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April 15, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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Probing the Punters: the ‘Offensive?’ Edition

Questions:
1. What types of media content—whether it be jokes, TV shows, news etc.—do you find offensive?
2. Do you think New Zealand has a ‘PC problem’?

 

Richard Prosser
New Zealand First MP

1) I don’t find very much offensive at all; not because there are not plenty of examples of material which is created and disseminated with the intention of causing offence, but because for the most part I choose not to be offended. Taking offence is, of course, entirely a matter of choice. To be offended is an emotional response, based on an acceptance that someone else, by their actions and intentions, is in control of one’s emotions, and by extension, one’s mind and decision-making processes. I do not accept that reality, and thus take offence only when I decide that I want to do so. There is of course much which I regard as inappropriate or distasteful, but that is a separate matter entirely.
2) Yes.

 

Rory McCourt
VUWSA President

1) One can find offence in almost anything if they try. Whereas, I’m a liberal and I tend to think the arts, media and speech around us ought to be as free as a bird. I take issue when bigotry, discrimination and ignorance creeps into policymaking. Feel free to be stupid, but not on my time.
2) Yes, absolutely. I think everyone should have a Mac.

 

Cameron Slater
Editor of The Truth

1) Not much at all; sometime humour needs to be offensive, as does some commentary in order to garner a reaction. Politics especially is all about reactions: you can’t be all things to all people, so somebody is going to be offended. And that is okay; being offended is as much a human right as being offensive.
2) Yes… the media love running headlines about some one or other being offended about something. Does it make it news? Not generally. The correct response to something offensive is either ignoring them or telling them to shut up… it shouldn’t be running like a crybaby to the media because you are upset a bit.

 

Ursula Robinson
Student

1) It’s less the obvious misogyny and racism and homophobia that bothers me, because at least that has the advantage of being easily dismissed as bigotry by the public at large. It’s the prevalence of representations of Kiwi-bloke masculinity, for instance, the way a certain kind of rough inconsideration is tacitly endorsed and reinforced through a lot of our media, that creates an environment where bigotry can flourish. Kitchen jokes don’t spring fully formed out of a vacuum.
2) I think anyone who talks about a ‘PC’ problem obviously feels so entitled to their privilege that they’re not willing to relinquish it for the sake of treating less-privileged people like human beings. There’s a lot of obstinate emphasis on the virtue of our down-to-earth, blunt Kiwi attitudes. Recognising freedom of expression isn’t a free pass to dismiss ethical concerns about other people; the right to free speech is also the right to be an asshole.

 

Rosie Leadbitter
Student

1) I’m a zealous believer in words being a massive tool in disseminating either damaging or helpful messages about sensitive topics or minority groups. I thus have absolutely no tolerance for ‘jokes’ that shit upon such groups for cheap entertainment because a) they are the easiest targets and that is consequently the opposite of ‘edgy’ humour, and b) such ‘jokes’ or satirical articles or news pieces, regardless of intent, are never going to be consumed and interpreted by all people in the way that the author/creator intended.
2) I feel that what is characterised as the typically Kiwi psyche has an allergy to people ‘kicking up a fuss’ or being ‘unable to take a joke’. I personally find it infuriating because I’d like the word ‘PC’ to be exchanged for ‘having the human decency to acknowledge the multitudes of privilege you may possess and acting accordingly and with humility because your right to ‘freedom of speech’ should never trump people’s lived experiences of oppression. It’s a bit wordier though; may not take off.

 

Dr Jon Johansson
Political Science professor

1) Offensive content on TV? Nada, no, nothing whatsoever.
2) No – only for those with pettifogging instincts.

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