"Free speech is the only truly safe space for minorities"

Friday last week, I finished up on a bit of a high. Defeating DIA’s proposed online regulator was a seriously major win; one that many Kiwis might not know about, but impacts them anyway. 

And now it's another big week at the Free Speech Union.

Did you see our latest international guest, Jonathan Rauch, on the AM Show? "Free speech is the only truly safe space for minorities." Too right! 

Ironically, the next day we saw Nīkau Wi Neera, a Wellington City Councillor, is trying to shut down an event this weekend run by Inflection Point which is accused of being transphobic- you know, standard lines. The speech expressed there will make the Rainbow Community ‘unsafe’.

Apparently he didn’t get Jonathan’s memo! 

Activists conspire to cancel Inflection Point conference 

Inflection Point is an event on gender-critical issues set to happen at Te Papa's venue Tākina this Saturday and has speakers scheduled such as Bob McCoskrie and Brian Tamaki. 

Nīkau Wi Neera, Wellington City Councilor put the word out to his followers to get the event cancelled, even blatantly saying it might be possible to shut it down on health and safety grounds (those who employ the 'thugs veto' tactic aren't usually so honest).  

Well, they won't shut it down on our watch!

That’s why we insisted on being able to meet with the Tākina management in person yesterday afternoon. That’s why the Free Speech Union exists- to hold our would-be-censors to account.

In no uncertain terms, I reminded them of their duties to respect free speech, and the fact that if they choose to cancel the event, they’ll likely be looking down the barrel of a court case. (You can read the letter I sent the General Manager at Tākina Events here).

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanua is also "deeply concerned" about the event. She told The Post“Wellington City Council has a long-standing commitment to recognising diversity and inclusion in the capital."

Yet again, the would-be-censors think it's okay to silence particular views in the name of 'diversity' and 'inclusion'. That doesn't sound very diverse or inclusive to me. 

We can't help but also see the irony in Brian Tamaki relying on free speech to have his say when he's been silencing particular views lately. This is the problem with censorship: It backfires. If we don't allow our opponents the right to speak, what do we expect when we want to have our say?

Jonathan Rauch: Why "free speech is the only truly safe space for minorities"

There were a couple of 'penny drop' moments for the producers on the AM Show while talking to Rauch on Monday morning.

"To fight the haters... you need to know what they're saying and how they're reaching their audiences and if you drive them underground by trying to silence them you lose the ability to do this..."

You and I know this. But it's what the activists who want to shut down Inflection Point don't get. 

Jonathan Rauch is a firm believer that the only safe space for minorities is free speech. What do they gain through suppression and cancellation? By Inflection Point going ahead, they know exactly whose speech they need to counter, if they disagree with it. 

Jonathan Rauch himself claims that, as an LGBT activist, he knows how it feels to be offended, but he'd rather this speech was out in the open. That way he knows the thoughts and perspectives of his opponents and can choose when and how to have constructive conversations.   

'Safe' space? 

I recently saw this sign in an office stating that it's a "safe space" where "the LGBTQI+ community can freely express themselves without fear". It "does not tolerate violence, bullying or hate speech" towards this community.

Well I hope it doesn't tolerate this against any community - why single out one?

Time and time again, we see this sort of communication used to cancel 'unpopular' opinions, not legitimate violence or harassment. 

If you insist only one side is able to express themselves freely, you're the problem we have against free speech. 

'Hate' crime work to continue

You'll remember we put out a public letter to Paul Goldsmith insisting that he drop the work on 'hate' crime laws. 'Hate' is a subjective term - we shouldn't be questioning if a crime was committed for the right or wrong reason. 

This week I received a reply from Goldsmith saying they intend to continue pursing this work, as it’s important for them to fight ‘hate crime’. 

This is just another way 'unpopular' opinions will be suppressed. When it's used to discipline criminals for their opinions, it'll send the message to everyone else that certain things are off-limits. 

With your help, we’ve got some momentum, pushing back against our would-be-censors. But there’s still work coming our way. 

None of this is ‘free’, and none of it is possible without you. We feel the pressure of having to fight on multiple fronts, and while we’re up to it, we need you to stand with us. 

If you value the fact that there was an organisation in place to facilitate 90% of the submissions against the DIA proposals, or that we have staff on hand to respond when events are threatened with cancellation, or that we're getting major media coverage that makes the case for why free speech matters, would you support our work now?

We can't do it without you!

Jonathan


Jonathan Ayling
Chief Executive
Free Speech Union
www.fsu.nz

PS. Read the letter we wrote to Tākina's General Manager insisting he upholds free speech.

Catch media coverage of our tour with Jonathan Rauch so far: Josie Pagani, AM Show, The Platform and Newstalk ZB. Listen to RNZ on Saturday Morning. If you're Christchurch based, RSVP to tomorrow's event

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  • Nadia Braddon-Parsons
    published this page in Blog 2024-05-15 16:28:47 +1200

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