The problem with establishing entities to lodge protests to, well-meaning though such initiatives may be, is they provide opportunity for miserable sods to whine about everyday matters.

We’re informed that a Dermott McCaughan laid a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about a Newshub reference to a paddywagon, as being a derogatory, discriminatory, denigrating, and needless to say, the always included assertion in contemporary New Zealand, even if complaining about the weather, of being racist.

The Authority rightly gave him the bum’s rush. That said, in typical cowardly New Zealand fashion, Newhub’s owner, Mediaworks, apologised to the miserable McCaughan.

Paddywagon stems from 19th century Massachusetts and New York, both states inflicted by mass Irish migration, as a police vehicle used to cart off drunken Irishmen.

There’s a common characteristic to these complainants, namely they’re invariably older male losers.

Many years ago, I’d annually host a week’s talkback in Christchurch for the state radio station to allow the host a holiday. One day I received a registered letter from the Race Relations Office advising me they’d received a complaint for my reference to Poms. The silly bugger who wrote that also supplied the name and address of the complainant, as always, a middle-aged male loser and as it turned out, the owner of a sad little suburban hardware shop. I gave him hell all morning resulting in the listeners turning up to his shop and mocking him. The result; an urgent hand-delivered letter from the Race Relations boss saying he’d rejected the complaint.

So too when I was on the Board of Radio New Zealand. Every month’s Board papers listed complaints received. Again, always middle-aged men, curiously, mostly from Hamilton, bitching that someone had said bugger or had referred to having a few drinks.

Unfortunately, as a non-executive director I was not allowed to reply to these bleak buggers, but a wonderful opportunity arose in the Dominion-Post’s letters section. A loser wrote asking could someone tell him why his Radio New Zealand reception was so disgracefully bad when he was driving in the city.

The Dominion-Post published my reply. Acknowledging the complainant’s letter I advised that as a RNZ director I am able to answer his query. A year ago, I wrote, RNZ imported a special device from Germany, solely to stuff up his car’s reception and I’m delighted to hear it’s worked.

That is the right way to deal with these bloodless losers.


If Dermott thinks that “paddywagon” is so offensive to the Irish, he will no doubt be horrified to learn that one of the largest tour companies in Ireland is named Paddywagon Tours and has a laughing leprechaun smoking a pipe on its logo.

Often, when the opportunity arises, when given the choice between the ‘black one’ and the ‘white one’ I’ll reel off “eeny meeny miny moe … .” Some don’t know this classic because they weren’t raised probably but some do.

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