22. Apr, 2019

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Christchurch and its implications

In the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch killings the western world was rightly and understandably shocked and grieved.  The killings seemed an inexplicable and horrible act of violence upon innocent citizens.

The act was indeed, horrible, grievously so. But inexplicable? Definitely not. Many have publicly foretold the emergence of such violence, including these columns. Such violence is a horrid and tragic consequence of politicians not doing their job properly – specifically, listening to their electors and endeavouring to address their concerns.

The degeneration of society into ‘tribal’ groups of disaffection clearly indicates, and has indicated for some time, a degree of ill-health in society. For too long have politicians of all persuasions poured bromides over the problem. Tragically two weeks ago a part of the festering sore erupted.

In the days after the killings politicians in Australia and New Zealand have been falling over themselves in sanctimony: public and most patronising displays of posturing and  public distress, supplications in mosques and politically correct media grab statements of political determination to stamp out the scourge of ‘right-wing’ extremism. After years of political neglect, failure and leadership, I find such arrant hypocrisy extremely difficult to digest.

Compounding this hypocrisy is the bringing to bear of pressure upon social media by governments of the western world to ban sites and conversations of ‘right-wing extremist and white supremacist’ groups. The governments of Australia and New Zealand are particularly rapid in their approval of such knee-jerk policy.

Let me pose two very obvious questions:

  •  What constitutes a right-wing extremist group?
  •  What constitutes a white supremacist group?

The answers are seemingly and equally obvious – there is some most vile muck and vitriol on the internet. But this vitriol plays in all manner of directions.

Let me pose a further two very obvious questions:

  •  What constitutes a left-wing extremist group?
  •  What constitutes a globalist militant group?

The old saying: One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter applies.

How far to the right, or left, do you go before you start banning and censoring citizens? Who is going to take charge of the censorship? 

As noted above, there is some pretty vile stuff out there in cyber-space. There is also some puffed-up but pretty insipid stuff out there. I have read much of this and can confirm to its sometime idiocy and sometime vileness – both left and right. However, how much of it and to what extent the authorities able to ‘censor’ without breaching our rights and freedom of expression is moot.

Quite obviously the government has perhaps a legal obligation to shut down sites that explicitly call to arms, to political violence and to other matters of a criminal nature. But closing sites for differentiating between cultures and races or for sharing or expressing personal views and opinions, is another step too far down the road to totalitarianism. 

For example, our security thought police quickly closed down or blocked contact with several sites I look at. This of course made me look more broadly across the spectrum and found more sites thus affected. I also noted very quickly that all reference to Tarrant’s ‘Manifesto’ were curtailed, restricted or banned. Owning a copy of same in NZ is punishable by gaol. How bloody stupid can our authorities get?

Telling me what not to read is of course a spur to do so. It took me and hour or two to find a copy but I have downloaded a pdf copy of the manifesto which I have glanced through. Some of it makes for interesting reading, some of it not so. But in the journey to find it, I am grateful to the authorities for introducing me to some very dark and interesting areas of politics which I otherwise would not have heard of, let alone found!

Let me declare my own credentials on this matter. I have always and quite openly described myself as a moral conservative and a political freethinker. I have strong views on certain matters which I consider are inadequately expressed in the contemporary political forum. My politics are therefore well outside the mainstream of political parties and movements, most of whom I hold in contempt. I express my opinions in these columns openly and sometimes in provocative language.  Does that necessarily mean that I should be regarded with official suspicion as possibly having sympathies that might be regarded by some as being extreme? Bollocks.

To some, my views are extreme. Jolly good. So what? You have the right to agree, disagree, respond, ignore or just switch channels.

However, whatever my views, my right to hold and express them is enshrined in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Australia is a signatory and under whose terms we all should enjoy:

Article 18.
 
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.
 
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.
 
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.[1]

Let me summarise: Thereby we all have the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. We have the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to receive and impart information and ideas through any media.We also have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

As ever we can learn from history.

In the early 1950s and in the context of international tensions, the Communist Party of Australia was perceived by many as a national threat. The then Menzies Liberal government proposed banning the party. The proposition was put to referendum. On the 22nd of September 1951 the people of Australia rejected, albeit narrowly, the proposition. Even the Young Liberals voted against the proposition on the principle of free speech. It would appear that our forefathers knew and respected this principle. 

Have we, however, not learnt anything from history? Of course not, because today’s post post-modernist world has no history!

To this end, the authorities truly are, in my view, silly bastards – they will only drive political lunacy underground. It would do us no harm to remember that, once in place, regulations are hard to remove. I also offer the observation that politicians, of any shade, would prefer to operate without opposition. Most would likely ban their mother if it would make life easier for them. My view is simply to trust them with nothing – least of all our liberty.

The post-Christchurch policy reactions by governments in Australia and that of New Zealand are, in my view, ill-conceived. They smack of policy on the run, they smack of the very populism politicians decry and they smack of politicians taking full-advantage of an international tragedy to ram-rod through policy without adequate consideration.

Finally, the whole sorry story amply illustrates the shocking quality of our politicians.

*****



[1] https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/