As predicted the “big blunder” at Massey may help free speech

On 7 August when Massey University vice-chancellor cancelled a student political event to prevent Don Brash from speaking I suggested that Massey’s Brash ban may help free speech:

…today when the Vice Chancellor of Massey University banned Don Brash from talking there there has been as near to universal concern and condemnation – and for good reason.

It is an alarming attempt to restrict speech – but this may turn out to be a good thing. It may be the overstep that is needed to encourage a decent debate about who should determine what sort of speech should be effectively censored.

Now Bryce Edwards writes Free speech has been strengthened at Massey

The attempt by the head of Massey University to ban Don Brash from speaking on campus last month has entirely backfired. Instead of Brash being undermined by her actions, it now looks like Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas is in danger of losing her position. What’s more, her actions have ended up reinforcing academic freedoms on campus.

He quotes from a Newstalk ZB interview with history professor Peter Lineham:

“I think it is a big, big blunder… this has put the university in a very bad light” and in terms of the university staff, “I think most people are uneasy about the decision”.

Lineham explained how the Academic Council met yesterday and “grilled” their boss. He gives an idea of how Massey staff feel, saying there was “intense discussion at Academic Board, because she seemed to have started off being very determined to find some way or other to stop Don Brash’s visit, and then retreated from it, and then up came the safety issue, which I think had it been looked at in the cold and hard light of day didn’t really amount to much.”

Perhaps Lineham’s most important point in the interview is about how campus free speech has actually been strengthened as a result of the Brash-ban debacle:

“I think we have recovered free speech a bit because this controversy has strongly marked the New Zealand campuses by the fact that vice chancellors – and this is happening throughout the world – cannot play nanny to the students. That’s a ridiculous role. The students can choose who they want to listen to, and can have whatever views they want. And I think this particular incident has made every vice chancellor realise that they need to keep their hands out of deciding what students should listen to.”

I hope that is the outcome of what was initially a debacle at Massey. I’m not sure it has been put to the test yet. That may happen next month when  Brash has been invited again to speak to students at Massey.

University staff are now openly signalling their unhappiness with the Vice Chancellor (who is akin to a chief executive). Deputy pro-vice chancellor Chris Gallavin has been speaking publicly about staff feelings. Appearing on RNZ yesterday he said:

“There is significant worry, and perhaps even distrust if not anger in the minds of many Massey University staff, that they may have been told an untruth or at very least not the whole story” – see: Don Brash cancellation: Censure motions against vice chancellor.

Gallavin explains the motions that academic staff are considering against Thomas, which will be voted on next month. The RNZ article reports: “Professor Gallavin said he had never heard of a board passing a censure motion against a vice-chancellor and it would send ‘a strong message’ to the Council about the staff’s ‘disappointment’.”

It should also send a strong message to other vice-chancellors and universities.

“Whether she should resign really revolves around that question as to whether she still has the trust and confidence of the staff”.

Should Thomas be pressured to resign? It would be a tough outcome for her, she is just one of a number of people who have tried to restrict free speech on campuses.

But I think a resignation or sacking would be a positive for free speech.

There would probably be a public down side, as it would encourage some to push harder for other resignations and sackings if a university official or academic sought to restrict or adversely influence free speech.

On the plus side, it would send a strong and clear message to universities that free speech is important and matters, especially in universities.

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34 Comments

  1. artcroft

     /  September 21, 2018

    Breaking News: Massey VC Jan Thomas states “While I still whole heartedly support free speech Don Brash will not be allowed to speak at Massey”. However Jan is now organising a book burning for that afternoon instead. Ms Thomas is quoted as saying “if students purchase a copy of Don’s book Hollow Men and bring that to the uni on Monday, we can all join in a good old fashioned book burning followed by tea and scones”.
    The newly established Massey Dept of Propaganda is hosting the event.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  September 21, 2018

      I’ve been warning New Zealand for yonks this type of scenario would happen should the number of Righties in this country fall below critical mass.

      Those bullets are ricocheting and coming back to roost , Arty.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  September 21, 2018

        How did you ‘warn New Zealand’ and how do you expect to keep numbers of righties up ?

        What did you expect the result of these warnings that you claim to have made to be ?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 21, 2018

          And did you believe Artcroft’s story or have the sense to think that it might be a satire on the issue ?

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 21, 2018

            The PDTs seem to have taken it seriously and literally.

            10/10, Art, for a great piece of satire.

            Reply
  2. The debate isn’t over yet:

    That suggests that Thomas’ banning and comments were far from isolated views and actions.

    Reply
  3. PartisanZ

     /  September 21, 2018

    So … in the wildly pendulum-swinging world of modern-day polarized politics, perhaps Jan Thomas had to go too far to find out what too far was … or to find out how far too far too far was … ?

    This is an entirely new thing in human behaviour.

    In this case it prevented a White Superiority, Race-Fear-and-Hatred advocate from having his “freedom of speech” on one occasion … It prevented he too from arguably going too far yet again …?

    Meantime, the world goes on … and the inexorable stream of its travel in Aotearoa New Zealand is recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the ‘racial difference’ hence biculturalism inherent therein …

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  September 21, 2018

      “In this case it prevented a White Superiority, Race-Fear-and-Hatred advocate from having his “freedom of speech” on one occasion”

      Proof of Brash being what you describe? Your lies tell us more about you then it does about Brash. Personally I think he generally isn’t that interesting or worth listening to most of the time but labelling him a racist, especially a ‘white supremist’ is utter nonsense.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  September 21, 2018

        It’s the same as ‘proof’ of race-based privilege and Maori elitism PDB … I doubt there is any?

        My (what you call) “lies” about Brash are actually only my opinion … which I accept as such

        For instance, it’s based on my perception and deduction that when Brash says “One Law for All” he means One English or White Law for All … One Language … English …

        Does Brash accept that his opinion of Sir Tipene O’Regan, Ranginui Walker and the so-called Maori Elite is just his opinion, nothing else?

        Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  September 21, 2018

        Again with the accusation of lying, PDB. Is that a thing with you?

        Reply
    • artcroft

       /  September 21, 2018

      You can not be serious.

      Reply
    • artcroft

       /  September 21, 2018

      “So … in the wildly pendulum-swinging world of modern-day polarized politics, perhaps Jan Thomas had to go too far to find out what too far was … or to find out how far too far too far was … ?”

      Your ideas suggest free speech is a vice to be prohibited not a virtue to be upheld. Sad.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  September 21, 2018

        Freedom of speech is a virtue to be upheld … along with the virtue of responsible speech …

        IMHO Jan Thomas acted irresponsibly on this occasion …

        IMHO Don Brash acts irresponsibly all the time …

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 21, 2018

          The accusations didn’t sound like opinions, they were very specific and ludicrously inaccurate.

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  September 21, 2018

            Well if my “accusations” don’t sound like opinions Miss Kitty, what do they sound like?

            Assertion of facts?

            Of course they’re opinions … Just like it is your opinion they are very specific and ludicrously inaccurate …

            I join Hone Harawira and near-countless other Maori in labeling Hobson’s Pledge and that ‘stable’ of websites and [mostly] pseudo-blogs as “Race-Fear-and-Hatred” groups …

            IN MY HUMBLE OPINION that’s what they are …

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 21, 2018

              They sound like slanderous, libellous attempts to smear someone by attributing stated beliefs to someone who has never held or stated these ideas.

              You stated them as if they were facts, which they are not.

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 21, 2018

              In the current and largely irrelevant public debate about race-relations, Te Tiriti and biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand – focused as it is on fear of racial difference being enshrined in Law in a country where racial difference is enshrined in the very foundation of our Law – who throws around the word “Apartheid” most often?

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 21, 2018

              I don’t know why I’m continuing this with you Miss Kitty … surely “opinion” is self-explanatory?

              Firstly, Don Brash is hardly likely to admit to race-fear-and-hatred or racial fear-and-prejudice, is he?

              IMHO – this being once again opinion – he is unlikely to even be aware of it himself …

              I imagine he feels a fear of Maori self-determination rather like a parent might feel when their child first crosses the road by themselves … I think this stems from a Pakeha obsession with controlling the Maori-Pakeha relationship …

              To me Brash’s words and actions continually belie race-fear-and-prejudice …

              “For Päkehä to gain legitimacy here, it is they who must place their trust in Mäori, not the other way around … sorting out a process of
              negotiation which is driven by the principles underpinning tikanga, a process which Päkehä do not control.

              There is no doubt that many Päkehä will find this challenging: their obsession with control over the Mäori-Päkehä relationship to date could almost be categorised as a form of compulsive disorder. Giving up such control requires a leap of faith on the part of Päkehä.

              In my view, however, nothing less will suffice if they truly want to gain the sense of belonging they so crave, the sense of identity that until now has proven so elusive.

              This may seem rather intimidating to a people more used to “putting
              down new layers of hypocrisy” than confronting their most deeply-held
              prejudices and fears.”

              – Ani Mikaere – Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture 2004 (partly in response to Brash’s Orewa Speech) …

              “Putting down new layers of hypocrisy” is another excellent way to describe the activities of Brash and his ilk …

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 21, 2018

              Saying that someone is a White Supremacist is not an opinion; someone either is that they are not.

              Saying that someone advocates Race-Fear and Hatred isn’t an opinion; it’s a statement which is supposed to be a fact.

              Don Brash is not a White Supremacist (he was married to a Chinese woman) and he doesn’t advocate Race-fear and Hatred.

              These are not opinions, because you must be aware that they are lies.

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 21, 2018

              “incites” then Miss Kitty … He incites race-fear-and … perhaps not hatred … but certainly prejudice …

        • artcroft

           /  September 21, 2018

          As long as its my side that polices responsible speech. I agree with you.

          Reply
  4. PDB

     /  September 21, 2018

    The extent this woman took in order to stop Brash speaking is unbelievable;

    https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2018/09/the_massey_free_speech_timeline.html

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 21, 2018

      Unfortunately entirely believable and reprehensible. Refer to the description of her I gave previously which I believe to be precisely accurate.

      Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  September 21, 2018

      Why did she claim that he HADN’T been banned at all ?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  September 21, 2018

        She is a slithering amoral lying scumbag as previously noted.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 21, 2018

          That was a real surprise; that she had supposedly not actually banned him at all. If that’s true, why didn’t she say so before and prevent all the hoohah ?

          Reply
  5. PartisanZ

     /  September 21, 2018

    21 Sept 2018, an appropriate day to recall ‘The seven stages of listening to Don Brash speaking on TV’ – Madeliene Chapman – The Spinoff – 25 Sept 2017 …

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/tv/25-09-2017/the-seven-stages-of-listening-to-don-brash-speak-on-tv/

    “RIP to all those who appear below. Your sacrifice will be remembered.”

    Wonderful!

    Reply

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