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About freedom of speech

Written By: - Date published: 9:44 am, August 12th, 2018 - 97 comments
Categories: australian politics, clickbait, Deep stuff, democracy under attack, don brash, journalism, newspapers, Propaganda, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, uk politics, us politics, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Photo thanks to Glenn Jeffrey

I know that I have spent some time writing on this issue lately but it is still bugging me. Since when did the left become censors and the right become the defenders of free speech?

The last month has been an interesting place in Aotearoa.

Suddenly Don Brash is a free speech advocate. Not a dog whistling racist or someone who hates Te Reo or someone willing to do a deal with the exclusive brethren to gain power or someone willing to seek a super injunction to stop an important book from being published but a free speech advocate.

And Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern just wanted to come to Aotearoa New Zealand and have a debate. Surely the exchange of ideas, even really evil stupid ideas, is a good thing. Because surely the best idea wins?

The criticism rankles because the right to freedom of speech was established to allow for liberal and pluralistic ideas to be communicated and to reduce the coercive powers of the state, not for fascists to say that people with dark skins are inferior and dangerous.

The difference is that Southern and Molyneux and Brash are pathological haters of multiculturalism. Lets not muck around here. They use as a weapon the attacking of those amongst us whose skins are darker or whose cultures are different. They want white domination. They do not want a pluralistic respectful community.  They want “our culture is better than yours so yours will be suppressed” not “your culture is really interesting, mind if we experience and share in this?”.

And they use one of our strongest weapons, the right to free speech, to achieve their goal.

That is why it is so annoying.

Freedom of speech was implemented to allow the small powerless voice not to be silenced. They were up against power and wealth and the forces in control and it was there to allow progressive alternative voices to be heard.

And fascists have a pretty bad track record when it comes to freedom of speech. Becoming poster boys for freedom of speech after basically being the reason it had to be instituted is freaking annoying.

Simon Wilson in the Herald published his speech notes from the big debate that happened this week. Read them in full. They are a thing of beauty. They neatly capture the incongruous nature of the debate.

The beginning is as absolutely wonderful a burn on Donald Brash as you could imgine.  Oh to watch his face when this was being said.

Kia ora! As Post Office staff have been allowed to say since 1984. Nau mai, haere mai. Ko Simon Wilson tōku ingoa. Tēnā koe, Don. A special tēnā koe to you.

Let’s define some terms. “Political correctness”, or “PC”, is a pejorative phrase for what happens when some people object to other people trying to respect the diversity of values and upbringings in a society. Nobody self-identifies as politically correct, because it’s only ever used as a sneer.

“Free speech” isn’t so easy. In Athens, in the cradle of democracy, parrhesia meant the licence to say whatever you like, when, how and to whom. But there was another word, isegoria, which meant the equal right of citizens to participate in public debate in the democratic assembly. Both translate as freedom of speech.

Take that free speech advocate Don Brash. Your contempt for Te Reo will never be forgotten.

And yeah. Getting smashed over for being “PC” that is respectful of others rights and at the same time engaging in the sort of behaviour that fascists engage in is pretty annoying.

And yeah I think us lefties are more into isengoria than parrhesia. Hence our acknowledgment that free speech is not an absolute.

And as Simon says more gently supporting free speech but opposing the free exercise of your culture is pretty fucked up.

He suggests that the US version of free speech may not be such a good thing.

A couple of other things about definitions. In the United States “free speech” is protected by the first amendment to the constitution. You can be as vile as you like, and many people are. Clearly, this is not a rule being bent out of shape by “PC culture”. It’s a rule that favours vile people.

That first amendment also allows you to do your best to buy an election, by spending as much as you like being as vile as you like about the candidates you don’t like. Again, “PC culture” isn’t to blame. This is a rule that favours super-rich, vile people.

Simon also points out that economic disparity is just as important as free speech power disparity. He pointed out how Brash attacked the last Labour Government’s attempt to improve the plight of Maori for political advantage. And they buckled.

Closing the Gaps was attacked by a political leader desperate for attention and happy to cast aside the social good it would do. In a speech in January that year he called the programmes racist – and in doing so he unleashed the dogs. Fear, hatred, confusion: the dogs of real racism.

His party climbed sharply in the polls and the Government fell sharply. Closing the Gaps was itself closed down, judged by the Government too politically dangerous to pursue. Racial divisions flared. The progress we might have made was wrecked.

Simon does not hold back in his conclusion:

Freedom of speech is not endangered in this country, and most certainly not by a “politically correct culture”. The attack on Closing the Gaps was, to my mind, the most egregious use of free speech in New Zealand we have seen in decades.

And the politician who did that, who used his free speech to mount that attack on the most impoverished among us, sits here tonight. He is Don Brash.

But you know what? He didn’t quite win that election. The vote was, among other things, a plebiscite on his view of race relations, and a majority of voters said no. Not because we’re oppressed by a PC culture, but because we’re better than that.

I remember that election well.  I can recall Brash talking on Morning Report about main stream New Zealanders who did not include those of us born overseas or with black skin or with complex sexual preferences.  And I can recall the surge of people volunteering to support us to make sure that Labour was re-elected.  And how the good people of South Auckland and West Auckland returned Labour to power.

Simon points out that Southern and Molyneux and Brash have not had their rights of freedom of expression restricted.  We have more access to their ideas than at any other time in our civilisation’s history.

Wilson conculdes by saying this:

I like to think the heart of our civilisation is the city, and the British sociologist Richard Sennett has a definition for it. He calls cities “human settlements in which strangers are likely to meet”. That’s where we’re at now. That’s our true spirit of the times, our zeitgeist. And our task is to make it work, for all of us.

Awful people will try to derail us. But they are on the fringe. They are the outliers. For most of us, the prospect of meeting strangers is difficult, of course, but also rewarding. We don’t have to like everybody, but we have to like that we get along. We have to like that we share. Working that out is what we’re doing here.

The rest – all those complaints from people that no one is listening to them anymore – that’s the narcissists’ sideshow.

The problem is that we know how this will go.  There will be a debate about whether freedom of expression should be protected.  And the right will be the proponents of it.

They are interested in political advantage.  Not the protection of a right.  When the time comes they will loudly insist that it be limited.

It has happened in the past.

It sounds like there are a further stream of visitors with vile views.  People like Pauline Hanson and Nigel Farage are visiting soon.  Farage hopes to ignite a New Zealand version of Trumpism as is clear from this statement in his advertisement for his rather expensively priced meeting:

Never in the history of Western civilisation has the fight for democracy, individual liberties and free speech been more important. So I come to you from the UK with a message of hope and optimism – that if the man or woman in the street, the average Joe or Jane is prepared to stand up and be counted, and push back against the political elite and the media establishment, they can take back their democracy and, ultimately, their country.”

How does the left counter this?  Refusing to cede the moral high ground is a start.  Although I still believe that it is legitimate to ban and regulate hate speech.


97 comments on “About freedom of speech ”

  1. Ed 1

    Superb post. Thank you.

  2. SPC 2

    There is this irony that the same person who supports Enzed being open to foreign investment/ownership and labour migration also panders to the rightist sense of nation(al) state cultural identity – assimilation into a cultural regime (the colonial/new settler for the Maori etc).

    This orthodoxy, whereby the nation assimilates into the capitalist led global market while the migrant labour assimilates into the local cultural order appears to be a form of “entitlement” syndrome. A regime that preserves, or enhances, every privilege that they have.

    1. international rate pay for the local professional elite (compare that to that for lw down the OECD scale for teachers and nurses and the number of experienced/skilled workers receiving little more than a margin on the MW)
    2. international capital inflow pricing to local property (untaxed CG for those who have access to money to speculate)

    It’s as if they understand the economic order benefits the haves, but they need the frightened lower paid workforce to vote with them on national cultural grounds to compete for political power. Whether the Christian dominionists who want control of the Supreme Court, or here fear of the Treaty/bi-cultural national soverignty.

    This is framed as fear of the PC of the left, opposed to religious, or colonial, hegemony triumphant. A fear for their freedom, the values of their nation/culture because of some foreign threat – called (left wing) multi-culturalism.

    PS The thing is, this right wing has lost control of the immigration/nationalism (Brexit/EU disunity/Trumpian takeover of the GOP) issue. A bit like how the Conservatives of Germany used the national socialists as a weapon against communists and socialists and then lost control of government to the new managers of their cultural order.

    • Carolyn_Nth 2.1

      Very good analysis, SPC.

      Neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism always were working in tandem. neolibs were the front guard with nice sounding rhetoric. They siphoned off some aspects of left movements in ways that suited them and because those movements had a major following: anti-racist, pro-feminist, pro-LGBT, etc. This enabled them to champion immigration in ways that suited the corporate word, and to move women into areas of the workforce as suited them (casual, part time, etc).

      But, as you show, there always was that neo-conservative underbelly that came to the fore when it suited the right wing elites, shutting down closing the gaps, etc.

      Now that the global “free market” agenda is collapsing, the neo-conservatives (neo-fashists, etc), are again coming to the fore: trying to split off elements of the left that support multiculturalism (especially multiculturalism for the least well off), pro feminist, pro-LGBT, pro-working classes and precariat internationally, etc.

      The right wing elites never sleep – always working out new ways top maintain and consolidate their power.

      • SPC 2.1.1

        The shorthand for it is, mansplaining the world to voters, as required.

        Every one crafted to form a majority behind the privilege of the few, because they are more deserving (meritocracy) and because any other way involves some terrible risk to society and those dependent on their “capital”.

      • greywarshark 2.1.2

        ‘Freaking awesome’ analysis SPC. I’m being sincere not sneaky sneering by the way.

  3. dukeofurl 3

    Some of the most vocal backers of ‘free speech now’ like Farrer were very dismissive back in 2012 when it was Hone Harawira who was ‘uninvited’ to a speech at Auckland University Law faculty.

    Back then for Farrer the issue wasnt ‘Free speech’ at all it was ‘the right to protest’

    It was a ‘mirror’ of the Massey event.
    “Law student Charlotte Summers said the Faculty of Law cancelled the lecture on the basis of “there may be a breach of the peace”.

    But instead of an old white man it was a maori MP/activist. Sure Farrer may prefer/love the views of Brash over Harawira but to do a complete flip over ‘ the rights’ involved is as usual the height of absurdity. But thats what the right do. They weaponise issues in their favour despite being total hypocrites – because they can get away with it.

    • SPC 3.1

      Another thing is the flip flopping on boycotts – calling for an organised campaign to boycott Massey … but not on ….

    • marty mars 3.2

      Yes this issue has been weaponised – and that means traditional narratives won’t work. The agenda for the right is to cause the left damage and they’ll chuck anything at it to achieve that – grannies kids principles and so on. Hard to counter for sure.

      • dukeofurl 3.2.1

        To some extent they are exploding bombs in thyeir own echo chambers.

        There was an opinion piece by a massey tutor the other day where he asked his
        first year tutorial class about the issue.
        Most hadnt heard of the ‘banning’ by the VC

        13 out of 17 did not know anything about the vice-chancellor cancelling Brash’s engagement
        – Of the four who did know about it, three knew because it was discussed or mentioned in their classes by lecturers earlier that day. One student read about it on Facebook

        13/17 had never heard of Brash and did not know his political views

        All of them wouldnt have gone along to hear him even if they could


        All the stuff about the University preventing the students from hearing Brashs views are nonsense.
        Brash and his opinions just arent on their radar and they are hearing critical views as a routine matter

      • greywarshark 3.2.2

        Yes marty mars – weaponised.
        If we picture the RW as Daleks wheeling round pointing their grey snouts at everyone we would be closer to understanding the simplicity of Brash’s aim, using a myriad of small barbs. The action is against whoever doesn’t serve the RW, monetised purpose, and the state and government also that doesn’t serve their purpose. Picture a Don Brash (or one of his ilk) head on one anouncing in a squeaky voice,
        ‘Exterminate, Exterminate, Exterminate’.

        That is what is needed to understand what they are about. And incidentally that method of labelling and visualisation is what worked so well for Nazis in persuading the mass of people that here was Germany’s enemy! Can we use the method and not get brainwashed of our remaining principles?

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    “In Athens, in the cradle of democracy, parrhesia meant the licence to say whatever you like, when, how and to whom. But there was another word, isegoria, which meant the equal right of citizens to participate in public debate in the democratic assembly. Both translate as freedom of speech.”

    A vital insight. First is the principle we know (freedom of expression, thought & opinion). Second principle is the right of access that enables participants to express their views (most relevant to multiculturalism). And a third principle: equality of rights amongst all citizens.

  5. Lucy 5

    Whenever people on the left talk they are met with a barrage of vileness that is never categorized, defended or dealt with. Even on “left wing” blogs the distinction between robust discussion and vileness can be allowed to remain. The right’s wish to have their right to free speech is seen as part of their right to govern. But the rights of others have no part in their thinking, so the right to have a different religion, the right to complain about things not being fair, the right to a different culture are all met with the demand to assimilate. The older left see that the awful people are on the fringe – but Simon’s point about Don Brash’s Orewa speech almost getting him into power and cutting off closing the gaps is probably the most salient point – a 17% raise in popularity with a dog whistle means there is 22% + 17% of the population believe that that is not a fringe, that’s close to a majority!

    • Ed 5.1

      New Zealand has a large and vile underbelly, fed by ignorance ( created deliberately by a Greggesque media) , fear ( builtvon by Brash and the Herald) and insecurity.

  6. Anne 6

    The former head of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Prof. Gillian Triggs was interviewed by The Nation this week-end. The bulk of the interview concerned Australia’s immigration policy, but the last portion was devoted to the Free Speech debate… starting around 9.00 mins in.

    It was such a pleasure listening to the intelligent, articulate, calm and well reasoned former Australian Commissioner, that I recommend listening to all of it. Indeed I should like to see her interviewed again with more detail on the subject of so-called Free Speech.

    Instead we are subjected on TV/radio/online news sites to bigoted, shrill, half-baked lies notions from representatives of RW cabals.


    • AsleepWhileWalking 6.1

      Wth? Most people Dr Triggs saw in the detention center were New Zealanders, and mostly Maori/PI… 5mins in

      • Anne 6.1.1

        A corrupt authoritarian government using “brown” kiwis and their Pacific cousins to attract and hold the Aussie red-neck vote – the Pauline Hansons of this world.

        We digress a little AWW however there is a link to the subject of ‘free speech’ in that the right wingers who rant and rave about it… are the same ones who advocate that form of racism – albeit privately in some instances.

  7. Dennis Frank 7

    Trotter on the marriage of neoliberalism & multi-culturalism: “There’s a saying, often attributed to Voltaire, which declares: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise.”

    “The free speech controversy, by identifying multiculturalism as the concept Kiwis are not allowed to critique without drawing down the unrelenting wrath of its state-sanctioned and supported defenders, has caused many citizens to wonder when and how “nationalism” and “biculturalism” became dirty words.”

    “The answer is bound up with New Zealand’s – or, at least “official” New Zealand’s – wholesale embrace of neoliberalism and globalisation. A country whose elites have signed-up to an economic philosophy based on the free movement of goods, capital and labour: the three fundamental drivers of globalisation; is more or less obliged to adopt multiculturalism as it core social philosophy.”

    • dukeofurl 7.1

      Thats interesting . I can vaguely remember back when it was ‘official NZ policy’ not to allow ‘working visas’, going through the ‘residency process’ was the only means where you could work here.

  8. Ad 8

    Your last line “How does the left counter this?” is the most useful.

    The contest of extremes will continue to come our way, and we’re clearly not prepared. The left will have to do a helluva lot better defending than through recourse to isengoria: state power determining access.

    Mickey you’ve had to do tonnes of posts on this because the left has been put in a stupidly defensive position. There’s no point being proud of watering a small circle of virtuous grass when the forest has been burnt to the ground by the conflagration of the internet. We have to accept that we are losing.

    Last week Canada sought to stand up for human rights of women activists in Saudi Arabia who had been jailed for standing up for their rights.
    In support of Saudi Arabia quickly came all the Gulf States, Egypt, Russia, and bunches of others.

    In support of Canada came … the US? Nope. Almost no one. The number of states prepared to support what we hold dear is shrinking. It should be OK to point out that rights and values in one country are better in one than in another. The world is saying: not anymore.

    New Zealand is one of the very last super-sensitive states in terms of minority expression. One of the very last, and least, and hardest to defend.

    Hardest to defend because in the eyes of the world, New Zealand has an appalling record on every other area of human rights other than expression and minority rights. That should tell us where to start before fruitlessly trying to define the mens rea of hate.

    • SPC 8.1

      Yup, the so called western virtues – free speech, free press, civil liberties and human rights are no longer promoted by the western government to the rest of the world. So they are now the preserve of NGO idealists.

      The left (supposedly) sees this as colonialism (leaving nations to mature in their development in their own time and or they should find systems that suit their culture better), the right only cares about global market profit. Our government just wants to do good business.

      The USA pulled out of the UNHC because the democratic cause it fought the Cold War on is a historic one given acceptance any attempt to rule the world (PNAC) – remake it in their image is not credible (China becoming a larger economy while ruled by one party). For them it’s now about leverage and its power being more clearly exercised for their own benefit thus they retain respect (are feared) despite this. Trump is not the aberration, he is the one outside the system who called it for what it now is – “Oz” is an empty suit.

      Thus the clash of civilisation of the Cold War era – is now only continued within democratic nations/”the free world”. The virtues are called “taonga” of the tradition of the white race and championed in domestic politcs – with the left being portrayed as of the multi-cultural regime/internationalist threat. Ironically the role model for the western antion right wing “national and religious” strong man, that would save his people from a multi-cultural threat to their own nation’s virtues, is more found in Moscow and Ankara more than anywhere else.

  9. Peroxide Blonde 9

    The Farage tour gig, at Sky City Auckland Convention Centre on the 4th September, will tap into a wider constituency than the Canadian pair.
    There is a wide community of English immigrants in NZ (they usually call themselves Ex-pats) who support Brexit.
    Scratch the surface a bit and you will often be told that they left the UK because of all the immigrants.
    When it is pointed out to them that they are advocating immigration themselves, by coming to New Zealand as immigrants, you might get an exasperated/non-compute/hostile response. I expect many of these will attend the Farage event.

    The Tickets are for sale via the Penthouse Porn site! The price range is an indication of the range of interest the promoters are expecting: Student Ticket $49.00 ;Private Dinner $995.00!

  10. Chris T 10

    You think it was full on the last couple of weeks

    Wait till Jordon Peterson comes over in January

    That will get the wannabe our countries censors pants in a real twist

    It will be uber sensitivities at dawn

    • McFlock 10.1

      I dunno. Peterson’s more dangerous and complicated than the recent two IMO, but I suspect he’s less prone to random dickishness like provocative t-shirts and taking the piss out of the local culture as soon as you set foot in the country.

      So he’s potentially more explosive, but less of a random spark.

      • Chris T 10.1.1

        Dangerous how?

        He certainly can’t be labelled racist or alt right unless there is some severe manipulation of well edited soundbites

        • McFlock

          lol that’s what someone said about S&M, and that turned out to be a little rabbit hole into some pretty sick altreich shit.

          But Peterson’s more comforting to the incel brigade, as I recall. So many fuckwits in the world, can be difficult keeping track of who looks up to whom.

          From what I gather, Peterson isn’t so much a clicksterbaitor as “Eat. Pray. Love” meets “Mad Men”. Motivational help for underachieving males who think the world owes them sex.

      • Bill 10.1.2

        Peterson’s not dangerous or complicated. His arguments rely on a steady stream of non-sequiturs.

        And yes, he (like Southern and Molyneux) exploits elements of stuff that’s meant to be not thought or said, but that many think anyway.

        You want to knock these peoples’ arguments into touch, then you have to engage with stuff like the notion that white’s are victims (“It’s OK to be white” resonates for a reason).

        Alternatively, just keep shouting “fascist!” and (as I wrote in a post elsewhere) flail your arms in a panic as the Southern’s, Molyneaux’s and Peterson’s of this world garner sizable followings.

        • McFlock

          Peterson might be worth engaging in debate, if he’s not allowed to set the ground rules in his favour.

          The other two weren’t interested in debate. That wasn’t their kryptonite. It would just give them legitimacy. Telling them to fuck off was a storm in a teacup, back to the interwebs for them.

          • Chris T

            Fair call

            Also gree with M, less so the S as she is pretty much harmless

            • McFlock

              By herself, yes.
              But she makes the company she keeps appear more moderate. That’s a problem.

              • Chris T

                The problem I have with that argument is some people on here seem to think NZers are too stupid to work this out for themselves and have to have their viewing screened

                • McFlock

                  She was here doing a double act.

                  People were paying to see both.

                  • Chris T


                    Do you not think NZers a bright enough to work out the blokes an idiot?

                    • McFlock

                      Not the ones who would pay to see either of them. She also doesn’t strike me as the brightest bulb in the draw, just that her popfascism is less coherent than M’s.

                      My concern with their event is that some little proto-nazis in NZ would go to an event with a few hundred people, feel a frisson of power and belonging, and that little oxy rush will keep them from growing up another couple of years. Maybe in that time they’ll get committed to their cause, or maybe they’ll convert another couple of people with their bile.

                      And the next white nationalist rally in wellington has a few dozen more people attending – enough to make the next Brash pander for their vote. nek minute, kiwi-t.rump.

                    • greywarshark

                      Chris T
                      Do you think that people are trained in critical thinking and the understanding of the effect on memory and perception from the subconcious and unconcious? Do people attempt to understand how a country of advanced intellectualism, morality and Christianity like Germany was able to give up its brain to the words of the Nazis?

                      That is serious wondering and I don’t think that many people talk about this at night and turn off their tv and do some pondering. Do you? Have you?

                      The question has been asked does tv itself train people’s minds towards violence and other anti social things. There is a term called ‘brutalisation’ where people get used to having their ideals and morals ‘bruised’ and start brushing off things without moral outrage. Too much moral outrage, and one is in a straitjacket. Too little and the lowest common determinant in our societal brain becomes the arbiter. Do people think about what good and positive things they need to hear more of or do you think that we are addicted to fault-finding, criticising, looking for scapegoats? Well I do. What do you THINK?

          • Bill

            The other two weren’t interested in debate.

            Neither were those who just wanted to shut them down. And the end result isn’t “back to the interwebs for them“, but that the ground around an important principle has been ceded to really dubious types and that they can leverage off of that.

            • McFlock

              How do you debate someone who isn’t interested in debate, whose business model is built around turning interactions into outrage and clicks?

              You can’t.

              If there’s no chance of debate, move on, and find asnother technique. Sometimes that technique is shutting them down, sometimes it’s about hoping they burn themselves out if people ignore them. These two were going to spread embers.

              • Chris T

                Half their event was supposed to be a Q and A session

                This would not signal a lack of opportunity to debate

                • McFlock

                  But that’s not a debate.
                  That’s acolytes asking their idols and receiving answers. And even if someone dropped the cash in order to ask a difficult question, they’d get brushed aside: “audience participation” never means that the audience participates on an equal footing. In fact, in the best run events audience participation is set up so that it cannot possibly affect the outcome. This goes from framing the topics you’ll receive questions on, all the way to ensuring that the audience member choosing which bag has the nail in it doesn’t get spiked (caution:gross vid of trick gone wrong).

                  • Chris T

                    They weren’t here for a debate

                    The event was speeches and a Q and A

                    Should people be forced to have a debate before any organised event here, as I think Obama didn’t either

                    • Dennis Frank

                      They came as advocates of a level playing field approach to multiculturalism, and as such they weren’t into debating the pros & cons of that approach necessarily. Although I support multiculturalism, the toxic effect in some places has been in the headlines for several years so people ought to learn why that has happened. Those two were trying to rectify things.

                      That’s my view based on their reaction to the questions of the Sunday journo. They were respectful, listened to her framing things from the perspective of people who disagreed with them, and responded by explaining their own perspective on that framing. They did so with appropriate rapport & courtesy.

                      I understand the fear reaction from those who see them as the slippery slope to Nazism. I just don’t agree that they are. We need a balanced view of multiculturalism. They were here as advocates of the side of the issue that pc groupthink tries to suppress.

                    • McFlock

                      Half their event was supposed to be a Q and A session

                      This would not signal a lack of opportunity to debate


                      They weren’t here for a debate

                      The event was speeches and a Q and A

                      Seems a bit inconsistent to me.

                    • McFlock

                      @Dennis Frank:
                      They put on nice faces for the media. There is no reason to believe that they would have said the same thing in their presentation. Especially given reports of their presentations in Australia.

                  • Chris T


                    Reply button disappears on me when it hits a certain number

                    With your

                    “Half their event was supposed to be a Q and A session

                    This would not signal a lack of opportunity to debate


                    They weren’t here for a debate

                    The event was speeches and a Q and A

                    Seems a bit inconsistent to me.”


                    I apologise. My first post should have been right of reply

                    I’m having a particularly being dumb Sunday

                  • greywarshark

                    What we don’t need or want is someone coming into this country and affirming to those who don’t GAF about anyone not in their class or family.

                    Good NZs don’t say STFU to those who say hey unfair, and I am worthy, and am not to be abused and disdained. And we know there is abuse verbal and systemic that goes on in this country. We have enough already. Those who are being invited and feted, what is in it for those who fund them? Who are they? They really want to upset our own choice of dealing with equity in our country.

                    Anti-immigrant, anti-brown – this is the sort of thing that happens when ugly minds get stirred up:

                    Woman with two year old child abused.
                    Old white man on mobility scooter – old, grumpy and self-centred.


                • greywarshark

                  I have been to meetings where time for discussion is taken up by one after the other pop-up demagogues. Or someone with a woeful countenance relates his sad story at length. Some Q and A. Meetings have to be managed very carefully to get any semblance of covering people’s queries. I suggest giving people a piece of paper to write down a max 25 word question, folding in half, getting collected, and then drawing them out of a hat.

              • Bill

                You and others were dead wrong to pursue the course of action that you did. The outcome was as predictable (Pug Dog).

                We’re not going to agree on that front.

          • Stuart Munro

            Peterson’s not all bad – but not inclined to humour some of the contemporary culture of activism in every respect. Not all of it deserves humouring.

      • marty mars 10.1.3

        Yes Peterson is more canny – he’ll use flowery words and velvet tones to spread his opinions. No doubt bigots and low brows will flock to his simplistic messaging – from what I’ve seen his patriarchal and prejudicial message will resonate with many tauiwi.

        • joe90

          Those many tauiwi need reminding that his message resonates with socially conservative Saudis, too.

          البروفيسور جوردان بيترسون أحد أشهر علماء النفس في #العالم وأثناء مقابلة معه يرى أنه لايمكن للنساء والرجال العمل في بيئة مختلطة دون وجود تحرشات جنسية . #ترجمة_نيزك pic.twitter.com/knneEAttXB— نيزك | Naizak (@naizaktv) June 7, 2018

          Professor Jordan Peterson, one of the world’s leading psychologists, said in an interview that women and men can not work in a mixed environment without sexual harassment.

          – google translate.

          • McFlock

            Oh, I’m sure that’s some severe manipulation with edited soundbites lol

            • Chris T

              Except for it not actually being true

              • McFlock

                interesting assertion of fact, there. I’ll bear it in mind.

                • Chris T

                  He said that he didn’t think men and women could work together in the forseeable future with out sexual harrassment as there a re no set rules

                  Then used the stupid example of make-up being used to sexualise women etc

                  He was talking about new rules in some businesses in the US that have no hugging work mates, no sharing cabs and having to report fellow workers going out with each other.

                  I disagree with the opinion and his example is dumb, but she is hardly hate speech

                  • McFlock

                    So basically he argued that anything a someone would do might be regarded as sexual harrassment, but the Saudis tweaked that into sexual harrassment being inevitable?

              • greywarshark

                If Peterson said that bullying is to be found anywhere, and may be at home or in public venues, and is something to guard against with guidelines and with appointed people to refer to leading to preventative action, now that would be a good message. And true and relevant.

  11. Reality 11

    Simon Wilson’s speech is brilliant, as is your follow-up Micky. It is heartening to read such intelligent, rational and sensitive points of view. Thank you to both.

  12. McFlock 12

    The link to the full text also has Brash’s response – seems to be very weak tea, to me.

    Wilson’s speech was very well crafted, using lots of people from past and present as examples to illustrate points. Brash lists people whom he says agree with his position.

    Wilson drew on a diversity of knowledge that pointed to a lifetime of education and intellectual curiosity. Brash regurgitated the first-year level “yell ‘fire’ in a theatre” trope that is quick and servicable, but that was the limit of his ability – his piece read like a C- fresher.

    Wilson explored the complexities of why there are differences between cultures. Brash basically said Jewish people were superior to everyone (if he’d explored the why behind the stats he brought up, he might have been on the other team).

  13. Bill 13

    Since when did the left become censors and the right become the defenders of free speech?

    Some on the left in NZ became censors the moment they sought to stop Southern and Molyneux splabbing shit to a hall full (or half full) of people, and/or when they voiced support for those seeking to prevent them.

    The right became defenders of free speech at the precise moment that some on the left became censors.

    Same shit happened in the UK, with Robinson boosting his deceitful “free speech” credentials off the back of Pug Dog (the “left” were nowhere to be seen in the Mark Meechan case) and twisting that into his “right” to endanger the fair trial of men accused of being members of “grooming gangs” (and a martyr I will make me 🙄 ).

    The common thread was some people getting all upset, and positioning themselves as the righteous judge and jury on unpleasant or objectionable “noise” – taking aim at the people making the “noise” (not even, for the most part, the content of the “noise”), and missing or ceding the ground around the principle of free speech.

    Note, it’s about the principle of free speech, and not a right to say whatever.

    Your ongoing confusion confuses me.

  14. tsmithfield 14

    The speech we should most try and protect is the speech we despise the most.

    Hence, I would defend the right of someone to come to NZ to promote communism although I would argue strongly against it.

    The thing is, it is very easy to defend the speech we agree with. Our own personal biases may prevent us from seeing that the speech we like may be as extreme in the eyes of others as speech we despise.

    Defining speech as “hate speech” because it offends some people is illogical. Afterall, some of the greatest progress in society (e.g. abolishing slavery) was achieved by people saying things that were offensive to some people.

    Unfortunately, things seem degenerating to the point at the moment, where any sort of speech that people don’t like is being called out as “hate speech”.

    However, there are laws around this. And if people feel speech breaches the law, they can make a complaint to the police, and have the issue decided through the courts. Then the nature of the speech can be objectively classified, rather than through the distortions of our own biases.

  15. Cinny 15

    Nek minute ‘act’ re-brands as the free speech party with brash at the helm.

  16. This songs about poor white trash , – and hes sure its not about black, white or pink that’s causing him all the trouble,- its money !

    Lynyrd Skynyrd – Mr. Banker (studio version) – YouTube

  17. Cricklewood 17

    Tbh I’m not sure if the author tuly belives what he writes or if he is looking to drive comments and clicks. My thoughts align with NRT in regards to speech and I struggle to understand why anyone would want to shut these idiots up. They are inevitably hoisted on their own petard if allowed to speak.
    Deplatforming them is harmful not helpful.

  18. Philj 18

    I do wonder whether the growing number of quasi political overseas opinionators is mainly about creating media mayhem and a profit as well. Promoters, presenters and the media all win big. I’m not saying there is not an issue though, rather, that ulterior motives are at play.

  19. Hongi Ika 19

    Just coming here to wind up the natives and the red necks here in NZ, they may be surprised what sort of reaction they get, as we have a few hot heads here in NZ, on both sides of the fence ?

  20. Jenny 20

    The hilarious monitarised Free Speech Coalition

    The so called ‘Free Speech Coalition’ have announced the launch of another fund raiser.
    Following their decision not to take the Mayor of Auckland to court, the FSC claim that they will be now taking the Massey University Vice Chancellor to court.
    The FSC have claimed the new fund raiser is needed because, despite deciding not to sue the Auckland City Council or the Mayor, most of the $50 thousand that they allegedly raised for that purpose has mysteriously disappeared.

    According to Mr Franks only some of the $50,000 raised to take Auckland Council to court remains and it will be used in the new suit.

    Katie Fitzgerald – Newshub, August 9, 2018

    Coalition member Jordan Williams told the Herald that during a conference yesterday it was agreed unanimously to issue proceedings against the vice chancellor.

    “We are going to need a little bit more money in the pot to do it, but we are very confident we will get there.”

    Chelsea Boyle – NZ Herald, August 9, 2018

    My guess is that, for various reasons, this latest case won’t go ahead either, and the money will again be mysteriously soaked up in the inflated salaries and costs of the Free Speech Coalition.

    The problem these hypocrites have is this, their newly found concern for free speech provenly does not extend to Maori banned from speaking at University campuses. If it did they would be suing Auckland University as well.

    The Mana Party leader was due to speak about the foreshore and seabed at Auckland University Law School.

    “All of the rednecks at the university decided to create such a ruckus that the Law School cancelled it. In 2011 we’re still being pushed around,” Harawira said.

    A Facebook page set up to promote the event attracted abusive and angry comments from both supporters of Harawira and the protesters who were against him.

    Asked why this was an example of racism, Harawira said there were only Pakeha involved in the protest planned at Auckland University.

    “A lot of people think that racism is dead and buried but clearly it’s not. I’m a Maori MP and I should have the right to talk to Maori law students.”


  21. karl morgan 21

    What the hell did I just read?

    Yeah, let’s chuck out how we’ve interpreted free speech over the years because you want to be a partisan hack and want to shut down people who don’t espouse your world view

    This is completely moronic, crack a history book and read about people like MLK and Gandi who used basic human rights like free speech and peaceful protests to bring about societal change

    This is authoritarianism masked as caring, and not very well either

    • Carolyn_Nth 21.1

      Ah. I see, km. You’re presenting an argument based on history….

      …but not THOSE historical facts (as recounted by Simon Wilson).

      Pretty selective reading of history then – and more so when realised that the historical primacy given to “freedom of speech” over other human rights, comes from the US, not NZ.

      Interesting example of how highlighting ignored facts doesn’t change entrenched values. Happens a lot with the new/alt right and neo-fashists.

  22. left_forward 22

    Thank you MS.

  23. Carolyn_Nth 23

    Very good post, MS.

    The claim by Simon Bridges, in the quotes from him in the post are incorrect. Closing the Gaps was included in the first Clark government’s budget.

    Winston Peters was the first opposition MP that strongly objected to it in 2000.

    In June, 2000, Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First party, described the program as “social apartheid”.[7] The responses from the opposition and the public reflected the perspective that Māori rights under the Treaty of Waitangi were special privileges that actively excluded non-Māori from their rights and privileges as New Zealand citizens.[7] The perspective that Māori were being unfairly privileged by Closing the gaps gained popularity because the policy was portrayed as undermining an equality of opportunity approach to social policy popular in New Zealand.[7]

    In June, 2000, Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First party, described the program as “social apartheid”.[7] The responses from the opposition and the public reflected the perspective that Māori rights under the Treaty of Waitangi were special privileges that actively excluded non-Māori from their rights and privileges as New Zealand citizens.[7] The perspective that Māori were being unfairly privileged by Closing the gaps gained popularity because the policy was portrayed as undermining an equality of opportunity approach to social policy popular in New Zealand.[7]

    Brash’s Orewa speech was the nail in the coffin of that policy.

    In 2004 opposition leader Don Brash suggested all policies privileging Māori should be abandoned, calling for abolishment of the Māori seats and Māori claims to customary title under the Treaty of Waitangi.[7] Closing the gaps popularised a rhetoric of privilege in response to Treaty rights.[7]

    • greywarshark 23.1

      I see that one paragraph was repeated carolyn-nth. Was something else meant to go there?

      • Carolyn_Nth 23.1.1

        That was a mistake. Probably should have included this:

        Closing the gaps was widely criticized for unfairly privileging Māori and threatening social cohesion.

        And this:

        Six months after the Labour Party came to power in late 1999, the term was no longer used in official documents. Opposition politicians observed that the new government still had a “Closing the Gaps” policy objective, but no longer referred to the policy by that name. Closing the gaps was re-branded by the 5th Labour-led Government as “reducing inequalities” in an attempt to make the policy more popular with the public.[7]

        So any claims that Brash single handedly ended the policy are stretching the truth majorly.

        And it also indicates how that racist underbelly continued to get traction in neoliberal times.

  24. tsmithfield 24

    It seems to me the definition of isegoria that Wilson was referring to, by his own definition, “the equal right of citizens to participate in public debate in the democratic assembly” refers logically to everyone being empowered to say what they like, not just a powerful few.

    Thus, free speech isn’t about limiting anyone. It is about ensuring that everyone is empowered to speak freely, including those who we dislike.

    This concept ties in with the point I made above, that the speech we should aim to protect the most is the speech we despise the most. If we all took that attitude, then “isegoria” would be very healthy in New Zealand.

  25. greywarshark 25

    I dislike people who want to claim their free speech right at the same time as I am speaking. Or if the other goes on too long and others with a strong voice are waiting to ‘get their oar in’, I have to interrupt just to make one small but significant point. That makes me unpopular; it is easy to be drowned out by the entitled. Free speech is an ideal, and has to be managed.

    • Carolyn_Nth 25.1

      There’s a whole to of smoke and mirrors about claims of free speech trumping all other considerations in a democracy.

      And it’s basically why the neo-cons championing of free speech is a red herring.

      Free speech is important to democracy if it enables all sections of society to have their say in public debates, and without state censorship. But the aim of freedom of speech was to ensure that any falsehoods would be challenged and exposed.

      In the 21st century digital age, we are inundated with spin and propaganda spreading a lot of untruths. This is damaging to democracy.

      Jess Berentson Shaw has a very good article about this on Spinoff today.

      She says a lot of the “free speech” claims of the new right are being used to spread racist and sexist views via scare mongering.

      But this is a case of stoking people’s fears to get them to focus on an issue that is not actually a problem In New Zealand. We are indeed on the top of a slope, but the not the mountain that Don Brash thinks we are on. The mountain we are really standing on is one of disinformation and misinformation created and used by powerful groups and spread and believed by people using digital media. This is the real challenge to our democracy.

      She says the way to counter spreading of misinformation throughscare mongering, is to frame important social issues in terms of helpful shared values.

      Frame evidence about climate change, for example, through values of care for each other (as opposed to our demise in a mega storm). People are much more likely to see and act on effective climate action evidence if you do.

  26. Doogs 26

    I have said this before, and I will say it again. To all you people who advocate free speech at all costs, I say, the guile, cunning and smoothness of all those who espouse racism, misogyny, gay hate, religious persecution or any other form of discriminatory speech is well shaped and designed to seduce. They use simplicity and beguiling sound bites in order to appear genuine. They mix this with non sequiturs to round out their ‘argument’, and they sound so reasonable. The best exponent of this was probably Hitler who roused a whole nation into vile and bitter hatred of one racial group, among other things.

    I say all of this because their absolute danger is that they will appeal to people who don’t have the capacity for thoughtful filtration of concepts and ideas. The relentless simplicity of their verbiage is easy to believe. Trump does it. So do all the other people mentioned in this thread. An unfortunate fact of our society is that there are a number of people who are vulnerable to these alt-right disinformation spreaders. And, as we all know, when a group of them get fired up with these bullshit ideas, they are likely to become a weapon of the speaker who has stirred them up. Which is of course exactly what that speaker intended. We only have to look at what some journalists in America are being treated to by addle-headed Trump supporters, and the Charlottesville Nazis and KKKers are another example.

    Just as we have to protect the vulnerable in our society who need welfare as a leg up – those who are the victims of poor education and getting trapped into a no accommodation/no work spiral downwards, we must also protect the ones vulnerable to crap ideas peddled by the hate-mongers among us.

    That is why Southern, Molyneux, Brash, Robinson, Farage, et al must be curbed. Their level of discriminatory rubbish is subtle, invidious and ultimately very dangerous. QED

  27. peterlepaysan 27

    Massey University most definitely denied D Brash the right to free speech.

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