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Reflections on Free Speech and Public Discourse

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, April 15th, 2019 - 119 comments
Categories: censorship, culture, Deep stuff, democracy under attack, democratic participation, education, Ethics, human rights, identity, internet, law, leadership, political education, Politics, suppression orders, terrorism, uncategorized, vision - Tags: , , ,

8+ minutes to read

The boundaries between political and public debate are fuzzy at the best of times. They both take place in MSM and social media and to a lesser degree in Parliament (that includes Select Committees). One could call it participatory democracy but it is not democracy as we know it.

Strong (i.e. clear and with integrity) moral leaders are near absent and this void is filled with click-baiters and ego-trippers. Moral leaders are not the ones who moralise but those who can facilitate and mediate debates on complex moral issues. Moral issues are complex by default and they change over time.

The so-called ‘debates’ are often polarising partisan point-scoring competitive bouts and rarely aimed at finding common ground and increased understanding that has a genuine sustained positive impact. Generally, people do not listen; they are only interested in getting their own point across.

New Zealand has some extremely difficult conversations ahead and, like so many things, the standard is set from the top. Our politicians all carry blame for, at various points, stoking intolerance and capitalising on pockets of latent xenophobia for votes.

To change views and attitudes is hard and takes a (very) long time; they are embedded in our identity and thus any attempts to change are met with strong resistance. It won’t happen in one conversation or debate. I know this by looking at myself. I don’t change my views overnight – I quite like my own views and I’m quite attached to them; they’re my ‘babies’ – but over my life time I have changed and I’m now more aware of this inner process – some call this “aging” or “mellowing”. The best one can hope for though is conceding minor facts and even the odd apology. Don’t expect a fundamental change of PoV, and certainly no public admission of any such ‘epiphany’.

Ironically, in this environment, political rhetoric is condemned and radical opposing views by non-politicians is strongly resisted and banned when possible. Against this backdrop, it is clear that a genuine debate about freedom of speech is an exercise in futility and flawed from the outset.

What does freedom actually mean? To do and say as you please? That seems rather pointless to me. To express yourself and your inner life? More like it. However, freedom of speech without an audience or a recipient is nothing – in space, nobody can hear you scream. Here is the thing though; you cannot always pick and choose your audience. Freedom of speech is not absolute and ought to be guided by two considerations: purpose and impact (AKA consequence).

It is natural to turn away from noise that we do not like. It is also natural to defend ourselves against harmful forces. Sometimes we have no choice but to confront a threat but how can we do this effectively if we do not know its shape, form, smell, or name? How can we fight effectively without previous experience and practice? An immune system that is not exposed to pathogens is weak and useless yet we obsessively clean and sterilise, overuse antibiotics, and go nuts against vaccinations. If we do the same with opinions and ideas that we vehemently object to (outrageous!) or judge as outright dangerous we set ourselves up for future life-threatening ‘illnesses’.

I believe we are already well down this track – the symptoms are hiding in plain view. We must not tolerate the intolerant, says Popper, if they refuse rational debate and cannot be kept in check by public opinion. This seems to ignore the fact that public opinion is shaped by rational debate or at least ought to be (but see below). As an aside, it requires a stretch of the imagination to label debates in the debating chamber of New Zealand’s House of Representatives as rational. Public trust in politicians and the political process are such that public opinion does not seem to matter much let alone keep parties in check. That said, politicians seem to be sensitive to opinion polls and do pay lip service to voters (which is not quite the same as public opinion) closer to election time.

When free speech incites hatred or violence, it must be curbed. However, such speech does not appear out of nowhere (nothing comes from nothing) and thus it has to dealt with pre-emptively by curbing speech that might be on the trajectory to objectionable speech, which according to some leads to violence and genocide. Controls, regulations, laws, and special state agencies with special powers must make sure that nobody goes down (or up rather) the slippery slope and that nobody is exposed to it.

This is shaped by prevailing thinking, against the backdrop of growing intolerance, and it is as deterministic as it is reductionist. If, however, we were to choose a different approach in which we would not automatically assume the worst case scenario and in which we would engage with those members of our society who clearly feel displaced, alienated, disenfranchised and disengaged from the rest of society, it might open the door for a constructive dialogue instead of driving them further away into the cracks of society where they can simmer away till they find their way to the surface again with all dire consequences.

Such dialogue is a waste of time, some say. It has been tried and failed. It will lead to more atrocities and you will have blood on your hands. Really? How many attempts have been made with a truly open mind that all bitterly failed? I note that people with a self-confessed closed mind usually make such counter-claims – I have made up my mind and do not need or want to reconsider.

This is classical catch-22. The current focus on (free) speech, e.g. in social media, and calls to regulate it are ignoring the source of origin. It is like putting a little plaster on a huge bulging tumour. Even when you cut out the primary source, another one will pop up and on and on it goes.

What does it take to break this cycle? For starters, it takes faith in humanity. We need to learn to trust each other. It takes leaders who lead by example. However, most of all it takes faith in ourselves and opening up our minds to other possibilities than we could ever have imagined. In other words, we need to embrace uncertainty, doubt, and fear and learn to see in and into the darkness. Use it wisely and it will sustain us; use it unwisely and it will destroy us.

We all draw a line somewhere but our collective line is not necessarily the same as our own personal individual line and it should not be unless we want a highly conforming montonous citizenry in a highly regulated society. The problem with regulation is that arbitrary lines determine what is tolerated and what is not, what is acceptable and what is not (AKA the Overton window for public discourse). These lines may or may not be tested in Court and individual and collective Rights may or may not be curbed unnecessarily. Moral issues cannot and must not be prescribed through regulation or Law first and foremost because this removes the integral conscious aspect of morality – it is not ok to commit a crime just because the Law says so and you might get caught and punished. The “pretty legal” ‘excuse’ would fall in this category.

The key to all this is education. An evolved and enlightened society will deal with complex moral issues and paradoxes without jumping straight to enforceable or mandatory regulation. Moral leadership will avoid binary traps and guide public debate to derive better outcomes for all.

It’s imperative that politicians and the media guide those [three big conversations on the horizon: the trial of person of the Mosque shootings; gun laws; spying and mass surveillance] responsibly, but every New Zealander should pause and think a little longer about whether what they’re contributing is not only not breeding extremism, but not giving it space to breath.

In order to be able to recognise hate speech, for example, and know how to respond to it, it is not enough to take somebody else’s word for it. To develop critical and independent thinking requires being able to trust your own judgement and you do not learn this from taking somebody else’s word for it or reading about it on the internet. For example, people portray Don Brash or Jordan Peterson as some kind of right-wing evil protagonists. I could take their word for it but I would not know on what basis they have come to this verdict. I have no way to test their judgement. Unless I can and do check for myself.

All things being equal, tolerating the intolerant is a sure recipe for disaster. Because our tolerance is as thin as veneer and our intolerance is always ready to pounce from its hiding spot to attack intolerant and intolerant alike. Indeed, no distinction is made as to what or who has to be fought because intolerance is based on emotion and irrational thought. This is why a calm rational debate with intolerant people is impossible and an exercise in futility – it will always fail. The only way to ‘win’ them over is to avoid the urge to win them over by reason alone, to preach or plead. The best way IMO is to not shut them out or ban them but leave the door of engagement ajar and be the change you want to see and show integrity, empathy, and patience. It sounds very counter-intuitive but in the long run this may be the only viable way.

At the end of my last Post on Political Leadership, I politely asked to refrain from personal attacks and propaganda. Disappointingly, this was largely ignored, wilfully or accidentally (because of a severe lack of imagination and bold vision?), from the first comment onwards. However, I do take some responsibility for that as the Author of the Post and I should have done a better job. However, I ask again, please debate the topic and do not make pointless personal attacks against other commenters or existing people. Thank you in advance.

119 comments on “Reflections on Free Speech and Public Discourse”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    Good to see our old mate Phil Quin has decided that the primary target of his piece on Stuff on the debate around if we need hate speech laws in the wake of the massacre of 50 refugees is… roll of drums please… a refugee MP.

    Phil Quin, keeping up a long tradition of middle aged white men in the media having a creepy obsession with attractive young women in power.

    • Muttonbird 1.1

      +1. He continued his obsessive and bitter quarrel with Ghahraman before endorsing the very things she promotes.

      What an odd man.

      • marty mars 1.1.1

        yes his free speech is hate speech against others wrapped up in flowery phases and dictionary regurgitation to show how smart and relevant and set perfectly in the societal tiara – this is acceptable talk. He has said sorry for his lines before and it appears he hasn’t been in the news for a while so… time for more clonetalk from a neverending supply of reanimated talking heads looking similar, talking similar, saying similar things – “whataboutmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”

    • vto 1.2

      this sort of shit gets tedious… “a long tradition of middle aged white men in the media having a creepy obsession with attractive young women in power”

      I think you need to show some evidence of this, which is over and above young men, brown, yellow and black men, old men, and of course women, lest you confirm yourself as a sexist, ageist, racist buffoon like so many today who toss this “middle-aged white men” epithet around with the same gay abandon that people in the 1950’s used to throw around the “women belong in the kitchen” epithet.

      meme ca plus Sanctuary

      wake up

      • Lucy 1.2.1

        You only need to look at NZHerald their opinion writers today are Christopher Niesche, Brian Gaynor, John Roughan, Simon Wilson, Matt Heath, Sir Peter Gluckman, Korey Te Hira, unnamed Editorial writer about Julian Assange, Niki Bezzant, Ana Samwaya, Kerre McIvor, Cathy Quinn. 6 probably 7 white guys, 1 Maori, 4 women. Most of the men and Kerre are over 40, Not many voices of colour or young voices in that lot.

        • vto 1.2.1.1

          Thanks Lucy, but that missed the point by a country mile.

          • marty mars 1.2.1.1.1

            Is it the ‘creepy obsession with attractive young women in power’ bit? Are you saying all blokes, not just ‘white’ ones, of every skin pigmentation permutation have that creepy obsession or something?

            • vto 1.2.1.1.1.1

              hmm, yes it reads like that doesn’t it, which wasn’t intended woops …

              but that can be added to the call for evidence of such outlandish claims by Sanctuary, no problem…

              where is the evidence ? I am guessing Sanctuary has no such evidence and is merely unthinkingly operating on the same bigotry and assumption mind-machinery that people used in the 1950’s (and right up to today, clearly).

          • Old Girl 1.2.1.1.2

            Besides, who reads the New Zealand Herald these days? I know no one. It’s written by somnambulists for the walking dead.

      • Sanctuary 1.2.2

        Five minutes of reading the nature of the misogynistic rage against Golriz Ghahraman over at the Kiwi Sewer, or the nature of the comments Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets, or the sort of creepy obsession with young womens sexuality you get from any number of aging white guys on talkback (and the Murdoch press in general) everywhere, should quickly disabuse of any notion that there isn’t a significant psycho-sexual component of their obsession with younger women in power who dare to have a strong opinion.

        While this psycho-sexual rage is particularly pronounced against younger women, misogyny is a common thread against women in general by particularly men in the age, class and colour of Phil Quin – Helen Clark was routinely subjected to whisper smear campaigns, Jacinda is a silly little girl, the abuse of Hillary Clinton, the attacks on Elizabeth Warren are routine fare for men of a certain age, colour and class.

        The question is, how did we get to this unsavory pass? IMHO, we’ve got an entire generation of boomers who have been radicialised by an incessant exposure to a right wing rage machine that starts with Mike Hosking, Leighton Smith and Larry Williams and ends with the Christchurch shooter. There is a direct path from ZB and the febrile atmosphere they create with their the anger and hate filled diatribes buttressed by sensationalist and emotional kneejerk headlines in the MSM and outbursts of hate speech and hate crime.

        We’ve wrung our hands over ISIS recruiting videos while we’ve allowed an entire generation to be subjected to a rapacious and greedy MSM’s disgusting and dehumanising far right propaganda-for-profit click bait.

        You cannot have a debate on free speech without first acknowledging the role the corporate MSM has played in the radicalisation of white men.

        • vto 1.2.2.1

          self-justification is a sight to behold, you racist, ageist, sexist pig…

          … carrying on in the exact same manner as those you decry

          • Sanctuary 1.2.2.1.1

            Whoever said reading also implies comprehension clearly never met you.

            • vto 1.2.2.1.1.1

              You provided no evidence whatsoever to support your racist ageist sexist bile.

              All you have is your own anecdote based on reading kiwiblog and listening to zb lol.

              It’s all there in your posts above (or rather, isn’t there)

              • Sanctuary

                That sigh at the 3:04 mark? Yeah, that was me just now.

                • vto

                  Neither is that evidence…

                  Got anything at all ?

                  You’ve had a few chances already…

                  If not, don’t worry, it can be chalked up to you being entirely human like the clots on kiwiblog and ZB

                  • Sanctuary

                    I am pretty sure your pig headed refusal to acknowledge there is even an issue is making your comments all the evidence required to prove by point, sport.

                    • vto

                      You’re the pig, sport

                      Throwing around offensive faeces like that

                      Without evidence

                      I got banned for that sometime ago – funny how some pigs are more equal than others

                      meme ca plus

                      no cred

              • Old Girl

                Argueing from the point to the person is known as an ad hominem attack.
                It is the mark of a disordered mind which has no capacity to reflect or consider.

        • Shawn 1.2.2.2

          “the sort of creepy obsession with young womens sexuality you get from any number of aging white guys on talkback”

          Oh please,

          Disagreeing with someone’s political views is just that. It’s not a sign of creepy sexual anything. Being young and female does not give someone a free pass to never have their political views questioned.

    • James 1.3

      I doubt Phil Quinn gives a hoot what she looks like.

    • SHG 1.4

      PQ lived in Rwanda and the horrors of the genocide are something about which he feels very passionate. He obviously finds it hard to reconcile Ghahraman’s defense work for the perpetrators and her conduct while defending them with her statements as an NZ politician.

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    Your italicised paragraph at the end of your post is interesting, Incognito, in that it serves an a good example of how to manage responses that might be destructive; you describe your expectations, own some responsibility for invoking any inappropriate ones that might or did occur and are specific describing examples of what you are referring to. You’ve provided a “checklist” of sorts for anyone wanting to speak here and at the same time spoken to the broader question of how to best manage speech that is unkind. Thanking us in advance is a generous way of framing your requirements. I’m in awe of your skills of diplomacy.

  3. Sabine 3

    Freedom of Speech – one may state what ones wants to say, but one is not free of the consequences of what they said.
    And i think this is the crux of the matter. Many people just want to say stuff and walk away from their words. And that hardly ever works.

    • Depends what we mean by “consequences.” For instance, in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia you could say what you wanted to say, but there might be “consequences.” A wife with a violent husband is free to say what she thinks, but there might be “consequences.” It’s a word that needs very tight definitions on what kinds of consequences are acceptable ones.

      • Sabine 3.1.1

        good grief.

        first of all.

        The ex USSR and Nazi Germany had anything but free speech. Everyone knew that.
        they did not profess to be stalwarts of civil liberties.

        Secondly, the Husband who beats his wife will do so even when she says nothing. Essentially he will beat her because he needs to feel manly, and then you might as well talk about ‘free looking at the husband’, or ‘free not being sexy enough’ or ‘free to cook’ or free to birth children’ or free to just exist’ cause all of these are often reasone mentioned by husband or partner to find a reason to beat up partner.

        Non of that has anything to do with the free speech that is address in the above essay.

        Free speech, means that you can say what ever you want, and the other is equally entitled to their free speech, even if that may be upsetting to you. And we are talking here about all of society and not just white male working class citizens with economic anxiety.

        • Psycho Milt 3.1.1.1

          The ex USSR and Nazi Germany had anything but free speech. Everyone knew that.

          Yes. That’s why I used them as an example of why we shouldn’t just say “You can say what you want but there may be (unspecified) “consequences.”

          Secondly, the Husband who beats his wife will do so even when she says nothing.

          It’s not as precise a comparison, sure. I was thinking of all those men (up to and including “Man Up” counsellors) who’ve said “Look what you made me do,” as though it were some inevitable consequence rather than a choice made by a violent criminal.

          In short, “freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences” is meaningless in the absence of a definition of acceptable consequences.

          Free speech, means that you can say what ever you want, and the other is equally entitled to their free speech, even if that may be upsetting to you.

          If that’s the level of consequence you’re defining as acceptable, you’ll get no disagreement from me. It’s the definition that counts.

        • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.2

          “he will beat her because he needs to feel manly” (italics mine)
          What on earth does that mean?

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Peaceful coexistence seems to emerge naturally in humans via a sense of togetherness – you may not like folks in your community much, but you tolerate them. Violence, in contrast, emerges when folks polarise against each other sufficiently. Reciprocity and trust in any community build an ethos of non-violence.

    Online communities lack organic interaction: emotional intelligence driven by body language and face-reading is absent. Hostility consequently escalates rapidly. Seems to me the solution to this problem is designing social ecosystems to produce a collaborative culture instead. The question then becomes the extent that rules form part of the design.

    Every game tends to incorporate rules, so fun-based non-local communities are entirely feasible. Such groups formed in the early years, but those online communities quickly acquired moderators by necessity to eliminate trouble-makers and minimise hostility-escalation. Twenty years and more later, we now face government regulation.

    Gordon Campbell examines this here: http://werewolf.co.nz/2019/04/gordon-campbell-on-the-policing-of-social-media-content/

    In Oz “the social media law was bundled in with 18 other bills and passed in a Senate session lasting 45 minutes with only one Senator asking to see the text of the social media bill, which – in any case – wasn’t available for scrutiny before being passed into law… The bill demands the removal of “objectionable” content within a “reasonable amount of time.” “Reasonable” isn’t defined. The bill simply demands “expeditious removal” after notification and an initial fine of $168,000 for not being expeditious enough. There’s no legal definition of “expeditious” to rely on, so social media providers will apparently have to make do with the Attorney General’s feelings.”

    So Big Brother will wield the law and whack the abuser whenever Big Brother feels like it. Nobody will know when they have crossed the line and the whack is imminent. This could induce general paranoia amongst abusers and thus work rather well – or create the need for courts to process a torrent of hate-speakers.

    Gordon quotes the Attorney-General on how it would apply to the Chch massacre: ” “I can’t precisely say what would have been the point of time at which it would have been reasonable for [Facebook] to understand that this was live streaming on their site or playable on their site, and they should have removed it,” Porter said.”

    Leave it to Facebook to decide when it is reasonable to censor? So government and the law is now doing `make it up as you go along’…

    • Dennis Frank 4.1

      Gordon also reports action on this front in the UK: “people will have to stop saying mean and hurtful things to people in public life. I’m not kidding. Here’s how May herself put it:

      ‘As set out in Box 14, those involved in public life in the UK experience regular and sustained abuse online, which goes beyond free speech and impedes individuals’ rights to participate. As well as being upsetting and frightening for the individual involved, this abuse corrodes our democratic values and dissuades good people from entering public life.’”

      Don’t fall about laughing, she means well and it really is a helpful initiative at this point in time – putting the practicality issue aside awhile. Nice to see virtue-signalling coming from the political right for a change – ain’t that so? And did you notice Box 14? If the British PM thinks it’s a thing, it must be a thing.

  5. Dennis Frank 5

    The focus of globalisation switched from neoliberalism to social media after the gfc, but the expansion phase of social media now seems to be morphing into correcting the toxic cultures produced by the free market.

    If government regulation, and top-down thinking, are to prevail, advocates of freedom will have to give up on self-organisation. I’d prefer non-local communities to self-organise in a healthy manner, so as to produce non-toxic culture, but I’m still waiting for evidence of that healthy trend emerging.

    Take this site, for instance. Old men still doing college-era juvenile abuse remains part of the culture. Little eddies sucking up mud into their vortex, which then disseminates into the wider clear stream.

    Sir Peter Gluckman writes about the trend, identifies the key elements of the problem in respect of the progress of civilisation, but doesn’t really identify elements of the solution.

    “Arguably, the biggest academic challenge is addressing the pace of technological, societal and environmental changes. Siloed knowledge cannot help us cope well with such change. Leadership will mean ensuring truth prevails, that citizens have access to robust knowledge, that we find ways to address the existential and difficult challenges ahead and get beyond the short-termism that prevails in much current discourse and politics.”

    “For democracy to thrive, countries to progress and the planet to be healthy, dialogue and decision-making on complex matters will need to progress in an informed, collegial and constructive manner. Yet there is declining trust in expertise and institutions. Robust analysis, scholarship and discourse is needed if we are to avoid a dystopian future.”

    He doesn’t know we’ve entered the post-truth era. He fails to specify multidisciplinary collaboration as the key to the future. He fails to identify the cause of the loss/lack of trust, let alone how to regenerate it. Yet his instinct is right: intensive discourse is required, focus on truth to dispel delusion, long-term strategising. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=12221960

  6. higherstandard 6

    ‘If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.’

    N Chomsky

    • KJT 6.1

      True.

      I have a problem though, with things like the sheer volume of threatening, derogatory and vile speech directed particularly, at our Green young women MP’s.
      Don’t have any problem with that, causing the perpetrator to be confronted by a large angry policeman. Is that actually going to reduce the hate. Though?

      Trump has the highest platform in the world, and his tweets are unquestionably, hate speech. The US republican party doesn’t think so!

      With a platform, comes responsibility.

      Where to draw the line.

      Who decides?

      • Wayne 6.1.1

        KJT,

        So would you say that Trump (if he was in NZ) should be prosecuted and possibly jailed?

        I think the free speech and hate speech tests are not that complicated, at least by reference to examples. So basically nothing that Don Brash or Jordan Peterson says crosses the boundary. People might not like what they say, but so what, it is free speech.

        Similarly Falou. Again people might not like his views, but he is entitled to express them, both as part of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. People will judge him according to what he says.

        In the UK, a British MP has said that Rees Mogg and Johnson are worse than Nazis. A pretty stupid thing to say, but should not be illegal. The MP will be judged by what he has said.

        The alternative is much worse, prosecuting them, fining them, then imprisoning them when the fine is not paid. And presumably a bunch of people repeating what has been said so they can also become free speech martyrs. New Zealand would quickly look like a very unfree place.

        In my view Andrew Little, who is in charge of revising the law, is starting to look like he wants a gross level of interference in freedom of speech. If he is prepared to say Brash is a racist, it is a pretty short step to outlawing what he says.

        In my mind unlawful speech has to basically threaten people with actual harm or incite people to cause actual harm. Or be grossly denigrating. Causing offence is not enough.

        • Formerly Ross 6.1.1.1

          I tend to agree with you Wayne, and I never thought I’d hear myself say that!

          Those on the Left can be as intolerant as those on the Right, so of course we’d have prosecutions that took no account of politics. In fact, it could be worse if we had a Muldoon-type figure as PM – Tom Scott might have found himself in prison!

          Bear in mind that Andrew Little has suggested our prisons are over-populated and wants significantly fewer people in prison. How he reconciles that with sending to prison those who have the temerity to exercise their BORA rights is beyond me. But no doubt he’s given this issue plenty of thought…

          “We know the majority of those in prisons have issues other than they are nasty people.

          “They have health issues and other problems and if we actually spent a bit of time on those things we can stop their offending. That’s where the attention has got to go.”

          https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11999980

          • Wayne 6.1.1.1.1

            I am reasonably relaxed about what Andrew Little says about the prison population. He is probably right. Quite a few people in prison don’t need to there, at least not after a certain time.

            It is always a balance. Most people want to see the seriously violent and serious sex offenders properly punished. Also the serious fraudsters. But outside of that, a bit more imagination is called for. Not no punishment, but maybe more punishment while in society. More compulsory community service for instance.

        • KJT 6.1.1.2

          Yes I agree.

          And I am actually uncomfortable about Falou losing his job, for the crime of being a brain washed, silly youngster. That sort of thing tends to backfire.

          Also same about prisons below. Should be following Hollands example, not the USA.

          I’ve seen some of the speech that people like Golriz are subjected to. Some of that definitely crosses the line to denigrating and/or threatening, and deserves the attention of the law.

          Trump. Is inciting people to do harm, based on race. The harm he is causing to refugee families. Is already illegal in New Zealand. Not in Australia, sadly.

          And Brash is a rather stupid racist. But I think he should be free to open his mouth, and make it obvious.

          What about the harm to 100’s of thousands of people from the repeated lying, bashing of those on welfare?
          Certainly causing great harm. Equivalent to Trump.

          • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.1.1.2.1

            Agree re Folau. But he gives life to Mark Twain’s famous quote (a favourite of mine!)

            “Go to Heaven for the Climate, and to Hell for the Company!”

          • Sacha 6.1.1.2.2

            “Falou losing his job, for the crime of being a brain washed, silly youngster”

            Nah, he already had a full, clear warning about the commercial consequences of the same behaviour. His agent will make sure the mouthy gobshite lands on his feet, in another country.

            • McFlock 6.1.1.2.2.1

              I recall being informed by a staff embmer in a knick-knack store that “there’s no law but god’s law” and so on, while looking at cheap brass lighters and desk toys.

              All I know is that I never bothered going there again (five similar stores down the main street), and the place shut a few months later. I do sometimes wonder if she was the boss, or maybe I should have complained to a small business owner who never knew why their trinket shop did so badly.

              Maybe it was the fundie at the till, maybe not. But Folau seems to be a similar sort of chap – he’s screwing with their marketing plan.

        • Sacha 6.1.1.3

          “In my mind unlawful speech has to basically threaten people with actual harm or incite people to cause actual harm. Or be grossly denigrating. Causing offence is not enough.”

          So you are already out of step with the existing criteria in the Human Rights Act s61, Wayne:

          “… likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons …”

          • KJT 6.1.1.3.1

            Already an overstep.

            Bringing into contempt the National party, makes most of us criminals.

            Excite hostility against.,. a group of persons. Well, there goes the bene bashers in National.

          • Wayne 6.1.1.3.2

            sacha

            I used “grossly denigrating” to cover the same areas as the Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Act uses alternative words, but I would have thought they would have the same effect. If I had taken more care I would have checked the HRA and used the same language.

            However, a lot of blog posts tend not to have that level of research. They are simply done as an immediate reaction, but based on experience.

  7. Stuart Munro. 7

    The difficulty with forming any kind of common approach to the major problems facing NZ lies in getting the various blocks of opinion to genuinely respect the interests of others. It really has much less to do the vagaries of heteronymous opinion.

    If we take a stereotypical Right view, they are inclined to apply Occam’s razor to any social or environmental policy responsibility, opposing initiatives in those areas and redirecting those budgets to areas they consider more productive. The Left, in theory at least, is disposed to look at the indicators of social malaise and try to come up with fixes or palliatives.

    Ideally there would be some kind of middle ground based on truth or research, but in recent times the rise of post truth politics makes it increasingly difficult to find middle ground. Instances like the P housing policy of the previous government are post truth policies that nevertheless endured until those responsible lost power. It is, unfortunately, not possible to compromise with groups given to this level of dishonesty without simply being exploited.

  8. KJT 8

    Note that Germany has the most extensive suite of anti hate speech laws that I know of. And many young Germans you meet have internalized the guilt about the Nazi era, so much, you feel like giving them a hug, and saying ‘it wasn’t you”.

    Neither has prevented the rise of a militant and numerous, far right.

    Government regulation of speech, has always ended in punishing anything the Government doesn’t like, rather than speech that causes harm.

    We may find that hate speech laws, in reality, restrict criticism of political actions, and not the vitriol, that we want to see reduced.

    • Sacha 8.1

      “Neither has prevented the rise of a militant and numerous, far right.”

      Do you really want to imagine what might be there now without those restrictions?

      • KJT 8.1.1

        We don’t know.

        But we can compare with other countries without the same restrictions.

        There is at least an indication that driving angry people under the radar, and marginalizing them further,makes them more radical/angry, not less.

        • Sacha 8.1.1.1

          Where is that ‘indication’?

          • KJT 8.1.1.1.1

            http://counselingcenter.syr.edu/social-justice/impact-of-marginalization.html
            “Marginalization is the process of pushing a particular group or groups of people to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity, or place in it. Through both direct and indirect processes, marginalized groups may be relegated to a secondary position”.

            Plenty of other articles.
            We may think that Neo-Nazi’s should not complain about being marginalized. Not tolerating the intolerable. But if we are looking at why they think like that in the first place? Solving problems at their root, instead of picking up the pieces, afterwards.

            “Making the intolerable, tolerant”.

            • Sacha 8.1.1.1.1.1

              ‘Marginalised groups’ does not include young nazis.

              • Can you explain how young German neo-nazis don’t meet the definition of marginalised groups in KJT’s comment?

                Also: if the people in the group consider themselves marginalised, the effect is likely to be the same regardless of whether we agree they’re a marginalised group or not.

                • Sabine

                  They are not marginalised.

                  They live in a decent county. They get decent schooling. They have all the rights of a social state. They choose however to demonise others for things these others can’t do anything aobut, i.e. color, sex, and often time religion (we are born into religions thanks to our parents – and only as adults may we actually choose a creed that suits us).

                  What they are for the large part tho are envious of the perceived advantages others now have, i.e. women who can choose to have children or not, black men and women who now have access to education that previously was denied to them, etc.

                  And especially the white male is not marginalized as they are still on top of the food chain – generally speaking. They might not like the fact that they actually have to compete with women and people of color, but none of that ‘marginalized’ them. They did that by joining a club that hates literally everyone not them.

                  so again, they have their right to free speech and they can speechify as much as they want to, but then they also have to carry the consequences of that speech.

                  In essence, behave and talk like a fuckwit and chances are people will think that the speaker is a fuckwit.

                  • Observer Tokoroa

                    Sabine – You write so well ! For the Greater Good.

                    “And especially the white male is not marginalized as they are still on top of the food chain – generally speaking.

                    They might not like the fact that they actually have to compete with women and people of color, but none of that ‘marginalized’ them. ”

                    Acknowledging Society, Always Respecting, Humility, Assisting where there is Need, Aiming for and getting Real Results – these are the blood and bone of real men.

                    It takes half a Century to achieve manhood.

                • Sacha

                  Follow the link KJT provided. Not remotely the same meaning of ‘marginalised’. Insecure white men feeling hard-done-by is a problem, but not because they are a disadvantaged social group.

                  • KJT

                    Feels pretty disadvantaged to the young white, or brown guy, who has no jobs available, or has always felt on the outer.

                    Both join whatever group makes them feel they belong.

                    For some it is religion, or a sports club. Both usually harmless, and may even do some good.

                    For others it is a gang, Mongrel mob, Black power, skin heads or neo -nazi’s.

                    All run by usually amoral, and smart, leaders seeking, converts.

                    The young fellers they prey on usually start out as gormless, not evil!

                  • I did follow it. There are some minor differences from what we would normally think of as marginalised groups, but neo-nazis fit the given definition:

                    “Marginalization is the process of pushing a particular group or groups of people to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity, or place in it. Through both direct and indirect processes, marginalized groups may be relegated to a secondary position”.

                    If they were not a marginalised group, they’d be an accepted and integrated part of mainstream society. Neo-nazis are anything but an accepted part of German society. You may not like the fact that they think of themselves as a marginalised group the same as groups that aren’t marginalised just because they’re obnoxious shitheads, but what we think about it doesn’t matter; they think of themselves as a marginalised group, they have a sound rational basis for doing so, and that has effects in society.

                    • Sacha

                      It does not matter if they ‘think of themselves’ as disadvantaged or disenfranchised. When it comes to regulating public speech, that’s no more relevant than people claiming to feel ‘offended’.

                    • When it comes to regulating public speech, the question of how much right we have to restrict the speech of marginalised groups because their views are unpopular is very highly relevant, especially in a country with a Bill of Rights Act that guarantees freedom of expression.

                    • Sacha

                      You seem to be confusing harmful with unpopular.

                    • I consider religious opinions harmful. Many don’t. One person’s “harmful” is another person’s “unpopular.” That’s why we have a BoRA and would have a written constitution if we had any sense.

                  • Shawn

                    “Insecure white men feeling hard-done-by is a problem, but not because they are a disadvantaged social group.”

                    That depends on class. To take the US as an example, if you are part of the White rural poor, living in a trailer park, and the only business in your local area providing employment just packed up and moved to Mexico or China, then you are disadvantaged.

                    Class is a better and more accurate indicator of disadvantage than race.

                    • Sacha

                      Poor people are disadvantaged, for sure. However they do not tend to have the same access to public forums – or expensive weapons. They also tend to be focused on getting by. The whiniest white supremacists are culturally insecure, not economically.

              • KJT

                It does also, include groups we don’t like.

                Bike gangs, criminals, for example.

    • Sabine 8.2

      WE don’t have internalized guilt, we are guilty. Not us the younger generations but our grandfathers and our grand mothers. That is something we live with. I look at the picture of my grandfather and I see a young bloke, all blond and blue eyed in the Wehrmacht Uniform, ready to be shipped to kill people somewhere and eventually to his own death.

      that is not internalised guilt, that is family history. Whakapapa i think the Maori call it.

      I don’t need a hug, and many others think the same, but we need to accept that the generation of our grandparents has wrecked havoc, systematically cleansed our own country of over 500.000 jewish citizens and in the end killing nigh on 6 million of the European Jewish Citizens, killed everyone else they deemed to be an “Untermensch’ – i.e. sick, disabled, those mentally ill, or even just kids with tuberculosis or deaf from the measles.

      Germany has free speech restrictions that are very tailored to this one subject, i.e. you can not fly the swastika, you can not dress in a Nazi Uniform, you can not raise your arm and shout Sieg Heil, and so forth, everything else is a free go.

      And frankly, it should be like this.

      Just because some other countries don’t want to admit their own guilt in the eradication of their native people, or others deemed unworthy of living – or in the pursuit of land and wealth exploration does not mean that what Germany is doing is wrong.
      We talk about the third Reich, we study it, we mourn our dead and those killed by our forefathers, and we hope that they may find forgiveness in the after life if there exists one.

      The restrictions are not about stifling free speech, and they don’t. One has to be a certain kind of fuckwit to fly the swastika or stand in front of people and should sieg heil. And thankfully by their actions they show themselves and the government has tools to shut it down and protect the citizenry at large from these guys.

      If i take your words by the words then frankly J.Ardern should have never banned assault weapons as you can’t prevent criminals from getting to them. But even that was not done to prevent criminals from doing what criminals do, it was done to give tools to the Police and Judiciary that have to deal with the criminals.

      • KJT 8.2.1

        I think you have rather missed my point. Probably my fault for not making it clear enough.

        I am no way dissing modern Germanys response to Nazism.

        There is a lesson to be learned for us, about the colonization of New Zealand, the land wars, musket wars etc.

        I am trying to show that when we are talking about restricting “free speech” by law, we have to be very specific and thoughtful about it.

        • Sabine 8.2.1.1

          i agree with your last point.

          but again it goes to the consequences. Free speech is fine. I have no issues with it. In fact i would not even have an issue with some idiot flying the swastika. but i would equally then have no issue with someone burning that flag to cinders.

          And i guess that is where some like to think that we are intolerant. 🙂 Especially those that would like to fly these flags and advocate for a repeat of history.

          Sadly, i believe that we are already in the repeat mode, and it will end badly for everyone.

  9. Sacha 9

    Public speech has aways been constrained. Calling it ‘free’ is misleading.

    It has never been a level playing field and so the solution to some voices having greater influence has never been ‘more speech’. That’s wilfully confusing the exercise of power with some mythical market for widgets.

    • Macro 9.1

      Very true Sacha.
      The current “president”‘s use of his public platform to stir up hatred and dissent with twitter storms and rants is but one glaring example of how public platforms are being distorted by hate. All he wants to do is silence any criticism. That is not debate. If Ilhan Omar is hurt or killed by another hate filled follower of Trump – Trump will have blood on his hands. (If he hasn’t already now).

    • marty mars 9.2

      + 1 yep some people have ongoing pretend amnesia I think. The field is not level unless you are the dominant group.

    • Formerly Ross 9.3

      Of course some voices have greater influence, and thank goodness. Otherwise 5 year olds might drink and smoke because they think it’s cool.

  10. JanM 10

    “The key to all this is education”
    I totally agree, and therein lies the problem. Far too many really poor to average teachers having had very indifferent training. And right wing thinking encourages a lack of serious reflection and critical thinking – we’ve only just got rid of National Standards – intended to quell serious education, and it’s going to take a long time to get rid of its shadow.
    If we honoured and respected our teachers and ensured that they got a high quality of training – and I mean from early childhood on – we would have a society of much better quality. At this stage it would just about take a revolution – what are the chances??

  11. adam 11

    Silly old me thinking free speech means the ability to call out the powerful, the wealthy and the political class, without consequences.

    Now I see some on the left want to stomp on that, that has to be the definition of useful idiots…

    • Sacha 11.1

      ‘Without consequences’ has always been a fantasy.

    • Macro 11.2

      No one is saying that someone cannot speak truth to power – that is not what the post is about. And the term “useful idiot” was used by soviet propagandists to describe those in the west who willingly promulgated soviet propaganda without concern for its truth or consequences.

    • greywarshark 11.3

      adam
      Yes i agree with your speech that you are a silly old thing.
      Don’t try and simplify what journalists and others are put to death for.
      Which fits with you calling out the powerful.
      But also, when used to slander or harass fellow students through facebook or derogatory comments, can drive them to suicide or the final anger of shooting others, and then usually themselves.

      Freedom of speech is a double-edged sword and not something to be taken
      lightly.

      • adam 11.3.1

        I see hitting down as always greywarshark…

        Free speech, not taken lightly, but somthing you want to take away nonetheless.

        And as for defenders of free speech, look at history it was not journalists (propaganda specialists), but feminists who won the freedom of speech. Think Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre and the like.

        Too soon…

  12. Formerly Ross 12

    Karl Popper also said “I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.”

    It seems to me Popper favoured free speech.

    Turing now to Phil Quin, who really does seem to have a bee in his bonnet about Golriz Ghahraman. I sort of see his point about her lacking credibility but he really draws a long bow. Not forgetting that he wrote some articles about her just over a year ago and referred to her as a “genocide denier”, for which he later apologised.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/africa/112001771/sizeable-irony-in-ghahraman-arguing-for-new-hate-speech-laws

    • McFlock 12.1

      What’s a rational argument against a nazi?

      • Andre 12.1.1

        Punching it.

        • SHG 12.1.1.1

          punching it

          Sounds to me like you’re inciting violence against members of a group based on their beliefs, HATE SPEECH

          • Andre 12.1.1.1.1

            The question was “what’s a rational argument against a nazi?”. I answered the question. I didn’t suggest anyone should actually engage in … rational argument … against nazis.

      • Formerly Ross 12.1.2

        What is a Nazi? Typically the word refers to a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. So, I’d imagine there are few or no Nazis in New Zealand. You have nothing to worry about. 🙂

        • McFlock 12.1.2.1

          The only people who really need to parse the word “nazi” so finely in this day and age of swastikas and massacres are:

          the terminally pedantic; and
          people whose beliefs on culture and national identity are uncomfortably close to that of the original nazis.

          Either way, nobody else gives a fuck.

          • Psycho Milt 12.1.2.1.1

            The only people who really need to parse the word “nazi” so finely in this day and age of swastikas and massacres are:

            Every single person who thinks that the government doesn’t actually need to “do something” about “feminazis,” “food nazis,” “health nazis,” or any practitioners of the many and varied flavours of right-wing thought that some leftist dolt somewhere has called “nazi.” Likewise all the people who wouldn’t like society to give free reign to violence or other means of oppression of the above groups.

            • McFlock 12.1.2.1.1.1

              No, I literally mean fuckwits who wear swastikas, label themselves as bigots, and long for a tradition of cultural homogeneity that never existed. And are cool with violence being used to achieve that goal.

              To pretend that they aren’t nazis because the original party lost ww2 is precision to the point of uselessness.

              • Good luck re-writing the BoRA so it only guarantees freedom of expression to people who aren’t bigots, don’t value cultural homogeneity and aren’t cool with violence to achieve their goals. Even “can’t wear swastikas” isn’t straightforward when you consider Sid Vicious and Siouxsie Sioux would both have been picked up by it.

                • McFlock

                  🙄

                  All I asked for was a rational argument that would make a Nazi be happy to live with different people (and hence most likely no longer be a Nazi). Apparently we’re supposed to put our arms around them and debate them into becoming functioning members of society. Or is the semantic debate about what counts as “Nazi” an example of how we should throw random pages of the dictionary at them until it enters their briain via impact-related osmosis?

                  • All I asked for was a rational argument that would make a Nazi be happy to live with different people…

                    And the answer is that lots of people are bigots but the government’s job is to police actions, not thoughts. The only response to expressions of bigotry open to citizens of a free society is rational argument, because the government has a monopoly on violence and that monopoly has to be exercised in response to actions, not speech.

                    • McFlock

                      Which results in the intolerant speech being tolerated to the point that it eradicates tolerance. Popper’s point.

                      Now, Ross rightly pointed out that Popper stipulated the intolerance of intolerance only “as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion”. Fair enough.

                      So, once again, what is this rational argument that counters the shit that’s been in resurgence the last few years?

                    • RedLogix

                      what is this rational argument that counters the shit that’s been in resurgence the last few years?

                      The shit you’re referring to is the right picking up the identity politics game and doing better than the left.

                      My rational argument is … everyone stop doing identity politics.

                    • McFlock

                      So that’s one vote for “cram everything back into Pandora’s Box”, because young white men with pretensions of ethnic purity never claimed to be protecting themselves from being wiped out by minorities until women, homosexuals, and brown people started demanding equal rights.

                    • Are you seriously asking whether there are any rational arguments against fascism?

                      I thought you were asking what rational argument would persuade a fascist to give up fascism, which is like asking what rational argument would persuade a Muslim to give up Islam. Most people aren’t persuaded by rational argument if it goes against their identity. Arguments against fascism are made to be heard by people who aren’t fascists, not the people who are. The committed ones are mostly unlikely to change. Those ones the government needs to keep an eye on for the purpose of preventing criminal acts – it shouldn’t try and deal with the problem by butchering freedom of expression, and left-wingers shouldn’t try and deal with the problem by getting into street battles that just make the general populace wish for an authoritarian government that will put a stop to the violence however it likes.

                    • McFlock

                      “counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion”

                      Most comprehensive way to counter them is to convert them. But even if we just regard “counter” as “stop enough people agreeing with them, or providing tacit support, so that they don’t gain the upper hand in society and eradicate everyone else”, obviously we haven’t found that rational argument yet, have we?

                      The Nazis have found a happy little area where most of them are growing happily, and only the few green tendrils that pop above the “violence” soil threshold get the attention of the police. But those tendrils wouldn’t exist without the encouragement of the root system. It’s the root system that’s the problem. And no “rational argument” herbicide seems to be working against it.

                      So Popper’s position suggests suppression might need to be expanded a little bit below ground, too.

                    • Meh, leftists have been wailing about the “growing” threat of neo-fascism since the 1980s and probably before then (that was just when I first noticed it), and neo-fascists are still just a few fringe nutters, so rational argument seems to be working just fine with everyone except a few fringe nutters that it never will work on.

                      There is a growing problem of authoritarianism, but that’s on both the left and the right – on the left, not least the growing interest in controlling what people are allowed to say. Andrew Little gave us a scary example of where he’d like to go with that just the other day – someone should maybe quote some Popper at him.

                      On the right, particularly in Europe, it’s reflected in growing support for anti-immigration parties. However, that’s not down to people being resistant to rational argument, it’s down to them being resistant to a highly irrational argument that amounts to “If you have a problem with mass immigration of people whose culture has little in common with your own, you’re clearly a racist and just generally a Bad Person.” If their response to that argument is a big “Fuck you” courtesy of voting for anti-immigration parties, it’s hardly a surprise.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, various ethnic minorities have been saying it’s on the rise. We probably should start listening to them, or at least counting hate crimes.

                      either way, you haven’t actually put forward a rational argument that will counter nazis.

                    • Like I said, I don’t believe there is one. However, Popper wasn’t referring to a rational argument that would miraculously convince fascists of the error of their ways. He said:

                      …as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.

                      The rational arguments are for the benefit of non-fascists so they’re less likely to be tempted by the rhetoric, and the public opinion part is self-explanatory. I haven’t noticed that either rational arguments or public opinion have become more favourable to fascism in recent years, but authoritarianism certainly seems to be popular these days.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, I’m not so sure the nazis have been kept in check over recent years.

          • Formerly Ross 12.1.2.1.2

            Some people who use the word Nazi do so because they’re too lazy to say what they mean, or they want to shut down debate because another person has the temerity to disagree with them. The humanity!

            • McFlock 12.1.2.1.2.1

              Some people avoid the word nazi because they get more recruits that way, even though they know their policies will end up being the same.

      • Poission 12.1.3

        You can’t

        That is the rational argument.

  13. Rapunzel 13

    Is this a too simplistic idea but is “hate” speech just a colossal waste of time aimed at people who should find something better to do with their time and who have been encouraged by those who are really just fleecing their money to line their own pockets.
    Is it the lack of original thought and the inability to engage in conversation one on one or in groups, at “work”/at “play” with people’s own individual thoughts and conclusions that drive so many everyday people to become the disciples of the likes of Jordan Peterson/the other two speakers that came to NZ/nearly every radio talk-back host and “opinion” piece writer – pretty much because giving those talks/opinions etc is how they make money, sometimes lots of it.
    All that talk looks to be a huge waste of time and only with the growth of social media has it managed to be such a big factor in many average citizen’s lives.
    It seems to me that that is what Peter Gluckman is saying in a Herald piece today and we let those making that money and capturing people’s valuable time at our peril.
    It seems to me their would be a lot less “hate” speech if people got off social media and out into the real world and talked to others plus it would stop the flow of money to those stoking the fires.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=12221960

    • greywarshark 13.1

      It seems to me their would be a lot less “hate” speech if people got off social media and out into the real world and talked to others plus it would stop the flow of money to those stoking the fires.

      I know someone who goes past a certain house and is full of unwarranted criticism about it and the people in it. Does he get out of his car and talk to them ever in a neighbourly way, no. But he is old and it’s a bit past him, but he still has a vote about what is to be done in society and the country, and he is well off himself. The least he could do is stop finding fault with much of the things he sees and try to give some encouragement to those he sees as being on a lesser level.

      I think that he gives money to charities, but the charity within some people’s hearts only has a money slot and there is not much of the simple organic feeling.
      Then there is another layer of people with no charity at all, and a toxic outlook that only finds company in other miserable gits.

      • Rapunzel 13.1.1

        Normally if I was to write my opinion down it would take just minutes but the “problem” with the whole thing was it took longer to say what I thought – one moment it sounded like I supported “hate” speech and the next it seemed as though somehow I was saying I was intimidated or afraid/scared of “words”. Knowing some people have negative things to say doesn’t warrant chucking all conversation down the drain.
        The main problem is the ability to spread hate or negativity on social media especially as many “news” outlets and opinionated people encourage it as a prime source of income.

  14. greywarshark 14

    I think that the definition of freedom of speech needs great consideration.. Society has controls and guidelines so that different people can get along with each other. We are not able to live together and have freedom of speech, period.

    To draw an analogy it is like driving on busy roads. It is not possible without having directions of what to do and when to do it, or you end up in gridlock if not awful accidents. Come to an intersection, the rule is give way to the right. What if it is an uncontrolled intersection with each driver having another on the right? I think that one might make a slight move forward and see if the others agree, and break the stalemate.

    Taking freedom of the road can be dangerous and provoke anger, and same with freedom of expression or speech. That requires similar agreement, society will allow a certain amount of freedom and when it goes too far, a conflict arises and raised voices and emotions ensure that no reasoned progress can be made.

    I certainly don’t want someone giving me their opinion of me everywhere I go, whether it was good or bad. I would find that intrusive if it was good, and harassing and threatening if it was bad.

    When expressing a deeply held opinion to others, it might seem acceptable to a bigot, but not to the audience. And further it would indicate that this person has no sensitivity to others’ feelings and indicates a desire for dominance over another person’s whole life and being. It would be upsetting even hurtful and cause anger and possibly fear.

    But what if it was said challenging something that the person thinks is
    unconscionable; some attitude, action that needs to be called out? Personally I hate genital mutilation to girls, and think that the operation of it and the reason for it and the outcome later, as a result of it, is vile. But I don’t feel the same strength of aversion to male circumcision but some doctors view it as similarly vile. I would hesitate to assert this to others in an everyday setting. I might be involved with a group that was trying to prevent it.

    I have recently written definitely about my desire for a good euthanasia bill and provided reasons as to why it should be legislated for in a formulaic manner that meets numerous requirements. My opinions of many of the contestants to the idea have been negative. I consider many are not applying reason, or real concern about the matter and for the people concerned, and why people should be able to have legal access to it. At present concern about aspects of the bill that are unsatisfactory has been raised by numerous lawyers. This is how freedoms should be used, using reason, and allowing concerns to be addressed with proper discussions that lead to improvements in practices being made.

    Freedom of opinion – requires reason to be used. It can’t be free market tongues wagging away no matter what. I think I hate the free market, or have severe doubts about its reasonableness. I also have severe doubts about people demanding complete freedom of expression or opinion. It comes back to what I have realised, that finding balance in life is our main lifetime task and challenge.

    I have just read that Voltaire didn’t make the quote he is famous for:

    In The Friends of Voltaire, Hall wrote the phrase: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (which is often misattributed to Voltaire himself) as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs. Hall’s quotation is often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.
    Thank you Wikipedia for shedding light upon our confusions once again.

    Hall was: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Beatrice_Hall
    She was the daughter of a Minister in the Anglican faith, an author of a number of works, died at 87, never having married or had children. So her philosophical ideas were not tested or compromised in the close relationships with family which are a living laboratory for learning about communication and opinion.

    Voltaire himself – this link is a very informative piece about him and worth a read as he is often quoted, but possibly as a person is lesser known.
    Voltaire (real name François-Marie Arouet) (1694 – 1778) was a French philosopher and writer of the Age of Enlightenment. His intelligence, wit and style made him one of France’s greatest writers and philosophers, despite the controversy he attracted.
    https://www.philosophybasics.com/philosophers_voltaire.html

  15. McFlock 15

    I think hate speech is a continuum for “mellow speech” to “calling for genocide”. But the counters we have for it aren’t a continuum, but an ordinal set of steps.

    At the lower levels of hostility we can indeed use reason, education, social pressure, and maybe lowering the relative wealth inequality could help reduce people going further along the path to outright hate.

    Then there’s the stuff that isn’t banned, but needs opposition. These guys use ostracism to boost their sense of exceptionalism, but being able to say such things without censure also boosts their sense of exceptionalism and helps them recruit unimpeded. This is the area I think NZ falls down. We can’t stop them feeling great about being Nazis, but we can seal them off from mainstream audiences and thereby minimise their recruitment potential.

    The stuff to get banned should be the active promotion of violence, dehumanisation, and oppression. I don’t think we’re too far off the mark in that point.

  16. Rosemary McDonald 16

    At some point we all may have to have a conversation about “truth” and “facts”.

    But since these are both subjective…

    I’d be concerned at restrictions on free speech beyond ‘active promotion of violence’ because we run the risk of creating false or misleading accepted narratives because that satisfies a ‘woke’ sense of guilt or reparation. An example is the ‘anti -semitism’ shit going down in the UK at the moment.

    All very confusing, and we might have to work on rules and conventions around discourse, or risk having the right to argue our respective POVs removed.

    • Stuart Munro. 16.1

      There’s quite a lot of truth that is not subjective.

      Take a coin & flip it. The outcome is a head or a tail, and no amount of pomo posturing will change it from one to the other.

  17. Formerly Ross 17

    A good speech about the push for gay rights whose success relied very heavily on free speech. His point is that people who “hate” are usually misguided or misinfomed and need educating. Only through free speech can such people be identified and educated.

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