Editorial: No gain from Muslim pain

By Craig Cooper


Investigate magazine editor Ian Wishart isn't the first editor to wish he had read a contributor's copy more carefully. But would he have edited NZ First MP Richard Prosser's controversial column about Muslims?

Mr Prosser's comments appear to have been a fit of pique over having his pocket knife confiscated before boarding a domestic flight.

In the column in Investigate, Mr Prosser said while he accepted that most Muslims were not terrorists, it was "undeniable" that "most terrorists are Muslims".

He wrote that New Zealanders' rights were being "denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist trogolodytes from Wogistan, threatening our way of life and security of travel in the name of their stone age religion, its barbaric attitudes towards women, democracy, and individual choice". Stirring stuff.

A columnist's role is to engage a readership, to create debate, hopefully with the result that the community is wiser, and better informed for the debate.

The question/s editors have to ask themselves, what benefit is there in having a debate ignited by offence, are the comments defamatory, are they likely to cause offence, and is that justifiable. I suspect Ian Wishart may have seen negligible benefit in Mr Prosser's comments, which slipped past the editorial gatekeepers.

I have sat in the same room or in close proximity to a Muslim for several years now. With nary a hint of an attack on my person or cultural or religious beliefs.

I have enjoyed his hospitality, met his wife and children and never seen anything to suggest he is capable of aggression.

Mr Prosser has apologised for his comments and little has been gained from the debate - other than weary frustration from Muslims, and a dent in NZ First's and Mr Prosser's reputation. Hopefully the latter will make Mr Prosser think twice before he walks that line between controversy and offence.

- Northern Advocate

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