Poverty? The only thing really under-nourished is free speech

This week the brief from the boss was a simple one.

Today, the Taranaki Daily News highlights the issues of, among other things, "the poor and poverty in New Zealand society, following on from the Government's food for schools, the Al Nisbet cartoons and the reaction to both".

He thought the Noble Gentleman On My Left and I might like to have a crack at the issues - a splendid idea. So here goes.

There's one thing I agree with - there is a shift in society's reported attitudes. It's a bit like driving through the Awakino gorge in the middle of a wet spell in winter, as I did recently.

You just can't help but notice the slips and the subsequent remedial work to stop the more insecure parts from caving in totally.

The route through all the obstacles is still there, but without constant work, the journey becomes more difficult. That's pretty much what's now becoming the norm in any debate on social issues. As an example, we now have Hone Harawira lecturing us on, among other things, what is acceptable in a cartoon. Offence can only seemingly be taken by brown-skinned people and their apologists, the ever-earnest Greens.

Let's start with the furore caused by the Nisbet cartoons which appeared in the Marlborough Express and The Press. It focused on the fact that Nisbet's characters were either - perish the thought - Maori or Pacific islanders, and they were welcoming the Government's just-announced breakfast in schools programme by saying it would leave more money for smokes, the pokies and booze.

How dare he, screamed the predictable do-gooders. This was clearly racism and recently-appointed Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy simply had to take a strong stance, because she'd already been targeted as the wrong person for the job. It's all part of the softening-up process that ensures such things happen. She duly obliged.

So let's examine Hone's own record of saying inappropriate things. We could retort by labelling him the laziest MP in the country, because he's been absent for 49 of the last 120 sitting days up to the end of April this year. Gosh, he'd be in trouble with the Mana Party leader, if it wasn't him.

In recent years, this self-appointed censor of contrary views on race issues has had plenty to say, including "time John Key realised a few home truths, like he can tell his little house niggers what to do, but the rest of us don't give a shit for him or his opinions!" Charming.

He also described Pakeha as "white motherf.....s" who had been "ripping us off for centuries" in an email to former Waitangi Tribunal director Buddy Mikaere.

Harawira also said that he would feel uncomfortable if one of his seven children came home with a Pakeha partner. He later backtracked and said he wasn't a racist. Of course not; maybe he should draw his own cartoon.

Referring to the former Australian prime minister, Hone caused international outrage when he said "John Howard is a racist bastard."

Following his return from a parliamentary trip to Europe in November 2009, Hawawira was asked to repay some travel costs after skipping a taxpayer-funded conference in Brussels to go sightseeing in Paris.

"How many times in my lifetime am I going to get to Europe? So I thought, 'F... it, I'm off. I'm off to Paris'."

So this is the man who would lecture us on poverty, racism, manners and anything else that enters his twisted mind. This is not an attack on Harawira, it's simply putting into context the sort of person who thinks they have the right to hold us to account. Would someone give me one good reason why we should take any notice of what he thinks - ever?

Or Russel Norman, who has now shamelessly ditched the Greens' mantra of not playing the man but sticking to the issues?

His attack on John Key, including a silly comparison to Rob Muldoon, was contemptible. Rod Donald must be turning over in his grave. But then Norman was living in his native Australia at the time, so he wouldn't really know what New Zealand was like.

As a society, the Left are now dominating the debate coverage, condemning anyone who challenges them as racist, mean-spirited deniers of anything they believe in. Sadly, that does not include the notion of free speech, and that's even more laughable than anything Nisbet could dream up. Mind you, after the reaction to his last lot, don't expect him to go there again, which was just one of the outcomes the shrill shrieking pack of Hone's acolytes were hoping for.

Society hasn't changed - fair-minded Kiwis abound, it's just that they can't get their voices heard, apart from those pesky three-year elections.

Taranaki Daily News