You have to ask yourself when you see Green Party MPs (and certain Wellington City Councilors) standing in front of a banner calling those who are marching in support of civil liberties “Fascist Trash” and shouting at a Maori man and his child to “Go Home” whether they should be designated a Hate Group.

by Chris Trotter

The Government is once again throwing the ‘H’ (hate) word around again and our democracy is threatened by it. ‘Ideologies of hate shouldn’t be allowed’ to stand for public office In an interview with Q+A’s Jack Tame over the weekend, Associate Minister for Education, Jan Tinietti, was asked about whether those with ‘debatable morals’ should be allowed to run for local school boards. This question comes as Philip Arps, a white supremacist who shared the live stream of the Christchurch terrorist attack, is running to sit on the Te Aratai College Board. 

Minister Tinetti claimed that ‘people who have ideologies of hate shouldn’t be allowed on school boards.’ To this, I simply respond: fair enough, Minister. But who gets to decide what an ‘ideology of hate’ is? You? The next minister who takes your place? I think I’ll pass. 

She is now looking at whether a law change is needed to bar individuals of this kind from running for this office, and whether a ‘Code of Conduct’ can be introduced to exclude those with ‘debatable morals.’ I thought we had left the inquisition of ‘wrong morals’ with the Catholic Church. It seems clear that today, the powers-that-be are still trying to quash ‘wrong-think’. This is the same Minister who is currently reviewing the censorship regime for what content should be allowed to be published. Are there some ideas and speech which are condemnable, hateful, and wrong?

You and I both clearly know there are. Does that mean we let Minister Tinetti and the Government decide where these lines fall? Never. In a democracy, the idea that the state is qualified to decide which ideologies are acceptable for candidates for public office to hold, and which are not, should be laughed off the political stage.

The Free Speech Union is fighting to defend the right of individuals to peacefully put their opinions and beliefs out there. If they are ‘hateful’, then let the voters decide that. Our firm position must always be that the only body qualified to decide who should, and should not, be elected to public office is the electorate itself. That is to say, You and I — the voters.