Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Henry the ninth... again... for the last time...

Another of those missives that the ol' probligo shoots off to get lost in the ether. This time to Sunday Star Times in response to idiot (without the savant) columnist and correspondents...

Your correspondents John Foote and Peter Foreman as well as potty-jockey Laws are all quite correct. Paul Henry does have freedom of speech; as do they; and I hope so too do I.

There is a point to which Foreman got oh so close, and which the other two missed completely.

Other people have rights as well and those rights may impinge quite directly upon the application of the right to freedom of speech.

The first and most obvious is that freedom to speak does not of itself guarantee that the voice will be held. To guarantee that their voice is heard, anyone can buy the resources - by way of advertisement for example - to achieve the objective.

Foote, Foreman, and I, all have the right to being heard at the whim of the Editor of SST. Whether my voice will be heard at the same level as the other two will depend upon the mood of those who make the selection for publication.

The point made by Foreman in his seemingly curious parallel with a Maori golf tournament is in fact the crux of the matter, except that he chooses to misinterpret it to prove racial discrimination instead of the right of organisers to set the terms and conditions of the tournament.

This is truly the point that applies to both Laws and Henry. Both have a voice greater than the normal joe. They are paid - quite handsomely it seems - to present "their news". The relationship between "their voice" and the media carrying it - TVNZ or SST - is governed by the application of the employers' editorial policies, the terms of their individual contracts, and their own consciences. There is no doubt that if either were to act – to broadcast opinion – in a way which affected their employers' ability to pay the bills then there would be serious discussions between policy setters, editorial staff and their employee.

In exactly the way that the organisers of a Maori Golf Tournament can determine the rules and eligibility for competition, TVNZ or SST can determine whose voice is heard; TVNZ and SST can determine, at the very least limit, what is said through their publication.

Henry stepped outside of TVNZ's limits. He lost his job as a result.


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