There appears to be a bit of angst on display over obnoxious cunts running with the “free speech” baton. But, as stated in the excerpt on the front of this post, we’re talking about a principle – not about how acceptable or cuddly some people and the views they express may or may not be.
If Lauren Southern wants to build a fan club among white South Africans (as I believe she may have done) and then come to New Zealand and engage with some arguably racist segment of New Zealand’s South African immigrant community, she has every right to do so. And her right to do so should be defended against anyone who’d deny her that right. Even if, as is arguably the case, she’s a raging fucking hypocrite around free speech, and an obnoxious individual expressing lamentable, thoughtless or spiteful ideas, her right to speak freely ought to be defended.
That doesn’t mean she has the right to a platform. Neither does it mean others have the right to deny her a platform.
Red Logix posted a rather long video by Trevor Phillps (former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission for England and Wales). He knocked the nail on the head at the very outset of his documentary.
Campaigners like me sincerely believed that if we could prevent people expressing prejudice ideas, then eventually, they’d stop thinking them. But now, I’m convinced, we were utterly wrong.
What’s to say to that, bar “No shit Sherlock!”
And yet it appears that a goodly number of people are rushing off to condemn whatever the Lauren Southern’s of the world might be saying on that very basis – that if the views people like Lauren Southern hold don’t get expressed, then the views will exit the realms of thought.
Ironically, all the hullabaloo that has flowed from her and Stefan Molyneux booking out the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland has given them and their views far more oxygen than they’d otherwise have received. That platform they have no entitlement to, and that people sought to deny them by having them barred from the Bruce Mason Centre, has been extended far beyond the Bruce Mason Centre, and their message duly amplified – by the actions of those self same people who have sought to shut them down.
And they should never have sought to shut them down.
To reiterate. Free speech is a principle. And it’s not contingent upon people talking the way you want them to talk, nor saying things the way you like to hear them.
If Southern, or anyone else, incites people to inflict injury on others, there are laws to deal with that. But there is, quite rightly, no law proscribing obnoxious thoughts or ideas.
To paraphrase Tom Walker’s Johnathan Pie – what the fuck is going on when the likes of Don Brash and Lindsay Perigo hold the mantle of free speech? They don’t own the principle.
Though it seems they’re getting a free run at it.