Crowd funding for defence of Bob Jones defamation action

Action Station has set up a fundraising campaign via GiveALittle to help raise money for Renae Maihi in her defence of  defamation by Bob Jones.

Maihi had set up a petition calling for Jones to be stripped of his knighthood after he wrote a silly “Māori Gratitude Day”  NBR column that disparaged Māori. I thought this was a well intentioned but inappropriate and over the top (and unsuccessful) petition.

In response Jones filed defamation proceedings against Maihi. I think this was even sillier and more over the top from Jones, and could be seen as using the court for bullying that only a rich person could afford.

So I think it’s fair enough to crowd fund for a defence of the defamation.

Fundraiser launched for filmmakers’ defence fund against Bob Jones
Community campaigning organisation ActionStation have launched a Givealittle fundraising campaign in support of filmmaker and mum Renae Maihi. 
 
Earlier this year, Maihi launched an online petition that gathered more than 70,000 signatures asking Parliament for the removal of business mogul Sir Bob Jones’ knighthood.
 
The petition followed a now-removed National Business Review column in which Jones proposed a “Māori Gratitude Day” in place of Waitangi Day where Māori would serve non-Māori out of “gratitude for existing”. 
 
The column was widely described as “racist” by many, including a National Party MP. Last week, the hashtag “#BobJonesIsARacist” was also trending as people took to Twitter to express their views. 
 
Jones is now suing Maihi for defamation. He also sent Waikato University Professor Leonie Pihama a ‘cease and desist’ type letter for a Tweet in which she described Jones’ column as “racist”. 
 
As Andrew Geddis, Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Otago, points out on Twitter, “The targets of both [of Bob Jones’ threats to sue for defamation] have been Māori wahine who speak out strongly on te tino rangatiratanga. Yet if you want to go looking for people who have called Bob Jones a “racist”, you can find lots of examples.”
 
If Maihi loses the suit, she could have to cover Sir Bob’s legal fees. 
 
“We think that’s wrong and have launched a Givealittle crowdfunding campaign to tautoko (support) Renae.” says ActionStation Director, Laura O’Connell Rapira. 
 
“Bob Jones is one of New Zealand’s wealthiest men and he is throwing huge sums of money at this fight. Renae is a grassroots filmmaker and mum. We must show her our support.”

Good on Action Station for doing this (not so sensible of them to support the petition).

GiveALittle: Legal fund for Renae Maihi

Multi-millionaire Bob Jones has issued high court defamation proceedings against filmmaker Renae Maihi and she needs our help

Funds raised will be used to help Renae for any legal bills she may incur as a result of Bob Jones’ lawsuit.

Defamation proceedings can be horrendously expensive just to defend – that’s why usually only rich people attempt them.

While I don’t know what Jones’ motives are here, defamation actions can be used as a form of financial retribution.

The petition: https://www.change.org/p/rt-hon-jacinder-ardern-strip-racist-sir-bob-jones-of-his-knighthood-read-his-vile-rant-here/

About the lawsuit: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12065598

I didn’t support or sign the petition, but I think the defamation is thin skinned, over the top, and could be a rich privileged abuse of the legal system.

Has Jones got a reputation to defend here? If it goes to trial that will be for the court to decide.

Anti-free speech litigation versus anti-free speech petition

Last week Bob Jones included some inflammatory comments in an NBR article. As a result of reaction NBR pulled the column and said they would no longer publish columns from Jones.

In reaction Renae Maihi started a petition asking that the Prime Minister strip Jones of his knighthood, calling the column ‘a vile racist rant’.

Stuff: Tens of thousands sign petition to strip Sir Bob Jones of his knighthood

Acclaimed film-maker Renae Maihi started the change.org petition on Thursday morning. “There is public support for this, somebody can’t get away with hate speech like that and not be held to account,” she said.

Maihi is upset by what Jones wrote in his regular National Business Review column last week, under the title ‘Time for a Troll’. He said a new public holiday should be introduced called Māori Gratitude Day instead of Waitangi Day.

“I have in mind a public holiday where Maoris bring us breakfast in bed or weed our gardens, wash & polish our cars & so on, out of gratitude for existing.” Jones also commented on children, blood quantum and suicide.

“I think he went beyond trolling, it’s hate speech,” Maihi said.

Maihi admits it’s unlikely Jones will lose his knighthood but will continue to collect signatures and approach the Prime Minister formally at a later date.

“He’s been honoured amongst a group of people that are meant to inspire and I just don’t think he’s very inspirational at all with those extreme racist comments. I just don’t think he deserves to be called a Sir anymore.”

Obviously Maihi had a right to criticise Jones, but I criticised her attempt to punish Jones for exercising his right to free speech. See Anti-Jones petition worse than inflammatory column.

Now Jones is threatening to punish Maihi for what she said about him through the courts.

Newshub: Sir Bob Jones threatens legal action against anti-racist petition

Sir Bob Jones has threatened legal action against filmmaker Renae Maihi, after she started a petition to have him stripped of his knighthood.

Sir Bob told RadioLIVE’s Ryan Bridge that his column was clearly satirical and he would sue Ms Maihi for defamation.

“For God’s sake, if anyone can take that literally, they’ve got serious problems,” he said. “It’s basically a mickey-take on issues of the day.

“I will be issuing proceedings against this woman for defamation, because I take particular exception when she uses the word ‘hate’. I don’t hate anyone.”

That seems like a heavy handed anti-free speech act that only someone with a lot of money could afford to do.

An over the top reaction to an over the top petition in reaction to over the top comments in a column.

Maihi remains staunch – for now: Film-maker stands her ground over petition against Sir Bob Jones

The woman behind a petition to strip Sir Bob Jones of his knighthood is standing her ground, despite the threat of being sued by the property magnate.

In a statement, Maihi told Fairfax she would not be taking down the petition, which had received more than 49,700 signatures by 5.40pm today.

“People like Bob Jones need to understand that the privilege they have in society also comes with a responsibility, and at a bare minimum that includes not writing flagrant hate speech in the media,” the statement reads.

Just yesterday she wrote on her Facebook page that she welcomed further support.

“Support welcome, I’ll need it – clearly he’s one of the wealthiest men in this country and I am not,” the post reads.

“I will always stand up for the mana of our children.”

A later update on the Facebook page showed she had been offered assistance from lawyers.

Sir Bob told One News earlier this week that the column was a “p*sstake” and that he took exception to it being called hate speech.

“I won’t sue her for a lot because that would seem like I’m bullying her,” he said.

Both he and Maihi are taking excessive action in response to the speech of others.

Perhaps Jones’ threat is just another piss-take.