Thugs' Veto strikes again: another Council abuses speech rights of ratepayers
A screening of the 'What is a Woman' documentary by a community group at a Tauranga council library has been cancelled following complaints alleging the event was transphobic and would amplify hate speech. Yet again, a city council shows disdain for the speech rights of their ratepayers, says Jonathan Ayling, chief executive of the Free Speech Union.
"After initially acknowledging that they didn't have the legal right to decline the group's booking, because of freedom of expression, further complaints appear to have spurred the Council on to place onerous security requirements on the group, resulting in the cancellation.
"This is the definition of the thugs' veto, where those lawfully expressing themselves are silenced due to the potential of violence from their opponents. Burdensome security requirements set the precedent that controversial speech is only available to the wealthy and privileged who can afford it. The purpose of free speech is to ensure even the poorest and least powerful have a voice.
"Individuals have claimed that transgenderism is 'not up for debate.' Yet, dogmatically insisting on one view, without any space for debate or disagreement, entrenches divided positions and is corrosive to social cohesion. Historically, questions related to other minority groups (such as race or sexual orientation) have been addressed not by censorship and shutting down debate but through dialogue and engagement.
"Suppressing debate and discussion on divisive issues is counter-productive, and in this case likely illegal. The Free Speech Union has contacted Tauranga City Council and is considering legal action."
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