- Date published:
8:25 am, October 1st, 2019 - 66 comments
Categories: law, Social issues - Tags: bigots, bill of rights act, free speech coalition, freedom of expression, lauren southern, stefan molyneux
Good to see that the courts upholding the right of venues to decide how they are able to use their facilities and assess risks. From Stuff:-
The High Court has rejected a judicial review of Regional Facilities Auckland’s decision to block two controversial Canadian speakers from using a council-owned venue.
RFA, Auckland Council and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff were sued over the decision to bar Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux.
Free Speech Coalition member David Cumin and Dunedin bookseller Malcolm Moncrief-Spittle, who purchased a premium ticket to the event, sought a number of declarations, including that the decision was unlawful.
A summary of Justice Pheroze Jagose’s judgment said RFA did not exercise “any public power” in cancelling the event, which was to be held last August.
“Its decision was unaffected by any mayoral view, being founded on legitimate security concerns,” it read.
“Its decision is not subject to judicial review.”
I’ll be interested to see any written judgement and to look through the reasoning. However I always thought this was a hopeless bid to force the Regional Facilities Auckland to do what? Open its facilities to anyone. Give protesters equal rights to speak in its venues? Pay for the stupidity of hirers?
Essentially there were going to be protests around these pair of Canadian white suprematist bigots speaking here. In New Zealand we don’t have ‘free speech’. What we have is freedom of expression. It is section 14 in the Bill of Rights Act.
I was planning to go and exercise some freedom of expression myself by protesting against the dumbass and dangerous ideas of the pair of bigots and their supporters who are at the centre of this legal action. While it was quite apparent that tactically this pair of grifters were mostly doing it for the clicks and the cash, their polmugration of bad science and moronic historical reinterpretation was abhorrent to me and many others.
In my view, their grand-standing was specifically designed to incite the kind of actions beloved of cowardly narcissistic bullies. Just like the evil coward who wandered around executing people with semi-automatic weapons in the Christchurch mosques earlier in the year.
Moreover, a major part of my protest would have been about the venue providing the facility that was built using my rates to shelter them from the expression of the opinions of others. The only issue on my mind was if I’d be amplifying my commentary inside or outside the venue (speakers are so small and so very loud these days).
We have protections for an ability to express our opinions from the Bill of Rights Act and other legislation. They are neither unlimited nor exclusive. That means that as long as I am peaceful (and I invariably am), I have the “freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form (Section 14)”.
This includes inside the RFA facilities provided I pay the fee. The dimwit bigots and their associated supporters may do the same. I was aware of number of other people who would have been planning to exercise the same freedom of expression as myself. Or I could have done it outside on the public footpath provided we followed the procedures and proscriptions of our society. It has happened before at that theatre when I have been going to Labour party conferences there.
But a theatre is not a particularly safe place to have this kind of ‘debate’ inside. There are just too many things that can go wrong in confined spaces as tempers rise.
Which in essence would have been what the RFA are required to look at, and did. Unlike a Labour party conference which is by invitation only, a public lecture is usually payment for entrance. Which under the Bill of Rights Act would have made it difficult to exclude me. Which is what the RFA would have assessed as being part of the risk.
This isn’t a restriction on the freedom of expression. It is just an assessment of risk.
There are safer alternatives for freedom of expression. In meat space, there is little to prevent the bigots or myself from airing our differences doing it the same way that everyone else does. You do it in a controlled open public space and without using it as a fund raising opportunity.
Which is the facility that the public provide for the freedom of expression. This is rather obvious to any one who has spent any time expressing their opinion or just being around public spaces for any length of time. Just go down around Aotea Centre any weekend for the long boring speeches. Or watch parliament TV.
What the litigants appear to have been trying to do in the court was to create a new law by precedent. But there really was no existing law to work from. The right of a group to assemble in a commercial space to denigrate other people, races, and religions regardless of the risk and cost to the owners – simply doesn’t seem to have ever been enacted in NZ.
My advice to the litigants who brought this to the high court is, that if you really want to make new laws, then the best way is to start the 30 year campaign to add them to the body of law. The problem is that you have to actually think about and balance of the rights of others while creating that law – something that this particular set of people don’t seem to be too good at doing.
As it stands, we the public, through our existing laws allow people to hold opinions without interference – subject to the criminal and civil laws of the country. It does not mean that we have to provide the space for them to commercialise those ideas.
The public also provide public spaces like Aotea Square specifically for expressing of information and opinion. The weekend after this cancellation, there was in fact a very peaceful set of demonstrations in Aotea Square that I looked in on. One supporting these Canadian profiteers, and several against from various groups. Along with at least 2 other protests by other groups with completely different causes.
This Friday, there was a rather large peaceful demonstration led by children that started there as well. That seemed to go well – except for the stupid expressions of opinion by some aged male juveniles who let their gearsticks do the thinking.