From Right-Wing Moles To Free Speech Mountains: Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux were confident that all they needed to do to spread their ideas in New Zealand was announce their intention of staging an event. The Left could be relied upon to do the rest.
WHAT A PITY there is no “Politburo” of the New Zealand Left. A central committee of knowledgeable and experienced left-wing strategists and organisers who could make decisions on behalf of the wider progressive movement. Had such a body existed when the news of the impending visit of Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux broke, then what happened next would have been very different.
The Politburo would have perused the available information on the Canadian duo and very quickly realised that the best course of action for the New Zealand Left was to do absolutely nothing. No media releases. No posters. No protests. Certainly no threats to disrupt the speakers’ public meetings. In response to Southern and Molyneux, the New Zealand Left would do precisely zero, zip, nada, nothing.
Why? Because even a cursory glance at Southern’s and Molyneux’s modus operandi would have alerted the Politburo to the fact that protests and threats of disruption were absolutely indispensable to the success of the pair’s political touring.
Without the threats of disruption from Peace Action Auckland, the Auckland Council would have had no grounds for denying Southern and Molyneux access to the Bruce Mason Theatre in Takapuna (along with every other council venue in Auckland!) on health and safety grounds. The meeting would have taken place and, if the Canadians were lucky, they might have merited a few brief paragraphs in the NZ Herald. Most Kiwis would have remained blissfully unaware that Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux even existed.
If provocateurs fail to provoke, do they make any sound at all?
We’ll never know. Because, of course, the New Zealand Left does not have a Politburo to provide it with sagacious strategic advice. It is a wild, anarchic melange of individuals and groups, united only by the fierce conviction that all those who challenge the phantasmagoria of sectional sensitivities which constitute the contemporary “progressive” movement must ipso facto be fascists whose every public utterance, being “hate speech”, must be suppressed – by any means necessary.
Knowing this, Southern and Molyneux would have been confident that all they needed to do to spread their ideas in New Zealand was announce their intention to hold a meeting. The Left could be relied upon to do the rest.
That the Canadians’ first infusion of power came from the Mayor of New Zealand’s largest city must, however, have struck them as more than usually fortuitous. Phil Goff’s naked assertion of the right to determine what the citizens of Auckland could and could not hear was bound to rouse the defenders of free expression to action. Better and better! Southern and Molyneux could now count on tens-of-thousands of New Zealanders googling their names and watching their YouTube channels.
The next step was to begin the game of “will they or won’t they be able to secure a private venue?”. With social media crackling with ideological thrust and counter-thrust and “anti-fascist” coalitions being announced, the next phase of the propaganda operation was ready to unfold.
It was a phase Southern and Molyneux could hardly lose. Either the secured venue would stand firm against the inevitable threats and the meeting would go ahead. Or, the venue’s owners would be subjected to such intolerable pressure that the meeting was cancelled. If the former eventuated, then it would inevitably attract hundreds, if not thousands, of screaming left-wing protesters. If it was cancelled, the Canadians could present themselves as the victims of left-wing intimidation. Either way, the mainstream news media would feel obligated to step into the story.
Which, with the Powerstation’s decision to first hire out, and then deny, its facilities to the duo, is exactly what happened.
Had the proposed meeting at the Bruce Mason Theatre gone ahead without incident, Southern and Molyneux would have been able to preach to, at most, 800 already converted enthusiasts. As they wing their way back to Canada, however, they will be congratulating themselves on being presented to the tens-of-thousands of Kiwis watching the television current affairs programme “Sunday” in prime-time.
Many socially-conservative New Zealanders, seeing the Canadians for the first time, will doubtless have wondered how anyone could be offended by two such telegenic and articulate individuals. The stridency of their opponents, by contrast, must have appeared strange – even slightly sinister.
Had it ever been the intention of the Left and its kindred souls in the Human Rights Commission to extend and strengthen New Zealand’s laws against “hate speech”, then its fruitless attempts to suppress the views of Southern and Molyneux can only have rendered such an exercise significantly more difficult.
The debate stirred up by the repeated denial of both public and private stages to the pair on account of threats and intimidation has placed the issue of free speech squarely on New Zealand’s political agenda. The Left will find it much harder, now, to sell its arguments in favour of limiting New Zealanders right to free expression that would have been the case if Southern and Molyneux had simply been allowed to come and go without incident.
The Powerstation, Auckland, graffitied.
The person who sprayed graffiti on the Powerstation’s walls over the weekend described Southern’s and Molyneux’s foray into New Zealand politics as the “FREE SPEECH - EULOGY TOUR”. Given that eulogies are only pronounced over the dead, the graffitist is clearly someone who believes the Left has either already killed free speech, or is intending to do so in the near future.
He, or she, is wrong on both counts.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 7 August 2018.