How did Richard Prosser get into Parliament?

SEAN PLUNKET
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2013

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OPINION: He is a racist, conspiracy- theory-believing lunatic.

How did Richard Prosser get into Parliament?

The NZ First list MP has confirmed what I had secretly thought since a copy of his autobiography landed on my desk last year: He is a racist, conspiracy-theory-believing lunatic.

His Wogistan comments have, as I'm sure he hoped, caused widespread outrage. Most who have spoken about Mr Prosser's rant would probably agree that if you replaced the P and the first R in his surname with a T you would end up with a far more fitting moniker for him.

Parliament was even moved to pass a resolution recommitting itself to non-discrimination, particularly against Muslims. As I pointed out to Green Leader Russel Norman, who penned the motion, mentioning Muslims was kind of self-defeating and in itself discriminatory.

Dr Norman shot back that the point of the vote was to show that Parliament didn't agree with what Mr Prosser had written.

Maybe Parliament should have passed a motion to that effect, rather than its somewhat clumsy attempt at political correctness. Still that would have been just as silly.

Imagine if MPs took a vote to clarify their collective consciousness every time an individual MP said something controversial. It would be under constant urgency and nothing of note would ever get done.

Dr Norman himself would probably find many of his party colleagues under the gun for their alarmist views on climate change, fracking, genetic engineering and monetary policy.

It probably would have been best all round if everyone had just ignored Mr Prosser's ramblings and let them die through lack of oxygen. Instead - of course - politicians, the media, liberals, humanitarians and even the odd Muslim have taken the bait and fanned the flames.

Some have suggested Mr Prosser has no right as an MP to say such things.

That is a position I disagree with as strongly as I do with the man himself.

He may have ridden into the debating chamber on the coat tails of Winston Peters but if that means he has no mandate to say what he believes, the same can be said of the entire Green caucus and all the National and Labour list MPs as well.

The sad fact is Richard Prosser is a properly elected member of our house of representatives and we can only assume he does represent and espouse the views of those who voted for NZ First.

If he doesn't, the party and its leader should be allowed to give him the boot - though I'm not holding my breath and, as Brendan Horan has proved, that is no guarantee he would leave Parliament anyway.

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Perhaps having the odd Richard Prosser in Parliament isn't such a bad thing. It actually shows us how level headed and reasonable most of our politicians are and alerts us to the fact that extremism and stupidity can pop up even in a socially aware and tolerant society like ours.

I am pretty sure Mr Prosser doesn't hate Muslims or even fear them, but he has failed to delineate between Muslim extremists and terrorists and the vast majority of Muslims who are just people who follow a certain global religion just like Catholics, Sikhs, Presbyterians and Buddhists.

Any religion can produce extremists and fundamentalists and is more likely to do so if its followers are demonised and discriminated against by ignorant politicians.

Here's hoping Mr Prosser hasn't convinced any moderate young New Zealand Muslim to strap on a bomb or hijack a plane because people like him will never let them truly belong in our country.

Extremism in religion or politics or anything is the real problem the world faces.

There is a quote doing the rounds in social media comparing religion to a certain male appendage. It goes something like this: It is OK to have one and it is OK to be proud of it.

It isn't OK to wave it round in public or force it on anyone who doesn't want it or is too young to know exactly what it is.

You should never use it to write legislation and it's probably best not to think with it.

Given Richard Prosser's utterances, I think the same can be said of prejudice.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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