NZers warn free speech under threat in universities

Stuff reports:

A group of 27 high-profile New Zealanders, including unlikely allies such as Don Brash and Dame Tariana Turia, have penned an open letter warning freedom of speech is under threat in the country’s universities.

It was the brainchild of Auckland University of Technology’s History Professor Paul Moon, and rejects “the forceful silencing of dissenting or unpopular views” on university campuses.

It also insists debate must not be suppressed because the ideas put forth “are thought by some or even by most people to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed”. …

The open letter has been signed by academics, business leaders, community representatives and controversial commentators including Sir Bob Jones, former prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Maori educationalist Sir Toby Curtis, poet Albert Wendt and former MP Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.

Moon said freedom of speech was the foundation of a modern, diverse and democratic society and it protected religious freedom and individual expression.

“Kneejerk calls from Police and the Human Right Commission to introduce hate-speech laws after recent attacks on ethnic communities will have the unintended consequence of suppressing . Education, open debate and understanding will change racist and intolerant views – not censorship,” he said.

Great to see this response to the call by those two authorities for a law to restrict free speech further. The full list of signatories are:

Assoc Professor Len Bell, Dr Don Brash, Dr David Cumin, Sir Toby Curtis, Dr Brian Edwards, Graeme Edwards, Dr Gavin Ellis, Sir Michael Friedlander, Alan Gibbs, Dame Jenny Gibbs, Bryan Gould, Wally Hirsh, Professor Manying Ip, Sir Bob Jones, Professor Pare Keiha, Assoc Professor Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Dame Lesley Max, Gordon McLauchlan, Professor Paul Moon, Sir Douglas Myers, Assoc Professor Camille Nakhid, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Professor Edwina Pio, David Rankin, Philip Temple, Dame Tariana Turia, and Professor Albert Wendt.

Here’s what the Gpovernment should do. Appoint a new member of the Human Rights Commission. A Free Speech Commissioner in the mould of Tim Wilson who would be a fearless and staunch advocate of free speech, even speech that offends.

In related news, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not coming to NZ or Australia due to security concerns.


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