Conservative activist Lauren Southern and a fellow Canadian named Stefan Molyneux are planning to visit New Zealand on a speaking tour. They were scheduled to speak in Auckland at the Bruce Mason Centre on 03 August 2018.
However Auckland Council heard about their planned live talk and cancelled their show, kicking off a storm about whether freedom of speech extends to the right wing of politics.
Ms Southern has been excluded from Britain for her participation in the delivery of xenophobic fliers to letter boxes. When she tried to get a visa into New Zealand, it was on these grounds that she was originally denied. That is, until a letter from Immigration Border Operations told her that she would no longer need a Special Direction which had been originally recommended by I.B.O.
Australia meanwhile has decided to admit Ms Southern and Mr Molyneux forthwith.
Let me be clear. Ms Southern’s views are toxic. They do not represent what most New Zealanders believe and her distribution of inflammatory fliers, shows an intent to incite fear and potential hatred. However, as the distribution of the fliers did not happen in New Zealand, the grounds to block her entry are not sufficient
For example this video talks about migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa. In it you hear Ms Southern’s contempt for asylum seekers and the process of becoming one being described. She displays considerable ignorance for the reasons causing so many to leave – these struggling, barely functional nations are the result of European imperialism having failed and the former colonial powers having bailed out, leaving their former colonies in a weakened state with poorly functioning court systems, rampant corruption and greedy corporates doing deals with politicians to get around any environmental and labour laws that might exist. Nigeria is a classic example.
However like you and I she has a right to have an opinion and express it. Freedom of speech is something that was gravely endangered by Nazi-era Germany, Fascist-era Italy and Imperial Japan in World War 2. Canadian and New Zealand soldiers, sailors and airmen died in their thousands trying to defend it. However toxic Ms Southern’s views are – AND they are – she has a right to them.
It is her right to freedom of speech that is causing division. Auckland Council might have believed it was acting in the country’s best interests by denying her a council venue. However all that they have achieved is to give her huge publicity, that not surprisingly Ms Southern and Mr Molyneux are exploiting. Whereas she might have attracted a few hecklers at a meeting had the council permitted her a venue and not gone public about it, now a meeting would attract many more on both sides of the divide and probably need a police attendance just to maintain the order.