‘You will be banned’: council says it will not tolerate racism online

The Waitaki District Council will ban anyone who makes racist comments on its Facebook page...
The Waitaki District Council will ban anyone who makes racist comments on its Facebook page following comments about Maori Language Week. IMAGE: WAITAKI DISTRICT COUNCIL
Racist comments on a social media post celebrating Maori language has led one Southern council to warn people they will be banned if they follow suit.

The Waitaki District Council will ban anyone who makes racist comments on its Facebook page.

On Monday, council communications specialist Lisa Scott posted a photo and message on the council’s Facebook page to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week).

After racist remarks were made in the comments section, the council wanted to make it ‘‘loud and clear’’ racism would not be tolerated, Miss Scott said.

‘‘We refuse to allow intolerance to be spread via our channels,’’ she said.

‘‘If you make racist comments on our social media, you will be banned.’’

Miss Scott said it was only a small minority of people and they were ‘‘old enough to know better’’.

‘‘I find it unbelievable that you would write a racist comment on a council Facebook using your real name,’’ she said.

‘‘I mean, what are you thinking?’’

A lot of people who experienced racism found it difficult to challenge, especially online, Miss Scott said.

‘‘It’s our job to make our page a safe place for the whole community — I’m just not having it,’’ she said.

‘‘If we draw a line in the sand and say that it will not be tolerated, then it gives more people a chance to feel they are in a safe space and they can participate in local government without this rubbish happening that does not belong there.’’

She hoped the council’s stance would spark people’s intuition to ‘‘just not do it’’ again.

‘‘What possible place does [racism] have in any conversation about council day-to-day business?

‘‘Absolutely none.’’

kayla.hodge@odt.co.nz

Comments

let's hope all Councils in the country follow suit.

Given the shifting definition of what racism is, this article is extremely remiss in not even attempting to give an example of an offending act. Is it racist to argue that the week-long celebration is a poor use of resources? My (public sector) employer had multiple one hour (or longer) sessions this week, attended by tens of staff. The collective cost of that lost productivity is a considerably large number; perhaps the resource could have a) been avoided entirely, or b) focussed on people who may actually need to learn Maori for effectiveness in their role. It's too easy to shut down a reasonable discussion with cheap accusations of racism... Why does a council need a social media team to celebrate a language week anyway? How is that good value for ratepayer money rather than self-congratulatory busy work?

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