Karl du Fresne
This nasty little episode shows in stark relief just what academic dissenters are up against. They not only risk the wrath of censorious colleagues but must also face the probability that they won’t get a fair run in the media.
The contest of ideas, which is the very heart and soul of liberal democracy, hinges on freedom of expression. Free and open debate is how we sort out the good from the bad. Our system of government can’t properly function without it.
The Public Interest Journalism Fund should be seen not as evidence of a principled, altruistic commitment to the survival of journalism, which is how it’s been framed, but as an opportunistic and cynical play by a left-wing government – financed by the taxpayer to the tune of $55 million – for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering and vulnerable.
The teaching of phonics, which had previously been mainstream, was now deemed heretical. I was exaggerating only slightly when I described Doris’s clandestine activity in teaching phonics as reminiscent of Resistance operations in Nazi-occupied France.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Western civilisation and Western democratic values are under attack as never before in modern history. The breadth, intensity and viciousness of this attack is breathtaking.
A watershed moment point came for me when I heard political commentator Richard Harman state the unthinkable on Jim Mora’s The Weekend Panel when he called on Bloomfield to resign for misleading his minister.
Public anxiety at the way these blockades are operating – and not just in the Far North, but on the East Coast and reportedly in the central North Island as well – has reached such a level that National MPs can’t ignore it.
I find people like Ghahraman and Davidson almost as frightening as terrorists. They don’t kill anyone, but their power to change society is greater. They use the institutions of a liberal democracy to whittle away at the open society. They are, in their way, as totalitarian and intolerant of difference as any gun-toting fascist or jihadist.
It’s a narrative of self-loathing that wants us to think the worst of ourselves, that shamelessly seeks to politicise the killings and create a moral panic in the hope not only that we’ll tighten the gun ownership laws but far more ominously, that we might be persuaded to discard such democratic niceties as freedom of speech.