Saturday, 23 March 2019

Keeping The Devil Down In The Hole.

Raising Hell: As the theme-song from the TV series “The Wire” puts it: “You gotta keep the Devil way down in the hole”. Transforming the free speech issue into a vicious Left/Right knife-fight would be a particularly effective way of hauling the Devil all the way up to the surface.

HOW SHOULD New Zealand respond to the Christchurch Mosque Shootings? What should the Government do? A powerful consensus has formed behind the Prime Minister’s call for gun control. Subsequent initiatives may not, however, be so universally affirmed. Voices are already being raised in favour of restricting the public expression of “harmful” ideas. Clearly, the question of what does, and does not, constitute “harm” is going to be hotly contested. The national unity forged out of shock, grief, compassion and solidarity, is unlikely to survive any attempt to aggressively limit free speech in New Zealand.

Already, the Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges, has indicated his intention to resist strongly any attempt to extend the limitations on citizens’ freedom of expression. This should give Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern serious pause. A straight Left/Right battle over “hate speech” would place her principal coalition partner, NZ First, in an impossible position. Already in a parlous situation, poll-wise, aligning itself with what its electoral base would almost certainly construe as weaponised political correctness would undoubtedly compromise still further NZ First’s chances of making it back to Parliament.

Not that the Prime Minister’s worries are located exclusively on the right. Already, she is reported to be casting anxious glances to her left. The radical wing of the Green Party is in the process of staking out an aggressively uncompromising position on hate speech. This has earned them much respect on Twitter, but it is unclear how favourably the hard-line stance of Marama Davidson and Golriz Ghahraman is being be received by the broader electorate. Labour will be keen to avoid the perception that they are being led into the ideological long grass by its “woke” allies.

The Labour Party’s other big concern should be the extent to which a free speech fight will be seized upon by the Far Right as a Hades-sent opportunity to get back in the game. Being seen to take a stand for the nation’s traditional political values will win their more respectable avatars all sorts of useful invitations to join the genuine defenders of liberty on a multitude of respectable media platforms.

As the theme-song from the TV series “The Wire” puts it: “You gotta keep the Devil way down in the hole”. Transforming the free speech issue into a vicious Left/Right knife-fight would be a particularly effective way of hauling the Devil all the way up to the surface.

A less divisive and potentially much more productive course of action would be to put this country’s already existing limitations on hate speech to the test. Section 61 of The Human Rights Act (1993) clearly prohibits: “matter or words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons in or who may be coming to New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that group of persons.”

A more proactive Human Rights Commission, by allowing the courts to flesh out the purposes – as well as the limitations – of Section 61 of the Act, could establish with much more clarity what it is – and is not – permissible to communicate about race and identity in New Zealand.

More controversial, but in light of the Christchurch Mosque Shootings, almost certainly worth debating, would be a proposal to prohibit religious vilification. Any such measure would, however, need to be very tightly circumscribed in terms of its scope. Vilification must not, under any circumstances, be construed to mean that any particular system of religious belief can be rendered legally immune from all forms of criticism and/or challenge. Such legislation should restrict its application exclusively to statements and/or images communicated with the clear intention of inflicting emotional pain and humiliation on believers.

The key question posed to New Zealand by the awful events of Friday, 15 March 2019 is the degree to which it is possible to mount an effective defence against terrorist violence.

The proposition being advanced by Davidson, Ghahraman, and many others on the left, is that terrorist acts are the by-products of societies steeped in racism and xenophobia: that they constitute merely the awful apex of a much larger pyramid of prejudice. By discouraging the expression of the milder prejudices embedded at the base of this grim pyramid, they argue, their transmission upwards to damaged individuals like the Christchurch shooter can be interrupted, and lives saved.

The problem with this argument is that the level of intervention in the lives of casual racists and xenophobes required to make such a regime effective would, almost certainly, engender considerably more resentment and hatred than it was intended to suppress. Not only would racism and xenophobia not disappear, but the promoters and enforcers of the state’s anti-racist and anti-xenophobic policies would find themselves added to the terrorists’ target list. It should not be forgotten that the Norwegian white supremacist terrorist, Anders Breivik, did not target Muslim immigrants directly, but the young Labour Party members he held responsible for Norway’s multicultural policies.

Perhaps the most difficult thing to accept about societies such as our own is that there is within them an irreducible quantum of malicious prejudice. No matter how much energy is devoted to persuading our fellow citizens to embrace their fellow citizens, there will always be some for whom the messages of love and respect are interpreted perversely as threats to themselves and their culture.

To stem the flow of reinforcing information to such individuals, we would not only have to censor the news media and shut down the Internet, but also close every library in the country. Anders Breivik and the Christchurch shooter drew their inspiration from the annals of Western history: from the Crusades and the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into southern and eastern Europe. History itself would have to be suppressed – along with huge chunks of the Western cultural canon. The game is simply not worth the candle.

What we can do, is use the legislation already on the statute books to curtail the expression of sentiments intended to inflict harm. New Zealanders can thus be made more clearly aware of the distinctions to be drawn between the fair and reasonable expression of political and religious opinion, and communication intended to achieve no higher purpose than gratuitous vilification and insult.

Will a proactive Human Rights Commission, dedicated to enforcing Section 61 of the Human Rights Act, prevent another massacre? Sadly, no, it won’t. Will it make New Zealand a better country to live in? Yes, it will.

So, let’s do that.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 22 March 2019.

44 comments:

John Hurley said...

Why is it only in the West we actively dissolve the ethnic state? Are the Asians backward?

Roly said...

Thank you so much for this, very well articulated. Bowalleyroad has been my one safe place on the internet this week.

Simon Cohen said...

An excellent post Chris,

greywarbler said...

Lots of things to think about here. I dislike the way that PC has grown 'You can think it but don't publish or speak it' is the mantra. Myself I try not to allow hate or resentment to stay in my mind. But not being able to even speak about feeling it is just unwise. We can see on this blog how sensitive some Jewish people are to any criticism of Israel, even mentioning the word Jew seems to bring stress. We find that people hate to discuss NZ wrongs and any unsatisfactory, even bad laws which need looking at, evaluating, changing.

How can you assess your own behaviour and that of the world if you can't talk about it in an objective, dispassionate way? And the thing that is noticeable from reading and writing on blogs is that there are some very unpleasant minds out there. Drawing negative thoughts out or unreasonable positive thoughts, makes for a society trying to be mentally-healthy and balanced making wise decisions.

One might not want to know the negatives, that breaks the positive image that we have carried about NZ, but they started to break when Labour enabled the big business takeover of the country in 1984. For me that was when trust and innocence about the essential goodness of NZs was lost. We still do not study politics, citizenship, business and employment, human psychology and philosophy 101 (including the whys and how of racism), at school though they are basic to our culture.

Maori have forced us to think about racism and our material-accreting obsession. In the business culture there is no room to consider racism and other sensitive matters, unless they relate to the bottom line. That is what old Labour has exposed us to. New Labour don't have the perspective and knowledge of the 1980s and here are some links about research on racism from that time.

https://www.pbs.org/video/frontline-class-divided
A Class Divided Season 3 Episode 9 | 53m 5
One day in 1968, Jane Elliott, a teacher in a small, all-white Iowa town, divided her third-grade class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups and gave them a daring lesson in discrimination. This is the story of that lesson, its lasting impact on the children, and its enduring power 30 years later.

https://opentextbc.ca/socialpsychology/chapter/social-categorization-and-stereotyping/

https://www.vox.com/2016/3/22/11278760/war-on-drugs-racism-nixon
(War on drugs was designed with a racial bias against blacks)

https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1671&context=californialawreview
Stereotypes and Prejudice: Helping Legal Decisionmakers Break the
Prejudice Habit

pdf of Dutch research on racism in the media:
http://www.discourses.org/OldBooks/Teun%20A%20van%20Dijk%20-%20Racism%20and%20the%20Press.pdf

Plugger said...

The pith of the shooter's actions results from working class resentment of immigration.

The irony is that the bulk of immigration to NZ is predominantly British working class.

The media's obsession to talk about religion, ethnicity /race etc is to miss the point.

Wayne Mapp said...

A very thoughtful article.

I have noted the potential far reaching implications of where Golriz Ghahraman and Marama Davidson would lead us. They almost imply that anyone on the conservative side of politics is ipso facto the harbinger of terrorism. But I have presumed some of what they have said is caught up in the emotions of the moment. I have also presumed that the PM would not indulge them that much in respect of actual law changes.

One of the issues is the balance between freedom of religion and respect for religion. I am personally not religious as such, but I do think that respect for religion is a very important attribute of a liberal society. This is more than freedom of religion, it is also a respect for others who believe differently. That is not to say that one accepts that every tenet of faith is valid or reasonable, but it allows respect for the beliefs of other people who believe these things. So for instance the catholic view on abortion and contraception. I think they are wrong, but I also think respect is owed to the foundations of these catholic teachings.

I have always been of the view that tolerance, which in my view means much more than just accepting that others believe differently, is at the heart of liberalism.

I think the Human Rights Commission, through its research could do more thinking about that. To better work out the boundary of free speech and hate speech. The higher courts will be well placed to review their findings. Though of course that typically requires an appeal to be lodged. Perhaps by crown initiated review proceedings (if appeals are not lodged) to ensure deeply argued cases are heard by the higher courts.

I personally deplore the hatred and abuse that exists on so much of the internet. And in this I am not thinking of the violent extremists, who I imagine do not actually participate in the debates on the various well known political blogs. However, much of what passes for debate on the well known blogs has had the effect of coarsening political discussion, and as a society, is making us less tolerant of other viewpoints. The events of the last week have been a real wakeup call to the administrators of these blogs, both left and right.

As you have noted, you have always wanted Bowalley Rd to be a quieter and more respectful place. Which of course does not preclude vigorous debate.

peter petterson said...

Thought provoking. We will have to wait and see how things settle down after all the mosque victim burials and people get back into the swing of things. National will be looking for something to get their teeth into - they have had to support the govt in recent times.

Simon Cohen said...

We can see on this blog how sensitive some Jewish people are to any criticism of Israel, even mentioning the word Jew seems to bring stress.

Greywarbler seems to have a problem.
Chris's post was nothing to do with Jews but once again Greywarbler brings it up.
I wonder why.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

AFAIK, it is quite difficult to get a successful prosecution on hate speech in New Zealand. The law quite rightly sets a high bar.
But when you call immigration into America "white genocide" – Coulter
Or when you call Iraqis "primitive monkeys" – Carlson
Or when you call Nazis "fine people"
You are demonising and dehumanising a group of people, and should not be surprised that some young Nazi fuckwit or take this as a license to kill them.
Now I'm not sure which if any of these statements would pass the bar we set for hate speech in New Zealand. And I'm pretty sure we don't want to drive it too far underground. But we should at least try to make sure that mainstream organisations don't carry this shit. Let them concentrate on their safe space, and form their own platforms where they can say what they like, and they are perhaps easier to keep an eye on.
Funny though when all those right-wing 'free-speech' people get on their high horse about it they forget that most of the high profile cases are deliberate provocations by people whose business it is to get themselves banned. And apart from all the publicity, there aren't that many of them. Under the radar however there is a long list in the states at least of left-wing people being forbidden to speak. Don't see too many people from the right upholding their rights.
And of course the worst restrictions on free speech in the western world are restrictions on commercial speech. Don't see too much bitching about that either. But then it protects people's "private property" right?

j4d3 goat said...

Another excellent post, Chris.

I'm a conservative but I have no problem in saying that your comments have been **by far** some of the most thoughtful and well-considered of all in the last week or so.

"Vilification must not, under any circumstances, be construed to mean that any particular system of religious belief can be rendered legally immune from all forms of criticism and/or challenge."

Agreed.

I find this snippet (from an article about the arrest of Elisabeth Sabbaditsch-Woolf for criticising Mohammed) quite chilling -


"On Thursday, 25 October the ECHR ruled that my conviction by an Austrian court for discussing the marriage between Prophet Mohammed and a six year old girl, Aisha, did not infringe my rights of freedom of speech.

I was not extended the courtesy of being told of this ruling. Like many others, I had to read it in the media.

The ECHR found there had been no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights and that right to expression needed to be balanced with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.

In other words, my right to speak freely is less important than protecting the religious feelings of others."
- end quote

That's a *big* problem. Even calm, rational fact-based discussion of Islam is *bound* to cause offense. There is no getting around it, but that doesn't mean that such discussion should be silenced.
In fact, such discussion could even **help** Muslims!
I will briefly show how here.

To keep things cool and calm, I will use the analogy of a house and its occupants. Islam is the "house", and Muslims its "occupants".
Here, I will be criticising the "house" and its "builder", Mohammed.
This means we can have the "occupants" safely off to one side in this discussion.

The "builder", Mohammed, was not a nice guy (to put it mildly).
He is revered in Islam as "the perfect man" but it is easy to show that this is far from the case.
There are many links direct from Islamic texts showing this but I'll leave them out for now.

Not only that, but the "house" - the Quran - itself says that the sun "sets in a muddy pool" and there is a hadith saying exactly the same thing.

( No, it doesn't say that it *looks* like it sets in a muddy pool, and if you're unconvinced I can show a video all about this. )

You would be *amazed* at how *little* many Muslims actually know about Islam. I've seen countless testimonies from former Muslims saying "I didn't know this, I wasn't told that."

So - given all of the above - wouldn't it be *helping* Muslims to somehow (gently) show them that the "builder" was in fact a bad man and that the "house" was built on "sand"?
Wouldn't it be giving them the gift of *freedom* by helping them "move to a new and better house" - a new set of beliefs?

I'm trying to show that criticism of an ideology *can* actually *help* those inside it - especially those who may not have an in-depth knowledge of it.

I am reminded of the awful Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland - an act which horrified those on both sides, sped up the peace process and eventually resulted in the Good Friday peace agreement.

What I'm suggesting here may be a bit "far out" but it is meant to be an effort to see something constructive come out of what has happened.

Jack Scrivano said...

Chris, you have been mining a rich vein these past few weeks. Thank you. Long may it continue. I just wish that your calm, considered words were being more widely distributed.

greywarbler said...

I wonder why you are so quick to comment on my comment Simon Cohen? Do you think it points up mine about the over-sensitivity of some people to comment, much less criticism? I wrote about why you reply. So you asking me why is just silly. I explain the difficulty we have in NZ talking about issues and giving you as an example of OTT reaction. You acted expeditely demonstrating my reasoning.

GJE said...

The evil in the hearts of men is is not so easily removed..We are all like sisyphus, the best we can hope for is that he had a happy life.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The "builder", Mohammed, was not a nice guy (to put it mildly)."

Mohammed was no more than a man of his time, and shouldn't be judged by the standards of today. He was no worse than Richard the second of England who married an eight year old for instance or John de la Pole who married a seven year old. The first of which is generally lionised (sorry couldn't resist that).

He was certainly more merciful than Genghis Khan, who use massacres as a tool of war, and kinder than Arnaud Amalric of Albigensian Crusade fame.

"You would be *amazed* at how *little* many Muslims actually know about Islam."

You would be *amazed* at how *little* many Christians know about Christianity.

You want to give them a new set of beliefs? What – Christianity? Some form of "Muslim reformation" that you guys are always going on about? Given that Christians haven't abandoned their penchant for violence after a number of Christian reformations I doubt it would have much effect somehow.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Dammit, I had a senior moment again. Of course it was Richard the first who was lionised.:)

Shawn Herles said...

The terror attack in Christchurch was an attack on the values of liberal democracy. The alt-right as a whole is a threat to those values. So too is the kind of thinking, represented by Marama Davidson, referred to as "woke" Progressivism, but as I prefer to call it, the alt-left. As a believer in the validity of the horseshoe theory, it is no surprise to me that there are more than a few parallels between the two supposedly opposite movements. Both are forms of weaponized racial thinking that seek to increase racial divisions and divide people, along racial lines, into "good" and "bad" tribes. Both are profoundly opposed to the heritage of liberal thought that was gifted to us by the Enlightenment. Both are deeply authoritarian and intolerant of dissent. Both see Western civilisation in it's current form as irredeemable. They may have very different ultimate goals, but they share a similarity of thinking and ideology in many other areas. They form a negative feedback loop in the West. Young white men seek refuge in the alt-right in part because of the anti-White rhetoric of the alt-left. As the alt-right becomes more extreme and dangerous, so too does the alt-left respond with ever more extreme proposals, what some have called illiberal liberalism.

Now, more than ever, those people in the broad centre, regardless of any other differences in politics, Right and Left, Conservative and Liberal, those who still believe in Enlightenment values of personal freedom, free speech, and liberal democracy, must resist these two extremes.



Trev1 said...

Religions are sets of ideas and as such they must never be protected by the State from criticism or debate. In fact we have just got rid of our blasphemy law. Nor can you privilege one religion above others as the Human Rights Commission sought to do in 2017 through proposing the offence of "disharmonious speech" in respect of critism of Islam or the actions of Muslims. The existing legislation in regard to inciting hatred or abusing people still seems fit for purpose. In any case I don't think any aspiring terrorist is likely to be deferred by any law, and they will find their beliefs "validated" in places well beyond our jurisdiction.

Nick J said...

Nice links Grey, very insightful upon how we respond to differences, both consciously and unconsciously.

Nick J said...

Couple of points Wayne.

Yes I agree we need to be sensitive to people's religious opinions even if we do not believe. Strikes me modern rationalists forget that our Western culture of which some are so critical cannot be divided from it's religious roots. These inform our morals, ethics, language, institutions etc, you cannot escape two millennia of compounded ideas and actions.

Second the bile on the blogs. I have been critical of you here but in general it is in the form of hard questions or rebuffs, not invective. It is calmer on Bowalley, keep it coming.

Nick J said...

GS I'd hate that we emulate those Right wing states that ban free speech the way the Right does. In fact we should encourage the freedom of expression from the people you mentioned because we can then identify them and their views in daylight. Expose them for the poison they are. When you see so many people come out to support the Islamic community you have to have faith that we are good, and that poisonous statements will get condemned by the vast majority.

Nick J said...

Shawn it has become concerning that post modernism sees the culture of the West entirely through the prism of exploiters and victims. It stands condemned and this insidious view is the current view of our (Un)intelligentsia.

I'd contend that to deplatform a person's cultural history is criminal and leads to such movements as white supremacy. Tell them they are bad and just watch them prove it.

Guillaume said...

For more than twenty years I lived in East Africa and Arabia and was in constant contact with Moslems. Goat is right. It did not take me long to conclude that the religion is a cultural artifact rather than a spiritual dimension. In other words, a person born in such a milieu has no choice other than to subscribe to the faith. But, that attachment is superficial and demands only that the "believer" follows the mob and goes through the motions, dress, ritual prayers and total unquestioning submission.

I kept an English translation of the Quran handy in order to counter the assertion by certain of the troops under my command that they could not engage in certain necessary activities – because the activities were contrary to the tenets of the faith. Challenged to say where in the Quran these activities were forbidden, invariably they could not. They also maintained that an English translation of the book was impossible, the Quran could appear only in Arabic.

I once lived next to a mosque where boys were subjected, day after day, to a routine of learning the Quran by heart. I recall research at the time which concluded that being subjected to such a discipline rendered the boys incapable of independent thought.

Invited to dine with the British resident at Muscat, we were met at the door by his Excellency who said "Welcome to Muscat, rushing headlong into the thirteenth century". That was in the 1960s but just about sums up Islam.

That said, I would add that these remarks apply just as well to Christianity.

Simon Cohen said...

Dear Greywarbler,
You ask why I am so quick to comment on your comment.The answer is so blindingly obvious that I am amazed you ask it.Or perhaps knowing you I shouldn't be amazed.
I read your comment yesterday and responded.
There isn't that normal.
Perhaps not to you but I would suggest that to the vast majority of readers of this site it is.
You seem to have a paranoia about my ethnicity.
Perhaps if you didn't hide behind a pseudonym we could be a little bit more knowledgeable about yours.
But you won't as you prefer to snipe from the shadows.

David Stone said...

@ Wayne and j4d3 Goat
One fundamental problem with religious tolerance is that they are in their teachings quite intolerant of each other. If you are a devout Muslim then Christianity is heretical and vice versa. So you can't be one and not believe the other to be offensive if you hold exactly to script.
So in this sense religious tolerance is only possible for agnostics.
D J S

greywarbler said...

'Horseshoe theory' - for people like me what don't know everything yet.

In political science and popular discourse, the horseshoe theory asserts that the far-left and the far-right, rather than being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum, closely resemble one another, much like the ends of a horseshoe.
Thanks Wikipedia

However the horseshoe has a significant space between the ends. They are alike in that they are both distant from the centre; out on their own and with no way to move except back towards the centre. In political terms they would be the outliers and isolated, and not part of the main polity.

David Stone said...

@ Greywarbler
And as with a horseshoe magnet they are poles apart.
D J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"GS I'd hate that we emulate those Right wing states that ban free speech the way the Right does. In fact we should encourage the freedom of expression from the people you mentioned because we can then identify them and their views in daylight. Expose them for the poison they are. "
I have heard this before, but I remain unconvinced – although willing to be convinced perhaps. Seems to me that Germany and Austria have experience with this sort of thing, and they know from experience how quickly right-wing ideologies can take root and spread. And their laws are much stricter than ours.
The problem is that exposing them to the light also exposes them to all sorts of vulnerable and naïve young people who for whatever reason take them to heart – maybe to fill some sort of void in their lives. It would be nice if we could fill this void with something more positive but neoliberal economics and politics doesn't allow for this so much. And if we are going to expose them, we have to challenge them and that's not done enough. Particularly in the milieu of the ignorant. Let's face it, most people these days live in a political bubble where their ideas aren't challenged, and anyone who speaks up against them is piled on and abused. Or for that matter banned – I'm talking to you whale oil. And once people have settled on an ideology, or a set of religious beliefs, or a conspiracy theory, it's extremely difficult and expensive to bring them round to a more sensible point of view. It's certainly not going to be done in places like this. Particularly it seems to me with the extreme right who don't like to give an inch and take great pride in never doing so. The problem is of course Brendolini's bullshit asymmetry ": the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it". But if you have any concrete ideas I'd be extremely interested.

Shawn Herles said...

According to the news some people walked away from the Auckland vigil for the terror attack victims after Marama Davidson and some other speakers hijacked the vigil to talk about the Treaty and the supposed White supremacist nature of New Zealand.

The victims of the Christchurch terror attacks were Muslims. The attacker was an Australian who had lived in NZ for only a few years. The Treaty and Maori-Pakeha relations have nothing to do with this attack.

Jacinda Adern was right, the attacker was not one of us. Marama and other voices insisting he was, and was a product of Kiwi white racism, is not only factually wrong, it paints all Pakeha New Zealanders as mass murdering terrorists. How that is supposed to advance race relations in New Zealand is anyone's guess, but as a strategy to drive more people into the arms of the alt-right it's perfect.

greywarbler said...

Simon Cohen
You seem to have a paranoia about my ethnicity.
Indeed not. It often is that people who discuss Jewish matters and have Jewish names, are Jewish. So I jumped to that conclusion. Sorry.
My identity is not anything to be paranoid about. But I like to not draw the ire of people who might be paranoid so prefer a pseudonym.
I am sorry I spoke about anything Jewish or had an opinion that I expressed about anything Jewish or about Israel, or even mentioned those names, or any name that is a matter of concern to you.
I hope that is satisfactory to you.

Anonymous said...

You want to give them a new set of beliefs? What – Christianity? Some form of "Muslim reformation" that you guys are always going on about? Given that Christians haven't abandoned their penchant for violence after a number of Christian reformations I doubt it would have much effect somehow.

Not to mention that ISIS, et al, *are* an attempt at a "Muslim Reformation". They are explicitly trying to abandon a "corrupted and worldly" mainstream, and return to an older and more pure faith. The goals and methods of the fringe Islamic crazies are not actually that different from early Protestants, right down to the destruction of statues.

Geoff Fischer said...

Kia ora David Stone
You make a valid point. All religions hold in their heart that theirs is the only true way, and for many "tolerance" is merely a useful tactic rather than a fundamental principle. However, tolerance as a tactic is better than no tolerance at all.
A way for religious (and non-religious) people to approach the problem is to recognise that contradiction is not just present in religion, it sits at the very core. Some, both religious and agnostic, would like to have it otherwise, and they are the ones who tend to become zealots or fanatics. It is better to embrace and accept the contradictions in our respective faiths, and to balance them with judgement and humanity.
Another complication is that religion deals with the spiritual or immaterial realities, and can only represent those realities through words and images taken from the material world. I would suggest that very few modern day Jews or Christians fully understand the symbolic language and the allegorical meanings in the Hebrew or Greek scriptures. As a consequence literal interpretations prevail giving rise to agnosticism on the one hand and irrational beliefs on the other.
Without wanting to elevate one culture or ethnic group above another, I would say that religious tolerance is more than a principle for Maori culture. It is a given, and Hahi Mihinare, Ratana and Ringatu and other denominations work together pretty well, and along with that is a generous acceptance of "newer" faiths such as Islam.
Tolerance goes with humility. We don't know everything. We don't get everything right. Therefore we have to listen and to respect differences.

Anonymous said...

Right back to blasphemy laws, eh, Chris? But misogynist, homophobic and violence-inciting *religious texts* will be exempt?

Just like the EU and Canada.

Charles W Etherington said...

Well done. Keep it up. Keep up the exposure of the revolt against reason.
Chris the rule of our current law as you say, is exactly what we should stand behind, and use and test. As you have also said more elegantly than I, our culture and values are not at fault here and are in fact exactly what we should reinforce to combat ideological hate. So we can deal with the likes of Davidson & co. I would like to see her prosecuted for hate speech under existing law, and the case probably fail. But the ensuing exposure of the dead end, indeed genocidal ideology behind her views would do good.

Kat said...

The Greens are a side dish....always have been.

sumsuch said...

Oh, Kat.

Since the death of the Alliance the Greens have been the only way to vote for old New Zealanders as Chris Trotter describes us. Certainly never the Labour of Douglas and the guy with the moustache before he became mayor of Auckland. The NZ overthrown for the rich in 1984 has it's voice and it's not the chaps who did it and have never gone back on it. And we believe with every shred of us we are the real NZ. And it's a fact laissez-faire has failed, except for the (new) privileged.

kiwidave said...

The EU states have gone deep into dangerous territory with their draconian speech laws and state persecution for even quite innocuous comment. Following the Charley Hebdo massacre the resolution was that we will not be cowed into the suppression of free thought and expression. That appears to have been forgotten with compassion the excuse however the real motivation looks very like Islamophobia itself. Not from the usual suspects but from the (so called) liberal governing elites and their fellow travellers. The terrorists have won!
Don't let it happen here and please help support the NZ Free Speech Coalition.

John Hurley said...

Queenstown is an interesting place. $1000 to $800 for a 2 to 3 bedroom house (per week). A friend was put up in one. The lady demanded cash and made $750 that night.
Oamaru is the same.
The extensive infrastructure south of Christchurch could be renamed The Air B&B Highway? Meanwhile the population moves to Cromwell. Migrant workers hope for residency but many firms don't earn enough sO they are insecure. Minimum wages go up about a dollar.

Could help explain political behaviour.
Taxiiiiii!?

John Hurley said...

I don't know if it is just me, but I noticed a doubling down on RNZ after Brexit and Trump.

Now there is a tripling down. Mediawatch (20th March) holds the assumption that there is nothing wrong with Islam, just too much negative reporting. In which case Samuel Hutchesons hypothesis is false.

As an academic writes "for multiculturalism to succeed identities need to be transformed" and " there needs to be an institutionalization of public discourse ". They are sounding like the old gramaphone stuck in a groove.

I listened to Paul Spoonley and Katherine Ryan discussing why Kiwis weren't hiring Chinese and Ryans anger was palpable. How dare the people behave normally in the face of the universal citizen project?

sumsuch said...

Extremism is engendered in our modern social media. No one's captivated, as is needed, by moderate rational views. You make a good case against further laws.

I accept our psychological need for scape goats comes above rationality.

John Hurley said...

There has been a sustained increase in white supremacist and far right extremism and in white supremacist and far-right terrorism for the past four or five years. Now, the Southern Poverty Law Center say there has been an increase in right-wing terrorism (2018). The other thing that runs in parallel with that is the mainstreaming of those ideas and an increasing problem for liberal democracy is the language and ideas that are associated with white supremacy that were initially on the fringes are increasingly making their way into the mainstream to the center of politics and are being normalised and that provides a sort of over acharching normalising of the ideas people have and that makes them more acceptable in politics. And that is a deep, deep challenge for liberal democracies.

And that is a problem where immigration has been used as a political matter for some years now.


https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2018687066/the-global-rise-of-white-supremacist-groups

Translation: the Overton window is shifting

"Over the past three months our conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world have confirmed that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups," the company said.

Note the lack of references, but I did read that whites are different due to their history so the same does not apply to other ethnic groups. Whites are also on the receiving end of immigration policies.

This is a policy which doesn't pass a rudimentary smell test.



John Hurley said...

Is and Ought. The long Mile between Douglas Murray and Brenton Tarrant
https://areomagazine.com/2019/04/03/is-and-ought-the-long-mile-between-douglas-murray-and-brenton-tarrant/

John Hurley said...

Shawn Herles said...
The terror attack in Christchurch was an attack on the values of liberal democracy.
.......
Except that our multicultural policy was never democratic. All the state apparatus are now focused on making the lie work "our beautiful multiculturalism".

Geoff Fischer said...

Normally political censorship in New Zealand is carried out in collaboration with the mass media organisations. However we have now entered a coercive phase in which the Chief Censor, the New Zealand Police, the judiciary and the Corrections Department are able to severely punish those who offer an alternative to the official narrative of the New Zealand state, with terms of up to fourteen years in prison. This has been done by taking advantage of, bending, abusing or on occasion breaching existing New Zealand legislation such as the Films, Video and Publications Act 1993.
The general trend has been to depart from rule of law considerations and the protection of democratic rights, and to move towards arbitrary decisions based on the supposed "expert judgement" of the Chief Censor, the discretion allowed to the New Zealand Police and the discretionary powers of judicial officers.
The government ban on publication of Tarrant's manifesto is a case in point. In the immediate aftermath of the Al Noor massacre government set the direction of the state and the media by demanding that Tarrant's name should not be published. It then approached the Chief Censor with a view to having his manifesto banned, but the normal lawful process under Section 13 (1) (a) of the Films, Video and Publications Act which provides for the right of public submission, was not followed.
Normally Tarrant himself would have had the legal right to make submissions before his own publication was classified as objectionable and therefore subject to ban. However the Chief Censor got around this difficulty with the pretense that it was not known if the "person" taken into police custody (Tarrant) was actually the same "person" who authored the document (Tarrant). This bureaucratic subterfuge was made possible by the government's declaration that Tarrant could not be named. The Chief Censor, in defiance of what we all know to be true, insisted that there was no way of knowing whether the "person in custody" was the same person who had an "interest in the publication (being an interest as owner, maker, distributor, or publisher of the publication)" and who therefore would have had a legal right to make submissions.
The proper legal process for banning a publication in New Zealand is important, because although there are very few checks, balances and restraints upon the Chief Censor there are some.
Firstly, the legislation assumes that the Chief Censor will not normally be actively searching out material in bookshops, newstands or on-line. Parliament was clearly of the opinion that would not be a good look. His role is to be a judge of cases which are brought before him by the chief executive of the New Zealand Customs Service, the Commissioner of Police, the Secretary of Internal Affairs or, in certain circumstances a member of the public. In this way he is able to maintain at least the appearance of impartiality, and is obstructed from assuming the role of an over-zealous and all-powerful censor of public morals and political opinions.
However in the case of the "Great Replacement" the Chief Censor acted unilaterally, without involvement from the Commissioner of Police or the Customs Department, and, in a manner which was almost certainly unlawful.
The Chief Censor's argument for his unorthodox action was that the banning of "The Great Replacement" was a matter of "urgency". One problem with this argument is that the Act makes no mention of urgency. Urgency is simply not a valid consideration in the law. A second problem is that in citing urgency, the Chief Censor made it apparent that he had predetermined the outcome of his investigation. His decision was neither impartial nor judicial. It was driven by the concerns of government which saw its treasured political narrative about to unravel in a very ugly and embarrassing way.

Geoff Fischer said...

For those who may be interested, I have broken a long silence on www.republican.co.nz to deal with the above and related matters in greater depth.