I think a very good way of recognising hate speech is when the speaker starts to whine about their rights to free speech.
You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, and know when to bugger off back to Canada.
Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, Canada's alt-righters knew this when they wanted to peddle their white supremacist wares in New Zealand to the tune of $99 a pop (minimum). Phil Goff told them to bog off from his Town Hall and Aucklanders' protestations caused them a cessation at the Powerstation.
They were not wanted.
When they were in New Zealand.
Knowing this they left.
My wee haiku aims to sum up the experience, which appeared to leave the prejudiced pair bemused, but somewhat gratified I suspect. They got what they wanted — publicity and no doubt a bigger demand for their next gig. It certainly freed up a lot of speech in New Zealand. I am always gobsmacked at how easy it is to awaken Neanderthal logic and how people who you considered relatively sophisticated, revert to the most basic of arguments.
"Free speech is free speech, end of", "Everyone is allowed to speak their point of view", and "There is no harm in a point of view". There have been some very good pieces written on the differences between free speech and hate speech. I think a very good way of recognising hate speech is when the speaker starts to whine about their rights to free speech. When people speak about free speech there is always an agenda and it's usually self serving.
Rewind to 2004 in Orewa where Donald (familiar?) Brash made a brash speech that cajoled and regurgitated support for then flailing National Party by what many people felt was fuelling racist sentiment toward Māoridom.
The speech itself was framed in terms of equality and pragmatism, arguing for doing away with policies that proactively targeted Māori to address their obvious marginalisation, along with obscure references to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. A rallying cry of the speech was to "end the Treaty of Waitangi grievance industry".
His speech was criticised by lecturer and political writer Jon Johansson: "Whether intended or not, the Orewa speech reinforced the ignorant and racist."
Now, Don Brash is cunning underneath his disingenuous "who me?" persona and this leads me to wonder - did he foresee the argy-bargy coming some time back? Did he line up the right to free speech debates to coincide with his Narcissist of the Year, oops I mean New Zealander of the Year Award nomination?
Apologies if I seem somewhat conspiratorial, but the timing seems to be perfect in his lead-up to his nomination. Did he choreograph his university speeches to come off the coattails of the white supremacist Canadians' push for their right to speak? I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a book launch around the corner.
Some people get addicted to the limelight. They like to bathe in it. They get cold when the light goes out and when this happens, they manufacture or manipulate an event or a group of people or both to bolster their appeal no matter how common the dominator.
Sometimes it is good to know when to bow down from a particular position whether it be in politics, governance or even an ideology. As Kenny Rogers croons, you've got to "know when to walk away, when the dealings done".
• Jonny Wilkinson is the CEO of Tiaho Trust - Disability A Matter of Perception. A Whangarei based disability advocacy organisation.