Monday, March 27, 2023

Thomas Cranmer: Violent Suppression of Free Speech

Kellie-Jay Keen's Assault by Transgender Activists in New Zealand Sparks Global Outrage

An unruly mob in Albert Park has catapulted New Zealand into the global headlines with ugly images that may become iconic in the debate about the dangers of transgenderism.

Bravo Kellie-Jay. You did the job that needed to be done.

For all the talk in the days preceding Keen’s arrival in New Zealand of countering free speech with ‘more free speech’, that was never going to happen. We don’t have The Oxford Union or Speaker’s Corner. That’s not how we debate ideas downunder.

The die was cast from the moment our Immigration Minister, Michael Wood, announced that Keen would be permitted to enter the country despite, in his words, her “inflammatory, vile and incorrect world views”. The Minister declared that he would prefer it if Keen “never set foot in New Zealand” and added, “I find many of her views repugnant, and am concerned by the way in which she courts some of the most vile people and groups around including white supremacists.”

The message had been sent - by all means, come to New Zealand, but you’ll be on your own. Keen’s hotel cancelled her booking as she was mid-flight to New Zealand, and her security arrangements were also cancelled without explanation.

When Keen arrived at Albert Park on Saturday morning she was met by an unruly mob of activists hellbent on preventing her from speaking. Exactly who they were, it’s difficult to tell. Amongst the transgender rights activists were at least five Members of Parliament, mixing with autogynophiles, fetishists, so-called ‘allies’ and thugs spoiling for a fight.

No sooner had Keen walked into the Band Rotunda in the corner of Albert Park, than she was doused in tomato soup. Within minutes the barriers were thrown aside as the mob encircled the Rotunda in ugly scenes that have now made their way around the globe on social media. It was an increasingly volatile situation.

Keen had no chance of speaking. Her mere presence in the Rotunda was enough to enrage the mob. But her point had been made. The same groups demanding recognition as women for the purpose of such things as sport and healthcare as well as access to women’s-only spaces were the same angry mob violently assaulting a relatively small group of women in a usually quiet park in central Auckland.

The police loitered by the perimeter of the park, staring at their boots or their phones as the chaos unfolded meters away from them. But then again their job was not to keep the two groups apart, or keep the peace. They weren’t going to interfere with the mob justice that was being meted out in the park. Instead, they were no more than taxi-drivers, waiting for Keen to force her way out of the angry crowd and onto Princes Street where the police obliged with a lift to her hotel and then the airport.

New Zealand’s governing parties and media could not have been more closely aligned with the thugs. Reminiscent, in fact, of Mussolini’s Italy.

It was shocking to watch and images of those fifteen minutes have now been viewed many millions of times and have been commented on by international media and personalities with audiences many times the population of New Zealand.

We have indeed contributed to the global debate about transgender rights - but only by showcasing how intolerant this group is, and how violently they react to ideas that challenge the perceived orthodoxy in our South Pacific hermit kingdom. It has cast a spotlight not only on the violent undertones that exist within parts of the transgender movement; but also on New Zealand’s own appalling record of violence, particularly with regard to domestic violence.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Yes, there is free speech in New Zealand, but there is very little robust debate about difficult or controversial topics. Discussion is routinely closed down by slurs, stigmatizing language and official complaints. Local media often avoids politically or socially sensitive topics.

For instance, when seven academics wrote a letter to the Listener in June 2021 to question some elements of mātauranga Māori they were subject to much unwarranted criticism and a number of official complaints. However, after the controversy generated international attention, the University of Auckland and the Royal Society tried to diffuse the situation. In early 2022 it was announced that Auckland University would hold a symposium in the first quarter of 2022 to debate mātauranga Māori in “a more respectful, open-minded, fact-based exchange of views”. Did it happen? Of course not.

Last month, the British biologist and public academic Richard Dawkins was back in New Zealand for a series of talks and he again discussed the topic of mātauranga Māori. But rather than take the opportunity to debate Dawkins and explain mātauranga Māori to a broader audience, New Zealand academics waited until he had left the country before embarking on days of expletive-ridden social media posts.

Ask Dawkins or Keen about free speech in New Zealand. Ask them how intellectually curious we are. Now, thanks to an unruly mob in Albert Park, many millions of people around the globe have seen how tolerant New Zealand is when it comes to engaging in public discussion.

At the very least, if politicians and leaders of institutions don’t want to pick sides in social issues, they should provide the space in which proper debate can be had by those willing to discuss these issues - whether in a lecture theater or a park.

Thomas Cranmer, Lawyer with over 25 years experience in some of the world's biggest law firms. This article was published HERE


Allen said...

I wish to condemn those groups who expect and even demand tolerance from others for their beliefs or sexual orientation, yet lack any sort of tolerance for others who were actually interested in hearing what feminist and activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, aka Posy Parker, had to say. The inability of these groups to countenance ideas and opinions other than their own was juvenile, and demands widespread condemnation from any for whom freedom of expression is the cornerstone of human thought. I am now questioning my own, previously, very liberal tolerance of the groups in question, and find it straining very strongly at the leash. They did themselves no favours in the eyes of some of the public.

Anonymous said...

Yes - that would be the civilized and intelligent solution which would ( and does) happen in mature societies.

But these people demonstrate - once again - the preferred style of NZ today: crude bullying of anyone who disagrees with the views of a specific minority which must impose itself at the centre of any issue.

Peter Young said...

All summed up very well by Thomas and the above comments. It's days like that I don't mind the woke referring to it as "Aotearoa" - for it's not the New Zealand I want to be associated with, nor that I wish the wider world to recognise.

We need to grow-up and expect more from our politicians and police. I'd like to think those disgraceful actions of an unruly, vociferous bunch of hypocrites is not how the majority see ourselves, nor how we would like to be recognised.

We have an election looming - we need to be rid of these woke ideologues that have brought shame and encouraged division among us and vote for those that want to bring commonsense and decency back to the fore. You know, democracy; free speech; one person - one vote, so act.

DeeM said...

A genuinely well-balanced article which sets out the facts of the matter.
In stark contrast to the article by Bryce Edwards.

Perhaps Bryce could use the two articles as a case-study of media bias in NZ today on his university course.
Yeah right!!

Anonymous said...

Did you know that in the olden days they burnt witches?
Isn’t that what just happened in the non olden days in Auckland?

*** said...

We saw this past weekend, that New Zealanders ARE prepared to get out protest in order to prevent women talking and to suppress freedom of speech. Protests occurred in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

We have also seen over the past year or so, that New Zealanders ARE NOT prepared to get out and protest against co-governance – which involves the elimination of equality, the introduction of apartheid and the destruction of democracy. New Zealanders are NOT prepared to protest against legislated racism. New Zealanders are also NOT prepared to get out and protest against the replacement of rational thought with myth and the distortion of science and history education, NOR will they get out and protest against the racist indoctrination of school children.

Time for a reality check.

Robert Arthur said...

To ***. I suspect NZers would rally in large numbers against say co governance if the full impact of co governance ie maori control was clearly explained and publicised. But it is not. In part because it is counter to PIJFund conditions and because there is not a large band of very mutually supportive campaigners largely cancellation immune. I suspect if sufficent numbers could be organised a demonstrtrion would succeed, persons feeling somewhat protected from cancellation if part of a large enough group. And in a very large group participants feel slightly safe from the inevitable violent tikanga/te ao maori (including gang) counter. But sadly there are not enough vigorous non elderly persons sufficently unaffected by cancellation to organise.

Anonymous said...

Co - governance? The last week has shown that is a thing of the past. It is now mob governance because nothing else, no freedom of thought or expression is allowed.