by Daphna Whitmore
Across the English speaking world free speech is threatened. Wokeness and cancel culture, which emerged from the universities in the past decade, has spread. Its ideology is postmodernism, an obscure and impenetrable outlook. Now the university graduates have taken their piousness into government departments and NGOs where they can exercise their authoritarianism.
Why has it taken hold in the Anglosphere? Toby Young who founded the Free Speech Union in Britain suggests this may be a manifestation of Puritanism, seen in cyclical episodes since the birth of Protestantism in the 17th century.
New Zealand has not been spared. Feminists who wanted to discuss a law change that would allow anyone to change the sex on their birth certificate without any checks or safeguards have been targeted by the woke mob. So too have establishment figures like Don Brash for expressing a different view to the current orthodoxy on the Treaty of Waitangi. In the NZ trade union movement discussion of the case of Maya Forstater, a woman in Britain who lost her job for stating that transwomen are male, was forbidden. The University of Canterbury put an academic through a lengthy disciplinary process for a paper critical of New Zealand Universities’ connections to the Chinese Government. A high school teacher was investigated by his employer for wearing a MAGA hat at an Auckland BLM rally and an Auckland Transport staffer was harassed and intimidated on social media for a comment on a private Facebook group which was totally unrelated to their role at Auckland Transport.
The media, with a few exceptions, toe the line fearing censure from the woke priestly class. While the woke identify as left there is no substance to their leftism. They disregard free speech, they ignore the role it played in all civil rights and liberation movements and they eschew any real clash of ideas.
Against the self appointed censors comes the Free Speech Union of NZ. It was founded a couple of years ago as the Free Speech Coalition and has now relaunched and is affiliated to the British Free Speech Union. The Free Speech Union has registered as an official union under the Employment Relations Act.
The FSU put out a statement on their relaunch:
“We’ve seen too many examples of people being ‘shut down’ for controversial views. We must defend the rights of workers to be able to express their personal beliefs without the threat of losing their job. We need to promote a culture of tolerance, including for those we disagree with. A flourishing civil society, where all New Zealander’s feel they can contribute their ideas and engage in robust and even controversial debate, is only possible when employers know that disciplining workers for stepping out of line is not an option.”
The FSU say they’ll stand up for the speech rights of their members:
- If someone at work writes to your boss to complain about something you’ve said, we’ll write to them too and remind them of the importance of intellectual tolerance and view-point diversity.
- If you find yourself being targeted by a digital outrage mob on social media for having exercised your legal right to free speech, we may mobilise an army of supporters.
- If a petition is launched calling for you to be fired, when you’ve done nothing other than exercise your legal right to free speech, we may help you organise a counter-petition.
- If you’re no-platformed by a university, we’ll encourage you to fight back, and members of our advisory councils may be able to tell you what remedies are available to you.
- If you’re a student being investigated by your university for breaching a speech code, we may take up your case with the university.
- If you’re punished by your employer because you’ve exercised your lawful right to free speech, we’ll do our best to provide you with assistance or refer you to specialists who can help.
I’ve joined and I encourage anyone who supports the principles of free speech to get behind this organisation too.