Give all to peopleism

15/06/2017

The NZ Human Rights Commission has launched an anti-racism campaign: Give Nothing To Racism:

A campaign urging New Zealanders to give nothing to racism and refuse to spread intolerance has been launched by some of the country’s most well-known people.

“How we treat other people will define what kind of country we become and what kind of person a New Zealander is,” said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.

“Today some iconic Kiwis are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Human Rights Commission and asking us all to give nothing to racism, to give it no tolerance, to give it no acceptance and to give it no welcome. They make me incredibly proud to be a New Zealander.”

“Our campaign is hard case as well as hard hitting. It’s done in a uniquely Kiwi way.”

Overseas and closer to home, racial intolerance and overt attacks are on the rise. 1 in 3 complaints to the Human Rights Commission are about racial discrimination but the overwhelming majority of people never complain when they’re humiliated or abused.

“Hatred and extremism is becoming normal in some places and we want to avoid that future for Aotearoa. Racial prejudice and intolerance starts small, in quiet places, in our everyday lives. When it becomes normalised it turns into overt racism and extremism,” said Dame Susan.

“We live in one of the most ethnically diverse nations on the planet – as well as one of the most peaceful. Whether it stays that way will depend on us, every New Zealander has a role to play in our future. Racism starts small but so too does hope.”

“New Zealanders have a right to discuss important issues like immigration and housing: but we need to do it without racism. Play the ball not the person.”

Today’s campaign is the second stage of an ongoing, nationwide anti-racism campaign. Last September the Commission launched a website that enabled everyday New Zealanders to share their personal stories of racism. It let people who hadn’t experienced racism or prejudice to hear from people who have. The That’s Us campaign has so far reached more than 3 million people. . . 

Feeding and nurturing racism keeps it alive.

Treating people as people, acknowledging and valuing what we have in common, and appreciating differences as differences rather than matters of right or wrong, kills it.

Give nothing to racism, give everything to peopleism.


Freedom to offend and outrage

04/04/2017

Auckland University of Technology’s History Professor Paul Moon has written an open letter rejecting “forceful silencing of dissenting or unpopular views” on university campuses.

“Freedom of speech underpins our way of life in New Zealand as a liberal democracy. It enables religious observance, individual development, societal change, science, reason and progress in all spheres of life. In particular, the free exchange of ideas is a cornerstone of academe,” the letter said.

“Governments and particular groups will from time to time seek to restrict freedom of speech in the name of safety or special interest. However, debate or deliberation must not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most people to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed.

“Universities play a fundamental role in the thought leadership of a society. They, of all places, should be institutions where robust debate and the free exchange of ideas take place, not the forceful silencing of dissenting or unpopular views.

“Individuals, not any institution or group, should make their own judgments about ideas and should express these judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas they oppose, without discrimination or intimidation.

“We must ensure that our higher learning establishments are places where intellectual rigour prevails over emotional blackmail and where academic freedom, built on free expression, is maintained and protected. We must fight for each other’s right to express opinions, even if we do not agree with them.”

Not even when we disagree, but especially.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean the freedom to say only the innocuous and uncontroversial.

The letter was in response to Human Rights Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy’s call for a review of “hate speech” law. Police are suggesting it be looked at as a specific crime

Mr Moon, told the New Zealand Herald free speech at universities should be defended.

“The trouble is we often don’t know the difference between free speech and hate speech,” Mr Moon said.

“Usually, if people are offended by what is said it’s seen as hate speech. That’s dangerous.

“It is dangerous to silence someone just because we don’t like what they say.”

Mr Moon said such views are a threat to the right to free speech.

“It puts the definition of free speech at the whim of people pursuing that line,” he said. . . 

Freedom of speech, Mr Moon said, was the foundation of a modern, diverse and democratic society.

It protected religious freedom and individual expression, he said.

Mr Moon said kneejerk calls from police and the Human Rights communision to introduce hate-speech laws will have the unitended consequence of suppressing free speech.

“It will create a culture of fear,” he said.

“What we need is open debate, which will change racist and intolerant views, not censorship.”

Mr Moon said freedom of speech was intimately connected with freedom of thought. . . 

The letter was signed by: Assoc Professor Len Bell, Dr Don Brash, Dr David Cumin, Sir Toby Curtis, Dr Brian Edwards, Graeme Edwards, Dr Gavin Ellis, Sir Michael Friedlander, Alan Gibbs, Dame Jenny Gibbs, Bryan Gould, Wally Hirsh, Professor Manying Ip, Sir Bob Jones, Professor Pare Keiha, Assoc Professor Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Dame Lesley Max, Gordon McLauchlan, Professor Paul Moon, Sir Douglas Myers, Assoc Professor Camille Nakhid, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Professor Edwina Pio, David Rankin, Philip Temple, Dame Tariana Turia and Professor Albert Wendt.

More than 100 years ago, Winston Churchill said: So we must beware of a tyranny of opinion which tries to make only one side of a question the one which may be heard. Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.

Freedom of speech is not just the freedom to say what people want to hear. It is the freedom to say what they don’t want to hear, to offend and to outrage.

The answer to offensive and outrageous speech is not to silence the speakers but to let them speak and counter the offence and outrageousness with reason or ridicule.

 

 

 


One wrong more wrong than another?

11/08/2014

A couple of weeks ago Act leader Jamie Whyte stated the party’s long-held position that there should be no race-based privilege.

The substance of his argument was lost in loud cries of racism which followed.

Yesterday New Zealand First leader Winston Peters repeated a very old line – two wongs don’t make a white.

He thought it was funny.

In another time and another place it might have been.

In the context of the xenophobia around Asian immigration in general and the purchase of properties by Chinese companies in particular it wasn’t.

It was a deliberate dog whistle designed to attention and it worked.

He got attention and the small demographic of the disenchanted to whom he appeals probably liked it.

But how will New Zealanders of Chinese descent be feeling?

New Zealand shamefully imposed a poll tax on Chinese immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Their descendents are part of the rich cultural fabric of our country, so too are more recent migrants.

They are generally over represented in positive statistics for education, health, income and crime and under represented in negative ones.

They are New Zealanders and don’t deserve to be singled out for political advantage.

That the only way Peters can get attention is with this stale word-play shows how little he has to offer.

He was wrong but contrasting the relatively mild reaction to his childish attempt at humour with the heated response to Whyte’s speech shows some wrongs are more wrong than others.

If reasoned arguments are wrong they should be met with reasonable counter arguments, not empty cries of racism.

Childish attempts at humour should be treated with the disdain they deserve.

UPDATE:

Race relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy says we’ve got a lot of work to do:

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy says “politicians making fun of an entire race of people isn’t new but it’s disappointing and shameful New Zealand political leaders are still doing it in 2014.”

“We’re better than this and our political leaders need to realise that.”

“We have come a long way as a nation in terms of people treating each other with respect but sadly we have some people who just don’t get it and who don’t want to get it,” said Dame Susan.

“Winston Peters needs to know he’s not funny. His outdated rhetoric belongs in New Zealand’s past: it has no place in New Zealand’s future.”

Dame Susan supported the comments made this morning by Chinese New Zealander and former Chinese Association chair, Stephen Young who said Mr Peters words belonged in the past.

Every year the Human Rights Commission fields thousands of complaints from people all over the country: approximately a third are complaints about racial discrimination. Nine out of ten complaints are resolved by our team of mediators said Dame Susan.

“We still have a lot of work to do in New Zealand when it comes to treating one another with respect. There is still, quite clearly, a lot of work to do,” said Dame Susan.

“All New Zealanders – including and especially those charged with the responsibility and honour of representing us in our parliament – need to treat one another with dignity, and respect: the foundations upon which human rights are found. Human rights begin at home.”

We all need to remember that a variety of creeds and races call New Zealand home.


So much for supporting women

17/04/2013

Dame Susan Devoy got no support from the left-wing sisterhood when she was appointed Race Relations Commissioner.

Now the appointment of another woman, Dr Jackie Blue, to the role of Equal Opportunities Commissioner, is being labelled  cronyism.

Justice Minister Judith Collins is being accused of cronyism for appointing National MP Jackie Blue as the next Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner.

Opposition parties and the Council of Trade Unions are criticising the appointment, saying Ms Blue has supported legislation that disadvantages women.

“It’s yet another example of cronyism from the Government,” said Labour MP Sue Moroney.

“Hard on the heels of Dame Susan Devoy’s appointment as Race Relations Commissioner, the Government is fast turning the Human Rights Commission into a recruitment agency for its supporters.”

Both positions are part of the Human Rights Commission.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says cronyism is a legitimate description of Ms Blue’s appointment.

“It’s very unusual for a sitting MP to be appointed to a position like this,” she told reporters.

“Jackie Blue has voted for legislation that has harmed women… she needs to explain how she is going to undo the harm.”

These women can’t see past their left-wing bias to celebrate the success of another woman.

But Dr Blue does have the support of Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) which welcomes her appointment:

The Mt Roskill MP was instrumental in securing public funding for a twelve-month treatment programme of Herceptin for New Zealand women with HER2-Positive breast cancer.

BCAC chairperson, Libby Burgess, says Dr Blue’s actions in advocating for the Government funding of Herceptin demonstrate her commitment to women’s health.

“Dr Blue is a passionate advocate for New Zealand women and her drive to see that women with HER2-Positive breast cancer received life-saving treatment in the form of Herceptin was inspirational.

“She has a clear sense of fair play, a firm commitment to equality for all and a desire to see New Zealand develop as a better society. We firmly believe Dr Blue will fulfil her new role with the energy and dedication it deserves,” Ms Burgess says.

I’d take the view of an organisation which backs up its view with evidence over the politically motivated criticism by opposition MPs and the Council of Trade Unions.


First only matters if left too?

26/03/2013

Usually being the first woman to hold a prominent position is regarded as newsworthy.

Not so with the appointment of Dame Susan Devoy as the Race Relations Commissioner.

Instead, the huffing and puffing about her suitability, or not, for the role has got the headlines and her gender received hardly a mention.

If it meant that there are sufficient women in prominent positions that another one isn’t regarded as unusual that is a positive sign of evolution.

However, I suspect the lack of interest in Dame Susan being the first woman is because her perceived politics matter more to to those to whom these things matter than her gender.

Helen Clark often gets more acknowledgement for being New Zealand’s first elected female Prime Minister than Dame Jenny Shipley does for being the first woman to hold that office and Ruth Richardson rarely gets noted for being the first woman to be Minister of Finance.

To some being the first woman in a role isn’t regarded as noteworthy if you’re not also likely to be a darling of the left.

P.S.

A pleasant exception to the huffing and puffing is this media release from the New Zealand Maori Council:

“We are pleased to welcome Dame Susan as Race Relations Commissioner, and look forward to a close and meaningful relationship,” stated Sir Edward Taihakurei Durie, co-chair of the New Zealand Maori Council. “The office of Race Relations Commissioner, formerly known as Conciliator, has a proud history of advocating on behalf of Maori and we are sure that Dame Susan will continue that tradition.” . . .

Maanu Paul, co-chair of the New Zealand Maori Council . . . said that Dame Susan had a proud history to live up to, as previous Race Relations Commissioners had striven to expose racism and set a better course for our nation. “We have watched her on the squash courts, on the road raising awareness and money to help people with muscular dystrophy and in company board rooms. She was unbeatable there, and we hope she will continue to inspire us into the future.”

My recollection of news about the Race relations Commissioner in recent times is that it has largely been negative.

Someone coming from another direction might well be able to change that and she should at least be given the chance to prove herself.

 

 


Devoy new Race Relations Commissioner

20/03/2013

A Facebook post from Judith Collins congratulates Dame Susan Devoy on her appointment as the Race Relations Commissioner.


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