This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 27 June 2013.
I was going to start this off with an eye-rolling comment about how Winston Peters clearly doesn’t understand what freedom of speech means.
But really, he does.
And I was going to note the inherent paradox of complaining about !!BEING SILENCED!! while giving a public speech.
But he knows it.
And the urge to laugh and laugh and laugh at the idea that Susan Devoy’s mealy-mouthed musings are going to silence anyone – especially given her track record of taking $200k a year to do sweet fuck all to temper and mediate race relations in New Zealand – was very strong.
But he’s already in on the joke.
The fact is that Winston Peters plays the media (and many voters) in this country like a cheap fiddle. We all know he’s a “populist” in the sense of being someone who will say and do whatever it takes to get votes. We know his track record in being a racist dickhead. We know his fine flair for the dramatic.
I don’t think we can ignore Winston. There’s a point where yeah, you do have to say “remember, people, Winston will play a racist dickhead for votes” – because like Peter Dunne’s party list of fundamentalists, it’s something we tend to forget over time, so taken in are we by the latest policy or speech which is just coincidentally on the side of good.
On the other hand, can we at least stop reporting his carefully-worded temper tantrums as though they have any credibility? I know “Orwellian oppression!!!” and “PC police silence warrior of the people!” make for great headlines, but you’re only encouraging him.
Just remember: one day he’ll be gone, and then you’ll have to remember how to write real news articles.