When the Free speech coalition withdrew its urgent application for a judicial review of Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s claim to ban Molyneux/Southern from Council-owned venues, coalition spokesman Dr David Cumin said it would turn its focus to the thugs’ veto:
“The second issue remains – will officials who want to gag unwelcome political speech now manufacture “safety concerns” to evade the NZ Bill of Rights Act, and the Human Rights Act?”
“All fair-minded New Zealanders will be upset by the apparent effectiveness of the Thugs’ Veto in this case. It may have been against a Council whose Mayor was happy to be threatened, but it has implications throughout New Zealand.”
The need for such action has been confirmed by news that the thugs’ veto is already working at Massey University:
“Massey University Vice-Chancellor Jan Thomas should resign after cowardly barring Don Brash from speaking at the University”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“After veiled threats from a left-wing thug in a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, she capitulated this morning and prevented Dr Brash from speaking on ‘security’ grounds.
“A student wrote to the Vice-Chancellor: “I look forward to hearing what your thoughts are on this matter and 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.’”
Brash, a former Reserve Bank Governor and Opposition Leader, was due to speak to the Politics Society tomorrow.
“I have long feared that American-style anti-intellectual, violent intolerance would come here.
“It has appeared at Massey this week and the university has completely failed to the test.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins should follow the British and defund universities that do not protect freedom of speech in their campuses.
“Universities exist to promote robust debate, educate, and search for the truth.
“They do not exist to coddle students and protect them from views they might disagree with. . .
In blocking former Leader of the Opposition and Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash from speaking on campus tomorrow, Massey University disgraces an important tradition of free speech on university campuses and a fundamental tenet of a liberal democracy.
Massey University’s Vice-Chancellor appears to have capitulated to the veiled threats of protesters, cancelling the event for ‘security’ reasons.
Free Speech Coalition spokesman Dr David Cumin says, “Publicly-funded universities in New Zealand and across the western world have a proud tradition of upholding freedom of speech. If we allow the ‘heckler’s veto’ to shut down contentious speech at a university, a place that should be a bastion of free expression, what hope can we have for free speech anywhere else?”
“Hecklers and thugs have been emboldened by Auckland Council’s recent capitulation on similar grounds. That’s why the Free Speech Coalition is pressing ahead with court action to prevent a dangerous precedent where a minority can shut down any speech by threatening violent protest.”
“The Police need to put their hands up and restate their commitment to protecting freedom of speech from would-be violent protesters.”
“Vice-Chancellor Jan Thomas must reverse her decision *and ensure that she works with authorities to provide a safe environment for the expression of ideas on her campus. The fundamental role of universities is to foster dissenting views, debate, throw light on and challenge the establishment, but certainly not shut down speech. This is a disgraceful act from a university leader.”
Would the vice-chancellor give in to threats from a hard-right group should the speaker be , for example, advocating Maori sovereignty or special treatment for refugees? Would she let right to life activists silence proponents of abortion or euthanasia?
If she didn’t she’d be guilty of political bias, if she did she’d be allowing the thugs’ veto again.
That’s the danger that follows what she wrote about constraining free speech and her decision to ban Dr Brash.
She is setting herself up as an arbiter of what is a permissible view and what’s not; which opinions can be aired and which can’t and she’s setting a very dangerous precedent which let hecklers and thugs silence people with whose views they disagree.