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Hey Free Speech Union, Simon O’Connor is being muzzled

Written By: - Date published: 9:05 am, June 28th, 2022 - 41 comments
Categories: Christopher Luxon, feminism, human rights, national, nicola willis, same old national - Tags:

Christopher Luxon’s attempt to cauterise the abortion issue is not working out as intended.

Fresh from the weekend’s drama where three different statements were released within a short time he has acted to muzzle Simon O’Connor, whose “It’s a good day” post disappeared from social media but not before it had been screenshotted.  O’Connor has since been unavailable for comment.

Other National caucus members are mostly very silent on the issue apart from Nicola Willis who has unbelievably tried to blame Labour for National’s predicament saying that Labour had created needless anxiety.  The only anxiety I can detect is from within National’s ranks as they attempt to hide the fact that some of their MPs have some pretty fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

But former National MP Alfred Ngaro, who has strong conservative christian beliefs,  has criticised National for not allowing MPs to express their views.

From Michael Neilson at the Herald:

Former National MP Alfred Ngaro says MPs should be able to speak their minds on abortion after party leader Christopher Luxon effectively gagged his caucus airing views on the Roe v Wade decision.

National’s socially conservative MPs have gone to ground after MP Simon O’Connor was forced to take down social media posts leader Christopher Luxon has called “triumphalist” and causing offence.

The US Supreme Court decision on Friday to overturn Roe v Wade and allow states to ban abortions has raised conversations here, particularly given Luxon is himself an Evangelical Christian opposed to the right to an abortion.

O’Connor posted “today is a good day” with love hearts on social media soon after the US ruling was announced.

Ngaro was quoted as saying:

As I understand it, there is no party position on these conscience issues. It is purely an individual position that caucus members take.

And you will see a number of [current MPs] voted against this, like myself when I was there.”

O’Connor’s views have received some prominence over time.  He is the MP who said at the end of the debate on Abortion Law Reform in 2020 “Mihi vindicta: ego retribuam, dicit Dominus (Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord).”  He said at the time that saying it would probably get him into trouble and boy was he right.

There are a number of National MPs with strongly held anti abortion views.  These are the people who put up amendments such as this one which would force women to tell the state how many abortions they have had.

So much for National being a broad church.  And as I said yesterday you have to wonder what is going on in Luxon’s head.  How can he believe that abortion is murder but decide not to do anything about it because it is bad for the polls?

The population should be allowed to hear exactly what our MPs are thinking and planning.  Democracy functions better when we know what our MPs are thinking and believe in, and what they may do if their party gains power.

41 comments on “Hey Free Speech Union, Simon O’Connor is being muzzled ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    I totally understand why Luxon is getting a relatively free ride in the media on this, and by extension the reluctance of the media to door stop O'Connor on his views. The "respectable" MSM is reflexively radically centrist and pro-establishment and one of their shibboleths and one of the glories of NZ politics is an indifference to the details of our elected representatives private arrangements.

    We should remain utterly uninterested in the morals, sexual orientation, etc etc of politicians and judge them on their policies.

    However no one made Simon O'Connor tweet out his pleasure at the overturning of abortion rights in the USA and it is a matter of public interest that a big faction in National's caucus are far to the illiberal Evangelical right of mainstream NZ opinion.

    The the Free Speech Union is just another opportunist astroturf outfit of chancers, snake oil merchants and ideological misfits who are primarily concerned they’ll be held to account for their own social media seditious demagoguery than they are with actual free speech.

  2. Robert Guyton 3

    Has the Upper Room released a statement on their position?

    • Sanctuary 3.1

      They Did. If you sinned and became pregnant, abortion is wrong and should be banned. However, if you are wealthy enough to be able to afford to fly somewhere for an abortion then your wealth is sign of God's love and forgiveness so that's OK.

      You know, when you think about it prosperity Evangelical Christianity is complete heresy – 100% paganism in it's philosophy. Jesus's big idea was that we are all equal in the eyes of God and on our works we are judged. The pagan Greeks and the Romans were of the view that if you were wealthy enough to afford expensive sacrifices to the Gods, you could buy their favour and get to heaven. This prosperity Christianity is just a rather more selfish riff on that. Wealth itself guarantees paradise, no need to invest in an expensive bull to sacrifice.

      Like conservatism is now a mis-label for radical reaction and fascism, so prosperity Christianity is a misnomer for simple paganist beliefs.

    • Populuxe1 3.2

      Yes, and it's Missionary!

  3. Sacha 4


  4. observer 5

    If there is one assault on free speech I'd be fine with, it would be to ban the Orwellian use of "He's entitled to his view" (and it is usually a "he").

    What it actually means is "I've told him to shut up now".

    Simon O'Connor is "entitled to his view", says his leader. Yeah, nah.

  5. observer 6

    "He is the MP who said "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” He said at the time that saying it would probably get him into trouble and boy was he right."

    But only now. It was completely ignored at the time. Imagine the media reaction if Hone Harawira said "Vengeance is mine, I will repay". Headlines would scream. For O'Connor, there was nothing.

    Also in a Parliamentary debate, Chloe Swarbrick did not say anything about "vengeance". She simply said "OK, boomer". Sh*t hit fan. Compare and contrast.

  6. observer 7

    Good news! Simon is unmuzzled.

    Bad news! He stands by what he said. He's pro-life, so it was a good day, whereas Luxon is pro-life, so it was a bad day. WTF?

    Yes, it really is that clear:

    O'Connor speaks to the Herald

    • Robert Guyton 7.1

      He's apologising to the National Party caucus, so all is well!

      We can rest easy.

      It wasn't his view that was the problem, it was the comments!!


      • Peter 7.1.1

        It's insane. O'Connor is going to apologise to caucus, because ….. because he said something that roused the public?

        The apology is an exercise in pathetic hypocritical posturing so that 'unity' and the 'leader' will be massaged.

        O’Connor says he has not been gagged. Right, just castrated.

        • observer

          It's also incredibly incompetent political leadership (lack of).

          The US Supreme Court decision was leaked on May 3, and made headlines all over the world. Eight weeks ago.

          At that point Luxon should have said to his caucus "Well, we know Roe v Wade is coming, and it's going to be a huge story, and the questions for us are inevitable. So here's our response when it happens …"

          Either he was too stupid to anticipate the bleeding obvious, or he did and his MPs ignored him. Both are bad signs for his leadership.

        • Incognito

          O’Connor says he has not been gagged. Right, just castrated.

          No, it was far more serious, he was cancelled!

        • Anne

          O'Connor said,

          "I am very clear this has caused distress and trouble for the party that wants to focus on big matters."

          So there you have it. This is not an important matter. We must learn to accept we are subordinate to men and stop making a fuss about it. There are far more important matters to focus on.no

  7. Patricia Bremner 8

    If people had started to think Christopher Luxon was benign, remember what he said

    "We will overturn all their legislation".

    He warned us…. sad for him that this highlights social health and criminal portions of that threat.

    People hear what they hope will be overturned, and do not consider what other rights they might lose in the loss of legislation.

    The question now has to be asked… who or what does he serve? Voters should know.

    One thing we have learned discussion of contentious issues is not favoured over the goal of becoming PM.

    His slogans need discussion and the effects of sunlight.

    Especially "Progess" and "Doing well". We need them fleshed out and discussed, as he clearly does not want discussion to get in the way of his personal progress.

  8. Blade 9

    ''So much for National being a broad church. And as I said yesterday you have to wonder what is going on in Luxon’s head. How can he believe that abortion is murder but decide not to do anything about it because it is bad for the polls?''

    That's not a hard question to answer: What can he do about it? Nothing. But let's say he does take action to ban abortions and is successful. Given our constitutional processes are nothing like the States, Luxon would be a one hit wonder, and Labour would reverse that decision once they were back in power with a clear majority.

    Maybe Luxon now believes everyone has a right to free choice ( except his own MPs)?

    As I've grown older and now perceive how precious life is, I've grown from being liberal on abortion issues, to more anti abortion, mainly based on the controversy around late term abortions.

    But I would never ever consider stopping women from having the right to choose.

    The thing that worries me more is what's going on in Luxon's head when it comes to political strategies? This issue gifted him a golden opportunity to promote National as a broad church party, and to be decisive when dealing with the media and Labour. He failed on all fronts

  9. Ross 10

    Your faux concern for free speech is duly noted lol

  10. Ross 11

    How can he believe that abortion is murder but decide not to do anything about it because it is bad for the polls?''

    How is it that the PM can want a capital gains tax but refuse to implement one on the basis that it might cost Labour some votes? (She previously blamed NZF for not being able to get a cgt across the line.) I must admit I do love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

    • lprent 11.1

      I must admit I do love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

      Usually almost entirely from the National caucus in my experience.

      Dithering idiots – at least according to almost every Act supporter or libertarian that I have ever talked to. Act supporters may be kind of stupid because they don’t look towards the completely obvious downstream consequences of their policies. 3 strikes comes to mind. Completely stupid deregulation being another.

      But they usually don’t dither hypocrisy everywhere like National MPs usually do.

      At least up until the point where you start talking to them about a almost complete lack of transparency on their donation systems and structure. Same when looking at the question of the Taxpayers ‘Union’ that most of them seem to like.

  11. Anker 12

    Simon O Connor is not having his free speech muzzled as you claim Mickey. He has been told by his leader to toe the party line. But nowhere is he saying “changed my mind guys, I am all for abortion”. He states he is pro life and we all know that that means he is against abortion. Guess what? He is allowed to be. He is a Catholic and that is part of his religious belief. He’s very clear he will not bring in a private members bill.

    it’s clear to me that labour eg Grant Robinson are using the US situation to try and score votes in NZ as they are doing badly in the polls. They are just politicking.

    fascinating to see left wingers stand up for abortion, but treat women with vitriol and contempt when they are arguing for the right to have women only change rooms, sporting competitions, hospital wards, refuges and prisons.

    • Ross 12.1

      Spot on, Anker.

      I doubt very much that the PM or other senior Labour MPs would be silly enough to bring this up during the election campaign. Mere reference to the pregnant and vulnerable Charlotte Bellis, and Chris Hipkins’ smear of her, should be enough to end any further discussion. Fortunately the Taliban didn’t reject Bellis in her hour of need. 🙂

      [Stop diverting – Incognito]

    • Robert Guyton 12.2

      "Guess what? He is allowed to be."

      He may be "allowed to be" but he's not allowed to say so = muzzled = suppression of his freedom to speak.

      Odd, coming from National. You'd think they would be strong on freedom of speech.

      Seems not.

    • Visubversa 12.3

      Yes, most of those wailing about the effects on women today were refusing to even say what a woman was a couple of days ago.

  12. Leonie 13

    Not muzzled by media or public. His very Christian overlord Luxon told him to withdraw his comment. If he want to stay he must be a good boy and obey Luxon. Don’t be fooled Luxon is a danger to democracy support him at your peril.

  13. Corey Humm 14

    The reversal of Roe v Wade is a disgusting reversal of civil rights.

    However if we're going to keep it 100 let's be real, our foreign affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta voted to criminalize women in 2020 by voting against abortion reform so when Mahuta posted her condemnation about R V W being overturned she's nothing but a hypocrite.

    Two other cabinet ministers and the next speaker of the house are also anti abortion.

    Should they stay in the party? It's pretty much the same cast of characters who voted against gay marriage reform.

    It's just seven years ago that Labour members and union members were telling every media outlet that would listen how grossed out they were by Grant being gay.

    So if labour's gonna make a big deal about civil rights issues and attacking national for being a broad church on this issue labour needs to walk the walk and get rid of anti abortion most like

    Nanaia Mahuta (cabinet minister)

    Damien O'Connor (cabinet minister/voted against gay marriage)

    Meka Whaitiri (cabinet minister)

    Adrian Rurawhe (speaker of the house)

    Greg O'Connor

    Jenny Salesa

    Jamie Strange

    Rino Tirikatene (voted against gay marriage)

    Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki

    Ohh and William Sio for voting against Gay marriage too.

    Time for these people to go.

    How's Nanaia going to promote women's rights when she voted to criminalize women and diverges from the vast majority of kiwis on this?

    How's Damien O'Connor gonna uphold and promote human rights principles on LGBT and women rights issues with our trading partners when he doesn't support them and doesn't share the views of most kiwis on these issues.

    You wanna pro life speaker of the house ? Ya got one!

    Simons comments are so disgraceful and cringe but those in glass houses.

    Those labour mps aren't fit for purpose and Damien O'Connor and Nanaia Mahuta and Adrien should be retiring immediately.

    Labour long ago abandoned economic justice for social liberalism, if it can't even be social liberal and has social conservatives like Mahuta and O'Connor representing us on the world stage … what does the party stand for??

    • Craig H 14.1

      Cabinet collective responsibility requires that once a decision is made, cabinet ministers support it. Nanaia Mahuta MP might have voted in a particular way in a conscience vote in Parliament, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs is required to advocate for government policy whether that squares with the individual MP's personal views or not. Likewise Damien O'Connor as Minister of Trade.

  14. Robert Guyton 15

    "Simons comments are so disgraceful and cringe but those in glass houses."

    Is that us commenters here on TS?

    Are we in a glass house?

    Or should we be free to criticise Simons?

    (From memory, that is: his statement has been vanished.

  15. Patricia Bremner 16

    Corey at 14, don't forget it is a conscience vote. So differing views are represented.

    The concern here is having the current situation going back to what it was.

    Many are looking at what was said ahead of the change in the USA.

    It is not that people are different that's the problem, it is using undue influence, silent and secretively making small tweaks which can have huge impacts on women's lives.

    Those Labour ministers were representative of conservative views of their upbringing or electorate, but many are modifying and being more progressive.

    For once I agree with Blade. Christopher Luxon could have illustrated Broad Church inclusion… he failed and has created anxiety with his many takes.

  16. observer 17

    One benefit from all this pressure on Luxon/National is that in just a few days the current law has been effectively solidified. Nicola Willis (on social media) has today added her personal guarantee that the law will not be changed. Nothing is fixed, of course (she's a politician) but with every 'on the record' statement another battle is won.

    It is easy to forget that before 2017 abortion was in the "too hard basket", Seriously. Too hard. The status quo was a disgrace, but successive governments left it alone.

    Ardern gets her share of flak, some of it fair, but her leadership on abortion is her legacy and it's a thousand times more important than a failed referendum on a tea towel flag.

  17. Peter 18

    The reality of the terrible state we're in is encapsulated in a Herald headline today.

    "Luxon looks like a PM after shooting down MP's abortion post." That's what it takes?

    An MP with a genuinely held belief, on a matter of principle, apologises to caucus for having a genuinely held belief on that matter of principle and expressing it.

    I guess that looks like leadership to some. In the old fashioned parlance I suppose leadership was taking someone out the back of the shelter shed and giving them the bash.

    I admit I didn't go behind the wall to read the piece. Oh, it was from Richard Prebble.

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