It relates to a petition by film maker Renae Maihi, who called for Sir Robert’s knighthood to be revoked after he said that Waitangi Day should be replaced with Māori Gratitude day in an NBR column in 2018.
The column said Māori should bring Pākehā breakfast in bed, and weed their gardens out of gratitude for existing – which Sir Robert Jones’ defence claims was satire.
In his opening remarks, Sir Robert’s lawyer Fletcher Pilditch said his client has been a prolific author, who has been published in almost every paper in New Zealand.
“Typically the plaintiff’s writing is humorous, often they’ve been designed to provoke comment, or encourage readers to take themselves less seriously.
“The plaintiff subscribes to the belief that laughter is the best medicine, and to never take life too seriously.”
He said the column was clearly of a “tongue and cheek” nature as it was included under the subheading, “Time for a Troll’.
Pilditch said the petition made serious and offensive allegations, and spurred a hate-campaign against his client, which resulted in him being he called a “white supremacist”, “turd” and “scum” by online commentators.
Nothing manages to scream white boomer male privilege quite like a multi-millionaire suing a young Māori woman documentary maker for defamation after a lifetime of race baiting.
We forget that the defamation laws in NZ are the most extreme in the Western world, indeed Graeme Edgeler recently pointed this out in a NZ Herald column, and his conclusion was that the extreme nature of our defamation laws were a threat to free speech.
Personally I thought the drive to strip Bob of his knighthood was terribly flawed.
We are not a theocracy, we are a progressive liberal democracy. It is not a crime to have an offensive opinion nor is it a crime to express an offensive opinion. It is ignorant, petty, dehumanising, immoral, unethical and fucking ugly. But it’s not illegal. Yes, it’s illegal to discriminate based on race or incite hate, but having an offensive opinion and speaking it? We don’t arrest people for ignorant opinions, that path leads to totalitarianism, not a woke utopia.
If we are to demand his stripping of a Knighthood, then surely the time he goaded a protester into committing suicide and then bragged about how he goaded a fellow human being into committing suicide was the time to strip him of it…
This sort of (always male) behaviour is a regular occurrence in the capital. In the 1980s when long-overdue reforms saw the closure of some isolated, scarcely used post offices, a Nelson region goose turned up in a park opposite my office, surrounded by the standard litter of signs, asserting he was starving to death in protest. I bowled across and nailed him with some impeccable logic. “Why starve to death?” I suggested. “Why not get it over with quickly and commit suicide?” So he did.
One of my daughters working, or more accurately, attending in our office at the time was appalled. “Don’t you feel bad?” she asked me. “To the contrary,” I replied. “Anyone who values their life on the existence of a country post office plainly hasn’t got one. I did him a wonderful favour.”
…how can Bob Jones possibly sue for defamation when he no longer has a reputation to defame? Defamation law asks if a reasonable person would think less of the person being defamed. Seeing as Bob is a vicious, nasty, suicide-goading-then-bragging-about-it-racebaiting arsehole, nothing Renae Maihi said could lower Bob in the eyes of a reasonable person any more than Bob’s own words and ugly behaviour.