Thursday, August 18, 2022

Let Arps stand and see what happens

There’s been a lot of squawking and hand-wringing over white supremacist Philip Arps’ bid for election to a Christchurch high school board. But why the fuss?

Yes, Arps seems a loathsome character. A texter to Morning Report used the word despicable, which I thought was a pretty apt description. But in a robust democracy, there are ways of dealing with despicable people.

The best way to signal to Arps that he’s despised is to let him stand for office and see how much support he attracts. My guess is none.

To bar him from running, as a lot of people are urging, would be an attack on free speech. As the great British commentator Bernard Levin wrote, “free speech is for swine and liars as well as upright and honest men”. (You’ll have to excuse the sexism, which I’m sure was unintentional.) 

Poisonous opinions, as Levin pointed out, are less dangerous promulgated than banned. Arps would probably relish the fugitive mystique of being cancelled.

The problem here is that many people on the Left – apparently including those who are huffing and puffing over Arps – don’t trust democracy. They don’t think their fellow citizens can be relied on to make the right decisions. They prefer to put their faith in state decrees that restrict people’s freedoms. In this respect they reveal their essentially elitist, authoritarian leanings.

As an aside, it’s almost comical to hear people accuse Arps of using the school board elections as a ruse to promote his supremacist ideas, then do him the enormous favour of going on TV and radio saying he must be stopped. He couldn’t have wished for more exposure, which is what he craves.  

Let Arps stand, I say, and put his support to the test. Provided the school community exercises its right to vote, I believe he’ll make an even bigger clown of himself than he is already. The votes of right-thinking people – and that means most New Zealanders – are the obvious antidote to extremists.




Tinman said...

I disagree with almost everything Arps.

More, I disagree with the imprisonment of Arps because he thinks differently (as stated, from memory, by his sentencing judge).

I consider that imprisonment to be a serious stain on New Zealand.

As such, if he stood for Mayor of Christchurch, I would probably consider voting for him - he could do no more damage to the city than the incumbent already has and at least he's honest about his views.

Don Franks said...

Of course the guy is entitled to stand for the board. There were also flutters of indignation because some alleged conspiracy theorists are standing in local body elections. A Stuff interviewed VUW professor called this "a worrisome trend". The election process is supposedly there for every citizen to use, pre vetting candidates means totalitarian control.. The working class have little enough political input opportunity as it is. I don't think anyone can call themselves 'left' if they don't trust ordinary folks to decide the outcome of democratic elections.

Ken said...

Good points Karl. Sadly this man is the only one I know anything about regarding the school board elections. I'm guessing this is exactly his intention.
As an empty nester I'm out of the loop regarding school activities these days.
Here's to all the genuine folks putting themselves forward for school boards.

Ben Thomas said...

The problem is that most of those who vote are abysmally ignorant and are as likely to vote using a dart. That sadly is how those like Arps come to prominence; a mixture of ignorance and apathy. Yes of course he must be allowed to stand but don’t be surprised at the result especially given the first letter of his name.

Unknown said...

Moderator a clearer version - sorry.

Totally agree Karl. Courtesy of the media I witnessed the schools wonderful and concerned young people arguing that people should not vote for him, indeed that he should not be allowed to stand, that such views must not be heard. Sorry kids, totally disagree. Let him stand. In fact it would be GREAT if he were elected to the board!!!! Put him in charge of fundraising (voluntary 100 hours a month at least!), and in charge of the editorial board of the school mag (if there is one.) Also ask him to oversee the upkeep of the grounds - all as concerned board members do VOLUNTARILY. Then I would expect him to take a couple of slow learners under his wing = maths and reading assistance. Oh and be in charge of weekend working bees.

So important that contrary views are aired and debated. It is l too easy to fall into the 'I absolutely hate bigots and believe they should all be shot' trap.

Karl du Fresne said...

Unknown (and other commenters),
I can't edit comments. I can only publish them or delete them.
This explains the first line in the comment above, which "Unknown" probably assumed I could delete. He had submitted the comment earlier but then sent a more polished version.

Hilary Taylor said...

It's the Never-Ending Story evidently...the Press yells 'Danger Will Robinson' in case we're all Rip Van Winkels & don't know about Arps by now, though I suppose many still don't. LB candidates tarred by the VFF brush by the Press too...'here's what to think about these terrible people'. Voters hate being steered & patronised.
I used to run the school board elections at the school I worked in...candidates present profiles/statements to be perused and there were rarely any folk who were strangers to the school community.
Let him stand. Tubby Hansen has stood for years and has the funniest blurbs want conspiracies, try Tubby who's an old hand.

Karl du Fresne said...

Madame Blavatsky said...

Nothing says that your own opinions or worldview are built on shaky ground like wanting to prevent someone who doesn't share many of your opinions seeking some influence in the community. If Arps' views are so self-evidently wrong, then surely he wouldn't stand a chance.The process and the opinions of all "decent" people would ensure he isn't elected.Right? But what if our feted democracy turned up some results we didn't like? Better stop that happening by undermining democracy ourselves (though only with pure motives, naturally).

What it comes down to is that in our "free and open liberal democracy" you are allowed to say what you want – unless, of course, what you say doesn't align with the tenets of liberal democracy, in which case, the former principle goes out the window. Liberal democracy is apparently only liberal up until the point where it reveals itself to be illiberal. The Arps case perfectly demonstrates that the purported "openness" of our society is a myth, and that we are not that different than any other more overtly totalitarian society. Whereas people in the latter are kept in line with explicit force, we are kept in line via a kind of seductive delusion.

Anyone who holds the "wrong" opinions and seeks reform is dismissed as "deeply concerning". However, this moral language is just a smokescreen obscuring the reality, which is the destruction of a dissenting voice as a purely self-interested political action. This naked antagonism and pure self-interest is legitimised with moral language, but it is always done in bad faith, is insincere and is a backwards rationalisation aimed at legitimising a political tactic aimed at the maintenance of power.