Sick of pussyfooting around ethnic sensitivities, unable to indulge in bigoted name-calling of groups you could once insult with impunity? Your worries are over. The Broadcasting Standards Authority has identified an ethnic minority you can stereotype to your heart's content.
Can you guess who it is? I did not see this coming. It's the Jews!
The authority handed out a free pass to prejudice this week when ruling on a complaint over a SKY TV sports programme. In a laboriously constructed bit of bigoted banter, commentator and rugby player Bryn Hall had said that All Black Jack Goodhue was sporting a mullet because he was too stingy to pay for a haircut, "so red card for being a Jew".
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It might just have been me, but there was something about the way he said it that made it sound like being a Jew is a bad thing. Just so you understand – he was saying that Jews as a race are stingy. Misers. Shylocks.
Anyway, the remark was found not to be in breach of the standards. But it's okay because it was a joke on a sports show – always a good place to check socially progressive attitudes.
The authority may have been aware it was on somewhat shaky ground in letting Hall off the hook because its ruling that it was not just okay but actually fun to call Jews misers was headed not "Okay to call Jews misers" but "BSA cautions broadcasters to avoid casual racism in sports broadcasting".
As a friend of mine, who happens to be a Jew and who, I want to make absolutely clear, has never been slow to pay his half of a restaurant bill, even in a casual dining situation, said when I drew this to his attention: "Love the concept of 'casual' racism. Meaning actually, so ingrained you don't realise it's racist. That's frightening."
The authority's decision did say: "There is no room in New Zealand for casual racism and it is important that we all work hard to move away from this type of language."
Though not too hard. Obviously not to the point where you'd rule that a broadcasting standard had been breached by relaying a centuries-old racial slur.
The BSA didn't quote any sources to back up its decision, although it seems likely that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was consulted. It possibly also looked at similar decisions in countries such as Iran, Egypt and Ukraine.
It quoted an earlier decision in which it was found that the term Jew did not breach standards where "the remark was intended as a light-hearted dig as opposed to an attack against Jewish people, that listeners were likely to have interpreted the comment as a silly joke".
Just as well Jews have a great sense of humour. They're famous for it, you know. That and their devotion to thrift.
The question has been asked in regard to this matter: what about the Scots? Suggesting that if Goodhue had been accused of Caledonian tendencies no one would have minded. Possibly. It could be relevant to ask representatives of each ethnic group what impact stereotypes have had on their populations over the years.
As for the BSA, even if it genuinely believes – and we have to accept that it is really that dim - that there was nothing malicious or nasty in Hall's remark, it cannot have been unaware that the ruling showed disdain for the Jewish community and thus represents a conscious insult to them.
So called casual anti-Semitism is indeed rare in New Zealand. In fact, there is a whole generation who probably never encountered the notion that Jews are misers until this week and thus would have needed it explained to them. The ultimate irony is that Hall, Sky and the BSA have all come together to breathe new life into a noxious stereotype.