GAVIN KAY AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 3144

Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2021

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Ruling Categories: Offensive Language

Overview

CASE NO: 3144

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF GAVIN KAY AGAINST THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD

FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: NOVEMBER 2021

 

The New Zealand Herald ran a Mike Hosking opinion piece on October 21, 2021 headlined Give vax stragglers a limit and move. The column included a sentence stating There is too much bum-wiping going on for the apathetic stragglers in the vaccine rollout.

Gavin Kay complained at the use of offensive language and that Mr Hosking was abusing people who were not yet vaccinated.

He said that when he complained, the Herald responded that his feedback on the use of language was noted and that he was not forced to read Mr Hosking’s article. He thought the response was inadequate. He asked whether the Herald ran columns with the idea that readers would avoid them. In his view it was not acceptable to abuse anyone in the terms that Mr Hosking used in this article.

In dealing with all complaints the Media Council’s principles require the Council it to give primary consideration to freedom of expression. While the Council can understand that readers, like Mr Kay, might find the column offensive, they do not have a right to not be offended.  There are limits to the degree to which strong language and images can be used in published statements of opinion, but they were not crossed here.  The sentence gives a strong perhaps unpleasant image concerning those who reject the vaccine, but does not discriminate on the basis of a prohibited ground or cross the line into unacceptable abuse.

There are insufficient grounds to proceed.

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