An open letter to NZ Chief Censor David Shanks

**My message was a bit dramatic, but I was upset?

Dear Mr. Shanks,

A free society is not free if one man decides what an entire nation is allowed to see or read.

Knowledge is power and I find it objectionable that knowledge is being withheld from me. I find it objectionable that I am prevented from gaining a greater understanding. You cannot decide for me whether I might gain understanding from the manifesto. Only I can make that judgement, AFTER I’ve read it; but you are preventing me from doing that with the threat of imprisonment.

I find it insulting that you decided what I, a 39-year-old woman, can and cannot read. The rest of the planet is free to read that manifesto, but I can’t because you have decided for me.

I am being threatened with jail time because I want to read what Brenton Tarrant said in order to try and gain a better understanding of why he did what he did. I don’t want politicians and journalists (who have their own biases) telling me what this man said; I would like to find out for myself.

People get radicalised for many reasons over time and this one manifesto does not have magical properties that will radicalise people overnight. This is real life, not a Harry Potter movie. Brenton Tarrant is not Voldemort. Politicians refusing to say his name and you banning what he wrote will not have the intended result.

Children who are protected from death by their parents become terrified of death because they don’t know what it is and their imaginations make up an horrific bogeyman for them. You give Tarrant power by making him into a bogeyman.

You are not my father and I am not your child; I don’t need your protection. Please put an age restriction on the manifesto if you can’t resist the urge to censor.

The world is full of beauty; it is also full of scary, “objectionable” things but closing our eyes won’t make them go away.

People who become easily radicalised will get the information they want in spite of you banning it. Have you not heard of the Streisand effect? You might want to look into it.

You will only end up punishing curious and questioning people.
A free society means the government trusts its citizens and won’t punish all for the actions of one. I should have the freedom to read what this manifesto says without the threat of imprisonment.
It seems like knee-jerk reactions are the order of the day. It feels like a wound is hastily being sewn shut without disinfecting it first.

Please stop.

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