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TV Host Resigns After Causing Diplomatic Incident By Mocking Indian Name

New Zealand television host Paul Henry has resigned following diplomatic protest after his almost out of control behavior on air.

Henry mocked the name of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and added "it's so appropriate because she's Indian", prompting an official complaint from India over the "racist" and "unacceptable" comments.

"The dip shit woman. God, what's her name? Dick Shit. Is it Dick Shit?," he asked.

But even after being corrected that it was pronounced 'Dixit', he continued: "It looks like 'Dick Shit'. It's so appropriate, because she's Indian, so she'd be dick-in-shit wouldn't she, do you know what I mean? Walking along the street It's just so funny."

The comments sparked a record number of complaints to TVNZ and drew criticism from the Race Relations Commissioner, politicians, and various other organizations around the country.

Even New Zealand Prime Minister John Key chimed in after the resignation and said he was glad to put an end to the "sad and regrettable" episode.

While the presenter made the remarks on state-owned television station, Key said he made it clear to India that the broadcaster operated independently of government.

In his resignation letter, Henry said he was tired of apologizing for his mistake.

"I have resigned from TVNZ, effective immediately. t is no longer practical in the current environment for me to do the job I was employed to do, and have so enjoyed doing. I have apologised twice, and have meant every word. I again apologise to all those who were genuinely hurt by what I said."

"However, it is clear that things have now reached a point where my actions will have to speak louder than my words."

"I am astonished and dismayed that my comments have created a diplomatic incident. My style is conversational and of course unscripted," he admits. "I walk the finest of lines and accept that I have inadvertently crossed it from time to time. But I recognise the realities of the situation."

"I do not want to continue to be used as a lightning rod for racial disharmony in this country. Likewise, I certainly do not want to have my elderly mother staked out at her nursing home by tabloid media, as has happened this weekend."

"I am grateful to the many thousands of people who have offered their support to me. I hope they will understand and accept that an extraordinary convergence of circumstances has made this action necessary. I am saddened by this whole episode - sad that I crossed the line in the first place, and sad that an employer I have always served with pride has had to suffer slings and arrows."

October 11, 2010 |




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