How my work on free speech brought me back to the left

Dane Giraud reflects on his working class upbringing and how campaigning for free speech radicalised him

Evidence to support censorship as a tool for social cohesion is paltry. I Read the NZ Human Rights Commission website, and 99% of their ‘evidence’ is anecdotal. When asked why we need hate speech laws, a common go-to for Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt is that ‘groups are asking for them’ as if this proved not only that they are needed but that they are effective. People seem happy to operate solely off hunches in the pro-censorship space.

The cohesion argument also ignores outright that politics is reactionary. Your pinstriped conservative isn’t opening any door to Hard-Right ideology: the fringes of the Left and Right radicalise each other. Regardless of how you feel about abortion, it was Roe V Wade that invited the Evangelical movement into American politics during the Reagan era. The Neo-Conservative school that called the shots in the early days of the ‘War on Terror’ would end up embedding some pro-fascist sympathy within the anti-war Left. Anyone truly concerned about an ascendent far-Right should therefore address the excesses of the other side, and vice-a-versa.

I say all this as a preamble to my own story of being radicalised – by the free speech movement.

Yes. I will freely admit it. The last few years spent as a member of the Council of the Free Speech Union, advising and working on an assortment of cases, policing local government, and mobilising supporters against dangerous censorship programs out of the Beehive, changed my politics. Or more accurately, took me full circle, back to the politics of my youth.

Raised in Otahuhu, South Auckland, during the late 70’s and early 80’s, I would often disturb the late-night kitchen table meetings of my father – a meat worker – with friends of his like ‘Alex the Red’, ‘Gary the Red’ and ‘Mark the Red’ (no relation). I was my union (steel workers) delegate at 18, and, while I only represented myself and one other guy, I foresaw a protest song being written about my vengeful organising ghost to be sung by generations of workers to come. Read the rest of the article on The Platform

One comment

  1. Why do people who really don’t know much about American history insist on writing about it?

    “Regardless of how you feel about abortion, it was Roe V Wade that invited the Evangelical movement into American politics during the Reagan era.”

    Right-wing billionaires (the Waltons, the Coors family, etc) got together to figure out how to move U.S. politics in their preferred direction (such as no taxes for themselves), and they came up with a plan: get people to vote against their own self-interest by focusing on “social” issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Roe v Wade was ten years prior to Reagan’s election, and certainly didn’t influence the ruling elite. They just picked some divisive issues and got very stupid voters to vote against funding education, public housing, infrastructure, etc.

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