Do We Really Lack the Courage to Debate the Alt-Right? Do We Really Lack the Ideas to Defeat Them?

By   /   July 10, 2018  /   96 Comments

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Over the past few days Molyneux and Southern have very skilfully tested our tolerance – and we have failed. They’ve also tested our ability to re-state, re-affirm and justify our commitment to freedom of expression. We failed that test too.

STEFAN MOLYNEUX AND LAUREN SOUTHERN gave New Zealanders an opportunity to test their values – most especially their tolerance. Controversialists, almost by profession, these two Canadians espouse ideas which most Kiwis find extremely jarring. We have come to accept human equality and religious tolerance as the unequivocal markers of all decent and rational societies. For a great many people it is deeply offensive to hear these concepts challenged openly.

Over the past few days Molyneux and Southern have very skilfully tested our tolerance – and we have failed. They’ve also tested our ability to re-state, re-affirm and justify our commitment to freedom of expression. We failed that test too.

But just imagine if, instead of asking the Minister of Immigration to prevent Molyneux and Southern from entering the country, the New Zealand Federation of Islam Associations had invited them to debate the Islamic religion with a couple of their faith’s most accomplished scholars. In the face of the Canadians’ openly hostile reading of the Koran, the Federation could have transformed their assailants’ prejudice into a profound “teaching moment” for all New Zealanders. Rather than the caricature of Islam presented by its enemies, we could have heard the true voice of the Prophet and gained a much deeper understanding of his message.

Of course, Molyneux and Southern could have refused to debate the Federations’ representatives (perhaps fearing that in a calm, respectful, and properly moderated setting, their contribution might not have sounded all that convincing) but just think about how bad that would have made them look. They would have been exposed as not having the courage of their convictions: of having “fake views”.

Imagine, too, if the Q+A programme had set aside an entire hour for a televised debate between Molyneux and Southern, representing the Alt-Right; and two representatives of the New Zealand Left. (Annette Sykes and John Minto spring to mind!) For 60 minutes, New Zealanders could have heard debated the ideas and causes that are currently driving global politics. Alternatively, TVNZ could have set up one of its live “town-hall meetings” at which a broad cross-section of Kiwis could have asked questions of the two right-wing provocateurs.

Once again they could have refused. But, once again, that would merely have confirmed their status as rhetorical bomb-throwers – not genuine protagonists of serious ideas.

But what if they restricted their appearances to halls in which only their most fervid supporters were guaranteed entry? What would the correct response be to that situation?

According to Peace Action Auckland’s Valerie Morse, the response of those opposed to the views being expressed by Molyneux and Southern should have been to “stand in solidarity with the Muslim community in Aotearoa who are opposing these fascists. If they come here, we will confront them on the streets. If they come, we will blockade entry to their speaking venue”.

Which is, of course, exactly the response Molyneux and Southern would have been hoping for. It has been of enormous assistance to their cause to be able to upload on to social media the hate-filled faces of their enemies. Such images of their left-wing opponents screaming and shouting and doing all within their power to shut down their meetings are pure gold to the propagandists of the Alt-Right.

Everything that Mayor Phil Goff, the Auckland Council, Ms Morse and her fellow extremists have done so far is provide Molyneux and Southern with invaluable material for their one-million-strong YouTube audience. Every attempt to suppress their freedom of expression by administrative fiat, or force, fuels the anger of their supporters and confirms the Alt-Right’s view of the Left as dangerous enemies of liberty.

What they would have been very loath to upload, however, would have been images of them being soundly defeated by Muslim scholars; or floundering before the questioning of participants in TVNZ’s town-hall meeting. Especially useless to them would have been images of a huge and dignified gathering of New Zealanders bearing witness outside the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna. Maori and Pakeha, Christian and Muslim, immigrant and native-born, gay and straight – all standing quietly with their arms linked under a forest of New Zealand flags and banners proclaiming this country’s unwavering commitment to human equality, religious tolerance and freedom of speech.

Had we been mature enough, as a free and democratic nation, to meet the challenge of Molyneux and Southern in such a fashion, the two Alt-Right Canadians would have had nothing to show their followers. But, we New Zealanders would have had something to show the world.

We could have shown a global audience a nation confident enough to debate those truths proclaimed by Thomas Jefferson to be self-evident with all comers. We could have shown a planet hard beset by the worst kind of right-wing propaganda a people capable of passing the values test set by the likes of Molyneux and Southern with flying colours.

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.

 

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96 Comments

  1. Castro says:

    Of course the answer is a resounding yes… some of “us” sold “our” so-called country to the same dictatorship that mowed down unarmed protesters in Tienanmen Square with tanks.

    • Christine says:

      It can also be said that by not catering to these two, we have taken a stand, and told them to just get lost. Like we boycotted Apartheid.

      Chris’s eloquent words bestow on them a stature which they do not merit, as does every minute wasted on them.

      If they were persons capable of rationally processing knowledge or responding reasonably to questions, some sort of discourse might be possible, but if this were so, then they would not hold the extreme and sick views which they do. They do not flounder – they spit out deluded rabble-rousing aphorisms.

      The lion doesn’t bark at the jackal. Why should we ?

  2. Andrew says:

    I’m SO pleased you’ve come down on the side of the angels Chris!

    Great post!

    As for “images of them being soundly defeated by Muslim scholars”; that is highly unlikely. They know their topic and can cite passages in the Koran demonstrating just how violent and intolerant it is.

    Quite frankly you’d need to be blind & deaf not to be aware that there is a major problem with this creed and its interpretation by a large proportion of its adherents.

    The local Imams protested *because* they daren’t confront this pair in open debate. They’d rather have us little hobbits shy away from those ‘jarring ideas’ you mentioned.

    • Bully Beef and Chips says:

      +100 Andrew

      RE: hobbits and jarring ideas, it’s interesting to read online comments on news articles, FB etc. – one of the commonest themes is “I had never heard of these two, but looked them up on YouTube, and have found that the PC mainstream media is lying about them”.

      Supporters of Goff’s left wing authoritarianism appear to be very much the minority. They are dodging debate with good reason.

    • Lois Griffiths says:

      To Andrew.. .I haven’t read the Koran but I do know that you can find what you are looking for in the Bible. If cruelty is what you want to find, it’s there, somewhere.
      Jeff Halper , Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, pointed out to some of us that the right-wing rabbis, the Meir Kahane admirers, preach the Torah and the Books of Joshua & Deuteronomy but ignore the Prophets.

      • Andrew says:

        Lois, there are indeed lots of nasty ideas in the Old Testament, but the difference is that no modern Christian theologian is exhorting the faithful to act on those ideas.

  3. Cameron Mackay says:

    You are not going to convince fascists with debate. Racism and intolerance are comfortable positions for them. You not going to be able to talk them around. Forget them they are lost.

    Maybe some on the fence, ‘trump curious’ kiwis can gain something from a reasoned debate with the alt right, but where are these people? I think they are pretty rare. Don’t give them the dignity of civil debate.

  4. Helena says:

    I enjoy these two. I’m subscribed on youtube. Like all good journalism worth listening to, investigating, cross referencing and accepting or discarding…none of which is possible if one has ear plugs watching someone mime.

  5. Keith Locke says:

    Nice free speech blog, Chris

  6. esoteric pineapples says:

    One of the ironies of this situation is that people on the left who have spoken out to say they should be allowed to come to New Zealand and debate in the open have had to risk the ire of those who are on the same side as them

    • cleangreen says:

      Yes EP

      I am firmly on the left!!!!

      But I grew up under the shadow of the last war – (second world).

      Some of our family went to wars, and some never returned, and I have long learned that; – ‘to preserve universal freedom’ is what our heros laid their lives down for.

      So in their memory; – I always remember “lest we forget” in their memory.

      • Archonblatter says:

        I had an uncle who was blown to shreds in a tank in the last war.
        He was interested in the theatre, a member of the Rutland Group and an amateur watercolourist. I learnt years later that he was gay. I wish I could have known him.
        I don’t think my uncle died ‘to preserve universal freedom.’ He died to preserve fractional reserve banking, the U.S. warfare economy, the manufacturing of ‘evil enemies,’ the cold war, and finally, the global ‘new world order’ and the demonising and attack of all and everything which does not bow to this agenda. Distraction identity politics are part of this as is the shadow puppet battle between the rising populist opposition and the ‘new’ liberalism.
        ‘ Reasonable debate’ for the general population can never be anything else now but sound bites and slanging matches.
        Actually, anything which attracts the public to an actual debate however faulty, in a public hall rather than on a T.V. or radio might be the start of a new and desirable trend.

  7. Bully Beef and Chips says:

    Yes, the left lacks the ideas to defeat them. The left is losing the culture war – and they know it.

    RE: Alt Right – which means an avowed advocate of an ethno-state – can anyone supply evidence that they meet this definition? I am familiar with Lauren (but not Molyneux) and I don’t believe she fits the definition of “Alt-right”.

    Southern opposes 3 ignoble principles espoused by the regressive left: unfettered identity politics, rabid open-borders globalism, and the authoritarian repression of free-speech.

    Any true liberal would share her concerns.

  8. John Stowell says:

    Yep, freedom of speech should never be denied. Real debate is way preferable to noisily obstructing the freedom of those we disagree with. It was interesting watching the film Angry Inuit that apparently the leadership of the IFAW would never turn up to discuss the real effect of the ban on selling seal skins on the inuit economy, just in case their prejudices and cash cow might be shown for what they were. You are probably right that these folk would shy away from a real discussion or debate. They belong to the entrenched shouting of insults that characterises so much online communication.

  9. e-clectic says:

    Molyneux is a sleep-inducing obscurantist, if I’m troubled with insomnia I flick over to his YouTube channel – works every time.

    Interestingly, there is some debate in Australia as to whether Southern herself or her promoters engineered her visa application being rejected by deliberately completing her application forms incorrectly. The intention, to create a media beat-up about her visa being turned down.

  10. Aaron says:

    Chomksy: If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.

  11. countryboy says:

    Absolutely fucking brilliant @ Chris Trotter. Flawless reasoning.
    Why are YOU not our prime minister? I know, reasoned and broad minded thinker-politicians turn up to the grave yards earlier than the dumb, bent ones. Such a shame…

    • David Stone says:

      He is far too sensible and self preserving Countryboy . Besides his invaluable contributions to national debate would be horribly constrained by a party line. You would hope he would be elected in a landslide , but he may be more valuable doing what he does, though probably not well paid.
      D J S

  12. OCON says:

    I listened to Goff justifying his stance to not allow these two Alt Right speakers to use Auckland City Council halls for their meetings on Morning Report earlier today.

    I was interested in Goff’s comment that one of Auckland City Council’s strong underlying values was ‘inclusiveness’, which is a fine value – how can you argue with it?

    And then in terms of his own behaviour he demonstrated quite the opposite in that he made an ‘exclusive’ executive decision to ban these two from speaking. He did not consult anyone it seems, he was not inclusive in his decision making (not for the first time either I might add)’ he acted unilaterally and he behaved in way that contradicted his hand on heart sanctimonious comments on inclusiveness.

    Goff’s behavior it seems to me are quite hypocritical.

  13. Z says:

    C’mon these guys aren’t that bad.

    Both are strong critical thinkers with interesting takes on events. I quite like them and disagree with the suggestion that they are racists (for example Stefan compared costs of integrating Muslims in a non Muslim country was many times greater so obviously it makes more sense to do this).

  14. Mjolnir says:

    The neo-fascists can piss off. I’m done arguing with them. They don’t want to learn, they just want to create a vast echo-chamber for their vile hate-speech. No more. We have our own Bob Jones and Mike Hoskings without importing more ferals.

  15. Nahweareallscrewed says:

    Please give us an example. An example of one time: /one single time/ where the fascists were “calmly debated” and it worked. It doesnt. It. Has. Been. Tried. Every time, without fail, sitting back and treating the far right as people you can “show up” only ends up enboldening them. Yes. It sucks that the liberal dream of a marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. It sucks that homophobes and bigots can’t be stopped by nice, reasoned debate. But that is how our society works. The only way to fight is to fight. I honestly dont give a toss about what Goff and co do. But to say that protest – that active, direct, and interfering resistance is wrong, and that all we need to do is have a nice cup of tea with bigots – that is truly poisonous.

  16. Lois Griffiths says:

    Ms Morse and her “fellow extremists “…

    Very derogatory language, not helpful at all

  17. Cemetery Jones says:

    Great move, I think it’s a good idea. Likewise this debate would be great to see:

    “But just imagine if, instead of asking the Minister of Immigration to prevent Molyneux and Southern from entering the country, the New Zealand Federation of Islam Associations had invited them to debate the Islamic religion with a couple of their faith’s most accomplished scholars.”

    Yeah, I think atheism would definitely be the winner of that one.

    • Cemetery Jones says:

      Also, how did I miss this?

      ‘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.”’

      Peter Hitchens cites it as the quote he kept on his wall at university, quoted it at a bunch of befuddled millenials at an Oxford debate on free speech and safe spaces. I’d never heard it before that and attempted instantly to memorize it. Most of what I know about Milton came from the weed smoking scene with Donald Sutherland in Animal House.

  18. Draytonian says:

    Of course society should be exposed to informed opinion based as much as possible on verifiable facts and relevant experience. The only thing we need to remember about opinion based on irrational, extremist ideology is that it creates catastrophy for someone, somewhere every time it is given the chance.

  19. Johnnybg says:

    Never heard of these people, have now, so as Oscar Wilde said “better to be talked about than not to be talked about’; just goes to prove the point that all publicity is good. Trotter accuses these people of having “fake views”. So if someones views do not align with yours they’re fake? Very presumptuous.

    Truth? If you can’t find its illusive nature within yourself, then it will depend of who’s twisted version of it you prefer to adopt.

    Fight back against the vitriolic attack on ‘free speech’ being conducted by the unholy alliance of; shout down identity politic fanatics, PC faux lefties & social engineering economic liberals, neo-liberals & libertarians.

  20. mjh says:

    kia ora Chris–I assume you follow The Standard, and if so you’ll surely realise that free and open debate, even among those who are (at least on some key issues) on the left, is missing, due in part to being editorially curtailed. It is a sad situation. We need open and free debate.

  21. Richard Christie says:

    It’s been a strategic win for Southern, this plays well for rwnjs everywhere. It’s rich fodder for the Alex Jones crowd.

    Regrettably the left show no real signs of understanding this.

  22. Jenny says:

    By the same measure Chris, would you have supported the legal right of Mosely’s Black Shirts to rally in Cable Street?

    Compare England where people refused to allow the Owald Mosley’s Black Shirts a platform, to Germany where where Hitler’s Brown Shirts were allowed to rally and grow unchallenged.

    Liberals and fascists together again.

    But just imagine if, instead of asking the Minister of Immigration to prevent Molyneux and Southern from entering the country, the New Zealand Federation of Islam Associations had invited them to debate the Islamic religion with a couple of their faith’s most accomplished scholars. In the face of the Canadians’ openly hostile reading of the Koran, the Federation could have transformed their assailants’ prejudice into a profound “teaching moment” for all New Zealanders. Rather than the caricature of Islam presented by its enemies, we could have heard the true voice of the Prophet and gained a much deeper understanding of his message.

    Chris Trotter – July 10, 2018

    What a load of liberal bollocks.

    Let me show the ridiculousness of your argument Chris, by transposing the religion of Islam with Judaism and the country of New Zealand with Germany.

    But just imagine if, the German Federation of Jewish Associations had invited them to debate the Jewish religion with a couple of their faith’s most accomplished scholars. In the face of the Germans’ openly hostile reading of the Telmud, the Federation could have transformed their assailants’ prejudice into a profound “teaching moment” for all Germans. Rather than the caricature of Judaism presented by its enemies, we could have heard the true voice of the Prophet Moses and gained a much deeper understanding of his message.

    Kris Trottenburg – July 10, 1939

    NO PASARAN!

    • There are a lot of problems with the Nazi analogy, even overlooking the irony that what is driving the Jews out of Western Europe today is Muslim violence, not the rise of the far right.
      The Nazis had private armies on the streets for 10 years before Hitler came to power, and during that time murdered hundreds of political opponents (mostly the moderates at first, of course). They also attempted a coup in Germany and a coup in Austria, murdering the Austrian president.
      Popper’s argument against tolerating the free speech of the intolerant has to be understood in that context.

    • Ovicula says:

      I was going to ask if Trotter would have invited Hitler and Goebbels to a nice chat in a Berlin coffee house, but you pretty much beat me to it.
      Fascism will be back if we fight it with rules imposed by latte socialists like Trotter. As you say, No Pasaran!

  23. let me be frank says:

    Hypocrisy and self interest are common human failings irrespective of claimed political ideology…surely your not surprised?

  24. Andrea says:

    Thanks, Chris.

    But could those who love to do so have borne the loss of an opportunity to signal virtue?

    Unlikely.

    That’s the state we’ve arrived at.

  25. phillip ure says:

    heh..!..i’d pay money to see that minto/sykes vs. rightwing ratbags match-up..

    and i’d drive down from northland to heckle those r/w bastards..

    of course they should be allowed in to spout whatever shite they like..

    ..and opponents should have the freedom to call them out..

    it could be be a fun nite out..

    • Richard Christie says:

      The problem with that scenario, Philip, and with Chris’s suggestion of the same, is that John Minto is of “ban opposing viewpoints from speaking” /censorship bent.

      Therefore he’s unlikely to partake in such a debate.

      Authoritarian leftists are the right-wing’s greatest asset.

      • e-clectic says:

        “Authoritarian leftists are the right-wing’s greatest asset.”

        Indeed.

      • Cemetery Jones says:

        Actually there’s an amusing subtext to the claims of fascism, anti-Semitism, etc. there; Southern and Molyneux are extremely pro-Israel, while Minto hates Israel so much he’ll go around screeching aggressively through a bullhorn at Israeli female tennis players as and when he deems necessary.

        • Mjolnir says:

          Jones, it is a lie that John Minyo “hates” Israel. Not true. He hates the policies that they carry out against the Palesrinians. Theres a difference.

      • phillip ure says:

        that’s just bullshit about minto..

  26. Jenny says:

    Discrimination based on who you are, black, brown. white, Moslem, Christian, Atheist, is wrong.

    Discrimination based on what you have done or said is different.

    Case in point; Lauren Southern being denied a venue because of her past behaviour and words.

    Martin Luther King Junior put it best when he said, I have dream where people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    By this test Lauren Southern and her supporters fall well short.

    “Green Party co-leader receives rape and death threats on social media”
    Johnathon Mitchell – RNZ, July 8, 2018

    Marama Davidson said “vile” comments about death and rape were made by supporters of the Canadian pair on her Facebook post yesterday.

    “Quite a lot of tears from supporters of the two…some quite vile disgusting death threats to me, my children…some rape threats and people just calling me the most disgusting names and abuse you could probably imagine.”

    She deleted the comments straight away because she did not want the wider public to get offended by what was written.

    But she was now trying to recover the messages so she could give them to the police…..

    ……Ms Davidson stood by her comments on Phil Goff’s ban and said the Canadian pair should stay away.

    To which I say; Here, here

    • cleangreen says:

      If you are afraid of hearing others views; – you have an insecure-unstable belief system.

      “There are none so dumb/deaf as those who will not listen”

  27. Andy says:

    First up, I’d like to personally thank Chris Trotter for supporting free speech in NZ

    I would like to have an open an honest discussion on a number of issues, including immigration, without labeling the teams as Alt Right, “the left” etc

    Is this possible? I hope so

    • Marc says:

      I note the treatment you get here is much more tolerant and liberal when it comes to your comments, while on Kiwiblog any person indicating the slightest ‘left leaning’ view gets shot to pieces instantly by other commenters.

      Perhaps you may appreciate the difference.

      • Andy says:

        I don’t visit Kiwiblog much but I do appreciate that the commenting there is a cesspit

        Whaleoil, believe it or not, is actually much better behaved these day, thanks to some stringent moderation and a more varied collection of authors

        • Mjolnir says:

          If true, Andy, good to hear.

          As for Kiwiblog, their idea of “free speech ” is that even if a comment passes moderation and is published, it can be ‘hidden’ with enough down-votes. Thats not free speech, thats a charade.

          At least TDB did away with up/down votes a while ago. But even with down votes, comments on TD B werent hidden, thet remained in full view.

  28. Rob says:

    No one is stopping them from coming to NZ or speaking here
    Let them sort their own venue now they have all this money from your donations it should be easy to get a venue and sort out their own security

  29. Jenny says:

    “Spreading hate has consequences” Brendon Cox

    So Chris will you also be championing the Hate Monger in Chief’s visit to the UK?

    “Jeremy Corbyn urges British public to protest in force when Donald Trump visits the UK”

    The Mirror – December 22, 2017

    Remember Jo Cox

    Just as the triumph of fascism in Spain strengthened fascism in the rest of Europe and Asia, the triumph of fascism in Syria has strengthened fascism in Western countries.

    “The most notable aspect of Jo Cox’s tragically short parliamentary career was her outspoken stance for escalating war in support of the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria”

    Paul Dixon – June 29, 2017

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-dix/jo-cox-mp-compassionate-road-to-war

    Jo Cox’s neo-fascist assassin yelled “Britain First” as he shot her at close range and then finished her off with a knife.

    <a href='https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britain_First
    Britain First is the British based fascist group that Donald Trump scrolled through their deputy leader’s twitter account, to deliberately pick out white supremacist propaganda to retweet to his 42 million followers.

    Thomas Mair, who murdered the Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox one week before the EU referendum in 2016, shouted “Britain first!” when he fired his gun. Cox’s widower, Brendan, said on Wednesday that Trump “should be ashamed of himself”.

    He accused Trump of spreading hatred and trying to legitimise the far right in Britain.

    Brendan Cox@MrBrendanCox
    Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself.

    10:06 PM – Nov 29, 2017
    74.2K
    31.9K people are talking about this

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/29/trump-account-retweets-anti-muslim-videos-of-british-far-right-leader

    ….Trump has often used his Twitter account to promote dubious figures. Earlier this week, he highlighted a website called MagaPill which promotes avariety of conspiracies.He has also used his account toretweet a Mussolini quote, toshare a postfrom the account @whitegenocidetm and to circulatefalse and racially inflammatorycrime statistics.

    When asked in 2015, he said that he considered retweets endorsements.“You know, I retweet, I retweet for a reason.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/29/trump-account-retweets-anti-muslim-videos-of-british-far-right-leader

  30. Christopher Wilson says:

    Well and good but they weren’t coming to debate. They were coming to deliver their message. It was to be a monologue not a dialogue
    An element of any audience would take on board the message they delivered totally uncritically. That never ends well. It usually ends with some of those without power being beaten in streets. History shows us that.

    Sorry Chris, your version was never going to happen.

    • Cemetery Jones says:

      Not sure about that. From what I can glean from youtube viewing, these events tend to feature a lively Q&A session after the speeches where opponents get into it with them. These are usually the most interesting parts, and would provide the opportunity for anyone like Minto or the NZFIA scholars to have that debate.

  31. Marc says:

    “Imagine, too, if the Q+A programme had set aside an entire hour for a televised debate between Molyneux and Southern, representing the Alt-Right; and two representatives of the New Zealand Left. (Annette Sykes and John Minto spring to mind!) For 60 minutes, New Zealanders could have heard debated the ideas and causes that are currently driving global politics. Alternatively, TVNZ could have set up one of its live “town-hall meetings” at which a broad cross-section of Kiwis could have asked questions of the two right-wing provocateurs.”

    NZ media are PC obsessed and also largely biased towards the establishment, so not a shit chance to ever get such debates on TV here.

    In some countries in Europe, particularly in Germany, they have quite a number of such publicly screened political debates, not only prior to elections (as here), they have a number of them on TV EVERY WEEK.

    The result of the dearth of public debate in NZ is a huge degree of political illiteracy and indifference towards politics. As a matter of fact, most people I ever speak to, have not that much a clue about what goes on in Parliament, what the parties actually stand for, and what government does on a day to day basis.

    Shame really, but Rugby, other sports, trivia and infotainment are much more important, all else is left to the ‘experts’, who spin as they can, so we constantly get shite and more shite, no matter who is in government.

  32. The Americans fetishise their Second Amendment right “to bear arms”.

    That’s their right.

    The fact that innocent students are gunned down in schools and colleges across the US… well, that’s the price of a “free society”, many NRA members would argue.

    But we’re above that. We recognise that gun ownership is not absolute, and not a guaranteed right…

    Because, well, y’know some innocent might be harmed in the process of that “freedom to bear arms”.

    Now about that “right to free speech”…

    It’s relatively safe for white, non-muslim, heterosexuals to be tolerant of the far-right views of Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern.

    We’re obviously not the target of their hate speech.

    But we might be a bit uneasy if we were muslim. Or non-white. Or gay, lesbian, trans… any number of the people they target.

    But that’s ok. We’re white. Heterosexual. And not muslim. We’re safe to uphold those notions of free speech.

    Just as Andre Brevik used his free speech;

    ” Breivik compiled a 1,518-page manifesto, written entirely in English under his Anglicised name, Andrew Berwick, in which he made repeated references to his British links and in particular his links to the EDL [English Defence League].

    “I used to have more than 600 EDL members as Facebook friends and have spoken with tens of EDL members and leaders,” he wrote. “In fact, I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning.”

    ref: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/8661139/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-had-extensive-links-to-English-Defence-League.html

    Now, obviously Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern aren’t going to call for muslims, gays, lesbians, trans, et al, to be harmed.

    No, they’re more subtle than that.

    They just dehumanise them. Vilify them. Paint them as abnormal or a threat.

    So when someone in the audience hears those words, drives away that evening, later visits a mosque and daubs swastikas over it… or encounters a trans-woman and commits an act of violence…

    Well, that’s hardly Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern’s responsibility, is it?

    Just as it’s not the responsibility of the NRA that someone had easy access to military-style firearms and on 14 February 2018 shot to death seventeen students and staff at a High School in Parkland, Florida.

    That’s the thing about people like Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern exercising their right to free speech.

    You don’t know who’s listening.

    • Lucy says:

      Frank I think that is the point. People like these two may be exercising free speech but what happens when someone takes their free speech and acts on it? It is never their fault – someone misconstrued them. Brevik was a major user and consumer of right wing blogs and his acting out did not go to well for the Norwegian people. Speech is the beginning of action so if someone is prepared to say that a group is less than human they are trying to shift the reality. Norman Kirks greatest moment for me was when he said no to the South African rugby tour – you do not reward bad behaviour with feting and praise, this is the same thing. Freedom of speech is easy to agree with when you are not the object of hate!

    • Mjolnir says:

      +1 Frank

      And if we’re going to extend the free speech angle to repugnant, neofascist propaganda, I guess that puts an end to calls for the Israeli embassy to be closed and diplomats to be expelled.

    • Mjolnir says:

      +1 Frank

      And if we’re going to extend the free speech angle to repugnant, neofascist propaganda, I guess that puts an end to calls for the Israeli embassy to be closed and diplomats to be expelled.?

    • Marc says:

      Good points there, Frank.

      They use weasel words, are smart at the way they communicate and try to convince, EDL for example.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EfuJK-l5NM

    • Marc says:

      More to consider:
      ‘The right has weaponised free speech. It’s time for liberals to fight back’

      Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/free-speech-edl-tommy-robinson/

      https://inews.co.uk/opinion/free-speech-edl-tommy-robinson/

      “Be warned. These people have appropriated a central democratic tenet and are using it to break western democracies and snatch away modern choices and rights. They are trying to rescind abortion on demand, to extinguish cross-racial friendships and love and destabilise multi-ethnic societies.”

    • Priss says:

      Like Frank, I tend to be very wary of fr right extremists. When they target a group with hate, violence, and murder, it’s not usually white CIS males and women they go after.

      So it’s easy for us to pontificate on the virtues of free speechwhen we don’t have to put up with the consequences .

    • yabasta says:

      Finally someone states the obvious, thank you Frank. This free speech coalition, and those who will always argue for white supremacists’ rights, are nearly always some combination of old, white and male. They accuse the ‘safe-space’ kids of not understanding fascism because they didn’t grow up with it. But these baby boomer liberals grew up in the Cold War, when the virtues of capitalist ‘liberal-democracy’ were taken as a given, because the alternative was Stalinism/Maoism. But all hegemonic ideologies permeate society in a way that is not rational, including liberalism.

      It should always be remembered that Enlightenment and ‘classical liberal’ values were created and championed by wealthy white aristocrats, many who were slave-owners (such as the founding fathers). They wanted a degree of freedom from monarchy, church, and the ignorant masses. Said values were used to justify colonialism and many other horrors of the ‘enlightened’ western empires. Which is not to say that classic liberal and democratic values are bad, in fact they are often very good. But they should be modified and applied carefully in today’s society, which I hope values things like diversity, safety and positive rights moreso than in previous centuries.

      An absolutist approach to liberal values gives you absurdities and tragedies like the USA’s gun laws. An absolutist approach to free speech is equally dangeous in my view.
      No anti-capitalist should believe in the ‘free marketplace of ideas’. Because like the free marketplace of capital, it is an illusion, and certain people have more power and more platforms than others, and can do more material harm. And these two speakers are not as ‘fringe’ as you would believe. Their dangeous views are deeply imbedded in the White House. I could see them becoming mainstream NZ politics too if we allow them platforms and ‘debate’ as though their views are as legitimate as anti-racism, ant-facism, feminism, LGBT acceptance, etc.

  33. OnceWasTIm says:

    Interesting!
    The problems of the 1st Whurl eh? – The right to be as obnoxious and egotistically-driven as possible versus what’s really important.

  34. Mike the Lefty says:

    The Alt-right’s logical rationalism is a cleverly designed facade.
    Underneath it lies racism, greed, narcissism and boot boy mentality.
    Use of two handsome faces to spread the message is fooling a lot of people as to the purpose of the actual message.
    The subliminal message from them is to hate, to fight and to dominate.
    If that is not worth taking a public stand against, then I wonder what is.

  35. On second thoughts, why is it the responsibility of alleged alt-right visitors to debate representatives of the Muslim community here?
    Aren’t misogyny, homophobia, and antisemitism something any Leftists here have any interest in fighting any more?
    We’re so afraid of appearing politically incorrect and being attacked by the so-called Peace Action Group that we’ll ask people we suspect of fascism to stick their necks out first?
    I honestly think the answer is Yes.

    We don’t need to import visitors to impose censorship here. For example, lesbian feminist Renee Gerlich has had her posts deleted from the Scoop website and is banned from speaking on RNZ because she takes a principled position that current unquestioning acceptance of the right of men to identify as women is a threat to women’s rights.
    Her experience of the world NZ’s leftists have curated makes grim reading.
    https://reneejg.net/2018/04/20/left-the-left/
    Yet Renee is probably the most reasonable, evidence based voice that you will find in what is a marketplace of very confused ideas around gender.
    If the Left censors its own like this, then we thoroughly deserve all the disagreeable visitors who will rush to fill the gaps in our worldview.

    • Cemetery Jones says:

      You are absolutely right about the APA. Valerie Morse allegedly cherished free speech when she went down to an ANZAC day dawn service and burned an NZ flag in front of veterans and their families, but now she wants things she considers offensive banned? Fucking outrageous double standard, and she can fuck right off if she thinks it will pass without comment from social democrats like me who can see she’s a hypocrite and a nutter. Did she really make a stand for free speech when she burned that flag, or was that merely her own hate politics? I’m tempted to say it’s so given that she’s suddenly all for shutting down expressions of ideas she disagrees with. I’ll go and watch this event just to piss her the fuck off.

    • Priss says:

      Renne Gerlich is not a feminist. Just as Brian Tamaki isn’t a Christian.

      For Ms Gerlich to deny others the same rights of gender identity that she enjoys is chauvinism. The same kind of chauvinism that women had to endure in their fight for equality.

      Ms Gerlich may want to become the poster child for conservatives and moral majority-types (her right to do so), but she will not speak for feminism. (Certainly not for me)

      • Mjolnir says:

        +1

      • Exactly my point – the Left in NZ cannot tolerate dissent, even – especially – from one of their own.
        Even from the most reasonable person in the room.
        Fascism is a left-wing trait today. Times do change, you know. The US democrats used to support slavery, Republicans freed the slaves.
        Sides switch sides. Leftism does not mean what you think it means any more, if it cannot tolerate dissent.

  36. Quicksilver says:

    FFS. People’s minds are usually already made up when they attend to his sort of polarising shit anyway. Confirmation bias wins the day.
    You’re unlikely to be a “fence sitter” when it comes to rascism etc. Otherwise you end up sounding just as disingenuous as the smilin’ assassin; “Oh, it’s just a little bit rascist”.

    Chris – you’ve sided with some pretty detestable people in this “Free Speech Coalition”. Their mere prescence should signal alarm bells!
    By providing a platform, you’re doing only that. Not answering the call of some imaginary higher moral law.

    • The Daily Blog Martyn says:

      For what must be the billionth time – is it the billionth time folks?

      It feels like the billionth time.

      Debating these crypto-facsists isn’t about turning them Quicksilver, who have I explained that it’s about Quicksilver?

      • Quicksilver says:

        Sorry Martyn, I hadn’t read your article on this. Just responding to Chris’ piece.
        My point is simply from the politics playbook. The best thing you can do to your enemy is deny them oxygen.

        Look, despite being exposed to numerous sound arguments indicating otherwise, 44-ish % of voters still voted National didn’t they? And that number isn’t dwindling. That’s middle class NZ for you.
        Chris can quote Milton all he likes. He can appeal to lofty ideals of a public with the intellectual and moral acuity to see the ramifications of beliefs such as these. He can line up the best debators and champions of the Left in some sort of showdown with these nutters.
        But just by appearing on TV/web in some sort of organised debate, there will be recruits……no matter who ‘wins’ the argument.
        And that’s all they really want. Oxygen.

        • The Daily Blog Martyn says:

          And the immediate response to the argument that debate prevents recruitment is any platforming provides them with oxygen – but this counter misses the point that these crypto-fascists already have huge audiences online. They have all the bloody oxygen they need, running from this fight isn’t an option. We have a looming economic collapse which will create the economic shockwave that the far right feeds on. I think we should take them very seriously. Watching so much of woke twitter screaming the support of free speech equates to Nazism feels like the ‘deplorable’ moment in Hillary vs Trump – honestly the left are it’s own worst recruitment tool sometimes ‬

      • Jenny says:

        What gets me Martyn, is how quick Liberals and Centrists are to rush to defend the right to free speech for fascists, but even quicker to censor and ban the Left.

        https://thestandard.org.nz/free-speech/#comment-1502309

  37. Andy says:

    I used to watch Molyneux videos but there are so many of them I can’t keep up

    I had a quick look at some recent offerings – why it is best not to smack your kids, why male circumcision is generally bad, etc.

    Lauren Southern, whether you agree with her or not, is actually going to dangerous places and reporting on them, unlike so many of our “journalists” that spend their days making news stories out of Tweets and Facebook posts

  38. peterlepaysan says:

    Being denied a forum does not amount to denying free speech.

    The orewa rotary venue is not council property.

    The speakers would have had many venues to choose from. Why pick that particular one?

    • Sam Sam says:

      Free speech is not the same as property rights because my free speech does not interfere with your free speech. But if I own the venue then I have free speech and you don’t. Love it or hate it this is why we have publicly funded venues so private organisations don’t get a monopoly on free speech. Perspective.

      • peterlepaysan says:

        Goff did not deny free speech. He denied the use of a venue.

        OBTW the visit was cancelled. Lack of interest, possibly?

        • Sam Sam says:

          It’s obvious that those who act against Lauren Southern and Stefan Molenuex severely over estimate there power. Together they’ve got 1mln YouTube subscribers of which only 1/3 are normally active. There’s absolutely zero reason to be scared, accusation that these two can order mafia hit jobs via death threats is batshit crazy. Jezzus. Grow some balls.

    • Mike the Lefty says:

      I wonder if it is just a coincidence that this is the same venue once used by Don Brash in his annual rant about perceived Maori privilege.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Well Mike The Lefty, even if we have a nice, proper government who agrees with everything we believe (which would be hard since we all have varying beliefs), remember that unless you also want to turn them into undead god emperors sitting in a golden office, one day, they will be gone, but the precedent will remain. IE, if we ban hate speech under Jacidna, Simon would be able to pick it up.