First they came for John Tamihere, and I did not speak out

Once again, the Sisterhood has dragged down John Tamihere. Look upon his fate, ye men, and ponder.

According to the NZ Herald, which lifted its story from an interview he gave to Radio Waatea, John Tamihere plans to sue MediaWorks for dropping him from Radio Live's afternoon talkbalk slot next year. You may recall he's already off-air, due to the public (and, in particular, advertiser) response to his and Willie Jackson's "Amy interview" conducted in the midst of the Auckland rape ring story.

There's then a more up-to-date story on Radio Waatea's website today, in which Tamihere trumpets the fact that Mediaworks complaints committee has found that particular interview did not breach broadcasting standards. However, whilst concluding that there was no breach of formal standards, the committee also notes that:

We are confident this incident has sent a clear signal to broadcasters that sensitivity is expected in their line of questioning – this has been a strong message that has been delivered efficiently and outside of the regulatory process as a result of social media reaction and lobbying by certain key influencers.

So it's not that this report says Jackson and Tamihere did nothing wrong; rather, it says that whatever faults there may have been in the interview did not amount to breach of the broadcast standards that the station is required to adhere to by law. A decision, it should be noted, that can be taken to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, if any of the original complainants should happen to disagree with it.

Anyway, my point is that in this later interview, Tamihere's a bit more circumspect about whether the mooted legal action will go ahead. So let's wait and see what actually happens.

Because it's hard to see exactly what basis Tamihere would have for suing MediaWorks. I'd be amazed if it had him on an employment contract, as opposed to contracting his services as an independent operator. So you'd have to think that the employment law protections he'd enjoy are pretty minimal.

Furthermore, he's in a game where players live by their opinions and die by their opinions. To get a listening audience (and thus advertisers willing to pay your employer for broadcast time), a host has to have something to say that people want to hear. If you can do this, then you are a winner. By the same token, if what you say drives your listeners to change channels (or, just as bad, causes advertisers to stop giving your employer money), then you are a loser. The rules are pretty simple here.

Finally, there's the small issue that MediaWorks, which owns the Radio Live station that Tamhere broadcast on, is in receivership and heading for new owners. Radio Live also has struggled in the crowded (and cut-throat) radio market; the October radio survey had it attracting just 3.4% of listeners. And for all the attention it garnered over the infamous "Amy interview", Jackson and Tamihere's show has not been successful in growing its share of the audience. Which makes it look pretty ripe for a revamp, complete with a (partial) change of personnel.

So, sure Tamihere can sue - that's his right. But you've got to suspect that hurt pride and a thirst to "tell his story" are more of a motivation than any real chance of getting legal redress. Indeed, Tamihere's own words - "whenever I go anywhere I will go on my own terms, won't go on anyone else's terms" - seem to indicate that this is the case.

For all that, what really gets me about this story is the last quote of Tamihere's contained in it: 

It's interesting too at Mediaworks, it's a sisterhood running it and I'm just writing up my affidavit now and reflecting on it, it's amazing, it's back to the future with Helen and co.

Tamihere is right about one thing. It is pretty amazing that, when he once again finds himself in an organisation in which women play a significant role in management and decisionmaking, it turns out his actions are considered to be so problematic that he finds himself on the outer. And so I think men everywhere need to pause for a moment and give him thanks.

You see, Tamihere is alerting us to a creeping conspiracy, in which a group consisting of a mere majority of the population are gradually working their way into positions of power, and then using it to the detriment of ordinary, working class blokes with six-figure incomes and a very nice house who do no more than refer to them as "frontbums", or carry out interviews with young women that a large swathe of the population find quite offensive. 

So, wake up male sheeples (or is that ramople?)! If Tamihere can be treated this way, the next thing you know, we'll have a world in which us guys have to accept the proposition that women ought to be taken seriously and considered equally worthy of respect. Because if we don't, our birthright privilege of being selected as a candidate for one of the nation's main political parties, or being paid to go on a nationwide radio station to say whatever is in our heads, will be taken away from us.

And if that isn't sexism, then I just don't know what is.