Some things a parent says to a child go in very deep and stay for life. I can still hear my mother telling me, "You don't hate people."
I quickly forgot who it was I'd just announced I hated because her reply was more interesting. "You hate what they say or do, you don't hate them. You don't hate people." Her tone was matter of fact not moralistic, and I worked out what she meant. It was simply a fact, there was goodness in everyone.
Hate is a heavy word and I rarely use it but it is getting quite an airing in this very important debate we are having since Phil Goff closed Auckland Council venues to Stefan Moyneux and Lauren Southern. This week supporters of the mayor have decided "free speech is not hate speech", which, on the evidence of the banned pair's internet posts, seems unfair.
Southern hates Islamic attitudes to women and for that reason she hates Islamic immigration. I think my mother would permit that, probably agree with it. I'm not sure what Molyneux hates, possibly people who won't give his racial intelligence theories a fair hearing. That would include me. But nothing I've heard him say expressed hate for anybody.
In fact I've heard more hate for the pair as people, "horrible people", from supporters of Goff than I've heard from them. Their critics, including Goff, appear not to have bothered to listen to them, writing them off on the grounds of quotes without context, some hearsay, and the fact that they align themselves with the "alt right".
Those of us on the liberal right have three reasons to fear the alt right. They are against free trade, globalisation and multi-cultural immigration. Their opponents on the left agree with them on two of those counts and are not so keen on immigration either if it competes with home-grown labour.
The left is far closer to the alt right than true liberals. They disagree only the alt right's willingness to criticise multi-culturalism. The left labels this hate speech in order to gag it.
That truly frightens me, for it was popular resentment of suppression of these sort of views in the mass media that contributed vitally to the rise of Donald Trump.
The debate we are having has left me more worried than I was about the extent to which freedom of speech is now constrained, and I'm not exactly a libertarian on this subject.
Until a few months ago, I was on the Press Council which grapples with public complaints on this sort of thing. I was one of a minority on the council who wanted to uphold a complaint against Bob Jones' column in NBR for Waitangi Day this year in which he wrote that Māori should be grateful to Pakeha for their ethnic survival and spend the day doing odd jobs for them.
I thought the piece was exploiting racial sensitivity simply for amusement with no validating honest view. Jones said he was not serious. It was gratuitously hurtful but I couldn't say it was hateful on his part. It was just the kind of thing that should not be published and I think most New Zealand editors would agree with me, including NBR's who hadn't been wide awake and quickly took it off their website.
Quite a lot of comment that is still published could be called hate speech — it certainly feels hateful to its targets, conservative white males. Some of it is second rate political satire and cartooning aimed almost exclusively at the National Party. Second rate because the best, most inciteful, humour never comes with hate. Tom Scott for example.
The left loves hate speech against socially dominant people and the right doesn't try to suppress it, just wonders why there is a double standard. I support the double standard. Hate speech against women and minorities is harmful, against men and other powerful groups it is not, it just misses its mark.
Hate speech is hard to define but easy to recognise. It is possible, and ought to be permissible, to attack minority religious or cultural practices with hatred for them, not the people who practice them.
I abhor the clothing many Islamic women feel obliged to wear? Loathe it. Those poor girls always in their headscarves with their arms and legs always covered no matter where they are in public or how hot the day. I hate all the restrictions arising from the religious view that women must ensure they don't sully men's purity of mind.
I think this sort of thing needs to be said and should be allowed to be said strongly. I'm sure we have immigrants from Islamic countries who agree with the sentiments and might say so. Forceful free speech can be liberating.