"LIFE is unfair," is credited to former President John F. Kennedy, whose own life and death seemed a perfect illustration. Another may be the contrasting outcomes of the protest against racism led by football quarterback Colin Kaepernick, known for his social activism, and of the racist tweet of Roseanne Barr, former star of the rebooted sitcom, Roseanne.

For beginning the "taking a knee" protest against racism at the start of gridiron games, Kaepernick has been effectively blackballed despite his creditable stats in six seasons with San Francisco.

After attacks on player patriotism by the present White House occupant, and declining viewer numbers, the billionaire owners have relegated the protest of players in the NFL to the locker-room during playing of the national anthem.

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This suppression of protest by owners, mindful of their bottom line,is not simply craven and wimpish, but in a league of players that is 75 per cent composed of African-Americans, it is doomed to failure. The owners — all of them white — resemble nothing but old-time plantation masters ordering their slaves to sing Dixie.

New Zealanders will recall the 1981 Springbok Tour. That included similar "no politics in sports" manipulation by then prime minister Robert Muldoon and its inglorious final game was played in secret in Glennville, New York, US, before a crowd of 30, the least ever, for an international rugby match.

Roseanne Barr has been a model for outrage all of her career. She was recruited from her stand-up comedy by the Carsey-Werner production team, which deliberately created a sitcom to resonate with working-class women and men. Carsey-Werner had a Midas touch in TV, having created Soap, Dynasty, Mork and Mindy and The Cosby Show. The TV show they pitched did not bear her name until it leapt high in the rankings. She became a megastar as a result.

Barr has a reputation for biting the hands that feed her and not playing well with others. She refused to call the Roseanne show writers by name, instead referring to them by number. She even offended the soft-hearted, like yours truly, when, in 1990, at the height of her fame, she assayed the "singing" of the national anthem at the start of a baseball game in San Diego, in her classic screech.

That she garbled the words was forgivable, as they are eminently forgettable. But, booed by the fans, she spat on the ground and grabbed her crotch. That was enough to sour my view of her. In short, I'm not a fan.

On May 29 she tweeted a blatant, racist comment comparing Valerie Jarrett, an African-American adviser to former president Barack Obama, to an ape. I was initially pleased that ABC/Disney, ignoring the millions of dollars of potential gains from the show, cancelled the new version because of her disgraceful statement.

But summary punishment is a short-lived pleasure, especially as it does little to undo the damage done. More troubling is the collective punishment to the dozens of performers, writers, production members whose livelihood is suddenly taken away through no fault of their own. Worse still is the stated impulse of content distributors (including those here) to remove from exhibition the reruns of the original Roseanne.

That impulse, revising history, is especially dangerous in an era in which the very nature of fact and truth is under attack by the current temporary occupant of the White House. We need to resist such banishment of history "down the memory hole", a blatant expression of George Orwell's dystopian 1984 authoritarian world.

Instead, I hope the Disney bosses follow the model of New Zealand and, instituting restorative justice, find a way to repair the damage. One way is to bring the show back without its named star, as The Connors Family. The rest of the cast, a stellar group,

including John Goodman (husband Dan), could begin by mourning her death resulting from failures to get adequate medical care, an issue very much at the heart of the lives of the working class.

Jay Kuten
Jay Kuten

Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.