Religious Discrimination

Matthew Hooton writes in the SST on the sinister language used by Labour in defending the Electoral Finance Bill:

This week, Steve Maharey, a man Labourites seriously promote as a potential prime minister, told parliament: “The intention of (the Electoral Finance Bill) is to capture people like the Exclusive Brethren, not the Catholic Church.” A potential Labour prime minister actually said that in our parliament, but it gets worse.

No less than the deputy prime minister, Michael Cullen, asked the justice minister to amend the bill so that the Catholic Church’s planned anti-poverty campaign would be allowed to proceed, on the grounds that it would support Labour’s Working for Families policy, in contrast to something the Brethren might say.

That, too, was actually said in our parliament. Our deputy prime minister and a potential Labour prime minister are openly arguing that some religious groups should be allowed to express their views, while others should not.

Labour often talk about how they will change the Bill so it won’t affect legitimate groups.  This suggests there are some groups which are illegitimate and should not be allowed to have a voice.  Matthew also provides some good quotes, worth reflecting on:

As an historian, Cullen must have read the words of Robert H Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials: “The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish.”

Maharey has surely read Noam Chomsky: “Goebbels was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favour of free speech, then you’re in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favour of free speech.”

Both must have read George Orwell: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

This is absolutely correct.  There is no virtue in defending the right of free speech for views you agree with.  The virtue is in defending the rights of people whose views you despise and think are totally wrong.

Finally Matthew reminds us of a classic New Zealand movie, which some took to be aimed at showing what life in NZ under Muldoon could become:

Politically motivated sackings. Ministers deciding which religious groups should be allowed to speak. Bureaucrats being instructed to peddle propaganda for the ruling party. Registers of political activity. This is not a scene from Sleeping Dogs.

It’s our reality, today, under Clark.

Maybe Mike Moore had a point after all!

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