Saturday, March 25, 2023

The battle for free speech won't be won by hiding in the shadows

The rally planned for Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, aka Posie Parker, in Wellington tomorrow has been cancelled following the shameful assault on free speech in Auckland today. The threat of violence was too great and the New Zealand Police are either too gutless or too politicised to guarantee the speaker's safety.

The enemies of free speech have won this round. Whether they will win the war will depend on whether the defenders of free speech have the guts and the resolve to fight back.

That means deciding whether to commit fully to the cause or to continue putting up only a half-hearted resistance.

The enemies of free speech have no qualms about outing themselves, as we saw today. They are so convinced of their rightness, and so confident of support from the media, that they don’t mind being seen on the TV news. In fact they revel in the exposure.

I hate to say it, but in this respect they have the high ground over many of those who profess to support free speech, including many commenters on this blog.

The enemies of free speech will not be countered by keyboard warriors lamely commenting behind the safety of pseudonyms. The woke activists we saw in action today must draw great encouragement from the fact that many of their opponents so lack confidence in their cause that they are frightened to identify themselves.

The defenders of free speech need to put themselves out there. To use a cliché, they should have the courage of their convictions. They should be prepared to march in the streets if necessary. At the very least they should be willing to openly declare themselves as being prepared to fight for the survival of liberal democracy.

Accordingly, this blog will no longer publish comments from people hiding behind pseudonyms. If an idea is worth expressing, it’s worth putting your name to. And if free speech is worth saving, then it requires a meaningful commitment.

I can anticipate the objections. People will say I don’t understand what a battlefield it is out there and how vicious the wokesters can be. But plenty of commentators publish ideologically unfashionable opinions under their own names and others should take courage from their example. The battle for freedom of speech will never be won as long as one side hides in the shadows.

Beyond that, I can do no better than publish the following statement issued today by the feminist group Speak Up for Women. It’s an admirable summary of the issues raised by today’s ugly triumph of mob rule at Albert Park.

Today in Albert Park as women were punched, kicked, spat at, trampled, and overrun by a violent mob, New Zealanders have seen the true colours of some of those who, ordinarily, cloak themselves in claims of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion.

In the same week that World Athletics has stated what all reasonable New Zealanders know to be true – that fairness, safety and opportunities for women in sport require the exclusion of males, no matter how they choose to identify – New Zealand activists have shown that they believe women should not be able to have anything for themselves. Not even a small band rotunda in an Auckland park.

So let us clearly say the things that Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull was not able to say today. Lesbians cannot have penises. Men have no place in women’s single sex facilities, services, or sports, regardless of what they proclaim their inner gender identity to be. Puberty blockers, created to castrate male sex offenders and treat prostate cancer, are experimental and harm vulnerable children. And people cannot change biological sex no matter how much they may want to or how many documents they may possess saying otherwise.

Saying that does not deny the existence of people who identify as gender diverse, or instigate harm or violence against them, or make them unsafe, it simply states the truth. Biological sex is real and it matters.

Storming barricades and assaulting women is not “free speech”. It is violent sexism and misogyny. Drowning out the speech of people you don’t like is the cowardly approach of people unwilling to debate contesting views. A 5’1” woman needing four security guards to form a human shield around her to protect her from a screaming, spitting mob is not a New Zealand we know. But it is a true representation of a movement that has become increasingly determined to shut down and destroy anyone with views about sex and gender that they don’t like.

We see those of you in the media who are already trying to downplay the results of the frenzy you were busy whipping up all week. There was not a “scuffle” between supporters and Mrs Keen-Minshull did not leave because she got some paint thrown at her. A small group of courageous women were stampeded by an activist mob and a number were assaulted and physically harmed. Fortunately, in the age of technology New Zealanders can see for themselves what happened.

In the country that was the first in the world to give women the vote, tomorrow’s Let Women Speak gathering in Wellington has been cancelled. Mrs Keen-Minshull’s security team have advised her that they cannot keep her safe from mob violence and the police have declined to do so.

Activists spent the week being courted by a complicit media platforming their claims of being scared, fearing for their safety, deliberately lying to propagate their claims of New Zealand being full of “queer hatred”, and claiming that words they don’t like are harmful and make them feel unsafe. In reality it is clear who really was unsafe today. It is clear who was actually harmed. And it was not the activists taking gloating selfies from a band rotunda.

Speak Up for Women thanks Mrs Keen-Minshull for having the courage to come to New Zealand and showing up in Albert Park today, despite receiving multiple death threats and threats of violence in the last week.

In the coming weeks Speak Up for Women will be gathering witness statements and laying a formal complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority about the lack of police action to prevent violence in what was clearly an increasingly volatile situation.We call on all political leaders to roundly condemn the violence that transgender activists perpetuated this morning.

We speak directly to the Greens, who actively courted and promoted the violence that occurred today, including just this morning posting on social media that they were ready to “fight the Nazis”. And by Nazis they meant the 70 year-old woman who was punched in the head by the mob they instigated. The Green Party was founded by people who fought for free speech, including speech they found abhorrent, you should be ashamed of what you have turned the party into.


Don Franks said...

Quite right. Anyone who claims to support free speech must stand up for it or they don't deserve to enjoy it.It’s clear that there's a serious social conflict here. Some who complain that words are “literal violence” have no problem dishing out actual violence to get their way.
Also clear that some, who, without any foundation call Kellie- Jay Keen a Nazi, act exactly as the Nazis did when confronted with a public meeting they didn’t like.
Why the extreme behaviour?
Kellie- Jay Keen is a woman’s rights activist who bluntly promotes a simple message - humans can’t change their sex, women are entitled to their private spaces and are entitled to their language. Because it’s a fact that humans can’t change their sex, those who would have it otherwise prefer to shut down debate rather than argue their ultimately untenable position.
Why the New Zealand government and mainstream news media have become captive to a cultist ideology is not yet apparent. What is apparent is that pandering to this ideology has created an ugly climate of fear for women who insist on standing up for their rights.
The scold's bridle is back.
New Zealand women, first in the world to win the right to vote, have another fight on their hands.
The politicians and media hacks in positions of power, who urged on the mob today, have betrayed the trust of all decent people. It’s time for anyone who really values freedom of speech to front up for it.

Ken said...

Thanks as Karl. A week of two halves in the gender identity world.
In the sporting arena at least World Athletics have shown the strong leadership necessary to protect women's sport.
Ken Maclaren

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your statement. I have openly supported her right to free speech along with the commensurate right to hear. In my online discussions and promotion of that fundamental concept I have received a barrage of opposition and that I was a supporter of fascism and that the sheer fact of Parker speaking would be hurtful to others and incite violence. All to often we heard claims that Parker has aligned herself to neo-nazis, intent on violence. This was a missing ingredient in Auckland, or perhaps such neo-nazis were always the Greens.

And, my name:
John Klaphake

Simon Arnold said...

An overnight reflect FWIW. The anti-Springbok tour protests (and many others) were as just as much about curtailing others' rights using disobedience. In the end matches were stopped, and the freedom of expression of players and spectators was interfered with.

How might one ask are the actions of the Trans-sexual's protesters any different?

I think it will come back to how history judges the conflict, how the relative rights are seen, how they can be protected, and where the compromises lie. As I noted on the previous thread in this case there are likely to be a series of compromises made that address any basic rights. In a practical sense the issue don't seem too hard with a willingness to engage and less sense of entitlement.

And that needs conversation.

On the other hand the apartheid issue seemed more fundamental and history has backed that up.

Simon Cohen said...

I applaud your decision to no longer publish comments from people hiding behind pseudonyms.
Hopefully this will encourage other blogs [Kiwiblog and Bowalley Rd I am looking at you] to follow suit.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karl, I will continue to read your blog as it is valuable. I understand your view on names but I can’t provide mine. Unfortunately what you see in the media is endemic in corporations. The ability to hold alternative views on The Treaty, identity, climate change has been snubbed out.

I suspect the majority of my staff don’t really think much about the above. They are working like most of us to move ahead in this life. But to oppose these concepts, openly has become a very real risk, especially as you become more “important”.

I accept that you will consider me by my omission of a public response to be complicit in what is happening. But I need to protect my family’s wellbeing. Yes an argument used by many over the years as they stood by and watch bad things happen. But like many I don’t have the luxury of putting it all at risk.

I increasingly hope that my family will leave NZ. A country that my family has been in for much longer than most. A country I have been a proud citizen of, but now I long for other places and as I approach the autumn of my life I think it will be lived out somewhere else. NZ is now a narrow minded and obviously insular little blip on the arse of the by earth. We have been sucked in by our own hubris of “gods own”, our sanctimonious stand on nuclear weapons, and belief even today that we had some material impact on apartheid in South Africa.

We don’t need the jackboots of a physical oppressor, we have the modern equivalent. The Twitter mobs, the paid by government media and their self selection of complicit “reporters” and our politicians who are too scared like me to act.

We have a society that enables the Tyranny of the minority.

I hope you read this before you delete it. It is already worse than many imagine. Speech has actually been being progressively silenced for at least a decade.

Karl du Fresne said...

I'm allowing anonymous commenters some leeway, but only temporarily. I think it only fair that they should be allowed to respond to my decision, as in the comment immediately above.

Incidentally, it's not a decision I came to lightly. I greatly value the comments section of this blog and appreciate people's thoughtful and perceptive contributions over the years.

I hope others will be encouraged to identify themselves. Anonymous comment is easy because there's no risk attached. For that reason, opinion carries a lot more weight when there's a name attached to it.

Anonymous said...

Sure but you've just silenced vulnerable people.

Of course, I could just put on a wig.
- Joe Bloggs

Alex McVicker said...

New Zealand seems to have a growing number of people who display evidence of infantilism.

I've seen it over a broad cross section of people I have met or watched in interviews etc.

There seems to be unwillingness to engage in discussion about even the most benign subjects. The default Pavlovian instinct has become to attack, verbally or otherwise ,the person rather than the argument.

From our previous prime minister "rejecting the premise" of legitimate questions, like a scolded toddler blocking her ears, to activists competing as to which of them can have the biggest on-screen tantrum, and all in between, infantilism is the preferred behaviour.

These are the people who didn't hear the word no during their upbringing and, consequently , they have no reference point. Self righteousness and ignorance are the result.

The so-called moral high ground is the cheapest real estate available. Zero money down and zero dollars a week.
Priced keenly and no IQ test necessary.

Eamon Sloan said...

This whole issue has got me “wired up” for a whole lot of reasons. My hope is that it develops into an election issue. We need somehow to flush out the real troublemakers inside and outside of politics. Am I a troublemaker? I don’t usually come out of my cave unless I have a lot to say. I have updated Keen-Minshull matters here:

There is one point to be made, and call me a conspiracy theorist if you like. I am asking the question though whether behind the scenes Government took Keen-Minshull aside to “point the gun at her head” so to speak. To the point that her immediate departure from New Zealand was possibly a secret instant deportation, under threat, rather than a voluntary action. It is election year after all and Labour could not afford to leak too many votes, or to have had a Wellington repeat of the Parliament grounds protest of last year.

Karl du Fresne said...

Simon Arnold,
At the risk of sounding self-righteous, I marched against the tour in 1981 but refused to take part in protests that set out to block streets or prevent people from attending matches. As far as I was concerned, my right to protest stopped short of interfering with the rights of others. I'm sure plenty of others felt the same way.

Simon Arnold said...

Karl, just as many who attended the protests yesterday might also say.

If everyone had that view we would have less of a problem, but that isn't the case. Also the fine tradition of civil disobedience does rely on infringing some rights of others.

The question remains, how to move on from here, and I think the issue is somewhat more complex than just relying on an absolute prohibition of civil disobedience. Like the basic issues between the parties to the Auckland protests this is a question of relative rights and how they get judged.

Tony Penman said...

A day of great shame. TVNZ are a disgrace.

rivoniaboy said...

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph, said Burke, is for good men to do nothing; and most good men nowadays can be relied upon to do precisely that. Where a reputation for intolerance is more feared than a reputation for vice itself, all manner of evil may be expected to flourish.”
Theodore Dalrymple.
Sums it quite nicely, I fear.

George Byron Price

Anonymous said...

Very well put. There is a massive disfunction with many and infantile behaviour sums alot of that up. A scolded toddler tantruming is about right.

Murray Johnson said...

Karl – thank you for publishing what was probably a very demoralising post given your years as a Journalist and Editor in a country that used to be seen be most people as populated by mostly fair minded people.

The thugs veto appears to be alive and well now, and I can’t help wondering if their thinking is born from having forgotten, or never been taught, the enormous sacrifices made in World War II for our freedoms and democratic rights.

I fear for our children’s and our grandchildren’s freedoms; only a decade ago their future was bright.

Lucia Maria said...

Hi Karl,

From my observations of people commenting online throughout the last 20+ years, I believe that it is far easier for people to be brave when their income is protected. Those that are still working and have families to support and mortgages to pay, will self-censor themselves out of the conversation if anonymity (even under a pseudonym) is removed as an outlet for their thoughts.

No anonymity is on the cards in our immediate future as well. Ala China where you are financially penalised if you share incorrect opinions. That means that all dissent can be effectively quashed.

Your blog, your rules of course. Personally, I feel that encouraging people to be brave by leading from the front, and by stating opinions that have been censored to let everyone know that these opinions are normal and not fringe or extreme, keeps morale up. And will help with the defense of free speech, which is really a defense of conscience and the good.

Doug Longmire said...

I agree with your decision to require identification of bloggers.

You do it.
I do it.

However, I do appreciate the concerns of anonymous above who says his/her job and income could be at risk if he/she expressed views that are critical of the current Left wing, woke agenda. But actually that situation illustrates the very point that freedom of speech is under threat, and direct personal attacks are somehow the norm today.

Tough decision, Karl.

Tinman said...

I agree with you regarding free speech.

Karl, I have been signing my comments with my name for a while now but only because I no longer work in public and therefore there is no downside.

The commenters here are largely intelligent, thoughtful and erudite (although often wrong :-) )and I hope you give some leeway for those who need that anonymity.

New Zealand proved yesterday that it has no working law.

I seriously hope the situation is rectified quickly.

Phil Blackwell

Anonymous said...

I have no intent of disclosing who I am, so as to be in turn mobbed and ostracised by a group of thugs whose stock in trade is 'anonymity'

What you are doing is to pump some virtuous crap that sounds like freedom to every godforsaken politician in this godforsaken land but who in turn will release their special dogs of war.
They too are hiding behind a mask.
Is it not them that are employing the thugs to do their dirty work.
Are you that green... do you think it is not their desire to suppress all-comers.
Its how they win.... they are evil mongrels.


Karl du Fresne said...

I think I can see why you'd prefer to remain anonymous, Dunbar (if that's indeed your name).

Nicola R said...

Karl, you provide an interesting quandary in your choice to require people to name themselves. Incidentally it is something we have discussed amongst ourselves in recent weeks.

My husband and I both used to work in the Wellington beltway in the Public Service at a reasonable level. I gave it all up a while ago while he went on to run a company that provides service to the beltway. His name is very distinctive, My own name less so but he could still potentially be damned by association.

So as I said, we were talking about the need to stand up vs the economic realities of working for the government.

Here's what we decided.

If its a purely a free speech matter, we can stand up, in fact he has answered the call and is attending the wellington meeting with the government coming up. And of course, we do support the FSU with membership and donations (as we can currently afford to).

However, if it is a controversial issue but we feel that it must be supported we will travel to a place that we are unknown (Say Palmie) and stand there.

It still feels like a cop out but within the beltway today, it is hellish for any NZer who isnt at least as left as the Greens.

Also interesting comment on the Tour. I supported the marches but didnt march for the same reason as I too dont believe in imposing my will on others. And in fact, many of my friends who marched regretted it as they didnt mean it to go the way it did.

What I'd like to see is people standing up for Free Speech silently in centres across NZ all on the same day at the same time. Saying nothing, maybe placards that only say one thing but we would need to get pledges to attend so that we did literally bring forth thousands. No violence, no speech except for the FSU narrative to the press amongst Gandhi level silence.

NZ is in such a desperately precarious place right now it is heart breaking.

Doug Longmire said...

Collins Dictionary:-

woman:- a woman is an adult human being.

End of story

Trev1 said...

Disallowing pseudonyms risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. As some posters have noted, without anonymity their free speech may put them at serious risk. Yet they may also have insights to share that are particularly illuminating.

Trevor Hughes

Tom Hunter said...

Interestingly there was a situation some weeks ago on Kiwiblog that showed this problem up in a bright light. A commentator using his own name had, for 2-3 years been contributing to the debate on many issues. A good man who apparently was an immigrant from Taiwan and who - to his credit - went from arguing for the vaccines, to rejecting them (although he did get them himself).

Anyhoo, one of the other things he talked about were stories about the government's housing section and the sheer uselessness of them in not enforcing standards. Eventually this led someone to identify his partner, who worked in another government department, and threaten to out both of them as "Far Right Extremists". He had no choice but to leave the forum, although it's suspected - judging from writing and debating style - that he has returned with a nym.

I get your point that people may have to put their careers on the line to stop this thing and that's what you're trying to force, but I don't think that's going to work when you've got people like those above who have to take care of their families and provide for them.

As for me, I retired early and am independently wealthy so chose back in 2007 to start using my real name on Kiwiblog, and other blogs. Never had any problems but then I haven't been applying for jobs since then, and especially not with government departments or private sector firms dependent on them.

I can't help thinking that there has to be another way to go about challenging these anti-free-speech thugs.

Mark Wahlberg said...

Karl, I cant help but wonder if there is some underlying reason why Police Commissioner Coster appears overly sympathetic towards the violence of the trans/ gay community? But then its a similar attitude towards ram raiders and teen age hoons in general. A touchy feely new age guy overseeing a new world order where the bad guys have become the victims and education has morphed into indoctrination. Truely an Orwellian nightmare.

I've never been a team player and have always marched to the beat of my own idiosyncratic drum. Its been an interesting and sometimes dangerously exciting life and thought I had "seen it all,"but events over the last 3 years have shown me "I aint seen nothing yet."

Over the years I've heard all manner of intellectual argument about the reasons why people choose to hide their identity behind the veil of anonymity. Political, financial, protecting family etc, they make valid points and interesting reading. But in the present climate of fear and loathing there are no masked heroes waiting to save the day. Consequently I stand to my name at the metaphorical barricade alongside others who declare their identity..

Unlike Tom Hunter, I am not " independently wealthy" but when asked at the local gas station if it hurt to fill the 26 gallon tank of my truck? I replied "It would only be painful if I couldn't afford it."