What a dismal, shameful day for New Zealand, for democracy and for freedom of speech.
July 6 was the day when extreme left-wing bigotry and intolerance triumphed over the democratic values this country has previously espoused.
The left professes to champion diversity and inclusion, but it has revealed just how selectively it interprets those words. Tolerance of diversity and inclusion applies only to favoured left-wing causes. Mysteriously, it stops short of tolerating any opinion that challenges left-wing orthodoxy.
Statements purporting to justify the cancellation of the proposed Auckland speaking engagement by the Canadian “alt-right” commentators Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux are breathtaking in their disregard for democratic principles.
I wonder, what did Auckland do to deserve Phil Goff? His creepy predecessor, the adulterous Len Brown, suddenly looks almost likeable by comparison.
Goff, who has passed himself off for years as a genuine liberal, now stands exposed as just another doctrinaire leftist who wants to control the public conversation. His credibility rating has sunk to zero.
His justification for barring Southern and Molyneux from speaking at Auckland Council-owned venues – that he doesn’t want to “stir up religious or ethnic tensions” – is a sanctimonious copout. It’s a capitulation to fringe extremists like Valerie Morse. It sends a signal that all the extreme left has to do in future to deny a platform to people it doesn’t like is to threaten violent disruption.
At times like this we expect our political leaders to stand up for the right to free speech, because it’s a fundamental tenet of liberal democracy. It’s not overstating things to say that Goff has betrayed us all.
As for Morse, I wonder if she suffers from some sort of personality disorder. She certainly seems blind to the contradictions in her own behaviour.
She purports to represent an organisation called Auckland Peace Action, but seven years ago she was identified as one of the Urewera 18 – a pathetic bunch of pretend urban terrorists who allegedly threw Molotov cocktails around and fired semi-automatic weapons at training camps in the bush.
Morse avoided conviction after the Supreme Court ruled that the police had gathered evidence illegally, but according to the evidence she was filmed holding a Molotov cocktail and had a pistol tucked into her trousers. Very peaceable.
More to the point, Morse was arrested for burning a New Zealand flag in a protest gesture at an Anzac Day service in Wellington in 2007. It was an act that outraged many New Zealanders, but her conviction for offensive behaviour was overturned by the Supreme Court.
Much as I despise Morse and her ilk, I believe the Supreme Court got it right. Freedom of expression quite properly allows New Zealanders to engage in acts that other people find deeply objectionable.
The irony is that having benefited from the right to freedom of expression on that occasion, Morse now insists on denying it to others. I don’t think there’s a word in the English language that captures the scale of her hypocrisy.