In the lead up to Waitangi Day 2018 Bob Jones a Pākehā millionaire with Right Wing Conservative views wrote an opinion piece for the National Business Review which was published on February 2nd. The article was full of racist demeaning statements by Bob Jones. This is not the first time that Jones has published his conservative rantings. The Spinoff blog also highlights previous obnoxious writings by Jones stating;
“Provocations over recent years include dismissing beggars as “mostly fat Māoris”, calling for a ban on women drivers and admonishing women victims of indecent assault as “silly” for walking in a park.”
Bob Jones comments from NBR Opinion Piece February 2018 were as follows;
Responses to the article saw the NBR quickly removing it from their website. The NZ Herald in seeking comment on the removal of the article states “NBR has been approached for comment, but did tweet on February 5 “Sir Bob Jones’ latest column has been removed from NBR’s website, due to inappropriate content”.” https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11989940
The tweet itself appears here:
In March of this year a petition was presented by Renae Maihi and Professor Pou Temara to parliament with more than 68,000 signatures “calling on MPs to strip Sir Bob Jones of his knighthood over his controversial column about a Maori “Gratitude Day”. As the NZ Herald notes “The petition was prompted by a column Jones wrote in the National Business Review last month, calling for a Māori Gratitude Day instead of Waitangi Day. “I have in mind a public holiday where Maoris bring us breakfast in bed or weed our gardens, wash & polish our cars & so on, out of gratitude for existing,” The petition has now over 72,000 signatures.
As a part of the response to the article a complaint was made by Mel Whaanga to the Press Council that the article breached “the Press Council’s principles notably Principle 1 (accuracy, fairness and balance) and 5 (opinion).” These principles are defined as:
Principle 1 Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Publications should be bound at all times by accuracy, fairness and balance, and should not deliberately mislead or misinform readers by commission or omission. In articles of controversy or disagreement, a fair voice must be given to the opposition view.
Exceptions may apply for long-running issues where every side of an issue or argument cannot reasonably be repeated on every occasion and in reportage of proceedings where balance is to be judged on a number of stories, rather than a single report.
Principle 5 Columns, Blogs, Opinion and Letters
Opinion, whether newspaper column or internet blog, must be clearly identified as such unless a column, blog or other expression of opinion is widely understood to consist largely of the writer’s own opinions. Though requirements for a foundation of fact pertain, with comment and opinion balance is not essential. Cartoons are understood to be opinion.
Letters for publication are the prerogative of editors who are to be guided by fairness, balance, and public interest. Abridgement is acceptable but should not distort meaning.
The Press Council did not uphold the complaint with a split decision of 7:4. Central to the Press Council decision was an acceptance of the argument by NBR that the article as 1. An Opinion Piece 2. It was satire and 3. That withdrawal of the article and decision by NBR to not publish further Bob Jones article is an appropriate response. There was however a very powerfully stated Minority Dissent position.
Four members, Chris Darlow, Jo Cribb, Tiumalu Peter Fa’afiu and John Roughan would have upheld the complaint believing it clearly exceeded a reasonable boundary of free speech on the subject of race. Putting aside the accuracy of the claim there are no “full blooded” Maori alive today, which the complainant contested, the minority found it hard to follow the contention that had it not been for migrants to New Zealand there would no Maori today. The writer appeared to be straining for a reason to suggest Maori should grovel in gratitude to non-Maori for their survival, a suggestion the four members found gratuitously offensive.
They disagreed with the view that this was excusable as “satire”. The important principle of freedom of speech was not served in their view by humour that depends on giving deliberate, gratuitous offence to a racial minority for the amusement of the writer and those who share his racial attitudes. This was an egregious example of free speech being used for no purpose beyond cruel amusement. While the newspaper quickly removed the column from its website when it realised the offence it had caused, the piece should not have been published.
The NBR’s withdrawal of the column underlines a useful principle that free speech on the subject of race ought to stop short of humour that deliberately sets out to hurt. The four members hope all editors will reflect on this case and recognise that gratuitous racial offence is unworthy of responsible journalism.
Press Council members considering this complaint were Sir John Hansen, Liz Brown, Jo Cribb, Chris Darlow, Tiumalu Peter Fa’afiu, Jenny Farrell, John Roughan, Hank Schouten, Christina Tay, Tim Watkin and Tracy Watkins.
In my view the Press Council gave far too much credibility to the assertion by both Jones and the NBR that the column was satire. I have written previously about this issue.
It seems that the ‘it is satire’ position taken by both the NBR and Jones provided a useful post-publication response to the rapid and significant reaction to the article as yet another Bob Jones racist demeaning rant.
As a result of the high profile of the petition, Jones was quick to threaten Renae Maihi, and by his own admission to TV1 News he would find it “very enjoyable” to take her to court for defamation. In a show of pure arrogance Jones states: “I won’t sue her for a lot because that would seem like I’m bullying her.”
In true narcissistic form Jones turns the issue on its head stating “”You have to be sick to not see (what he wrote) was a p*sstake,”
Just to clarify the use of the term narcissistic in relation to Jones behaviour, the general indicators include the following:
• Exaggerates own importance
• Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal romance
• Believes he or she is special and can only be understood by other special people or institutions
• Requires constant attention and admiration from others
• Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
• Takes advantage of others to reach his or her own goals
• Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy
• Is often envious of others or believes other people are envious of him or her
• Shows arrogant behaviors and attitudes
So it is not difficult to see how Bob Jones may fit well into this definition, with the current court proceedings of defamation against Renae Maihi being just one example of the indicators noted above.
And even with over 72,000 signatures on the petition he continues to be of the misguided view that Renae Maihi stands alone. What is that? Stupidity? Arrogance? Racism? Or just straight our white male privilege spouting off? There is ample evidence that gestures to all of these attributes.
1. Evidence of Stupidity: Comments by Jones in response to the NZ Herald asking about the filing of the defamation writ, NZ Herald June 18, 2018:
“That’s a tough one,” he said.
“So no I haven’t [filed papers]. I lied on Whale Oil and the judiciary are trying to wind you up and are lying as well, the bastards. So keep your guard up son. You can’t trust anyone and certainly not the judiciary.”
2. Evidence of Arrogant White Privilege: Comments taken from Jones colum Bob Jones’ full NBR column.
I have in mind a public holiday where maori bring us breakfast in bed or weed our gardens, wash and polish our cars and so on, out of gratitude for existing. And if any maori tries arguing that if he/she didn’t have a slight infection of Irish blood or whatever, they might be the better for it, the answer is no sunshine.
3. Evidence of Racism: Comments taken from Jones colum Bob Jones’ full NBR column. “As there are no full-blooded maoris in existence it indisputably follows that had it not been for migrants, mainly Brits, not a single maori alive today, including Professor William Temaru [sic], would have existed. So excluding individuals who may be miserably suicidal, and instead like 99.999% of us, actually like being alive, it’s long overdue for some appreciation… Maori Appreciation Day in which maori tangibly express their gratitude for existing thanks to European immigration, by a day’s voluntarily labour for non-maori folk, would be an excellent initiative for the new government.
I would put my bet on all of the above. Why? Because each of those characteristics align with both the definition of narcissism and with the position of white male privilege that he asserts.
He is also clearly showing that his thinking and opinions are, to borrow a phrase from Taika Waititi ‘Racist As Fuck’.