Free speech is under more threat than ever

Free Speech Coalition

?Never waste a good crisis? is attributed to Churchill, referring to the political activist?s opportunity to panic people during a crisis into accepting changes they would otherwise reject. The enemies of free speech have it front of mind. Claiming compassion, they?ve seized the Christchurch attacks as a licence to attack free speech rights. Without the slightest evidence they are linking the massacre in the public mind with free speech rights, or free speech supporters (like us).

Meanwhile, the government is setting dangerous precedents as it urges censorship (see below).

Political leaders may be well-intentioned. Most will be genuinely anxious about further hurt to victims. They want to represent our horror. But it is easy for politicians to make grand gestures. Few countries and people fail to share genuine horror and sympathy. But such political statements often prove to be hollow. The short-lived ?We are Charlie Hebdo? unity in France after an attack on journalists who exercised free speech to criticise a religion, meant little a few months later when censorship was proposed for publications offensive to religion.

What has long distinguished New Zealand democracy has been calm resolution to hold to core values, and not be rattled by risk and the emotion of the moment. We are asking you to help defend that value, and our long-held commitment to free speech.

The Free Speech Coalition believes that our heritage, and true compassion, are best served by assuring all who live in New Zealand, not that they will be protected from unwelcome argument or criticism or social judgment, but that they will be protected from violence and coercion whatever their views and however unpopular they may be.

To date, we have seen little government interest in assuring us that New Zealanders will remain free to speak frankly, to debate and to criticise without threats from the state or privately. Instead, we see increasing signs of opportunist intention to use state power to suppress New Zealanders? access to ideas that are not blessed by elite consensus.

While our court case with Auckland Council remains set down for September, it is clear we may have a bigger battle to fight in the meantime. Efforts to protect free speech are becoming more pressing and important.

The Free Speech Coalition is standing firm against knee-jerk Government censorship. Will you contribute to pushing back on the politicians now supporting activists who have long sought to suppress conversations they find unwelcome?

New Zealanders told we are not trusted to read the terrorist?s manifesto

To me the most vital part of freedom of speech is our right to receive and seekinformation. The speaker?s rights are essential but secondary.

That?s why I am putting so much time into working with the Free Speech Coalition. We?ve taken the principled position that no New Zealander should be at risk of going to jail for accessing the Christchurch terrorist?s manifesto. It is normal, and commendable, for people to seek their own understanding of the motivations behind the evil acts. It is prudent to mistrust the authorities in such matters. After all, they too may consider this a crisis and a national outpouring of emotion that they should not waste.

It is completely alien to our history and our democratic strength (as a self-ruling citizenry) to be told that we must rely on those in power to interpret what an evil person has written.

The Chief Censor?s office says we should not fear. He has power to release the manifesto to approved members of the media and academia. That shows an insufferable elevation of elite privilege, and lack of trust in ordinary New Zealanders.

Our efforts to challenge the Chief Censor have attracted media attention here, and around the world. We are still waiting for the Chief Censor to legitimise access to the document. Without that, can anyone in New Zealand discuss intelligently without breaking the law, the political claims now being made about the evil shooter, and what has influenced him?

The push for new ?hate speech? laws

Activists like Lizzie Marvelly are blaming hate speech, and even the concept of free speech, for the shootings. This has led Police Minister Stuart Nash to say he?s open to strengthening speech laws. On Saturday, Stuff.co.nz reported:

Hate crime law review fast-tracked following Christchurch mosque shootings

Justice Minister Andrew Little is considering making hate crime an offence in the wake of the March 15 Christchurch terror attack.

[…] Little said he was fast-tracking a widespread review of New Zealand’s existing hate speech legislation.

[…] “I certainly think that the laws dealing with what we call ‘hate speech’, and human rights law, are woefully inadequate,” Little said.

New Zealand already has strong laws against the incitement of violence. Who is intended to define what counts as ?hate?, and how many peaceful New Zealanders will find themselves targeted?

UK experience shows that so-called ‘hate speech’ laws can be effectively blasphemy laws in a new guise. They can be used to gag anyone expressing views a media pile-on considers unfashionable.

We will not roll over to those who try to suppress unwelcome views with the trite label ?hate speech?. We will make sure that New Zealanders understand how ?hate speech? laws overseas have actually been used. Most recently UK  Police have arrived at homes to seize phones and computers of people who have been uncowed enough to criticise men being allowed into women?s toilets.

Our work relies on your support

Last year, and with your help, the Free Speech Coalition exposed Massey University’s chancellor, got Don Brash onto campus, and showed up Phil Goff for his dishonesty. Will you donate $500$250, or even just $50 so we can continue?

We are up against activists like Lizzie Marvelly, politicians like Andrew Little, and academics like Massey?s Vice-Chancellor. Your support means the activists and politicians can?t push their anti-speech message without a fight.

Donate

Thank you for your support,

Stephen Franks
Spokesperson
Free Speech Coalition

33%
×