Tuesday 22 October 2013

Spare us from idiots

I swear, didn't we just do this?

There's an idiot in the paper again today. No links - no page views from me! Complaints can be laid with the Press Council, but before you do so, you "first lodge the complaint in writing with the editor of the publication."

Here's where you can write to the editors of the Herald.

The Press Council says: "If the complainant is not satisfied by the editor’s response or receives no response from the editor within a period of 10 working days from the date on which the editor received the complaint, the complainant may then complain to the Council."

Here's what I said to the Herald:

I am writing to complain about the opinion piece - "Bob Jones: Spare us from road-clogging women" published on 5:30 AM Tuesday Oct 22, 2013.

It was inaccurate, offensive, and condones violence against women. It should be taken down, and a response issued. The New Zealand Herald is meant to be a balanced and fair national publication with excellent standards of journalism, and this "article" falls laughably short of that standard.

Below are some of the inaccuracies:

"Things became and remain chaotic as women drivers caused massive pile-ups at the roundabouts. They misinterpret the simple proposition of giving way to traffic on your right as stopping if someone's approaching 50 metres away." If this was really a problem of the magnitude Jones suggests, surely some data would be available and could be provided.

"Women drivers possibly cost 1 per cent off our GNP, through causing massive delays in city traffic flows." Again, no citation is given: we must assume that Jones made up the "statistic" to insult and put down women. Why was this allowed to be published? Would you have published a similar slur against a racial group?

Jones continues, saying of women in their thirties: "I suspect they're angry because they haven't got a bloke, or angrier still because they have, for which I sympathise." It is offensive to suggest that anger is a natural state for women. If this is an attempt at humour, after the style of Bridget Jones, it falls very flat indeed.

He continues with the inaccuracies: "[Women are] the ones with a 30-metre gap between them and the car in front, thereby compounding the congestion. " I have never once seen a gap this large.

Finally, he condones police violence against women.

"My weaving in and out of the women resulted in complaints to the police, who wrote to me.

"I replied, first pointing out that passing is not illegal and adding that while normally I don't condone police violence, this was an exception and they would be doing God's work by going to the complainants' homes, beating the crap out of them and burning their houses down.

"Amazingly they wrote me a nice reply apologising for bothering me.

"Suggesting that women should be beaten and have their homes burned down is disgusting. It should not be allowed in print. Violence against women is a serious problem in New Zealand. In 2011 there were 7,896 recorded cases of assault of women by a man. Unlike Jones, I can provide a statistic here.  Violence should not be condoned.

Again, I believe this piece should be removed, and an apology issued. I do not believe that Jones should be allowed to write any more pieces for the Herald.

I look forward to your prompt reply.


  1. Great response and thanks for the info. I will send in a complaint this afternoon after I've had time to gather my thoughts.

  2. thanx for taking some trouble to do this. i can't bear to go over & read the original piece.

    just a couple of points to note re making a complaint:
    1. it really helps if you reference actual press council principles (which you can find here: http://www.presscouncil.org.nz/principles_2.php). so you would refer to principle 1 on accuracy, fairness & balance. op-eds don't actually have to be balanced as such, so would stick to the accuracy & fairness bit. i'd also refer to principle 6 on discrimination & diversity & talk about "gratuitous emphasis".

    2. it also really helps to refer to previous press council rulings on similar types of things. in this instance, the press council has actually ruled relatively recently against particularly horrendous op-eds from michael laws (see http://www.presscouncil.org.nz/display_ruling.php?case_number=2253) and from paul holmes (see http://www.presscouncil.org.nz/display_ruling.php?case_number=2259). it's often useful to quote bits of those rulings to reinforce your points.

    you probably don't have the energy to rewrite & resubmit your complaint, which is a good one. something to think about for the future though.