Strap yourselves in folks and don’t adjust your tin foil hats. David Fisher over at the NZ Herald has let his imagination run wild.  According to Fisher (gasp), there is a major security threat in New Zealand. The danger is not Covid-19 or vaccinations to prevent Covid-19. No, the really dangerous super scary danger is…

Wait For It GIF by ZDF
Wait For It GIF by ZDF
wait for it lol GIF by Shalita Grant
wait for it lol GIF by Shalita Grant

that there are conspiracy theories about the safety of covid vaccines (oh no!)

Be afraid, be very afraid as such a conspiracy might break out any time or any place. Maybe there’s one under your bed already?

killing eve hide GIF by BBC America

Debating the safety of the vaccines is scary stuff and needs to be stopped in its tracks. We can’t have people thinking for themselves or (gasp) holding opinions that are different to those of the politicians in power currently. Unsurprisingly the article also neatly ties into the government’s proposed hate speech laws by making a tenuous and unlikely link between both healthy public debate and opposing opinions, and terrorism.

Our spies’ eye on conspiracy theories that radicalise – finding the balance between free speech and acts of terror

The Herald asked Kitteridge about online disinformation and misinformation, including groups with views out of step with our public health response to Covid-19 and individuals whose rhetoric implied violence.

She said: “New Zealanders have the legal right to freedom of speech. This includes the expression of views that most New Zealanders would find offensive.”

Given the proposed new hate speech laws I find this extract chilling. What is really at play here? The government clearly isn’t happy with New Zealanders having the legal right to have “views out of step” with the government’s public health response, and this article framing dissenters as possible terror threats looks like the first step in a propaganda campaign to silence them.

A NZ Herald investigation found the past year had brought a convergence between a broad range of activist groups from white supremacists to environmental protesters, seemingly unified by a growth in Covid-19 conspiracy theories.

Oh no, those white supremacists are behind all this? What has Covid-19 got to do with racism? This doesn’t sound like a blatant smear of people with the wrong opinions by a mainstream media outlet at all [*sarcasm]

The Voices of Freedom group, which distributes misleading and untrue information about Covid-19 and vaccines, has forecast an action campaign beginning next week.
In an email to supporters on Thursday, it sent a slick package of conspiracy-led propaganda material, telling people “we all want our country, our lives, and our freedoms back to the way they were before 2020 happened”.

Oh no, there is a conspiracy-led propaganda campaign too?  It takes one to know one I guess. The MSM have certainly been running a slick Covid-19 propaganda campaign hand in glove with Ardern’s government from day one. Remember all the slogans from the podium of truth and the constant annoying Covid-19 pop-up announcement ads everywhere?

The good news is that even though the article tried very hard to make the case that alleged white supremacists and environmental protesters and their free speech are a threat to New Zealand, Rebecca Kitteridge, Director of the NZ Security Intelligence Service, took a measured approach.

In the online world it is not uncommon for people to espouse extreme views and ideologies and speak casually in favour of violence. This often takes place using anonymised identities and in online sub-culture forums or discussion groups.

“It is important to note that holding and expressing extreme views or expressing support for violence do not necessarily mean that those individuals have the intent or capability to actually commit an act of violence.”

NZ Herald

The idea of widespread white supremacist groups in New Zealand is the biggest conspiracy theory.

Does anyone have a spare straitjacket?

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Juana Atkins

Juana Atkins

Editor of The BFD: Juana doesn't want readers to agree with her opinions or the opinions of her team of writers. Her goal and theirs is to challenge readers to question the status quo, look between the...