COMMENT: I find it droll, that the "freedom of expression" - loving promoter, banned from Auckland Council venues by Mayor Phil Goff, employs the same sort of censorship tactics they're berating the mayor for using against them.
The "Australia is at a Crossroads" tour brochure, which has the Auckland event tagged onto the end of a list of Australian state capitals, includes the terms and conditions for those paying $86 plus to attend.
The first is that promoter, Axiomatic Media Pty Ltd "reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone." Then to make doubly sure only like-minded groupies attend, it adds "if someone is deemed to be a risk or disturbance and is asked to leave who has already entered the event, they shall not be entitled to any refund."
In other words, even for organiser, Australian Christian fundamentalist, Dave Pellowe, who is now calling for lovers of free speech "to stand up and fight back, before it is taken away for ever," such rights are not absolute. Not when he's hiring the hall for his Alt-Right circus act at any rate.
He, rather sensibly, doesn't want mayhem to break out in his meetings. So he's signalling he'll toss any dissidents out who might want to exercise their freedom of expression and heckle, or otherwise enter into debate.
The official Auckland Council line is the show was cancelled due "to security concerns around the health and safety of the presenters, staff and patrons" at the Bruce Mason Centre venue.
Goff was more upfront. He's not going to hire out publicly-owned halls in his multi-cultural melting-pot of a city, to those with divisive and "repugnant" views.
He said council venues "shouldn't be used to stir up ethnic or religious tensions." He's not banning this touring circus from speaking in the city. He doesn't have that power. If they can find a church hall, or empty paddock somewhere, he couldn't stop them. Of course with one-half of the act, Canadian Lauren Southern now banned from entering Australia by the Department of Home Affairs and Immigration, the issue is hypothetical.
The tour seems cancelled – as was the British one it was to replace - with no visa applications having been submitted for Southern or her fellow traveller, Stefan Molyneux to visit New Zealand.
Southern seems to be in a class of her own. Back in March when she was banned from entering Britain, the Guardian reported he views on Hitler – "just an SJW [social justice warrior] who happened to get a freaky amount of power."
The Washington Post reports her being amongst the far-right pirates, trying to "save Europe" on board there own vessel trying to block rescue boats saving the lives of migrants on the Mediterranean Sea.
As for Steve Molyneux, I'll leave the searching to you.
As Auckland's first citizen, Goff was right to signal these white supremacists are not welcome in our community. As a journalist, I value freedom of expression. But even the freest of societies have rules and boundaries to live by. The classic ban on falsely yelling out "fire" in a crowded theatre, for example.
In New Zealand law, the fundamental right to freedom of expression, proclaimed in the 1990 Bill of Rights, allows you, to among other things, "impart information and opinions of any kind in any form." But this has to be read in conjunction with your obligations under the Human Rights Act 1993.
Section 61 of this makes it unlawful to publish, distribute, broadcast or speak in public "words which are threatening, abusive or insulting"… "being matters or words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons … on the ground of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins…"
Wellington human rights lawyer Michael Bott, summed it up recently. "Free speech, whilst it's synonymous with democracy, is not a right that can be asserted to the exclusion of all other democratic rights and values
"The right to human dignity and freedom from discrimination shouldn't be subservient to free speech where you encourage hatred of people of that basis that they're different."
If I could just add, we have enough of home grown fruit-loops of our own to cope with, without throwing open our public halls to divisive stirrers from overseas.