There are various ways to give a workout to moral outrage and the Knee Jerk Reaction is one of them.

This can be seen in the response to both the Joseph Parker speaking engagement at Whanganui High School and Don Brash speaking at a university. The word "race" has been central to the reactions.

For some of those voicing concern about Parker giving a motivational speech to Maori and Pacifica boys, this was about the initial exclusion of young women and others who might have had an interest in hearing him speak.

Fair enough. An open invitation to all kids to attend the presentation was the right way to go.


Nevertheless, the whiff of separatism got some people going, underlining the often-voiced notion that exclusion should not be applied to Pakeha. Let's check that - if that happens it is racism, but when applied to the exclusion of Pacifica or Maori from life's opportunities that is somehow different.

The dominant culture asserts itself in many ways.

We see evidence of discrimination against "brown faces" in many contexts. It is there where people are looking to rent property, it is there when people present to the bank for a loan, it has been shown to influence the way some teachers think about student success.

There is so much more that can be said about this that I would run out of words. Yet when some Pakeha see themselves excluded there is an uproar with much shouting about racism and separatism with the reality getting lost in the noise.

I know very little about Joseph Parker. I gather he is fine young man from South Auckland who has achieved much in the boxing world.

I do have problems with boxing. The whole concept is to inflict maximum damage on your opponent with a knock out the ultimate aim.

This is assault in any other context and there is plenty of evidence of the effects it has on the brain. Smacking someone repeatedly about the head can create permanent brain injury and can be fatal.

Don Brash regards Maori as somehow getting more than Pakeha. He thinks they are creating separatism.


He was to speak at Massey University but this was cancelled for fear protests would compromise student safety. Of course, there might have been protesters - it is called having an opposing view and you can't have one without the other.

We have all heard Don Brash express his opinions on the Treaty and the notion that in some way Maori are getting the best of the deal.

He got upset about Radio New Zealand presenters speaking in te reo because he could not understand what they were saying.

This was in the same breath as he acknowledged that, speaking as an economist, only other economists could understand what he was saying. ... but, apparently, this was different.

We need to hear the Don Brash view so that we can recognise the bigotry and nonsense for what it is. If he is banned from speaking it does not mean that his view of the world has gone away.

If intolerance and prejudice speech falls in a forest of muffled silence, it does not mean that the beliefs that support it have vanished. Often it actually reinforces the stance taken by the speaker that this is prejudice against their view and that there is a conspiracy to keep them silent.

■Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a writer, musician and social worker - feedback: