Right. Now that I've had time to calm down, something a tad more reasoned about this Paul Henry fiasco.Then again, it wasn't what Henry himself said yesterday that made me so angry, it was the response from Andi Brotherston, TVNZ's PR person who suggested that I supported Henry's remarks on the basis of me being a New Zealander.
I've had a couple of discussions with people on both sides of the should he go/should he stay debate. They mostly boil down to he has overstepped some mark and thus should vs go firing him is curtailing his right to free speech. I tend to fall into the he should go camp, but I don't think the reasoning has been particularly well enunciated.
Henry has a right to free speech. I'm not sure where the lines are drawn, legally speaking, for hate speech, so I could be wrong, but I'm not sure he overstepped the mark there. Which would mean that legally, he would be allowed to say what he said. Where the should he stay argument falls down is that TVNZ is not required to give Henry a platform from which to speak. removing him from his position as host of a breakfast show, in no way limits him from continuing to say the sort of things he has been saying. thus, firing him does not curtail his right to free speech in any way though it drastically reduces the number of people who might listen. Freedom of speech does guarantee that you will be listened to.
Ellis, TVNZ's CEO finally gets (part of) his response right in this morning's papers. With freedom comes responsibility. With the free reign that TVNZ have given Henry, there comes a responsibility to operate within the ethos of the organization. In this case, it is a state owned organization and has to, at the least, attempt to not transgress the principle the state professes to endorse. In this case, I believe that Henry has crossed the line one to many times for TVNZ to continue backing him or writing his faux pas off as non-PC plain speaking. And thus he should go.