Actually, Paul Spoonley, you are wrong

A local politician in Auckland is defending his racist rants on Facebook as free speech, but says he is sorry if his words have caused offence: Quote:

Derek Battersby has used his social media page to rail against Asians, celebrate a fatal police shooting, and call Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter a “silly b….”.

He said he was commenting as an individual, and not in his official capacity as a member of the Whau Local Board.

The West Auckland resident is also a QSM recipient and former board chair.

“I believe in free speech,” Battersby said on Wednesday afternoon. “I have every right to make my comments.”

Professor Paul Spoonley, pro vice-chancellor of Massey University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said Battersby’s social media posts were “reprehensible”.

“You can’t claim free speech in order to be offensive to ethnic minorities or women,” Spoonley said.

“He’s out of tone and out of place. It’s the sort of attitude that you would have encountered 50 years ago, but in 2018 it seems awfully archaic and really very retrograde.” End quote.

Actually, Paul Spoonley is dead wrong. You can claim free speech and you can be offensive – that is what free speech is about. Speech is either free or it is not. What Paul Spoonley is saying is that he thinks it is not. Where he gets it wrong is that it is perfectly reasonable to call something reprehensible, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said. Quote:

Among his posts Battersby suggested New Zealand should introduce “A-plates for Asian drivers”.

He said he did not believe his comment was inappropriate, and recounted a recent experience involving an Asian driver who did not move to the left to allow others to overtake.

Likewise, he stood by his comment attacking Genter after she suggested old white men should move on from company boards to allow for more diverse representation.

“Silly b….,” Battersby wrote on Facebook.

“Old white men saved us from Hitler in the Second World War. She should stay at home and look after the kids.”

“I don’t have a problem with that,” he said on Wednesday, when asked whether he thought it was appropriate for an elected official to use such language.

“I hope that the people who are voting for that local board realise this is the sort of thing he’s using his platform to say, and re-evaluate whether that’s really what they want to vote for next time.”

Chair of the Whau local board, Tracy Mulholland, said on Wednesday evening Battersby’s social media use “is a concern” and she would give a full response on Thursday morning. End quote.

Obviously, the old goat needs to be voted out, but it is far better that we let him say stupid things so we know come election time. That it is, as it should be, up to the voters and not a lynch mob of the offenderati. He is an obvious candidate for NZ’s dodgiest local government politician.

He shouldn’t have his freedom of speech curtailed because some people have hurty feelings. We should all be allowed to point at him and laugh, Nelson-Muntz style, at his views.

He may be rude and offensive, but now we know. Voters can choose accordingly, and then we will see if he is right or Julie Anne Genter is right when it comes to assessing where society is at.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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