Duncan Garner: Government's clampdown on free speech dangerous for all of us

Opinion 17/06/2019

I think it's dangerous to have limits to free speech - it's a hot debate right now.

ACT Leader David Seymour made some good points over the weekend, and I think the state has to be very careful it doesn't pass too many laws and rules around what we can and can't say.

Jacinda Ardern going to Paris may look great on the cover of Time, but what laws and language does she want to be changed as a result?

People will say what they say.

Israel Folau, for instance, said something about gays being evil, they're going to hell. But he was merely quoting the Bible - although he juiced it up a bit, right? The Bible also says straight people may go to hell if they've been bad, and Folau said exactly that in the so-called objectionable post.

Of course, you may not believe it anyway because you may not believe the Bible. So, should we ban the Bible? That would not go down well - there might be a backlash.

What worries me is too often we see over-zealous policing of someone else's opinion by someone who just disagrees, and is too easily offended, playing gotcha with the English language - they try to put a meaning on a word or phrase that simply doesn't exist. Or they choose one meaning and forget the others.

Suddenly they're the judge, jury and executioner.

If I say a Chinese man stood in the queue to come into the country, they could cry "racist" because, hell, I mentioned his race, his origin, his country, But if they say, male, pale and stale, that's somehow okay?

Come on, whose free speech is okay here, and what's more, when the intolerant spark up, in come the screaming few making all the noise. They're screaming "racist", pointing the finger.

Fewer laws not more laws in this area, please.

Of course, I say no to inciting violence on racial grounds. But I'm for fewer rules - the rest is noise. Do you want to see a country without free speech? North Korea. No thanks.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show.