Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Informal Complaint

Having just surveyed the procedure for making a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about the recent offensive behaviour of Paul Henry (in his mocking of people with brain damage and intellectual disability, and his use of derogatory language concerning them) I don't think I have the time or the energy right now to go through all the hoops.

I know that many other people have done so - gone through the formal complaint process - with no sign of any apology let alone any contrition. So I'll register an informal complaint here, and also I resolve to boycott any advertiser that supports TV One, until they demand that Henry apologises and attends some form of remedial education.

(It has just been brought to my attention that there is an actual campaign to this effect going on over at the HAND MIRROR - Bravo!)

The other point that I'd like to make is that the Human Rights Commission has politely explained they cannot action the many complaints they have received, because "the complaints raise issues about the rights of disabled people, but do not fall within the discrimination provisions of the Human Rights Act".

Why not? Don't people with intellectual disabilities have Human Rights?

It seems that there is a convention on those rights, but NZ has not yet implemented it: the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities.





stargazer said...

they do have human rights, but the section of the human rights act that deals with speech (s61 if i recall) is very narrow & doesn't cover disability (or sexuality or religion or a number of others). it only covers ethnicity, nationality, race and colour. so by law, they are unable to act. the hate speech inquiry of a few years back was looking to broaden the scope of this section but got quietly shelved. so, the only option for formal complaint is the broadcasting standards authority. or talking directly to the advertisers as julie at the hand mirror is suggesting.

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Thanks for that clarification stargazer. From my observations and experience, people with intellectual disabilities can't always exercise the rights and freedoms they technically possess. Education is one, and there are also issues of confinement without trial.

Julie said...

Thanks for the link, and for writing about this ParCat, I think that the HRC undertook to work with IHC to support them in putting their complaints together to the BSA and the broadcaster, so I think they have recognised the limitation of the law and found a bit of a work-around to still show they think it's not ok.

I still have yet to hear anything from my complaint to TVNZ.

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Thanks Julie, yes I could see the HRC did consider it a human rights issue even though they didn't seem to have the specific legislative teeth to bite with.

I complained direct to the Breakfast show and received this reply:

"Dear Viewer,

Thank you for writing to TVNZ. Sorry to give you this automatic response but we do get a huge volume of mail!

If you have written with feedback about a TVNZ programme - thank you very much. Feedback is very important to us and we appreciate you taking the time to write and your points will be noted; be assured we read all emails and ensure it is sent through to the relevant department or producer. Sometimes a further reply to you is appropriate but we are not often able to do this immediately."

I fully expect that my complaint - or ones like it made from other parents of people with intellectual disabilities - may well have been read out and mocked and derided by Henry himself in his adolescent smirking fashion. But I'll never know that because I don't watch TV One any more. I'm voting with my feet, as I hope everyone else does who has been scandalised by this issue.