Complaint against David Garrett/Kiwiblog

Press Council Ruling:  TANYA TOAILOA AGAINST KIWIBLOG

Tanya Toailoa says the guest post is inflammatory, racist and irresponsible. She notes that assertions made by the piece are factually wrong i.e. that all Samoans and Tongans hate each other; and that they all are aware of historical reasons for Tongan/Samoan enmity.

Mr Farrar says his offer of a right of reply to the complainant was the appropriate response to the complaint; and believes agreeing to the complainant’s request for removal of the article would have a chilling effect on the ability of publications to allow strong opinions to be expressed.

Mr Garrett’s guest post is unpleasant, grossly exaggerated and provocative for many readers and possibly intended to be so.

The complaint is not upheld, dissenting from this decision.

 


CASE NO: 2639

ADJUDICATION BY THE NEW ZEALAND PRESS COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF TANYA TOAILOA AGAINST KIWIBLOG

FINDING: NOT UPHELD WITH DISSENT 8:1

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED BEFORE DECEMBER 18, 2017

Overview

On 8 November 2017 the online commentary site Kiwiblog published a contribution by David Garrett headed “Guest Post: Pasifika is Bollocks”. The post was made after the recent Tongan/Samoan rugby match and the associated public disturbances including fighting between Tongans and Samoans, as reported in the media.  Among other points made, the guest post stated “Samoans and Tongans hate each other with a vengeance”. It also claimed the recent events described above disproved the implications of the term “Pasifika”, i.e. that underneath cultural differences, Pacific Islands people are all one big happy family.

The Complaint

Tanya Toailoa says the guest post is inflammatory, racist and irresponsible. She notes that assertions made by the piece are factually wrong i.e. that all Samoans and Tongans hate each other; and that they all are aware of historical reasons for Tongan/Samoan enmity. She does not accept that the article is acceptable, is fair comment or ‘just an opinion’. She wants the article removed from the site. The complainant cites two Press Council Principles: Comment and Fact; Discrimination and Diversity.

The Response

David Farrar, editor of Kiwiblog, says that from time to time he publishes guest posts offering a variety of points of view. This does not mean he, as editor, agrees with all the opinions expressed, as in this case.

He responds that in relation to Principle 4, Mr Garrett’s article is clearly an opinion piece, and that no reasonable person could regard his assertions as factual. Principle 7 provides that race is a legitimate subject for discussion where relevant, and the context of the piece was extensive media coverage of Tongan/Samoan disturbances.

Mr Farrar says his offer of a right of reply to the complainant was the appropriate response to the complaint; and believes agreeing to the complainant’s request for removal of the article would have a chilling effect on the ability of publications to allow strong opinions to be expressed.

Discussion and Decision

A search of the Internet reveals that there are traditional stories of past Tongan and Samoan rivalry, and unverified accounts of recent incidents, including some involving rugby matches. Apart from that is hard to find a basis for Mr Garrett’s surprising claim that Tongans and Samoans hate each other. In fact he contradicts himself by noting “you would never know it at pan-pacific gatherings – at least until cocktail hour”. Mr Garrett’s guest post is unpleasant, grossly exaggerated and provocative for many readers and possibly intended to be so. It is not surprising that many people commented online about the guest post, both positively and negatively.

Sporting events worldwide can provide an emotional environment where racial prejudices are revealed and unruly behaviour occurs. The Press Council believes the media are entitled to report these occurrences, and commentators to express their opinions. The complainant certainly has a legitimate contrary opinion to Mr Garrett. She has been given the opportunity to express that in a balancing Kiwiblog opinion piece, but has to date not taken that up.

On Principle 4, Comment and Fact, the Council believes the article is an opinion piece and marked as such by the heading “Guest Post”. The contentious statements in the guest post are assertions, and we accept the editor’s submission that they are clearly Mr Garrett’s opinions. The facts of the historical basis and recent history of Tongan/Samoan rivalry are publicly (although perhaps not widely) known and do not appear to be contested.

The Press Council Principle 7 notes that issues of race are legitimate subjects for discussion where relevant.  In this case Samoan/Tongan sporting rivalry was an essential part of the news story sparking the opinion piece. Given this context, we consider that dealing with the Tongan/Samoan issue in an opinion piece could not be considered gratuitous emphasis on race.

The complaint is not upheld, with one member Hank Schouten dissenting from this decision.

Press Council members considering this complaint were Sir John Hansen, Liz Brown, Jo Cribb, Tiumalu Peter Fa’afiu, John Roughan, Hank Schouten, Marie Shroff, Christina Tay and Tim Watkin.


Also posted at Kiwiblog: Press Council decision on complaint against Kiwiblog

 

28 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  December 18, 2017

    Much of what Garrett writes is unsavory.

    • sorethumb

       /  December 18, 2017

      There is never a black and white in an issue like this; always a grey area.

      • PDB

         /  December 18, 2017

        You’re right – Garrett is coming at the topic from one extreme angle whilst the complainant seems to be saying none of it is true when the truth is somewhere in between.

        Obviously there is some issue/tension between certain elements of the two groups otherwise there wouldn’t have been all the violence around the league game between the two nations.

    • adamsmith1922

       /  December 18, 2017

      Well you would know given your equally peculiar worldview

  2. George

     /  December 18, 2017

    Much of what he writes is based upon unsavoury truths.
    Which is a sign of a healthy democracy and a freedom of speech.
    Which for some unknown reason is hated by the left

  3. robertguyton

     /  December 18, 2017

    Garrett hid some of his own “unsavory truths” for years…

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 18, 2017

      If you mean the passport, it was a stupid act done by a university student many years ago-he wasn’t charged with anything when it was discovered.

      Unsavoury is spelt with a u-but his action was hardly that. It was an idiotic thing to do, and once he had the passport he never used it so it was not identity theft in any sense. Get over it.

      There would be very few of us who have nothing in our pasts that we would not want to be revealed.

  4. I can’t vouch for the general moot, but I do know of a local employer who would never put Samoans and Tongans in the same working group because of the dissension.
    To the sport in question, it seems less an expression of racism and more about nationalism. The scenes of violence etc seemed rather less than those found in the UK for soccer, and no one cries racism there.
    Garrett made assertions, but name me a commentator that doesn’t.

  5. Blazer

     /  December 18, 2017

    Garret and Brash go together like peas and. .carrots.

  6. I’ve been back to the original post.
    https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2017/11/guest_post_pasifika_is_bollocks.html
    It’s interesting, Garrett speaks from experience, admits his assumptions, and concludes thus: “My point is that Polynesians are inherently TRIBAL….” Seems fair.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 18, 2017

      The idea of people from one part of the world being all mates together is easily disproved when one looks at Europe.

  7. lurcher1948

     /  December 18, 2017

    As an MP, outstanding behaviour…
    Offending[edit]
    He has a conviction for assault in Tonga in 2002.[7] He was discharged without conviction three years later for stealing the identity of a dead child to obtain a passport. Garrett admitted in Parliament that he had used a dead baby’s identity to obtain a passport 26 years before. He said he used a method made known in the novel The Day of the Jackal, and obtained the birth certificate of a child who died in infancy around the same time Garrett was born.[8]

    The revelations of the identity theft offence also led to him being censured by the Law Society’s Lawyers and Conveyancer’s Committee. The Society suspended him from holding a lawyer’s practising certificate for a year and ordered him to pay court costs of $8,430. The hearing related to a false affidavit Garrett had sworn to the court while he faced the charge of stealing the identity of a dead child to get a passport in 2005. He was a practising lawyer at the time but did not mention the Tongan conviction. He told the court: “The worst I could be accused of is incurring some parking and speeding fines.”[9]

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 18, 2017

      He was attacked in Tonga, and retaliated-he was set up.

      Identity theft implies that the person is pretending to be the person whose identity they have taken on. David never did this. He regretted the action as soon as he had done it, but couldn’t undo it.

      • lurcher1948

         /  December 18, 2017

        I have a bridge for sale Kitty, RED will set the sale up,David could do the legal work.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 18, 2017

          It’s true. He was at a nightclub and set upon, as CCTV footage showed. His jaw was broken. It was a jack-up and a really blatant one. He appealed, but I forget what happened. Law seemed to be for sale then in Tonga, I don’t know about now.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 18, 2017

          CCTV is usually a good witness.

          • Patzcuaro

             /  December 18, 2017

            He was an ACT MP need one say any more.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  December 18, 2017

              Your blinkers are in full view now, so no.

            • adamsmith1922

               /  December 18, 2017

              You need to be less bigoted

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  December 19, 2017

              That is saying nothing-it’s meaningless.

            • robertguyton

               /  December 19, 2017

              ACT MPs are meaningless?
              No argument there, Kitty!

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  December 19, 2017

              You are an elected representative, Robert? I worry about the quality of the local government you serve seeing your contributions here.

            • robertguyton

               /  December 19, 2017

              You could stand for the role, Alan. You have to be supported by a significant percentage of the voting population, of course. I’d go head to head with you at the polls, anytime 🙂

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  December 19, 2017

              Not my scene, Robert. Nothing I’ve seen of local government over a lifetime makes me want to be involved. I don’t like the people and I don’t like what they do.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  December 19, 2017

              Actually I wouldn’t get past the oath of office. It is incompatible with my principles.

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