Why give bigotry a voice?

by Jake Quinn

Of all the NZ Herald’s staff, the generally reliable “social issues” reporter should know better. Today Simon Collins writes about community perceptions of the candidates in the Mt Albert by-election:

White-haired Mt Albert pharmacist David Baird met his first living, breathing politician yesterday – and gave her an earful.

…Well you won’t be getting my vote because I don’t think we need any Asians in Parliament,” the pharmacist shot back tartly.

Mr Baird said he had his reasons. “They are very difficult people to deal with. They don’t spend any money. I don’t see that they bring any money into the country. Another problem is their English is very bad.

This is not news.  Using racism to sell newspapers is not OK. The article goes on to salvage itself to some degree, expressing a range of opinions from locals, all far less offensive, from across the Mt Albert electorate.

Kiwiblog skips on criticising the article or its author and points out that this guy is merely a NZ First voter, while The Standard argues that it’s a clear cut  dog whistle:

It turns out that the Herald has interviewed many reasonable people (most of whom supported Shearer) for this piece. So why spend half the article on what some daft old bugger has to say? It’s clearly a dog-whistle “if you don’t vote Melissa Lee, you’re a racist too”

I dont think Collin’s motives extend that far, but rather that this is a case of shabby journalism using bigotry and racism to sell newspapers and that it’s the kind of journalism that should not be encouraged by our leading newspaper.

[UPDATE: So it turns out the old codger was a bloody locum! What a disaster for the chemist! He has apologised and the owners are appealing for the community not to boycott their business. I hope he has learned his lesson- he sure won’t be the most popular chemist locum for a while]