Whaleoil transcript part 2: Leighton Smith & Stephen Franks on free speech

Leighton:

The fact that the hate crime law review is fast tracking following the Christchurch shootings um, is a very big danger. As… as we said at the very beginning, um… “never waste a good crisis.” And that is what they are doing. Now I read a letter in today’s paper…

Stephen:

But see you get something… to do this you got to… you do what the… the enemies of freedom have been doing for a long time. Our new Human Rights Commissioner is a Corbyn supporter, he did a speech last weekend, in which he essentially said that human rights are sort of everything that’s nice, he referred to poverty and lack of money as being a human rights issue and that he was going to make sure that they were involved there, in other words Andrew Little has made sure that there is a really fat set of state-funded salaries for an elite group of people who have all the time in the world to push these things and National, of course, did nothing in that area.

They appointed equally dribbly people like the Privacy Commissioner who is quite happy to leap into Twitter with very unresearched support for confining free speech. Ah, he wants to see a right to be forgotten like in Europe where say, someone like Golriz the MP whose misleading CV and misleading claims about her victimisation leaving Iran under the right to be forgotten a lot of that stuff, you’d never be able to correct it. So, we’ve got a lot of institutions that are aligned with people on state salaries pumping this stuff.

Leighton:

I want to ask you, just briefly, with regard to the accused’s, so-called manifesto and the censor having banned any access to it whatsoever, and you can go to gaol if you… if you’re caught with it, um, and I ask myself the question, would anybody really be sent to gaol? The answer probably is, in the present environment, yes. But what is the argument in favour of being able to access it?

Stephen:

Well, there’s a simple practical one. Um, Golriz on TV ah, cited what this guy had described on his butt stock of his, of one of his weapons, and, was making the claim that we needed to suppress hate speech because ah, apparently, because it was all implied ahh she wouldn’t explore it, he must have been reading hate speech to have got where he was.

Well, I made sure that I could lawfully look through the manifesto and I can see, if I was a conspiracy theorist, I would see it being banned precisely because it’s very clear um… his sources and his ideas are as much green and as much left as they are right. They’d been talking about him being a right wing extremist, he’s clearly a racist, his… his writing is clearly he’s a white supremacist, but on the rest of it um, he hates capitalists, um he thinks that… he’s got a piece in there about murdering capitalists, he wants the minimum wage increased, he is very um, very concerned about population and um one of his reasons for the um murders is, as he says it, is because Islam is or Muslims are, having a lot more children and sees that as a problem for the world so if…

For me I am very… I doubt that there is a conspiracy but this banning contributes to the fear that it’s been banned because they actually don’t want people to know the real reasons because they want… not because they um, don’t like those reasons, more they want to be free to impute reasons and to impute connections with people like Free Speech Coalition.

Leighton:

Now, you are the lawyer here and you had appropriate access to that. Here’s a question. Ah, can I legitimately broadcast that part of the conversation you and I just had?

Stephen:

Yes.

Leighton:

That almost surprises me. So, here we are. There is much to be done, by the way, the um, the Free Speech Coalition are raising money, as they do, to fight a battle that I think um, is virtually a war these days, it’s a war for the mind as we say. How can we make a donation?

Stephen:

I… this is… I’m a pretty poor member, aren’t I? I don’t have the details but look, go to the… go to the net and look up Free Speech Coalition. Unfortunately there is another one, it’s in the United States and it’s about porn but we started using the name before… it was an emergency when Phil Goff said that he was free to decide that disharmonious speech wouldn’t be heard in Auckland City Council premises and it got established and we think we’re now a much more respectful and worthy line of comment if you do google it. Go to our website and I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t tell you how to give.

Leighton:

Indeed, now just very finally, you mentioned those appointments and the time and the… and the power that they have to… to follow the path that they want. That is what has become known, relatively recently, as the administrative state where appointments are made by government, powers are passed on, they’re not accountable to anybody – those people who are appointed, those departments that are established, um, there is no real push back from the… on the public’s part because they are independent and powerful. How bad is that?

Stephen:

Yeah, I mean it’s always been a problem of who guards the guardians and the accountability is to parliament, our… I mean I… I think it’s a very serious development in our democracy that people on public payroll are now allowed to be openly partisan and to actually try and steer legislation.

It used to be a convention that if you were on the public payroll you had to be neutral. You couldn’t promote law and law change, that was for politicians and for people um… with their politicians. That convention seems to have gone and um… with it the concern about showing impartiality or being absolutely clear that you’re… that you fight to be unbiased by people like the Human Rights Commissioner as I said the Privacy Commissioner or the Children’s Commissioner and there’s a whole lot of public money now being dedicated to um basically scorning and suppressing the majority of views of ordinary people.

But I don’t know how um… in a democracy we depend on a political party that has principles that we can vote for. Unfortunately, National appointed many of these people, and we now have no ability to get past that even in the judicial level we used to have a right of appeal to independent umpires outside and the privy council but now we’ve got a supreme court which is work stacking and, in my view, they are starting to stack it.

Leighton:

Free Speech Coalition member, ex politician and present lawyer Stephen Franks – very grateful for the time, thank you, and it won’t be the last.


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