Patrick Corish
Co-ordinator
Free Speech Coalition

On Friday, Massey University put out a media statement about a so-called “controversial” group “Speak Up For Women” which is using a Massey campus to host an event later in the year.

Massey University

You may recognise the Speak Up for Women name. Their spokeswoman Ani O’Brien was on the Free Speech Coalition’s inaugural podcast in an interview by Rachel. Last week I followed up with a second interview with Ani – to discuss the Green Party’s treatment of Jill Abigail, who wrote an article calling for clarity within the Party regarding the internal conflict between women and trans rights. Ani opens up the vitriol she has experienced by these “liberal” and “tolerant” political groups. You can listen to the podcast here.

The reason Speak Up For Women comes under fire is due to its concern that many human rights advocates have side-lined women’s issues in support of trans rights. For simply raising the point that these movements may have a clash of interests, Speak Up For Women has been called a TERF organisation and its members are routinely labelled bigots.

But while the online attacks continue, Massey University appears steadfast in not giving in to the angry mob. After many paragraphs on how the University does not agree with Speak Up for Women’s views, and “stands with” the sexual- and gender-diverse community, Massey concluded its statement with:

“While we strongly support our community, we are also committed to free speech as a fundamental tenet of a university, and we recognise that free speech, academic freedom and freedom of expression are contentious and nuanced issues worldwide. We are currently working on a Freedom of Expression Policy as a public statement to reaffirm our commitment to free speech and academic freedom, and an External Speaker Code of Practice, to provide more guidance to speakers on our three campuses.”

And, so far, their actions have matched their words: they are committed to hosting the event.

You can read Massey’s full statement here, and coverage on Stuff.co.nz over the weekend here.

We think this is a significant positive sign that the University has learned lessons from the Vice Chancellor’s disgraceful conduct in banning Don Brash from speaking (and her dishonesty about security being the reason doing so).

With your support, the Free Speech Coalition’s efforts to pressure Massey University are starting to force it to stand on the side of free speech.

Nadine Strossen interview

Later this week, we’ll be publishing an interview Stephen Franks and I have just done with former American Civil Liberties Union President and Chaired Professor of Law at New York Law School, Nadine Strossen.

Professor Strossen was the first woman and the youngest person to ever lead the ACLU. She has been called one of the most influential business leaders, women, or lawyers in The National Law Journal and in Vanity Fair.

We discuss Nadine’s book on free speech, why hate is best combated by open dialogue, and the future of human rights in the world.