Wednesday 13 February 2013

Richard Prosser is a tosser. He's ignorant, he's incorrect, and he should resign.

He's also not alone. 

Prosser the tosser didn't incubate such hatred in a vacuum. He wrote those words because he believed them, and there are others with similarly deeply held views - maybe in your workplace, maybe even in your family.

Tossers are something I struggled with, until I decided I shouldn't have to listen to them - they shouldn't be saying such things in the first place, and I started telling them to shut the hell up.

If you hear a Tosser speak - please say something. These people will hold their views in the face of evidence and logic, but shame from a coworker, friend, or family member is often more powerful.

Say something. Say, "That's not okay," or, "You're wrong," or, "That comment is racist and offensive and I don't want to hear it," or just say, blankly, "What?" and ask them to explain just why they said what they said.

When they say, "Stop being PC gone mad, you nanny state," don't back down. Remind them that they don't get to decide what's offensive to you - and all right minded people.

Which is all very well. But what about when the Tosser is your boss, or father-in-law and you just can't speak up? Frown. Stare, and knit your eyebrows together. Don't giggle nervously or change the subject. If they ask, "Didn't you find that funny?" or "Can't you take a joke?" say, "That was offensive. Please don't speak like that around me."

Repeat as required.

Okay. It's a small thing. You haven't changed this person's mind. They like you less (that's okay, because you've lost all respect for them), and they're still going to say such ridiculous comments elsewhere. But it's a start. The world is a safer place for you, because you don't have listen to that. And they know that these views are not okay to express some places. If you can't say such a thing at work or over the dinner table - can you write a column about it?

The best thing I ever did in high school was, by sheer bloody minded repetition, stop everyone in my form from calling things gay. All 500 of them. I spoke up whenever I heard the word used in a derogatory manner. I'd say: "Is it? Is it really? I had no idea [English class/detention/NCEA] had a gender, let alone a sexuality! Wow! I mean, are you sure? Because I'm pretty sure it's inanimate!" And so on, talking over the poor child's protests, talking as my friends threw up their hands and said, "Don't bother - she does this - it's easier not to say it." I interupted conversations and classes. Eventually - it worked. I heard it less and less, and one day I didn't have to say my speech anymore because no one said it anymore. This was probably a day I choose to skip class in favour of sobbing in the art room, but the world was still a safer space for me.

I'm still speaking up. Prosser the tosser's the one responsible for his views, and I'm not trying to blame anyone else for his hate speech - but if his coworkers and family members protested when he said things, he'd be less likely to write them down. Please - if you hear something, say something.

Update - I highly recommend listening to Katherine Ryan tearing Prosser to bits on the wireless.

Update 2 - you can also sign this petition asking Prosser to be expelled from Parliament. (Thanks to Hamish in the comments for pointing it out.)


  1. Awesome post. For many years I've had to work around some of the most horrible racism, and it's something I don't deal with well. Often I snap/react out of emotional annoyance and doesn't work great. Deploying some of these strategies is something I'll plan to do in future, as they are good ones! And not "throw a stapler at their head" as I said I was planning to do today.

    1. Thanks, Colvin! A stapler to the head would be more effective in the short term, but just having that sense of doing something helps a lot, I think. And sometimes it does work in the long term too, which is a bonus!

  2. Agreed, and my I also add Rachel, I hope you blog more.

    I enjoyed listening to Kathryn Ryan skewer Prosser the Tosser and give him a chance to prove to the populous how woefully thick he is. That said, how have the editors behind Investigate Magazine got away with enabling him is beyond me.

    1. Thank you! I do plan to write more. I really need to catch up on that Katherine Ryan interview too - she's fantastic.

  3. Well put Rachel. There's a petition here asking for Prosser to be expelled from caucus and be asked to resign. Do share!