Two events that have affected me personally in the last few days serve to highlight the growing intolerance.
The first was Auckland Council’s denial of free speech for ratepayers. You can read about it here. Following a deluge of emails from outraged ratepayers, the Mayor, offered to let the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance (ARA) speak. In the last few hours he has flip flopped again and has withdrawn the offer. The political elites on Auckland Council obviously think the people who pay the bills simply do not matter.
The second was the cancellation of a talk by Aayan Hirsi Ali because of death threats. I was looking forward to hearing her in person after reading her book Heresy. For her bravery in speaking out about the intolerance of fundamental Muslims she has been braded a heretic and subjected to death threats wherever she goes. This time the death threats were being made against all those attending her talks in Australia and then New Zealand. Being brave about her own life was one thin; being brave with the lives of others was too much for Hirsi Ali to bear and so the tour was cancelled. Threats or no threats I was determined to hear her but I understand why she chose not to continue.
It is not just the jihadi Muslims who threaten Hirsi Ali. It is also their fellow travellers on the radical political left who promote intolerance. These include feminists, Cultural Marxists, and, saddest of all, the universities. You can read here Lindsay Perigo’s polemic lamenting the loss of freedom of speech written after his talk at Auckland University was shut down by Muslims.
So bad has the denial of the right to express an opinion become that 27 prominent New Zealanders have written an open letter to New Zealand universities
Nearly 30 prominent New Zealanders have signed an open letter saying New Zealand's freedom of speech is under attack at universities.
Don Brash and Dame Tariana Turia are among those who have signed the letter, penned by history professor Dr Paul Moon.
It follows the ban of Auckland University's European Students' Association, the cancellation of a visiting speaker after threats against her, and the Human Rights Commissioner's calls for a review of the hate speech law.
The letter warns of "the forceful silencing of unpopular views" on university campuses.
"It's rather like looking at an avalanche," Dr Moon told Newshub.
"We can see in Australia, the United States, the UK, there are some very severe restrictions on freedom of speech at universities and we are very concerned that that might happen here too. Really it's trying to prevent those sorts of trends emerging here.
"These threats being made by Dame Susan Devoy to introduce some sort of hate speech legislation is exactly that. It's a means to intimidate people, a means to shut them down because they are scared to be involved in hate speech."
Prominent anti-Islam speaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali was due to speak in Auckland on Sunday but has been forced to cancel due to fears for her safety. The appearances in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney were also shut down.
Ms Ali has spoken out on what she calls the "lethal ideology" of Islamism, after having left the religion herself.
It's now prompted violent threats - but Kiwis say she shouldn't be afraid to speak here.
"[She] is simply saying things that other people find uncomfortable," ACT Party leader David Seymour told Newshub.
"We have to have controversial debate. Without it, the democracy will die."
Mr Seymour said he had a ticket to see Ms Ali's show and says the fact she's afraid to come to our country is embarrassing on an international scale.
"I want to live in a country where the power and right of free speech is greater than the power of violence," he said.
"She has a view - I'm not sure it's necessarily the right view, but I think we should be allowed to hear it."
The main weapon used to deny freedom of speech in democracies, apart from outright terror, is political correctness. Anyone challenging the world view of feminists and the radical left is immediately branded a racist, misogynist, homophocic, Islamophobic bigot.
Political correctness has been used to great affect against the weak Human Rights Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy who is so afraid of being labelled a ‘racist’ that she is now the puppet of the anti-free speech, radical left. As such she is actively seeking to shut down free speak by introducing so-called ‘hate crime’ legislation.
As Dr. Muriel Newman director of the NZ Centre for Political Studies says:
Without a doubt, there is a growing intolerance to free speech around the world. A recent article in the Economist found, “From the mosques of Cairo to the classrooms at Yale, all sorts of people and groups are claiming a right not to be offended. This is quite different from believing that people should, in general, be polite. A right not to be offended implies a power to police other people’s speech. ‘Taking offence has never been easier, or indeed, more popular’.”