Has New Zealand lost the democratic values of free speech and respectful dialogue?
The recent incident at Albert Park in Auckland, where an aggressive, baying mob attacked Kellie-Jay Keen and a small group of supporters, is a clear example of how New Zealand has lost the democratic values of free speech and respectful dialogue.
The Free Speech Coalition, a group dedicated to promoting free speech and open dialogue, had invited Ms Keen to New Zealand to speak about women's rights. However, before she had even arrived at Albert Park, the venue was overtaken by a group of protesters, preventing her from expressing her views and verbally and physically threatening anyone who was not with them. The situation quickly escalated, and people, including older women, were punched, shoved, and spat on. At the same time, the police stood by. Ms Keen, doused in tomato juice by an attacker, was lucky to get away without being lynched.
Such unacceptable behaviour is counterproductive to free speech and respectful dialogue. By drowning out Ms Keen's views and assaulting her and the people there to listen, the protesters effectively denied her the right to express her opinions and prevented others from hearing them. While it was clear that Ms Keen's views differed from those of the protesters, a meaningful exchange of ideas could have occurred had the protesters allowed her to speak.
Moreover, such behaviour promotes an environment of intolerance and division, where individuals are not encouraged to express their views without fear of intimidation or reprisals.
This incident, and similar ones, especially the refusal by Members of Parliament and Government officials to listen to the growing alarm of medical experts about the poor safety and effectiveness of mRNA vaccines, is particularly concerning in a democratic society such as New Zealand. Another issue we seem unable to debate freely in New Zealand is the sexualisation of our children, including the confusion about gender. This suppression of debate by a domineering party is called "cancel culture." Cancel culture has no place in a democratic society.
The exchange of ideas is essential for the functioning of democracy. Without free speech and respectful dialogue, individuals cannot engage in meaningful debate and reach informed decisions about the issues that affect them.
Such behaviour, as witnessed at Albert Park and in which the police failed to intervene, is unacceptable and counterproductive to the functioning of democracy. We must encourage individuals to express their opposing views without fear of intimidation or reprisals, thus promoting respectful, constructive dialogue that results in healthy agreement and compromise. Hence, society advances as a harmonious, functioning team.
It is Sunday morning, so enough of this writing for now - I'm off for a bike ride with the woman in my life - Yes, she is a woman! I'm sure about that.