by Tony Orman
Freedom of speech is something that is taken for granted, living in a democracy, but in recent years society has become rent with controversy, polarisation and division. Whether town or country all are subject to the impacts. “Hate speech” has become the mantra for righteous politicians to the point of suppressing reasonable opinions. Select committee processes where the public are afforded an opportunity to tell politicians, have been pruned to the point of minimal public input
No better example can be found than the aftermath of the terrible Christchurch mosque shooting by an Australian who the police granted a firearms licence to despite weird circumstances in Tarrant’s application. A select committee of MPs hurried through an urgent bill and in just two days, considered 13,000 submissions. The question that surfaces is not about military style firearms but about democracy and free speech.
“Free Speech Under Attack” delves into the democracy issue in a chapter entitled “Politicising a Massacre,” written by author Robert Stanmore.
PM Jacinda Adern’s indecent haste to ram law through is summed up “rushed legislation is bad legislation.”
“It was a travesty of democracy and of proper procedure – a PR exercise in which the politicians had already made up their minds before hearing submissions.”
The other chapters dealing with aspects of “free speech under attack” are provocative depending on your own position and thought provoking. After all, final he decision rests with the reader – consider then agree or disagree. However, I found little to disagree with. Democracy is precious but has been eroded by PC dogma and name-calling of ‘hate speech’, racist, deniers and brandings, rather than debate the issue. Treaty claims, climate change, immigration and other topics have been tainted with PC dogma. All are issues that can potentially affect rural NZ.
After all the early pioneers set up an egalitarian society where democracy was paramount.
Two colour photo sections add to the book’s strong message.
“Free Speech Under Attack” published by Tross Publishing, Wellington. Price $35. Reviewed by Tony Orman