Massey vice chancellor Jan Thomas tries to explain Brash ban

After controversially barred Don Brash yesterday from speaking by cancelling a student political society event at Massey University, vice Chancellor Jan Thomas tried to explain this in an interview on Newstalk ZB.

Massey University defends barring Don Brash

Larry Williams: What were the reasons for cancelling?

Jan Thomas: The reason we cancelled was because the students who had booked the venue and had agreed to terms of use had come to us and identified their concerns around their ability to maintain security at the event, and so on the basis of that we took another look at things and based on some things we were observing on social media I became concerned that there was a genuine threat to the safety of our staff and students and members of the public.

And so unfortunately it’s a really tough decision and I don’t like making these decisions but based on the safety of our community I chose to cancel the event.

Larry Williams: Was this more about your personal views though, you don’t like Dr Brash?

Jan Thomas: Ah, I made the decision on the basis of the safety of our staff. In fact the venue had been booked um for some time and the students association, the politics society, had done a terrific job of setting up a programme of speakers who were going to be discussing their particular perspectives on politics. That of course is the mandate of the student association and I supported that and that had all gone through the normal processes.

So he would have spoken along with other current and future leaders of ah the National Party in a sequence of talks past current and future, ah and ah I think that was, these are precisely the sorts of things that should and do happen on university campuses, and it wasn’t until we became aware of ah concerns around security ah that I made a really difficult decision to cancel the event.

Larry Williams: Yes but you’ve also referenced Dr Brash as a hate speaker, with respect.

Jan Thomas: Ah, I don’t think um that I have referenced that as bluntly as that. What I have said was that ah there was an event held in ah the Manawatu here on our campus, ah from ah Hobson’s Pledge ah which ah was particularly offensive for ah particularly our Maori staff, and ah that is not the sort of thing that I would like to see at a university campus. Um that wasn’t ah Dr Brash speaking, um it was around ah Hobson’s Pledge that particular time.

So those sorts of events are events ah where the discussion um moves from being one ah of talking about ah the issues and evidence based ah good rational debate where people are able to speak about um their perspectives on a whole range of different things.

Larry Williams: yes but you’re shutting that down aren’t you? Ah you know being against race based seats on a council is not akin to hate speech.

Jan Thomas: Ah no um and that is indeed a personal political perspective that I have no question, no problem with…

Larry Williams: It’s called democracy.

Jan Thomas: What I do object to is where um speech that demeans or humiliates or silences groups of people based on a common trait. Ah in other words playing the man and not the ball, ah is ah is something that we don’t accept on a university campus, that everyone should feel that they can express their views in a way that is not um going to be subject to being demeaned or humiliated.

Larry Williams: Well everybody except Don Brash.

Jan Thomas: Um ah well as I said we cancelled this event on the basis of security, ah security concerns um and ah it wouldn’t matter who was speaking. If I have concerns over the safety of our community I would consider ah cancelling events as well because I cannot put at risk ah my staff, students and ah members of the community.

Larry Williams: So who were the threats coming from, where were the threats, what were the threats?

Jan Thomas: Ah well the threats were um coming from um you know a discussion that was happening in social media channels, um and I I do want to say that um I think for universities ah we do have to be particularly careful about these things. There have been some really horrible events happening on university campuses around the world violent things, ah and I we never see that in New Zealand, ah however um I and so I’m very watchful for anything that might ah put at risk our ah safety on campus…

Larry Williams: If it’s threats and it’s violence you’re concerned about, you you you have cowered to the threats, haven’t you. What about the police? Did you call the police in?

Jan Thomas: Um well our um staff are in contact with the police. That’s true. And I guess that was part of the difficult decision, do you completely um ah ah a-a-ah you know ramp up ah significant ah security or do you not. And these are some of the things that we thought about  and talked about and I made the decision that I would cancel the event.

Larry Williams: Yes but it’s hard to come to the conclusion that you cancelled this on security grounds, I mean you also referenced Brash’s support for the Canadians Southern and Molyneux, ah all his support was that he supports free speech along with a raft of other academics both right and left. He didn’t support their views, he supports free speech.

Jan Thomas: Sure.

Larry Williams: But you referenced that as well.

Jan Thomas: Um[or ‘and’]

Larry Williams: You referenced the Canadians as well.

Jan Thomas: Mhm.

Larry Williams: Meaning that the possibility here is the real reason for cancelling this is because you don’t like Dr Brash and what he stands for, what he says.

Jan Thomas: Well we cancelled the event on the basis of our concerns for security. I guess um ah ah um we also have a view that ah hate speech is not acceptable on campus, and I think what you’re doing here is linking those two things quite quite clearly, and um ah you know I do stand by my ah perspectives that hate speech is not welcome on campus, um, and neither is ah ah when there are concerns about security of our community. I will um act in the best interests of our broader community.

Larry Williams: Well again who said Dr Brash was going to be involved in hate speech, where I mean where are the examples of the hate speech?

Jan Thomas: Ah well I I am quite sure that Dr Brash would have done what he was invited to speak on and that was his experience as his leader of the National Party, um and…

Larry Williams: Exactly.

Jan Thomas: Yeh.

Larry Williams: You see this is the university’s politics society. Brash is a former opposi…this is what you do. political views. You debate them.

Jan Thomas: I agree. And as I said, this is the mandate of the students’ politics society, entirely appropriate. And the students’ society has acted in exactly the right way, doing doing having these sorts of events ah to raise awareness of different political spectrum…

Larry Williams: Yeah I mean universities are meant to be the bastion of free speech, vice chancellor.

Jan Thomas: And we support free speech, ah but when it um it leans into hate speech where people are being ah damaged as a result of am…

Larry Williams: What do you mean damaged? I mean previously you’ve said at that um free speech is being a tool of colonialism and must be restricted. Where is the hate coming in all of this?

Jan Thomas:  …uuuum, so I I I feel we’re blurring the issues here, that there is ah we cancelled this event because of security concerns. I also am quite happy to stand behind my comments that hate speech is not welcome on campus, and the way I would consider hate speech is ah when hate speech might demean or humiliate or silence groups of people based on a common trait, whether it be sexuality or religion or race or whatever, um because ah that is essentially ah the same as bullying of a larger group of people, and we don’t tolerate  bullying in the playground do we…

Larry Williams: Yeah well ok there’s no evidence that Dr Brash was bullying anybody. I mean even the Prime Minister is saying this is an overreaction. What’s your take on that?

Jan Thomas: Ah yes and I’ve heard her say that and um that is her view but as the um vice chancellor of this university I made a decision, ah on the basis of the safety for my ah the community that ah come onto this campus, and I take that responsibility very very seriously.


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  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  8th August 2018

    She’s an idiot. As an Australian we can forgive her ignorance but not her stupidity. Also she is dishonest. She has to go, voluntarily or be fired. She is too stupid to be a VC.

  2. Gezza

     /  8th August 2018

    Reposted from last night:

    Don Brash Releases Speech Notes
    “Former National MP and Reserve Bank governor Don Brash has provided the Herald with a copy of the notes for his cancelled speech at Massey University.

    Brash was to speak about life in politics at the university’s Palmerston North Campus tomorrow morning as part of a series of political talks hosted by the Politics Society.

    But his speaking engagement was today cancelled after the organisers alerted the university to threats against security and public safety.

    The controversial decision by Massey University added fuel to the free speech debate in New Zealand.

    In a statement, the university referred to Brash as the Hobson’s Pledge founder and supporter of controversial Canadian speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux.

    Brash is also a member of the Free Speech Coalition which was formed after a decision was made by Auckland Council to ban the speakers from its venues.

    But, the speech notes provided by Brash make no mention of Hobson’s Pledge or the controversial Canadian duo.

    Instead it details his political career through to his decision to step down as National leader in late 2006.

    Massey University vice chancellor Jan Thomas today said the decision to cancel the speech came after the Politics Society raised concerns about their ability to meet the conditions agreed to as a result of a surge in interest on social media.”

  3. David

     /  8th August 2018

    The woman needs to go, she is a closed minded bigot and wholly unsuited to be a VC.

    • lurcher1948

       /  8th August 2018

      Sack her because of HER free speech options, the way of the right

      • David

         /  8th August 2018

        I think you may have missed the story Lurcher, yournz has some good coverage if you want to catch up.

      • PDB

         /  8th August 2018

        She is free to speak for herself but not for others, especially when she has no grounds on which to ban Brash – she made up the security threat and her ‘hate speech’ doesn’t stack up.
        Time you woke up Lurch and smelled the dog poo.

        • She came across as very woolly minded.

          We all know an excuse when we hear one.

          It’s a misrepresentation to call him a supporter of the Canadian Trolls; he supported free speech, not those speakers whose views don’t coincide with any expressed by him. I disagreed with him on this, as I don’t think that they were worth it.

  4. Trevors_elbow

     /  8th August 2018

    Appalling…just appalling.

    This woman got the memo about strangling non Leftie approved speech and has gone to far to quickly..

    It is quite obvious that the left are trying to shift the Overtoun Window lift as they perceive they have the upper hand following Jacindas PR victory

    This woman has just gone to quickly and exposed the objective… the Curran doctrine in action.. control the message.. it’s all very Marxist-Leninist theory dress up in Fabian clothes.. but every now and then the zealots forget the softly softly directive and the jackboot of the old school NKVD type approach appears from under the elegant dress

    Police should crack hard on this now. Secure the rights of speakers to be heard… and hammer the try hard leftie agitators who make threats of violence, phone in bomb threats etc…

    Police dont act then a very big chunk of the population is going to come to the boil and nastiness will ensue I believe…

    • When did we last have a bomb in NZ ?

      Or a seriously violent protest ?

      • Trevors_elbow

         /  8th August 2018

        Violent protest occur often.. ask Paul Henry who was assaulted in the last few years by a leftie protestor…

        Bombs been a few but not recently..

        It’s not what has happen but what this antifa trend in NZ is mirroring overseas…

        Inneeeds stamping on now before it deteriorates

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  8th August 2018

          Paul Henry is so obnoxious that he asks for it.

          Not recently ? the last bombing was 32 years ago, wasn’t it ?

          • Trevors_elbow

             /  8th August 2018

            Oh bollocks Kitty… being assault by a yob because you hold right of centre views is not on..

            Frankly you should have a think about your comment and reflect on the fact you condone violence against someone because they are ‘obnoxious’… on that basis you would be black and blue all the time…

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  8th August 2018

          Paul Henry is so obnoxious that he asks for it.

          Not recently ? the last bombing was 32 years ago, wasn’t it ?

          I mean real bombs, not just pipe ones that people DIY.

        • Corky

           /  8th August 2018

          I remember Paul Henry trying to get into a store, and being surrounded by filthy ferals who dealt to him. He also took a teacher to court who burnt our flag. Yep, a teacher.

        • PartisanZ

           /  9th August 2018

          @trevors_elbow – “It needs stamping on now before it deteriorates”

          Yep, it needs hitting hard with all the authority of the Police State …

          For you Miss Kitty – “The late activist Helen Kelly blamed the deadly 1984 Trades Hall bombing on a climate of “anti-union hysteria” promoted by then-prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon …” – Stuff

          There are distinct similarities between that hysteria and this current ‘delirium frenzy’ about Leftie protesters …

          @Corky – “He also took a teacher to court who burnt our flag. Yep, a teacher.”

          Is that the flag you(?) and so many Blueys wanted to change a couple of years ago Corky? Do teachers swear oaths of allegiance in this country?

          “In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of the rights of Gregory Johnson, who had been convicted of violating a Texas law by burning a U.S. Flag. In response to this … the U.S. Congress attempted to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution … The Supreme Court, you see, considers burning the American Flag an act which is protected by the First Amendment RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH. The only way Congress could make such anti-flag-desecration laws pass constitutional muster is to amend the very document that protects OUR RIGHTS. The bill, thank goodness, was rejected by just 34 votes on June 21, 1990.”

    • Blazer

       /  8th August 2018

      settle down trev…’it’s all very Marxist-Leninist theory dress up in Fabian clothes.. !!Bol.

      • Trevors_elbow

         /  8th August 2018

        Ahhhhhh bol… but it very much is as you well know..

        Hiding in plain sight is the best trick…

  5. alloytoo

     /  8th August 2018

    Unfortunately the Fascists have become embodied by the currently government’s behavior.

    A fish rots from the head.

  6. duperez

     /  8th August 2018

    I don’t know if there was a security threat or not at Massey. I don’t know if there was a security threat at the venue in Auckland where those foreign speakers were to speak. I don’t know if there were serious threats which stopped two high school balls lately. A report about the Napier Girls’ High one said, “A mysterious call forced Napier Girls’ High School to cancel its ball, but little is known about who made it or why. … police had instructed the school not to provide any further comment.”

    We live in strange times. The fear of what could happen could see anything cancelled. There might be fear that publicising details of ‘threats’ would lead to copycat situations. Some malevolent, anarchistic creature could create mayhem and havoc stopping ordinary people doing ordinary things. Like going to hear some ex-MP talk about what he used to do.

    • Not just an ex-MP. He is a world-renowned economist who is still sent for to advise in other countries, inc. the US. He doesn’t broadcast this sort of thing, he doesn’t need to blow his own trumpet.

  1. Massey vice chancellor Jan Thomas tries to explain Brash ban — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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