Unconvincing Excuses: What Will the Left Say When the Right Starts Cancelling Its Speakers?

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HERE’S ONE for the “We told you so!” file. Ever since Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff, personally declared Stefan Molyneaux and Cheryl Southernpersonae non grata in his city, or, more accurately, in the venues controlled by his city, the Editor of The Daily Blog and I have been warning that such bans can, and will, be used by authoritarians of all stripes to suppress freedom of expression.

Daily Blog Editor, Martyn Bradbury, also warned that such a heavy-handed example of censorship by the Left would be seized upon by the Right and turned to the electoral advantage of its principal representatives – the National and Act parties. In this regard, he has been proved entirely correct. Act’s leader, David Seymour, in particular, has emerged as Parliament’s most effective standard-bearer for Free Speech – a cause formerly associated, almost exclusively, with the Left.

At the time of Goff’s ban, I waited impatiently for the New Zealand Civil Liberties Union to come out swinging on behalf of this most precious of civil liberties. When no such defence of free speech was mounted from that quarter, I felt morally obliged to throw in my lot with the Free Speech Coalition – the group of mostly conservative activists summoned into existence by Goff’s high-handed intervention. That “coalition” has now become the Free Speech Union, an incorporated society modelled on the British interest group of the same name.

Right on cue, just as the FSU had finished putting on its armour and was in the process of sharpening its sword, the Labour Government released its proposed legislative remedies for “hate speech”. Something tells me that the drums of a full-scale propaganda war will soon be beating on this issue. The government and its friends should be looking to their own harness. The fate of the Left seems likely to turn on the outcome of this looming ideological encounter.

And if the Left loses? If issues like Hate Speech and He Puapua carry the Right to a stunning victory? What should the Left expect then?

One possible version of the future was played out this week in the US state of Texas.

According to the left-wing American publication/website Mother Jones,  two radical historians, Chris Tomlinson and Bryan Burrough, were supposed to give a talk at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin about Forget the Alamo, a new book they co-authored with Jason Stanford.

Written in the same anti-colonialist spirit as our own proudly revisionist New Zealand history curriculum, their book “sets out to dispel the myths of the Republic of Texas’ founding”. [The Republic of Texas was founded in 1836 by land-hungry American settlers seeking to add another slave state to the USA, and to get around the highly inconvenient problem that in the newly independent Republic of Mexico, of which Tejas was still a province, slavery had been abolished.]

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But, when news of this event reached the ears of the Republican state government of Texas, its representatives on the “Preservation Board” of the museum peremptorily cancelled the authors’ talk.

“I think we’ve been censored”, Tomlinson told the media. Texas’s Lieutenant-Governor, Dan Patrick, was only too happy to confirm the author’s suspicion. “As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it. Like efforts to move the Cenotaph, which I also stopped, this fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place”, Patrick tweeted.

Now, if this story is ringing your memory bells, then so it should. In its shape, the Texas incident not only conforms neatly with the behaviour of Mayor Goff in response to the visit of Molyneaux and Southern, but also with that of the Vice-Chancellor of Massey University who “cancelled” Don Brash, and also with the local authorities that denied their venues to the trans-gender-sceptical group “Speak Up For Women”.

Were the New Zealand equivalents of Tomlinsin, Burroughs and Stanford to be denied access to Te Papa by a right-wing New Zealand Government, similarly citing the authors’ “fact-free” re-interpretation of New Zealand’s colonial history, their supporters would be outraged. They would not, however, find it easy to mount a credible objection. Their failure to speak up for freedom of expression in the cases of Molyneaux and Southern, Don Brash and SUFW, would undermine any objections they attempted to make, and expose them to charges of inconsistency, double-standards, and the most rank hypocrisy.

No doubt they would find reasons why “their” case was different. No doubt “progressive” speech must always be considered exempt from censorship. The right-wingers de-platformed by mayors, vice-chancellors and local authorities would all, I’m sure, be dismissed as “hate speech” criminals with no rights worthy of protection. What’s more, in the ears of their comrades such defences would sound entirely convincing.

Alas, in the ears of those who still believe in that classic defence of free speech (customarily attributed to Voltaire) “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” my guess is that the Left’s self-serving justifications will sound a lot more like excuses.

Unconvincing excuses.

 

66 COMMENTS

  1. Well said Chris though it’s far from clear anymore what is left and what is right on a lot of these issues. The feminists wanting to protect women’s rights and privacy or the “trans lobby” wanting in on it?

    The current government seem to be more than willing to place expedience above principle, or perhaps they’ve never thought to, or chosen not to, properly wrestle with the fundamental issues. This business of funding for media was always going to arouse concerns over government influence. They’ve just blatantly gone and done it, bribed the media into compliance with the most important and contentious issues we’ve faced as a nation. What the hell sort of a precedent is that to set?

    “The fact is the issue is not going to go away no matter how much Ardern blusters in Parliament. And, unfortunately for her and the media recipients of government largesse, it is an explosive and corrosive predicament for both.

    Most obviously, it is easily painted as the government buying an editorial point of view to suit its purposes – just as Collins and Seymour alleged. This, in turn, immediately raises suspicions about the media’s independence, with all the dismal consequences that entails for the trust their audiences place in them.

    As Seymour noted in Parliament, the guidelines that determine eligibility for the millions of dollars on offer make it very explicit what position media must take on the Treaty.

    The section describing the fund’s goals recommends “actively promoting the principles of Partnership, Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi acknowledging Māori as a Te Tiriti partner“.

    And the first of the general eligibility criteria requires all applicants to show a “commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to Māori as a Te Tiriti partner”.

    https://democracyproject.nz/2021/07/08/graham-adams-a-question-about-the-55m-media-fund-made-ardern-laugh-but-not-for-long/

  2. Good article, communication is essential for us to have the knowledge we need to make correct decisions & removing the ability of those we don’t like to communicate can only lead to wrong decisions at some stage.

  3. Fear not Chris!
    This isn’t Texas and there is no ‘right wing’ here. National are mostly just wishy-washy neoliberals and ACT are mildly libertarian.

  4. Thanks Chris. It’s a very worrying situation.
    I see the free speech union has made a formal complaint to the Upper Hutt council about remarks made by their Mayor about SUFW. The mayor duly said if SUFW wanted to have a meeting at their facilities, he would suggest they do so in the rubbish bins.

    I would encourage people to visit SUFW website. They have been accused of being a hate group, but a High Court judge ruled this wasn’t the case. Four libraries cancelled their bookings and of course the High court judge over turned that.
    SUFW have been accused of not being a feminist group. But if you go to their website it lists the activism their members have been involved with over the years, including setting up thr SOS service for women who needed abortions (flying them to Australia) when they were illegal in NZ. They are being painted as anti-trans, but from what I have read this isn’t true.

    If you are in Wellington on 15th 6- 7pm think about attending their meeting at the Michael Fowler Centre. This meeting is to talk about a piece of legislation, the gender self ID Bill. It is chilling that four libraries took it upon themselves to shut down these women’s democratic right to meet and discuss a piece of legislation that they believe impinges on their sex based rights.
    Thank you Chris and Martyn for continuing to write about these issues

  5. Chris
    Picture the scene for this TV/FB commercial:
    A dark prison. A new inmate is locked in. He asks his cell mate What are you in for? I killed my wife and 4 children. What are you in for? I mocked some people on social media. The murderer takes a breath….Hmm yes, that’s bad! Screen turns black and words appear: Is this what you want New Zealand to become. Stop Labour and don’t let it happen. Vote National.
    Chris, how powerful would such an ad be! Sad that I would even think like this…..

      • ( @ CT? While your’s was an awesome Post you need to take a leap into the Big Picture. )

        GreenBus Let me help you understand the kraut as I see him or her. TheKraut will be a Machiavellian confederate influencer no doubt deployed by national party watchdogs who will be keeping a very, very close eye on The Daily Blog.
        The Daily Blog is from where revolution starts, from a spark to a firestorm.
        And how might the national party extinguish such inevitable fires of change? By extinguishing them while they’re still little sparks of dissent.
        What everyone must consider is that nationals defence is entirely about money while most left wing people are concerned about the damage that such frenzied greed is doing to our society and communities. The national party have one talent. For calling up a lawyer to ask what best logical fallacy could be used to sway public opinion.
        And since national is undeniably only about money then the question must be who’s money is it then? Or more importantly who’s money was it?
        The national party are all over agriculture like flies on stink. And the labour party are not.
        Why?
        Here’s my answer.
        Almost one hundred years ago two lessor political parties merged to form the national party.One, being money lenders and the other being bankers and both entities were central to Auckland. At that time Dunedin was the largest city in New Zealand because of agriculture and gold. Clearly, Auckland money fetishists being cold blooded needed a warmer climate.
        Today? Nothing’s changed. Auckland parasitises drain our economy while the rest of us must take what we’re given. Including farmers. Farmers recently were given .70cents for a kg of wool on a take it or leave it basis. The same goes for food stuffs and the barrell that fresh produce farmers can be held over is that those farmers produce perishable goods.
        As you can imagine? The last thing the national party would want is for farmers to meld with their left wing service industry providers and freeze the natzo’s out.
        Think of the mayhem that’d cause Auckland and its banker buddies? Ferrari’s ? Two for a loaf of bread and a lamb chop?
        At the risk of repeating myself…
        Keep an eye on this report because something’s up.
        RNZ
        “Who’s eating New Zealand?”
        “If you imagine New Zealand’s sheep meat as a plate of 10 meatballs, Kiwis would get to eat half of a meatball. So where’s the rest going? In the first story in a new series, Farah Hancock crunches more than 30 years of data to find out who’s eating New Zealand.”
        https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/whoseatingnewzealand/446357/who-s-eating-new-zealand
        Who’s eating New Zealand? Who’s completely fucking New Zealand while crippling our primary industry and encouraging the destruction of our soils and water without the kissing more like it?
        Spare a thought for poor old Labour with its pink handed and tender footed approach? They must be going “ What the fuck are we going to do with this terrifying cluster fuck!? Billions and billions have been swindled off into privateer pocketsesssss and now we have to deal with the bizarre spectre of homelessness, poverty and hardship on a clearly super rich few island? Particularly given the size of our population! How the fuck do we tell the people of AO/NZ about that? How do we tell our farmers?
        I can tell you @ Labour. Let the truth set you free? Drop a truth bomb on the fuckers and allow AO/NZ’ers to have a choice finally.
        Or not, and we’ll become a zionist state as the planet burns down around us.
        Boys? Hear that? That’s the truth scratching up your back passage.
        “ If you imagine New Zealand’s sheep meat as a plate of 10 meatballs, Kiwis would get to eat half of a meatball. So where’s the rest going? “
        Fuck the meat balls ! WHERE’S THE MONEY GOING!? Because it sure isn’t going into the scant few 52 thousand odd who grow those balls of meat etc and it’s not trickling UP as it had done to the urban societies who’re in deep, and ever deepening financial shit either.

      • Well Greenbus, what’s going on in my head is that I was just being creative because no matter what you and I think, the Left and Jacinda will push this Hate Speech Cancel Culture Law through. Someone has to stop it happening. Just doing my bit.

    • Keep watching your screens, TK. Wheels are in motion.

      It would, however, be more convincing, IMHO, if the cellmate replied that he was in for beating up his girlfriend. This is because the maximum sentence for male-on-female violence is two years, and the maximum proposed penalty for hate speech is three!

      Otherwise, I think your script is excellent. I’ll pass it on to the Free Speech Union.

  6. Phil Goff could hardly be called a leftie. The Labour party are not lefties either. Are you sure this is a “left” thing? Irrelevent anyway what side this is coming from. Brash, Molyneaux and Southern are grade 1 Racists bordering on white supremacists. I don’t remember too many people crying about their cancelation given the agenda they are always pushing.

    • Please give me some examples that prove they are racist? I see this claim thrown around a lot but with no evidence to back it up factually

    • No mate. If you can’t absolutely curb stomp Brashs, Molyneaux and Southern racist arguments in open debate then sit the fuck down and make way for those who can. It’s so easy to curbstomp them. First make it a voice debate so there is absolutely no room to hide behind texts.

      • “It’s so easy to curbstomp them”
        Well Paddy Gower certainly made a complete fool of himself trying to.
        BTW Sam, you do understand the provenance of that expression? You think it’s appropriate to have as a goal in a debate?

        • Don’t really care what the conditions for winning a debate is.

          If you’re an abolitionist and your definition is incoherent, I have news for you: your abolitionism theory is also incoherent.

          No different than one who wants to abolish square circles.

          Probably best to be coherent about the thing you want to abolish.

        • Don’t care what the conditions for victory is.

          If you’re an abolitionist and your definition of is incoherent, I have news for you: your gender abolitionism is also incoherent.

          No different than one who wants to abolish square circles.

          Probably best to be coherent about the thing you want to abolish.

        • Don’t care what the conditions for victory is.

          If you’re an abolitionist and you’re dedicated to asking questions in order to remain confused, I have news for you: your abolitionist theory is also incoherent.

          No different than one who wants to abolish square circles.

          Probably best to be coherent about the thing you want to abolish.

      • Really can’t be bothered. If anyone doesn’t know this by now, they never will. I welcome free speech but not damaging free speech perhaps named hate speech.
        All this talk of National/Act winning next election because of a discussion document proposal just makes me laugh. It’s good ammunition to mount an attack on you righties (and there is plenty of you on this blog) so please keep it up Kraut, your good self Andrew and all the rest. Dreams are free and nobody can take those away can they?
        Good luck to the righties, you will need it. Countryboy and bert are on the money IMO, and I’m entitle to my say, as are your lot. Happy days.

        • So no one wants to direct me to facts that show that the speakers mentioned above are racist?

          Gee with the bat being set so low as for what passes as “racism” these days I would have thought it would be easy to come up with evidence.

          “really can’t be bothered” sounds more like “I have no concrete proof” if you ask me.

          Interesting that Green Bus likes Free speech so long as it is free speech that Green Bus likes.

          Just more proof of how dangerous this sort of legislation is or will be

          • Southern Poverty Law Centre

            “By far the most disturbing aspect of his move to the far-right is his overt and sustained endorsement, promotion and amplification of scientific racism to his 650,000+ subscribers on YouTube, which has been delivered alongside apologism for Apartheid, the Transatlantic slave trade and the demonization of social justice leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. Molyneux now believes that non-white human beings (like the Pioneer Fund he singles out Hispanics and blacks) are racially and genetically inferior to whites and that this above all other factors explains the present and the past. This is presented to the viewer with a grin and an air of reasonableness. Molyneux’s embrace of social Darwinism and biological determinism sells a manic and apocalyptic vision of the world to his viewers by consistently warning them about non-white immigration to Europe and the U.S.”

            “Blacks are racially and genetically inferior to whites”

            Pretty clear cut to me.

            Are you now suppressing Green Bus right to free speech because you don’t like it?

            • There now, that wasn’t so hard – was it?

              Molyneaux has always been vulnerable to a forensic deconstruction of his avowedly racist propositions.

              That, however, is the whole point of allowing him to make them. Every refutation becomes a learning opportunity. All de-platforming him achieves is the transformation of a racist into a martyr.

              Not good politics.

        • Sounds like a cop out to me, GreenBus. If you expect people to take your statements seriously, you need to substantiate them. What exactly is the evidence that Brash is a “grade 1 racist”? “Grade 1” sounds like you’re putting him up there with Adolf Hitler, Hendrik Verwoerd (the architect of apartheid), and Jim Crow.

          Molyneaux on the other hand is a seriously unpleasant character with some strange beliefs. He apparently believes that giving high-tech farms to black Africans is doomed to fail because said black are too dumb to manage the technology. But instead of banning him, you can confront him with the evidence that sub-Saharan Africans began smelting iron at least as early as Europeans – and what’s more they came up with the technology on their own, whereas Europeans learned it from the near East. So they can’t all be dumb, eh?

          • It’s a grave error attributing a concept like racism to one person; that overlooks the notion that New Zealand is a regional power and if you look at what Jacinda is doing on this front it’s basically the opposite of what Brash said in his Orewa speech. Brash spook about separatism and Willie Jackson in his reply spook about a representation of New Zealand had it not been for colinisation. Personally I wouldn’t mind living on a 21st century pa site with every 21st century amenity available.

            Same goes for Brash if you want him to be racist you have to look at the broader regional context and focuse your attention on the planning going on in Wellington which since WW2 has dominated most of the south pacific.

            As for Brashs motivation you have to look at the people advising him and there words correspond with the actions of the people they represent which is to broadly avoid paying taxes.

            Nobody knows this more than the nz intelligence community because they help organise all top right-wing candidates careers and they’ve been very clear they want austerity for the poor and disadvantaged.

            So our main enemy is the poor and underclass which incidentally is maori but you won’t hear them make that mistake because that will officially make them racist so we have to put up with this moralising argument that a useless-no-help-to-anyone-maori-culture has to westernised argument.

            In otherwords Don Bashes racism isn’t racist and the corruption and brutality towards anything maori is just what people like Brash do to help the maori people be less like a maori.

      • Go to the national library in wellington and at the Treaty exhibition watch and listen to the video of Don Brash saying how the savages didnt even have a proper system and they needed the clever white man to come and save them. Then come back and say he’s not a racist prick.

  7. NZ is in the process of being morphed from a covertly fascist state into an overtly fascist state.

    Expect the best job opportunities over the period of collapse that we have entered to be in the fields of crowd control and protection of gated communities, as the scumbags who gained control of NZ decades ago and their in-power-at-the-moment acolytes work hard to preserve their ill-gotten gains from the hands of the constantly-lied-to and increasingly-impoverished masses.

    And all of this is drama is being staged against a backdrop of environmental meltdown,, energy decline, financial collapse, economic collapse and social collapse….. the natural consequences of decades of corruption and lies and counterproductive policies* in official circles.

    *Counterproductive for society, but generating massive short-term gains for banks, corporations and opportunists.

  8. Maybe not a left thing but totally consistent with the Ardern Government’s secret ideology agenda.

  9. Good points The Kraut.
    Completely understand your rationale.
    What’s scary is this is where we are heading.

  10. Well, in light of what is happening, I concede and stand corrected regards the issues of Molyneaux, Southern and free speech. At the time I defended the move to deny entry to them as I resented their message and found it offensive that long after they had left we were left to pick up all the pieces of the societal damage they may have caused. However I must say also that not many of us saw the Hate Speech laws coming and none of us knew the future regards the Christchurch terrorist.

    That being said, I and others, have perhaps learnt a valuable lesson about the power of free speech as more than just a good ideal and that we cannot just take it for granted because its ‘always been that way’. It is almost surreal to watch what is happening now in our fair but sleepy Isles under this Labour govt, so I must extend my thanks both to Mr Bradbury and Mr Trotter and others who argued vigorously for the rights to ‘speak freely’.

    • Holy crap! A human being that can change their mind in the face of new evidence. Everybody stop and stare and point in slack jawed amazement. I salute you and thank you for making my day 🙂

      • Its easy, if one has seen the evidence, and taken heed of those who perhaps in this one issue have more farsightedness, then it behooves one to take notice. It is to be teachable.

        The cavalry goes before the infantry as the eyes and ears of the generals, and the general is informed by such, therefore to remain bloody minded despite the evidence is a grievous harm.

        It is a small thing to admit error, smaller still to admit ones error and own it, but the test is if one learns from it. Extrapolating, I was aware that in NAZI Germany, a chief method was to close down all criticisms of govt ideology and dissent,…that is the weakness of censorship. Therefore, if adequate platform is given to opposing the odious ideology, so be it.

        But would there have been?

        In light of the woke identity politic, perhaps.

        But the Left have failed miserably for 36 years in the most odious of all : neo liberalism.

        Bury Me in Southern Ground
        https://youtu.be/Hq7Pbu7zaus?t=4

  11. Curb stomp I thought was to stomp on someone’s head in a gutter causing in most cases death?
    Gee whizz.

  12. Chris – this is what annoys people about the position you have taken.
    1.) The left is already well-used to having its voice suppressed – you do not need to imagine, as you have done here, some future hypothetical in which this happens. It already has, over and over again. Think of McCarthyism and of Chomsky & Herman’s decades-old work on the filters that operate within popular and especially corporate-owned media
    2.) Yet the moment there is a suggestion of pushback against right-wing speech – some of which is within a nod and a wink of endorsing the harming other people – suddenly ‘free speech’ gets screamed at us from the right, who now seem to fear some contemporary crumbling of their previous hegemonic dominance of acceptable opinion.

    My own inclination is actually to leave speech alone as much as possible – because it is a swamp that spawns unwinnable culture wars. But you cannot be surprised by people pointing out that your recent championing of free speech is (uncharacteristically for you) annoyingly ahistorical.

  13. It would seem someone else is using my name John to post comments which flatters me as I must have struck a chord.
    But to have my name associated with such dreadful spelling and grammar isn’t.
    Silly uneducated people making silly comments.
    But forgiveness is the preserve of the brave.I forgive you.

  14. The present politics isn’t in any way requisite for purposes. Rising comfort before a sudden, but entirely predictable, ‘fall’. What a soft word for extinction of the species, significant to deathly discomfort for 54-year-old me, and down the ladder for our children and grandchildren.

    Clarkian politics can’t cope with that , let alone true social democracy, let alone democracy. I’m all for chatter but not chatter that thinks it matters. The buoyant birds of words are the best of us, but lets not pretend it isn’t anything other than our best gravestone inscription.

  15. What disturbs me is separate media-feeds. Restriction of speech, I don’t know its significance. Won’t disturb me. Unless I express my anti-Irishness (as a Scot who rather prefers… his brother nation).

    Separate media feeds will kill us dead. I hate the unseriousness of every politics commentary. Will even kill old me early dead, let alone the silly idiots who don’t understand even less than me below me in age.

    ‘Kos it rises up before the 180 degree fall’. I remember the violence of my great grandfather forcing the people’s cause up a slope. Rewarded by being dismissed at 70 for his ‘violence’.

    We are the heirs of reason and we put it all into immediate ‘problems’. Yep, I include Covid in that. 1% deaths for what proportion of our treasure, which we need to deal with the spear at our neck of climate. change.

    Hard to take seriously our survival plans.

    It’s been a mightily good time but it won’t extend to … even perhaps our old age.

  16. What the hell. The voice of the Left have been cancelled everywhere already.

    It is why we have to protest and march in in the streets to get any hearing at all.

    • A good Scots reasoning. However, one must reckon on faulty reasoning in those in power… reactionist’s, if you will,…who use a false moral virtue to hide behind to pass legislation that entraps us all. Such is , what’s happening here with Adern and her govt. Its good in so many ways, least of which is to destroy the neo liberal. Of which Adern is the heir of Douglas. The neo liberal darling.

      Matters not what label nor tag they adopt, … the neo liberal is the neo liberal and must be politically destroyed. In all shapes and guises.

  17. I’m looking forward to a future TDB post about how so many of the cancellations pervading throughout our culture are on parties offering alternatives to the left right dichotomy, offering an ability to put party alignments to rest and build a truly democratic society where we work towards better outcomes for all, not just for those on the left or those on the right. This black and white thinking is called splitting in psych circles. I for one would be relieved to see the press actually recognising the value of bipartisan debate and encouraging it.

  18. If there is one thing I know. That is, the latte left is no good at fighting. They rely on their working-class brothers and sisters to do that. They are soon going to realise that those working-class brothers and sisters are long gone!
    The latte socialist sold them out and abandoned them in a time of need. Housing, Homelessness and Poverty and Health.
    Labour has failed to deliver anything meaningful for them.

    They’re on there own, fuck them I say.

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