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Free speech vs hate speech

Written By: - Date published: 11:58 am, March 2nd, 2017 - 154 comments
Categories: education, Ethics, human rights, racism - Tags: , , ,

Auckland Uni is in a difficult position:

‘White pride’ fears over Auckland University student group recruiting members

The European Students Association has been established at Auckland University and has some fearing it’s a white nationalist group.

The group will be included in next week’s orientation week, despite objections from students. The university has allowed the group to hold a stall and recruit members at the Clubs Expo.

The group’s Facebook page includes Celtic symbols used by white supremacist groups, and paintings depicting the unification of Germany and the colonisation of New Zealand in the 19th century.

It has also posted “our pride is our honour and loyalty”, a statement similar to “my honour is called loyalty”, a common translation of the Nazi SS slogan.

AUSA confirmed it has received complaints about the group and has met the University Proctor to relay those concerns.

But a university spokesperson said the university has no reason to prevent the group from taking part in the expo.

“The university promotes a safe and inclusive campus environment. We have no evidence there is any form of discrimination or racism.” …

This is a classic dilemma with two important principles at stake. In the interests of free speech the group should be allowed to go ahead – if we start banning “European” groups then what reason is there not to ban “Jewish” or “Muslim” or whoever. But in the interests of preventing hate speech and creating a safe environment, shouldn’t we be avoiding anything that looks like support for resurgent “white nationalism”?

For what it’s worth I think Auckland has it right. The current group is innocent until proven guilty. But they should be closely watched, and at any sign of hate speech or intimidation, Auckland should take all possible steps to shut them down. Feel free to tell me that I’m wrong…

154 comments on “Free speech vs hate speech ”

  1. Brutus Iscariot 1

    You’re right.

    • r0b 1.1

      Maybe. But I’m also a member of the least threatened group (white male). Others may well have a different view…

  2. DoublePlusGood 2

    This isn’t actually a “European” cultural group though, it’s pretty obvious that this group intends to be a white supremacist group based on the information available.

    If they were actually a European cultural group they would have information about their upcoming events planned, perhaps including such things as traditional festivals like a Ceilidh, traditional food days involving cheese and bratwurst and haggis and olives and so on, perhaps a religious event or two for Lent and Easter. There might be a seminar series on European architecture, or a re-enactment of the Battle of Agincourt.

    But the only aspect of European culture and history they seem interested in is racism and colonisation.

    • Sure looks like one. Doesn’t make any difference, though.

    • JanM 2.2

      I agree with you there – it is difficult to define what a ‘European’ culture group would celebrate. Europe, like Asia and Oceania for instance, contains a lot of different cultures with a huge variety of understandings and events. Any group joining up under that banner would find the range of outcomes hugely cumbersome and not always relevant for many of its members.
      I am therefore forced into the belief that this lot are up to no good 🙁

      • Paul Campbell 2.2.1

        Maybe they’re really an anti-Brexit group …. but somehow I doubt it

    • dukeofurl 2.3

      ” Battle of Agincourt.”?

      More like the battle of Tours 732 or what ever its was that stopped the Golden Horde in the 13th century. And lastly the battle of Vienna in 1683.

    • McFlock 2.4

      wasn’t Agincourt in October?

  3. mac1 3

    Same old same old. I remember such nutters from the Sixties- British Empire Loyalists.

    At a speech at that time by a woman South African anti-apartheid campaigner and parliamentarian, a young member of this group spoke against her ideas, finishing with a gob-smacking reference, which I still remember after fifty years, to “Christendom’s purer form of man”- referring to us white folks.

    Public airings of such drivel really do help disinfect the air. Let sunlight shine on their infections. So long as both sides allow the other to speak out and be heard. Which is really the crux of the matter, for me.

    This is why Trump goes after the media and his opponents, as do all demagogues.

  4. I think it would be perfectly reasonable for Auckland University to make a policy that any groups utilizing the imagery of white nationalism, fascism, or any form of elimination, cannot be provided a platform through student organizations, speeches on campus, or essentially any form of student association or university resources.

    That’s not to say they can’t talk about their ideas or form a group privately, it’s just that the university would decline to support them doing so.

    While I support freedom of speech, I think any ideology that uses the weaknesses in a free democratic system to subvert it into a violent and hateful ideology deserves to have their platforms taken away from them, and that such a reaction is a democratic and in a historical perspective, incredibly mild response to, for instance, eliminationist ideas like white supremacy, genocide, or forced migration, that were previously suppressed through violence, mass purges, suspension of freedom of association, (actually, that one’s arguably still happening in Germany right now, their courts are allowed to ban any political party they believe are neo-nazis) and chilling effects on free speech.

    I’ve blogged about this before, (specifically at: https://lemattjuste.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/we-must-remember-the-lessons-of-the-third-reich/ ) but I think people don’t put into perspective exactly what extraordinary measures it took to beat back Nazi ideology after World War 2. And maybe that was an over-reaction, who knows?

    But I think it’s not unreasonable to take a hard line against any form of eliminationism, and say that it’s not acceptable and nobody will give them any resources or official support to engage in anything resembling it. Fascists succeeded the first time because nobody knew their tricks and nobody kicked up a fuss about them. We should make it as difficult as possible to import fascism into our culture at every turn, even if it seems like an over-reaction, while still trying to retain a liberal democratic culture.

    • Bill 4.1

      I think it would be perfectly reasonable for Auckland University to make a policy that any groups utilizing the imagery of white nationalism, fascism, or any form of elimination, cannot be provided a platform through student organizations…

      No crucifixes then Matthew?

      • weka 4.1.1

        Wouldn’t that depend on how they were used?

      • OK, sure, you can carve out exceptions for co-opted religious symbols. Cucifixes and right-way-around swastikas for religious faith aren’t offensive and people have a civil right to display symbols of their faith. That’s reasonable. There are certain modifications though that sometimes make it obvious that they’re not intended as normal religious symbols, of course. But you get my drift, right?

        There needs to be a zero tolerance policy on providing a platform to fascism or eliminationism, and one way to catch cryptofascists is to make it clear you can veto the affiliation of any club that is using cryptofascists slogans, images, or preaching those ideals, and that you can veto invited speakers, or any other sort of event that uses university resources in any way.

        You make the policy itself sound draconian so they can’t wiggle out of the rules after you decide to apply them, but then you exercise a lot of discretion when enforcing it and give people a reasonable level of benefit of the doubt when they accidentally include one nazi thing by mistake. But these people included several, so it’s obvious someone in the group did this deliberately, and seeing they’re hugging their anonymity real tight, we’d probably need a confession to know who.

        I should point out nobody’s saying to sic the thought police on these losers. Just that they shouldn’t get any special university benefits normally accruing to clubs for forming a covert hate group.

  5. McFlock 5

    Colour me “cautiously suspicious”.

    Nice thing about uni affiliation is that membership and activities are more open than most racist groups, though.

    • Paul Campbell 5.1

      If they’re required to let anyone join and they’re a small minority, as I’m sure they are, then they’re very open to takeover …. I’m sure the new executive will be able to find a great place to spend the organisation’s funds

  6. weka 6

    For the free-speech should take precedence people, a few questions.

    Should a university allow a group to have a stall at Orientation that was promoting changes in legislation so that rape is made legal?

    Should a university allow a group to have a stall at Orientation that was vaguely supporting legalising rape, but where the vagueness was actually an attempt at deflection so that people wouldn’t know what they were really doing. e.g. a Men’s Right Activist group that used the phrasing and imagery of rape advocates without actually explicitly advocating rape?

    Should Auckland University allow on its grounds the hosting of a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos?

    Should Auckland University allow on its grounds the hosting of a talk by rape promoter Roosh V?

    • tsmithfield 6.1

      Absolutely they should.

      The likes of Milo gain huge capital out of protests and rioting that have occurred in universities where he has been booked to speak, and provided a platform to campaign on where universities ban him from speaking.

      If such groups were simply allowed to speak at universities, there would likely be no-one attend and not get any publicity. That would cause them to have no oxygen for what ever perverse cause they are promoting, and mean they cease from trying.

      Or, they would soon realise that freedom of speech flows both ways, and they may not want to come back.

    • The first is a “No,” because it’s incitement to violence, which isn’t and shouldn’t be protected speech.

      The next two are straightforward “Yes.”

      The last depends on whether the guy’s going to incite violence or not. If he says “Not,” there’s no basis for prior restraint.

      NB: I’m aware “protected speech” and “prior restraint” are American concepts based on their constitution, but they’re useful shorthand.

      • Andre 6.2.1

        In the case of Yiannopoulos, he has in the past spoken positively of sexual relations between adults and minors. Seems to me if it appears he would likely do so again, that should be grounds to refuse him a platform.

        • McFlock 6.2.1.1

          same as David Irving (I think he was the last one who was considering to speak in NZ, and got declined a visa – maybe also the aussie euthenasia guy?)

          • Psycho Milt 6.2.1.1.1

            That one also gets on my wick – can’t have holocaust deniers or euthanasia advocates poisoning the minds of the nation’s citizens, but Muslim hate preachers are welcome.

            • McFlock 6.2.1.1.1.1

              which one you talking about now?

              • Any of them, but in particular the Salafist ones or anyone sponsored by Iran or Saudi Arabia. Bilal Philips has been here, and Mohammad Sahib actually lives here. I don’t think Sheikh Hilaly has been here to spread the word that rape is a result of men letting women out in public by themselves, but it’s unlikely the government would refuse him entry if he did come.

                • McFlock

                  Dunno about Philips, but this guy?

                  According to his statement/the report, the allegations of hate speech come from a slater compilation. Even if slater had accidentally reported the truth, the guy was already here by then.

                  Far different from Yiannopoulos’ explicit comments recorded and published from source, or the Roosh guy’s books.

                  • yes, that guy, a Saudi-trained Salafist whose mosque has been the source of numerous complaints. He says he’s a lovely guy who doesn’t hate anybody – well, so does David Irving, big whoop.

                    Of course, he also should be entitled to talk at the University of Auckland if a bunch of fellow religious fascists there were to invite him. In pointing out that it’s hypocritical to ban holocaust deniers or euthenasia advocates but let people like Sahib in, I wasn’t claiming the correct approach would be to ban all of them.

                    • McFlock

                      Complaints, eh? So has he been slaughtered in the courts like David Irving was?

                      Because at the moment we have slater’s word for it, as far as I have googled.

                    • Maybe you’ve never come across Saudi-trained Salafists before. They gave me a nice English-language booklet explaining Islam, including stuff like why it’s actually entirely reasonable to impose the death penalty for apostasy. Whatever unpleasant opinions Irving has are trivial by comparison. Maybe this guy’s a very unusual Saudi-trained Salafist and the various claims about him are bogus, but I’ll stick with assuming he’s not unusual.

                    • McFlock

                      Okey dokey, well I’m a little bit uneasy with the concept of banning someone from speaking on the basis of your assumptions.

                    • The point being that banning people from speaking is a stupid idea to start with.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, standing by to arrest them if they go overboard with the hate is the usual expedient.

                      But that’s the legal enforcement – there’s nothing saying anyone is required to provide a venue for someone with a history of being particularly objectionable. Hell, look at this site as an example.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 6.2.1.1.1.2

              Yes! Because this is what welcome looks like.

              No, wait…

              • The guy’s a resident, and was made one despite having opinions that make David Irving look like a top bloke. That’s pretty welcoming if you ask me.

        • joe90 6.2.1.2

          Yiannopoulos’ demise was a business decision.

          He was tolerated in the name of free speech when he was saying vile things  about women, Muslims, trans folk and immigrants  – right up until it was financially unwise to continue to do so.

        • Psycho Milt 6.2.1.3

          In the case of Yiannopoulos, he has in the past spoken positively of sexual relations between adults and minors.

          Having a controversial opinion on what the age of consent should be isn’t in the same league as incitement to violence. People’s interest in banning Yiannopoulos seems to come down to the fact that he’s a deliberately annoying troll – I haven’t seen any argument for it with real merit.

          • Andre 6.2.1.3.1

            Just having a controversial opinion on the age of consent falls on the side of free speech we should tolerate, IMO.

            But if I recall correctly, the nuance around Yiannopoulos’ positivity about adult-minor sexual relations was being positive about an adult in a position of power grooming a minor – and it’s the abuse of power aspect that tips it over the line for me. That’s where it seems to me to be advocating harm to a vulnerable person.

            • Psycho Milt 6.2.1.3.1.1

              That’s certainly the way it’s been spun. A lot of people seem to wig out the moment anyone suggests teenagers under 16 might actually be interested in sex, so I’d want to see conclusive proof someone was advocating the grooming of minors for sex before wanting them shut down.

          • Sanctuary 6.2.1.3.2

            “… People’s interest in banning Yiannopoulos seems to come down to the fact that he’s a deliberately annoying troll – I haven’t seen any argument for it with real merit…”

            Don’t over analyse it, what goes around comes around and it he had it coming allright.

      • Red 6.2.2

        Who chooses to be violent not the speaker, say what you want as long as you do not impinge on someone else’s right to liberty. You don’t have a right not to be offended or Your feelings been hurt that that then gives you the right to violence Unless you are of course a far left wing radical then you are the arbiter who can and can not speak, but also decide when violence is appropriate

    • DoublePlusGood 6.3

      Straight-forward No in all four instances because they are obviously instances of harmful speech that promotes, encourages and condones violent acts.

    • Pete 6.4

      Should this group’s activities be equated with those you’ve mentioned on judgements made of what it is about, its aims and intentions with the information known so far?

    • HDCAFriendlyTroll 6.5

      Free speech refers to public speech, not private speech. So a university is entitled to “censor” anybody they want.

      “Should a university allow a group to have a stall at Orientation that was promoting changes in legislation so that rape is made legal?”

      Up to the university. But if a group outside the university want to promote such a thing they have every right to. Just like everyone else has the right to point out what a idiots they are.

      “Should a university allow a group to have a stall at Orientation that was vaguely supporting legalising rape, but where the vagueness was actually an attempt at deflection so that people wouldn’t know what they were really doing. e.g. a Men’s Right Activist group that used the phrasing and imagery of rape advocates without actually explicitly advocating rape?”

      Ah, MRAs. What a bunch of sad fucks. Bitter because supposedly somewhere and some how some woman did them wrong. I’ve never known them to promote rape even vaguely though. And see my first answer above.

      “Should Auckland University allow on its grounds the hosting of a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos?”

      Hell yes.

      “Should Auckland University allow on its grounds the hosting of a talk by rape promoter Roosh V?”

      This, still? Ok, Roosh is an idiot. We can all agree on that. But beneath the facade and the “50 Bangs” crap all he is is a prude who doesn’t like how he sees women behave. His article about how rape should be legal within private property was his piss-poor attempt at being Jonathon Swift. He was attempting to make the point that in his opinion (not mine) if rape was legal within private property then women would be more careful and stop being such sluts (again, his opinion, not mine). Rape promotion, not. Stupid, yes.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    The problem with the free speech/hate speech debate is who becomes the moral arbiter on what speech is OK and what is not? And on what basis are they more qualified than anyone else to enforce an opinion?

    My view is that speech should be uninhibited and completely free. At least that way it is easy to see where the nutters are. And those who are overtly crazy in their speech will soon be ostracized in a relatively moderate culture such as NZ.

    • McFlock 7.1

      Ah, NZ exceptionalism. We’re not like the yanks, the british, the french, whomever – we’d never fall for it.

      Yeah, right

      • tsmithfield 7.1.1

        It is more of a philisophical debate, actually.

        For a start, speech is filtered through the interpretation of those who receive it. Someone may say something, not intending to cause offence at all. However, someone else, due to the context of their particular background, might receive that as a hateful comment where no such intention existed on the part of the person giving the comment.

        Due to the highly contextual nature of speech trying to define hate speech can become a bottomless pit that swallows all.

        • McFlock 7.1.1.1

          Nah dude. The “exceptionalism” bit was where you said NZers would probably ostracize the overt crazies, rather than electing them to the top offices in the land.

          That’s a careless bet to make with the future.

          But then of course your argument about hate speech becoming a bottomless pit is also bullshit – just ban the speech that the majority of elected representatives consider hateful, and it has leeway to adapt to changing use over time.

          Who decides about intent? The same people who decide about intent in every other crime: legislators, judges, and juries.

          • tsmithfield 7.1.1.1.1

            For practical purposes I agree there are obvious cases that should be banned. And there all ready laws that control speech to one degree or another. For instance, it is illegal to threaten to kill.

            However, my beef is more with the subtle levels where free speech is attempted to be controlled under the guise of hate speech.

            For instance, universities are supposed to be a place of wide diversity of opinion that enables people to debate ideas they may be diametrically opposed to. If speech is controlled because it might be hurtful to some people it hardly prepares them for life in the real world where people tend not to obey the pc niceties.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1.1.1.1

              …it is illegal to threaten to kill.

              It is also illegal to discriminate on the grounds of colour or ethnicity, with a few exceptions including in education, establishments for a particular race.

              So in fact, the “real world” is more constrained than the university.

              However, this little gruppe have declared that isn’t what they’re all about, and in the real world, their membership will be vanishingly small, and let’s face it, they’re transparent.

              Strength through honour “probably sounds better in the original German”, as they say.

            • McFlock 7.1.1.1.1.2

              Oh for fucksake, now you’re conflating “hate speech” with “might be hurtful”?

              How about you fuck off, read up on what you’re ranting about, and then come back in a few months with an opinion more complex that a 4 year old reading Fox news soundbites.

              • tsmithfield

                I see this more as a continuum than a bifurcation. Why do you think they can be divided into two separate categories?

                • McFlock

                  Because they’re at opposite fucking ends of the continuum.

                  A hallway is a continuum. You’re down one end, I’m at the other end, and you’re worried about how to determine the midpoint of the hallway, and therefore you’ve drawn the conclusion that we might actually be standing in the same place. That’s how absurd your conflation is.

                  • tsmithfield

                    McFlock, “opposite” means the two opposing characteristics. So, speech that causes hurt feelings isn’t the opposite extreme.

                    At one end of the continuum is warm, kind hearted speech. At the other extreme is the worst kind of hate speech.

                    Speech that causes hurt feelings is somewhere in between on the continuum. But whether the person receiving it perceives it as hate speech will largely depend on their specific background and experiences. So one person’s hate speech might merely mean hurt feelings for someone else.

                    For instance, below Draco asserted that “all lives matter” is classified as hate speech. However, it would be very difficult to show that statement breached any particular hate speech law because it would be highly dependent on the intentions of the person who said it, and the context in which it is received.

                    Along with that, non-verbal factors such as body language etc could make a comment kind, sarcastic, or hateful.

                    So, laws that outlaw race related hateful speech can be very difficult to enforce in practice due to the many intricacies involved in hate speech.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      The problem with the free speech/hate speech debate is who becomes the moral arbiter on what speech is OK and what is not?

      You do understand that it’s logic don’t you?

      If speech is designed to cause harm then it’s hate speech.

      White supremacy, or any sort of supremacy for that matter, and the speech to support it is designed to cause harm to others not in that group.

      • tsmithfield 7.2.1

        See my comment above. Who decides if something was intended to cause harm or not?

        • tsmithfield 7.2.1.1

          Let me give an example of what I mean:

          A teacher may tell a student “It is a good attempt, but you have room for improvement”.

          A student who has had a lot of success at school may view that comment as an encouragement. However, someone who has been failing at school may view it as a put-down.

          This is what I mean about the contextual nature of the way that people receive communication, and the difficulty inherent in defining hate speech.

          • Draco T Bastard 7.2.1.1.1

            But could it logically be considered to intend harm?

            The answer to that would be no as it’s obviously an encouragement to try harder.

            • tsmithfield 7.2.1.1.1.1

              So, you have done well in school and had good teachers then? If you had done poorly and had experienced bad teachers most of the time, you might take that comment differently.

              • Draco T Bastard

                I’ve was kicked out of two classes while at high school because I wasn’t doing well enough.

                Some of the teachers I’ve had have been absolutely terrible. Others have been brilliant.

                When I apply logic to that sentence it cannot be anything other than encouragement.

            • tsmithfield 7.2.1.1.1.2

              Here is a good example.

              Is the phrase “All lives matter” hate speech?

              In the context of the “black lives matter” movement, I saw an experiment that was done where people stood in a white neighborhood with an “all lives matter” placard. There was very little reaction to the placard. However, when displayed in a black neighborhood there was threats of violence etc.

              The reason being that those in the black neighborhood were interpreting the sign in the context of their own experiences of prejudice.

              However, the sign in itself held no overt hate content at all.

              • Draco T Bastard

                That’s not surprising. The all lives matter slogan is a white supremacist attempt to downplay and ignore the prejudice against blacks and is thus hate speech.

                • tsmithfield

                  Probably it is.

                  But you have had to generate some context and assumptions to come to that conclusion. That is also likely drawn from experiences and background of those interpreting the statement. However, someone with a different experience and background may have a different perspective on that statement.

                  The statement in itself isn’t overtly hate speech. So, who should make the determination in this case? And on what basis would they make that determination?

                  See the problem.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    No. The courts deal with context all the time.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    But you have had to generate some context and assumptions to come to that conclusion.

                    I didn’t generate the context and history – I just looked at what happened.

                    However, someone with a different experience and background may have a different perspective on that statement.

                    There isn’t any different history or background. There is ignorance.

                    So, who should make the determination in this case?

                    No one.

                    And on what basis would they make that determination?

                    Logic is the only basis to make any decision.

                    • tsmithfield

                      Come on. Even Hillary Clinton made the statement “all lives matter” in an African-American church in Missouri. Was she engaging in hate speech?

                      In June 2015, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton faced backlash after using the phrase “all lives matter” at an African-American church in Missouri during her presidential campaign.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Lives_Matter

                      Personally, I don’t think she was intentionally engaging in hate speech. However, those who interpreted the statement seemed to see it that way. This is the problem I am talking about.

                    • McFlock

                      What problem? She used phrasing that wasn’t appropriate, and got a community backlash for it. Steve Adams had the same issue.

                      Hate speech legislation just formalises that backlash within legislative limits, in the same way we determine objectionable film content.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Even Hillary Clinton made the statement “all lives matter” in an African-American church in Missouri. Was she engaging in hate speech?

                      Yes.

                    • xanthe

                      if “all lives matter” is hate speech then the battle for free speech is over and we lost!

                  • RJL

                    This problem only exists if you are trying to write a computer programme to decide.

                    If on the other hand, you have a person in the decision-making process (such as, but not only, a judge), then it is perfectly possible for a reasonable decision to be made that takes into account the context.

                    Fortunately, our whole legal system already works on this basis so it is no drama to make decisions about what is or is not “hate speech”.

                  • Context isn’t confined to the receiver of a communication. The sender of the communication also provides context.

                    For example, a young German who has environmental values, has invited refugees into her home and is a social justice activist might say, for some reason, ‘I’m proud to be a German’. Probably little to worry about.

                    A young German with swastika tattoos, shaven head, etc. might say the same thing. The reaction may well be more apprehensive, and understandably so.

                    One of the difficulties with the classical liberal analysis of the principle of free speech (e.g., J.S. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’) is that – also as a matter of principle – it assumes that all individuals are identical for the purposes of according them free speech. That is, it ignores the context of the speakers themselves.

                    There’s intellectual consistency in that position but it does ignore both the propensity of people to be very much aware of that context in dealing with others (giving rise, negatively, to prejudice of course) and the reality that that propensity has evolved just because it is useful in identifying others who are potential threats.

                    The category of ‘hate speech’ is, I think, an attempt by modern liberals to acknowledge just such a contextual threat especially when it amounts to a threat to inclusiveness and tolerance.

                    But it is a departure from original, stringent classical liberal accounts of free speech and individual rights which are always apportioned without reference to any characteristic of the individual beyond such things as cognitive capability to act as autonomous, rational beings. In practice, that amounts to most adults.

                    Roughly, it seems to me that those supportive of AU’s approach are erring on the classical liberal side of treating the NZESA members as individuals worthy of the rights accorded to any other individuals in a liberal society. Those opposed to it err on the side of the danger to tolerance and inclusivity (i.e., to liberal society) posed by the context ‘carried’ by those individuals.

                    And I’d add that ‘threat’ is not always solely in the eye of the beholder. If it were there’d be little reason for a predisposition to detect threat to arise. It would always be a maladaptive hallucination.

                    Sometimes, however, threat is purely a matter of perception.

                    In that case, some enduring good faith (and ‘expensive’) signalling from the people who are perceived as a threat would be a reasonable response to such perceptions and help enormously by allaying the sense of threat – e.g., members of the NZESA could fund raise with some gusto to aid Muslim refugees in New Zealand or regularly invite local ethnic groups to gatherings of the club members to discuss common values and concerns, etc..

                    If the club genuinely means no harm or poses no threat then this should not be too much of a concession for them to make; especially if they understand, acknowledge and see as reasonable why they may be perceived as threatening both in recent historical context and in the current climate.

                    • McFlock

                      I think the thing is that this group at AU hasn’t actually said much of anything, yet. It has some dogwhistle symbolism, but hasn’t really engaged in the debate about its existence.

                      So providing solutions for them to allay fears is a bit premature. It could just be a giant student wind-up.

                      The other thing is that “hate speech” seems to me to be another attempt in the historical battle against those people whose speech is skirts “offensive”, but falls short of “incitement”. Some sedition and breach of peace charges have been improvised to fill the gap in uk/australasian jurisdictions, and the US had “fighting words” recognised by the Supreme Court, for example.

                      It’s not just about causing offense, it’s about actually spreading hate.

              • Morrissey

                Something called “tsmithfield” writes, in apparent high seriousness:

                In the context of the “black lives matter” movement, I saw an experiment that was done where people stood in a white neighborhood with an “all lives matter” placard. There was very little reaction to the placard. However, when displayed in a black neighborhood there was threats of violence etc.

                You are evidently so thick and hidebound in your complacency that you can’t understand why black people would be incensed by that provocation. And what gives you the idea that a lot of white people wouldn’t also be outraged by it?

                Why are you here, by the way? Go post on Whaleoil’s blog, where people like you are oozing out of the woodwork. You’d feel right at home.

                • Foreign waka

                  I belief you just denied someone free speech. tssmithfield tried to show an example and perhaps one could answer that having the sign shown in an exclusive black neighborhood would invoke 2 thoughts: Is this person suicidal and such behavior is akin to putting a shark with sardines. They are all fish right? sarc.
                  I for one would however like to see a bit of leeway in a discussion forum with the subject of all things: free speech.
                  So for the sake of freedom and civilized discussion it would be great if these principles apply.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.2.1.2

          Logic – not someone.

  8. saveNZ 8

    Your’re right. What do they do when a non white European joins? I guess that’s the clincher of their motivation.

    • I doubt they’d recognise the existence of any such thing as a non-White European. Their motivation isn’t really relevant for the university administration, though.

    • Bill 8.2

      You mean you think they’d run a ‘whites only’ policy (a bit like Australian and New Zealand governments of the past) and bar Spaniards, Italians…and maybe even Indian Scots and black Irish and so on?

    • Foreign waka 8.3

      Europe has 87 different people of which 33 belong to the majority of some 730 million people. There are 24 main languages and another 6 that are spoken by minorities.
      These numbers do not include immigrants and languages that have been established in recent times.
      To make assumptions that Europeans are all white racist is really not the reality.
      Europe’s indigenous population came from Romen Greco lineage but Greeks in ancient times did not generally define themselves as “white”. Historically it wasn’t important what color skin is on display but where ones home land was.
      It was the slave trade of the 17th century that started using the term “white” in relation to race.

  9. Bill 9

    So this group is going to be much different from say the Linskis or Alf’s Imperial Army or the Waitati Militia?

    I mean, people are seriously entertaining the notion that this group is going to be any different to others that adopt a vaguely cultural identification in order to have a vehicle to facilitate some fun?

    And why? Because they have incorporated some Celtic knotwork in some promotional designs!!!?

    For fucks sake, I could be wrong and maybe there is a vicious racist European element in NZ Universities. But I’m picking this hullabaloo is all down to some people watching too much TV or something and getting far too carried away by their own bullshit.

    • weka 9.1

      I’d guess it’s the similarity with nazi iconography and language that’s the problem. That’s not an issue of Celtic design, and if it’s true about the nazi bit then obviously some real differences from Alfs etc.

      • Bill 9.1.1

        Is there nazi iconography? Or is that just all a part of the rumour mill? I’d go and check out their facebook page, but can’t see a link to it anywhere.

        As for the language (the slogan) I’d say it’s plain unfortunate, but kind of not surprising, that a nonsense slogan that’s meant to give some impression of faux medieval chivalry would in some way echo something used by the SS.

        edit. Found it. Will post snippets in a second reply

        • weka 9.1.1.1

          Am on my phone, mostly going off what people were tweeting. Don’t know if they are right but the argument wasn’t a bit of Celtic scroll work.

        • Carolyn_nth 9.1.1.2

          Some of the iconography on RNZ’s article about it here.

          And the Wireless article on it: which says

          Though the founder has refused to identify themselves, The New Zealand Herald have confirmed that Adam Holland – a one time mayoral candidate who made headlines last year for attending a debate in blackface, quoting Hitler in a campaign video and who has described himself as “anti-Muslim and anti-Jew” – is involved in the club and acting as a spokesperson for the group.

          Plus he’s a Trump fan.

          • Bill 9.1.1.2.1

            That’s the Celtic Wreath or Circle and the “strength through honour” motto (since dropped) on RNZ

            Which I notice is not what ‘The Herald’ was claiming the motto to be. They said it was our pride is our honour and loyalty and then shoehorned an SS angle in on the basis of the SS motto being my honour is called loyalty

            And still no images (none I can find) that use Nazi iconography, not any “paintings depicting the unification of Germany and the colonisation of New Zealand in the 19th century.” (I did find an image of Europe – hardly surprising really.)

            Can you repost your “Wireless” link please? It’s broken.

            Adam Holland – (looks like some media have invented themselves a figure to spin as some type of unsavoury leader or twisted member of some inner circle ) – had a quick read through the Spinoff article and was instantly reminded of Punk. You remember those days? Irreverence, shock and piss taking up front and centre – and some of it inevitably going wrong.

            If you’re going to take what he says seriously (I don’t and don’t believe he means to be), then you’d have to take his ‘Auckland Wall’ rant at face value.

            “There has to be quite a few state-funded jobs to get that wall built. [We] would like to see gates everywhere, tunnels, toll fees. We want it pretty secure, we want snipers along the border. That should get rid of some unemployment.”

          • Carolyn_nth 9.1.1.2.2

            I’m not sure what to make of Holland. It it’s the same guy, he does seem pre-occupied with Natzis, but often sounds critical of them.

            A video in which he pronounces his undying love for Trump – would take a bullet for him.

            Is this his blog?

            • joe90 9.1.1.2.2.1

              Is this his blog?

              Nope.

              Adam Holland
              @ad_holland

              http://adamholland.blogspot.com/
              Brooklyn, NY
              interpretermag.com/author/adam-ho…
              Joined July 2009

              • Carolyn_nth

                Yes. The blog posts are too staid in style to be the Auckland mayoral candidate.

            • Bill 9.1.1.2.2.2

              I watched a bit of the vid. What do you mean you don’t know what to make of him? He’s doing ranty stoned shit (he may or may not have been stoned) but he sure as fuck isn’t being serious or meaning to be taken seriously. There’s nothing to make.

              Seems the blog belongs to this guy. A different person.

              https://www.facebook.com/adampholland

              • Carolyn_nth

                But then he’s allegedly a spokesperson for the seemingly serious Uni European group, allegedly into historical re-enactments, etc. – maybe when he’s not stoned or drunk?

                • Bill

                  Oh, I’d be thinking more along the lines of serious drinking (European style biers only of course!) after seriously stoned re-enactments…I could be wrong.

                  • swordfish

                    Russell Brown‏ Tweets
                    @publicaddress

                    Worth noting that the cannabis reform group Adam Holland “represented” in standing for mayor was completely bogus.

                    Russell Brown‏
                    @publicaddress

                    I’m not saying that a “European Students” group isn’t of concern, but it’s worth noting Holland’s history. He’s not well, basically.

                  • weka

                    Nothing in what’s been discussed in this subthread precludes white supremacy. Just saying.

                    btw, Curwen Rolinson put this up,

                    Goooood grief. This Auckland University European Students Association appears to have been set up by Tommy Rees.
                    That uh .. pretty much makes up my mind on it instantly. Rees, for those of you who haven’t yet had the somewhat dubious pleasure of interacting with him, is an inveterate troll who appears to fancy himself a local ‘alt-right’ ideologue.

                    Full comment at,

                    • weka

                      Just trying to search back through twitter from yesterday (always a challenge), but just a couple of points. One is that this kicked off more than 24 hours ago, and stuff has been deleted.

                      e.g. Now deleted from the page, along with the “Our pride is our honour and loyalty”/Declaration of the German Empire post

                      The other is that they’re hardly going to stick swastikas on their FB page.

                      Before this hit the MSM there were people talking about it from the perspective of knowing German history, Nazi phraseology and icons. They raised the alarm.

                    • Carolyn_nth

                      alt-right sounds about right from Holland’s video on Trump.

      • Bill 9.1.2

        Okay. Lots of people getting their knickers in a twist. No imagery that I can see bar the Celtic wreath with the “strength through honour” thing

        A piss-take post (at least I read it as such) by someone calling themselves “I have no mouth and I must scream” that reads – “Yes, our motto is taken from Nazi Stormtroopers, and no, ‘European’ isn’t a culture, being comprised of dozens of different countries with differing languages, values, and customs, and sure, we use imagery associated with white supremacy online. But we are scared and threatened by demographic changes inevitably leading to a reduction in our numbers. We want to put the ‘supremacy’ back into white supremacy, but we are also scared to be honest because we, and everyone, knows we racists are the real victims! All those highly qualified immigrants stealing jobs for which we have no training, experience, nor even inclination to do! They come in here, and marry our women, and make us look bad with their spectacular tans and outstanding work ethic.”

        Another that says “blah, blah… that aims to promote European culture on campus through activities such as Medieval reenaction, outdoor events and concerts with an European theme as well as European cuisine feasts”

        Anyway…

        No Nazi iconography and a lot ofon-line/facebook slaughtering going on – (which is kind of ironic given we’re talking Europe and all 😉 )

        https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=auckland%20university%20european%20students%20association

        • Carolyn_nth 9.1.2.1

          I gather the white supremacy iconography has been removed from the FB page:

          TEU statement:

          Sandra Grey, TEU national president, said
          “this illustrates the pitfalls of taking control of student affairs away from students. It is clear from the imagery used (now removed) on the group’s Facebook page that these are people that promote white supremacy. “

          https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/auckland-university-student-club-change-motto-after-being-accused-link-nazi-ss

          • Bill 9.1.2.1.1

            They dropped the motto. And that suggests it was an innocent and unfortunate faux pas…to me. I’m thinking some folks need to take a long hard look at themselves. (Will “idiot” Matthews for a start).

            • Carolyn_nth 9.1.2.1.1.1

              Seriously?! You think a Natzi-like motto on the Celtic circle design, plus another Natsi-like motto on an image off men in uniform celebrating the German Empire, was all an accident and harmless fun?

              Plus some alt-right, misogynist stuff from some of the people alleged to have a connection with the group.

              And you see it all as harmless fun?

              • McFlock

                Not necessarily “harmless”, but we really have no idea what their motives are.

                Although ditching the motto suggests it possibly wasn’t intentional live-action trolling, or if it was they didn’t expect quite the reaction.

                • Carolyn_nth

                  I suspect the latter. But I wouldn’t censor them at this stage as they haven’t explicitly come out with direct hate speech.

                  However, I do think the guy who claims to be spokesperson, probably is somewhat alt-right, anti-Mexican, anti-Islam, misogynist, and has an attraction to authoritarian-type personalities.

                  • Foreign waka

                    Are you theorizing or have you got facts? Because these accusations are quite serious and if facts exist they should be brought to the attention to at least the race relation office. However, if not than could there be a conclusion that there is some hate spread all by its own?

                    • Carolyn_nth

                      It’s in comments and links above – especially ones posted by me and one by weka.

                      I did some searching online about the ‘European Association” in question, and Adam Holland named as a spokesperson for the group.

                      I said this:

                      I do think the guy who claims to be spokesperson, probably is somewhat alt-right, anti-Mexican, anti-Islam, misogynist, and has an attraction to authoritarian-type personalities.

                      I took that mostly from Adam Holland’s video, “Donald Trump Endorsed by New Zealand’s Lowest Polling Political Candidate”

                      He says he’s infatuated with Trump, and endorses Trump’s promise to build a wall to keep Mexican’s out of the US, and keeping (illegal) Muslims out of the US – and does a bit of a rant about Mexicans and Muslims not being a race, so it can’t be racism.

                      He repeats Trumps word of choice “pussy” and talks of pansy-arsed politicians, and is pretty derogatory about his own wife and child. He talks about Trump being a success because you just have to look at his wife to know he’s doing alright for himself (woman as possession). Calls his own (ex) wife an f***in c***, of a woman, and his children dumb arses.

                      All stuff I associate with the alt-right and certainly sexism, if not outright misogyny.

                      Also see weka’s comment about Curwen Ares Rolinson’s Facebook post about Rees and Adam Holland who are allegedly associated with the European association.

                      Rolinson says Rees has previously talked about setting up an alt-right party, and had also made racist comments about Rolinson.

  10. mauī 10

    Don’t get the idea of the group at all. Unless you’ve got living family members who were born and lived in Europe then you might want to connect with european cultures. Otherwise celebrating the europeans by living like you’re in medieval times is really weird if you’re a white new zealander in my view. It’s about as relevant for young people as Paul Foster-Bell thinking we should be in love with the Queen and the Monarchy.

  11. HDCAFriendlyTroll 11

    As Larry Flynt said – you either have free speech or you don’t. There is no middle ground.

  12. I’m just going to leave Popper’s Paradox here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

    And a question, for everyone insisting that despite the incredibly obvious markers of white supremacy, we ~just don’t know~ if this group is a racist hatesponge: what will it take? Will you acknowledge the obvious if they say “we think Jews run the world”? If they start sporting swastikas, will you say “oh but that’s a symbol used in Buddhism too, who can say?”

    Will it take literal physical violence, or will we then be where we always are when racist white men attack minorities – wringing our hands going “Oh, but we can’t possibly understand his motivations, he must have been mentally ill!”?

    It’s very easy for people here to shrug or laugh or sneer that anyone would take this seriously, but right now I have friends at Auckland University in genuine fear of being targeted and attacked by this group or by other racists emboldened by Auckland University’s stance. They do not take comfort from the fact a bunch of privileged white people think this is just a fun abstract discussion about “innocent until proven guilty”.

    • Universities allow political, opinion-based groups to operate on campus. If they were to start banning the ones we don’t like, the religious ones would be top of my list.

      Will it take literal, physical violence for me to want them banned? Nope, just the incitement of it. Until then, everyone gets to have an opinion and say what it is.

      If I had friends at University of Auckland in genuine fear of being targeted and attacked by Muslims because there are Muslim groups operating on campus, I’d tell them to get a fucking grip on themselves and stop being such dicks. Have you tried that?

      • weka 12.1.1

        So Nazis are really just like Christians? Sorry, not convinced in any way at all, and I think your antipathy for religion is skewing the reasoning there.

        • Psycho Milt 12.1.1.1

          You haven’t understood the reasoning. Universities allow groups with opinions some of us don’t like to operate on campus. It doesn’t matter whether just a few of us dislike the opinions or whether most of dislike the opinions, it’s not a popularity contest. The only proper basis for preventing a group operating on campus would be demonstrable actual harm, which so far hasn’t even looked like being demonstrated in this instance.

          In reality the university administration will step in if it thinks something is damaging its brand, because these days all that idealistic blather about what it means to be a university is nothing to the people who actually run them. I expect if this group does make its White supremacy inclinations explicit, the administration will act – as a completely cynical brand protection exercise though, not because particular opinions should be banned.

          • weka 12.1.1.1.1

            For me ‘like’ isn’t the issue, so it’s not that I don’t understand the argument, it’s that I disagree with that framing as basic premise.

            This isn’t about feelings or being offended. It’s about whether we support the rise of oppression or resist it. 5 years ago, or even 1 year ago, this was all an academic argument. Since the US election, it’s now a matter of urgency.

            I’m not willing to wait until they become a direct threat, because by that point things are too serious to control (hence the violence at Berkeley). And that is completely and utterly dependent on context.

            “I expect if this group does make its White supremacy inclinations explicit, the administration will act – as a completely cynical brand protection exercise though, not because particular opinions should be banned.”

            Hasn’t worked in the US though and I think we need to be looking at the potential here, not of a sudden creation of the bizarreness of US culture here, but of what our particular version is. We’re 9 years into a govt that doesn’t need a Tr*mp to start undoing some fundamental democratic rights as well as plundering the country, so I think we are closer to the shit going horribly wrong than most people are willing to consider (she’ll be right mate).

            In any case, the group last night said it is disbanding. Good, resistance worked in this case and pretty bloody quickly.

            Do I think there are risks in that? Yes, it’s not like progressives are going to get it right every time. I suggest we start looking at putting new checks and balances in place, because the old free-speech ethics are not going to be enough any more.

            • Psycho Milt 12.1.1.1.1.1

              If it’s about supporting the rise of oppression or resisting it, I’m in favour of resisting institutions that want to ban groups because some people find them offensive. In this instance, the institution did the right thing, but there were a lot of people demanding it support the rise of oppression – those people worry me more than the occasional White supremacy loon.

              Re waiting until they become a direct threat, who was the direct threat at Berkeley? Was it the guy wanting to give a speech, or was it the “anti-fascists” rioting on the campus and setting fire to things? I know who I’d find more threatening if I’d been there.

              • weka

                Neither. It’s Bannon and co.

                So sure, by all means argue the liberal position. That works so long as you have a functioning democracy. If in a years time the US no-longer has that, then presumably some antifa on-campus violence won’t be looking like the problem in terms of oppression (and people in the US who are already being subjected to white supremacist violence would disagree with you anyway).

                The point here is that we don’t go from non-fascism to fascism overnight. There are stages, and many people who have studied this are saying we are in the middle of this, it’s already happening.

                • The Americans have an actual right-wing authoritarian nationalist problem to deal with, we don’t – yet, at least. Vigilance against authoritarian tendencies in society is a good thing, but to me, asking universities to become more authoritarian looks like encouraging the rise of authoritarianism, not resisting it.

                  • weka

                    Maybe. Or maybe the surge of activity in the past couple of days, that included pressure on AU to do something, was part of the healthy vigilance irrespective of what AU chose to do. The group has disbanded, doesn’t really matter too much whether that was AU, OUSA, twitter etc that made it happen.

                    However, while I understand the argument for universities not becoming more authoritarian, I guess I see them now as a weird mix of old school academic ethics and modern neoliberalism, so I’m not convinced they are bastions of non-authoritarianism (if they ever were). They serve the ruling class as always, and we’ve had a period of time where liberal (in the NZ sense) values have had an ascendancy, but let’s not forget who is actually in charge.

                    In the case of Berkeley, where they are in a country in the middle of an actual authoritarian crisis, the university chose to support free speech over resisting fascism. As the rise of fascism commentators keep pointing out, there is a huge degree of denial in the US about what is happening and that is part of how fascism comes about. At what point should Berkeley refuse permission for a pro-fascist speaker? That’s a genuine question.

                    • I think it’s an irrelevant question. Given that the US is facing an actual descent into fascism, the question isn’t “Should Berkeley prevent a right-wing internet troll from giving a speech?”, it’s “Why isn’t Berkeley’s academic staff raising the alarm on every platform available to it about the US descending into fascism?”

                    • weka

                      Well, quite. Instead we have desperate people wrecking the place as a last resort. If the people with the actual institutional power don’t act, the people with the least power will do what they have to.

            • Foreign waka 12.1.1.1.1.2

              Yes, lets ban free speech and get some real controls into place! If this is not a call that is familiar from times past … far far away. Lest not forget.

              • weka

                Why do you want to ban free speech?

                • Foreign waka

                  I would not ban anyone from speaking their mind. It is counter productive as this creates an underground group that than looks irresistible to the very young – forbidden fruit etc…. This is the premise on which any agenda works. Europe had its fair share of shame and blame – so there is also experience to draw on what not to do.
                  PS my comment was tongue in cheek.

                  • weka

                    They haven’t been banned from speaking their mind. If AU or AUSA had taken action e.g. they’d been denied club accreditation, what that does is stop them from using formal structures for organising and recruiting on campus. So unless you are saying that there is a fundamental right for fascists to organise in those ways, I can’t see how free speech is being denied. They still have a FB page for instance. Probably nothing to stop them putting up posters or handing out leaflets on campus either.

                    “It is counter productive as this creates an underground group that than looks irresistible to the very young – forbidden fruit etc….”

                    Can you please give some real world examples?

        • Bob 12.1.1.2

          “So Nazis are really just like Christians?”
          If you compare the Crusades to WWII then there are definitely historical similarities there, yes.

      • It takes a very special kind of person to categorise white supremacy as “opinions I don’t like”, PM, and that kind of person is “someone who doesn’t face any threat from white supremacy and doesn’t care about people who do.”

        Muslims are not white supremacists. Islam is not – contrary to a lot of the hysterical hate-speech which goes on – a creed founded on eliminating other people. You either know this and are being offensive as some kind of fun ~devil’s advocate~ game-playing, or you don’t and should go educate yourself, because you look like a fool.

        • HDCAFriendlyTroll 12.1.2.1

          No, it’s a creed founded by a schizophrenic who claimed he talked to angels*. It’s only later that it became about eliminating other people. It’s why moderates focus on the early verses in the Koran and the extremists focus on the latter verses **.

          * Mohammed claimed to have been visited by the archangel Michael who dictated the Koran to him. It’s central tenet of Islam that the Koran is infallible because it’s the direct word of God.

          ** https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-passages-found-chronologically-later-in-the-Quran-trump-earlier-passages-if-a-contradiction-is-present-Is-this-how-ISIS-attempts-to-justify-their-violent-actions (see the first comment)

        • Psycho Milt 12.1.2.2

          If White supremacists were to turn up at the University of Auckland and threaten people, the country already has plenty of laws and systems in place for dealing with that. The incident in question was very much in the lesser category of “opinions I don’t like.”

          Muslims are a legitimate analogy. There’s a non-zero likelihood of White people being targeted for violence by Muslim extremists, just as there’s a non-zero likelihood of coloured people being targeted for violence by White racists. Most of the people that European Students club was aimed at would be harmless enough people with an unpleasant ideology, which is pretty much how I’d describe the members of Muslim associations at NZ universities.

    • Cinny 12.2

      Aye that Paradox 😀 Nicely posted Stephaine

      Sometimes it’s just the fear of the unknown that can really mess with people and maybe your friends, sorry they are feeling that way

      I’d suggest they join the group or make friends with group members, inclusion rather than self directed exclusion from fear often stemming from misunderstanding, or being fed the fear via media or upbringing, experience of others offshore etc.

      Am sorry your friends are feeling fearful of racists. Have they had a bad experience in the past? Was it in NZ? Just out of interest.

      • weka 12.2.1

        I’d be less concerned about it if it weren’t for the actual rise of authoritarianism in the US and the very clear connection between that and white supremacy and the alt-right. Where’s the line before we take preventative action? I’d say we’re already on that line. NZ is not immune to what is happening overseas, either in terms of the global community or how that is affecting what is happening here. We already have an increase in pushback against solidarity/inclusive politics. Personally I’d rather not wait until things get as ‘obvious’ as the US.

        • Nic the NZer 12.2.1.1

          “I’d be less concerned about it if it weren’t for the actual rise of authoritarianism in the US and the very clear connection between that and white supremacy and the alt-right. ”

          If you think the most productive response to this is to ‘ban’ it and trivialise it with accusations of fascism then your politics is approaching it wrong. With this reaction expect it to thrive and grow.

          On the other hand this appears to be a case of #twitterdidntgetthejoke.

          • weka 12.2.1.1.1

            If you think minimising and ridiculing opposition is an appropriate response then you haven’t been taking notice of the experts talking about what happens in the rise of fascism. Can’t happen here in NZ, right?

            “With this reaction expect it to thrive and grow.”

            That one is worth debating. I’m not sure that that is so true in NZ, but sure, put up an argument based in things happening in reality (as opposed to the theory, which I already get).

            • Nic the NZer 12.2.1.1.1.1

              “you haven’t been taking notice of the experts talking about what happens in the rise of fascism. ”

              Too right I haven’t being paying much attention to a bunch of self professed experts who want to throw accusations of Fascism around (except to laugh). #whathappensontwitterstaysontwitter

              “That one is worth debating. ”

              No, its really not worth debating, its a factual claim. As long as left wing political parties fail to engage with the multitude of genuine concerns of polities and keep dismissing the same as ‘your a bunch of racist biggots’, then this right wing populism will continue to grow.

              • McFlock

                So “engaging” with right wing populism will stop it growing?

                Bold call. Because on the flipside “engaging” with some of these jerks merely gives them legitimacy and acceptability. And then we end up with trump.

                • Nic the NZer

                  “So “engaging” with right wing populism will stop it growing?”

                  Its not clear what that means. If the electorate has opinion compatible with right wing populism then this is the ideal politics and i hope it does succeed in that case. On the otherhand what i actually think is a lot of concerns of the polity can be addressed in ways by the left and right of the political spectrum. As long as the left refuses to engage they will not get the votes to push left wing ways of addressing these issues.

                  “And then we end up with trump.”

                  That election already happened. The Democrats had, following this revelation, an opportunity to engage with the voters who cost them the election. Thats largely a group of people who having seen what ‘hope and change’ means over 8 years decided that it wasn’t really worth voting for. So far they decided to respond by taking third way advice about what to do, for about 20 million bucks of funding. We should anticipate a second Trump term.

                  • McFlock

                    That election happened, but it wasn’t a one-off. We are all naught but history’s bitch.

                    As for what “engagement” means, you’re the one who brought it up. We can engage with racist bigots or not, that’s the dichotomy you presented.

                    • Nic the NZer

                      “As long as left wing political parties fail to engage with the multitude of genuine concerns of polities”… – Nic

                      “We can engage with racist bigots or not, that’s the dichotomy you presented” – McFlock

                      …”and keep dismissing the same as ‘your a bunch of racist biggots” – Nic

                    • McFlock

                      “and keep dismissing the same”

                      I took that to mean that the people with the “genuine concerns” were being dismissed as racists and bigots.

                      Did it occur to you that such a dismissal could be correct?

                      And if it were correct, aren’t you suggesting left wing political parties engage with racists and bigots?

              • weka

                I wasn’t talking about the twitterati, I was talking about people who have actually studied fascism over many years. Interesting that you misinterpreted what I said though.

                “No, its really not worth debating, its a factual claim.”

                You think an expectation is a factual claim? That a prediction of future outcomes based on many variables is a factual claim? Right.

                “As long as left wing political parties fail to engage with the multitude of genuine concerns of polities and keep dismissing the same as ‘your a bunch of racist biggots’, then this right wing populism will continue to grow.”

                What left wing political parties have been involved in the AUESA issue?

                I think you are conflating the very real grievances of many people about how badly they’ve done under neoliberalism, with the alt-right, who are basically anti-liberal fascists. If you can’t understand the differences there then your political analysis isn’t worth much. Not least because many of the people who’ve done badly under neoliberalism haven’t taken up with RW populism. Don’t let that get in the way of some good rhetoric though.

      • A number of them are Jewish, Cinny. They’re pretty good at spotting people who want to literally exterminate them. You honestly want to say “oh, just join the group and make friends with the people who think you’re subhuman, it’s probably a misunderstanding!”?

        (Your frequent emphasis about whether their experiences of violence were “offshore” is pretty gross, to be honest. The Holocaust is within living memory. Antisemitic violence occurs in New Zealand on a regular basis. Please consider how callous you’d sound to people targeted by this kind of organised hatred.)

    • Oh look, it turns out some people did have genuine fear of being targeted and attacked, just not the ones you were thinking of: http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/european-campus-club-to-disband-after-threats.

      • Ross 12.3.1

        That could be bullshit of course. The group were rumbled so decided it was time to quit. In quitting, they’ve played the victim card. Not very convincingly.

        • Carolyn_nth 12.3.1.1

          Agreed, Ross. And I do wonder how big this little group actually is/was.

          I read this on RNZ last night:

          But the president of the new club said if anyone promoting those views joined, they would be expelled.

          “If they’re interested in our group, we can’t stop them liking our page, but they’ll have no affiliation with us. They’ll actually be expelled from the group or just won’t be allowed to even join in the first place.

          “It will mainly be 18 to 22-year-old people who have an interest in European culture,” he said.

          Shaun Hendy, the director of Te Pūnaha Matatini and a professor at the university, said the association’s statement looked like back-tracking.

          “Far-right groups generally aren’t seen as socially acceptable, so they do use these symbols and words to signal to other people that they associate with the far-right.

          “Although they’ve put these statements out, I think the obvious intent of the group was not open and inclusive.”

          My bold.

          Using Natzi associated terms with at least 3 selected images, suggests a dog whistle, and does, IMO support the notion they were aware that explicit Natzi statements would provoke much outrage, and possibly police attention.

          It looks to me like a person or two were testing the waters, and/or were putting out feelers to see how many like-minded people they would attract.

          And the statement about disbanding and painting themselves as victim is in keeping with their somewhat devious MO.

          I guess maybe they’ve dissociated themselves with the name they gave the little club, but doubt the little clique behind it are disbanding.

      • Your desire to downplay the threat of fascist groups and ride to their defence is firmly noted.

    • Pete 12.4

      “a bunch of privileged white people.”

      I get ‘bunch.’ I get the ‘white.’ Privileged? Does that mean that any group from the university being described should have that word as an introduction?

  13. Sanctuary 13

    If you bring in laws restricting free speech people will just use them to make political points and turn themselves into martyrs for free speech – http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-lepen-eu-idUSKBN1691A0

    Free speech therefore must be protected. However, the enthusiasm and level of the protection will always depend on what is being said.

    • weka 13.1

      Who is talking about bringing in laws to restricting freedom of speed (other than the ones we already have)?

  14. dukeofurl 14

    Interesting look at UK political party logos using ‘national symbols’

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/what-political-party-logos-actually-5604537

    This was the funny bit:
    [Labour]’The rose is the national flower of England. ……
    A symbol of anti-authority since the Middle Ages, and long associated with socialism, it’s somewhat ironic that the Labour Party adopted a rose in 1980 – as their slow move away from socialism took root.

  15. Carolyn_nth 15

    In my experience, the ideal of freedom of speech having primacy over anything like hate speech, is something strongly favoured in the US.

    I never really had debates with people about freedom of speech vs hate speech until I went online in the late 20th century. This came up frequently in debates with USians. They cited the Jeffersonian notion of the free marketplace of ideas.

    Basically this “free marketplace of ideas” ideal claims that if everyone has unrestricted freedom of speech, the truth will rise to the surface.

    In the UK and Europe, my experience was that support for freedom of speech was somewhat tempered by the awareness of the damage some forms or content of public “speech” (expression) can do.

    Here’s Wikipedia on the free market place of ideas:

    The “marketplace of ideas” is a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market. The “marketplace of ideas” holds that the truth will emerge from the competition of ideas in free, transparent public discourse. The “marketplace of ideas” concludes that ideas and ideologies will be culled according to their superiority or inferiority and widespread acceptance among the population.

    The phrase “marketplace of ideas” first appears in a concurring opinion by Justice William O. Douglas in the Supreme Court decision United States v. Rumely in 1953: “Like the publishers of newspapers, magazines, or books, this publisher bids for the minds of men in the market place of ideas.”[2] The Court’s 1969 decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio enshrined the marketplace of ideas as the dominant public policy in American free speech law (that is, against which narrow exceptions to freedom of speech must be justified by specific countervailing public policies). It has not been seriously questioned since in U.S. jurisprudence.

    The Wikipedia page states that this free marketplace of ideas is pretty much enshrined in US law. However, the idea that freedom of speech will lead to truth, has a long history in the UK from liberal philosophers like John Stewart Mill.

    U.S. President Thomas Jefferson argued that it is safe to tolerate “error of opinion … where reason is left free to combat it”.

    “Speech” (also images, print, etc) often does have an impact on the ways people behave. It doesn’t just float free in some intellectual sphere disconnected from other human activities.

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