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Disrespect for Free Speech

Free speech, a prerequisite for democracy, is under attack by the self-proclaimed ‘social justice’ warriors. In this last week we have seen two appalling examples of disrespect for free speech.

The first example was regarding the recently-appointed Commissioner of Police, Wally Haumaha. He was said to have expressed an opinion to colleagues in 2004 that he believed Louise Nicholas’ allegations against three policemen were untrue. He also expressed positive comments about his colleagues accused of rape and he made a comment about police needing to stick together. In each case, his comments were made to other police colleagues.

Ms Nicholas and others have now expressed outrage that Mr Haumaha was appointed to a top police role given his comments which she claimed made him unsuitable for the role.

It seems to us that Ms Nicholas and her supporters fail to recognize that free speech is much more important than their disagreement with what was said. Police Minister Stuart Nash has made the same error in calling for an enquiry into Mr Haumaha’s appointment, with the implication that he would not have been appointed if his comments had been considered. Mr Nash could instead have been morally strong by announcing that freedom of speech is more important than the ‘triggered’ feelings of a few people, and that our citizens will be protected from punishment for exercising their right.

Mr Haumaha’s historical comments in no way condoned rape, sexism, poor policing, social disorder, immorality or anything undesirable. His personal experience of colleagues had led him to respect them despite the fact they were accused of rape. His belief that Ms Nicholas’ allegations were untrue was eventually vindicated by a jury after a careful investigation and a full trial. His belief that police should support each other when falsely accused was a commendable one for a team player.

The complainants’ rights people wish to punish people for holding and expressing opinions contrary to their preference even when those opinions present no threat to law or public order. This attack on free speech is biased and political. We are sure the same people wouldn’t raise any objection to the many occasions when police say to their colleagues “I’m sure that accused guy is guilty”. No, the feminists’ aim is for police to always believe any female who alleges sexual (or other) offending. Any other opinion is unacceptable to hold or to express.

The next attack on free speech concerned a planned visit and public lecture(s) by controversial Canadians Stefan Molyneaux and Lauren Southern. They are both described as ‘right wing’ even though that concept has become useless over time. We agree with a few things Mr Molyneaux says but disagree with most of it, and we see him as bombastic and not a good thinker or philosopher. From what we have seen Ms Southern seems to be a careful journalist who provides facts and opinions about history, race and immigration that are uncomfortable to the social justice warriors who are the fashion of the day. However, what we think about these speakers’ opinions is of little relevance to their right to hold and express those opinions, in our opinion, as long as they don’t deliberately encourage violence, disorder or law-breaking.

However, former Labia Party leader Phil Goff, now Mayor of Auckland, also showed utter contempt for free speech when he announced that the speakers’ booking of the Bruce Mason Centre had been revoked and they would be banned from every other Auckland Council venue. Mr Goff claimed the reason for this was security but his further comments made it clear that the real reason was that he disagreed with their opinions and politics.

In a tweet, Auckand Mayor Phil Goff said venues should not be used to “stir up ethnic or religious tensions.
“Views that divide rather than unite are repugnant, and I have made my views on this very clear… Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux will not be speaking at any council venues.”

Come now Mr Goff. You wouldn’t maintain this position regarding any of the numerous feminist speakers who constantly divide nations along gender lines by blaming and demonizing men. Or the numerous Maori speakers who stir up ethnic tensions and seek to divide our nation along racial lines. No Mr Goff, you mainly seek to shut down these Canadian speakers because their political views differ from yours.

If security considerations played any real part in this corrupt management of public facilities, to that extent Mr Goff and the Council have allowed threatened disruption by Muslim and feminist activists to override our right to exercise and to hear free speech. Mr Goff and the Council could instead have chosen to protect the most important rights in this situation by ensuring there would be sufficient policing to maintain order.