Monday 12 July 2021

Unconvincing Excuses: What Will the Left Say When the Right Starts Cancelling Its Speakers?

But Whose Chains Are Chaining Whom? Were New Zealand leftists denied access to Te Papa by a right-wing New Zealand Government their supporters would be outraged. They would not, however, find it easy to mount a credible objection. Their failure to speak up for freedom of expression in the cases of the Canadian Alt-Rightists, Molyneaux and Southern, Don Brash and SUFW, would undermine their protests, and expose them to charges of inconsistency, double-standards, and the most rank hypocrisy.

HERE’S ONE for the “We told you so!” file. Ever since Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff, personally declared Stefan Molyneaux and Lauren Southern personae non gratae in his city, or, more accurately, in the venues controlled by his city, the Editor of The Daily Blog and I have been warning that such bans can, and will, be used by authoritarians of all stripes to suppress freedom of expression.

Daily Blog Editor, Martyn Bradbury, also warned that such a heavy-handed example of censorship by the Left would be seized upon by the Right and turned to the electoral advantage of its principal representatives – the National and Act parties. In this regard, he has been proved entirely correct. Act’s leader, David Seymour, in particular, has emerged as Parliament’s most effective standard-bearer for Free Speech – a cause formerly associated, almost exclusively, with the Left.

At the time of Goff’s ban, I waited impatiently for the New Zealand Civil Liberties Union to come out swinging on behalf of this most precious of civil liberties. When no such defence of free speech was mounted from that quarter, I felt morally obliged to throw in my lot with the Free Speech Coalition – the group of mostly conservative activists summoned into existence by Goff’s high-handed intervention. That “coalition” has now become the Free Speech Union, an incorporated society modelled on the British interest group of the same name.

Right on cue, just as the FSU had finished putting on its armour and was in the process of sharpening its sword, the Labour Government has released its proposed legislative remedies for “hate speech”. Something tells me that the drums of a full-scale propaganda war will soon be beating on this issue. The government and its friends should be looking to their own harness. The fate of the Left seems likely to turn on the outcome of this looming ideological encounter.

And if the Left loses? If issues like Hate Speech and He Puapua carry the Right to a stunning victory? What should the Left expect then?

One possible version of the future was played out this week in the US state of Texas.

According to the left-wing American publication/website Mother Jones, two radical historians, Chris Tomlinson and Bryan Burrough, were supposed to give a talk at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin about Forget the Alamo, a new book they co-authored with Jason Stanford.

Written in the same anti-colonialist spirit as our own proudly revisionist New Zealand history curriculum, their book “sets out to dispel the myths of the Republic of Texas’ founding”. [The Republic of Texas was founded in 1836 by land-hungry American settlers seeking to add another slave state to the USA, and to get around the highly inconvenient problem that in the newly independent Republic of Mexico, of which Tejas was still a province, slavery had been abolished.]

But, when news of this event reached the ears of the Republican state government of Texas, its representatives on the “Preservation Board” of the museum peremptorily cancelled the authors’ talk.

“I think we’ve been censored”, Tomlinson told the media. Texas’s Lieutenant-Governor, Dan Patrick, was only too happy to confirm the author’s suspicion. “As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it. Like efforts to move the Cenotaph, which I also stopped, this fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place”, Patrick tweeted.

Now, if this story is ringing your memory bells, then so it should. In its shape, the Texas incident not only conforms neatly with the behaviour of Mayor Goff in response to the visit of Molyneaux and Southern, but also with that of the Vice-Chancellor of Massey University who “cancelled” Don Brash, and also with that of the local authorities that denied their venues to the trans-gender-sceptical group “Speak Up For Women”.

Were the New Zealand equivalents of Tomlinsin, Burroughs and Stanford to be denied access to Te Papa by a right-wing New Zealand Government, similarly citing the authors’ “fact-free” re-interpretation of New Zealand’s colonial history, their supporters would be outraged. They would not, however, find it easy to mount a credible objection. Their failure to speak up for freedom of expression in the cases of Molyneaux and Southern, Don Brash and SUFW, would undermine any objections they attempted to make, and expose them to charges of inconsistency, double-standards, and the most rank hypocrisy.

No doubt they would find reasons why “their” case was different. No doubt “progressive” speech must always be considered exempt from censorship. The right-wingers de-platformed by mayors, vice-chancellors and local authorities would all, I’m sure, be dismissed as “hate speech” criminals with no rights worthy of protection. What’s more, in the ears of their comrades such defences would sound entirely convincing.

Alas, in the ears of those who still believe in that classic defence of free speech (customarily attributed to Voltaire) “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” my guess is that the Left’s self-serving justifications will sound a lot more like excuses.

Unconvincing excuses.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 9 July 2021.


petes new write said...

Health is more of a priority at present - getting the Covid jabs rather than so- called civil rights.

Nick J said...

Well argued Chris, and I expect the rebuffs will all mention examples of nasty speech they want banished. Must say I dont like a lot of what I hear but I reckon its safer to get it out in the open and respond.

It would appear that the Left in its urge to drive all and any social justice agendas has gone soft. Soft between the ears with regards to arguing on merit. Soft in individually fighting for whats right because they prefer the State to do it for them. Soft because they are not prepared to fight for the principles their forbears fought for. And intellectually soft on their own extreme practitioners who they fail to condemn. But the biggest softness I constantly observe among my fellow Lefties is blindness to the consequences of ill thought out actions and policies.

CXH said...

Much like funding media with conditions attached on what they must support. In reality forcing those that accept the coin to be a mouth piece for government.

Perfectly acceptable at this point, but what if National continues this practice when they finally regain power. The cries from those presently supporting this money with hooks will be deafening. Hypocrisy seems to have been removed from the modern lexicon.

Jack Scrivano said...

I am an omnivorous consumer of ideas and opinions. Left, right, high, low, I’ll read (or listen to) most of them. Some I agree with; some I don’t. But most of them give me cause to think. And when someone tries to ‘protect’ me from an idea or an opinion, the first thing I think is: why? What truth are they seeking to conceal?

greywarbler said...

This is an old USA film that broke a lot of the rules about racism towards blacks mostly, by sending it up. Blazing Saddles, made by Mel Brooks, a Jewish man (born 1926 and apparently still going, and I hope still with a sense of humour). If we can sort out who is a serious problem and who has a problem that can be talked about and dealt with, we would be doing a service to ourselves and humankind! (Note the end - kind. That must be there for a reason.)

John Hurley said...

It didn't say much for Goff's confidence in his argument.

Jerome said...

When you understand the long-planning, scale, and powerful backing of all this, it is clear that there will be no escape from the new normal of "far leftist" suppressors in the streets and the stakeholder capitalists they work for with all your deets.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well Chris, conservatives have been doing this sort of thing for years. They practically invented cancel culture. At least in its modern form – remember the McCarthy hearings? They didn't need hate speech laws to do that. That was in a country with allegedly the freest free-speech laws in the world. And I somehow doubt if those eager advocates of free speech on the right would defend left-wing speech. Or Muslims speech for that matter. Both of those issues have come up in the past and the right had conniptions.

“Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

Odysseus said...

The proposed hate speech law proposes to punish "offences" which are highly subjective, such as "insulting" language, with penalties that are grossly disproportionate i.e up to three years imprisonment. It is tyrannical. Does Ardern think the Woke will reign for a thousand years? The Left's present ascendancy is the result of a panicked and febrile electorate seeking a security blanket from the pandemic. It will not endure.

greywarbler said...

So who is in the padlocked image above? Just thinking the person has kept his nose clean so he can't be Labour or National, would any of the other Parties be able to provide such an exemplary actor?

David George said...

Good comment re responsibility GS

Sometimes things have to be said, things that might offend, things that might even be an offence as far as the law is concerned. That is the burden, the responsibility we are all under as adults, be it partners, members of a community or citizens of a nation

"If you understand the rules - their necessity, their sacredness, the chaos they keep at bay, how they unite the communities that follow them and the price paid for their establishment and the danger of breaking them - but you are willing to fully shoulder the responsibility of making an exception, because you see it serving a higher good (and if you are a person of sufficient moral character to manage that distinction), then you have served the spirit, rather than the mere law and that is an elevated moral act. But, if you refuse to realise the importance of the rule you are appropriately and inevitably damned."
Jordan Peterson.

David George said...

The anti speech legislation is yet another example of how this government is prepared to flagrantly disregard the fundamental principles required for a free and democratic society.
The blatant, instituionalised undermining of the (formerly) free press is, in some respects, even worse.

The recipients (almost the entire media) of the 55million media fund are required to “actively promote the principles of Partnership, Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi acknowledging Māori as a Te Tiriti partner“.

And the first of the general eligibility criteria requires all applicants to show a “commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to Māori as a Te Tiriti partner”.

I think I would have been less disgusted if they had done it deceptively, at least that would indicate some sort of acknowledgment of it's hideous implications. Do they have any understanding of what they're doing; undermining a cornerstone of democracy?

Once they choose to ignore this what other bedrock principles are to be so casually ignored?

"On that same day, observing one working on the Sabbath Jesus said to him: "O Man, if indeed thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blest; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor of the Law."

Jordan Peterson explains: "If you understand the rules - their necessity, their sacredness, the chaos they keep at bay, how they unite the communities that follow them and the price paid for their establishment and the danger of breaking them - but you are willing to fully shoulder the responsibility of making an exception, because you see it serving a higher good (and if you are a person of sufficient moral character to manage that distinction), then you have served the spirit, rather than the mere law and that is an elevated moral act. But, if you refuse to realise the importance of the rule you are appropriately and inevitably damned."

They "knowest not".

theotherneil said...

So your defense is they done it first. How childish. Plus you use an American example from when, 1950s? If we want to play this game, then surely the ultimate cancel culture is any and all communist or dictatorship you wish to name?

John Hurley said...

The working class speaks

The Barron said...

Auckland is a diverse city, within that diversity are groups protected under the Human Rights Act in regard to the provision of goods and services. This includes political opinion, and this is weighed against the right of others that are citizens and do not think council resources should be spent or given to overseas speakers that deride the equity and humanity of sectors. If someone wanted a Grand Duke of the KKK to have a rally in a council hall, complete with sheets and nooses, most would agree in the council in declining. This shows there is a bar, where it is set is the debate. Many would see Stefan Molyneaux and Lauren Southern at the same bar, albeit with pseudo-intellectual veneer.

The other factor that needs to be weighed is security. Speakers that promote division will attract protest and counter-protest. Council assets require security, the hiring of the hall is outweighed by cost to the Council. Aucklanders are asked to subsidize such meetings; the cost of democracy? Or an unnecessary evil?

Many in this blog have attacked Critical Race Theory as a process of analysis while waving the free speech flag. I will give two quick examples of CRT as practically used in the USA legal sphere.

The first is the infamous 2nd Amendment which allows the right to bear arms and form militia. Gun lobbyists try to suggest that this was to prevent the tyranny of King George. But is the legal and political history is looked at through CRT we see the crucial debate in the writing of the US Constitution was George Mason and Patrick Henry demanding this to repress slave risings. They did not trust a northern controlled centralist military to suppress the slaves in the manner the local southerners wished for. The later Dred Scott decision in which black people were not considered citizens of the USA, even in free states, was because citizenship would give the rights under the 2nd amendment.

The second example I want to give regarding CRT in legal discourse is Nixon's 'war on drugs'. It was clear that the endless legislation and enforcement was going to impact inequitably on African-American and Latino communities. Indeed, we now know this was Nixon's intention. CRT can show that legislation that has been put forward as 'race neutral' impacts disproportionally. The knock on effects was fatherless families as a result of unnecessary imprisonment, and further social inequity.

As a result of right wing political hysteria over CRT, Arizona has banned ethnic studies. Chris gives a great example of the whitening of Texas history, but I do not accept his view that it is as a result of minorities somehow oppressing the voices of the empowered. There is an insecurity over the myths that has built the United States. Alternative narratives that highlight minorities, including indigenous experiences and slavery challenges the Disneyisation of American history. This is not cancel culture (as those desperate to discredit revision by playing the man not the issue), this is showing history as a narrative must include many points of view and it is not just the preserve of the winners.

That Texas or Arizona think they can legislate out of the truth shows the tide has well and truly turned. Demographics has both states having European-American minorities almost within the next generation.

Change is going to come. Voter repression and culture wars are all that is left for the right. I can personally do without Stefan Molyneaux and Lauren Southern as instigators.

Tom Hunter said...

remember the McCarthy hearings?

Oh Gawd! Yes, and I've grown up hearing nothing but from the Left when it came to Free Speech. So much so that I foolishly thought the Left would never do such a thing.

And here we are.

I should have known better after a varsity experience that taught me that a lot of things the Left either claimed or implied about their glorious selves, was just hypocritical BS and double standards.

Still, I though free speech would be a Red Line. Guess not.

David George said...

Sorry GS, I put the wrong quote up on my response to your responsibility quote. it should have been this one:

“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

David George said...

Barron, no one disputes that race isn't sometimes a motivating factor, the problem is with using it as an explanation for everything, a lens that sees even benevolent action as inherently evil simply on the basis of racial difference. There's nothing outside CRT, love and beauty, truth itself a considered manifestations of power and of hate. It's antihuman and destructive. I read Cynical Theories by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, a scholarly examination of Theory and it's implications, you might like to read it as well.

Here is part of their explanation of what it is:

"Critical race Theory begins with core presumptions such as that racism is ubiquitous in society and its ordinary state of affairs (rather than an aberration from them). It therefore believes that all interactions across racial difference must account for the influences of structural racism. Under the first core presumption of critical race Theory, the question is not “did racism take place?” but “how did racism manifest in that situation?” for all social phenomena. That is, the racism is presumed to be present and in need of a critical race Theorist to find it and point it out. Critical race Theory does not just presume that society is fundamentally racist in its very structure, but also that it is intrinsically organized upon “anti-Blackness” in particular, leading to seemingly peculiar concepts like “brown privilege,” “brown complicity,” and “brown fragility” alongside the more obvious “white privilege,” “white complicity,” and “white fragility” upon which they are modeled. These posit that white and brown people have a vested interest in anti-Blackness because it affords them privilege, which makes them complicit in white supremacy and too emotionally fragile to cope with challenges to that social order. In other words, it is a conspiracy theory that everyone and, indeed, all of society (independently of the people in it, in a systemic sense) is organized against black people."

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Waste of time Gooding Jordan Peterson to me David. First of all his quotes tend to be pretty incomprehensible, and secondly he is one of the most terrible hypocrites, particularly on freedom of speech.

Nick J said...

Barron, thats an extraordinary rewrite of history to justify claims. It really does exemplify how if you utilise one mirror to look at an issue you will only see what that mirror reflects.

Lets begin with the Second Ammendment which you contend was to keep black slaves down. Absolutely right, except that was not the only and definitely not the primary reason. The primary reason was that the US had just fought a war and needed citizen militias against a still hostile plwer. On top of that there were tensions between federal and state power that made citizens demand the right to arms. Further they recognised that the cat was out the bag, most people farmed which required firearms. So no, it wasnt all about slaves.

Nixon and the "War on drugs". All about race? No doubting he was racist, plenty of evidence. But he did the same to hippies and hated lefties too. He associated all of them with a drug culture which there is sufficient evidence he fealt strongly about, actually to "cure" the people affected. Ultimately though power was the driver, votes and if that trod on any community so be it. So racist yes bjt not the sole reason.

Try a few more analytical tools in your repertoire and you can argue views you dont like on their merits. Alternatively you can just shut them down and hope they go away.

The Barron said...

That the primary argument on the 2nd amendment was Henry and Mason against James Madison, I understand this is highlighted in Carol Anderson's new book 'The Second: race and guns in a fatally unequal America'.
Just because the militia in case of British tyranny has become the primary narrative, does not mean it stands up to scrutiny when the text of the constitutional debate is analysed.

You are correct that Nixon also targeted hippies, but that fails outside CRT looking at the concept of race. Generationally hippies can change, the on-going effect of the war on drugs and subsequent legislation out lived Nixon in African-American communities.

The Barron said...

What is described is one view on CRT and one description of the process. The right are both paranoid and devious in the representation.

In regard to race not an explanation for everything, CRT is an analytical tool to see how legislation impacts on sectors defined through the concept of race. Different law will impact differently, some legislation may well be 'race neutral' but that which is not should be identified and then factored in the debate.

John Hurley said...

One of the most commonly quoted academic definitions7 is Barbara Perry’s, which is in the following terms:8
Hate crime… involves acts of violence and intimidation, usually directed toward already stigmatized and marginalized groups. As such, it is a mechanism of power and oppression, intended to reaffirm the precarious hierarchies that characterise a given social order. It attempts to re-create simultaneously the threatened (real or imagined) hegemony of the perpetrator’s group and the ‘appropriate’ subordinate identity of the victim’s group. It is a means of marking both the Self and the Other in such a way as to reestablish their ‘proper’ relative positions, as given and reproduced by broader ideologies and patterns of social and political inequality.

Julie Zhu
I feel that sort of positioning of Pakeha and everyone else. I would think of the ideal as Maori and everyone else because Maori are kind of the only unique aspect of NZ that really needs to be upheld if we are to move forward and I think there just needs to be solidarity.

By that people who don't agree with Paul Spoonley are guilty of hate? It is a useful mechanism of social control applying to dominant ethnic groups who fail to dissolve themselves under the globalists rivers of migrants.

I'm not sure exactly what the above means. What I'm fishing for is that "hate" is a rhetorical argument suggesting something abnormal versus normal reactions to their interventions.

Even the term “hate crime” is itself contested: alternative descriptions which refer to “prejudice” or “bias” may be preferred.12 While the term “hate crime” is a well established one in the United Kingdom, “most credible definitions are consistent in referring to broader notions such as prejudice, hostility or bias as key factors”.13 In using the term “hate crime”, it is important to recognise the breadth of the concept. Such crime is only rarely committed by organised hate groups or extremists: “most hate crimes tend to be committed by relatively ordinary people in the context of their everyday lives”,14 and may stem from rather banal motivations.

Thomas Lumley
I have been trying to distinguish between New Zealanders of Chinese background and foreign investors.

Worrying about the latter I think is largely pointless — they bring money into the country, and they don’t get to take the land away. If they are outbidding residents, that means more money in NZ.

Worrying about the former is frankly offensive.

Chris Scott
Comments like – “But on top of that, if there is substantial foreign investment and if it is driving up prices, that’s only because of the artificial restrictions on the supply of Auckland houses” – raise questions about the bias of this “statistical” commentary.

Thomas Lumley
The government *does not* have the data necessary to resolve this issue. They could probably get closer than Labour did, but that’s not ‘resolving the issue’.

I’ve got no objection to the data being collected, but presumably anyone who thinks collecting it is important has some interest in acting on the results, and should probably say what action they have in mind.

And if you’re going to toss around casual accusations of intellectual dishonesty you might try checking what people’s ideological biases are, first. I’m not the only Labour voter unhappy with the statistics on this one.

Nick J said...

Excellent Barron, by using CRT we can reduce everything to a single cause, its those white fellas who are responsible for everything non whites suffer. Hang on, what would Marx say, no its the bourgeoisie. US red necks? Its the Liberals and blacks. Nazis... no you are all wrong, it is the Jews. None of them very sensible but hell somebody always has to be to blame.

Dont know if you can see more rich irony in Cornel West (of CRT fame) got denied tenure at Harvard recently. His crime supposedly anti semetism.

The Barron said...

All of that is misrepresentation. CRT does not exclude any other source, cause or victim from legal analysis, it simply ensures the concept of race is factored in when cause and effect of legislation is academically analysed.

That is- how did the law evolve and was the concept of race and racism part of the origin of the law. What are the affects of the law and is it disproportionate against a group identified by the concept of race in both the law and enforcement.

Everyone and everything else people are presenting CRT as is a right smoke screen perpetuating culture wars

Nick J said...

Barron, you sound just like Joe MacCarthy, "its the Reds"... Right wing smokescreen, tosh.

Nick J said...

The right are both paranoid and devious in the representation.

Substitute Right for Devil, cue Torquemada.