Members of ‘digital and media expert group’ respond

Yesterday members of the ‘Digital and media expert group’ advising on social media regulation revealed.

There was some interaction on this on Twitter with two of the members, Nat Torkington and Lizzie Marvelly.

@MatthewHootonNZ:

What are its objectives? What is Its work programme? It looks to me like a sinister Labour move so censor dissent, like they did with the Electoral Finance Bill.

@LizzieMarvelly responded with information that the Prime Minister’s office withheld from Hooton’s OIA request – what the objectives of the group are:

It is an informal group of tech sector, legal and media folks that can provide feedback on request to help the Government to make sure its work in this area is effective and well-informed. This is an important kaupapa, particularly given what happened in Chrischurch.

To be clear, by ‘this area’, I mean social media policy proposals.

@MatthewHootonNZ:

There is no such thing as an “informal” group if it is set up by DPMC and the PM discusses it the day of its first meeting with the political editor of the NZ Herald.

Why haven’t you declared your involvement in it? How much have you been paid? What is the work programme? Has there been a second meeting?

At that point Marvelly disengaged from the discussion, but Torkington joined in.

@gnat (Torkington):

Oh hai, Lizzie. Is it normal for you to get this kind of pig-dog blind aggression? I’ve never encountered it before. It’s like being hassled by an uppity mall cop. “I know you think you’re a knight defender of Western democracy, but your cap gun and plastic badge fool nobody.”

Pig-dog blind aggression? Torkington’s lack of encountering what looks fairly reasonable questioning to me suggests that he is not much of an expert on social media, or politics. I wonder if he has ever watched Question Time in Parliament.

@AlisonMau:

It’s very normal, Nat. For Lizzie and lots of other women.

And men. While women like Marvelly are subject to some awful stuff, that’s not what happened here, so this is trying to swing the conversation to a different agenda.

Torkington:

I understood that intellectually, but this is my first time in the Flappy Asshole Blast Zone. And I know this is tame in comparison to threats of sexual violence, doxxing, families, professional fuckery, etc. that y’all get every day. You deserve a🏅for showing up every day!

Later in the day Marvelly got involved again.

If the expert advisory group had been announced and named by the Prime Minister, and it’s objectives revealed rather than kept secret, then this sideshow wouldn’t have happened.

There are benefits with being open and transparent, but the current Government seems intent on avoiding walking that talk.

 

Greater need for critical thinking

When the thoughts of many people are now able to be expressed far more freely and widely, the need for critical thinking is more important. It is very difficult to sway entrenched beliefs, but more critical thinking done by more people will lead to greater enlightenment.

However this not something that can simply be turned on and started.

NZ Herald: Critical thinking has never been needed more

There is so much distortion and fabrication in our public discourse that we should be teaching children to question and challenge from a young age, not only to protect them from the risk of radicalisation, but also to give them the skills to evaluate the world around them for what it is, not what various extremist commentators want them to think it is.

The majority of critical thinking education currently occurs at university level. That needs to be revised. Media literacy, of which critical thinking plays an important part, needs to be implemented much earlier in the curriculum. In this era of hyper connectivity, by the time young people get to university – if they decide or are able to access tertiary education at all – it will likely be too late.

If it needs to be encouraged at a young age it has to be a long term project.

I have concerns about this being done at primary school level, or even at secondary school, because teachers have often shown to have their own bias when involved in activism.

It is only with considered scepticism and meaningful discourse that we’ll be able to defuse extremist rhetoric, whether it’s espoused by terrorists or controversial commentators. It’s time we injected some civility and rationality back into our public debate.

We don’t all have to agree with each other, but if we could agree to some basic terms of engagement (for example, that facts are facts and wilful misinformation isn’t worthy of further dissemination) it would go some way towards reducing the risks of radicalised division and its tragic consequences.

We will never agree with each other on everything. But we can learn off each other, we should be prepared to learn off each other

And we should accept that at times will simply not agree – in this case ‘agreeing to disagree’ respectfully is important.

Note: before commenting here please try to focus on critical thinking, and don’t get diverted by personalities. This topic is about ideas, not specific people.

Marvelly uses her mainstream media platform to respond

Lizzie Marvelly copped some flak for a tweet yesterday:

See O’Sullivan v Marvelly: “Media fought for the decriminalisation of homosexuality” and ‘Mainstream press’ warned off hijacking discussion around Pride Parade.

She has used the mainstream media fast lane to expand on her comment – NZ Herald: Pride Parade reaction utterly blown out of proportion

I have deliberately tried to stay out of the debate around the Pride Parade. As someone only recently out, I didn’t feel that it was my place to express a view, rightly or wrongly. Instead, I watched despairingly as an event that I held to be sacred was dragged through the headlines, smeared by one ignorant perspective after another. Finally, I couldn’t take it any more.

While I agonised over voicing an opinion, Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner and Mark Richardson, among others, waded into the debate with almost gleeful abandon. Three straight, cisgender, men with some of the loudest media megaphones in the whole country proceeded to present, in my view, some of the most ignorant commentary around the issue that I’ve seen. Nuance, and the other side of the story, quickly evaporated.

Garner elevated the discussion to the level of calling the Pride Parade organisers “precious wee sausages”, Mark Richardson pontificated about “intolerance”, and Mike Hosking, veering off on a tangent, even suggested the Pride Parade wasn’t necessary any more. “You can’t have it both ways: being gay is either no big deal, or it is still a big deal. Given it isn’t, why draw attention to it down a main street?” he said.

Actually putting Garber’s colourful language aside, he and Richardson have a valid point when you see the aims of the activist group that has allegedly been behind the police uniform ban in the Pride Parade – they want to release all prisoners, close prisons and disband the police force. Their website People Against Prisons Aotearoa is summarised by David Farrar in So how extreme are PAPA?:

  • child sexual abuse not to be a criminal offence the state criminalises, but dealt with by mediation and a conversation between the rapist and the child victim. Yes, they really are that bonkers.
  • Dissolve the Government’s non-public sex offender register
  • Ban the Police using tasers, guns and even dogs!
  • Not allow anyone aged under 18 to be charged with a criminal offence, even murder or rape
  • Defund and then abolish the NZ Police
  • No imprisonment for breaching bail or parole conditions
  • Make it illegal to discriminate against convicted criminals in employment decisions
  • Decriminalise welfare fraud
  • Close the NZ court system
  • Defund the Department of Corrections and then abolish all prisons

Back to Marvelly in the mainstream media:

The Pride Parade holds a special place in the hearts of many of the rainbow community. As such, it is devastating to see it imploding before our eyes, with funding yanked, and participants withdrawing. But the issue beneath the media storm, which includes allegations of continued police brutality against some of the trans community, is far more nuanced than has been communicated with the public. As far as PR disasters go, this one has turned into Cirque du bloody Soleil.

She may be right there. On the police issue:

I’m still formulating my views on the police uniform ban, but I strongly believe the reaction to it has been utterly blown out of proportion. The police were never uninvited from the parade, they were simply asked not to wear uniform. Instead of complying with the request, they withdrew from the parade altogether, inadvertently sending a message that they would only support the rainbow community on their own terms.

The police have a right to support the parade or not on their own terms. They didn’t like the terms given to them by organisers so they withdrew their support.

I don’t think this can be taken to mean “sending a message that they would only support the rainbow community on their own terms”. While the Pride Parade targets ‘the rainbow community’ I don’t think that it represents the wide and varied rainbow communities.

The several large corporates that withdrew their funding in support of the police’s stance arguably echoed the same sentiment, seeking to influence the outcome of a complicated discussion that needed to be worked through by the community itself.

The withdrawal of funding by some corporates may have been an overreaction but I don’t know the reasoning behind it – it is possible different corporates had different reasoning.

As a fair-skinned, straight-passing, cisgender woman, there are very few situations in which I would fear the police. That is an example of my privilege.

I won’t delve into what her self-description means, but her lack of fear of the police may have more to do with her behaviour and the situations she puts herself into (or avoids putting herself into) may have more to do with it than her ‘privilege’.

I (and I won’t even attempt to self-label) don’t fear the police because I avoid breaking the law and I don’t go places and events that would put me at risk of adverse police reactions.

I can understand that homosexual people in the past would fear what the police might do to them – our homosexual laws allowed for horrendous breaches of privacy with the risk of arrest and imprisonment simply for acting naturally.  But they were quashed last century, a number of decades ago. Things have gradually changed for the better, with much better and wider acceptance of various gender and sexual variations.

While it’s easy to assume, particularly if you live in a major urban centre, that the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights has been won, for many in our community, the fight to be accepted is still raging. I’ve been lucky to experience very little homophobia, but I’ve still been on the receiving end of stares and glares, even in Auckland. There are people in my life who haven’t been as accepting of my sexuality as I’d hoped. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a way to go.

We will always have a way to go in an imperfect world. Any of us can be subjected to ‘stares and glares’, or think we are.  I have been on the receiving end of ‘stare and glare’ type attention – and worse – because of the colour of my hair (different colours at different times of my life), because of the colour of my skin, because of my gender and because of my age. I have fared relatively well to my cousins who were homosexual or trans (three died young).

Things have improved, but prejudices and intolerance of others cannot be eliminated. That’s an unfortunate reality of human imperfection.

But people identifying as LGBTQ+ now live under the same laws as everyone, and have largely been accepted into society. It would be a shame if they evolved from being subjected too extreme intolerance to becoming intolerant of the inclusion of those who they don’t agree with.

Pride grew from a place of protest. As a movement, it has made many bold and, at the time, unpopular calls. Progress doesn’t come easily. But this discussion deserves respect and patience. It deserves, in short, far better than it got.

Perhaps the Pride Parade organisation deserved better than it got this year too. The ‘rainbow community’ has a way to go to deal with internal issues.

 

O’Sullivan v Marvelly: “Media fought for the decriminalisation of homosexuality”

More to ‘Mainstream press’ warned off hijacking discussion around Pride Parade – NZ Herald journalist Fran O’Sullivan took exception to Lizzie Marvelly’s tweet, giving it a sharp response that led to some media involvement in the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

More:

@LizzieMarvelly: Excuse me? Sexual outcasting and a perverse reversal? What on Earth are you talking about?

@FranOSullivan: Go read a history book.

@LizzieMarvelly: Oh yes, that’s a great way to engage in discussion… condescension goes so far 🙄
I understand the terms, I just don’t get what you’re banging on about because you’ve phrased it poorly. But I’d humbly suggest showing people with skin in the game with a little more respect.

Ironic on several counts. A number of people (including myself) have been critical of Marvelly’s ‘poor phrasing’. And one of the main criticisms has been the lack of respect Marvelly showed ‘mainstream media’. Without it her audience would be far smaller.

@DannyNocturn65: The world you are trying to build is a horrible one – you don’t need to be the subject of a societal issue in order to comment on it. this competition where whoever can prove to be the smallest minority gets a monopoly over discussion is the death of productive conversation.

LizzieMarvelly: That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m arguing against the sensationalisation of an issue by people who are, in my opinion, ignorant of the nuances that are essential to this discussion.

That’s nothing like how she put it.  She said ” It’s NOT one to be hijacked by the mainstream press, dissected by straight, cis media personalities and turned into a circus.” She suggested that presumably most media keep out of the discussion on the Pride Parade. (Another irony is the reference to a circus – that’s something like how the extravagant displays of Pride Parades have looked to many).

@DannyNocturn65: “this discussion around the Pride Parade is one for the LGBTQ+ community to work through” your words

And for the police who have been banned, and the public who fund it, and anyone who has aan interest in the discussion in an open and free society.

Another thread in the discussion:

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: Firstly I agree with one comment. This stay in your lane crap is another american phrase usurped by someone wanting attention.

And Fran, I WAS born before law reform and the press helped and wrote articles but were not the ones marching in the streets or getting bashed and abused, there is a distinct separation on “how” the media “fought”.

There usually is, that’;s how the media operates. It gives a much wider voice to protesters that is often essential in getting momentum and in changing public opinion on issues like the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

@FranOSullivan: And that is what media do – write articles that fight for change.

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: I agree. media fights in its own way, and usually honestly and accurately but when people have bled, been admitted to hospital and arrested for a cause you should choose your words more carefully.

@FranOSullivan: Do you seriously believe the journalists who took up their cudgels on this issue did not have to overcome hostility.

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: Absolutely not. However, at that time media were seen as people reporting the news and not fighting for our cause…

@FranOSullivan: So now you think it is OKAY to define other people via an alphabet soup approach to humanity?

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: a) I don’t usually get into heady discussions on twitter. I tend to avoid them.
b) Throwing spurious comments about something that I was involved in makes my blood boil.
c) I didn’t make the world I only try to live in it.
d)NO, I don’t. You play games with my comments.

Someone throwing spurious comments about something she may have been involved as a reporter seems to have made Fran’s blood boil.

@FranOSullivan: You deny people their humanity by alphabeticising them and you deny journalism its courage.

Andrew Mackay @CHCHEastEnder: No. You are putting words into my mouth. I certainly now regret commenting on something so stupidly written. Good day “madam”.

So he closed the discussion with a condescending swipe. It isn’t clear which “something so stupidly written” he is referring to, Marvelly’s original tweet or O’Sullivan’s.

Another thread:

Shane te Pou @PouTepou: If I think something is wrong I will say so I don’t have a lane… Thoughts and opinions can not be contained and nor should they.

LizzieMarvelly: Wasn’t saying you need to, I was suggesting it would be good if Hosking and Garner did, given the ignorance I believe they displayed on this issue.

If that’s what she meant she phrased poorly – in fact that is not what her first tweet conveyed. She said ” It’s NOT one to be hijacked by the mainstream press, dissected by straight, cis media personalities and turned into a circus. Hosking, Garner et al., stay in your lane.”

She referred to “the mainstream press”, to “straight, cis media personalities” and to “Hosking, Garner et al”.

Et al (an abbreviation of et alia) refers to ‘and others – Cambridge Dictionary: “It is used in formal writing to avoid a long list of names of people who have written something together”.

Another thread, replying to O’Sullivan:

@TraceyMacleod: If you were fighting for that Fran you would have seen the behaviour of many of our police. The scars run deep & it is not long ago lgbt officers were bullied out or shrunk into a closest.

George Henderson @puddleg: But not today – today they are encouraged to march in the Pride parade. Until a group of law-and-order activists manoeuvre themselves in charge, and bully out the lgbt officers for reasons that have nothing to do with their sexuality or gender, and that don’t make much sense.

@TraceyMacleod: Why dont they just wear the tshirts. Are you a lgbt person? Cos the scars of police behaviour run deep. If you think all police are okee dokee with gay colleagues and gay folk in society. I have a nice bridge you might be interested in buying.

I’m sure not all police are “okee dokee with gay colleagues and gay folk in society”, and many others in society haven’t accepted our evolution to a more tolerant, accepting and inclusive society. But should all police who want to wear their uniforms to demonstrate a significant degree of normalisation in the police force be excluded from Pride Parade, because some of their colleagues have different opinions and feelings about homosexuality?

Another thread:

@adamsmith1922: Marvelly demonstrates just how divorced from reality some of these people are. Her intolerance of others views and demonisation of other commentators shows that.

@FranOSullivan:@LizzieMarvelly is perfectly entitled to her views. But this argument those occupying her “lane/s” should be the only ones to weigh in on the decision to ban police from “proudly wearing their uniforms” as they take part in the Pride Parade is not only ridiculous but dangerous.

@adamsmith1922:To clarify, she can say what she likes. I have no problem with that. However,she has no rights to seek others from exercising their own rights in this regard. Furthermore, to demonise other commentators because they are ‘cis’ and thus by inference somehow ineligible to express an opinion renders her as prejudiced as any homophobe. We still live in a free society where differing opinions should be respected, not mocked.

Some else enters the thread, switching from a ‘cis’ diss to a ‘mansplaining’ diss.

ben parsons @peaceprone: But if you come mansplaining out of context without acknowledging the premise then you may just be in the wrong lane, shouting into the vacuum of history.

@mrsrosieb: So you’re agreeing with Lizzie’s stupid comment.

ben parsons @peaceprone: i kind of agree bc if you argue from a point of indolence, you tend to miss the point. Hosts should never assume to be experts, even if they are.

I presume that refers to Garner and Hosking as hosts. I don’t think they assume to be experts on topics they talk about. Their jobs are to raise attention and generate discussion something Marvelly et al seem to want confined to initial defined lanes.

‘Mainstream press’ warned off hijacking discussion around Pride Parade

It is becoming common for people to assert that particular groups or demographics should keep out of discussions. It is odd for the ‘mainstream media’ be warned off getting involved in discussions – especially when the person doing the warning uses a mainstream media column to discuss things.

Informed and well informed can be different things.

Especially so if discussions are ring fenced so only some views are allowed.

It is ironic that ‘the LGBTQ+ community’ want to be seen as normal members of an inclusive society but want to exclude others from discussions.

I also find a clash between wanting to normalise various sexual and social types, but having things like Pride Parades that shout and flaunt particular behaviours.

LGBTQ+ will have successfully integrated with society when they don’t stand out as different.

Also in the news last night (and over the last few months):

The Spinoff (4 July): I’m pregnant and I’m going to be a dad

Stuff (14 November): Pregnant Kiwi dad-to-be getting ready to welcome first child around Christmas

1 news (22 November): Watch: The remarkable journey to parenthood of a Dunedin dad expecting to give birth

I really wonder whether this sort of self publicity is a good thing for those who want to be seen as normal members of society. Perhaps it shows others that being different is ok and ‘normal’, but it risks being seen as ‘Look at me, I’m different!” – a bit like the Pride Parade.

And a wee point on inclusiveness, shouldn’t it be LGBTQMW+ ?

 

 

Using te reo is good, unless someone is offended

Last month during Māori language week there was widespread encouragement of increasing the use of te reo, but it seems that some want to limit it’s use to things they find acceptable.

Lizzie Marvelly (15 September): The language of the land is being spoken

We are in the middle of another Māori renaissance at the moment. Te reo classes are jam-packed, with long waiting lists for those hoping to jump aboard the language waka. The language of the land is being spoken more and more on the airwaves. Macron use is becoming increasingly common in major publications. It’s an exciting time for people who love Te Ao Māori. Kōrengarenga ana te whatumanawa i te manahau. My heart is overflowing with joy.

This week – this special, sacred week; a celebration of a language that has arisen from the ashes – has been full of reminders of the importance of our reo fight. I have loved seeing the many innovations unveiled to encourage use of the reo.

There’s no doubt that the recent history of te reo Māori has been a difficult one, but what has struck me most this week is the excitement of thousands of New Zealanders trying out new te reo words for the first time. In years to come, I like to imagine a future in which te reo Māori is spoken by most New Zealanders, having been taught at school. There is no downside. Bilingualism is great for your brain, te reo is fun to learn, and understanding Te Ao Māori strengthens our cultural partnership.

The future is Māori. Haumi ē! Hui ē! Tāiki ē!

But there appears to be a but.

In the time since, in the replies to that tweet, I’ve been accused of being “outraged”, told to lighten up, told that I was doing a disservice to te reo Māori, been called a “perpetually outraged radical feminist who hates men esp white men”…

old to “get off [my] fucking high horse”, told to get a life, called a boring snowflake etc. etc.

The response was fascinating. How do you go from someone pointing out that a phrase seems surprising and out of place, to instant hysteria? What happens in people’s minds to make them respond so vehemently?

The accusations around te reo were the most frustrating. Just because a te reo word is in a phrase doesn’t nullify the implications of the phrase as a whole. The phrase “less hui, more do-ey” plays into negative stereotypes about Māori. It has always had negative connotations.

So anything that someone thinks has negative connotations should not be said? Haven’t Māori used the term themselves?

And I’m aware that it was aimed at the Government, rather than at Māori, but it uses a racial stereotype to derive its meaning. So I was surprised to see it in that article, especially when Air NZ has done some good stuff to support te ao Māori.

I don’t think it uses a racial stereotype to derive it’s meaning. The meaning goes back a long way. It is simply a variation on the term ‘less talk, more action’ with a Māori flavour.

Hui are an important means of Māori consultation and discussion, but like any meetings, especially series of meetings, they can become dominated with talk at the expense of taking meaningful action.

Talking things over is usually a good thing, but interminably talking can be a form of procrastination.

Duff was being critical of Māori inaction.

But they look like white men so shouldn’t have joined this korero.

But I don’t think Deborah Coddington is Māori.

Leonie Hayden:

I’ve found it amusing in the past when I first heard it used (by Māori) but I don’t love it when it’s used by non-Māori, especially when you can tell it’s the only time they use the word ‘hui’.

Non-Māori teo users are discouraged, and could well be discouraged from using te reo if there is tolo much preciousness over how it is used.

Leonie Pihama:

Even the use by our own I find insulting. It is based on the hegemonic idea that talking, giving depth reflection and resolving ways of doing things is not “doing anything”.

I don’t think it is based on that at all. It doesn’t imply action without talking, without reflecting, without trying to resolve things through discussion. All it suggests is that sometimes there can be too much talk and not enough action. Māori are not immune from that, and they shouldn’t be immune from criticism if they don’t take enough action after talking things through.

I joined the twitter discussion –  If you want a living language, especially co-existing with another language, there will always be the chance that people will use it in ways we may not like. There’s a lot of English usage I’m not fussed on. But trying to dictate usage, especially based on race, seems crazy to me.

It also moved to a discussion on pronunciation.

More from Wairangi Jones:

Dialect variances don’t stack up as an argument. Regardless of dialect Te Reo has been mispronounced. The root cause of mispronounced Te Reo is racism because of colonisation, something the English language has never experienced.

The English language was and is not mispronounced in NZ. Te Reo is. Colonization is the cause.

English is pronounced differently eg Sth Africa and Oz like Te Reo dialects. I am talking about NZ and nowhere else. English pronunciation with the NZ twang is normal. Mispronunciation of Te Reo isn’t.

This is nonsense. there are quite a variety of English pronunciations in New Zealand. There is no normal ‘NZ twang’ – there are regional and racial variations her, and English pronunciation here has kept evolving for two centuries, as it has elsewhere. There has been a distinct Māori  on local pronunciation of English. That’s what happens with language.

If people like Marvelly and Jones try to insist that no te reo that may offend someone be used by non-Māori , and if they demand purity of pronunciation, they will deter people from using te reo and even from using Māori words.

If New Zealand had not been colonised, if there had been no foreign language exposure at all, if UK and US and Australian television had never been seen here, then Māori language spoken now would have evolved from how it was spoken 200 years ago. It is likely regional dialects would have become more pronounced. That’s what happens with languages.

Demanding purity now is likely to deter wider use.

Getting precious over the use of Māori words by anyone deemed not Māori  enough to use them is likely to deter wider use.

I don’t think Lizzie Marvelly, who seems to prefer her Māori  side and forgets like most she also has ‘coloniser’ ancestry, has not been condemned for using a non-pure non-Māori name. Lizzie as opposed to Irihāpeti is not exactly kātuarehe, but who cares?

I think use of te reo should be encouraged, and those who integrate Māori  words into English phrases should not be ostracised.

Māori will struggle to be a living language let alone widely used if it is stifled through preciousness and demanded perfection.

 

Unreasonable demands of Gahraman and Marvelly

Golriz Gahraman is active on Twitter and attracts a lot of attention, including criticism and personal attacks. Some of her tweets leave her open to valid criticism, but some of the attention is way over the top, and some of it is unwarranted. Like this:

This sort of attack is common. I’ve been criticised for not posting on things I haven’t seen or haven’t had time to deal with. It can get to ridiculous levels – I’ve been criticised for being not ‘balanced’ for not mentioning a whole lot of historical stuff in posts.

Replied to him because he was being a dick. That doesn’t mean they should react to whatever someone else says they should.

@HarrtBStard responded:

I asked about your outrage and was quite right suggesting there was none. Your deflected guilt towards me is outstanding. Noting not once during this brief exchange have I attacked you.

This is pathetic. And wrong.

He (presuming it’s a he) attacked them (with connotations of stalking) for not commenting on one of a huge number of stories in the world. Rather than address the story himself he tried to turn it into a lame attack on people with no responsibility for the story.

Gahraman and Marvelly put themselves out there in social media so should expect criticism, but being criticised for not commenting on something you haven’t seen is just ridiculous – and I think can be seen as a form of harassment.

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.

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.

Latest Lizzie Marvelly rant

From Gezza:


This time it’s another anti-men one – telling women she’s not anti-men.

Occasionally I’ve even been accused of perpetuating hate speech, so perhaps the free speech coalition (or whatever Brash et al are calling themselves these days now that their favourite egregiously offensive speakers have decided not to come to New Zealand) should add me to the list of undesirable rabble-rousers whose free speech rights should be defended to the death.

Although, as I signed Renae Maihi’s petition, I suspect I may fall on the wrong side of the free speech argument, namely as someone whose right to free speech defenders of free speech rather wish they didn’t have to defend.

What the hell does that last sentence even mean?

Recently, however, another accusation of hate has come to light. Apparently, I’m a man-hater. A [male] friend of my partner told her last week that I should write a column about how great men are every couple of months or so to make up for all of the columns I write that give him the impression that I hate men. A kind of “yay for the gents” puff piece to cancel out all of my shrill shrieking would apparently balance the scales.

An old friend of my father also protested to him on the golf course a few months ago that I was being a bit hard on middle-aged white men. Clearly, for some people of the white and male variety, I’ve struck a nerve.

No you haven’t, you are just hearing what a racist, ageist, sexist young bigot you are.

I can’t say I’m surprised. Over the past few years, I’ve heard – from writers much more experienced than myself – that it’s difficult to be a white man these days. “Pale Male Stale is nothing but racism, sexism and ageism wrapped in a pithy phrase,” Jason Krupp wrote in the National Business Review a few years ago.

Oops – there – don’t just take it from me.

Being “an ageing, conservative male” is an “unpardonable sin”, wrote Cameron Slater late last year. People “fair of skin and male of sex” are members of “a despised minority”, Karl du Fresne pontificated in May.

When it comes to pontificating, lady, you leave The Pope in your dust.

It appears that I have added to these gentlemen’s suffering. The least I can do is offer my heartfelt apologies. How challenging it must be to be part of a demographic that is paid more than any other across most sectors, that is better represented than any other in almost every boardroom and in Parliament, and that occupies the vast majority of positions of power in nearly every society.

Unfortunate realities aside, however, I feel that I should set the record straight. I hate inequality. I hate discrimination. I hate sexism and misogyny. But I don’t hate men.

Pull the other one. And the rest of it continues in similar vein.

So this column is for … the good blokes. The ones who support women, who stand up for justice and equality

That’s me 👍🏼

and who don’t interpret advocacy for women’s rights as man-hating.

That’s me too. 👍🏼

Equal pay doing for the same job just as well as any bloke, I’m all for. Should be that way right now. But research & stats actually show that most confident, successful, women are content to be doing what they’re doing, not working 80 hours a week, and not slugging it out in dangerous, so therefore high-paying, jobs, or STEM fields which tend to pay well because they require a high level of training & skill.

But there are plenty of women doctors, lawyers, accountants, and they aren’t sitting on their butts. They’re starting up their own businesses, and standing up for themselves, & busting the boundaries – not just being whining, anti-men bigots, like you.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12095666