The waiting audience are frightened.
Milling around the Aotea Centre to watch Think Inc’s latest offering, ‘Polarised’ the crowd twitch in the cold air of a sodden Auckland night like nervous herd animals sensing the stalk of a predator.
In the wake of the Woke Lefts anti-free speech, everything is hate speech and you’re a Nazi for thinking differently stance over the last month, the people at the Aotea Centre know that at any moment the anti-patriarchy Emerald Stormtroopers of Cntrl Left might pounce with bomb threats and deplatforming censorship because Hard Right journalist and thinker Douglas Murray is speaking.
A young white couple from the North Show break down in tears as they articulate their fear that Giovani Tiso, Valerie Morse & Jessica Williams will be hiding in the carpark taking down car registrations for re-education retribution later.
A rumour rushes through the huddled groups that the Millennial Woke micro aggression policing SpinOff TV has turned up to film and shame those who have come to listen to the discussion.
10minutes of googling what SpinOff TV is however removes any concern or threat response.
I’m being a tad facetious here but after the ferociously bitter free speech is hate speech campaign attacked by the smugly Woke and defended by a lot of rich white right wing guys who don’t seem to give two shits about free speech when it’s not convenient, the need to hear that engagement and debate matters even between opposing political viewpoints is more important than ever before, so it was with a mix of dread and hope that I ventured out to listen to two of the great modern champions of the Left and Right to see if we can at least manage 90 minutes without threatening each other.
What an incredible evening it was.
Murray’s intellect and laser like conservative logic is dazzling and what he argues for and about has depth, complexity and intelligence but the competing brilliance and moral certitude of radical compassion and revolutionary social justice preached by Dr West demands a call to action Murray occasionally matched but never beat.
They both champion free speech, they acknowledged the tolerance of intolerance is actually necessary. Murray has received deplatforming censorship of the Woke and West faced off against the neo-Nazi’s in Charlottesville last year. Both decry the social media mobs on either side and challenged us that engagement and debate was the only way through the morass of smug self-certainty and echo chamber tribalism.
Murray, an intellectual companion of Jordan Peterson, critiqued the subjective definition of hate speech and argued fiercely against allowing personal definitions to create trigger free safe spaces while Dr West called upon people to focus on the hegemonic structure of neoliberal capitalism and the plutocracy of oligarchs to fight true hate speech.
They added to each other and challenged each other while the arguments danced. The audience applauded, and gasped as their own bias was challenged or confirmed. Mihingarangi Forbes hosted the event with a close eye to the recent events of Southern, Molyneux and Brash which gave this discussion a razor sharp proximity to an argument that was still keenly raw for many in the audience.
The floor was opened to questions and angry Wokes and furious anti-Culture Marxists blew off steam with questions framed as insults while the audience booed the extremities of each side to the surprise of each person asking the question.
It was an incredible night that reaffirmed many core values I’ve always held and made me more convinced than ever that engagement and debate was the only way forward and that censorship, deplatforming and simply screaming down opponents based on your own sense of righteousness was how we lose.
Let’s see what happens when Jordan Peterson comes to town.
The next Think Inc event is the brilliant Chelsea Manning, get tickets here.
Think Inc are to be congratulated, it takes courage in the current cultural climate to put events on like this.