A great speech from a professor

November 13th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This is the class introduction from Professor Mike Adams  at UNC-Wilmington:

Welcome back to class, students! I am Mike Adams your criminology professor here at UNC-Wilmington. Before we get started with the course I need to address an issue that is causing problems here at UNCW and in higher education all across the country. I am talking about the growing minority of students who believe they have a right to be free from being offended. If we don’t reverse this dangerous trend in our society there will soon be a majority of young people who will need to walk around in plastic bubble suits to protect them in the event that they come into contact with a dissenting viewpoint. That mentality is unworthy of an American. It’s hardly worthy of a Frenchman.

Let’s get something straight right now. You have no right to be unoffended. You have a right to be offended with regularity. It is the price you pay for living in a free society. If you don’t understand that you are confused and dangerously so. In part, I blame your high school teachers for failing to teach you basic civics before you got your diploma. Most of you went to the public high schools, which are a disaster. Don’t tell me that offended you. I went to a public high school.

Of course, your high school might not be the problem. It is entirely possible that the main reason why so many of you are confused about free speech is that piece of paper hanging on the wall right over there. Please turn your attention to that ridiculous document that is framed and hanging by the door. In fact, take a few minutes to read it before you leave class today. It is our campus speech code. It specifically says that there is a requirement that everyone must only engage in discourse that is “respectful.” That assertion is as ludicrous as it is illegal. I plan to have that thing ripped down from every classroom on campus before I retire.

One of my grandfathers served in World War I. My step-grandfather served in World War II. My sixth great grandfather enlisted in the American Revolution when he was only thirteen. These great men did not fight so we could simply relinquish our rights to the enemy within our borders. That enemy is the Marxists who run our public universities. If you are a Marxist and I just offended you, well, that’s tough. I guess they don’t make communists like they used to.

Unbelievably, a student once complained to the Department chairwoman that my mention of God and a Creator was a violation of Separation of Church and State. Let me be as clear as I possibly can: If any of you actually think that my decision to paraphrase the Declaration of Independence in the course syllabus is unconstitutional then you suffer from severe intellectual hernia.

Indeed, it takes hard work to become stupid enough to think the Declaration of Independence is unconstitutional. If you agree with the student who made that complaint then you are probably just an anti-religious zealot. Therefore, I am going to ask you to do exactly three things and do them in the exact order that I specify.

First, get out of my class. You can fill out the drop slip over at James Hall. Just tell them you don’t believe in true diversity and you want to be surrounded by people who agree with your twisted interpretation of the Constitution simply because they are the kind of people who will protect you from having your beliefs challenged or your feelings hurt.

Second, withdraw from the university. If you find that you are actually relieved because you will no longer be in a class where your beliefs might be challenged then you aren’t ready for college. Go get a job building houses so you can work with some illegal aliens who will help you gain a better appreciation of what this country has to offer.

Finally, if this doesn’t work then I would simply ask you to get the hell out of the country. The ever-growing thinned-skinned minority you have joined is simply ruining life in this once-great nation. Please move to some place like Cuba where you can enjoy the company of communists and get excellent health care. Just hop on a leaky boat and start paddling your way towards utopia. You will not be missed.

So refreshing to have someone say there is no right not to be offended.

Professor Adams gets excellent ratings from his students, including those who don’t agree with him.


Freedom of speech dying at universities

October 31st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

From the Adelaide Advertiser:

My experience as a student magazine editor for the past year has shown me that freedom of speech no longer has de facto acceptance on campus. Universities are no longer a place of inquiry or rigorous debate. Academic censorship is rife.

Take Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish environmentalist who sought to establish a research centre at the University of Western Australia and Flinders University. At both institutions he has faced resistance form students who staged protests and leveraged their student bodies to prevent such a centre from being established.

Their rationale? They do not agree with his findings and they’re not prepared to engage in debate.

Lomborg’s situation is strikingly similar to that of Galileo when he posited that Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice-versa. The church was not willing to hear out the argument and simply cast Galileo out.

Absolutely. And Lomborg’s crime wasn’t even the capital offence of climate change denial, but simply having a view that other environmental issues were a better use of spending.

If anything exemplifies the dangers of academic censorship it is the case of Galileo. How do we expect our society to advance when new ideas cannot be discussed because of an unwillingness by some precious, self-centred students?

Sadly they don’t want to be challenged. They only want to hear views they approve of, and want to stop others hearing dissenting views.

These same students also want to limit free expression by mandating the use of “trigger warnings”, as well as censoring books they find uncomfortable or challenging. A “trigger warning” is a device that has emerged in the past two decades that seeks to warn a reader where a post traumatic reaction may be induced based on the content.

This has gone from warning of a discussion about rape to now including things such as ‘‘how many calories are in a food item’’ and “drunk driving’’. The discussion of these things doesn’t actually harm anyone, it’s just that students now demand to live in a cotton-wrapped world.

Great works such as The Great Gatsby, Metamorphoses and Mrs Dalloway have been banned from university reading lists simply because some self-absorbed students find the content emotionally challenging and upsetting.

There is no right not to be offended or even upset.


Dom Post editorial supports free speech

October 1st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Two kinds of liberal politics collided at Victoria University this week, when holidaying Israeli soldiers arrived to speak about their country’s 2014 invasion of Gaza.

That war was disproportionate in every sense, from Israel’s vastly superior military power to the Palestinians’ far larger death toll (2251 Gazans died). It was also miserably familiar – one more act to prolong the hatred and bloodshed in a region already drenched in both.

On the face of it, then, the call by a group of academics and student activists to stop the event had a certain logic. Why should proponents of the war be allowed to talk while many of its victims are dead? And what might they offer that, say, a United Nations report in June, which found suggestions of war crimes on both sides, does not?

Call that one kind of liberalism, one that believes people can be disqualified from even offering their perspective, at least in an official setting, because their actions are so objectionable.

The problem is it’s completely wrong. The better, simpler liberalism is the one that insists on allowing people to say their bit, even when it offends.

This is Voltaire’s famous credo – “defending to the death your right to say it” and all that. It’s fundamental to a democracy, which relies on ordinary people making their own minds up. And it’s supposed to be an idea that animates a university, a place where every theory ought to be able to be debated freely.


So Victoria’s English lecturer Dougal McNeill may be right to castigate Israel for the Gazan war, or to call the soldiers’ speeches “apologetics for military violence”, but he is entirely wrong to think either means the soldiers should be barred from talking.

The irony is he uses his free speech to try and prevent the free speech of others. Even worse he tried to prevent students from hearing that speech.

The point is not that activists are wrong. It is that they are so convinced they are right that they are prepared to shout down anyone who disagrees. This is a grim, insidious way of thinking.

They believe their right not to be offended outweighs other’s rights to make speech or receive it.

Tags: , ,

Vic academics against free speech

September 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Israeli soldiers involved in an operation that left thousands of Palestinians dead will speak at Victoria University, to the horror of some staff and students.

But the group of Jewish students bringing the former soldiers out say attempts to stop them coming to the university are an affront to free speech.

Students are planning to picket the Tuesday evening event at the university while 11 academics have signed a letter opposing it, arguing Palestinians would not be able to do the same.

This is just the typical we want to shut down speech from those we disagree with.

Speakers representing the Palestinian view speak regularly on campuses around the world. No one ever ever suggests they not be allowed to speak. But whenever there is a speaker representing the Israeli view, they try to shut it down.

The event, at the Cotton Building, is organised by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS).

Spokesman Caelan MacBeth said it was shameful students were trying to prevent “an open exchange of views on a complex, longstanding Middle East conflict”.

“The basis upon which a university is built is that of debate, open discussion, equality of representation, and the right to free speech.”

The reserve soldiers were now students of medicine and business on holiday in New Zealand and planned to share their experiences of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Wouldn’t it be better to hear their first hand perspective, to ask questions of them, to challenge them if necessary. But instead they just want them silenced.

A letter signed by 11 academics expressed dismay the university would host the event which was “part of a nationwide campaign to justify Israeli crimes in last year’s war in Gaza”.

Operation Protective Edge in 2014 saw an Israel assault on the Gaza Strip in which more than 2000 people were killed. Of them, 1523 were civilians, the letter said.

“The United Nations stated that Israel’s use of heavy artillery against Gaza ‘may amount to a war crime’.”

Educational institutes were damaged and students were among the dead.

“It is astonishing, therefore, that an exercise in propaganda and apologetics for military violence should be hosted at a university setting under the guise of education and learning opportunities,” the letter states.

“This meeting gives a platform to [Israeli Defence Force] soldiers for them to celebrate the very conflict that led to such massive Palestinian loss of life.”

English lecturer Dougal McNeill – who signed the statement – said the event was nothing more than a propaganda project by Israel which, due largely to the rise of social media, was facing a “public relations disaster” after the deadly operation.

Palestinians would not be offered the same freedom, as most were unable to leave Palestine, he said.

While it seemed inevitable the event would go ahead he wished it would be cancelled.

The university has not invited them, but a club. The academics are saying they don’t want students to have the right to invite people they disapprove of. They are a shame to free speech and the hundreds of years of history of universities in promoting free speech.

Tags: , ,

Plunket comments cleared

June 30th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A talkback host’s comments describing award-winning New Zealand author Eleanor Catton as an “ungrateful hua” and a “traitor” were not in breach of broadcasting standards.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has declined to uphold two complaints about RadioLive host Sean Plunket’s comments about Catton speaking critically about the National government at a literary festival in India earlier this year.

Plunket called Catton an ‘ungrateful hua’ and a ‘traitor’, amongst other things.

The BSA received complaints that Plunket’s comments constituted “bullying” and a personal attack on Catton.

The authority’s decision said that “the severity of [Plunket’s] attack and the hostility and aggression of the language used? raised the question of whether this attack went too far”.

However, Plunket’s comments did not breach broadcasting standards, it ruled.

Catton was “powerfully exercising her right to freedom of expression and has had to suffer the responses including those from the broadcaster”, the BSA said.

“Conversely, the broadcaster has exercised its right to freedom of expression and it will have suffered consequences from those who objected to what Mr Plunket said and the way in which he said it.”

The decision from the authority considered that “?different views have been expressed and have been evaluated and those who have expressed or broadcast these views have been judged accordingly”.

“This is how we think things are meant to work in a liberal democracy.

“We do not think that our society would be better off if views such as those of the radio host were staunched.”

Another defeat for the opponents of free speech.

Tags: , , ,

The Harmful Digital Communications Act

June 30th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This afternoon Parliament will pass into law the Harmful Digital Communications Act. If I was an MP, I’d vote against the bill.

In saying that I recognise a significant amount of good will come from this bill. I also recognise that Amy Adams has made improvements to it, which have mollified some of the concerns people have had with the bill, which is why Labour and NZ First are now supporting it. In fact ACT is the only party against – David Seymour explains why here.

Here’s the good aspects to the new law:

  • The approved agency (will be Netsafe who are very good) will get legal standing, and be able to far more effectively mediate cases with Facebook, Google etc where real harm is happening – especially cyberbullying of teens
  • Specifics behaviours which are despicable such as encouraging someone to kill themselves, posting revenge porn etc will face criminal sanctions
  • Has an extensive safe harbour for intermediaries such as Kiwiblog and Trade Me, so that we’re not liable for content generated by others on our sites, so long as we pass complaints on promptly
  • Rather than me having to judge if a comment is harrassing, threatening etc, I can allow the Approved Agency to mediate, or the District Court to rule

The bad aspects include:

  • The 10 communication principles are too wide, and principle No 10 especially could lead to severe restrictions for online speech, with the principle being used to stifle legitimate criticism
  • The timelines for the safe harbour are very tight
  • A few dedicated trolls could make life hell for content hosts by constantly taking them to court, especially as there is no filing fee
  • Different legal standards now apply to offline and online speech

The Press editorial is opposed:

The purpose of the statute is high-minded enough.  It is designed to deter, prevent and mitigate harm to individuals by digital communications. But the thresholds set by the new statute are perilously low and potentially pose a  threat to freedom of speech. …

Both the agency and the District Court must  decide matters according to “communication principles” contained in the new statute.  Some of these are ludicrously wide.  One, for example, prohibits  digital communications that make a false allegation.  As those with experience of defamation law know, that can be an area of endless argument, and the new statute has none of the safeguards provided by two centuries of development of defamation law.  A similar risk arises from the prohibition on a communication that may be “grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the position of the affected individual”. It does not take much imagination to see how that provision could be used by a deeply religious person to resurrect blasphemy laws that have largely (and properly in a secular society) fallen into disuse.   

A complainant will not be able to obtain any redress unless he or she can show that the offending digital communication has caused  harm. But harm has also been given an alarmingly expansive definition by the statute. It is defined as anything that causes a complainant “serious emotional distress”, a disconcertingly subjective notion. 

The statute requires any decisions to be consistent with rights and freedoms contained in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It is odd the new statute should state this explicitly because those provisions should apply anyway. Presumably it was in recognition of the fact that the new statute potentially threatens those rights and freedoms.

The BORA reference should mean that the court only orders material to be removed in extreme circumstances. But until we have several cases go through the system, we don’t know what sort of approach will be taken.

As I said, there are good aspects to this law. It will help a number of people considerably. But as with The Press I fear the communication principles are too wide, and it will result in people ironically being bullied by others using the law for exercising their free speech online.


Tags: ,

The hatred of diverse views

June 3rd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

CBC reports:

A same-sex couple from St. John’s is upset after discovering the jewelry store that sold them their engagement rings has posted a sign that seems to oppose same-sex marriage — but one of the store’s owners says he’s allowed to post his religious beliefs.

Personally I think it is silly for a business to limit its business by stating their political views on who should be able to marry. But that’s their decision to make.

The couple went to the store the following day, and asked about the sign.

“They just said that that’s their beliefs, and they think they can put up whatever they want. I just said it was very disrespectful, it’s very unprofessional and I wanted a refund,” White said.

“I have no issues with them believing in what they believe in. I think everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But I don’t think they should put their personal beliefs inside their business.”

But that’s their choice – it is their business.

Jardon said he’s an immigrant, and feels blessed to live in Canada.

“One of the reasons my family chose to come to Canada was the freedom of rights,” he said, noting the freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

“Nothing in that shop or in these posters is against the law… There’s nothing there that means to discriminate or to hate anybody else.”

Jardon said he won’t apologize for his beliefs.

“I feel really bad that [White] feels that we would in any way try to hurt or discriminate against her, but we will not retract from what we believe. I cannot say, ‘Well because you feel bad, I will stop believing what I believe,'” he said.

“When I walk on Church Street in Toronto, where I am right now, and I see [LGBT rainbow flags], and I see a lot of signs and a lot of things on public property, I don’t have a problem with them. I accept it. I chose to come to Canada… and we accept the whole package… I don’t discriminate against that, nor do I come and tell them to take them down. For the same reason, I ask to have the same respect in return, especially when it’s in my own business.”

Sounds reasonable.

Jardon said he’s getting a big backlash from social media.

“I had to shut down the Facebook page because of so many hate emails and phone calls and just, really nasty stuff,” he said.

Some people are threatened by diverse opinions.


Press editor on free speech

May 28th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A good column by Press Editor Joanna Norris on free speech:

But from time-to-time issues arise that quietly threaten the rights of New Zealanders to express themselves.

On such threat is a rising tide of offence-taking and indignation, particularly in social media where a discussion can move swiftly and viciously, influencing views and actions.

Smart young Australian philosopher Richard King, author of On Offence: The Politics of Indignation, says increasingly people are claiming it is their right not to be offended. People are not seeking freedom from offence but the freedom to ensure their view prevails, ie they are arguing their right not to be offended overrides the free speech of others.

The echo-chamber of a platform such as Twitter, meanwhile, can silence dissenting views in the face of a vicious mob attack on those viewed to have erred from a ‘right-thinking’ view in the minds of the mob.

The, at times, sanctimonious Twittersphere can be quick to condemn and swift to move on.

But even this presents a conundrum, because members of the  mob are themselves exercising their rights to freedom of expression.

The solutions lie at the heart of the issue itself. Freedom of expression, which underpins media freedom, should be valued and protected. People need to know they are free to state their views, whilst also respecting the rights of others to express theirs, even when those views are not mainstream, or are offensive to a great many people.

Whether you are a fringe activist, member of the power elite or lonely bigot, you have the same right to express yourself. New Zealanders can do this in the knowledge that we are contributing to a marketplace of ideas that can be debated and discussed in a free media. And in doing so, we must all respect the rights of others to have a view different than our own.

Can’t agree more. I wish our Government would do what Tony Abbott did and appoint someone like Tim Wilson to the Human Rights Commission as a dedicated Free Speech Commissioner.

Tags: ,

The ruin of US colleges

May 22nd, 2015 at 3:15 pm by David Farrar

Kirsten Powers at The Daily Beast writes:

The root of nearly every free-speech infringement on campuses across the country is that someone—almost always a liberal—has been offended or has sniffed out a potential offense in the making. Then, the silencing campaign begins. The offender must be punished, not just for justice’s sake, but also to send the message to anyone else on campus that should he or she stray off the leftist script, they too might find themselves investigated, harassed, ostracized, or even expelled. If the illiberal left can preemptively silence opposing speakers or opposing groups— such as getting a speech or event canceled, or denying campus recognition for a group—even better.

In a 2014 interview with New York magazine, comedian Chris Rock told journalist Frank Rich that he had stopped playing college campuses because of how easily the audiences were offended.

We live in the age of offence, where people think they have a right not to be offended.

Instead, the politically correct university is a world of land mines, where faculty and students have no idea what innocuous comment might be seen as an offense. In December 2014, the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, sent an email to the student body in the wake of the outcry over two different grand juries failing to indict police officers who killed African-American men. The subject heading read “All Lives Matter” and the email opened with, “As members of the Smith community we are struggling, and we are hurting.” She wrote, “We raise our voices in protest.” She outlined campus actions that would be taken to “heal those in pain” and to “teach, learn and share what we know” and to “work for equity and justice.”

Shortly thereafter, McCartney sent another email. This one was to apologize for the first. What had she done? She explained she had been informed by students “the phrase/hashtag ‘all lives matter’ has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against black people.”

Insane. She had to apologise for saying “all lives matter”.

On today’s campuses, left-leaning administrators, professors, and students are working overtime in their campaign of silencing dissent, and their unofficialtactics of ostracizing, smearing, and humiliation are highly effective. But what is even more chilling—and more far reaching—is the official power they abuse to ensure the silencing of views they don’t like. They’ve invented a labyrinth of anti-free speech tools that include “speech codes,” “free speech zones,” censorship, investigations by campus “diversity and tolerance offices,” and denial of due process.

And we saw this in Australia where some staff and student groups basically blackmailed the university into revoking the appointment of Bjørn Lomborg, as he doesn’t buy into their view that the world is doomed.

Or how about the Brandeis professor who was found guilty of racial harassment—with no formal hearing—for explaining, indeed criticizing, the word “wetbacks.” Simply saying the word was crime enough. Another professor, this time at the University of Central Florida, was suspended for making a joke in class equating his tough exam questions to a “killing spree.” A student reported the joke to the school’s administration. The professor promptly received a letter suspending him from teaching and banning him from campus. He was reinstated after the case went public.

And all this in the land of the 1st amendment.

The list goes on and on. The University of Wisconsin-Stout at one point had an Information Technology policy prohibiting the distribution of messages that included offensive comments about a list of attributes including hair color.

Get suspended for making a ginga joke!

One student alleged that when the professor changed her capitalization of the word “indigenous” to lowercase he was disrespecting her ideological point of view.

And he was accused of racial microaggression and suspended.

Tags: ,

Free speech is not free of consequences

April 30th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

DESCRIBING the sacking of SBS sports journalist Scott McIntyre over offensive tweets about ANZAC Day as an attack on free speech is “absurd”, Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner has argued.

On Saturday evening, the high-profile SBS soccer reporter tweeted a number of “highly inappropriate and disrespectful comments” about the ANZACs and Australia’s involvement in numerous wars.

“Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan,” Mr McIntyre tweeted to his 30,000 followers.

He described Australians celebrating ANZAC Day as “poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers”, and accused Australia and its allies of the “largest single-day terrorist attacks in history” in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So the Axis powers were the victims in WWII and the ANZACs were rapists in his world view.

Since then, many journalists have come out in support of Mr McIntyre, and a Change.org petition calling on SBS to reinstate him and issue an apology has gained more than 1500 signatures.

Writing in The Australian newspaper today, Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson said Mr McIntyre had not been censored as his tweets did not break any law.

“Decrying McIntyre’s dismissal as a free speech violation and censorship is absurd,” he wrote. “McIntyre was free to tweet his bile before he worked for SBS, while he worked for SBS and now that he no longer works for SBS.

“SBS simply decided it didn’t want to be associated with him. No one is guaranteed a job. Employers are not compelled to put up with behaviour that harms their public reputation.”


Accountability is essential to ensure free speech is exercised with respect for others, he said, adding that the issue is not free speech but “how an increasingly hysterical culture led by social media is resulting in people losing their jobs”.

“McIntyre is not alone. Had he tweeted content interpreted as homophobic, racist or sexist, some would be calling on SBS to sack him, not tweeting ‘free speech’,” Mr Wilson wrote.

They very same people I suspect.

“Perhaps McIntyre’s sacking will be a lesson that always calling for retribution against opinions you disagree with is a double-edged sword that can slay your enemies as well as your friends.”

I doubt the lesson will be learnt. In NZ we see now regular attempts by some on the left to get Hosking and Henry sacked for their views – by trying to induce advertiser boycotts.


A worthy winner

April 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

USA Today reports:

A debate has erupted over the decision by PEN American Center to give its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award to the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

It was at the offices of Charlie Hebdo that an assault by Muslim extremists in January left 12 people dead, including the publication’s top editor and a number of prominent cartoonists.

How could anyone think that it shouldn’t be Charlie Hebdo? 12 people died because they stood up for free speech and satire.

PEN says on its website that for 90 years, its mission has been “to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas and literatures of others.”

Cartoonists gunned down for expressing their views sound like worthy recipients of the award.


Not according to six novelists, who announced they were stepping down as literary hosts of PEN’s gala dinner in New York City on May 5.

Their beef?

“A hideous crime was committed, but was it a freedom of speech issue for PEN America to be self-righteous about?” Peter Carey, one of the protesting writers, said in an email interview with The New York Times. He said, “All this is complicated by PEN’s seeming blindness to the cultural arrogance of the French nation, which does not recognize its moral obligation to a large and disempowered segment of their population.”

This makes me want to vomit. The six novelists basically blame the victims.

Another of the dissenting writers, Rachel Kushner, lambasted Charlie Hebdo for its “cultural intolerance” and its embrace of “a kind of forced secular view.”

A forced secular view? If only? Atheists are not gunning down people who mock secularism. It is the Muslim extremists who believe it is their holy duty to stamp out any non comforming view.

To its credit, PEN is hanging tough. This is a well-deserved award, and the critics are off the mark. Freedom of expression would hardly be a big deal if it were only the freedom to be politically correct, to express opinions that are weak tea, tepid sentiments that everyone can embrace.

Too often only politically correct speech is deemed worthy of defending.

Tags: ,

The limit to free speech

March 5th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

A RADICAL Islamic preacher has been arrested in Norway after praising last month’s deadly attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly in Paris.

The Iraqi Kurd preacher known as Mullah Krekar said in a television interview broadcast on Wednesday that “those who draw caricatures of Mohammed must die”.

Krekar, who was only freed from prison late last month, was arrested on Thursday night on accusations of inciting crime, police said.

“I am obviously happy with what happened in Paris,” the 58-year-old said in the interview with Norwegian channel NRK.

Krekar also responded “yes” when asked if he believed those who carried out the attack were heroes.

When a cartoonist “tramples on our dignity, our principles and our faith, he must die,” he said.

“Those who do not respect 30 per cent of the Earth’s population do not deserve to live.”

I’m a proponent of free speech, but there are limits. Advocating and inciting death to those who don’t subscribe to your religious beliefs is that limit.

While courts have upheld the ruling, Norwegian law bars him from being deported to Iraq, where he risks the death penalty.

A pity.


Where are the riots and murders?

February 16th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The organiser of a street art festival is outraged Canterbury Museum is ignoring his request to pull a controversial T-shirt from its exhibition, which is part of the event.

Spectrum street art festival director George Shaw is distancing himself and the festival from the T-shirt. He is upset the museum ignored his early warnings to consult with stakeholders before deciding to include the garment.

T-Shirts Unfolding is a big part of the Spectrum festival and features 1000 T-shirts – including the Vestal Masturbation, which shows an image of a masturbating nun while on the reverse it has the phrase “Jesus is a c…”.

Museum director Anthony Wright is standing firm, saying the museum has no plans to ditch the shirt.

The shirt is offensive and obscene. Canterbury Museum though has the right to display it. There is no requirement in NZ not to upset adherents of a particular religion.

I note however that upset people have responded with letters of complaints and an online petition. Not riots and killings.

The question to Canterbury Museum should be whether they would allow a t-shirt that displayed Mohammed masturbating, and the phrase “Mohammed is a w***er”?


UK Police lose the plot

February 12th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Independent reports:

A police force was forced to apologise today after one of its officers told a newsagent to hand over the names of four people in the name of community cohesion, after they bought a commemorative edition of the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

Wiltshire police confirmed that it had deleted the names of the buyers from its system, which were collected after officers toured shops warning newsagents to be vigilant during an “assessment of community tensions” in the sleepy market town following the attacks in the French capital in January.

Appalling. Beyond appalling. You buy Charlie Hebdo and the UK Police put you on a watch list. The Police officers in question should transfer to Saudi Arabia.

Hat Tip: No Right Turn

Tags: ,

Antisemitism should be repugnant but not illegal

January 26th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

European Jewish leaders, backed by a host of former EU heads of state and government, are to call for pan-European legislation outlawing antisemitism amid a sense of siege and emergency feeding talk of a mass exodus of Europe’s oldest ethnic minority.

A panel of four prestigious international experts on constitutional law backed by the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) have spent three years consulting widely and drafting a 12-page document on “tolerance”. They are lobbying to have it converted into law in the 28 countries of the EU.

The proposal would outlaw antisemitism as well as criminalising a host of other activities deemed to be violating fundamental rights on specious religious, cultural, ethnic and gender grounds.

These would include banning the burqa, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, polygamy, denial of the Holocaust and genocide generally, criminalising xenophobia, and creating a new crime of “group libel” – public defamation of ethnic, cultural or religious groups.

I’m against this. Unless speech against a group is of a nature that it is advocating violence or similar, then it should not be illegal.

The answer to bad speech is good speech, not banning bad speech.

Tags: , ,

Adam Smith institute on standing up to bullies

January 12th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Sam Bowman at the Adam Smith Institute makes the point:

Bullies succeed by making their victims fear them. The bully may be stronger than the victim, but he does not constantly use force against them. It is the fear of violence or humiliation that makes victims act in the way the bully wants them to. …

Terrorism often operates in the same way. Very few terrorists could ever hope to win in a full-scale war against their victims, so instead they do shocking, frightening things. Yesterday’s attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices was a very significant example of this, because the terrorists’ apparent goals (‘avenging the Prophet’ for blasphemous cartoons) seem ridiculously trivial compared to the lengths they were willing to go to to achieve them.

It is now clear that Western journalists who blaspheme against Islam may be murdered where they work. And most Western journalists don’t really want to blaspheme against Islam anyway. It’s rude, and it’s rude against a group that does not have much power in the West. …

But if a bully tells you not to do something, sometimes you should do it even if you didn’t really want to do it anyway. Defiance of the bully is very important to rob him of his power over you, and – just as important – to show to others that bullying is not effective.

And specifically:

Simply talking about how unafraid we are of terrorism is an empty, weak reaction.Cartoons that show the power of pencils are worthless. No Jihadi is disturbed by any of this. What disturbs them is to show in our actions that they do not have the bully’s power over us. 

Media who refuse to publish the cartoons are showing the bullies, that bullying works.


NYT blog on blasphemy

January 11th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A blog at the NY Times by Ross Douthat:

1) The right to blaspheme (and otherwise give offense) is essential to the liberal order.

2) There is no duty to blaspheme, a society’s liberty is not proportional to the quantity of blasphemy it produces, and under many circumstances the choice to give offense (religious and otherwise) can be reasonably criticized as pointlessly antagonizing, needlessly cruel, or simply stupid.

3) The legitimacy and wisdom of criticism directed at offensive speech is generally inversely proportional to the level of mortal danger that the blasphemer brings upon himself.

He goes through each point:

The first point means that laws against blasphemy (usually described these days as “restrictions on hate speech”) are inherently illiberal.

We actually have such laws in NZ. They have not been used since 1922, but we should still scrap them.

The second point means that a certain cultural restraint about trafficking in blasphemy is perfectly compatible with liberal norms, and that there’s nothing illiberal about questioning the wisdom or propriety or decency of cartoons or articles or anything else that takes a crude or bigoted swing at something that a portion of the population holds sacred. …

But our basic liberties are not necessarily endangered when, say, the Anti-Defamation League criticizes Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the Sanhedrin in “The Passion of the Christ” or the Catholic League denounces art exhibits in the style of “Piss Christ,” any more than they’re endangered by the absence of grotesque caricatures of Moses or the Virgin Mary from the pages of the Washington Post and New York Times. Liberty requires accepting the freedom to offend, yes, but it also allows people, institutions and communities to both call for and exercise restraint.

And most people have no desire to say things which will cause offence to believers of a religion, except …

We are in a situation where my third point applies, because the kind of blasphemy that Charlie Hebdo engaged in had deadly consequences, as everyone knew it could … and that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good. If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more.

The more a group of people want to kill you for a particular form of speech, is the more reason why one should say it.

Again, liberalism doesn’t depend on everyone offending everyone else all the time, and it’s okay to prefer a society where offense for its own sake is limited rather than pervasive. But when offenses are policed by murder, that’s when we need more of them, not less, because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.

Well stated.

Tags: ,

Awful views from Derek Fox

January 9th, 2015 at 7:06 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Fox said on Facebook said the editor of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo had “paid the price” for his “bigotry” and “arrogance”.

The price he should have paid is people not buying his magazine, not execution. Is Fox saying that the victims deserved to be killed because of what they wrote?

Fox wrote that Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier was a “bully” who had abused free speech and was now responsible for the deaths of his colleagues.

Yes he is. So if a white supremacist killed all the staff of Mana magazine, would Derek have been responsible for that?

“The editor of the French magazine has paid the price for his assumption of cultural superiority and arrogance, he was the bully believing he could insult other peoples culture and with impunity and he believed he would be protected in his racism and bigotry by the French state.

Yeah the satirical magazine editor is the bully, not the murdering terrorists.

Fox also misses the point that this magazine insults all cultures and religions. It is a satirical magazine. Does Fox want satire banned at risk of death, or does he think certain religions should be immune from satire?

He continued: “Power cultures all like to use the old chestnut of freedom of speech when they choose to ridicule people who aren’t exactly like them, and mostly they get away with it.”

Yeah that freedom of speech thing is so over-rated. Who needs it eh Derek.

Fox said in this Facebook post that the privilege of free speech brought with it responsibility and ramifications. “These guys liked the privilege but didn’t think they’d be caught up in the ramifications – they were wrong.

“This should serve as a lesson to other people who believe they can use the power they wield by way of dominating the media to abuse and ridicule others they believe to inferior to them – just like [in] this country.”

Fox’s post is vile. He blames the victims and thinks that killing people for satirical cartoons is a food way to teach people a lesson. I’ve had a fair amount of time for Fox in the past, but on this issue I find his writings repugnant.

However unlike Derek, I don’t think people should be killed for writing vile and repugnant things. I think he has a right to do express his views, without being killed for it.

National Party list MP Chris Bishop said it was a “horrific, ridiculous, shameful comment”, adding that supporting freedom of speech was a human right, not “cultural supremacy”.

Free speech is a human right. Not being offended by someone’s speech is not a right.

Fox has stood by his comments, and said that if the magazine had not published gratuitous insults, the victims “would still be alive now”.

If she had just agreed to have sex with him, then she wouldn’t have been raped. That is basically what Fox argues with his victim blaming

Tags: , ,

The cartoons that 12 were killed for

January 9th, 2015 at 4:53 am by David Farrar



It is important not to reward the terrorists by self-censorship. Only if their actions lead to the cartoons getting more widely published, might they stop.

Huffington Post has the full set.

Tags: , ,

A murderous attack on free speech

January 8th, 2015 at 3:42 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two masked gunmen wielding assault rifles have stormed a French satirical magazine on Wednesday (Thursday NZT), shot 12 people dead and injured 10 more, five of them critically.

The killers fled the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, near the Bastille, in a hijacked car.

According to unconfirmed reports on Twitter the gunmen had been shouting “Allahu Akbar” outside the offices, and were later involved in a shootout with police.

At the time of the attack the magazine was said to be holding an editorial meeting on an Islam-themed special edition titled ‘Sharia Hebdo’.

Police said the gunmen shouted “we have avenged the Prophet” after their attack.

This is basically religious fascism – killing people who do not subscribe to their religious tenets. These killings will have a chilling impact on media around the world – who will self-censor in fear of similar executions.

A firebomb attack gutted the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a publication that has always courted controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders, in November 2011 after it put an image of the Prophet Mohammad on its cover.

What would be a great response is for every media outlet in the western world to publish images of Mohammad, to send a signal that the more you use terror to try and create censorship, the more it will backfire.

Tags: , ,

Online speech in the UK

January 5th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

James Bloodworth at The Independent writes:

At some point saying “offensive” things online stopped being a social faux pas and became a potentially criminal act.

Dare to be rude about the wrong person or group and, in a bad parody of Erich Honecker’s East Germany, you could hear the knock on the door in the middle of the night and be dragged off to some dreary police cell for questioning.

I exaggerate of course, but not much: around 20,000 people in Britain have been investigated in the past three years for comments made online, with around 20 people a day being looked into by the forces of the law, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Appalling. As we consider the remaining stages of the Harmful Digital Communications Act, we should be careful to ensure we don’t end up with the same in NZ.

And so, in a further erosion of free expression, the police in Scotland have this week decided to investigate former Apprentice star and professional controversialist Katie Hopkins for off-colour comments made online about the Scottish nurse who contracted Ebola.

Doing what she is paid handsomely to do (and presumably what got her 291,000 Twitter followers), Hopkins came up with the most grotesque thing she could say about the issue and condensed it into 140 characters, tweeting that the nurse in question was a “sweaty Glaswegian” and referring to Scots as “Jocks”.

In response, the perennially thin-skinned of Twitter cobbled together a 12,000-strong petition demanding that Hopkins be charged over the tweets and handed it to a police force desperately looking to justify its place in the world at a time of falling crime.

There are some sad people outraged on Twitter. And an apple falls to the ground. Both are daily events.

This isn’t only about professional controversialists like Hopkins: what of the woman found guilty of a public order offence for saying that David Cameron had “blood on his hands”? Or Azhar Ahmed, who was prosecuted for an online post mocking the deaths of six British soldiers killed in Afghanistan?

All vile and grossly insensitive certainly; but on balance I think I’m more afraid of the Twitter Stasi and their increasingly zealous police enforcers.

There is no right not to be offended.


A blow against free speech at Oxford

November 21st, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Just read this article at Vox on how a debate about abortion at Oxford University was cancelled due to protests.

I’m pro-choice but I think it is deplorable that people should try and stop a debate on an issue. The person who got the event cancelled said:

The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups. Debating abortion as if its a topic to be mulled over and hypothesised on ignores the fact that this is not an abstract, academic issue.

How appalling. By her logic we should not debate immigration, welfare, or pretty much anything because they are not abstract academic issues. These are the issues we should be debating.

Tags: ,

The Press on offence

October 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

EnSoc’s critics, and people generally, need to learn not to be too hasty to take offence. Prejudice and stereotyping are seldom effective humour, but howls of outrage can be a sign that a palpable hit has been made against some sacred cow or other. Even if there is no particular point being made, some leeway should be allowable for youthful exuberance.

Thin-lipped disapproval and the po-faced taking of offence are too often used to shut down others’ freedom of expression.

The claim that something has caused offence can be a veil for censorship and an attempt to create a culture in which a bland homogeneity of thought and opinion prevails.

To put it at its loftiest, one of the rights protected by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act is the right to freedom of expression. That must include the right to express thoughts and opinions others may find offensive, even odious.

It is unlikely any such high-toned notions were in the minds of the student EnSoc members when they thought up their tasteless defamations of women and Muslims and they should certainly act with greater regard for the sensitivities of others, but the principle applies all the same.

Well said. I recall Otago University capping magazines that were stuffed full of absolutely offensive humour. There is no right in NZ law not to be offended,

Tags: , ,

The intolerance with dissent on US campuses

June 13th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Joel Kotkin writes:

In ways not seen since at least the McCarthy era, Americans are finding themselves increasingly constrained by a rising class—what I call the progressive Clerisy—that accepts no dissent from its basic tenets. Like the First Estate in pre-revolutionary France, the Clerisy increasingly exercises its power to constrain dissenting views, whether on politics, social attitudes or science.

As the modern clerisy has seen its own power grow, even while the middle class shrinks, it has used its influence to enforce a prescribed set of acceptable ideas. On everything from gender and sexual preference to climate change, those who dissent from the official pieties risk punishment.

This power has been seen recently in a host of cancellations of commencement speakers. Just in the past few months Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, and former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, have been prevented from speaking by campus virtue squads whose sensibilities they had offended.

Normally a top achieving African-American woman or a Somali born feminist would be welcomed on campuses. But they are not left wingers, so they get blocked.

The spate of recent cancellation reflect an increasingly overbearing academic culture that promotes speech codes on what is permissible to say and even seeks to provide “trigger warnings” to warn students about the presence of nominally troubling subject matter in readings and discussions so they can avoid the elements of reality they find offensive. 

Universities were once bastions of freedom of speech, which includes a freedom to offend.


Where does online free speech end?

June 9th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Messages posted on Facebook and Twitter or sent in emails can be tasteless, vulgar and even disturbing.

But just when do they cross the line from free speech to threats that can be punished as a crime?

As the internet and social networks allow people to vent their frustrations with the click of a mouse, the US Supreme Court is being asked to clarify the First Amendment rights of people who use violent or threatening language on electronic media where the speaker’s intent is not always clear. The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees freedom f speech and other basic rights.

The justices could decide as early as Monday whether to hear appeals in two cases where defendants were convicted and sent to jail for making illegal threats, despite their claims that they never meant any harm.

Often authorities do over-react. The worst case was in the UK when a man was arrested seven days after he tweeted he was so annoyed with a flight delay, he might blow something up. A dumb thing to do, and one could understand if action was taken at the time. But to hunt him down seven days later, was awful.

But how about these cases:

In one case, a Pennsylvania man ranted on Facebook in the form of rap lyrics about killing his estranged wife, blowing up an amusement park, slitting the throat of an FBI agent and committing “the most heinous school shooting ever imagined.”

That’s way over the line. Especially the reference to the estranged wife, and the school shooting.

The other case involves a Florida woman who emailed a conservative radio talk show host about “second amendment gun rights” and said she was planning “something big” at a Broward County government building or school. The US Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms.

“I’m going to walk in and teach all the government hacks working there what the 2nd Amendment is all about,” the email said. Her comments triggered a lockdown affecting more than a quarter-million students.

No sympathy in this case either. It is a specific credible threat that could not be ignored.

In both cases, the defendants were prosecuted under a federal statute that makes it a crime to transmit a “threat to injure the person of another.” Those laws apply only to “true threats” that are not protected by the First Amendment under a doctrine established by the Supreme Court in 1969. The high court has said laws prohibiting threats must not infringe on constitutionally protected speech that includes “political hyperbole” or “vehement,” “caustic,” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks” that fall shy of true threats.

I’d see both of those as true threats. A quip about blowing up an airport because a flight was late is hyperbole.

The wife of the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, man, Anthony Elonis, testified at his trial that the postings made her fear for her life. One post about his wife said, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.”

What a creep. Posting that to the Internet is a form of mental torture, designed to harass and terrify his wife – at least.