Freedom of speech and expression are considered bedrock values in Western culture. They are enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States as the first amendment. Without the first, the other nine articles in the Bill of Rights would be difficult to defend without violence.
So it’s disturbing to learn that last week in New Zealand two controversial speakers, both Canadians, were denied access to a contracted venue. The event was to be held at a 1,000-seat theatre in New Zealand’s capital city, Auckland. According to news reports, the sold-out presentation was cancelled over fears that some New Zealanders would be offended.
The speakers, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, arrived in New Zealand after a series of speeches in Australia. Both are known for defending freedom of expression, choosing to focus on issues of immigration, feminism, diversity, and radical Islam.
Southern and Molyneux are journalists and cultural critics who enjoy a large following on YouTube and through independent podcasts and film production. According to YouTube, Molyneux’s channel has more than 800,000 subscriptions. Southern, 23 and a college dropout, has gained prominence for her reporting and provocations related to illegal immigration from Libya into Europe. For actions satirizing Islam, she’s been barred from entering the UK.
Southern recently toured South Africa to investigate government bias against white landowners. The black majority government in Pretoria is supporting and protecting violent confiscation of white-owned farms and enterprises. Over the last 10 years, thousands of white people have been slaughtered by the most gruesome means. Once productive farms are now derelict because farmers have been killed or driven off, in fear for their lives.
Russia and Australia have both pledged to speed immigration of white South Africans as humanitarian imperatives. Southern’s documentary, “Farmlands”, exposes the black government’s claims of racial superiority and the violence it spawns. Her work opens an audience to issues the mainstream media ignores.
Southern believes that men and women are biologically and psychologically different and challenges calls of bias based on lack of equality. She says studies conclude that women show less anxiety and depression when they pursue traditional roles as wife, mother, and homemaker. Setting up women to compete with men in corporate situations, in most cases, leads to unhappy lives, says Southern. But she is quick to say she opposes Islamic repression of women and finds its acceptance by governments in the UK and Europe a capitulation of moral standards.
Molyneux’s work analyzes culture through a prism of logic, self-reliance, and libertarian values. Witty, but careful in word choice, Molyneux has a large following of men, people seeking greater meaning in their lives. According to Wikipedia, Molyneux, 51, received a B.A. in History from McGill University, where he was active in the McGill Debating Union. In 1993, he received an M.A. in History from the University of Toronto.
When the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, was informed that Southern and Molyneux had lost their venue, she told reporters, “New Zealand is hostile to their views. They’re here because there are no grounds to block them…but that doesn’t mean we welcome their views.”
And yet, Southern avers polling in New Zealand shows that 70 percent of Kiwis wanted to hear what they had to say.
Buttressing public attitudes, a coalition of free-speech advocates formed spontaneously in defense of the Canadians and their right to speak. Within a matter of hours, the group had raised NZ$50,000 and called for a judicial review of the cancellation.
Briefs on both Southern and Molyneux published on Wikipedia offers readers further details. Its accounts focus on how their ideas present threats to (pleasantly numbed) status quo peace and harmony. A more thoughtful approach, one that bypasses all filters, is to watch Southern and Molyneux on YouTube. Analyze their statements; compare what they have to say versus their critics. And then wonder aloud, “is this progress or repression?”