Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, August 29th, 2018 - 146 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, democratic participation, International, national, same old national, us politics - Tags: chelsea manning, lauren southern, stefan molyneux
We have another freedom of speech tester. This one involves Chelsea Manning.
She is well known as a whistleblower and leaker of sensitive US military information. She was sent to jail for espionage after leaking nearly 750,000 pages of information to Wikileaks. She was sentenced to 35 years jail but received clemency from Barack Obama and now has her freedom.
To paraphrase her psychiatrist her motivation for leaking the information was to change how the world views the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was an attempt to crowdsource an analysis of the war, and it was her opinion that if enough analysis was done on these documents then society would come to the conclusion that the war wasn’t worth it, and that that no wars are worth it.
She is very different to Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux. She is not known for attacks on ethnic groups. She does not go around manufacturing dissent for Youtube clicks or engaging in hate speech. She has not taken parts in efforts to sabotage efforts to save refugees from drowning.
National was happy enough for Molyneux and Southern to visit and talk. But it thinks that Manning should not.
National has re-ignited the free speech debate by calling on the Government to bar ex-US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning from visiting the country next month.
Former Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said the “convicted felon” should not be allowed to earn money talking about her crimes, and it would “not enhance” New Zealand’s relationship with the US.
But Green spokeswoman Golriz Ghahraman said Manning had stood up against authority and silencing her was “callous”.
The Free Speech Coalition labelled National’s stance “foolish” while Wellington’s mayor said Manning had a right to free speech and he would welcome her to his city with open arms, as long as she was allowed into the country.
Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified American diplomatic and military documents, has two speaking events scheduled in early September.
Her conviction for espionage and computer fraud means she will require a “special direction” from the Government to allow her into the country.
This can come from a senior immigration official in the first instance, and then can be appealed to Associate Immigration minister Kris Faafoi, who has the delegation for special directions.
Manning was granted a commuted sentence, not a pardon, by former US President Barack Obama, so her convictions still stand.
And Woodhouse is out to pick a fight:
Woodhouse said if an application from Manning had landed on his desk while he was Immigration Minister, he would have denied it, and called on the Government to do the same.
“This is a convicted felon, sentenced to 35 years in jail, coming in here for money,” Woodhouse said.
“She is wanting to be hailed as a hero for stealing military secrets and state secrets. She was convicted of very serious crimes.
“The discretion is not there to apply to a person who expresses virtually no remorse for her offending…There’s no rehabilitation, no remorse, the very purpose of her visit to come and talk about her crimes.”
“The other thing to consider is that we have a very good and friendly relationship with the US, which I have no doubt would not be enhanced.”
But the Free Speech Coalition is going to ride to the rescue. I am sure Chris Trotter is feeling much happier. From Scoop:
The political whims of the National Party must not curtail our right to engage in the most relevant topics of our age, says the Free Speech Coalition, which is calling on National MP Michael Woodhouse to reconsider his comments to the media earlier today.
“The subject of our allies’ wartime conduct is a matter of great public importance,” says Chris Trotter, a spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition.
“As a democracy, we have a right to be informed on the activities of our friends on the international stage. New Zealanders deserve a chance to hear her speak.”
“There are other examples of previously convicted criminals that have been allowed entry into New Zealand. Nelson Mandela was allowed entrance in 1995. And Jordan Belfort, also known as the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, was allowed to give a series of motivational speeches in 2014. If these convicted criminals were able to speak in New Zealand, why is Manning any different?”
“We agree with the reported comments Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman that Mr Woodhouse’s campaign for censorship is offensive. New Zealanders should not be denied an opportunity to hear a personal account of military use of power, even by an ally. The Free Speech Coalition hopes Ms Ghahraman continues to support the principle of free speech, no matter the politics of the individual speakers.”
“This isn’t an issue of defending breach of confidence or leaking military secrets. Rather, it is the right of New Zealanders to hear from someone who is noteworthy albeit controversial.”
It seems strange for someone to think that hate speech is fine but that dissent to the American War Machine should be suppressed on the basis that Donald Trump will be upset.
Chelsea should be allowed to come and speak, no matter what her convictions are for. A discussion about the waste that our world tolerates engaging in wars that destroys lives and communities and countries and how this should no longer be tolerated is well overdue.