Opinion by Ward Kamo

The Streisand Effect is a well known and understood phenomenon where attempts to censor information (and, nowadays, people) has the unintended consequence of giving the person or information far more publicity than was envisioned. And the internet is the great facilitator of the fast spread of unintended consequences (I pray this article isn't one of these unintended consequences).

Recently the 'I-don't-give-a-damn' (I'm confident he'd likely use a stronger word but I'll keep it decent for the sake of readers' sensibilities) writer Sir Bob Jones wrote an article stating, in jest, he said, a new Maori Gratitude Day should be established to replace Waitangi Day.

It was an NBR piece, and given I don't subscribe along with the vast majority of Kiwis, I had no idea it was in there. That's until my Facebook feed started to run hot about an article written by a man frequently called racist, awful, beyond the pale and hateful who
had said something mean about Maori. And, being Maori, that includes me.


So what did I do? Like virtually every other Kiwi, I went searching for the offending article to find out what awful details were in it. By now the NBR had taken it down. So I ended up reading it on a well-known blogger's site who is also frequently accused of being a racist, awful, beyond the pale and hateful man.

Thus the immediate effect of the protest was to bring a huge audience to two people I'm certain those protesting would prefer didn't get any more time or attention.

And that's the Streisand Effect perfectly illustrated.

As to the offending piece itself ... I can't get excited about it. It's not funny to me. And it's not offensive to me.

To be honest, I thought it was a bit misery guts. But, it's Bob Jones being Bob Jones writing an obviously and deliberately over-the-top piece that no one is really going to take seriously. He would call it satire and by the dictionary definition it certainly meets the meaning of satire.

To those who are offended: that's a perfectly fine reaction. We live in a free society that generally believes in freedom of speech. You're largely free to write whatever you like and people are largely free to respond to you in whatever way you may not like. And if you find yourself the subject of petitions to have you removed from your position or to have your knighthood revoked – well – that's a free society for you.

There are those that would accuse me of being a bit too flippant in this article. They would say that Jones' article is hate speech. And I can see their point. But one person's hate speech is another's freedom speech. Even if that person explicitly says: "I hate you because you're Maori," so what? The appropriate response is "whatever" and then add a fitting swear word at the end.

Of course if a person says: "I hate you because you're Maori, so therefore no job for you Hori", or "and therefore I'm going to punch you in the face" then we do have a problem. Because that's a crime. And given the size of some of my cousins that's also an invitation to be taken to hospital. Point being, the police or appropriate authority will be knocking on your door and rightly so.

So what have we learned from all this brouhaha? Noise works, although not always in the way you intend. The result of the current amount of noise is more attention for Jones and more attention for a well-known blogger. In fact the noise has delivered breakfast in bed to said blogger and he'll be savouring each tasty morsel. As they say in the business "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

- Ward Kamo has been a longtime presenter and panellist on Maori Television. He has worked in management consulting across a broad spectrum of sectors including iwi, forestry, public, insurance, tertiary, and electricity.