Friday, August 27, 2004

Peter Dunne, David Irving and Brian Tamaki

NRT has a recent post about an article by Peter Dunne calling for free speech for David Irving and Brian Tamaki. Now, at first blush, there might appear to be a case for David Irving (although NRT rightly wonders why Peter Dunne would seek to make it now) - he was after all denied entry into NZ and thereby the opportunity to express his views here. If you look into it, though, David Irving (whatever the rights or wrongs of his original German conviction for defamation) played silly buggers with Canadian immigration authorities and is the author of his own misfortunes. The Minister has no duty to bend over backwards (or forwards) and waive the good character requirement of the act (as long as they're consistent when a similar case arises with a left-wing or zionist activist).

Brian Tamaki is another matter altogether. I'm not aware that anyone is trying to censor his message. Indeed it got the sort of media coverage David Irving (much less the average citizen) can only dream about.

The nasty twist in Peter Dunne's article is in the words

prohibiting or ridiculing the expression of their views will simply reinforce the stereotyped images we have of both.

"prohibiting or ridiculing"- no. No! NO!!!

To prohibit the expression of Brian Tamaki or David Irving's views is wrong - not because it reinforces our stereotyped views of them but because freedom of thought means "Freedom, not for the thought of which we approve but for the thought we hate". To ridicule those thoughts OTOH is perfectly right and proper. It was the ridicule that Reuben Ship and others poured on McCarthyism that exposed the absurdity to which Peter attributes its fall. I, no less than Voltaire, will oppose to (well at any rate until) death any who seek to prohibit Brian Tamaki from spreading his ideas but I will oppose (and already have) those views with every legitimate means of discourse (including ridicule) at my disposal. And I will gladly hold the coat of anyone else who does the same.

Peter, come back to the light side. Please.

14 Comments:

Blogger Sock Thief said...

Are there any views which you would not allowed to be expressed?

28 August 2004 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Greyshade said...

ST
Yes. No man has a right to "Cry Fire in a crowded theatre". In other words censorship is legitimate where there is a clear and present danger of actual harm resulting. Possibly also if there is actual intent to cause harm even if such harm could not actually result. See earlier posting on Free Speech at any Price. To adopt a lesser standard (at least with respect to long-term censiorship) is IMHO to guard the guardians too lightly. I have no problem with short-term censorship where there is a sufficiently compelling public good (eg allowing a fair trial) to be served.

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