The Finer Points of Freedom: Chris Trotter replies to Martyn Bradbury.

By   /   November 15, 2013  /   47 Comments

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LIBERTY is never threatened in the quiet hours of our lives. When all is still and at peace it is easy to pay homage to the political achievements of our ancestors.

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LIBERTY is never threatened in the quiet hours of our lives. When all is still and at peace it is easy to pay homage to the political achievements of our ancestors.

In the quiet times of history, those core civic values of freedom, equality, tolerance and respect for the rule of law are ritually invoked by rulers and ruled alike. All of us take pride in the rights bestowed upon us by our democratic form of government. Why should we not when our willingness to defend those rights has never been tested and we have done nothing for which we should feel ashamed?

But when injustice incites civic tumult and passions rise? Surely, these are the moments when the achievements of our ancestors are most directly threatened. When the wrongs men do seem so great, and the pain they cause flares into an all-consuming rage, that is when we are tested. For it is precisely at those times, when the cry for justice is drowning out all other voices, that those who cherish it are called upon to defend what my friend and comrade, Martyn Bradbury, has called “the finer points of freedom”.

For the absolute certainty of our own righteousness can lead us to do terrible things.

When, in the early thirteenth century, the Cathars of Southern France challenged the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church, the Pope declared a holy crusade against them. Arriving at the little town of Beziers in 1208, the crusader knights inquired of the Papal Legate, Arnald-Amalric, how the citizens guilty of heresy could be distinguished from those who were faithful. Eight hundred years later, this Man of God’s reply still has the power to shock:  “Kill them all”, he advised, “God will recognise His own.”

And just in case we are tempted to say that all such examples of moral recklessness belong in the distant past, consider the bombing of the German city of Dresden. Less than 70 years ago, our parents and grandparents were so certain that they were engaged in a Manichean struggle of Good against Evil that they sanctioned the terror-bombing of a city filled with fleeing refugees. The resulting firestorm incinerated at least 25,000 human-beings – most of them women and children.

Those helpless refugees were fleeing from the armies of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union. In the years before the German invasion of his country, Stalin had presided over a series of ideological purges in which hundreds of thousands of ordinary Russians were rounded up and executed for alleged crimes against the Soviet state.

Often the only way the accused could save themselves was by denouncing others – up to and including members of their own family. Every aspect of daily life became politicised under Stalin. Every statement had to be carefully weighed in the scales of this week’s orthodoxy (which could be the exact opposite of last week’s orthodoxy). There could be no unguarded moments, no offhand remarks, no relaxation of any kind. Even to be suspected of harbouring counter-revolutionary thoughts was sufficient to see you and your entire family sent to the gulags – or a quiet clearing in the forest.

Over the past fortnight New Zealanders have been brought face-to-face with the great wrong of Rape. As Martyn admonished me in his recent posting:

“Just pause. If the 1% conviction rate is true, that’s 99% of rape victims and those whanau impacted by that rape seeing no justice whatsoever. That means tens of thousands of historical rapes that have never seen justice. Chris, Imagine tens of thousands of murders never seeing justice. Tens of thousands of tortures never seeing justice. The finer points of freedom of speech just don’t even appear when lined up to that ocean of pain.”

Martyn’s passion is evident in every word of these sentences. In “that ocean of pain” he argues “the finer points of freedom of speech” simply disappear. In much the same way, I suppose, as the distinction between the faithful and the heretic disappeared at Beziers; the difference between armed combatants and frightened children disappeared in the rubble of Dresden; and the discrepancies between guilt and innocence disappeared beneath the Soviet Commissar’s basilisk glare.

But I cannot dance to that particular tune – not even for my good friend and comrade, Martyn.

As the tumult rose louder and louder around the Roastbusters scandal, and people’s passions rose with it, I was overcome by a deep sense of unease. When anger reaches a certain pitch it begins casting about for somebody upon whom it can be unleashed. In the absence of the perpetrators themselves, and following their incredibly insensitive and victim-blaming interview with Amy, the eyes of the angry and aggrieved settled upon Willie Jackson and John Tamihere. If they couldn’t have the Roastbusters, they would have to settle for these two arch “misogynists” and “apologists for Rape Culture”.

Against the rage of that pernicious culture’s opponents “the finer points of freedom” didn’t stand a chance. Willie and JT may be proud (some would say arrogant) men with an outdated and utterly insufficient grasp of the meaning and pain of Rape (and of how very easy it is to rekindle that pain through insensitivity and doubt) but they did not deserve what happened to them. There are better ways to correct ignorance; other ways to humble pride.

And, finally, Willie and JT are real people: people I know; not crude effigies stuffed with straw and ready for the bonfire. That left me with three choices. To remain silent as they were taken down. To join in the process of their humiliation. Or, knowing that these two men, their ignorance of gender issues notwithstanding, were very far from being monsters, I could insist that “the finer points of freedom of speech” were not submerged in Martyn’s “ocean of pain”.

It is, after all, but a short step from sacrificing “the finer points of freedom”, to releasing Lady Liberty herself into the custody of pitchforks and flaming-torches.

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47 Comments

  1. Well said.

    Several issues are almost certain ignite the touchpaper of moral outrage in our community. Of them, sexual crimes are easily the biggest, followed closely by racist issues.

    Too often in NZ we see dissenting viewpoints simply shouted down and witch-hunts launched against individuals for simply airing their own point of view. No matter how distasteful, they have the right to hold their viewpoint and the right to speak it.

    Click on my name for the nation’s most egregious innocent victim of moral outrage.

  2. Julz says:

    Stop now Chris – you are digging such a big hole for yourself. So your mates John and Willie are ‘real people” – so are girls and women Chris – real people. Stop patronising us with an irrelevant ‘his’tory lesson

    Please do a Gender Justice paper Chris – oh wait- all such courses have been removed from our universities along with all the other cuts impacting on women

  3. Arthur Monteath-Carr says:

    Oh for Fuck’s sake.

    Chris, let me speak plainly: You are a gifted writer and a respected commentator, but you have this… talent for overstatement that often leaves me reaching for the Asprin after reading your columns.

    Again: Free speech has consequences. Willie & JT are simply facing those consequences.

    NOBODY is organizing a Papal hit squad to burn down their houses and put them to the flame. NOBODY has called upon the Government to regulate against two blokes saying blokey things on talkback radio.

    The entire affair was one of free people exercising their free speech, from beginning to end. Willie & JT were free to behave as they did, and continue to behave as they did. Giovanni Tisso was free to contact their commercial sponsors and ask them to consider their own positions in response to the interview. Those sponsors were free to withdraw their support: Nobody forced them to. In turn, RadioLive and RadioWorks (an affilliate? Sister company? of MediaWorks) had a choice – and in the face of losing vast amounts of money, chose to remove them from the air.

    At no point did the Catholic church descend with fire and the sword. At no point did the NZ Police storm in with steel-capped boots and batons. This is the normal cut-and-thrust of public fucking discourse and if you cannot see that then I don’t even know what to say to you.

    Again: I stand for freedom of speech, and I as a consequence stand for the freedom of people to call out people when their speech is hurtful, wrong-headed, and enabling a toxic cultural paradigm.

    • Pascal's bookie says:

      Every. word.

      Spot on, Arthur.

    • Marc says:

      So dear Mr Holier than Others, when do we see the media, and I mean above all the “privately owned” commercially focused media, boycotted for promoting brainwashing of the public, of promoting consumerism, of favouring big business, of promoting anti Maori sentiment, of promoting right wing policies?

      Do you not get this, that you are falling victim to the most manipulative machinations at work here? Do you not get it, that a Mathew Hooton took advantage of this whole topic, to make it work for himself and the National Party? Taking out the LAST left leaning (perhaps a bit “socially conservative”) talk back hosts from Radio Live was the ultimate achievement that Hooton could have dreamt of. And for that bizarre ‘blogger’ Tiso in Wellington, who does he represent, but his own selfish ego?

      I never heard of that guy before, and he has a bizarre assembly of views, so that is fair enough for himself, but does he represent the people of NZ?

      If we want advertisers banning stations and the likes, should we not rather ban advertisers from having ANY influence on the media, full stop?

      Is it not time to reestablish true public broadcasting, so we get real information, that is not tainted with commercial and other interests?

      I see some real issues here, and I smell a bloody rat in all this!

      • Pascal's bookie says:

        “I never heard of that guy before,”

        Good grief.

        What is so “bizarre” about his beliefs? Giovanni is an absurdly good writer, even in his second language, English. Is leftism bizarre? he’s more solidly progressive and Marxist than dear old Trotter. far more consistent, less prone to hyperbole and generally just smarter.

        In what way does he represent NZ? He doesn’t. He doesn’t claim to. What a ridiculous notion.

      • Pascal's bookie says:

        Here’s some reading on Tiso and what he did, and why:

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11157945

      • Crunchtime says:

        Give me a break. WJ and JT are barely left-leaning.

        Regardless, this is NOT a left vs right issue. It’s not a freedom of speech issue either, as much as Trotter wants it to be. It’s an issue of misogyny and rape culture.

        WJ and JT being turfed off air for suggesting that being raped has something to do with how the victim was dressed sends a very clear message that rape culture is not acceptable. That’s a message that needed to be sent.

    • mikesh says:

      “Free speech has consequences. Willie & JT are simply facing those consequences.”

      Economic sanctions are not a natural consequence of speaking freely. The are simply a means of inhibiting the expression of points of view with which we happen to disagree.

  4. gee90 says:

    They still have freedom to spout. Nobody will stop them. They just don’t have 15 hours a week on the radio to do it. Nor do I. Poor me. But I’m still free, and so are they.

    They can tweet or blog or write columns or launch petitions or stand on a street corner or publish a newspaper or give interviews or … best of all –

    They can phone radio talkback and get cut off as soon as they challenge the hosts. Then they would get a taste of the “freedom” they upheld.

    Their freedom is intact. Their privilege is not. Good.

  5. anker says:

    Hi Chris, Usually I appreciate your columns. Not this time.

    Rape is an unpardonable crime. Many of us woman are sick of it. Implying that rape victims do something or wear something that invites rape is just sickening. We have had enough. We know that in the legal system rape victims will have to endure the above questions. No wonder they don’t complain. Voicing those opinions just perpetuates rape myths. I think it is great there has been such an outpouring against the RB’s (not the vigilante stuff) and that JT and WJ have had their hands slapped. (come on Chris, its not that bad for them, they’ll be back to work next year). Their mental health is unlikely to suffer, unlike rape victims. I know you are seeing this as the erosion of free speech, but actually more censorship of misogyny would be very much appreciate. Bring it on.

  6. David says:

    Oh, Chris. Oh dear.

  7. Countryboy says:

    Jesus ! That was brilliant . That was truly brilliant . The poetry of your post was … amazing .
    All is not lost .
    You , Chris Trotter and your good friend and comrade Martyn Bradbury … these are heady times . I’m so proud to be an albeit very , very small part of this movement . Bravo .

  8. Verbscape says:

    Chris, thank you. I realise the truth now. I wasn’t outraged by YET ANOTHER example of men using their paid platforms (which are easier for men to obtain because of institutional sexism) to hurt real women and perpetuate further institutional sexism. I was just ~casting about~ for someone, anyone, upon whom my anger could be unleashed. I was ~looking to be offended~.

    It’s not that Willie and JT did anything wrong themselves – in fact, they are the real victims in all this. As you say, they are not monsters – and therefore they don’t deserve to experience any consequences ever. Only monsters should be held accountable for their words and actions. Monsters like those totalitarian bastards who dared to say, “Wow, what those guys said is fucked up.”

    Oh, wait, actually I live in a world where it’s totally okay for people to complain about stuff, and in fact probably an entire third of W&JT’s contracts are devoted to the company’s right to suspend and/or fire them if they say something that might “bring the company into disrepute”, because that’s how having a job works.

    FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS NOT FREEDOM TO HAVE A PAID PLATFORM. Deal with it.

  9. Arthur Monteath-Carr says:

    I am left wondering- perhaps uncharitably- if the reason why Chris feels so strongly on this issue is that, as a professional opinion-haver, his own advertisers might be the next to be pressured should he ever be in the position of saying something beyond the pale.

    Don’t worry Chris! As near as I can tell you’re merely cursed with a history degree and a degree of histrionics. Your gonna be fine.

  10. deepred says:

    What Giovanni Tiso did was a perfectly legit method of civil disobedience. It’s not like Willie & JT are being whisked away to a cold bunker and getting the waterboard treatment.

    • mikesh says:

      “What Giovanni Tiso did was a perfectly legit method of civil disobedience.”

      Indeed it was. The question, though, is whether the expression of an opinion would have constituted an adequate reason for such civil disobedience.

    • Matthew Hooton says:

      It wasn’t civil disobedience. It was just using the free market.

      • mikesh says:

        Or, perhaps, abusing the free market.

      • Arthur Monteath-Carr says:

        Why can’t it be civil disobedience, leveraging the free market?

        The problem with “free market” models is that they posit unrealistic necessary factors. Tisso and myself are unlikely to be granted access to traditional media like hosting or being interviewed on talk radio (unlike yourself, sir.)

        As such unorthodox techniques like contacting advertisers becomes a necessary work-around.

        • Pascal's bookie says:

          I don’t think it’s civil disobedience because it isn’t disobedient. It’s just ‘doing stuff you are allowed to do’.

          • Arthur Monteath-Carr says:

            Oh yes. But Mathew Hooten wants to put up a false paradigm of “Civil Disobedience Bad, Free Market Good” and that was my way of calling him on it.

  11. peterlepaysan says:

    Bloggers are responsible to their advertisers?

    MSM are responsible to their advertisers?

    Both WJ and JT are paid performers that fucked up very badly.

    Management did not do anything until advertisers pulled out.

    Radio Live apparently do not care what happens as long as the advertising revenue pours in.

  12. paul scott says:

    Societal insanity,
    paulscottfilms.blogspot.com

  13. Marc says:

    To be bluntly honest, I think Chris has raised some valid points here.

    Beware of “crusades”, and there have been many, where those pursuing and executing them, were losing sight of objectivity.

    The “Roast Busters” are jerks and criminals and must be held accountable, but to ignore other factors make so many one sided in their views.

    For victims to drink themselves silly and into a stupor (I take my case if anybody can prove that alcohol was forced down their throats!), then expose themselves to potential abuse by admittedly abusing perpetrators, that is also a problem, it is stupidity and immaturity. I feel that is what JT and Willie tried to discuss. But we live in a radical PC landscape, where the victim is always totally excused and innocent, so the crusade must be upheld against the abuser, no matter what.

    I have an issue with the mentality behind this. Those that take it too far are similar to “Nazi” mentality, that is what I dare to argue, as every person has some basic responsibilities for their safety and conduct. Maybe it is the reason that few if any of the victims have taken matters to the police, because they realise that they were leaving themselves open to stupid and irresponsible conduct.

    Who here then would have understanding and sympathy with a drunk driver, I ask? Is it any different to be a drunk driver to being a drunk who puts her or himself into company that leaves them at great risk? Who would willingly or neglectfully take a ride with a known drunk driver?

    So where are the arguments in that way, I ask?

    Chris actually makes a lot of sense, and I fear that Martyn is being hijacked by PC advocates, who are out to make it all a simple black and white scenario.

    I am having my worries about the whole debate, also about a “rape culture”, which is an exaggeration of reality. So I take the hits that I expect from critics, which certainly will include many feminists.

    The truth is never as clear cut as most in public think, I am afraid.

    I accept that Willie and JT had to apologise, and they did it belatedly and properly. But I know of worse media offenders for other reasons, and they get away with it daily. And this Mathew Hooter Man, he better get a life, as he is as dishonest a man that one can think of. He was having ulterior motives, because the more left leaning talk back hosts (there are very few left) he can get out of their jobs, the more he has achieved for his paymaster, the National Party.

    If only some would realise all this behind all the hype!

    • Arthur Monteath-Carr says:

      Hi Marc! I’m glad you have decided to engage with the somewhat tricky and contested topic of rape culture. I understand that until the last couple of weeks you may not have had to think much about rape and the place this crime has in our society, but please be aware that this is a sensitive topic that cuts quite deeply for a lot of people.

      1) You liken a young girl drinking too much to ne like a drunk driver. This analogy is flawed- the crime is not the drinking, it is the choice to drive. Just as you wouldn’t blame someone for driving on the same road as a drunk driver and getting hit by them, so too we shouldn’t blame a young girl for drinking at the party that a rapist chooses to assault her at.

      2) You suggest that we shouldn’t attack Willie and JT because they are “left leaning” and therefore are nominally on the same team as the rest of us. This tribal loyalty is understandable, but misplaced- if your best friend is being a dick, you have to call him on it, because they’re embarrassing themselves and letting you down by extension.

      At any point Willie and JT could have stopped, apologized sincerely, and educated themselves on the issue. They choose instead to carry on as they were, compounding their error. RadioLive could have insisted on sensitivity training, or maybe arranged for a rape crisis worker to appear on the show and do some mending of fences. Instead they were removed from the air for an extended, temporary space of time.

      If we are not allowed to criticize people on “our team” we run the risk of condoning immature and harmful behaviour. This would be bad. Ergo, we allow criticism of our putative allies.

      I hope you take these rebuttals in the spirit they were intended. I’m afraid that, posting on my phone, I’m unable to furnish you with links to recommended reading, bit there is a wealth of insightful, hard hitting material out there on rape culture and what it means to be a rape survivor. I would urge you to look into it, even if only to be better informed on the topic if you wish to further engage in online debate on the issue.

      Yours,
      C A Monteath-Carr.

      • Marc says:

        I raised the drunk driver analogy or comparison, which I admit is not a good one, only to put some focus on what actually happened. We have for years been debating the issues of under-aged drinking, in the media, in politics and on blogs.

        How can people adopt such a simplistic view, that it is irrelevant, whether a 13 or 15 year old girl drinks herself silly and into a state, where she is easy prey for admittedly criminal, ruthless predators. I do not wish to excuse those predators for encouraging the girls to drink and get drunk, but any girls at that age, who expose themselves to male company, who were actually known for daredevil behaviour and sexual exploits, as more will soon be revealed, are to me plain irresponsible and stupid.

        That is what I was getting at. So they bear some blame themselves also, for drinking while they should in that situation not even be legally allowed to drink.

        The males were older, but also at an age under 18, so fall into a category that ususally gets special treatment under existing law (not treated like adults).

        When we look at all this without emotions, then the law will be clear, and explain why also the police had trouble to prosecute.

        This whole debate has become a media hyped, emotionally laden, sensationalised story, and it has been exploited by TV3 and others. I really am still asking also, why did the complainants, that initially laid complaints, not push for those to be followed up further?

        What some here are trying is, to present this all as a simple black and white situation, where bad meets innocent and good, where one side was the criminal predator (true to a degree), and where the others were treated like almost “kindnapped”, “hijacked”, drugged and raped in total ruthlessness, against their will in full mental awareness.

        That did NOT happen, and it will show, that all this is much more complicated than the whole emotive debate has so far presented it as.

        As for JT and Willie, I have felt immensely disappointed by both about this, and they deserve harsh criticism. But I still feel, they have been singled out, while we get a lot of other appalling stuff go on. Who boycotted Paul Henry when he made racist and other remarks? Who boycotted his employer. Who boycotts others in the media, who are in roles where they are supposed to present news and other independent programs at breakfast or afternoon times, but they partly push commercial products and service providers, they openly promote certain political parties and the likes, and they get away with being “presenters” and “journalist”.

        I feel Mr Tiso may be a respectable writer and blogger, but he has succeeded with his efforts more than he himself expected. But he is out of the ordinary, as so many other wrong things are NOT addressed.

        Therefore, all this is a social blog and media whip up, same as “rape culture”, which to me only exists in the minds of few, who fail the test, so to say, like gang members, already power and violence applying individuals here and there. It can hardly be said, that the police or other institutions in general in this country adhere to a “rape culture”.

        Hence my strong comments. And while I admit the drink driver comparison is poor and inappropriate perhaps, I stick by my arguments that there is more to it all, also an apparent agenda, by Hooton and others, to take opportunity, to deal out to Willie and JT, so they get sent off their jobs, making room for more “government friendly” or “moderate” presenters on Radio Live.

  14. Meg says:

    I really hope all of the people supporting free speech for Willie J and JT, and especially Chris Trotter, have bothered to go and read all of the stories that have been posted in the last 2 days on I Am Someone NZ. Over 150 stories of rape culture in NZ. We do not have to put up with victim Blaming and rape culture in our media. Simple as that. They’re free to have these opinions in their ‘smoko’ rooms or what ever other bullshit cliche you want to pull out about it. But we are quite free to boycott and complain.

    You try telling the people who have contributed to this site that their experiences are not worth rising up for. We’re sick of voices like JT and WJ being heard louder than these ones. Try having a listen to what the survivors have to say http://iamsomeonenz.wordpress.com/

  15. Pascal's bookie says:

    Chris. while you are waxing so lyrical about the broad interpretation we must to make to free speech, even so far as to rule out boycotts, perhaps you might like to think about the Tour.

    Is not a rugby game a speech act? Surely that was the whole point, that the games were seen as support for the SA regime, and so they should be protested. if the games were not speech acts, then they could not have been political right?

    So were the protesters totalitarians Chris?

    • mikesh says:

      The question of whether a or not rugby game is a “speech act” misses the point. The 1981 protests were directed at apartheid.
      The aim was to influence the SA government by imposing a sports boycott.

      • Pascal's bookie says:

        It’s on point Mikesh.

        Chris has argued, at length, that bocotts are an attack on free speech. That they are in some way comparable to totalitarianism, or that they are a dangerous step on that road. That various horrors from history are relevant to discussing boycotts, because boycotts are an attack on free speech that set us on the path to those horrors.

        He argues that the left shouldn’t use boycotts because they are an attack on free speech regardless of the nature of that speech. That the left shouldn’t boycott speech it disagrees with.

        So whether or not the rugby games were speech acts is exactly on point to determining whether his argument has merit, or how consistent he is in applying it.

        There is a tool in thinking about things that asks, “Does this argument prove too much?”

        In other words, when making an generalised argument, or one from principle, as Trotter makes, it helps to ask “What else does this argument prove, if we accept it?”.

        If the games are speech, then an argument that ‘we shouldn’t shut down speech no matter how much we disagree with it’ would tell us that the protests were wrong.

        It seems to me that the games were speech. If they were not speech, then there was no need to try and stop them. If they were not speech acts, then they could not have been political. They can only have been political if they symbolised something.

        So, if they were speech acts, and stopping speech acts is wrong no matter how much you disagree with it is wrong in principle, that it offends against “the finer points of freedom” to do so, then the protesters were wrong according to Trotter’s argument.

        I simply wonder if he has changed his mind about the tour protests or not.

        • mikesh says:

          “It seems to me that the games were speech. If they were not speech, then there was no need to try and stop them. If they were not speech acts, then they could not have been political. They can only have been political if they symbolised something.”

          The SA sports boycotts were an attempt to deprive South Africans of something they enjoyed, in the hope that they would be induced as a consequence to change certain policies. Rugby games may, at a stretch, be regarded as “speech acts”, but they are primarily enjoyable activities.

          Obviously there are legal and moral sanctions against the sorts of things that can be expressed openly (slander and calumny are cases in point), but it doesn’t help to claim that a particular boycott is not an attack on the right to free speech, when clearly it is, just because we feel that the attack is justified.

          In any case I think we need to draw a distinction between boycotts which are directed against actions or policies, and those that are directed against speech.

          • Pascal's bookie says:

            It isn’t clearly an attack on free speech at all though Mike.

            Firstly, JT&W would have no expectation whatsoever of ‘free speech’ while on air. Above and beyond legal restrictions against slander or incitement they would not be free to let rip on all manner of topics.

            Do you think they would remain employed if they started denying the holocaust, or following advertisements with foul mouthed abuse, or mockery, of the ads?

            Would they remain employed if they started promoting the benefits of recreational methamphetamine use?

            Would they stay in the job if they were talking about domestic violence and ran lines from the 50’s about ‘a man’s home is his castle and the police should just butt out’?

            I rather doubt it.

            Are my rights to freedom of speech breached because in between my first comment on this thread and my third I was placed on moderation?

            Does Trotter attack freedom of speech with his commenting rules over at Bowalley road?

            All of these things could be construed as attacks of FOS in the abstract, which is the level at which trotter makes his case. however, and this is my point, no society acts at that level of abstraction.

            At that level of abstraction, many, many things would be attacks on freedom speech. Things that we consider to be quite legitimate.

            From that, it follows that ‘freedom of speech’ doesn’t operate at that level of abstraction. We don’t have the right to say whatever the hell we like on the radio and be immune to pressure regarding our access to that platform.

          • Arthur Monteath-Carr says:

            I find speech to be an enjoyable activity.

            Things can have more than one meaning. New Zealand was one of the very few counties that allowed sporting contact with SA at the time. This alone means something, and communicates meaning, therefore the Tour can be construed to be an act of speech.

  16. Ovicula says:

    This whole thing seems to be turning into a fight between men in the media. Marshall McCluhan might approve, but I think there’s a real danger that the young girls are being forgotten as men once again make it about themselves. Stop it. FFS.

  17. Tom says:

    Well, I had thought with the response to Cunliffe’s election as leader that the NZ left had finally grown up a bit. There are some obvious and sober responses to be made to this case (which has in all honesty yet to proceed beyond sensational allegations), but they appear to have been cast aside in favour of hyperbolic, ideological responses that do nothing other than make a few activists feel validated and which scare off regular voters.

    I knew it was too good to last.

    Oh well…

  18. Pete says:

    I don’t have a duty to spend my money on companies that advertise on a show that I object to. In turn, those companies do not have a duty to advertise on that show and the broadcaster does not have a duty to continue broadcasting that show. NZ Truth collapsed this year. Are you blaming me for the loss of that voice because I chose to spend my money elsewhere?

    This is not about state power denying people free speech, this is about where I choose to spend my money. For whatever reasons I wish. If Mediaworks finds that it is losing revenue, then it’s within its rights to take the steps to put that trend in check.

    • mikesh says:

      If I chose not to spend my money on shows I objected to I would have to become a tightwad and not spend any money. But, seriously, the spending of money not what we were discussing. We were discussing incitement to boycott.

  19. Arfamo says:

    Sometimes there’s no point in analysing why things happened and the finer points that might be teased out. Willie and JT needed a lesson and so did the Roastbusters. They got one.

  20. mikesh says:

    “Do you think they would remain employed if they started denying the holocaust, or following advertisements with foul mouthed abuse, or mockery, of the ads?”

    Probably not. But if a general discussion of the holocaust was going on, I would feel rather uncomfortable if holocaust deniers were prevented from putting their case, even though I disagreed with them.

    Though I didn’t hear JT&W’s comments personally, I understand the issue of the Roastbusters and the police actions thereto were the topics under discussion at the time.

    • Pascal's bookie says:

      So you agree then, that JT&W were not speaking in a space where they could expect complete freedom to say whatever the hell they liked?

      And no one is saying that a radio show shouldn’t interview one side of a debate. but that isn’t what this is about at all. These were hosts treating a sister of a rape complainant the way an aggressive defence lawyer might in court, for fuck’s sake.

      They weren’t arguing any point other than that young women shouldn’t be out drinking and should watch what they wear, because apparently those things are relevant to whether or not it was ‘real’ rape or not. Advertisers decided that wasn’t the sort of show they want to be associated with.

      • mikesh says:

        As I said in my previous post, I didn’t hear the interview myself, and it sounds as though their questioning was somewhat insensitive. But, hey, they got their comeuppance, didn’t they. Interviewers will think twice before asking such questions in future, or expressing the sort of opinions such questions imply.

  21. I agree with Chris and those who say beware of Crusaders who decry free speech that doesn’t accord with their own . Beware also of weak kneed media who bow to these Crusaders for the sake of advertising revenue by suspending their employees. Beware also of those who focus on those they can vent their spleen on without risking any consequences to themselves compared to say targeting the police for their ineptitude in this particular case. The real issue was completely lost ie the failure of police to arrest and charge someone for under age sex and rape when the alleged rapists even admitted it on social media. Willie and John Tamihere who ran a popular show for Radio Live were thrown to the baying wolves for their ‘crime’ which I couldn’t even spell.

  22. Oliver says:

    Hi Chris, I utterly agree with you on this issue and am finding myself frustrated with the reaction to your view on this.

    We on the left are often too obsessed with purity, which is silly if we’re all in the same camp on the problem can’t have a grown up discussion about solutions without screaming Judas.

    The passion of our feelings on recent events is a great sign that society is changing, but that passion is being wrongly channeled into looking for/ overreacting to those straw men as if sacrificing them is going to lift a magic curse and they’ll be no more sexual violence.

    The blogosphere has of late, instead of focusing on the institutional and cultural causes of attitudes and actions towards sexual violence (such as public debate and promoting experiences and stories of the victims of sexual violence), has given JT and Willie way too much attention as people who trick and manipulate people rather them as channeling what a lot of the public sadly believes anyway. It’s as if passionate opposition and encouraging consumer boycotts of people and things we despised anyway are enough to destroy rape culture. At the least, it’s easier than long term reform of the judicial system, police culture, and public perception, and at most a intellectually lazy approach that only serves to satisfy our anger and frustration.