ANDREW MCNEILL AGAINST RNZ
Case Number: 2678
Council Meeting: JULY 2018
Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: Radio NZ
CASE NO: 2678
NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL RULING OF THE COMPLAINT OF ANDREW MCNEILL AGANST RNZ
FINDING: NO GROUNDS TO PROCEED
Andrew McNeill complains that a sentence in an online opinion piece published by RNZ was offensive to “(white male) adults”. Published on May 2, 2018 the piece washeadlined Mayor’s words wound after insulting put-down.
The contributed piece, by Hilary Stace, was clearly marked as a comment piece and her position as a “Wellington researcher with an interest in disability policy and history …” was noted at the bottom of the piece.
Ms Stace was responding to a reported comment from Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull where he asked a ratepayer whether he was “deaf or just stupid?” Mr Cull soon apologised, but Ms Stace’s piece asked why do people use disability as an insult?
The comment Dr McNeill took exception to was “Ableism (or dis-ableism) is the name of the prejudice that ‘others’ disability and disabled people whereby the normal person is a non-disabled (white male) adult and the world and all its laws, policies and environments are designed for them and by them.”
Dr McNeill said he was deeply hurt by her depiction of him – a white male adult. To suggest that ableism is defined / perpetuated by white male adults is wrong, he said.
The Media Council notes that Ms Stace was saying that what is a “normal” person is defined as being a non-disabled (white male) adult. Many people would agree with her, and we do not read the statement as containing the meaning that Dr McNeill takes from it. But, in any event, the key point here is that this was a comment piece in which she was entitled to express her opinion.
Ruling: No Grounds to Proceed