This is bad for free speech

There have been overreactions to perceived threats or possible unsavoury speech, particularly from Massey University, but there have also been some concerning reactions.

Free Speech Coalition raising funds for legal action against Massey VC

The Free Speech Coalition has resolved that, contingent on raising sufficient funds, it will be issuing legal proceedings against the Vice-Chancellor of Massey University.

Free Speech Coalition member Melissa Derby says, “Massey University’s action in barring Don Brash raises very similar legal and ethical issues as Auckland Council’s ban on Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux from Council-owned venues. In both bases, an authority has used threats of disruptive protest as an excuse to shut down contentious speech. This is the thug’s veto in action.”

“Vice-Chancellor Jan Thomas’ ‘security concerns’ appear to be a ruse to obscure her real motivation – her personal distaste for Don Brash’s opposition to Maori wards on councils, a view she describes as ‘dangerously close to hate speech’, in addition to his support of the speech rights of the recent Canadian visitors.”

“This is a disgraceful breach of the University’s own charter and mission to “promote free and rational inquiry”, and sets a dangerously low bar for ‘hate speech’.”

There has been plenty of speech condemning Massey’s action. Surely that is sufficient in addressing a free speech issue.

Legal proceedings would be an extreme reaction, and I don’t see how it will enhance free speech. It could easily do the opposite, with councils and universities limiting opportunities to speak to avoid legal actions and expenses – it would be easier to just not allow events that could create controversy.

Don Brash and political lobbyists and activists are involved in the Free Speech Coalition, which has raised suspicions about their motivation.

The idea isn’t new. From December 2007:  Democracy Attacks Back

The Free Speech Coalition has launched a billboard campaign today against the parties which voted for the Electoral Finance Act.

“The Electoral Finance Act was correctly labeled by the New Zealand Herald as an “Attack on Democracy” so we think it is fitting that Democracy should attack back.” Said spokesperson David Farrar

Three billboards are initially going up. One in Auckland targeting Helen Clark, one in Tauranga for Winston Peters and one in Wellington for Peter Dunne. They are a clear statement that we regard their legislation as anti-democratic and unconstitutional. MPs are there to serve the public, not to silence the public.

Labelled David Farrar’s billboard disaster:

David Farrar’s campaign is supported by dozens of donors, including some heave hitters like former national leader Don Brash…

Farrar was not initially involved this time, but he is now on board:  Free Speech Coalition here to stay

I was busy enough as it was. I have a 20 month old boy to co-parent. I have a polling company to run. A (taxpayers) union to govern. A blog which needs five to ten articles a day plus I am already involved in three campaigns on topical issues. More than enough.

So when the  Coalition was formed around Phil Goff’s stupidity, I didn’t join. Hell, I didn’t even donate. I blogged a couple of articles in support, but was really happy to leave this fight to others.

But having the Massey Vice-Chancellor ban a former leader of the National Party (and one of my former employers) from speaking on campus has shown this issue is too important to leave to others. So I have joined the , and urge others to do the same.

I support the legal action as it should result in a good precedent. But I think we need more than this. I plan to propose to the Free Speech Coalition (they may agree or disagree) that the FSC launches a Boycott Massey Campaign.

This includes some suggestions that concern me.

3. Target secondary school students by urging them not to study at Massey…

4. Target their donors. The Massey University Foundation has members such as Tony Ryall and John Luxton. See if they will suspend involvement until the ban is lifted as surely they can’t in good conscience fundraise for a university that bans one of their former leaders. Contact the major donors listed…and ask them to refuse to give further until the ban is lifted.

5. Target the rating agencies. Write to QS World Uni Rankings, Top Universities and the Times Higher Education Rankings and inform them of what Massey has done.

This is going much further than a contest of speech. Farrar is suggesting that Massey be attacked financially and educationally.

I have serious concerns about enrolment and financial threats. This is going much further than a debate in free speech. This sort of approach, including threats against businesses, has been tried before, and I think it’s a slippery slope.

It’s a bit ironic when a ‘free speech’ coalition becomes focussed on financial costs.

Whale Oil:  FSC vs Massey

Considering the Coalition raised $50,000 in just 24 hours for its action against Phil Goff, members of the University Council ought to be nervous. Perhaps they could cut a deal – sack the VC in exchange for avoiding legal action.

Pressure to have people sacked is another insidious slippery slope. Demands that politicians be sacked are common and usually unjustified overreactions. Demands and pressure to ask university employees or any employees involved in speech debates is abhorrent to me.

Escalating debates over free speech to legal and livelihood threats is worse than threats to opportunities to speak, which are just words.

 

46 Comments

  1. lurcher1948

     /  August 11, 2018

    The end game isn’t free speech,but to get the National party back into power,

    • Corky

       /  August 11, 2018

      It’s war, Lurchy. In case you haven’t noticed, people like me are under attack. We are fighting back. Casualties are a given. Like I told you yesterday, we need scalps, and we need them fast before the enemy can regroup.

      Anyway, Massey is more a Polytech than a University. It should have its University status removed along with Jan Thomas.

  2. sorethumb

     /  August 11, 2018

    The Heterodox Academy gets to the heart of the issue.
    https://heterodoxacademy.org/

    But politicians should make sure we have balance in the universities rather than exclusion.
    Hungary has just banned gender studies but Breitbart says that is dumb: they should be laughed out.

    • phantom snowflake

       /  August 11, 2018

      Haha I just love ironically-named organisations! Heterodox! A Conservative Think Tank that is unconventional, aberrant, rebellious! Given to you by the same people who hijack the term ‘fascist’ and throw it at the left. Talk about Doublespeak!

      Laurie Penny:
      Let us remember, then, that in the violent psychodrama going on in their own minds, modern reactionaries, almost to a man, think that they are the hero. They think they’re the plucky underdog. They continue to think this even with their tiny-fingered mascot bellowing over the White House lawns and their agenda ascendant around the world, and I know, I know it makes no sense. But dogma doesn’t have to. And one of the articles of faith uniting all our modern proto-fascists, crypto-fascists, baby-fascists, whining 4chan fascists, and the growing number of fascists for whom any sort of prefix is redundant is that they all think they are rebels.
      https://thebaffler.com/war-of-nerves/you-are-not-a-rebel

  3. robertguyton

     /  August 11, 2018

    What admirable people.The stench of political opportunism is rivalled only by the background reek of dirty politics; the ol’ crew’s back in action!

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 11, 2018

    What should you do when a university is run by an ignorant, stupid, lying Lefty bigot supported by a spineless slanted University Council?

    Send your students elsewhere and don’t give it money? Or take legal action to overturn her bad rulings?

    • lurcher1948

       /  August 11, 2018

      Know the free speech, BULLIES
      Dr. Michael Bassett – Former Labour Party Minister
      Dr. Don Brash – Former leader of the National and ACT Parties, and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
      Ashley Church – Business Leader
      Dr. David Cumin – Senior Lecturer University of Auckland
      Melissa Derby – University of Canterbury Academic
      Stephen Franks – Lawyer
      Paul Moon – Professor of History Auckland University of Technology
      Lindsay Perigo – Broadcaster
      Rachel Poulain – Writer
      Chris Trotter – Political Commentator
      Jordan Williams – Lawyer

      Don’t toe the line
      WE WILL SUE and get you SACKED for”free speech”

      • Corky

         /  August 11, 2018

        A list of people who ” have a pair.” Some strong personalities in that list.Eventually infighting may occur. Let’s hope not before they have made some gains.

        • lurcher1948

           /  August 11, 2018

          This is what will happen if the rightwing National party ever get back into power,”ITS THE NATIONAL PARTIES WAY OR THE HIGHWAY” and a national party leaders picture in every house or off for rightwing re,education

          • Missy

             /  August 11, 2018

            I think you are confusing right and left there Lurcher. It is those on the left who are saying only their way is the correct way and are wanting to stop anyone they disagree with.

            It is traditionally left wing authoritarian Governments that require pictures of their leaders in homes, and it is the left wing that talk about re-education.

            Those on the right believe in personal freedoms, liberty, and individuality, they do not want everyone to be the same – only the left want that.

            • Blazer

               /  August 11, 2018

              talk about regurgitating propaganda..although the right apparently want to bomb those who are jealous of freedom and democracy…to liberate ..them,and show them the error of their ways.

      • Missy

         /  August 11, 2018

        Free Speech bullies? How terrible for you Lurcher that you may be exposed to an opinion or view you disagree with, and how childish to call those who are promoting – and fighting for – diversity of views being heard bullies. It is almost like you are threatened by ideas that differ to your own.

        Just who are the bullies, those fighting for a variety of diverse opinions to be held, or those that are using intimidation and threats of violence to stop a view they don’t like being heard? Violence and intimidation, and threats of, to stop views you disagree with being heard, is how authoritarian regimes operate Lurcher, labelling people bullies because you don’t like that they have a different view is what authoritarianism is all about.

        Should we only be allowed one view in NZ Lurcher? are you advocating for control of our thoughts, opinions, and views to ensure they all align with what you find acceptable, and stopping anything that may challenge your world view?

    • lurcher1948

       /  August 11, 2018

      Says it all, in words that the uneducated right can understand(i hope)
      https://t.co/3PejEcYDEY

  5. David

     /  August 11, 2018

    She should be fired she has shown to be wholly inappropriate and unsuited to run a university. No platforming Universities in the US where all this started from have suffered big drops in enrollment and its does devalue the qualifications issued by them, she is likely to fail on the two most important aspect of her job.

  6. duperez

     /  August 11, 2018

    It’s a hard life working your guts out governing a (taxpayers) union. Working out which profligacy to deal with and how must be taxing after the years of not having to do it because there was none.

    Presenting us with free speech, on top of the job of manipulating and massaging messages, must be burdensome. Is there a Givealittle page where we can donate to David Farrar?

    His mission of fomenting community disquiet must take a lot out of him. What a martyr.

  7. -D

     /  August 11, 2018

    I don’t believe the Free Speech legal action, if it goes ahead, is intended to intimidate as much as to obtain a High Court ruling re the applicability of the Human Rights Act clause:

    57 Educational establishments
    (1) It shall be unlawful for an educational establishment, or the authority responsible for the control of an educational establishment, or any person concerned in the management of an educational establishment or in teaching at an educational establishment,—
    (a) to refuse or fail to admit a person as a pupil or student; or
    (b) to admit a person as a pupil or a student on less favourable terms and conditions than would otherwise be made available; or
    (c) to deny or restrict access to any benefits or services provided by the establishment; or
    (d) to exclude a person as a pupil or a student or subject him or her to any other detriment,—
    by reason of any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination.
    (2) In this section, educational establishment includes an establishment offering any form of training or instruction and an educational establishment under the control of an organisation or association referred to in section 40.
    21 Prohibited grounds of discrimination
    (1) For the purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are:
    ………
    (j) political opinion, which includes the lack of a particular political opinion or any political opinion:

    There are similar legal requirements in Massey’s university charter.

    Such a rulings, which ever way they go, would go long way to clarify future situations as may arise..

  8. lurcher1948

     /  August 11, 2018

    Could this be classed as hate speech? in its little mind its the truth,to someone else its a knuckle dragging rightwing hate speaker
    “Very low IQ Australian leftist. How in Gods name did someone so obviously dumb get to be VC of a University. In the real world she wouldn’t be elected dog catcher”
    so in its mind its far superior in intellect and HATES the person it thinks is stupi, so its HATE SPEECH from a nearby rightwing blog.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  August 11, 2018

      No evidence of hate there, Lurch. Just well-justified contempt for her ability to do her job.

    • Missy

       /  August 11, 2018

      Ah, typical lefty, re-defining something to stop people criticising anyone they agree with.

      Be careful Lurcher, if you think that is hate speech then I am sure that amongst your posts here will be a lot of examples that could be re-defined as hate speech. Remember that these things go both ways.

  9. Trevors_elbow

     /  August 11, 2018

    Gee Pete… the list Farrar put up as a brain dump clearly stated he didn’t think they were all good ideas…

    The list though is effectively picking up the tactics of the Left and using them against the Left

    Our Unis are Leftie run degree farms in large parts churning out leftie indoctrinated drones for the cause… (borrowed Gezzas rod there)

    • Gezza

       /  August 11, 2018

      borrowed Gezzas rod there)

      😳

      Wot? 😕

      • Gezza

         /  August 11, 2018

        (That’s not my downtick, Trev. I haven’t a clue what you mean there so I haven’t bothered to form an opinion.)

  10. Missy

     /  August 11, 2018

    When one side of the political debate (in this case the left) spend years bullying and intimidating people to shut down speech they don’t like, when they target the livelihood of those they disagree with, and when they target the financial well being of businesses and organisations that give jobs or a voice to those they disagree with, then they should not be surprised when their political opponents use those tactics against them.

    I am not saying it is right – it isn’t – but what David Farrar is advocating is nothing different to what is done regularly by those on the left when they disagree politically with someone.

    The Free Speech coalition is using the Law to challenge the decision of Massey, they do not appear to be advocating any form of direct action. There is nothing wrong to challenge a decision through the courts if you believe it contravenes laws and/or regulations.

  11. Gezza

     /  August 11, 2018

    I think if the Free Speech Coalition want to spend their money on this, let ’em. Not sure that it’ll do them much good in the long run. Brash wasn’t exactly “banned” & that’s what the Court will have to decide. It’ll cost the university money to defend it. So I guess if they want to beat them up financially they will.

    But it may cause many centre, non-political or left-leaning folk who were happy to criticise the VC to turn against the coalition because this seems so over the top. In my mind Massey is now not the university to encourage your kids to go to unless it’s the only uni running the course they need or the only uni you can afford to go to. Jan Thomas kicked a massive own goal here.

    But whatever the Court decides, she also set up the template to do it again – by making it clear that threats of massive protest will be enuf to cancel a lecture or speech on health & safety & security cost grounds. I don’t think a Court will interfere with that right. Even if it holds that this time there was no credible threat, which I suspect it won’t.

    There was a protest by the students who wanted the speech to go ahead. Jan Thomas has made an ass & a liar of herself, & Massey now looks like a university which has no capacity for reasoned debate & is scared of discussing alternative views. What I’m looking for now is university with the guts to host a debate between Don Brash &, say, Lizzie Marvelly &/or a couple of others on each side – on Don’s favourite topics – e.g. bashing the Treaty settlements, or Maori language & culture. Let’s get it out in the open.

    I reckon he’ll lose. Big time.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  August 11, 2018

      So the topic for debate: Time to Bury the Treaty?

      I nominate Winston for Brash’s team.

      • Gezza

         /  August 11, 2018

        If he wants to take part he has to be on the opposing team.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  August 11, 2018

          Nope, you just know you lost the debate.

          • Gezza

             /  August 11, 2018

            Nope – I just liked the idea of Winston doing a total 180 because he’s so expert at that 😀 . See my comment below.

        • Gezza

           /  August 11, 2018

          No – scratch that idea. I’ve listened to the introduction of two Treaty Settlement Bills. I would like to see the current & the last Treaty Negotiations Ministers speak to oppose that motion. I’d ask Maori to please let them. Their speeches tell the stories of what happened & what the crown now acknowledges are the wrongs & harms these settlements seek to redress & they are bloody powerful. And they come from Pakeha to Maori AND Pakeha. In the language Pakeha and Maori all understand.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 11, 2018

            You still lose the debate because the affirmative says the settlements are the end of the matter and now we are one people.

            • Gezza

               /  August 11, 2018

              They haven’t even had the farkn debate yet !
              Don’t be a plonker.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 11, 2018

              Just pointing out you’ve lost again.

            • Gezza

               /  August 11, 2018

              Oh. Ok, you win. Here’s your Plonker’s Cup 🏆

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 11, 2018

              Thanks. I’ll give it to Marvelly. She’ll need it to keep her victimhood in.

            • Gezza

               /  August 11, 2018

              Sounds good. Let me know the day & time & I’ll notify TV1 & TV3.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  August 11, 2018

              I thought that her victimhood was part of a cloak that she wore all the time.

  12. Kitty Catkin

     /  August 11, 2018

    Mr and Mrs Ker had three sons.

    Their names were Wanden, Plondel and Austin.

    They all had nicknames; Wan Ker, Plon Ker and Stin Ker.

    • Gezza

       /  August 11, 2018

      We used to call Austin Sting.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  August 12, 2018

        Thank you for that.It’s spelt Stin, but pron. sting, not stinn. . there’s another family member called Shir(ley).

  1. This is bad for free speech — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition