Idiot Savant has been around the Kiwi blogosphere about as long as I can remember. He’s quite left wing. Anyone who things Lauren Southern and Stephan Molyneaux are national socialists has swallowed the cool aid. They are a white nationalist and an old fashioned libertarian.
Both of them are pretty good at getting responses, and our Savant friend knows this. He argues, correctly, that the response to bad speech is good speech. He’s also correct on the Bill of Rights Act: you cannot discriminate on religion or political beliefs. I’d cheerfully have a beer with Savant.
But not with Phil Goff. For Phil Goff is a twit. He was around when the Bill of Rights Act came out, probably voted for it, and should know that he is breaking it. The fact that he is the mayor of Auckland makes be glad I left the city of my birth a decade ago.
On Friday, we learned that a pair of Canadian Nazis had tacked New Zealand on to an Australian (of course) speaking tour, and were planning on visiting New Zealand. Cue an immediate public outcry, which was cut short by Phil Goff apparently banning them from Auckland Council venues:
Auckland Council apparently acted on this and cancelled their booking, ostensibly for health and safety reasons. Which is about as credible as Donald Trump saying his anti-Muslim ban wasn’t about religion. When the mayor of a city says they’ve given a direction, and what they want happens, I think we’re entitled to take their word for it.
The problem, of course, is that this is all illegal. Auckland Council is a body performing a public function and so subject to the Bill of Rights Act. Which affirms, among other things, both the right to freedom of expression, and the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of political opinion. The Auckland Council’s actions are a prima facie violation of those rights and invite judicial review. And given Goff’s tweet, the outcome of such a review is likely to be ratepayer’s money spent on compensating Nazis for the breach of those rights, as well as an order that the council provide them with a venue (if they want one) on the same terms as any other customer.
Goff won’t care. Like police officers who beat suspects, he will face no personal consequences for violating these rights, and there’s no political downside for him because he’s picking on someone everyone hates. But we should care. Because if we let the mayor of Auckland decide what speech is acceptable in public facilities, then a future mayor may decide that they don’t like speech that we approve of. Like union meetings, or speeches in favour of reforming drug laws, or political movements against landlords and the rentier economy. Or speeches in favour of racial justice – because Pakeha New Zealand’s neck seems to be pretty red these days, and there’s votes in sticking it to “the Maoris”.
That’s why we need to stand up for freedom of speech, even for people whose views are repugnant. Not because we agree with those views, but because being able to express your views without interference from the government is the key to any democratic change, and giving away that principle gives politicians a veto on what we can demand from them. When push comes to shove, I’d rather put up with Nazis than trust politicians with a power so ripe for abuse.
Idiot Savant, No right Turn
I disagree with Idiot Savant, and I consider the leader of our soft right party — Simon Bridges — a liberal weasel. But he had enough of a spine to say that this is wrong. For the same reasons. Both of them, however are demonizing moderates. This is not the far right. This is the nice, cuddly youtube right.
“I disagree strongly with what these activists are saying but I think it’s a dangerous thing to say ‘because we don’t like what you’re saying we won’t let you in’.
“I can see how [Goff] made his decision but I wouldn’t have banned them from coming to New Zealand. We should allow people we strongly disagree with to come. We’re a mature, liberal democracy.”
Southern has posted a string of tweets since Goff made a decision to prevent the pair from using council-owned venues.
“Hey friends in New Zealand ~ looks like you’ve got a free speech issue there! Can’t wait to address it with @StefanMolyneux”, she tweeted.
“Got death threats towards me and my kids from supporters of those two who Goff refused to hire a venue to. My skin has thickened but have blocked for decency. Keyboard warriors,” Davidson tweeted on Saturday evening.
Earlier, Davidson had shared on Facebook a media post about Goff’s decision to deny access to Southern Molyneux,
“Good to use our freedom of speech to say your racist bigoted views aren’t going to be catered for here. Thanks Phil. These two can get out.”
Her posts ignited a strong debate about free speech.
Davidson later wrote: “I hope it doesn’t upset too many people that I am not wasting my time reading the tears on my page from people who are upset at a M?ori woman political leader from using my platform to say I abhor the vile crap that these people are espousing and will stand up against them at every opportunity.”
Goff tweeted on Friday that venues shouldn’t be used to stir up ethnic or religious tensions.
“Views that divide rather than unite are repugnant and I have made my views on this very clear. Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux will not be speaking at any council venues.”
Southern and Molyneux had been due to speak next month at the Auckland council-owned Bruce Mason centre on Auckland’s North Shore.
It appears Immigration looked at the UK ban, and decided Southern was an unfit person…
Then looked at the bill of rights. I have some sympathy for the immigration officer. NZ has very strong immigration laws and biosecurity laws and we enforce them. An immigration letter allows Southern in.
The greens, however, are doubling down. They don’t want anyone in who opposes their revolution. They don’t care about free speech, but regulated speech. Again, Idiot Savant is correct. You don’t threaten people’s families. You don’t take their jobs away.
But you don’t censor speech either: the limitations in NZ law is inciting a riot. Davidson is fomenting division. But she is (as usual) not the responsible party here. She does not have a ministerial warrant: she is not the mayor.
Phil Goff is, and he is a twit who has laid himself wide open.
A few of the old school bloggers and political activists — from Lindsay Perigo to Chris Trotter to Don Brash — have aligned to raise enough money to get a judicial review. They already have the 50K they need.
We need 50,000 NZD to launch judicial review proceedings against the Mayor Phil Goff and the Council to enforce the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and Human Rights Act (which protect freedom of speech, and discrimination based on political views).
We are advised that both Acts apply to the Council, and the Mayor acting in the performance of any public function. We will be seeking both a declaration that in excluding the speakers Mr Goff / Auckland Council broke the law, and an injunction requiring the Council to host the event that was scheduled for 3 August at the Council-owned Bruce Mason Centre.
I have to finish this update by quoting Trotter. He is correct that the left have failed the test, but he does not understand why. The truth is not with them. He, however, is a classical liberal, and therefore he speaks truly when he quotes Milton.
Because, as the great English poet, John Milton, wrote in his famous pamphlet, Areopagitica: “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.”
Truth is not afraid of trigger-words. Truth does not need a safe space. Truth is not a snowflake. Truth can take the heat and most certainly should not be forced to vacate the kitchen in the face of a couple of Alt-Right provocateurs and a politically-correct Mayor.
Chris Trotter, Bowalley Road
When you have lost people like Chris Trotter, worry. When you lose your ideologues like Idiot Savant, you are doomed.