A recent piece by my good friend Karl du Fresne, published on this blog, talked about the need for anonymity for some folk expressing views that may be considered controversial by people who have power over employment opportunities.
As usual it was a well written commentary by someone who
is regarded by his enemies as being untouchable given he has earned a
reputation for accuracy and well researched investigative journalism but it was
also a sobering account of the state “free expression in New Zealand.
Unfortunately, there are few other individuals still writing opinion pieces in this country who command the respect that allows them to say what they like and we, as a nation of highly interested bystanders, are the worse for it.
However, for a relative novice writer like myself, trying
to understand why this is so, it isn’t hard to establish who controls the
narrative and whether individuals should be concerned about their ability to
engage in free speech even in a minor capacity.
Karl refers to those writers who are genuinely worried
that comments they may express under a pseudonym could threaten their
livelihood if printed under their real name.
We are indebted to him for telling it like it is, even
though he is in a position where he is unafraid to do so.
Unfortunately, the MSM in Godzone, with only a few
exceptions, only allow free expression of views that do not have consequences
either via retaliation from Government or other influential pressure groups who
support the government version of the truth. The censorship of submissions to
editors has made it difficult to put the alternative view in journals at even
the local level.
In other words - It is the old story of “free speech for
me, but not for thee”
It is obvious to anyone trying to objectively assess the
true state of “freedom of expression” in this country that the media, or those
in control of the information distribution are, for the most part, happily
engaged in parroting the party line.
Not all the evidence of this is blatantly obvious but
more often not too subtle injections of indoctrination designed to result in a
public more sympathetic to the views our leaders want us to adopt. Eg. Notice
only one of the weekend weather presenters spends a great deal of her time in
front of the cameras referring to Reo “place names” as a major part of her
presentation. l’m not objecting to an apparent need for us all to understand
one of our less used official languages but l do wonder why we have not been
asked if this is the right way to achieve that greater understanding.
Alarmingly, this slow creep is becoming a flood as the
Government flails around, desperate for something that will rescue it from the
backlash that is coming at the next general election.
It is perhaps ironic that government attempts to impose
its will on the citizens of this country, aided and abetted by a compliant or
even sycophantic media, will be the main reason for its downfall.
Hopefully, if that happens, we will be able to return to
an environment where individuals can respond to measures that are in fact human
rights abuses without worrying if their families will suffer the consequences.
I’m too old to worry about that happening to me and will
carry on making my small contribution to the common cause as long as l am
cognitively able to do so but l am concerned that too many of my colleagues
will be intimidated out of the business if continuing under duress becomes too
We must not allow that to happen.
Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.