Monday, July 9, 2018

Southern and Molyneux: my response to Kimbo

I wrote the following in response to comments from Kimbo, but because those comments appeared under different posts I’m consolidating my responses into one and publishing it separately.

Kimbo, to take your points one by one:

You say I’ve avoided your primary point that protecting free speech doesn’t oblige a public official to provide a platform for it. But I tried to answer that by pointing out that Auckland Council initially gave permission for the venue to be used, as you’d expect it to. After all, what reason did the council have for not allowing it? But then Goff interposed himself and effectively over-ruled his officials. At that point, because he reversed a decision already (and I presume lawfully) made, it became an act of political censorship.

But the far bigger point is that I don’t believe the people of Auckland elected Goff so that he could decide what opinions they were allowed to hear, or to protect them from what he suspects might be harmful ideas. That is not, and never was, part of his remit. He has grossly and arrogantly overstepped his authority on the pretext that he doesn’t want Southern and Molyneux “stirring up religious or ethnic tensions”. But New Zealanders have long shown themselves to be admirably resistant to attempts to stir up religious and ethnic tensions. This isn’t the Balkans, for heaven’s sake, or even Northern Ireland. We quite rightly expect people coming here from strife-torn countries to leave their ethnic and religious tensions in the arrivals lounge, and they almost invariably do. Big Brother Goff’s bogus concern for public wellbeing is a smokescreen. Underneath that bland, smiling facade beats the heart of an old-fashioned socialist controller.

Next, you seem to be saying that because people can hear Southern and Molyneux on You Tube, there’s no need for them to come here in person. What an extraordinary argument. Southern and Molyneux can stay safely quarantined in Canada and talk to us from there. Problem solved! This is tantamount to using the digital revolution as justification for limiting freedom of movement as well as the right to speak.

You seem to be suggesting that as long as information is available in one form, it’s okay for people to be denied access to it in others. Has the novel proposition occurred to you that in an open and free society, people should be left to choose for themselves how and where they receive their ideas? That idea might strike you as quaint, but our parliamentarians obviously go along with it. Section 14 of our Bill of Rights Act 1990 says this: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information  and opinions of any kind in any form” (my italics).

Perhaps you should read it sometime. So should Phil Goff. Oh, wait – he was in Parliament when it was passed. Perhaps he’s forgotten.

One other point. In your reply to another commenter, David, you suggest that Goff is acting in the interests of the Auckland Muslim community. But since when did New Zealand grant protection to one religion that it doesn’t confer on others? Christianity has been fair game for mockery and insult in this country for almost as long as I can remember. Christians just hunker down and get on with it.

The freedom to hold religions – all religions – up to critical scrutiny goes with the territory in New Zealand. I would hope that most New Zealand Muslims, having presumably come here because New Zealand’s freedom and tolerance appeals to them, would understand and respect that. By making special exceptions for them, Goff risks creating the very tensions and resentments that he sanctimoniously claims he wants to prevent.

Oh, and by the way, Kimbo (or “Unknown” as the case may be): if I’m going to continue engaging with you on this blog, I think you owe it to me as a courtesy to identify yourself rather than sheltering behind pseudonyms. You know who I am, and I expect you to return the favour.

1 comment:

paul scott said...

Progressive zealots hate free speech with such courage and vigour they hide behind pseudonyms.