[This post updated 00:30 Tuesday 30/07/2013]
I haven't viewed the racist/xenophobic anti-muslim rave by some Southland oik against a Pakistani taxi driver that is doing the rounds on You Tube - nothing beyond the brief bit on tonight's TV news. I sort of tuned out when I could detect he was pissed. Can't find the story on the NZ Herald or Stuff headlines the way it is on TV and radio. They said the Invercargill taxi company released the camera footage to show the sort of shit taxi drivers put up with. They also report the police are investigating laying a charge against him (even though I note the Race Relations Commissioner was saying he did nothing unlawful).
My first reaction was not on the nasty things a drunk middle-aged Southland man said though. Maori experience similar levels of hating in the mainstream press and talk radio every day, and the language is barely a step up from this guy's offensive rant and there is no alcohol alibi either, so it hardly rates as the hate crime of the century. Not to say the rant was anything but inappropriate, however that didn't seem to be the only or even main issue here.
My first thought was how does a taxi company think they can get away with publishing (or making available for public access) security camera footage that is supposed to be private and retained temporarily for the purposes of security? This undermines the credibility of these cameras that were, unnecessarily forced into all cabs by the government. Now see how they are being used. Was it worse than cleaning up a drunk's vomit as far as the driver was concerned? Why not release that type of footage too? Where does it stop? The record of everything you said and did on your journey is entirely in the hands of the driver and the company and if this instance is to be the measure if you aren't on your best behaviour you are on You Tube in minutes and the TV news that night. So much covert info, so few opportunities to use an excuse to 'go viral'... at others expense. But, hey, he deserved it - is the reasoning,- but extortion couldn't have been worse with this outcome and a magnitude of public shaming and vilification couldn't have been higher. The potential for misuse is happening right now and no-one really notices let alone cares. You do have to wonder: is that the discipline these cameras are supposed to instil in the passengers, are we supposed to 'respect' them, if not the driver?
The only commissioner who needs to be involved here is the Privacy Commissioner - not the squash one. And as for the police looking at a charge of... well, what? Being very rude? Showing enormous discourtesy? If verbalising being a redneck racist knuckle-dragging binge-drinking wanker was a crime the average cop would have to be arrested the moment they spoke. The only charges needed here are offences connected to the missuse of the taxi's security cameras. The release of that recording had nothing to do with security it is clear. There is an expectation of privacy (confidentiality) in a cab despite the cameras and that is not broken at the point the conversation turns sour, even if the words and tenor are abusive.
The taxi company should be in trouble not the drunken white middle-aged Southland man. Yes, he's a bigot and a prick, but there are other ways of dealing to clients who are arseholes than single-handedly destroying any confidence there ever was in this intrusive compulsory mass surveillance system in the nation's entire taxi fleet. Considering all the shit he's got over it he would be in a position to sue. He has causes-o-rama of action: bad faith to the max for not blurring face out to start with. Identification was malicious and unnecessary to prove taxi drivers put up with shit and how racism is alive and burning down South. They don't have right to use those security recordings ike you are appearing on their chat show, and they certainly don't have any lawful authority to be judge, jury and executioner and name and shame like that to make their point. You shouldn't have to be on fucking TV the whole time you're in a bloody cab, and being coaxed into accepting it, like it was North Korea but with a budget, is pathetic. And in the news today the Finance Minister, MP for Clutha-Southland refuses to keep track or record foreigners buying land, and yet here is a foreigner successfully tracking and recording Southland's finest and his inner-most thoughts using government mandated equipment...