Saturday, June 22

Censorship, free speech, and the Israel-Gaza conflict

Historian Dr Paul Moon, political commentator Josie Pagani, legal commentator and Director of Research at the Maxim Institute Marcus Roberts, and Jonathan Ayling CEO of the FSU examine the heat around the Israel-Palestine issue.

Does free speech help prevent violence, or can speech lower the moral bar that can lead to violence?

Do societies need to draw the line somewhere before violence? The angrier we get the more important free speech is, or does this not bear out in reality?

Are there exceptional cases where speech and protest should be limited or is that counterproductive?

The panelists argue their differing views.

What are the challenges when governments try to define how speech should be contained and is it the government’s role to decide who we hold in contempt?

The panel discusses how the Crimes Act in New Zealand deals with Incitement to Violence and the difficulties with applying the law. The Human Rights Act can be applicable here but has some serious inconsistency problems.

Where is the line to be drawn between speech and action? Should flag burning be considered free speech or not? The panel looks at this and discusses New Zealand case law on flag burning.

Through the debate we see that free speech is not an abstract conception. It is, as Dr Moon argues, a thread in the fabric of society and state suppression of speech does lead to citizens self-censorship.