If we are to be stripped of freedom of speech, it’s content doesn’t matter

Lauren and Stefan silenced

The two Canadian visitors have left these shores in circumstances never to be accurately recorded. After three weeks of controversial twists and turns that showed less regard for the laws of quantum physics than the last Terminator movie while simultaneously exceeding the New Testament’s volume of resurrection, it seemed to conclude in a stomach-churning car accident from which both passengers emerged uninjured.

More storyline twists in a media cycle than I’m told can be found on Shortland Street can amaze and exhaust in equal measure. By Monday, with Molyneux and Southern gone I was content to wait and observe. As incredible as the weekend had been, I’d just climbed out of bed midday Sunday following a legendary man-flu experience. My twitter feed required deciphering skills one only acquires religiously playing cryptic crosswords and I barely have the patience to finish the $3 Instant Kiwi version.

Aside from an absence of new facts and nothing new to say about how vital and essential free speech is to the liberties every individual in our country enjoys, it seemed much more prudent to watch and wait. The price of freedom remains eternal vigilance and I think some of us would benefit from using the latter more on occasion. A fact I was absolutely certain of is that the rabid, snarling proprietors of hate and haters of speech perceived a whiff of a scent of the chance of success last weekend and that perceived success was the result of the ‘threat’ of violence once; temporarily thwarted, only to be attained a second time by the implication of kicks and beatings.

Marxism has been a miserable failure for two centuries. Its renaissance in the 1970s from a poverty-ridden European economic ideology to a middle-class American cultural ideology was the biggest variation in over a century of failure. Nobody really solved the problem of peacefully collectivising land ownership involuntarily.

Dismissing people with radically different ideologies from your own as being stupid is easy enough to do. We’ve all learned that lesson at least once if we’re truly honest with ourselves. However, when your ideology fails enough times, I supposed even the most genuine believer will notice something sweeter about the scent of success. For New Zealand’s Marxist blobs of envy, a fortnight in which two simultaneous threats of violence achieved the desired silencing of opinion was unmistakably linked.

I did not for a moment wonder where the next case would be found, who it would target or how rapidly it would occur. I instead accepted its inevitability. It’s difficult to be accurate as to the date ‘Kardinal’ Karl Pearce penned his open letter to Massey University requesting the revocation of Dr. Brash’s permission to speak on their grounds but I’d guess it was late last week. The structure of his letter will likely become a template for every de-platforming campaign to come. When your idea of debate is chanting “(insert identity group) +3 more words, punctuated by colliding kitchen equipment, the sheer volume of complaints required to scrape an existence together make original writing prohibitively laborious.

While a ‘grammar nazi’ would have been helpful to read the letter in its entirety, it details concerns Dr. Brash may utter “supremacist hate speech” and should be prohibited from speaking. Binoculars were not needed to observe the vicious threats between the lines of the final paragraph. Pearce says,

I look forward to hearing […] what steps you will take to ensure the safety of those attending. Remember in light of their type of “Free Speech” does not come Free of Consequences.

For several years I have watched the chaos in American universities as threatening speech, labels, noise, wilful damage and assault have escalated at a similar pace to the proliferation of intersectional organisations and the exploding variety in physical tactics employed against modest political speakers on universities. The coverage of this violence has moved from Fox, Breitbart and Infowars (where I afforded myself a naive disbelief) to ordinary New Zealand news on 3!

The targets have changed from politicians and intellectual thinkers to qualified psychiatric or meteorological professionals neutrally lecturing scientific facts. The subject of gender, studied in incredible detail by countless experts is no longer decided by evidence. It is determined by a pronoun badge, air-horns and the shrieks of a coven of vagina costumes, cellulite models and crayon-scribbled monobrows.

I never went to university and the biggest debate I dealt with at 21, working in a supermarket, raged over a single-use plastic bags’ capacity to carry 1.5lt soft drink bottles: 2 or 3? (The answer is four and bags are f**king multi-use!).

My first experience of SJW-ism was a TOP candidate being asked by a student whether Gareth Morgan is homophobic because he called somebody a pansy once. When the 2017 election was concluded and the list of successful MP’s confirmed, the Greens resumed their production of a verbal manure with a new, international texture I’d seen before and pungency I could only guess until now.

When I joined the defence of freedom of speech for us all, not just a couple of barely known Canadian shit-stirrers, I didn’t know much about their views. I knew of them sufficiently to realise Southern was a fairly right-wing cultural conservative and Molyneux had begun as an anarcho-capitalist podcast host before transcending the discussion of topics unusual. I had made the decision not to discuss the merits of their ideas which don’t inspire me with great excitement and would stubbornly stick exclusively to the issue that mattered: Speech that does not incite violence, riots, suicide, genocide or individual rights nor instructs or threatens to do so is free speech. Speech that slanders or libels isn’t free but it is a civil matter requiring a plaintiff to raise a complaint with a court. Southern and Molyneux’s opinions did not breach that high bar, therefore both they and anybody else were as free to voice their controversial views as we were to respond to them. Conversely, the bar set by the left to be labelled a fascist is so low, nobody can dance the limbo.

I’m still unwilling to discuss the merit of much of what they say because if we are to be stripped of freedom of speech, it’s content doesn’t matter. Billions of people live under regimes in which voicing an opinion is the difference between life and death. I’m focused on ensuring New Zealanders do not join them. Now that Don Brash has found himself the next target of attempts to silence expression through implied violent consequence, I’m still solely communicating the point that free speech must remain free. Obviously, the former leader of the political party I belong to holds many opinions I share, though the enthusiasm for particular ones will differ. It makes not an iota of difference. The quality of the opinion expressed is less crucial now that the freedom to express it.

The result of Karl Pearce’s nasty letter in preventing Dr Brash from speaking at Massey University will be the third occasion in quick succession in which violence has been threatened, expression of ideas thwarted and where dirty tactics employed prevailed. It is inevitable that further controversial speakers will have to prepare to negotiate thuggish threats until either freedom retreats in terror or free individuals call the thugs’ bluff.

It is essential to the continuation of our liberal democracy that their bluff is urgently called when the next opportunity presents. One back down after another to violent threats won’t just increase the frequency of this behaviour but make an eventual refusal to cower an increasingly daunting act of resistance.

If the police fail to defend the victims of thuggery visibly, efficiently and convincingly, nobody can be certain of the numbers mobilised, nor the volume of blood spilt when threats become physical acts. I genuinely hope the evil of political terrorism will never again blight our country. Its application to the brutalisation of thought and expression is intolerable. The duty of current and future government is to guarantee its perpetual intolerance.

 


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Stephen Berry is a political commentator, professional retailer and ‘home-schooled economist’ who promotes the virtues of free speech, free markets and individualism. He has previously been a parliamentary Act party candidate, most recently in the 2018 Northcote by-election. This post is compiled in his private capacity.

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