OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Fisking for Asians

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  • rodgerd,

    I was stunned when I saw the cover for this N&S, and assumed that it was one of those "lure them in with a shocking headline" jobs, not an actual bit of trash that would look well-placed in a National Front newsletter.

    What, exactly, were they thinking?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Deborah Hill Cone was on the National Radio afternoon show and brough it up because didn't see why it should be "controversial".

    Near the start of this.

    Anyway, I assume we're not surprised by that, but I thought we might be interested.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report

  • Hamish,

    Deborah Hill Cone was on the National Radio afternoon show and brough it up because didn't see why it should be "controversial".

    It's not like it's even a matter of opinion - the math is wrong. If that is the basis of the article then the article should be retracted. And if it's not the basis of the argument then Ms Cone is presenting false evidence to support racists claims.

    It's all very Bell Curve.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    It's not like it's even a matter of opinion - the math is wrong. If that is the basis of the article then the article should be retracted.

    Damn right. Keith's analysis is an indictment of Coddington's (a) incompetence, (b) appalling bad faith, or (c) both.

    This warrants an editorial apology. It will be interesting to see if there is one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Phil Mackie,

    Don't be too upset Keith - it's only DC after all, and she don't make much sense at the best of times. The article says much more about her really.

    I have a few friends from Asia (No, really!), and we frequently use the 'You all look the same to me' argument in both directions - good fun, but it aint really the same as in your article is it.

    I always look out for the use of 'opportunity cost' in an argument, as it is most often abused by those who live in a permanant state of outrage. Dissapointing to see this drivel in a nationally circulated magazine though. It must be quite demoralising.

    Lyall Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 4 posts Report

  • Andrew Feltoe,

    Keith, have you been in touch with the mag? See if you can write a rebuttal article (or just send them your post to print). I wonder if they'll dare.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Everything else aside, I'd be fascinated to hear Coddingtons practical ideas on how 'some asians' could be 'sent back'.

    Does she propose some sort of lottery system? ('Congratulations Sir! You and your family have just won an all expenses paid, one way trip to sunny Myanmar!')

    Or does she just want to send back convicted ethnic asian criminals? And how would that work? Would she establish some sort of 'blood quanta' system to figure out who is and isn't asian (maybe Dr Brash could help)? Would the state get to nationalise the assets of deported asian criminals? What would happen to their families? Do they get deported too, even though they've committed no crime, or do the children of asian criminals become wards of the state? Is there even a process for stripping someone of their New Zealand citizenship? Wouldn't a separate system of punishment for different ethnic groups be, you know, insanely racist? Are Indians Asians? Mongols? Uighur?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report

  • David Haywood,

    rodgerd wrote:

    What, exactly, were they thinking?

    I imagine North & South's thought processes went something like this:

    Help! Our readership is plummeting. We need to take drastic measures. How about running a sensationalist story? Perhaps something like: 'Asian Angst: is it time to send some back?'. "Hey Deborah, why don't you go off and concoct an article to match this headline."

    By the way, I'm normally quite impressed by the standard of writing in North & South -– so this observation is made more in sorrow than in anger...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    That article is shameful to me as a New Zealander and appalling in its shoddy (but alas, typical) thinking. But like reading Pravda in the Soviet era, its not the article that is interesting but the fact that it was allowed to be written at all. There seems to be a growing received wisdom amongst those who purposes it suits to serve that some sort of Anglo-Saxon reaction to over mighty wimmin, uppity Maoris, brown PI layabouts and yellow invaders is setting in. North and South sees itself as positioned to serve the perceived prejudices of the semi-provincial "heartland" (How presumptuous is the arrogation of that title to minority of New Zealanders!) and so it will commission the arch-representative of the chattering closed mind to write such a piece.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Camilla Swan,

    Excellent post Keith, succinctly bundled up many of the issues I spent most of the day ranting about yesterday. Specifically the comparison of PI and Asian crime statistics. I think Deborah needs to enrol in STATS 101 or perhaps 7th form Statistics again to gain an understanding of just how ridiculous her statements are. Grrr!!!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    Oh and BTW - my revenge in this case was to go to the bookstore, read the offending article, then HIDE the copies of North and South behind the adult magazines. Immensely satisfying as a piece of petty direct action.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Mr Black,

    "Making it even more difficult for police, says [Auckland police] drug squad boss [John] Sowter, is 'that they all look the same to us so you wouldn't know [they're gang members] if you passed them on the street. We've got Asian cleaners and I look at them sometimes and wonder."

    *disbelief (sort of...kinda expected from the moustache gang)*

    Since Nov 2006 • 11 posts Report

  • Sapna Samant,

    Well done Keith! Send your article to N&S. They should apologise for the obfuscation. Did they think us Asians were dumb too? As for Debra H-C. She lives in an ivory tower so white she has monochromatic vision. She once said that those learning Te Reo are losing their English language skills. So being multilingual is actually a 'bad' thing. It prevents people from interacting in this big 'English' world. We should just let her lose in some third world country what?

    One way to get the point across is to insist on Asian panelists for the Afternoon Show on Nat Radio . Send emails to afternoons@radionz.co.nz

    BTW, an interesting debate would be on who is really 'Asian'. Why are we letting the largely white media and DC types tell us that Indians are not Asians? What about those from the middle east? Central Asia? Mongolia? Let us take charge!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report

  • Michael Stevens,

    Great analysis Mr Ng, excellent! And N&S should apologise for publishing such shoddy work - Third-rate racist innumerate journalism from a failed politician.

    But what more can we expect from Coddington - she's never been the sharpest knife in the drawer, and Cone is not exactly known for her insight or in-depth analysis either.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report

  • Tet Woo Lee,

    This reminds me of a letter to the Herald a year or two back, which basically went something like: Asians make up 6% of the population, but 2% of the crime statistics and therefore this must mean than 1/3 of asians are criminals. Haha, talk about totally misunderstanding stats. I couldn't believe they would actually publish a letter as clueless as that. Imagine what "proportion" of other ethnicities would be criminals if one did this "analysis" on them...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report

  • Kyle MacDonald,

    The woman is the worst kind of idiot, ignorant, opinionated and with a forum. She did a similarly bad job of writing about how "ALL INSANE PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE" a few years back in the same shoddy publication. Honestly, she is actually just a really bad journalist. Who keeps giving her licence for this nonsene? I completley support you taking N&S to task on this one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 82 posts Report

  • Don Christie,

    I suspect DHC sees this tact as a way of getting herself and some of her ex-MP buddies back into parliament at the expense of NZ First. Not the first time in the last few months I have heard and ex-Act MP spout similar nastiness.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report

  • stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz,

    Suely there's now a law against inciting racial hatred---especially if you do it intentionally? And what reason save inciting hatred (or stoking that which, sadly, already exists widely in NZ) would there be for writing such an article, and then making a big deal about it?

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 73 posts Report

  • Stephen Judd,

    It's even more fun if you mentally substitute "Jew" for "Asian". I think from now on we could refer to Deborah "Streicher" Coddington.

    But more seriously, this is why I no longer read N&S, or Metro, or any NZ magazine. I'm fed up with articles whose authors clearly started with their conclusion, threw in a few emotional anecdotes, and buttressed with poorly digested statistics. I don't trust the writers and I can't take the irritation any more.

    Suely there's now a law against inciting racial hatred---especially if you do it intentionally?

    From the HRC website:

    It is unlawful for any person:

    * To publish or distribute written matter which is threatening, abusive, or insulting, or to broadcast by means of radio or television words which are threatening, abusive or insulting; or
    * To use in any public place as defined in s.2(1) of the Summary Offences Act 1981, or within the hearing of persons in any such public place, or at any meeting to which the public are invited or have access, words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting; or
    * To use in any place words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting if the person using the words knew or ought to have known that the words were reasonably likely to be published in a newspaper, magazine, or periodical or broadcast by means of radio or television,

    Being matter or words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons in or who may be coming to New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that group of persons.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Yes, the Human Rights Act does prohibit inciting racial hatred, but in practice the prohibition always has to be balanced against the Bill of Rights Act right to freedom of speech, which means actual prosecutions are few and far between. (I can't actually think of any. Anyone else?)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    There was one case, but it was a long time ago, and not contested. (white supremacist)
    In general, complaints to the Human Rights Commission of publications and speech 'exciting racial hostility' do not meet the threshold of harm required to outbalance the principles of free speech. Appropriately, it is a very high threshold. However, complaints of that nature received by the Commission are a useful gauge of public opinion and public offense, and can result in action taken by the Race Relations Commissioner. Because of this, the Human Rights Commission never 'discourages' people from complaining under those grounds, even if there can be no formal complaint proceedings under law.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report

  • Meech,

    I don't know a lot about how the Press Council works - if they in fact have any powers [I''m much more familiar with the BSA] Could it be worth laying a complaint with them?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 5 posts Report

  • Chris Beer,

    Stephen: I fully agree about your comments on the NZ print media - although to be fair the situation is little better in Australia... I have simply stopped buying weekly or monthly printed news and current affairs publications.

    Am I really hoping for too much in wanting to be able to buy a serious, widely-available current affairs magazine, with thoughtfully researched and written articles? With the exception of The Economist (and notwithstanding its editorial slant and general lack of Australasian coverage), it would seem that this format of media is almost dead in this part of the world.

    Since Nov 2006 • 11 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    The Press Council very rarely upholds complaints (about 7% are upheld, considerably fewer than similar bodies in other countries) and when it does, it can only oblige editors of member publications to "publish the substance of Council adjudications".

    As a self-regulating body for the print media (I think there are also two citizen representatives on the council), it has nowhere near the heft of the BSA.

    Some print publications, notably NBR, don't acknowledge it. There's nothing to stop the council finding against those publications, it just makes ignoring the decision easier.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Keith Ng,

    Thanks for all the replies - this whole PA System thing is great, but a bit hard to keep track and responsed in any sort of timely fashion.

    I don't really buy into the idea that either N&S or Coddington are deliberately racist, or even that their motives were purely cynical and commercial (I suspect it was an important driver, though). I think that they wanted to ask whether Asian crime was a problem in New Zealand, and that the police concerns were a legitimate starting point.

    Where Coddington went horribly wrong, of course, was failing to interview an actual recent immigrant (and pretending that one Chinese New Zealander who explicitly dissociates herself from those immigrants is representative of those immigrants), failing to talk to the police Asian community liason officer (pretty goddamn obvious, yeah?), chiding the politicians who didn't give her the indignant soundbites she wanted, and refusing to acknowledge the key statistics to the contrary that were staring her in the face (and trying to pretend that they weren't).

    In a sense, I think they missed their own point. It could have been a legitimate story.

    There is a general perception that Asian crime is rampant. Some police are concerned about Asian connections in drug crimes. Yet apprehension stats among Asians are far below averge, and has gotten lower.


    Is Asian crime actually uncommon, but just gets more attention (and a higher profile) because they're Asian? Are the police units responsible for Asian crime very concerned about Asian crime because it's their friggin' job description?

    On the other hand, could it be that law enforcement engagement with the Asian community is lacking, and therefore crime is less visible, only showing itself in the high-end incidents?

    Of course, by failing to acknowledge the facts and packing the story with gory case details and dodgy stats, they didn't even attempt to ask any of these questions.

    Hence: N&S - you suck.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report

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