FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What Price Free Speech?

That a university … would ban a speaker such as Brash, a former Reserve Bank governor and Opposition leader, is of great concern. Nelson Mail, Wednesday 8 August, 2018

Freedom of expression

By Roger Childs

(Credit ciangnuts.com)

It is a freedom we should cherish as most countries in the world don’t allow it. Kapiti Independent is committed to it, but we draw the line at “hate speech” and insulting language.

Prior to the Massey University Vice Chancellor’s recent announcement forbidding Don Brash to speak on campus, there had been at least two other notable cases in the country.

The extreme right wingers, Canadians, Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern, got more publicity than they deserved when the Auckland Council forbad them from using Council premises and created an unwarranted cause célèbre.

They spoke anyway and only a few turned up.

Bruce Moon in Nelson

 Readers will recall Bruce’s articles for KIN and will know he holds views that are not always politically correct. However, he is widely respected as an historian who is thorough in his research and backs up his arguments with solid evidence.

Earlier this year he was invited to speak by the Nelson Institute which was set up way back in 1841! His topic was entitled Twisting the Treaty and other fake history which raised the hackles of some people in the community.

The whole schemozzle was initiated by persons unknown to me calling the Nelson City Council and Library, saying that my talk should not proceed.  They did not call the police to investigate these threats but waffled on about a “health and safety issue’.  It took off from there. Bruce Moon

There were twists and turns in what followed, but a key element was the comment by Ngai Tama descendent, John Mitchell, who quoted the famous comment of a biographer of Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

After chopping and changing on a venue, Bruce eventually got to speak on the topic, inadvertently suggested by Mitchell – A jaundiced view of the treaty.

Before it started the “house full” sign went up and the talk proceeded without interjections but with polite questioning at the end.

Don Brash – not everyone’s cup of tea

Don is a key figure in the much maligned and misunderstood Hobson’s Pledge organisation. They basically want equality in New Zealand. However, regardless of what people think of his views, he does have a fundamental right to express his opinions in public.

Universities have long been regarded as bastions of free speech, and to have Massey saying no to Don is appalling.

I must say that sometimes overseas institutions do likewise. Last year that one-time focus of radicalism, Berkeley UC, banned a pro-Israeli speaker from giving a public talk.

New Zealand used to have a proud record in promoting freedom of speech, but unfortunately that seems to be changing.

On the recent, foolish decision by Massey Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas, let’s finish where we started, with the Nelson Mail.

Brash is used to a bit of mud-slinging. He once infamously tasted a bit of the brown stuff because of his views on race and racial preference. Thomas and Massey University have just thrown some themselves. But in the act of doing so they have covered themselves in more than a little dirt, and besmirched the free speech and academic freedoms they should be promoting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These examples are just a few among many. Recently here in Kapiti Andy Oakley and I have, separately, been forbidden opportunities to speak. A couple of years ago I turned up to a ‘Peace’ group in Petone to talk about a book I had written, only to find the place in darkness – I had not been told that the meeting had been cancelled. Like the Historical group in Otaki someone did not like something, and again like Otaki there was no conversation, no effort to challenge whatever it was.

I can be placed in the great majority of New Zealanders who oppose Maori wards (most referendums go 70-80% against separate race-based wards). An article in the Kapiti Observer just this week says how we must be denigrated and abused – Joel Maxwell writes of all of us as “John and Jane Redneck”, “and the evil racism they apparently represent”.

I know of many people who have been called racist because they argue against racism, and for equality. The key example is Brash, who is called a racist, repeatedly, until some have come to believe it must be true. It is not – try the test, read his Orewa speech and find out what he really said.

All this is personal to me. If there is something you don’t like, quote what I have written and be critical. Nobody likes being called names and told to shut up without reason.

It’s inevitable that the news media is going to sensationalize comments like those of Don Brash for the purpose of making headlines — particularly when they’re short of news — by quoting snippets out of context. This is particularly the case with TV One News. As John Robinson says, in order to properly appreciate the argument and analysis you need to go to the full speeches, which nowadays most giving them will post on websites.

“[Bruce Moon] raised the hackles of the Nelson City Council” — well we know who the boss is of that local government body, and his record when he was boss of the Kapiti Coast District Council, don’t we? Any surprise?

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