Damaging trust, causing harm
by Aimee Milne
Supporters of Jen Brown’s Advance NZ Public Party defend “freedom of speech” as a strawman argument. I am not challenging freedom of speech, but they are trying to shut down a legitimate response to it.
Jen Brown’s supporters insinuate poor character in an attempt to shame me into giving up my right of response to their anti-vax rhetoric and neo-Nazi ideals.
On social media, speech has never been so free and unregulated. The privilege of free speech should be used responsibly. Critical theorists hold the view that reinterpreting “freedom of speech” legislation would allow for regulation, rather than normalisation of hate speech. I believe regulating the discourse may lead to a more tolerant and equal society.
ANZPP have an unshiftable view that lying and manipulative half-truths are part of “freedom of speech”, which makes it difficult to find the actual truth. This approach destroys trust and harms individuals and groups (particularly minorities). As we have seen locally and globally, lies metastasize and can lead to violence.
The free speech argument provides the oxygen to embers of entitlement.
ANZPP party members openly support Trump, who is a white-supremacist, narcissistic misogynist who contributes to hate crimes by encouraging malicious discourse — much like Advance NZ co-leader Billy Te Kahika and the discourse surrounding him.
Researchers have found that the commonality between anti-vaxxers and far-right extremists is a lack of education. Billy is calculated in the way he stirs distrust, fear and anger among people who are not intellectually equipped to question his motives.
It is a current phenomenon to see anti-vax rhetoric alongside pro-gun activism and white supremacist slurs.
Trump is the first American president to hold an anti-vax stance, which has clearly had influence along with groups like ANZPP radicalising people on social media.
Privilege does not make you immune to a virus, but there is something inherently elitist and racist in the stance against public health measures.
Evidence shows that Maori may not have access to quality and racially-unbiased healthcare, along with barriers to accessibility like rural living and socioeconomic factors.
Maori have higher prevalence of poor health outcomes due to inequity and these disparities would be more apparent if Covid-19 were to arrive in Tairawhiti. It would be Maori who would suffer the biggest losses.
As a Pakeha, I’m embarrassed to see other Pakeha complaining that they feel oppressed by the Auckland lockdown or our Alert Level 2 situation.
Oppression is a human rights violation. Oppression is not staying in the comfort of your home, with food in the fridge and a healthy whanau during a pandemic which is killing people globally. It is uncomfortable and frustrating maybe, definitely financially stressful
. . . but oppressive?
Please, check your privilege at the door.