Debates about freedom of speech often lead to academic and legalistic arguments. Important people try to define what mere mortals may listen to, who needs to be protected, and from whom.
It is important and abstract. So it is handed to right-minded activists, lawyers and journalists – and to politicians like Phil Goff. He imposed his view on what political view is acceptable – in public venues at least. The thing is, freedom of speech is an antidote to authority. And so it is annoying for some. At heart many of us don’t want to be bossed around by people who are sometimes-irrational, sometimes self- indulgent, virtue-signallers, and zealots. We are capable of making up our own minds without their censoring us.
I’m weary of being lectured that freedom of speech is not an absolute. We all know that. There are valid restrictions on incitements to violence and personal hatred. Defamation laws are a rich person’s tool, but they also constrain freedom. But in the current weird world, protection from abuse and the threat of violence has morphed into stopping views that offend – halting language that is deemed “unsafe.” We are being protected by people who hate being offended. The Offendarati.
It’s a white hat- black hat mentality. The Goodies and Baddies, Some groups are involved in white hat groups have special status. Some are beyond the pale and are irrelevant or to be silenced. This is understandable given the viciousness of social media and the partisan wars on twitter.
Some folk on the Left – once advocates for free speech – now insist that “hurtful” opinions must be stopped in the future for the good of Society all and the protection of the vulnerable. White knight social justice warriors have assigned themselves to protect specified minorities from people who are defined – somewhat fanatically – as fascists, Nazis and racists. One new term of acceptable abuse, is to deride Terfs, people who will not accept official institutions proclamations on gender politics. The Goodies and the Baddies,
It is bizarre that some journalists – who have complained about the restrictions of libel laws an authority – should now actively seek the extend restrictions into the discussion of ideas, religion and politics.
We have seen examples of over-eager outrages recently like the attacks on Israel Folau – and Phil Goff’s “captain’s call” intervention into the Lauren Southern Stefan Molyneux event. I find Southern too much of a careerist and Molyneux tedious, but they are not so frightening they should be banned from Council venues. “Who is next,” Corin Dann asked Goff on Q&A,” Donald Trump”?
We see the same intervention by authority in the gay community with attempts by media and politicians to shut down individuals – people who disagree with the new orthodoxy, transexuals self identifying as women – many of them penises. They argue that biology is irrelevant to gender. It has become mainstream thought, but quite mad/ These are vexed issues. There is no doubt about that.
But in the current environment, activists and media followers believe discordant options are to be shut down. People who disagree with authority from so called “Terfs” can be shut down.
Last week on Q&A Woman Affairs Minister Julie Ann Genter chided feminists who did not accept transsexuals with penises were women.Should the state be policing these matters?
It is part of the continued breakdown into cultural niches under identity politics, where authorities will define what is and what is not acceptable.
The Human Rights Commission should be a haven of fairness and rationality in these debates. Alas, the publicly funded body has taken sides and become a home for state sponsored activism.
The Commission has brushed off its’ scandal over an executive harassment of an intern and privately it is working to expand a push for more restrictions on free speech.
During nine years of a National governments there have been growing signs of ideological biases were ignored and promoted in media.
Now with a Labour government – and despite the Human Rights Commission dysfunction – pressing ahead with controls on what it calls “disharmonious speech” for likely new hate speech rules at the end of the current Labour term.