COMMENT: If Massey University's Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas really wanted to get a handle on hate speech she should go on social media and have a look at what the trolls are now saying about her.
Banning Don Brash from speaking today to her university's Politics Society about his experience as leader of the National Party, because she was worried about security, is about as valid as worrying about whether the pussycat's got enough milk.
It's doubtful whether this academic has even heard Brash speak, given she only arrived here from Australia last year to take up the job.
How speaking about his experience leading the Nats would venture into hate speech is a little difficult to fathom, although his intense dislike of John Key for doing to him what he did to Bill English could come pretty close.
Thomas says her Māori staff were offended by Brash's leadership of Hobson's Pledge, which she seems to think is akin to hate speech. Poor diddums.
It's essentially the platform of his Orewa one-law-for-all speech when he was the Nats' leader and which obviously struck a chord with the great unwashed. It propelled him within a hair's breadth of knocking Helen Clark off her perch at the 2005 election until Winston Peters decided against it.
Are we in this country becoming a bunch of milk sops where anything we're offended by isn't allowed to be said in public? God forbid.
Any halfwit should be allowed to say what they like, providing they don't incite racial disharmony which is against the law, and Don Brash's comments don't come within cooee of that.
Fortunately we all have freedom of choice which means we don't have to listen, as the two Canadian publicity seekers discovered recently. If they really had the courage of their convictions they could have stood on a soapbox in Auckland's Aotea Square, which of course would have been beneath them because they wouldn't have been paid.
Massey's Jan Thomas should reflect on what she's done and the signal she's sent to all universities in this country, where free speech used to be the essential ingredient of a tertiary education.
The day that this country's dictated to by the social media trolls is the day that democracy dies. If we are to be spooked into compliance by what an anonymous moron threatens by the swipe of a cellphone screen then we're little better than they are.
The ban certainly struck a raw nerve with Brash, who some believe lives up to his name, and worked himself into an uncharacteristic lather saying Thomas was being utterly deplorable by bowing to thuggish behaviour.
Fairly nasty, but not hateful.