Written By: - Date published: 10:02 am, July 8th, 2018 - 354 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, blogs, clickbait, internet, law, law and "order", Media, Politics, racism, scoundrels, sexism, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, twitter - Tags: lauren southern
Phil Goff’s decisive action in saying no to Lauren Southern being allowed to use the Bruce Mason Centre to hold a fundraiser has attracted some heat.
There have been a number of people who have complained about this being a breach of freedom of speech. These include those who would not know what freedom of speech was if they tripped over it and others that I have a great deal of respect for. But if there is no such thing as a completely unfettered right of freedom of speech where do we draw the line?
Idiot Savant’s brief description of the test is a good start. Here it is:
Restricting that right pre-emptively requires a very high test: basicly an announced intention on the part of the speaker to incite a riot. If that test isn’t met, there’s no justifiable reason to prevent them from speaking.
There is another aspect to what was happening, do we allow Ms Southern to even come into the country. I believe that our government is under no obligation to do so. But using I/S’s formulation of the test, are we obliged to allow Ms Southern to speak to us?
And what about the nature of the communication? A desire to have a public debate about important issues is one thing, but what if the debate is nothing more than the front for a business?
Jim Parker from the Failed Estate blog site said this on my facebook feed:
There’s a pattern emerging. This woman, Milo, the Information Wars guy and Australia’s assortment of provocateurs have latched onto a business model. This involves calculatedly creating outrage to generate notoriety and ‘brand’ awareness. The politics is neither here nor there. What’s important is getting noticed and monetising that attention. It’s the desperate last days of neoliberalism and these outrage manufacturers are the ultimate expression of its bankruptcy as an idea.
Perfectly put. It is all about the clicks and the dollars.
Cameron Slater provides a local example. He has tried to monetise his blog by the use of things such as gun porn, cyst videos and sudoku. Clicks are clearly all that matter. Back in the days of dirty politics he used to be feared, but no longer.
IS’s test, is Southern intending to incite a riot is a fair one. And I think that it this is her intent. In the search for clicks and attention she is happy to go into muslim communities and insult their god, or confront feminists and attack their beliefs or insult left wing activists and claim they do not respect free speech or be on a boat attempting to disrupt the rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean.
With a camera in tow. And the feed is then broadcast to all of her followers.
After viewing her Youtube channel I get the strong impression that she is not interested so much in delving into the issues as in stirring up controversy and accumulating the clicks.
Most people agree that the right to freedom of speech is not an absolute one and that a line should be drawn. Potentially causing a riot is one possible test. How about not tolerating hate speech?
New Zealand already has this on its law books.
Section 61 of the Human Rights Act 1993 states:
It shall be unlawful for any person—
(a) to publish or distribute written matter which is threatening, abusive, or insulting, or to broadcast by means of radio or television or other electronic communication words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting; or
(b) to use in any public place as defined in section 2(1) of the Summary Offences Act 1981, or within the hearing of persons in any such public place, or at any meeting to which the public are invited or have access, words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting; or
(c) to use in any place words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting if the person using the words knew or ought to have known that the words were reasonably likely to be published in a newspaper, magazine, or periodical or broadcast by means of radio or television,—
being matter or words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons in or who may be coming to New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that group of persons.
Saziah Bashir says this in a guest post on Radio New Zealand’s website:
Southern is known for her controversial views on issues of race and gender, and is strongly anti-immigration, anti-feminist and islamophobic. Molyneaux – an avid advocate for Trump – is also a men’s rights activist and has been described on numerous occasions, interestingly, as a cult leader.
Neither would concede that what they’re bringing with them is hate speech. Indeed, Southern responded to requests for her ban by calling hate speech simply “a fancy word” to describe an unpopular opinion of the time.
But hate speech is, in fact, a legal term encapsulated in Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty which New Zealand is party to and ratified decades ago. New Zealand also gave effect to many of the rights contained within the ICCPR by enacting the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.
The recognition of hate speech is not limited to New Zealand, with many European countries enforcing such laws, including those pertaining to holocaust denial.
The right to freedom of expression is not unfettered, nor can it be used as a crutch for the increasingly tired argument for supposedly necessary discussion and debate.
That there needs to be a debate on Islam in New Zealand is itself a ridiculous proposition because when was the last time we needed a national debate on any other religion, despite the violence some so-called members of that religion may be perpetrating somewhere in the world?
And the suggestion that a debate needs to be had at the expense of not only the sentiments of an entire community, but our safety, is abhorrent to those of us who belong to that community and also call New Zealand home.
While some may be able to engage with the likes of Southern on a detached, academic discussion, her views and her actions are actually physically and emotionally harmful.
To reinforce everything Bashir was saying Southern tweeted this in reply:
“That there needs to be a debate on Islam in New Zealand is itself a ridiculous proposition because when was the last time we needed a national debate on any other religion”
We always need debate. About everything. https://t.co/LDW9x6H53E
— Lauren Southern (@Lauren_Southern) July 7, 2018
It is interesting that she uses a progressive ideal, freedom of speech, to push regressive ideas, bigotry.
Her line is the equivalent to the right’s belief that totally unfettered markets provide the best result.
But some forms of debate are totally lacking in merit and are instead hurtful to others and dangerous. I have no problem with our government declining to allow the proponents of these ideas permission to come to New Zealand or Auckland Council refusing to allow its premises to be used for the dissemination of hate speech.
And Southern’s monetised hate speech is a perfect example of speech that the Government and Auckland Council should not have to take action to support.
Although this whole incident shows what happens when censorship of any form is applied, it attracts attention to the speech which is being opposed. And maybe there was a more cynical reason for Southern deciding to cancel her speaking event.
Cancelling of Lauren Southern gig suspiciously fast after Bruce Mason made unavailable. No apparent attempt to find a private venue. One suspects promoters spared embarrassment & financial loss of a pathetic crowd.
— Michael Wood (@michaelwoodnz) July 6, 2018