by the Council of Disobedient Women
When Moana Maniapoto recently lamented that Rachel Stewart was no longer writing for the Herald, political commentator Morgan Godfery was quick to brag on Twitter, like a schoolyard bully, how proud he was of “driving Rachel Stewart from the Herald”.
What a contrast Morgan Godfery is to Moana Maniapoto. She has for decades backed many freedom struggles. Her music has supported and uplifted the voices of Maori and other indigenous people, of women and of workers.
Moana’s tweet that set off Godfery’s gleeful boast was part of a discussion around free speech. She tweeted:
“I am reminded of Rachel Stewart’s original article inviting comment on a law change most New Zealanders were ignorant of. Her article offended people on Twitter and went nuclear. It shut down discussion on a significant issue, degenerated into an ugly mess and now we’re missing a commentator with a unique voice on a range of issues.”
Moana was referring to a Herald article in which Stewart criticised the use of the term TERF “as a derogatory and offensive label”. Stewart went on to note it “is used to shut down debate on the fraught subject of transgender rights.” She was raising concern about legislation that was unnoticed but had big implications: “Under the proposed new law, a man can call himself a woman without ever medically transitioning (most never do) and insert himself in female-only spaces such as changing rooms, women’s refuges, and prisons. Women would have absolutely no legal recourse to challenge such a move.”
Of course, in society it is inevitable that some ideas will offend and upset because there will always be a plurality of views. A diverse society by definition will see views clash.
Godfery says he’s proud of his part in harassing and suppressing the voice of Rachel Stewart. His enthusiasm for McCarthyist blacklisting is why he is not a voice for the oppressed. If he wants to change that he should listen to Moana.