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

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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.


Up-platformed and live.

Disclosure and freedom of speech

Yesterday somebody demanded “Full disclosure Pete”, which was a bit ironic considering their lack of disclosure, but what they asked for was already in the open.

But it has prompted an issue that I’ve wanted to bring up here in regards freedom to comment here and disclosure.

Last year there were attempts to disrupt and discredit Your NZ, and also attempts to legally gag and shut us down. The commenting problems were mainly with a small number of people abusing anonymity and through the misuse of pseudonyms and false disclosures.

Most regulars here are open to me about who they are, with some preferring to comment under a pseudonym. This works very well in general.

A small number choose to try and disguise their identity and provide false information. There may be sort of valid reasons for this in some cases, but in other cases less so.

Those who are not prepared to disclose requested information potentially put this site at greater risk should they post anything claimed or found to be defamatory or illegal. In such cases I need to take greater care.

The malicious actions of a few can impact on others who use similar techniques, in order to protect the integrity of the site. Occasionally this may be unfortunate but it will affect very few.

While freedom of speech is one of the fundamental principles of Your NZ there are responsibilities involved with the privilege to speak here.

If a valid email address isn’t provided then I can’t contact people over issues of concern should they arise, so I can’t deal with things as I can with a person who discloses who they are.

If anyone chooses non-disclosure here then your participation and your right to speak may have greater limitations as a necessity to keep Your NZ functioning as freely and as reasonably as possible.

Generally commenting here has been much better over recent weeks, in part due to less disruptive individuals, and in large part due to the manner in which most of you participate. Thanks very much for your ongoing contributions.

Reviewing comments

Things have changed markedly here over the pasty year or so, especially recently. Your NZ used to chug away quietly with quite quiet comments threads. There’s more interest in joining in now, which is great.

I want it to be as open and inviting to commenting here as possible, I see freedom of speech as important. I’ve experienced some awful forums where abuse and bullying prevails far too much. I want discussion to be able to be robust but not be repellent.

Alongside freedom to speak here is a responsibility to be fair to others, and there’s a responsibility to stay within the law.

I push boundaries at times, and I know how easy it is to get a bit lax in off the cuff comments.

Something I need to do here is be up front and open about what I’m doing.

I’ve had a phone call from Matthew Blomfield, and he expressed concern about some comments here that he feels are unfair and not factual. I’m open to anyone raising issues here and I’ll provide anyone with a reasonable right of reply.And I’m open to anyone being to have their say as long as it fits within standards.

As Matthew is currently involved in legal action he is limited to what he can say publicly. So I asked him to detail any specific concerns and send them to me, which he has. I think he has a fair point with some of them at least.

I’m going to go through them and edit comments when I think it’s appropriate. I’ll do this openly and make it clear when I’ve done it. I have a responsibility to do this fairly.

It can be illegal to make false accusations. It’s unfair to make accusations that can’t be backed by any evidence.

I’m open to anyone who thinks they have been unfairly spoken against to ask me to consider editing it. I want to keep editing to a minimum so co-operation would be appreciated.

I ask that you keep the personal insults and abuse out of it here, and stick to opinion unless you can back up what you say with facts.

One of my primary aims here is to allow the addition of facts that will help the understanding of any relevant issue. This works for any side of an argument.

Matthew has agreed to supply me with information that I think is pertinent to things that have been discussed here, when that becomes available. As long as it’s fact based I’m happy to do that.

No matter what interest anyone has with any issue you are welcome to submit it here for posting.

And I hope you still feel free to rip into discussion here – within reason and within the law.

I’d like Your NZ to be different, where anyone feels comfortable and unthreatened contributing here no matter what their political or social leanings are.

More input and more facts and evidence will improve debate here and it would also improve our politics and democracy generally if practiced more by others.

Pete George

Slater on democracy and free speech

Following the previous post Cameron Slater has joined the irony onslaught at Whale Oil in HANDS UP WHO WANTS TO HAND OVER ELECTIONS TO SCUMBAGS LIKE “RAWSHARK”?

The left wing doesn’t believe in democracy, they certainly don’t believe in freedom of speech or association. They constantly mount boycotts and threats, and resort to breaking laws to try to defeat their political opponents.

Democracy: Whale Oil has taken payments in return for political hit jobs, including interfering in candidate selections and campaigning on referendums.

Freedom of speech: Like in their live blog for the Decade of Dirt party, for example…

4. An editor will review your entries.  If they pass the censor and aren’t dull or repetitive, your entry will make it onto Whaleoil.

That was a rule for posting comments for their ‘Decade of Dirt’ party but sums up Whale Oil’s general censorship. In the past Slater promoted free speech and meant it. Then he promoted Belt to a censorship role.

Resort to breaking laws to try to defeat their political opponents: there’s a current police investigation into Slater allegedly doing just that.

Freedom of expression – Whale sized irony

I see at Whale Oil  in FACE OF THE DAY there’s some rather ironic comments (having just posted “I wonder if Cameron Slater is losing the plot?”):

I strongly believe in Freedom of expression. I cannot expect to have the right to criticise or mock those in politics I disagree with and on the other hand try to silence those who want to criticise or mock the party I support.

I disagree with those who claim that Freedom of expression should have limits. We all should have the right to disagree and to criticise and to mock. This right is integral to a democracy.

It is sadly ironic that those who exercise their freedom of speech in a democracy are sometimes the exact same people who are agitating to stop others from exercising that exact same right.

That’s not from Cameron Slater or Pete Belt though, it’s under SB (Spanish Bride, Slater’s wife).

That last paragraph in particular is, yeah, sadly very ironic on a Whale scale.

Presland: On Freedom of Speech and Tolerance and Powers of Surveillance

I don’t always see things the same as Greg Presland but he has a very good post at The Standard: On Freedom of Speech and Tolerance and Powers of Surveillance

I was shocked to wake up and read about the killing of staff at Charlie Hebdo and also the killing of two police officers, one of who, Ahmed Merabet, was reportedly of Muslim background.

We should suspend full judgment on what has happened until we have more facts.  Leaping to judgment has previously been shown to be a mistake.  Early speculation about the Sydney Siege was shown to be incorrect, not to mention damaging.

The report from one of the survivors suggests that the killers may have been French born adherents of the Muslim faith and Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures of the prophet Mohammed was clearly the cause of the attack which appears to have been well planned.  There are reports that the attackers claimed to be from Al-Qaeda in Yemen.  Suspects have been identified.

It is not as if acts of terrorism are unknown, it is just that acts of terrorism involving Muslims appear to receive extra coverage.  For instance the recent firebombing of NAACP offices in Colorado received little local coverage although admittedly no one was killed.  The killing of seven journalists during the recent Israeli attacks on Palestine received little coverage.  But any “Muslim” involvement seems to make the event that much more newsworthy.

There are three implications for our society from these events:

  1. Loss of Freedom of speech
  2. A break down of tolerance
  3. A push by the State to further increase the powers of surveillance.

As to the first there will be a chilling effect on the media.  But we need to protect their right to publish information, even upsetting information.  Satire has to be at the front of the list of what needs to be protected.

And murder is never an acceptable response to taking offence.

Some have suggested there should be a mass publishing of the offending cartoons.  But I do not know why.  I agree with Stephanie Rodgers that in terms of quality they are poor.  And why exercise the right of free speech just to offend?  While we should have the utmost right to say something this does not mean that we should use it to intentionally upset.

That’s a very good point that I agree with. I don’t like some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, I think they get too offensive and provocative (and I don’t understand much about the French context). But they have a right to publish them as I have a choice to support the right but not republish their cartoons.

The “break down of tolerance” has been happening for a while.  Attacks by the extremist fringe of a particular society are said to be justification for condemning that society as a whole.  This is as nutty as blaming Christianity for the actions of the Klu Klux Klan.  But if we allow tolerance to break down then the terrorists are winning.  The best thing we can do is reach out to the various Muslim Communities to show that all we have interesting cultural differences there is so much that we share in common.

Accepting differences and promoting the good in different cultures and religions (and non-religion) is important, and far less dangerous than intolerance, abuse and provocation.

Finally, as for increased surveillance it is a given that the governments’ particularly the right wing varieties, will use this event to push for even further powers of surveillance.  But the question whether increased powers will ever improve things, let alone justify the loss of personal freedom, is never properly answered during these bouts of power grabbing.  After all the actions of a lone gunman in Sydney who pretty well published his nuttiness to the world via Facebook were not stopped.  Allowing even further powers of intrusion into our lives will help how?

That’s a very good question that we need to keep examining. We can never be 100% secure, nor 100% private. Finding a reasonable and reelatively safe balance will be an ongoing challenge.