An Essay On The Nepotism Of New Zealand's Political Far-Left
I have procrastinated over the information in this article for some time, mostly because I have been very busy with work, my children and a few other legal matters of interest. It was only a few days ago when one of my closest friends sent me a link to a video that I finally felt compelled to write. The video was by Count Dankula in which he detailed the soon to be passed Hate Speech legislation in the Scottish Parliament. Despite the jovial and colourful delivery (warning: there is coarse language in the link) of Dank’s video, I could not help but feel chilled to the bone. My friend in the private chat had, afterall, underscored the youtube link with the comment “we’re next.”
All Call To Silence
Fast-forward over a year since the Christchurch massacre, and New Zealand’s own hate speech legislation is being drafted by the morally diminutive Andrew Little MP, who is (somewhat ironically) the Minister of Justice. It was rumoured that the new laws were going to be ushered in under the veil of COVID-19; however, Little advised that there is no such draft and that hate speech legislation remains “the subject of discussions between partners”. It would be nice to know who these “partners” actually are. If the Scottish1, Canadian and U.K “partners” involved in the drafting of their hate speech legislation are anything to go by, then it will be a bunch of the usual far-left, hand-wringing misfits, all too willing to air their manufactured grievances to obeisant authorities of the same ilk. It is anticipated that the NZ legislation will now be scheduled for after the election: important to note, as this should be a worthy consideration of who to vote for if you value free speech.
The reality is that the giving and taking of offence is commonplace in the realm of ideas. For every idea or proposition that I ideologically support, there will be the equivalent in opposition, which I will dutifully entertain if I am to learn anything—even if it offends. That’s how a robust political and philosophical life should be. When we examine legislation that impinges on our freedom of speech, we can easily note the tactics used by dictatorial and authoritarian regimes of the past (Stalinists, Nazis, Maoists, et al.) that sought to impose punitive damages on individuals who espoused views in conflict with their own. When speech is legislated into subjective variances of “hate”, free-thinkers can then be subjected to libel, suffer damages or loss of liberty, and effectively be closed down. This gives the authorities the pretence of “freedom of speech” when, in fact, it is really about control.
The current bar for legislated speech is still fit for purpose: don’t lie about someone publicly, and don’t incite violence—that’s pretty much it. Imagine living in a world where one is punished not for what one did, but what one said? Imagine thinking something that in every sense is objectively true, but not being able to speak it because one has to bend the knee to officialdom or some other manufactured movement. It’s certainly chilling.
Framing The Narrative
Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, mentioned “partners” in his quest for hate speech legislation, and undoubtedly he will seek to stack the deck with other mini-authoritarians and ideologues of the far-left who marry up with his life-long, left-wing unionist pursuits. “Stacking the deck” of opinions and framing the narrative is how the far-left works. In the following exposé I will endeavour to demonstrate how the far-left use their symbiotic relationship with mainstream media, NGOs, academia, and the political establishment, to frame the narrative and advance their agenda.
In the wake of the Christchurch massacre in March 2019, a report titled Digital Threats to Our Democracy (“the report”) was published in April. The report was undertaken by an NGO named The Workshop whose stated vision is “a more inclusive and just New Zealand” (for who, I wonder?). The Workshop team includes Marianne Elliot, co-founder of the far-left crowd-campaign organisation Action Station, and another academic Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw, who has been quoted in the NZ Herald saying:
Social media companies have had plenty of opportunity to prioritise social and environmental wellbeing, to focus on ways to provide good information and shut down misinformation [emphasis added], and they have not.
Amazing to think that people like Berentson-Shaw are the arbiters of what “good” information on social media2 should be. She, like the other speech totalitarians, fails to specify what “good” is and what constitutes “misinformation”— a common theme. Other associates of The Workshop include the far-far-left polemicist and genuine troublemaker Morgan Godfery (who needs no further descriptors) and Tze Ming Mok, former globalist United Nations employee and “minority advocate". Here’s Ms Mok with the far-left New Zealand Green Party, second from the right in the Palestine t-shirt:
As you can see, the objectivity of the researchers may be called into question, obviously political connections factored into the selection process, especially when considering the interviewee selection in the body of the report’s qualitative narrative—but we’ll get to that later.
The report had been in progress for a year with a release time scheduled (coincidentally) one month after the massacre. The report was commissioned by the Law Foundation, a left-wing NGO that has a track-record of publishing research to advance liberal and “progressive” positions. The Law Foundation funded the report to the tune of $56,660 whilst The Luminate Group also provided $24,000 in funding. The latter organisation is a philanthropic endeavour created by a man named Pierre Omidyar (founder of ebay) as part of his Omidyar Network Fund. This nonprofit has gone on to fund the Sunlight Foundation, which has worked collaboratively with George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, amongst others. The Luminate Group, whether you think it good or bad, is part of the globalist network to influence state sectors to its ideological viewpoints. I may be slightly speculative here, but I don’t think I’d be too far off the mark by suggesting that The Workshop project would have met the specific criteria for funding as set by the Luminate group.
The corpus of the report is mostly qualitative research, and there is a usefulness that the “lived experience” has in the realm of phenomenology. Qualitative research tends to fall apart, however, when it seeks to elevate the subjective human experience over useful positivism. I say “useful positivism” because there can be an absence of meaning in misappropriated positivist research, and without “meaning” its results can be nefariously misinterpreted (take for instance the controversial discussion of racial differences in IQ). Another critique that I would level at qualitative endeavours is they tend to adapt to the postmodernist worldview of moral relativism, in which a multiplicity of truths is posited. Just because there are many subjective interpretations of phenomena does not mean that there are not universal truths that everyone experiences more or less the same in an archetypal way, such as family, work, food, death, etc. These universal truths lead us to hierarchical order, not a multiplicity of chaos (which is definitely a topic for another essay).
The report is mixed-methodology research, consisting of qualitative interviews, and quantitative survey data. Its overarching theme is that corporate platforms have become “too big”, are in need of “regulation”, and continue to foster antisocial online behaviours. The use of the term “hate” throughout the research is poorly defined and lacks specificity. This lack of specificity should make one automatically suspicious, as the parameters for censorship are prima facie without bounds.
The most noticeable observation is the selection bias, particularly with the cohort of interviewees. Obvious stand-outs who’d be familiar to New Zealanders are Golriz Gahraman (Green Party) mentioned ten times and more than anyone else on the far-left, Chloe Swarbrick (Green Party) mentioned eight times, Marama Fox (Maori Party) mentioned six times. Risibly, David Farrar (who coincidentally owns a polling company), arguably a centrist National Party political hack, is mentioned twelve times—possibly in an attempt to give the whole exercise a veneer of legitimacy and impartiality. It is striking that the minority voices of David Seymour (ACT Party leader and elected politician) and Elliot Ikilei (New Conservative) weren’t included in the interview process. The latter even participated in the now-infamous protest against the UN Global Compact on Migration at Aotea Square when this was in Auckland, and featured prominently in online activities at the time the report was being written. Surely, even the Free Speech Coalition would have been a useful addition to the diversity of the qualitative cohort? Unsurprisingly, the pattern of political nepotism continues when the report platforms the views of a gentleman named Andrew Burns, who just happened to be the Senior Communications Advisor for the New Zealand Labour Party before and after the 2017 election—this piece of information was omitted (not surprising as there was no disclosure). In contrast with most other interviewees in the report, sometimes controversial Professor Paul Moon does receive a notable mention in two small sections, specifically on the subject of regulation, to which he was opposed. I’m sure he would have had much more to say! Surprisingly, one of the main researchers for this report was Dr Kathleen Kuehn from Victoria University: she included herself as an interviewee. Whilst self-referencing is not unheard-of in qualitative research, it is, as a general rule frowned upon in academia—it’s not as though she had a dearth of other participants who shared her political views.
The report also included the views of professor Paul Spoonley, academic from the censorious Massey university (which only recently deplatformed a vocal feminist and Speak Up For Women spokeswoman Ani O’Brien), and he has made his opinions on online speech abundantly clear. Much the same way as the researchers for the report, Spoonley fails to provide an objective means of classification for what constitutes ‘hate speech’—as evidenced recently in the debate hosted by the Shalom Students Association. Spoonley has also been platformed by the far-left Paparoa.org leaving no doubt as to his lack of impartiality, and where his political allegiances truly lie. Also included in the report was the journalist and writer Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Hager of Dirty Politics fame, not well-liked by many on the ‘Right’, he is nonetheless a very fine writer and journalist in his own right. It is interesting to note that Mr Hager’s equivalent for purposes of balance—for example conservative Christian writer Ian Wishart—did not warrant inclusion. The political persuasions of the participants could be nitpicked endlessly, but by now the reader will understand that a selection bias pattern is emerging.
Dr Kathleen Kuehn self references.
In the report a section titled "Hateful and racist discourse and hateful crimes or terrorism" provides a selection of cherrypicked quotations from researchers to back up their claims of online “hate” leading to acts of violence. Somewhat eroding their credibility, the researchers cited the now widely-discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) which has produced many ideologically-motivated smear campaigns, one of which resulted in a $3.375 million dollar payout to reformed Islamic extremist Maajid Nawaz (now a wonderfully articulate moderate who is very much worth listening to). The extreme bias from the SPLC is widely noted, yet its research was included to substantiate the researchers’ claims of “hate”. It is worth noting that Muslim communities are discussed nine times in the report, yet there is no mention of any Islamic extremism which would find its genesis only in the aforementioned “minority communities”—even New Zealand has had its own case of Somali Islamic terrorism. Research on “white supremacist” groups features most prominently throughout the report, yet there is no mention of Islamic supremacy, specifically the Islamic supremacy of ISIS which sought to exploit vulnerable young Muslims into joining their maniacal cause to dominate the Levant3. Maybe the researchers are of the mind that “hate” and “supremacy” are unique only to white people, much in the same way as leftists believe that white people are the sole progenitors of slavery...
However, the bias does not finish at the door of the qualitative research; the quantitative fares no better. The research company UMR was contracted to undertake the quantitative surveying of 1000 research participants. Unfortunately, they neglected to mention that UMR carries out the internal polling for the Labour Party! The question needs to be asked why such weight is given to persons and organisations closely affiliated with the New Zealand left and far-left. Every good researcher knows to take steps to reduce conflicts of interest when conducting research, and to declare them (which this research did not). Regarding factors such as the interviewee selection process and the contracting of UMR, they have worked to increase, not decrease, potential bias.
The researchers lament constantly throughout the report that private platforms are in fact private and that they do not conform to the wishes of the speech totalitarians of the Left at all times. They then highlight an online non-commercial platform, namely Loomio, as an ideal example. The researchers detail its use by the Wellington City Council and try to demonstrate the utility of the platform, but much like the nepotic selection of the research participants, the Loomio company made sure to time its company relaunch with the release of the report! I do wonder if the researchers were friends with the Loomio creators and platformed them personally as a gift of free advertising—it would be hardly surprising given the political nepotism already outlined.
The report further demonstrating its bias and far-left political persuasions also references Edward Snowden, a wanted criminal currently granted asylum by Russia. Despite Mr Snowden being a wanted criminal, the report has the temerity to bring up the “Russian bots” saga which has now been proven to be minimal in light of the Mueller report findings in which Russian operatives were alleged to have spent $100,000 on Facebook advertising. Once again the report fails to highlight potential democratic transgressions by those of the left-wing political spectrum. For instance, they could have discussed that during the last midterm elections Democratic Party actually outspent their Donald-Trump-led Republican rivals by more than three times—but that probably wouldn’t fit the narrative of the report. The mental gymnastics required to both loathe the notoriously anti-progressive Russia for alleged election interference and then at the same time, tolerate its granting of asylum to their hero Snowden must cause the NPCs to short circuit.
The conclusion of the report fully reveals the agenda in the following statement where they equivocate:
In New Zealand, the public conversation about protecting the right to safety alongside the right to freedom of speech has too often been overly simplistic and has ignored the growing evidence base on the clear yet complex role that online hatred plays in creating, spreading and sustaining ‘real life’ harm. ‘Real life harm’ is too often understood only in the form of acts of violent extremism.
They conclude that “real life harm” consists of “online hatred” and is the genesis of violent acts of extremism, yet they don’t clearly define what online hatred is or adequately link it to real life examples. Contrary to their thesis, New Zealand's most recent terrorist attack was carried out by a foreign national who wasn’t radicalised by online content, or freedom of speech, but more so by his experiences journeying extensively through different countries, in addition to being finally triggered by the murder of Ebba Akerlund who was mown down by a terrorist in a truck. The latter event was widely reported by all mainstream news sites: are they too purveyors of hate?
So Why Is All This Important?
The ideologues who rule us fear digital media most of all, its ability to rapidly produce and disseminate information that runs counter to the mainstream narrative is vexatious to all authoritarian tyrants. When we examine the actions of tech-giants in the year since the Christchurch Call, it is easy to produce a litany of online figures who have been censored for “hate”. The clamour from other left wing NGOs also grows ever stronger and our politicians are now moved to legislate further on “hate speech”. You can bet your bottom dollar that Manufactured reports such as The Digital Threats To Our Democracy will be at the drafting table:
It is critical that the Prime Minister and her advisors look beyond immediate concerns about violent extremism and content moderation", lead researcher Marianne Elliott said."[They need] to consider the wider context in which digital media is having a growing and increasingly negative impact on our democracy.
Enter stage left—Andrew Little and the forthcoming hate speech legislation.
In the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre and subsequent “Christchurch Call”, the foreshadowing of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s intentions at this time can be summed up with the following quotation:
"It is critical that this moment of global cooperation is used to address the wider, structural drivers of the biggest threats posed to democracy by digital media," she said. Along with her efforts and those of her minister and failed one-time Labour leader Andrew Little, the outcomes are very favourable for new legislation being rammed through to impinge and curtail our long-standing sacred freedoms to speak freely. We should all want to know who these “partners” at the drafting table will be. We should all want transparency and accurate reporting from the media establishment as it will affect them just as much as the “average New Zealander”.
The ability to speak freely is the ability to think. Unless you are a genius with an uncanny ability to create characters in your head with views in total opposition to your own, you are reliant on being able to voice your thoughts so others can challenge them—that’s how we think. This goes all the way down into the very bedrock of our culture, it started with the ancient rights and traditions of the Magna Carta which were then enshrined by the Bill of Rights Act 1688/89 (which is still in use within the New Zealand legal system today). However, if we look even deeper it goes back to the biblical Genesis where God speaks reality into existence, and then when it is mirrored once more in St John’s Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word4, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
We too to a lesser extent use the “word” to mold the world around us. Perhaps then the ability to speak is more than just our “ability to think”, it is the ability to act as a sovereign and divinely inspired agent in the world around us. When politicians, and their willing ideologues in NGO research departments move to encourage hate speech legislation, they are really telling you that they alone are the divinely inspired agents in the world, and if we look back to the 20th century, to both sides of the political continuum, we know that it bore disastrous results, and it wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that it was close to armageddon. Vote well citizen.
I could have written a 20,000 word dissertation detailing the research flaws contained within Digital Threats To Our Democracy. I thought it would be of greater utility to detail the underlying patterns of bias that should have left even the most naive reader of research scratching his head and wanting to ask further questions. It is hoped that, as this exposé grew in length, the temptation for even the most ardent far-left reader to invoke Godwin’s Law has abated, and that a small part of the pattern to manufacture consent for legislative change has been adequately demonstrated.
The full report can be found here.
1. Yes, Scotland has its own parliament even though it is part of the U.K.
2. Using the very recent pushback from Facebook is not a valid counter-argument, given the overall culture of tech-censorship from mainstream platforms.
3. Which included reinstating the slave trade in the Syria/Iraq regions, and the systematic rape of Yazidi women.
4. Word is the English translation of the Greek word Logos, in a reductive sense, the principle of divine reason and the creative order of the universe.