration? By your criterion, aren’t they also ‘racist’ Susan? Why the silence?

      It’s already established that race is seldom, if ever, the problem in
      New Zealand. In fact, we’re applauded for taking people as we find
      them. Remove ‘race’ out of the equation and merge her office with that of
      the HRC. There’s absolutely no need for the double-up.