Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Recommended reading

Juliet Moses has written a coolly rational but powerful piece highlighting the danger to democracy if people like Golriz Ghahraman are permitted to advance their hate speech agenda. Everyone should read it:


David said...

Thanks for this link Karl. As someone increasingly concerned with the rapid moves to use the mosque atrocities to criminalise unwoke speech, and Golriz Ghahraman's determined part in this, I read Juliet's article in quiet contemplation, but this part really resonated:

The New Zealand Jewish Council, the representative body of the Jewish community, wrote to her about [her claim that Israel was committing genocide], and got no reply. Two months later it wrote again, copying in her co-leaders, and still got no reply. This is a deliberate marginalisation of the Jewish community. According to Phil Quin, she also ignored the entreaties of a young Rwandan survivors group, except for one dismissive tweet.

While I was not at all surprised that Golriz ignored the Jewish Council, I think it speaks volumes that the Green Party co-leaders also ignored direct letters to them. I had till now a positive opinion of James Shaw.

Our Bill of Rights Act guarantees us freedom of expression, including the right to express and receive the utterances of others, no matter how much we dislike or approve such utterances. But our Bill of Rights Act is not entrenched or protected in any way. Its freedoms can be watered down or abolished by a simple majority in Parliament.

With seemingly a majority even of our journalists now cheering on woke demands for restrictions on our freedom of expression (something happening in many countries; the war on free speech is not happening in a New Zealand vacuum), I worry that those of us who believe in freedom of expression -- including freedom for those whose views we might even detest -- are on the losing side here.

I saw one post last week in the Kiwi Journalists Association FB group that warned (I think) of where journalists are going with a play on Pastor Niemöller. It said: "First they came for the journalists, but then there was nobody to tell us who they came for next."

The post was ironic to me because, in my opinion, many of our journalists, like the Salem witches and Joe McCarthy, are the ones pointing the fingers and screaming for the silencing of any voices but those they believe are worthy of being heard. They believe nobody will come for them, and they will cheer as their targets are vanquished.

I was reminded of what our journalists and so many others are not at all grasping when I visited the Holocaust Centre in Wellington on Sunday with my daughter. On a timeline charting the path to the death camps was a 1933 photo of sieg-heiling Nazis burning a huge pile of books. The caption with it quoted from Heinrich Heine's prescient 1821 warning: "When they burn books, in the end they will also burn people."

Hilary Taylor said...

Ditto..pleased to read her piece. Ghahraman is a real light-weight and it's a mystery to me how she gained a qual from Oxford. The idea of this woman, with her fragile & confused grasp on anything much at all pontificating, let alone influencing the debate on 'hate speech' is a joke.
As for the Greens and getting a reply to a civil question...forget it. I received a reply from Graham & Clendon when the Turei fuss exploded, credit to them, but form replies and now no replies is currently standard.