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.