What is ‘free speech’ in a New Zealand context?

There has been a lot spoken and written about free speech in New Zealand lately, sparked by the visit of Canadians Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern. Most people seemed to see them as extreme-ish agenda driven attention and money seekers,  with many people supporting their right to speak here but not agreeing with what they said or did much.

The cancellation of a political event at Massey University this week that as going to feature Don Brash was widely (not quite universally) condemned. Brash got far more publicity over that and a at a debate at Auckland University on Thursday than he would otherwise have got.

But what is free speech in New Zealand?

Lizzie Marvelly has a go at explaining (it’s a column worth reading, one of her better ones in a very mixed portfolio) in Why can’t I escape Don Brash?

What has become overwhelmingly clear in the midst of the tide of hysteria and hyperbole is that there are many people who don’t really grasp the true meaning of free speech. Having the freedom of speech just means (with a few exceptions, such as in matters of national security and hate speech) that the state doesn’t have the right to prevent citizens from expressing themselves or punishing them if they do. It can’t throw people in jail for speaking out against the Government, or to prevent them from speaking out.

Free speech doesn’t mean everyone has the right to speak in whatever venue they please. It doesn’t mean that people who disagree with a speaker can’t argue or protest. It doesn’t mean that people can say vile, violent and inflammatory things without fear of prosecution. As the person who wrote to Massey’s Vice Chancellor alluded to, just because we have the right to free speech, it doesn’t mean we won’t face consequences for what we say.

This doesn’t address the issue of a politician like Phil Goff trying to dictate whose views could be expressed at an Auckland Council owned venue. Nor does it address the considerable concerns over Jan Thomas deciding which ex-politicians should be effectively banned from speaking at a Massey University student political society event. But those issue shave been well covered already.

Dr Oliver Hartwich (NZ Initiative): Freely speaking

Since New Zealand just had to discuss the meaning of free speech, perhaps it is worth defining what free speech is. And what it is not.

Absent a written constitution, let us turn to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for guidance. It states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

As strong as this sounds, this provision only confers an individual right to hold and express opinions. It compels no one else to share, promote or publish them. And this, more than anything else, is the fundamental misunderstanding in our recent debates.

Again this doesn’t address Goff’s apparent involvement in deciding who could use a venue based on what he thought they might say.

Even Massey University’s banning of Don Brash’s speech is, strictly speaking, not a case of restricting free speech. Within hours of being uninvited, Dr Brash’s manuscript was published on the Herald’s website, and he could explain himself on radio and TV. That is hardly a case of effective censorship. And universities, too, can lawfully determine how their resources are used.

The real scandal of banning Dr Brash lies elsewhere. By uninviting Dr Brash, Massey University has not been true to its own values. Massey’s Charter commits it to promoting “free and rational inquiry”. That is what the very idea of the university is all about.

If universities cannot tolerate dissent and the free exchange of heterodox views, they cease to be universities. It would make them indoctrination camps.

In short: Freedom of speech is important. Not every restriction of expression is objectionable. And universities must remain true to ideals of academic inquiry.

Everyone is free to speak to themselves by their own means. Beyond that there is no guarantee others will listen or will provide a means to speak.

But there is a need for politicians and universities to be impartial and unobstructive when making decisions on who can speak in their domains, and to do that they need to risk erring towards allowing speech. They cannot know what will be said in advance of an event.

here at Your NZ free speech is very important, but not absolute. I need to make decisions to protect this site from legal actions, and I also choose to protect speakers here and targets of opinions from unnecessary abuse and attacks. It’s imperfect but well-intentioned for the good of both speech in general but also of the community here.

The Streisand-Brash debate – free speech and protest allowed

There was a debate on free speech in Auckland last night, and of course most of the attention was on Don Brash and a few people protesting against him.

I didn’t watch the debate, I had more important things to do, but it was covered by some in comments here: Brash up-platformed in university debate tonight

RNZ:  Protesters confront Don Brash during debate

Former National Party leader Don Brash was last night front and centre of the free speech debate that’s been been making headlines in New Zealand and around the world.

Dr Brash was nearly booed off stage at the University of Auckland debate, before counter-protesters persuaded him back by chanting his name.

Dr Brash was joined by the New Conservative Party’s deputy leader Elliot Ikiley in arguing that PC culture gone has too far, to the point where it is limiting freedom of speech.

However, Dr Brash only got a few seconds to argue the point before he was drowned out by protesters.

At one stage a scuffle broke out and it looked like he was not going to continue speaking, before a section of the crowd beckoned him back.

Eventually he did get a chance to address the crowd of more than 500, arguing that the protests were a demonstration that the culture in New Zealand is inhibiting free speech.

“Anything which is a bit beyond the pale you really can’t talk about frankly,” he told the lecture theatre. “Issues relating to religion, sexual orientation, family structure, the rights of people of different races, climate change – you name it – you’ve got to tiptoe through those issues in New Zealand today.”

In the end, debate chairman Chris Ryan left it to the audience to decide who won, with both teams getting loud applause and cheers from the crowd – as well as a fair few boos.

Brash and the protesters dominated the report, with no indication given about the merits of the arguments of all the debaters.

But possibly most significantly, the right to free speech was a winner, as was the right to conduct protests.

The Massey event that was cancelled and this debate have proven the Streisand Effect – “a phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely” – has given Brash and the events far more publicity than they would have had if there were no bans or protests.

Brash up-platformed in university debate tonight

Massey University received almost universal criticism and derision after they cancelled a political society meeting that Don Brash was scheduled to speak at. It was widely seen as an attack on free speech, with some saying it was proof of a slippery slope for free speech.

Brash got far more publicity than he would received at Massey, and he gets a chance to be in the spotlight at Auckland University tonight. He was booked to participate in a debate long before the Molynuex & Southern and Massey furores arose.

Coincidentally and ironically, tonight’s debate is on “Has PC culture gone too far to the point of limiting freedom of speech?”

Freedom of Speech Public Debate

Image may contain: text

 

Freedom of speech is a value which is fundamental to New Zealand society. But at what point should we prevent speech which is offensive, bigoted, hurtful or that we disagree with? Has PC culture gone too far to the point where it is limiting freedom of speech?

The University of Auckland Debating Society is proud to present the inaugural Think Big Debate – a debate series which will explore the big issues in New Zealand Society. The inaugural Think Big Debate is going to examine whether PC culture has gone too far and is limiting freedom of speech.

Don Brash (of the Free Speech coalition) and Elliot Ikilei (Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party) will affirm the motion and Fran O’Sullivan (Head of Business at the New Zealand Herald) and Simon Wilson (Senior Writer at the New Zealand Herald) will negate the motion.

They will each be joined by two of the university’s top debaters. With Freedom of Speech in the headlines both in New Zealand and overseas you won’t want to miss this event.

Absolutely everyone is welcome at this public debate. Check out the Facebook event for more information.

 

‘De-platformed’ is a new word for me. In this case it has backfired and turned into upping Brash’s platform.

Stuff: Don Brash free speech debate in Auckland booms on back of Massey’s ban

Massey University’s ban on Don Brash making a speech on its Palmerston North campus has proved a boon for rival Auckland University.

Double the number of people expected to attend Brash’s Auckland appearance have now registered since Massey axed Brash and ignited another free speech debate.

The controversy has been a marketing gift for the otherwise low key Auckland function organised by the university’s debate society.

There is planned protest: Students and Staff to protest Don Brash speaking at University of Auckland

A New University has organised a public protest opposing the inclusion of Don Brash in a University of Auckland Debating Society event to be held on campus on Thursday 9th August at 6.00pm in the Owen G Glenn building.

“Brash’s haste to come to the defense of far-right ideologues Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux shows his commitment to the right to spread hate speech with no consideration of the consequences for those targeted by racial abuse and discrimination.

“Universities are legislatively bound to act as the ‘critic and conscience of society’. Condemning any platform for hate speech is a rare opportunity for the University community to fulfil this crucial role.

“The University of Auckland equity policy acknowledges the distinct status of Māori as tangata whenua and is committed to partnerships that acknowledge the principles of the Treaty. Hosting Brash directly contravenes equity principles and the protection of students and staff from discrimination.

“A New University calls on University of Auckland management to follow through on its equity policy and strategic plan emphasis on promoting Māori presence and participation in all aspects of University life.

“A New University joins the struggle of those at Massey University in refusing to accommodate hatred, bigotry and racism in their institutions. Universities must uphold the principles of Te Tiriti and ensure the safety of students and staff on campus.

There does not seem to be an obvious Maori participant in the debate, but that may be addressed froom four of “the university’s top debaters” who are as yet unnamed.

UPDATE:

Up-platformed and live.

Lizzie Marvelly supports Brash ban

Lizzie Marvelly has a bigger platform to speak than most – she is a regular columnist at NZ Herald, and she has her own blog Villainesse.

She also attracts attention on Twitter, as she did yesterday when she one of a small minority who support the banning of Don Brash from speaking at Massey University.

No, Brash hasn’t been silenced, he has been given a megaphone after being banned. That’s what attacks on free speech can do – generate far more speech than they try to suppress.

Marvelly engaged after some responses:

@MatthewHootonNZ: The young students who invited him may have. They were perhaps as young as 3 when he became leader of the opposition.

@LizzieMarvelly: As members of a university politics society it’s very likely they’ve heard him rabbiting on and on about the same tired old stuff, if not in real time (and that’s possible – bafflingly, he has continued to rabbit on outside of politics, and to be given airtime) then in old clips.

@JarrodGilbertNZ: But they invited him.

@LizzieMarvelly: Ah. That’s unfortunate. Can’t anyone find a new mouthpiece for anti-te reo, anti-Māori rhetoric?

It looks like Marvelly jumped into this issue without knowing anything about what Brash was invited to talk about, which was nothing to do with te reo or Maori specific issues.

@LizzieMarvelly:  Many more shocking calls are made every day to exclude or under-represent women and Māori speakers. Forgive me for not feeling outraged at Brash being deprived of one of the many platforms he enjoys.

For all Marvelly knows their may have also been women and/or Māori speakers scheduled to speak at the same students’ political society event, who will also been excluded from speaking after the event was cancelled.

Regardless, it seems obvious that free speech is not an important principle for Marvelly.

And she isn’t alone in her attitude. It is common to see people say that some groups of people should be given more speaking rights, and that the views of others don’t matter.

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.

 

‘Free speech’ group raises $50,000 to challenge Auckland Council

The free speech versus alleged potential hate speech or inflammatory speech continues after the cancellation of a speaking event where two Canadians that almost al New Zealanders had never heard of suddenly became the centre of controversial attention.

Previous posts on this:

A group that has also provoked controversy has successfully raised $50,000, aiming to take the Auckland Council to court for banning Southern and Molyneux from using a council owned venue.

Free speech coalition:

Defending free speech means defending the rights of people with views you might find objectionable..

We are a group of New Zealanders concerned with the decision by Auckland Council and Mayor Goff to ban Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux from using Council-owned venues to speak on August 3. The ban sets a dangerous precedent for anyone who wants to express, or hear, controversial views.

We are raising funds to bring judicial review proceedings against Auckland Council, who we believe are likely in breach of the Bill of Rights Act and the Human Rights Act.

Update: We have now hit the $50k initial goal, so will be proceeding with legal action! Every dollar donated will now go into the legal fund – to defend free speech in New Zealand. If we can afford it, we’ll use the extra money to hire fancy lawyers to take on the Council’s big legal guns.

Newshub:  Don Brash’s free speech group raises $50k to sue Auckland Council

Don Brash says Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s decision not to let far-right speakers use council venues was wrong, and is part of a group that’s raised $50,000 to take the council to court.

He says he’s not familiar with Mr Molyneux or Ms Southern, who have been accused of hate speech for their views on Islam, feminism and gender.

“I don’t know what their views are, I’ve never heard them speak, I’ve never heard anything they’ve written”.

“Presumably they cannot say, ‘Please go and kill somebody’ because that would be illegal. But if they say ‘we don’t like particular groups’, well that’s free speech. I think they should be allowed to say that.”

Dr Brash says he’s wary of condemning certain opinions as hate speech.

“It is a perfectly accurate statement to say that in the Koran, gays are to be executed – simply stating that as fact should surely be allowed,” he explained.

“It’s quite a different thing to say therefore we should do something awful to Muslims. They’re two different things.”

It has been posited that the $50k should be spent on an alternate venue, but there is wider important issue at stake here, in a world (especially online world):

  • growing increasingly intolerant of speech that people disagree with
  • growing increasingly toxic and abusive

Both are abuses of free speech.

One example of the stupid levels debate gets too, but with a good response:

That’s pretty much my position – I had never heard of the Canadians and wouldn’t pay money to hear them speak, but I think the Goff/council banning of them from using council venues is bad for an elected mayor and a public body.

This is becoming a common ‘unless you have supported every cause I agree with you should shut up’ type of put down.

I have supported Renae against Bob Jones, as well supporting the right of people to speak at Auckland council venues.

I think that challenging the Goff/council ban on speech could be an important stand to take.

Political carols

Excerpts from Toby Manhire: Walking in a Winston Wonderland

We Three Things:

Jacinda Ardern solo:
Just a kid from Moh-orrinsville
Keen to help out Andy Little
It’s not hubris, to just do this
Truth is that I quite like Bill
*
James Shaw solo:
Great Together, I believe in
Speak the truth – that’s how we win
Metiria, great co-leader
Popped into recycling bin
*
Winston Peters solo:
Had enough? Too right they had
Status quo was very bad
Need a deadline? Watch it, Sunshine
Covfefe, believe me, sad!

We Wish you a Merry Christmas
Feat Bill English

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And would just note in passing that the National Party won more votes than anyone and yet is not in government which a lot of ordinary New Zealanders will find surprising as they approach their Happy New Year.

Gareth the Red Mo’ed Reindeer
As sung by Gareth Morgan

Gareth the Red Mo’ed Reindeer
Had a very small ego
But all the lipsticked reindeers
Were a bunch of thick bozos

Fiscal Spells
As sung by Steven Joyce

O! Fiscal spells, fiscal spells
Fiscal hole, OK?
O what fun it is to ride
When you’re running the campaign.

Little Drummer Boy
As sung by Andrew Little

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
Just a new deputy, pa rum pum pum pum
Must replace Annette King, pa rum pum pum pum
Anyway you know what happened after that and it’s all fine now.

Mārie Te Pō
As sung by Don Brash

Mārie te pō, tapu te pō
Marino, marama
Ko te Whāea, me te Tama
Tama tino, tapu rā
Moe mai i te aio
Moe mai i te aio.

Google doesn’t translate that well, but it is obviously

Silent night, holy night, calm, bright etc.

Whāea is mother, Tama is boy/sun but no sign of a virgin there.

 

RNZ, te reo Māori and Brash

Ki te tangata?

An increased use of te reo Māori on Radio NZ has been a talking point for some time.

It doesn’t bother me, but I think it is overdone at times.

But it has bothered Don Brash. Late last month:

There was a response by Emma Espiner at Newsroom: The threat of Te Reo

It’s become a running joke among friends and family that my husband, vampire-like, feeds on and grows stronger with each criticism of his use of Te Reo in his role as co-presenter of RNZ’s Morning Report. What’s less of a joke is the sustained attempts by some, who agree with Brash, who are fighting against the use of Te Reo and against Guyon and RNZ in the form of BSA complaints and letters to RNZ’s managers, CEO and Board.

I dislike the ‘old white men’ argument where one simply says those three words and the offending viewpoint is rejected because of its provenance without any further need for debate.

It’s good to see her saying this.

What’s interesting to me as a Māori woman, is the way that my Pākēhā husband has been able to champion Te Reo into the mainstream in a way that it would be impossible for me to do, were I in his position. As a Pākēhā man with a powerful role in the New Zealand media he has a position of extraordinary privilege from which to challenge the status quo. He has strong support in this endeavour among the leadership of RNZ, most importantly from other noted Pākeha man, CEO Paul Thompson.

Over at TVNZ Jack Tame is cutting a similarly admirable path on the flagship Breakfast show.

The complaints about Te Reo being used in mainstream media give me great heart looking to the future. This positive response might surprise some, but I believe we can view these people (and they’re always the same people) as the rearguard of progress.

As society shifts, they will continue to yap at our heels and protest, but the trend for Aotearoa is against bland mono-culturalism and fearful mono-lingualism.

A decade ago it was Māori Television. Today, it’s using Te Reo on Morning Report and Breakfast TV and putting macrons in newspapers.

In ten years time these things will be completely normal and there will be another battle, which the rearguard will again resist and lose.

There is definitely a trend. In the main I am fine with this. But not so Brash – and Kim Hill wasn’t fine with Brash over it.

She interviewed him on 2 December, if ‘it can be called an ‘interview’: Don Brash – Ragging on Te Reo

He has weighed into the debate about the use of Te Reo in the past few weeks, saying he’s “utterly sick” of the use of the language by RNZ reporters and presenters.

I haven’t listened to that, but I saw a lot of comment about it. It is still being talked about.

Karl du Fresne: Don Brash didn’t stand a chance against Kim Hill

The first was to think he could criticise a high-profile Radio New Zealand presenter on Facebook and get away with it. The second and much bigger mistake was to accept an invitation to explain himself on Kim Hill’s Saturday morning radio show.

Inevitably, Brash was savaged. It was as close as RNZ will ever get to blood sport as entertainment.

Brash described Espiner’s flaunting of his fluency in te reo as “virtue signalling” – in other words, displaying one’s superior moral values.

For this offence against the spirit of biculturalism, the former National and ACT leader was summoned for a discipline session with Radio NZ’s resident dominatrix.

The result was entirely predictable. Hill was acerbic and sneering from the outset.

She didn’t bother to conceal her contempt for Brash and neither did she bother to maintain any pretence that this was a routine interview, conducted for the purpose of eliciting information or expanding public understanding of the issue.

It was a demolition job, pure and simple – utu, if you prefer – and I doubt that it was ever intended to be anything else. Its purpose was to expose Brash as a political and cultural dinosaur and to punish him for criticising Hill’s colleague.

Perhaps, but it could have been more than that. Hill may have also thought that Brash was a political and cultural dinosaur.

Then du Fresne gets to the crux of his complaint.

Here’s where we get down to the real issue. RNZ is a public institution.  It belongs to us.

The public who fund the organisation are entitled to criticise it. But can we now expect that anyone who has the temerity to do so will be subjected to a mauling by RNZ’s in-house attack dog? Or is this treatment reserved for despised white conservative males such as Brash, to make an example of them and deter others from similar foolishness?

Either way, Hill’s dismemberment of Brash was a brazen abuse of the state broadcaster’s power and showed contemptuous disregard for RNZ’s charter obligation to be impartial and balanced.

I presume Brash was given some sort of right of reply in the interview. I don’t know if he was given a decent chance to defend himself.

This is nothing new, of course. The quaint notion that RNZ exists for all New Zealanders was quietly jettisoned years ago. Without any mandate, the state broadcaster has refashioned itself as a platform for the promotion of favoured causes.

I often listen to Morning Report, it looks at a wide range of topical issues in far more depth than most other media, and generally seems reasonably fair and balanced.

Interviewers do sometimes push their guests hard – but this is essential, in politics in particular. It is a sign of a healthy democracy.

But Brash has a perfectly valid point. Whatever the benefits of learning te reo, it is not the function of the state broadcaster to engage in social engineering projects for our collective betterment – for example, by implying we should all emulate RNZ reporters and start referring to Auckland as Tāmaki Makaurau and Christchurch as Ōtautahi.

Social engineering? That seems over the top. RNZ is not making me use te reo Māori, and I generally don’t. Also, I learn something from their use if it. That’s a good thing.

There’s quite a bit on RNZ I don’t want to listen to. If so I turn it off (increasingly frequently when John Campbell gushes over the top in another crusade).

RNZ does many things very well and my quality of life would be greatly diminished without it, but no one will ever die wondering about the political leanings of many of its presenters and producers.

RNZ is often referred to as ‘Red Radio’.

Some of the RNZ presenters have fairly obvious political leanings, to varying degrees. That’s normal in any media. I can make no judgement of their producers, I don’t listen to them.

But te reo Māori is cultural, not political, so du Fresne seems to be confused.

Brash criticised Guyon Espiner in particular, someone who seems more balanced and non-politically leaning than most journalists in politics.

Du Fresne’s article has morphed from a grizzle about the use of te reo Māori, to a grizzle about Kim Hill doing a tough interview on the poor Don Brash, to a grizzle about some radio presenters appearing to favour one side of the political spectrum.

I could go to The Daily Blog or The Standard and find plenty of claims that media is far too right wing. This is just lame ad hominum from them, and that is what du Fresne resorted to in trying to conclude his argument against the use of te reo Māori on RNZ.

Perhaps that should be ad hominum/ad feminum (Latin seems to be a sexist language).

Or should it be ki te tangata? What about ki te wahine? (Māori seems to be a sexist language)

But at least du Fresne is talking about it. RNZ successfully getting a point across. You will inevitably annoy some people when you try and make cultural progress.

Bolger on brash Orewa speech

This from Jim Bolger’s 9th Floor interview (a series featuring past Prime Ministers) – he obviously isn’t a fan of an ex-Leader of the Opposition, Don Brash.

Talking of Hobson’s Pledge, that doesn’t seem to be making much impact.

The Nation – vulnerable children and Hobson’s Pledge

This morning on The Nation (TV3 at 9.30 am, also Sunday at 10.00 am):

Andrew Becroft on the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children… is it the fix we need?

Becroft is the Children’s Commissioner – website.

Andrew Becroft says we’ve got a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise the youth justice age.

Does Becroft share ‘s concerns about resources? We ought to be able to cope with slight adjustment.

After this interview, ‘s Becroft is meeting with the Indian Association about the youth justice age.

The youth justice system is not milo-drinking kumbaya says Becrof.

NZ needs some do-able targets for child poverty says Becroft. Becroft wants to see a 5-10% reduction of child poverty by the end of next year.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity to get it right” again.

“Unless this agency is resourced properly upfront… we’re just setting ourselves up for another review” says Becroft on new Ministry.

Says is not sufficiently resourced, and he’s talking with Minister Tolley.

Don Brash and Labour’s Louisa Wall go head to head on his new lobby group Hobson’s Pledge.

Hobson’s Pledge website: “He iwi tahi tatou : We are now One People”

That’s not really a pledge, it’s a vague statement from one person who was involved which hardly represents ‘One people’.

Louisa Wall is an MP well down Labour’s pecking order (ahead of only one MP who hasn’t announced they are quitting). She was prominent during the marriage equality bill debate but otherwise has a low profile.

Wall is responsible for:

  • Spokesperson for Courts
  • Spokesperson for Youth Affairs
  • Associate Justice Spokesperson (Legal Aid)
  • Associate Sport and Recreation Spokesperson

So not sure why she has been put forward here.

Nanaia Mahuta is spokesperson for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Peeni Henare has several Maori spokesperson roles.

There is also a report on the anniversary of the battle of the Somme.

Also something on the Trans-Pacific Partnership apparently.