. . . concern is building
We compete with other means of communication, of those who are our adversaries who tell only the good stories. But the things that go bad in America, you must tell that also. And we hope that the bad and the good is sifted together by people of judgment and discretion and taste and discrimination, that they will realize what we are trying to do here.
In 1946 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution reading in part, "freedom of information is a fundamental human right, and the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated." This is our touchstone as well. . . . We welcome the views of others. We seek a free flow of information across national boundaries and oceans, across iron curtains and stone walls. We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
Mr Kennedy would have had considerable trouble with much of the West these days, including poor little New Zealand. Today we are far too concerned about the potential of hurting the feelings of some people to present some "unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies and competitive values".
These last few days I have not been able to get to a computer, so I apologise for being MIA. However while away in Christchurch I attended the Free Speech Protest in Hagley Park on Saturday. It was an interesting experience. The protest was originally about the virtual persecution of "Tommy Robinson" by the British legal system but soon had appended to it serious concerns over the recent decision by the Auckland City Council and Mayor Phil Goff not to provide a venue for Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux for their visit to NZ in a few months.
The reasons the Council gave were similar to to those given when Ayaan Hirsi Ali also cancelled her visit to Auckland a year ago (where it looks like she was going to speak at the same venue) - concerns over security.
So does this now mean that anyone intending to come to New Zealand that wishes to say something I don't want people to hear can be stopped merely by my advising authorities that "there'll be trouble" if they aren't prevented from speaking? Well, that was easy! Don't slander my ideas or else!
Bear in mind that the Islamic definition of slander is very different from the Western understanding. As Robert Spencer notes:~
In Islamic law, “slander” doesn’t mean lying about someone; it means “to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike, whether about his body, religion, everyday life, self, disposition, property, son, father, wife, servant, turban, garment, gait, movements, smiling, dissoluteness, frowning, cheerfulness, or anything else connected with him.” (Reliance of the Traveller r2).
Reliance is the book of Sharia law of one of the four major Sunni schools of Islam, the Shafi'i. This book has been certified by al-Azhar University in Cairo as being reliably translated into English and is considered authoritative for Shafi'is. Similar sentiments are held by the other Madhahib, whether Sunni or Shi'a. So it seems to me that when the FIANZ objected to these two speakers being allowed to voice their views what they were really concerned about was any criticism of Islam they would air.
And of course to Islam any criticism of Muhammad, the Qur'an or Sharia is considered not only slanderous but blasphemous and must be prevented - or punished - if at all possible.
But is this the kind of thinking that a modern Western country should demonstrate? President Kennedy thought differently.
The Christchurch protest on Saturday slowly built numbers until there were a little over 40 people in attendance. No media, but that was perhaps just as well. We had some people who were a little extreme you see - some with the kind of tattoos I had not seen since visiting Rolleston Prison some years ago. They wore T-shirts proclaiming "White Pride" and when the organiser said that "we don't hate Muslims we just have severe difficulty with some aspects of Islam", one of them called out "I hate Muslims!"
I was pleased to see a number of people chatting with them afterwards trying to get them to see the real issue here. But even then such people were not really what I would call White Supremacists, after hearing them talk (Gosh! I actually listened to them!) they were just really sick and tired of feeling browbeaten by contemporary culture for simply being white and they were reacting against all this weight of guilt in the only way they knew how. We sought to get them to see a better way - and they didn't shut their ears to what was being said either, partly because they knew it came from sympathetic friends wanting the best for them.
However, can you imagine what any news media would have made of the whole event if they'd covered it? We wouldn't have seen much film of the families, the Christian Pastor or pensioners present, but we certainly would have seen & heard a lot of these 3 or 4 people which would have skewed public perception in entirely the wrong direction.
It gave me a whole new sympathy for Tommy Robinson's public rallies - there's just no way to control who comes or how the media chooses to portray them. Myself & the over 90% of others would be - by implication - racist White Supremacists simply for being there.
Libertarian Lindsay Perigo gave a rousing speech (video here) at the protest in front of Parliament in Wellington on Saturday. Part of it I append here (thanks to RightMinds.nz):~
Stefan Molyneux, one of the reasons we’re here today, has a video on YouTube titled Why Free Speech Is All that Matters. In it, he argues that all the great moral advances of civilisation, such as the abolition of slavery, were made possible only by the existence of free speech and vigorous debate of the matter at hand. Without a free marketplace of competing ideas, Stefan says, we’d be locked into stagnation and tyranny.
Clearly, any man who could say such things is a racist and a bigot who should not be allowed into New Zealand!
Neither should his compatriot Lauren Southern, who likes to tease Muslims that Allah is gay – a matter on which they are eminently unteasable.
So now the Muslims, along with the Mayor of Auckland – Phil the Fascist – and sundry Marxists – fascists of the left – have succeeded, at least for the moment, in having the pair banned. For the Muslims, Hazim Arafeh [president of Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand] says they were only ever coming to insult Muslims: "I don’t think insulting Muslims comes under free speech."
Well, I hate to break it to him but, yes it does. Insulting Muslims does come under free speech. So does insulting Christians or Buddhists or Rastafarians or libertarians or atheists. Insults might not be the ideal mode of argument, but they are most assuredly allowed under free speech. Muslims should grow up and get over it. Stop treating all criticism as insulting in the first place. This is New Zealand, not New Zealistan. As Salman Rusdie, himself the object of a Muslim fatwa, has put it, “There’s no such thing as a right not to be offended.”
For the Marxists, Peace Action – ‘Peace’ in this instance being Orwellian doublespeak for ‘violence’ straight out of 1984 – threatened: "If they come here [Stefan and Lauren], we will confront them on the streets. If they come, we will blockade entry to their speaking venue."
For long-suffering lovers of free speech across the political spectrum, this was the last straw. We might disagree on everything else, but on this we are united: the right to state our view is sacrosanct.
Well said Mr Perigo.
To deny those who think differently than we the voice they are entitled to is severely short sighted and absolutely guaranteed to be returned to us - with interest - on a day not too far distant.
Come now, tell me your "unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies and competitive values".