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Free speech: Rhetoric and reality

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The far-right have developed a concern for civil liberties over the past few years and would have you believe that they are the true defenders of freedom.

Don’t be fooled, there is a huge chasm between their rhetoric and the reality. Their call for freedom of speech would quickly change if they ever got a chance of power, and they would quickly remove that right from those they perceive as their enemies.

Here in New Zealand there has been some sympathy for the cancelling of an event by Canadians Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, who have built a reputation for making controversial, racist statements. They had been due to appear next month at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland but last Friday the Auckland City Council, which owns the venue, pulled the plug on the event due to “security concerns” involving the “health and safety” of the presenters, staff and patrons of the event.

In response, a planned event initially in support of the imprisoned English far-right mouthpiece Tommy Robinson has morphed into a general free speech rally to be held this Saturday in Wellington, with concurrent events planned for Auckland and Christchurch.

Those campaigning against the Canadian duo have been accused of drawing attention to Southern and Molyneux with the call for their banning, but ignoring them will not make them go away. Allowing far right activists to gather unhindered will only see them grow in popularity and influence.

Richard Spencer, a prominent far-right activist in the United States, said earlier this year that he has had to rethink his public events after a number of protests by anti-fascist activists throughout the US. This speaks volumes as to the importance of keeping the pressure on the........

© The Gisborne Herald