|Uri Khein pens an open letter to Radio Live's resident on-air homophobe, advising him to address his callow and addictive prejudice against gays.
Dear John, Well it seems that Mr Tamihere has struck again and without the aid of Mr Wishart's tape recorder. I don't listen to talk-back, so I haven't heard your sentiments about gay people first-hand. What I have seen is several reports, then talkback summaries from a reputable monitoring agency, and, finally, transcripts of a number of your exchanges. They're not pretty, John. They are foolish, ridiculous and if people aren't making that loud and clear to you by now then maybe I can do so. With that said, a slap on the hand is not going to do it. The full sermon is what you need. Maybe by addressing you at length – since there seems to be no other recourse – the penny will drop and I won't be completely wasting my time. You seem aggrieved by a recent article in Express and I wonder about that. You seemed to be saying that if people reacted sharply to your on-air homophobia they were being intolerant. To this, Allan-John Marsh of GAP rejoined that you were being “very coy and snide.” I think there's more than an element of truth to that, and yet, when you play the poor heterosexual bloke who needs to vent his bafflement at homosexuality without being called a bigot, it's hard to tell whether you're being ingenuous or disingenuous, or, as the case may actually be, both. It does seem that you're being both vacuous and self-indulgent. I've never known a heterosexual bloke who had any time for that game. And if you expect gay men or lesbians to have any sympathy or patience for it then you just aren't being realistic. It's the gay community, and young gay men and lesbians in particular, who have to bear the cost of your shenanigans and those of the idiots who, encouraged by you, call in to vent their ignorance. How dare you sit back and blithely expect the gay community to shoulder that burden. What do you think you're playing at Tamihere? I don't say these things because I think you're a terrible person or even a bad one. I say them because I assume the opposite otherwise there would be no reason to bother. Compared, in fact, to the coyness and snideness of outfits like the so-called Maxim Institute, you are almost an angel. Vociferous you are not. Certainly you are no vulgar, self-aggrandising serpent of scripture like a certain cowboy of destiny who is superfluous to name. Your candidness even makes you likeable, even if your sentiments do not. The trouble is your insistence that your homophobia should be tolerated dovetails exactly with the agendas of organisations that work against gay people. Those organisations want to make anti-gay feeling and sentiment respectable, justifiable, acceptable, worthy of protecting and maintaining. Just like you John. Well homophobia is not respectable, justifiable or acceptable or worthy of protecting. You say that if you don't want to “adhere to the homosexual life”, that if you don't “like” it you have a right to say so. Where is it that you imagine such a right comes from? Do you imagine that the insistence on such a right amounts to something socially positive or benign? A fidelity to real coexistence with other human beings? An illumined sensibility? What do you mean a “right”? What on earth do you imagine you are talking about? If you have a genuine sense of what is life-enhancing, a sense of authentic social value you'll see that no such right exists in truth. What you think of as a right is in fact just the opposite. You have an obligation here and that obligation is crystal-clear. The fact is you have a problem. You're going to have to get over it. You are going to have to deal with your homophobia and the sooner you get down to it the better it'll be for everyone. It makes no difference how sanctimonious you might think it might be for me to say this. I'm not saying it because I'm any Simon-pure goody-two-shoes. I'm saying it because I know the social cost of homophobia and you do not. So when are you going to get down to it? You will get down to it, John, when finally you realise that homophobia is a real psychic disturbance, a bee in the proverbial bonnet – one from which the afflicted party suffers acutely with but which, instead of dealing with it, he blithely inflicts on other people. You will get down to it when you realise that prejudice against gay people is based upon an irrational motive, a motive that is seldom inspected by the one who nurses that prejudice like a cherished sore. That doesn't make you uniquely culpable. Incapacity relative to honest self-appraisal is a flaw from which all we human mortals suffer. Some of us are dimly aware of the extent of our denial as habitual, ego-oriented specimens and some of us are not. Homophobia and prejudice itself is another pattern of ego. There are plenty more. But homophobia is the one you have to deal with. Your remarks over a long time seem to intimate that you think this “intolerance” of negativity towards gay people has something to do with the dreaded political correctness. All of this has inherently nothing whatsoever to do with political correctness. If you have an exaggerated preoccupation with political correctness, pro or anti, then you are not real. You are fixating on a problem that has no actual human shape. Casual incitement or encouragement of anti-gay feeling, on the other hand, does have a human shape. If you have an ounce of maturity, of real sensitivity, then you will not fail to see that it has a human dimension that is entirely tangible. It does real damage to real people – and not indirectly but directly. It does psychic damage, emotional damage, social damage, economic damage and physical damage too. To say that you express negativity about homosexuality to your own children is a terrible admission. It's an honest admission but its implication is abjectly awful. Why would you transmit your own flaw to your own sons? What kind of gift is that to people whom you love? Now you complain, and regrettably Willie does too, that gay people want to take away your right to free speech. That is a feckless gripe. It's true that talkback radio depends upon free speech. The trouble is you never take the trouble to consider what free speech actually is. Free speech is a humanising process. Speech that dehumanises others or oneself is many things but free is certainly not one of them. The trouble is you think that just because callers are banal, you have the freedom to be banal as well. And this is supposed to pass for good radio. I think you need to get real. Sure, talkback can be good radio. It can amount to an honest attempt to encounter the collective mind and every kind of mentality and sensibility that informs that collectivity, mediating it all with dexterity, wit, and poise while suppressing none of it. If only that was what you were actually doing. Yet if talkback is to be an edifying medium then it has to be extricated from the callow and crassly romanticised notion of Talk Radio. It has to be rescued from fools who think that the medium redeems itself by dint of its mere existence as a banal entertainment. The trouble is you – along with tiresome brats like Mark Bennett and Leighton Smith – want to be stars of Talk Radio. You all want to be Alan Bergs or Eric Bogosians. Even if you haven't heard of either, you still want to be them. But Alan Berg was a hero. A coarse hero but a hero all the same. As for Bogosian, presenting the rude burlesque of Berg in his play and film required the refined subtlety of a thespian and playwright. You have none of the latter and your activity as a talkback host is actively diminishing any possibility of the former. You are the Ed Woods of talkback radio. What Ed did to movies, you're doing to the airwaves. That's about as good as you get and it's about as far as you are going to go unless you straighten you out your act and give us a performance on air that's actually worthy of the free speech you think you are championing. To put it bluntly John, you've had a weed up your arse for a long time about gay people. In fact “arse” is the operative word here because sooner or later you actually and really have to figure out what this ‘backs to the wall lads' stupidity is all about. And ‘backs to the wall lads' is what it is. It literally has not one ounce of sophistication or subtlety beyond that. It makes no difference what Ratzinger, Tamaki or any other deluded pulpit-squirrel might say. Homophobic sentiment derives from an impulse that is irreducibly banal. I don't know that anyone could possibly make it plainer. And when you indulge in it, when you refuse to deal with it, you are jiving yourself up the rear end with a dangerous foreign object. I don't say this to be whimsical or abusive; I say it because it's actually the case. That's what prejudice does to the person who holds on to it as if it was actually something to be cherished. You professed resentment at being forced to wonder whether you were the full quid if you didn't “like” homosexuality. But your resentment is just a symptom of your resistance to dealing with your own shortcoming. You are not the full quid if you have a prejudice against gay people. You are not, and, by definition you cannot be. That is the nature of prejudice itself. Prejudice traduces the psyche. It undermines the psychic immunity from the problems that corrode a human being's sanity and erode it altogether ultimately. Prejudice is like any addiction and addiction is surely at the heart of any insistent bellyache about gay people. Homophobia literally has no meaning, no glamour and no redemptive possibility beyond addiction itself. And as any half-aware person who has ever been addicted to anything will tell you, an addiction actively and insistently feeds the matrix of psychic disturbance. You “struggle getting [your] mind around how you adopt a young kid and he walks into a lounge and there's dad and dad having a pash” (see GayNZ.com's Tamihere transcript features - links below).You struggle with the dichotomy between heterosexuality and homosexuality as if that dichotomy actually existed. Not only do you seem not to have any real friends from the “pink team” but you seem to be out of touch with most blokes. Real blokes don't take that kind of bullshit seriously. Oafs take that kind of bullshit seriously. Then they want to be called blokes, as if that could disguise the oafs they truly are. Stop struggling mate. Get over it. Move on. Do it now. Be a bloke and not an oaf. Yours truly Uri Khein Uri Khein - 17th August 2006