kia ora koutou,
if you’re reading this, you might be here because you’re wondering why my name is on the list of people who support the NZ Free Speech Coalition.
i get the vibe that defending freedom of speech isn’t the controversial thing here, so much as defending the freedom of speech of people with controversial views. in this case, it’s Canadian speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux.
i’m not a supporter of these particular speakers (i’m unfamiliar with Molyneux but i’ve watched a few of Lauren Southern’s videos, specifically on the topic of feminism) but when you believe in freedom of speech, you sometimes find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having to defend the rights of people you don’t particularly like.
i support freedom of speech because i value personal autonomy, liberty and individuality. freedom of expression is obviously an integral part of those values.
free expression is the lifeblood of art, culture and creativity. without it, no one could push boundaries or challenge the status quo. without freedom of speech, there would be no subversive literature, music, comedy or theatre.
freedom to speak is an extension of the freedom to think. it is an essential part of how we communicate, learn and grow. sharing our thoughts with other human beings and receiving feedback on those thoughts is how we develop our ideas and beliefs. it’s how we self-reflect. we voice our thoughts, find out what others think about our ideas so we can then analyse them, re-evaluate them and change our views accordingly.
freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy. it is the fundamental means by which a civil society settles its differences of opinion. it is what gives us the ability to question, challenge and oppose the powers that be. it is how we evolve, how we grow, how we move forward. without freedom of speech, there would have been no civil rights movement. there would be no liberation of marginalised groups or recalling of archaic laws. there would be no change, no progress.
protecting freedom of speech sometimes means defending the right of people you disagree with to express views you may personally find abhorrent. ‘objectionable speech’ is to be debated, reasoned and argued with, not censored or banned. it is not up to the government to decide which speech “divides” and which “unites”.
history never looks back favourably on those who try to eliminate dissenting thought. the word ‘Nazi’ has been thrown around casually with regard to these Canadian speakers — in my opinion, disingenuously. what the people who would ban them are forgetting is that the real Nazis came to power by suppressing free speech. their hideous ideology took root in part because they banned any ideas they deemed subversive. they silenced their political opponents, they censored art and they burned books. suppression of free speech led to unimaginable atrocities.
suppression of freedom of speech as it pertains to this situation may have unintended side effects.
attempting to silence a certain sector of society can sometimes have the opposite effect. if people with dangerous ideas are not able to express them in public, they will be driven underground where their ignorance and hatred can fester and thrive. the process of feedback and self-reflection is removed when you put people in an echo chamber. sunlight is the best disinfectant. dangerous ideas should be examined in broad daylight, not hidden in darkness.
if these speakers are truly bringing hate to Aotearoa, the people of our multicultural country will recognise them for what they are. they should be free to voice their opinions, just as we are free to counter, criticise and reject them accordingly.
the price of freedom of speech is that each of us will inevitably be exposed to opinions we disagree with or find offensive. this is the cost of living of a free society, and it’s a very fair exchange. we cannot afford to trade our freedom “of” for freedom “from”.
as an artist, i cannot tacitly condone censorship, political or cultural.
this is why i am speaking out and why i support the Free Speech Coalition. my pro-diversity values include the diversity of thought and opinion. i believe in freedom of expression for all, not only those who share my personal world view.
without freedom of speech, there is no freedom.
if anyone has any futher questions about why i support this initiative, please feel free to ask.
i am also on the twitter.