Tyranny of the minorities

Tyranny by minorities has become a big issue around the world.

In New Zealand we have some of this problem, whether it be small bands of online activists dumping on people for speaking out of line on Facebook or Twitter, people leaking private information for political gain, like super overpayment stories, politicians getting heavy handed in legal fishing expeditions, organised petitions trying to strip stupid commenters of their night hoods, or suing petitioners (something only very rich people can afford).

Then we have political blogs that should ideally be open debates of ideas.

On the left The Daily Blog as a forum has always been neutered by what is effectively censorship. The Standard has a record of selective moderation that leans heavily in favour of it’s preferred political messaging, and also allows persistent predatory attacks by individuals and mass attacks as well.

On the right there are two extremes.

Whale Oil was nearly a free for all (albeit with some restrictions of facts alternative opinions) until they had massive purges of commenters leading up to the 2014 election, and is now dominated by psycophants and sock puppets – there’s a lot of comment and Cameron Slater often has a hard time getting support for some of his activism but obvious care is taken to avoid getting silenced.

In contrast Kiwiblog is the least moderated major political blog. This freedom of speech is fine in theory but in practice it allows a lot of abuse and attacks by individuals, much of it obviously designed to shut down discussions they don’t want and to drive away people they don’t want to speak. This can be as detrimental to free speech as site censorship.

An article from Australia: Tyranny of the minorities: We live in an age of mob rule by minorities in which anybody who disagrees with them is censored and freedom of expression is something only THEY enjoy….

ONE of the great lines in 20th century films comes from Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War satire Dr Strangelove. The scene is a nuclear missile control bunker. With World War III imminent, two men scuffle until their boss, played by Peter Sellers, cries: ‘Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the war room!’

That gag came to mind this week when our so-called liberal Left went into convulsions of illiberality after author Lionel Shriver mocked the latest diversity madness. Writing in The Spectator, Ms Shriver poked fun at box-ticking, multi-cultural political correctness at publisher Penguin Random House, which is planning to commission authors on the basis of racial, gender and other quotas.

Such sacrilege proved a timebomb. Tick, tock, tick, tock — KABOOM! Bien pensants, when they heard accounts of Ms Shriver’s article, exploded. They were furious.

As Dr Strangelove might put it: ‘We can’t allow diverging views about diversity!’

No we can’t! At our universities, which are meant to be bastions of free thought, guest speakers are barred for fear they might so much as question Left-wing dogma. This happens to even such distinguished liberals as Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell.

The forces of political correctness impose their unyielding views everywhere.

At Oxford and Cambridge, there are calls for statues of historic benefactors to be torn down because they do not comply with fashionable modern positions on minority rights. At Newcastle University, meanwhile, the students’ union demanded sanitary bins in men’s loos so as not to upset any students ‘with a range of genders’.

There are many examples around the world of this sort of thing. I don’t think it is as bad in New Zealand, but we do have issues and attempts to shut down unsavoury or unwelcome speech.

Maybe someone should have given similar advice to Lionel Shriver. Maybe someone should have said: ‘Don’t mock diversity — it’ll only land you in the most frightful trouble’.

Under this tyranny of the minorities, that may be what you should do for an easy life. But the thing about tyrannies is that they are ruled, ultimately, by bullies. The way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them, as Lionel Shriver has done with such brave clarity.

One of the biggest bullies of them all now is the president of the United States, who frequently and openly lies, and also frequently attacks people he disagrees with or wants to shut up.

He is waging a war of words against a legal inquiry into whether he or his campaign acted illegally leading up to the 2016 US election. His behaviour is remarkable, as is the defence of his behaviour who put their politics ahead of the responsibilities of someone with his amount of power.

British public life is not like Dr Strangelove’s war room. It is a place where the lively conflict of views should be welcomed as an essential part of a flourishing democracy. Freedom of expression has been fought for with blood over the centuries and is vital for liberal, civilised behaviour. No minority mob should ever be allowed to destroy that.

So should we destroy mobs who try to destroy freedom of expression?

Free speech is a complicated.


Note that anyone is free to speak here, as long as you don’t piss me off.

Actually that’s a bit of a self piss take – as much as some have tried over the years I’m not easily provoked. Vi guidelines rather than rules I try to encourage the expression of diverse opinions, and to protect people from abuse and attempts to deter their speech. Imperfectly.

41 Comments

  1. David

     /  June 17, 2018

    The purpose of diversity is to make everyone the same.

  2. Blazer

     /  June 17, 2018

    Freespeech is like the ‘Curates egg’….anyone with the mind to, can argue black is white.
    Its a ‘catch 22’ situational puzzle.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  June 17, 2018

    Since both the Herald and Stuff publish their regulation two anti-Trump columns every day I conclude he is either not all that powerful or not actually trying to shut down alternative opinions. Take your pick.

    • George

       /  June 17, 2018

      Probably cant be bothered as he has a rather large country to oversee.
      But our medias obsession with the man shows their bias and inability to approach diverse views.
      IN A WORD THE FAKE NEWS IS OBSESSED

      • Gezza

         /  June 17, 2018

        Garn. He loves it. It’s always only really been about being the biggest boss in the world & being constantly in the limelight. And the media love it, anything about him is guaranteed viewing & reading. And the time was just right for this outrageous, unreal, reality tv President to be given the keys to the car of some of the weirdest, most easily, cynically & cunningly manipulated citizens in the world.

  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  June 17, 2018

    A real attempt by a minority is the people who want to go against the voters (and the rules) of Dancing With the Stars and reinstate Suzy Cato, who has made it clear that she doesn’t want the petition. I read the ‘why I signed’, and the same old theme keeps coiming up. It’s a popularity contest, which the person who signed objects to. They can’t have watched it too closely, or they would have discovered this when the voting system is explained.

    • It’s hard to believe someone would start a petition to overrule voting on a reality TV dancing program – unless it’s a deliberate publicity stunt of course.

      It’s harder to believe many people would get sucked in and sign such a petition.

      Next thing there will be petitions to uncheat or deimpregnant or reincarnate someone on Shortland Street.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  June 17, 2018

        I don’t believe that it is a deliberate publicity stunt, I think that it’s just a lot of poor losers who haven’t enough to think about. And who must have been too mean to spend money on a 99c text.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  June 17, 2018

          They are like those who don’t vote and then whine because they don’t like the party who have the majority,

    • Gezza

       /  June 17, 2018

      Is there any online petition to ban the making of any more series of Dancing With The Stars, do you know?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  June 17, 2018

        Don’t I wish.

        Please, God, don’t let anyone I know ever be on it again if it is made again.

        • Gezza

           /  June 17, 2018

          It seems to be a magnet for ACT MPs unfortunately.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  June 17, 2018

            Only two, and there have been many more than two made, I think.

            • Gezza

               /  June 17, 2018

              Yes it only seems to have attracted them in recent times.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 17, 2018

              Well, people are invited to go on it, they don’t apply.

              I can’t see how Gilda Fitzpatrick is a star !

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  June 17, 2018

            At least 6 since 2005. SIX !

            • Gezza

               /  June 17, 2018

              There’s never a shortage of people willing to go on tv & embarrass themselves as long as they actually get their faces on the goggle box.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 17, 2018

              Well, one could hardly accuse Rodney and David of that, as they are on often enough, anyway.

            • Gezza

               /  June 17, 2018

              It doesn’t really bother me to be honest as I don’t watch it. There’s so much junk on both tv1 and tv3 I don’t bother much with tv now. I do try and catch the news but I prefer 1ewes’s to three’s sets & presenters.

              The ladies on 1ewes and weather have had to change the style of clothing they wear because they now have to put up with full body shots & the low camera angle made all their calves look bigger than they are. They’re always very stylishly outfitted though. Much better than three’s.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 17, 2018

              I don’t usually watch it, either, but feel obliged to this time, as I did when Rodney Hide was on it.

              One learns to only give it a fraction of one’s attention until a particular name is said. Then it’s turned off until a few minutes before the end.

              I watch 3 because they have a shorter sport segment and I can’t stand 1’s weather man.

            • Gezza

               /  June 17, 2018

              Neither can I but their weather lady is lovely.

            • Gezza

               /  June 17, 2018

              Dunno what the downtick’s for. Must some bloody misogynist. Here’s Renee from tonight’s weather presentation. Not a meteorologist but knows her stuff & is a competent weather presenter. None of the poncy flailing about you get with Dan & she looks great. The 1ewes sets & presenters make the tv3 sets & presenters look drab. That’s not my bloody fault!

  5. sorethumb

     /  June 17, 2018

    “We are pushing this because it is the right thing to do. It’s the only thing to do and Wellington should be leading. New Zealand needs to embrace our unique sense of identity and this is how we can support asserting that,” Lester said.

    His council was future-focused and part of a generation that saw the importance of te reo, he said.
    “It is a public statement of our commitment to the language. An acknowledgement of the mana of Māori culture and values, of our joint history and of the whakapapa of our rohe.”

    Deputy Mayor Jill Day, who leads the Māori partnerships portfolio, said 94 per cent of policy submissions supported the move and this was a strong mandate from Wellingtonians.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellington/104689962/te-tauihu-policy-first-step-towards-wellington-becoming-te-reo-mori-capital

    It is highly unlikely tat anything like 94% _______?

    • Corky

       /  June 17, 2018

      Yet a couple of talkback callers stated they couldn’t connect to the Wellington Council because of a faulty messaging system. Kind of a totem for our age, isn’t it.

    • Gezza

       /  June 17, 2018

      Given you an uptick because that’s great to hear & it’s a cool pic of a frilly lizard.

  6. sorethumb

     /  June 17, 2018

    SONJA DAVIES was only in Parliament for six years. But, she could hardly have chosen a worse six-year period to be a Labour MP. Her time as MP for the Wellington seat of Pencarrow (1987-1993) coincided with the crescendo of Rogernomics and the splitting of the Labour Party. It was not a happy time for the celebrated feminist and trade union fighter, and she was only too happy to hand her seat over to Trevor Mallard and get out.

    It wasn’t just the awfulness of life in the Labour Party in the late-1980s and early-90s that depressed Sonja Davies. As a shrewd observer of both local and international politics, she rapidly became aware that New Zealand was passing through a period of fundamental cultural and economic re-orientation. What concerned her most was how little New Zealanders were being told and, therefore, how little they knew, about the changes that were radically reshaping what it means to be a New Zealander.

    “If people had any idea about the scale of these changes,” she confided to me early in her first term as MP for Pencarrow,” they’d be horrified. It’s been decided that New Zealand’s future lies in Asia. That’s got massive implications – but most people haven’t a clue. No one asked them and certainly no one’s telling them.”
    http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com/2015/07/chinese-whispers.html

    • PartisanZ

       /  June 17, 2018

      “Wit lies in recognizing the resemblance among things which differ and the difference between things which are alike”.

      Madame De Stael

      At the time, given the opportunity for an informed referendum, I wonder how many people would have chosen Asia?

      Remembering that Japan – conquered then improved and endorsed by the USA – had already made massive inroads supplying many consumer goods and busloads of tourists by the store. We showed them eh? We can even turn Asians into Right little Capitalists after our own image!

      How many Kiwis would have gone on appealing to a deaf Britain and European Union?

      What of North America … The USA and Canada?

      Pommie migrants would have been better though … Right?

    • sorethumb

       /  June 17, 2018

      “Complaints about cultural appropriation are not really complaints, they are demands. When Abdel-Magied walked out on Shriver, it was not because of her insensitivity, it was because of her defiance: her refusal to kowtow to the orthodoxies written up by her moral betters, from which Abdel-Magied’s own claims to significance and social status are derived.”

  7. PartisanZ

     /  June 17, 2018

    “Society is unity in diversity”.

    George Herbert Mead

    “A lot of different flowers make a bouquet”.

    Muslim Origin

    • Gezza

       /  June 17, 2018

      And yet many Muslim sects can’t stand each other and in the middle east many are shockingly racist about blacks.

      • PartisanZ

         /  June 17, 2018

        There’s good and bad in every religious sect though, isn’t there?

        Flower arrangers and … suicide bombers … or high school shooters …

        • Gezza

           /  June 17, 2018

          Um … yes … I wonder what it is about religions that makes that happen.

          But, to your question, flower arrangers for me thanks.

  8. PartisanZ

     /  June 17, 2018

    You snowflake majority folks are mighty easily tyrannized …

    • PartisanZ

       /  June 18, 2018

      Might be just the initial shock of being on the receiving end of what you’re so accustomed to giving out?

  9. PartisanZ

     /  June 17, 2018

    Majority of the minorities …

    • Gezza

       /  June 17, 2018

      Minorities often don’t get anywhere unless the majority of the minority agrees to whatever is proposed.

  10. Missy

     /  June 18, 2018

    Pete, pedantic point, the article in question is from the UK not Australia, written by U.K. Journalist Quentin Letts and published in the Daily Mail.