Steven Price speaking for the Coalition for Open Government on RNZ this morning was saddening. An idealist a few years ago, a lawyer of perception, descending to justify corrupt law in debate with a non-lawyer on the grounds that it will not be enforced.
I hate seeing people lose their intellectual integrity. I dare think that one day he will feel ashamed of this episode.
In its early days I was a ‘Coalescer”. I wrote briefs of Bills for their newsletter. I think most I worked with were genuine idealists, not stooges for the totalitarians.
Today I heard Price minimising the freedom of speech limit in a law that will “permit legitimate lobby groups to carry on” if they comply with “minimal” registration requirements (not mentioning the accounting, auditing, record keeping etc) so long as they “do not advocate for or against any politician or party”.
In other words you can have ‘free speech’ as long as we know where we can get you, and only so long as you do not let people know which politicians support or oppose your policy position.
What do the equivocaters think elections are about? We do not elect policies, we elect people – we get a chance to decide who wields the rule-making power. There is no free speech if it ends as soon as you talk about the people standing. As the media show by what they publish (trivial amounts that mean anything on policy) election speech on a policy or issue not relevant speech. It is only relevant when it is connected to the people, and the company they keep (political parties).
Price was justifying law that says your free speech ends the moment you start telling which of the politicians is a liar, or hostile, or a hypocrite, or a sincere champion, or straight talker. New Zealand is passing law to nobble lobby groups in their chief constitutional function – that is monitoring and reporting on the rulers, so that voters can can have more to vote on than politicians’ claims.
The law is designed to abolish the purpose of free speech while pretending that free speech remains. Why do we think elections are better than wise dictators? Precisely so that citizens, at all other times the outsiders to the process, can persuade and agitate each other to kick the incumbent bastards out.
I rue the time I spent helping give the COG credibility, when it was a coalition of people afraid of Muldoonism. I could see then how attractive it was to the nosy folk who try to exorcise their personal demons by making rules for others. But I did not forsee “Open Government” becoming an Orwellian joke.
It is now yet another front (like CORSO and myriad others) taken over by the types who can rationalise anything. They can not help themselves. By character they are drawn to support violent heros the Castros, the Pol Pots, the Sandinistas, the Ho Chi Minhs, the Mugabes, all at some time or other the darlings of the NZ Labour Party’s current leading lights, simply because they were ‘anti-capitalist’.
Now of course H Clark has the Steven Prices of our little world salivating as she dog whistles them with terms like “hollow men” her updated code for ‘capitalist’.