The Dim-Post

November 10, 2013

Advertising boycotts and freedom of speech

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 4:41 pm

Karl du Fresne weighs in on the debate around Roastbusters and RadioLive’s Willie and JT show. Loads to take issue with here. He writes:

But the outrage over the Roast Busters has triggered a potentially valuable national conversation about how such attitudes could exist in a supposedly enlightened, civilised society, and everything should be on the table. If we genuinely want to understand what’s been going on in West Auckland, a few awkward questions need to be asked. One of those questions is whether the behaviour of the victims may have been a contributory factor, consciously or otherwise. Asking that question doesn’t excuse the contemptible behaviour of the perpetrators. Neither does it mean blaming the victim.

If we don’t ask those uncomfortable questions, an opportunity will have been lost. And the enemies of free speech and open debate will have triumphed again.

Do these advertising boycotts attack freedom of speech? I don’t think so. No one is saying that Willie and JT should go to prison for what they’ve said. That’s really what ‘free speech’ is. ‘Free speech’ doesn’t entitle anyone to their own radio show where they can say whatever they want and the advertisers who fund the show have to keep paying for it no matter how offensive it is and how strongly they disagree with it That’s, like, not a thing. If companies want to remove their advertising because they don’t think association with a show is advantageous to them, then that’s just good ‘ol capitalism working as designed.

But isn’t this ‘the left’ manipulating the system to police what everyone can say? Maybe, a little bit. But left-wing activists can only use this tactic when they can get marketing managers of commercial businesses to agree that a statement is deeply offensive. The barrier for that is pretty high. You have to offend pretty-much everyone in the country – except the cohort of irritable old men that dominate our punditocracy, who are only offended by gender quotas – to get something like this to work.

 

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167 Comments »

  1. There is a fundamental concept at work here. When large sections of society are offended by something, all the complaining in the world seems to do little. Broadcasters really do not care whether their listeners or viewers are offended.

    The way to bring about change it to “follow the money”. I have been part of various Facebook campaigns that have targeted advertisers because the people actually responsible don’t listen.

    Does an advertiser really want their product to be associated with something really, incredibly offensive? I’d think not. We give them the opportunity to make up their own mind about what is best for their brand. If they refuse, then we refuse to buy from them. It is that simple.

    If an advertiser refuses to acknowledge how offensive something is, something they tacitly support by funding it, then that is not a product I want to use. I do not want to be part of the machine that allows such offense to continue.

    This isn’t a “left” thing. Far from it. It is making use of capitalism to achieve a desired goal.

    Comment by Good Gravey — November 10, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  2. Boycotts aren’t censorship, they’ve always been a legit form of civil disobedience. The Karl du Fresnes of this world are up in arms because boycotts can actually be highly effective against the pluto-gerontocratic industrial complex.

    It worked for the LGBT activists when the editor of the Auckland Star, the late unlamented Frank Haden, wrote a series of homophobic editorials. The activists convinced enough of the Star’s advertisers to withdraw their business and drive the Star into bankruptcy.

    Comment by deepred — November 10, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  3. Why can’t I be paid to broadcast to the nation – and the world, via the net – for 15 hours a week, saying whatever I feel (and it’s definitely feel, not “think”) without any consequences whatsoever?

    I want my freedom, and free money, and a pony!!11!!1

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — November 10, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

  4. Have to wonder how many older men have constrained views on this issue because at some stage in their lives they did something which could today be considered rape or abhorrent?

    Comment by Witness — November 10, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

  5. What Willie and JT were doing wasn’t a valuable part of the national conversation. It was acting like the dopey cops asking the wrong questions that enabled this mess. I think that’s what outraged people so much. The advertisers seemed almost to be competing with each other on who could pull the pin the fastest. Because they were disgusted, and they knew everyone else would be too.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 10, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

  6. I understand that if you play the end credits to Django Unchained backwards at 12 times normal speed (and squint really hard) Quentin Tarantino pays tribute to the commenters section of the Dim Post for inspiring the bed linen dialogue in the KKK segment

    Comment by Tinakori — November 10, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

  7. Yes, it’s exactly like the KKK to condemn rape and it’s apologists. That’s just the kind of thing they did.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 10, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

  8. I’m a bit more conflicted.

    If it really is true that:

    The barrier for [an advertiser boycott] is pretty high. You have to offend pretty-much everyone in the country – except the cohort of irritable old men that dominate our punditocracy, who are only offended by gender quotas – to get something like this to work.”

    then that’s one thing. But I’m not so sure – I think companies are more risk averse than this, and that don’t want to have their “brands” associated with “controversy”, irrespective of how wide the offence really is. So I don’t think we should imagine that it’s only really, really offensive things that are amenable to this sort of response.

    Then there’s the formal notion of “free speech”, and its practical reality in a society like ours. Sure, in a legal sense, no one is “stopping” Tamihere and Jackson from saying anything … their rights as against the State aren’t threatened. But what does it take to “speak” in an effective way? Sure, we can all blog and comment and whatever – and maybe (at most) a few thousand of us will see it. But to really get heard/noticed, you have to speak from a commercial, mainstream media platform … which are finding it harder and harder to make that business model work.

    So, put this together – activists (of any stripe) seeking to punish forms of speech that think harmful/despicable, risk averse corporate holders of the purse strings, and increasingly – and you can have a recipe for a fairly bland and innocuous public sphere.

    After all, this is a thing, too: http://jezebel.com/5867200/christian-group-pressures-lowes-into-pulling-ads-from-all+american-muslim

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 10, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

  9. Oops … “and media companies finding it increasingly difficult to remain profitable”.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 10, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

  10. “Yes, it’s exactly like the KKK to condemn rape and it’s apologists. That’s just the kind of thing they did.”

    Not a moviegoer, Ben? I suspect Tarantino’s point – if he had one – is that the KKK were preposterous blowhards so why would you trust any of their views

    Comment by Tinakori — November 10, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

  11. >Not a moviegoer, Ben?

    I’ve seen it. It was shit.

    >I suspect Tarantino’s point – if he had one – is that the KKK were preposterous blowhards so why would you trust any of their views

    No, it was that they were idiots, and it was to indulge in graphically violent revenge fantasy, that never happened, in an unoriginal aping of Inglorious Bastards. But your point was that hacking Willie and JT apart is like being the KKK. Which is preposterous. They murdered people for being black and did so from behind masks. Danyl McLaughlan is his real name, as is Andrew Geddis, and Ben Wilson is indeed my real name. Who the fuck are you, mask wearer?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 10, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

  12. my favourite thing is JT and Willie stating that they were “trying to make a contribution to understanding the issue” or somesuch: because two professional clowns* victim-blaming gang rape on minors is what the nation needs.

    otherwise, what gravy said. advertisers pay to have their goods associated with the good reputations of the broadcasters. if the broadcasters are tainted because they’re fcking idiots, then the products don’t move.

    amazing how often market forces in action are attributed to lefties doing things…

    *not my opinion. it’s a statement of fact.

    Comment by Che Tibby — November 10, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

  13. so why would you trust any of their views?

    Tinakori, you don’t have to trust them. You could challenge them, debate them, rebut them. But you chose distraction instead, so presumably you’ve got nothing.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — November 10, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

  14. …that’s just good ‘ol capitalism working as designed.

    I used a similar phrase in the comments to du Fresne’s post. (Great minds ….)

    As I said over there: “I’ve never understood the right complaining this way about boycotts or whatever you want to call it. It’s neo-liberal capitalism functioning as designed. Every agent here is acting freely and in a way that they perceive to be [in] their interests. Why does Karl hate freedom?”

    Comment by Steve — November 10, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

  15. Ten thousand people maybe more killed in Philippines storm.

    Comment by Redbaiter — November 10, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

  16. Do these advertising boycotts attack freedom of speech?

    Well, that depends on what you think an attack on freedom of speech consists of. In this instance, Mr Tiso heard a couple of obnoxious loudmouths expressing honestly-held but severely-fucked-up opinions he found offensive, and he decided to use the leverage that was available to him to try and stop those opinions being heard. It’s true that freedom of speech doesn’t consist of a media company being obliged to provide you with a radio show so you can broadcast your opinion, but it’s also true that freedom of speech does involve the listener being willing to defend the rights of others to express opinions that said listener finds offensive. On that measure, Tiso’s efforts are an epic fail at upholding freedom of speech. The fact that he was listening to an offensive opinion expressed on a nationally-available radio station is irrelevant – what matters is, did he “defend to the death” the speaker’s right to hold and express the offensive opinions? He didn’t. The others supporting the boycott didn’t either. If this is good ol’ capitalism in action, then so was every instance of Christian groups using boycotts to try and shut down opinions they didn’t like. Fuck that – it was an attack on freedom of speech when they did it, and it was an attack on freedom of speech when Giovanni Tiso did it.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 10, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

  17. Ah, Ben, you prove my point

    Comment by Tinakori — November 10, 2013 @ 7:18 pm

  18. Claiming that the views expressed by Tamihere and Jackson are “honestly-held”. is a pointless academic exercise. These manufactured grotesques play the classic classroom bully and his fawning sidekick sneak. Outside of the magic sphere of media pixie-dust, claiming that they somehow enrich the ‘public sphere’ is a sick joke. Jackson might have believed in something once upon a time, but you’d be more than naive to suggest that Tamihere ever stood for anything beyond his own cynical interests.

    Comment by Joe W — November 10, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

  19. Ten thousand people maybe more killed in Philippines storm.

    Yeah – goddam scientists and their global warming hoax. Look what lengths they’ll go to, in order to try and fool us into believing it!

    Comment by Flashing Light — November 10, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

  20. This is fantastic! Welll said!

    Comment by Mandy Hager — November 10, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

  21. An opinion in a monologue is not the same as bullying in an interview.

    If I behaved towards staff or clients in my job, the same way those two behaved in their job, I wouldn’t get very far claiming “freedom” as an absolute defence against any action from my employer.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — November 10, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

  22. Why Danyl do you and your media friends continue to call them the self glorifying name of “Roastbusters”. Its not a brand. They are rapists and pedophiles.

    And wtf was Karl du Fresne wearing when he wrote that? Shorts? What a slut.

    Comment by grant — November 10, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

  23. Ah, Ben, you refuted my point

    Fixed it for you.

    Comment by Steve — November 10, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

  24. Psycho, I do defend the right of Tamihere and Jackson to express their opinions. I also defend Giovanni’s right to express his to the advertisers. And if the advertisers want to exercise their freedom as well, so be it.

    Sacha (I think it was) has expressed it along these lines before: people have a right to freedom of expression, but they don’t have an innate right to a megaphone.

    If this is good ol’ capitalism in action,

    And it is! I think your problem should be with capitalism.

    Comment by Steve — November 10, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

  25. I think that the public sphere is more likely to be a better place if advertisers have less influence over what airs or is printed, than if they do. Most of the successful(?) boycotts I can think of in recent New Zealand history have been about matters I have had sympathy with, but I do not expect that to always remain so.

    Of course, people have a right o try to put pressure of advertisers. That is part of free speech. It’s speech I’m not a fan of, but people get to do it if they want. I would like people to take care before doing it is all, but I do consider that a better form of boycott would be telling Radio Live you aren’t going to listen to Willie and JT again.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — November 10, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

  26. >Ah, Ben, you prove my point

    Only if your point is that you were referring to yourself as an anonymous idiot. I guess if that was the point you were making, then yes, I helped you make it a bit clearer.

    >it was an attack on freedom of speech when Giovanni Tiso did it

    No, it wasn’t. Dumb and Dumber are quite welcome to stand on their own soapbox and apologize for rapists. No one will prevent that, although they might get spat on or egged frequently. But they won’t be making any money out of doing it. It isn’t their right to make money by being cunts on air. It’s a privilege, and they may have it removed by the people who have to pay for it.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 10, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

  27. I think that the public sphere is more likely to be a better place if advertisers have less influence over what airs…I do consider that a better form of boycott would be telling Radio Live you aren’t going to listen to Willie and JT again.

    Willie & Co’s entire schtick is built on delivering an audience to advertisers. Without them they’re toast.

    Comment by Joe W — November 10, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

  28. Andrew @8:

    So I don’t think we should imagine that it’s only really, really offensive things that are amenable to this sort of response.

    I think we can, given these advertisers were already giving money to Radio Live. How risk averse can they be?

    Comment by QoT — November 10, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

  29. The “free speech” argument by DuFresne is ludicrous, but perhaps could be replaced with “public dialogue”. John Tamihere, as much of a shitbag that he was even before this incident, is less important overall than public dialogue on the roots of sexual violence. There’s always going to be controversial broadcasters who cross the line (Holmes, Henry, Deaker) and we can’t simply wish them away because their formula successfully channels a lot of what the public sadly thinks. They have the ability to make a comeback based on their popularity and commercial viability – as with Holmes and Henry. Having them there provides a focal point to where myths can be challenged – whether live debates in the media, using peoples experiences to challenge ideas by him and others, or simply as a target of satire.

    Comment by finetoothcolumn — November 10, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

  30. I think your problem should be with capitalism.

    Don’t get me started…

    It isn’t their right to make money by being cunts on air. It’s a privilege, and they may have it removed by the people who have to pay for it.

    Sure. It’s your right to boycott things if you choose, just like it’s Christian groups’ right to boycott advertisers they see as supporting people ‘being cunts on air.’ I’m just saying don’t pretend to yourself that you’re not attacking freedom of speech when you do so. If you want to shut down the broadcasting of an opinion you don’t like, have the courage of your convictions and accept what you’re doing for what it is.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 10, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

  31. What sort of sicko thinks an unconscious child “contributes” to their own gang rape?

    Does Karl think a sexually assaulted elderly person “contributes” to their violation by living alone while frail? Hey, I’m just asking awkward questions here.

    Comment by Oh Busby — November 10, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

  32. #31: It’s also worth noting that the mother of the infamous Howse brothers, Peter and Bruce, basically invoked the ‘uncovered meat’ card during their trial:

    “After Peter’s conviction for his three last sex attacks, Betty, then 71, leapt to his defence, saying young women wearing short dresses were inviting trouble. “It’s even the schoolkids going to school – no wonder they get raped or murdered. It’s disgusting the way some mothers let their daughters go to school or walk the streets,” she told one radio show.”

    https://groups.google.com/d/topic/alt.true-crime/Zo2lx68JIM8

    Comment by deepred — November 10, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

  33. “what matters is, did he “defend to the death” the speaker’s right to hold and express the offensive opinions? He didn’t”

    He’s not attacking that right. Even if they lose their show Willie and John still have their right to express and hold their opinions. What they don’t have a right to is the right to be financially compensated for those opinions on a national radio show. Nobody has that. If they lose their show and Tiso starts following them down the street trying to tape up their mouths, then you’ll have a point.

    Comment by Hugh — November 10, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

  34. There is a monstrous elephant in the tiny cell that du Fresne lives in.

    “One of those questions is whether the behaviour of the victims may have been a contributory factor, consciously or otherwise. Asking that question doesn’t excuse the contemptible behaviour of the perpetrators. Neither does it mean blaming the victim.”

    What the hell does this mean?

    The victims contributed to their rape consciously? Exactly how could that happen?

    The victims contributed to their rape unconsciously. Exactly how could that happen?

    Presumably if the victims somehow contributed (consciously or otherwise) to their rape then the “contemptible behaviour of the perpetrators” is somewhat less blameworthy.

    There are degrees of rape?

    “Neither does it mean blaming the victim” Oh really? Rape victims are not to be blamed for being raped? What a stunning insight.

    du Fresne is a smug arrogant member of the whaleoil iwi.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — November 10, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

  35. > I’m just saying don’t pretend to yourself that you’re not attacking freedom of speech when you do so.

    Yup, fair enough.The advertisers attacked Willie and JT’s freedom of speech. Naughty, bad advertisers, not wanting to be associated with people who think raping children is just teenage mischief. In the interests of the abstract principle of freedom of speech, they should be forced to lose credibility, and possibly customers. Because the important questions need to be asked: What *were* those girls wearing as they lay there unconscious? Isn’t having a drink consenting to a gang bang? And who cares about the age of consent anyway? These are the big questions of our day.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 10, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

  36. The radio station is a private enterprise there to make money,

    Such a business should expect to have market forces apply pressure when the market is displeased.

    Those two hosts utilise a provocative style to generate income. The audience therefore had a right to express displeasure by decreasing that income.

    It’s how the market works. And I can’t see how in this instance the market is trappling on freedom of expression.

    Personally I find there’s also been a disturbing amount of click baiting on this subject on a lot if blog sites – done of which should know better.

    Increasing page views with unsubstantiated allegations and leaving those unchallenged maybe freedom of expression but it’s not any contribution to constructive engagement.

    Comment by NeilM — November 10, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

  37. He’s not attacking that right.

    Odd way of defending it, then. This trying to weasel out of what is actually involved in a boycott over expressed opinion is like a kid saying he’s not pulling the cat’s tail, just holding it while the cat does the pulling – true but irrelevant. If you’re trying to stop a broadcaster broadcasting their opinion, at least be honest with yourself about what you’re doing.

    Because the important questions need to be asked: What *were* those girls wearing as they lay there unconscious? Isn’t having a drink consenting to a gang bang? And who cares about the age of consent anyway? These are the big questions of our day.

    Highlighting the fact that the expressed opinions were genuinely offensive is also true but irrelevant. It amounts to “but I had an excuse.”

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 11, 2013 @ 6:35 am

  38. problem is PM – free speech isnt a one way street. No ones stopping these two idiots saying anything. Its just other peoples free speech being exercised as a response.

    you cant claim free speech while at the same time telling people who disagree to shut up – especially when your being paid to be there in the first place.

    I cant walk around my work place, swearing like a sailor at co-workers and clients can i

    Frankly in this mass media age its getting pretty pathetic for highly paid public figures to go around saying things (that most people would at least stop and think about first), to then cry “free speech!” when people get a bit pissed at them because of it

    Theres a difference between pub talk and public talk

    Comment by framu — November 11, 2013 @ 7:46 am

  39. >Highlighting the fact that the expressed opinions were genuinely offensive is also true but irrelevant.

    Irrelevant to you is not the same as irrelevant. You don’t seem to get that __everyone__ gets their speech. And one of those expressions has been that people don’t want to pay for the expression of rape apologism. It’s a perfectly fair, free expression of utter disgust and contempt for views like that being put around, especially at a time when there are a number of victims who are expected to get up the courage to come forward. But yes, your spasticly obvious point that free speech has been inhibited somewhat is true. It’s inhibited every day all the time. It’s inhibited by me not being able to walk into Radio Live and demand air time for my free speech. It’s inhibited by laws against profanity and defamation. It’s inhibited by people being too boring to listen to. It’s inhibited that you can’t yell “lets have a riot” to an angry mob. You can’t freely plan a murder. Or a rape. The idea of free speech is and always has been an illusion and it’s one you’re trying to use as some piss weak moral high ground for defending extremely objectionable views. Rights have ALWAYS been balanced against other rights, and other goods generally.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 11, 2013 @ 8:22 am

  40. Like I said, it comes down to what you think freedom of speech consists of. If you think it consists of tolerating and defending the expression of opinion you agree with, it’s a commonplace unworthy of being named. It’s only worth giving a name if it consists of tolerating and defending the expression of opinion you hate.

    In this particular instance, Giovanni Tiso heard an expression of opinion he hated, and decided to use the resources legitimately available to him to make the expressers of the opinions suffer consequences for it. He was entirely within his rights to do so. However, what he was not doing was tolerating or defending the right to expression of opinion he hated, and it would be completely wrong to pretend that he was. We’re all absolutely free to organise an advertising boycott of offensive broadcasters, we just don’t get to pretend we’re upholding freedom of speech while we do it – unless we’ve defined ‘freedom of speech’ into something meaningless.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 11, 2013 @ 8:36 am

  41. I concur that this is not a free speech issue.

    As other have noted, Tamihere and Jackson’s right to express their opinions have not been violated or constrained. They are free to go about still maintaining these opinions and expressing them in every social interaction they might have. What they might have lost is the right to do is be paid for it.

    From the advertisers point of view rather than a freedom of speech issue, this is a freedom of assosiation issue; something which is equally important.

    If the advertisers in question were individuals paying for Tamihere and Jackson’s soapbox, would we be having the same discussion on free speech? Or would we be saying that these individuals were making a choice based on their freedom of association, not to be compromised by the opinions of others and not to continue paying for a service which they perceived was no longer valuable to them?

    Comment by Gregor W — November 11, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  42. >decided to use the resources legitimately available to him

    That resource being “freedom of expression”

    >to make the expressers of the opinions suffer consequences for it

    I’d say that was his intention. Those consequences are not “threats of fines or prison” unlike what happened to Bomber over his police parody, though. They were “the strong disapproval of wider society”, which is *always* a potential consequence of speech, and so it should be.

    >unless we’ve defined ‘freedom of speech’ into something meaningless.

    It’s not meaningless just because it’s not your strange understanding of it. You seem to think there should never be any consequences of free speech and certainly no organized ones, and that there is no freedom of speech if there are consequences. That’s ridiculous in the extreme, impossibly impractical and has never been the case anywhere, and never will be. Of course what you say on the radio is going to affect your right to say things on the radio every day, which is why not everyone has a radio show. Access to the airwaves is a limited resource and the people owning that access continually test whether speakers are acting in their interests. They check the popularity every day, and of course the advertisers want to make sure that the content is aligned with the wholesome image they want to maximise returns for their spend. That is severely compromised by juxtaposing their advertising with material the public finds objectionable. The Mad Butcher isn’t going to want people hearing “You can’t beat his meat” a few seconds after Willie and JT have been talking about how having group sex with unconscious unconsenting underage girls that you supplied with a lot of alcohol is just mischief. Indeed the very image of cheap raw meat juxtaposed with the idea of that is pretty fucked up.

    And all this is might not even be what actually happened. It is actually possible that the people responsible for placing the advertising *found the material objectionable themselves*. They may not have actually done a cold calculation of lost revenue, but instead decided that they themselves were offended by the material and wanted nothing further to do with supporting it. Most of the senior people in firms have children themselves, many have daughters and maybe they just thought “Fuck these guys, this is bullshit and it’s harmful”. It might have been an entirely visceral reaction.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 11, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  43. The understanding of “attacking freedom of speech” as meaning “attempting to punish or restrict the expression of opinions you don’t like” isn’t “strange” at all – it’s the generally-accepted meaning of the term. However morally justified, worthy, admirable etc the attack is, it is nevertheless an attack.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 11, 2013 @ 10:36 am

  44. @Psycho M

    To repeat (#21): Behaviour towards. Not opinion about. It’s a basic difference, and you’ve ignored it.. (Maybe listen to the audio again?).

    If a broadcaster said “I’m gonna hunt you down and rape you, you slut”, would that be free speech? Yes. Should it be protested? Yes. Would I join the protests? Yes. You?

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — November 11, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  45. Behaviour towards. Not opinion about. It’s a basic difference, and you’ve ignored it.

    Sorry, yes I didn’t reply to that one. So this is actually all about talk-radio hosts being rude to callers? Giovanni Tiso will be a very busy man if he wants to police that one – I was under the impression that it was their contribution to public expressions of rape culture that had offended him.

    If a broadcaster said “I’m gonna hunt you down and rape you, you slut”, would that be free speech? Yes.

    Actually, no. It would be a threat of violence, which is proscribed by law. There may be some loony-fringe libertarians who think threats of violence should be considered free speech, but I haven’t met any.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 11, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

  46. Tamihere and Jackson off air for the reminder of the year it seems.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 11, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

  47. In this case we know approximately why the advertisers pulled their support from the show, causing it to be taken off air. We know this because they did it in response to an openly-publicised campaign by Giovanni Tiso, and that campaign was for reasons I agree with. However, it’s got me wondering how often broadcasters are limited in what they can say by private expressions of displeasure by advertisers, based solely on the advertisers not wanting those views aired. I suspect this does happen, and I’d be far more worried about that than any silencing as a result of a public campaign that everyone can find out about and form their own opinion about.

    Comment by kahikatea — November 11, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

  48. “What sort of sicko thinks an unconscious child “contributes” to their own gang rape?”

    If you have evidence of gang rape, I suggest you contact the police.

    Comment by Ross — November 11, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  49. “If a broadcaster said “I’m gonna hunt you down and rape you, you slut”, would that be free speech? Yes”

    I think it would be a criminal offence…interesting that you would conflate a crime with free speech when no crime has been committed here…

    Comment by Ross — November 11, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

  50. >The understanding of “attacking freedom of speech” as meaning “attempting to punish or restrict the expression of opinions you don’t like” isn’t “strange” at all – it’s the generally-accepted meaning of the term.

    No, it’s not. That would be a hopelessly wide net, in the context. Anyone at all *could* express an opinion on the radio. But only a small number of people get to. Which means that anyone else who wanted to, but can’t, on your definition, is having their freedom of speech attacked. On your definition, Matthew Hooton had his freedom of speech attacked when he was kicked out of the station. Every caller who says they’re dicks and then gets cut off and blanked out is having their freedom of speech attacked. Anyone wanting to have a show, something that thousands of people would like, is having their freedom attacked.

    But seriously, if that’s the definition that does it for you, there’s no changing your mind. Semantic debate is pretty much pointless – the important question is whether this “restriction of speech” should have happened. Do you have an opinion on this, or are you just playing dictionary nazis today?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 11, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

  51. “As other have noted, Tamihere and Jackson’s right to express their opinions have not been violated or constrained.”

    So, if their right to express their opinions had been violated or constrained, you’d be outraged? It seems so.

    Comment by Ross — November 11, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

  52. Ross – what the fuck don’t you understand about this pretty simple scenario?

    Sorry to be blunt but it’s quite clear no one is stopping Tamihere or Jackson expressing their opinions in the public domain.
    They can go to any steet corner or pub and express them freely.

    And yes, if Tamihere or Jackson they were hauled before the courts or imprisoned for expressing that opinion on a street corner or in a pub, I would be pretty bloody outraged – for there, but for the grace of God go I, for my sin of holding and expressing all sorts of crazy opinions about all sorts of shit, at length, usually drunk, and very annoying for my wife it is too.

    But that isn’t what has happened.
    Instead, what has been constrained – because they were expressing their opinion on someone elses dime – is Tamihere and Jackson’s ability to be paid for expression of an opinion, as those who were effectively paying for said opinion to be aired, found it to be either personally distasteful or harmful to their brand.

    While this is somewhat off a slippery slope – at what point to advertisers interests outweigh public good – I’m not sure this particular opinion is an example of one that could and should be robustly discussed to whit “How culpable are girls who drink around predatory young men in the sexual crimes committed against them”.

    IMO (and clearly I’m not in the minority, here at least) it’s an unhealthy conversation to be having.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 11, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

  53. …are you just playing dictionary nazis today?

    What things actually mean isn’t a trivial matter.

    Do you have an opinion on this…?

    Yes. I think people who organise advertiser boycotts are wrong. In the particular case of the Christian group Andrew links to above, you probably agree – I just differ in considering it to be wrong in principle. The fact that you’re entitled to do something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right to do it.

    Anyone at all *could* express an opinion on the radio. But only a small number of people get to. Which means that anyone else who wanted to, but can’t, on your definition, is having their freedom of speech attacked.

    Not on my definition at all. Whether someone is broadcasting their opinions on the radio or not is completely, totally irrelevant to the question of whether an action I take attacks that someone’s freedom of speech. The what, where, who, how and why of the “someone” has absolutely no relevance – what is relevant is my action and my purpose. If I take an action aimed at punishing or restricting someone in the expression of an opinion, I am attacking their freedom of speech. There is no other useful definition. Sometimes I’m entitled to attack someone’s freedom of speech, as Giovanni Tiso was in this case, and as Jackson and Tamihere do every time they cut someone’s call off. But that’s a question of the justification for an attack, not its existence. In such cases, the attack by definition exists.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 11, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  54. Isn’t it funny how our concerns have gone from the harm that a bunch of rapists (oh, sorry, ross … self-described repeat rapists, whom it has yet to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt actually did the things they proudly boasted about on the internet, so let’s all cut them some slack) did to girls in West Auckland and what this tells us as a society about how women are viewed and treated, to whether Willie and JT are victims of an unwarranted suppression of their right to speak their minds because companies don’t want to pay money to keep their show on the air.

    Good to see a proper perspective is being restored to the world.

    Comment by Flashing Light — November 11, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  55. >If I take an action aimed at punishing or restricting someone in the expression of an opinion, I am attacking their freedom of speech. There is no other useful definition.

    Bollocks. There are many other definitions, many of which are more useful. They just don’t serve whatever pedantic little purpose you have in this discussion.

    >I think people who organise advertiser boycotts are wrong. In the particular case of the Christian group Andrew links to above, you probably agree – I just differ in considering it to be wrong in principle.

    I’ll agree to disagree about that. Some boycotts are idiotic. This one isn’t.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 11, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

  56. If I take an action aimed at punishing or restricting someone in the expression of an opinion

    RadioLive has not given me my own radio show to voice my own opinions, deranged and incoherent though they are. They are attacking my freedom of speech!

    Comment by herr doktor bimler — November 11, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

  57. Isn’t it funny how our concerns have gone from… etc

    Or, to put it another way, isn’t it really rather unsurprising that in the comments under a post about advertising boycotts and freedom of speech, commenters are discussing advertising boycotts and freedom of speech.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 11, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

  58. There are many other definitions, many of which are more useful.

    Perhaps there are many awesome definitions of “attacking someone’s freedom of speech” that make it clear why advertising boycotts Ben Wilson disagrees with are idiotic, but those he does agree with are totally not an attack on anyone’s freedom of speech. They’re not obvious to me, but perhaps are to those who aren’t pedants.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 11, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

  59. Educate yourself, Psycho. Try the “Freedom of Speech” article in Wikipedia, and look at the section “Limitations”. That gives the most basic outline of how your view is not uncontroversial, quite the opposite, it is extreme and peculiar. Even the original Libertarians had more nuance in their opinion, probably because they thought about it for a while. In fact, they don’t even bother to address boycotts, since the right of people to abstain from supporting a view is a basic premise of their entire world view. This really is not rocket science. Because you’re not an actual cretin, I can only presume you’re being disingenuous with this whole line of argument.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 11, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

  60. As I haven’t disputed anyone’s right to engage in a boycott, the pointlessness of this discussion is becoming wearing. I should have quit after comment 16.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 11, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

  61. “…Educate yourself, Psycho… … This really is not rocket science…”

    Dude, WTF? Patronising and dismissive much? Anyway, the fact of the matter is PM has a strong argument. Is it really that hard to admit the other guy has got a point (that you don’t agree with) rather than getting increasingly uptight that he refuses to agree with your world view?

    Anyway, JT and Willie are gone, more or less fired I’d say. I suppose that is a good thing, a great tactical victory over a couple of reactionary populists and we’ve got .

    But I suspect that by setting a precedent, the left has made a very big rod for it’s own back. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and I have a dreadful feeling this boycott game can and will be played by two and is more often played better by the right than the left. Let’s just say I hope Colin Craig doesn’t have the consumer firepower to organise an advertising boycott of any commerical radio host who, say, endorses (liberal) abortion law reform, or says global warming is caused by humans.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 11, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

  62. The difference Sanc, is that most people – and businesses – are probably ok with a woman’s right to choose and accept a degree anthropomorphic global warming.

    That silly girls sometimes get themselves raped by hanging out with the wrong boys, and it’s all a bit of overexhuberant laddishness at the end of the day? Probably not so much.

    While abortion rights and global warming tend to somewhat abstract concepts to a lot of people, rape isn’t. Everyone has a mother, sister, wife or daughter.

    But I do suspect that those that do agree with the latter proposition may well disagree with the former ones, so you may be on to something.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 11, 2013 @ 11:36 pm

  63. Sanctuary, I’d imagine that if Colin Craig thought that thought he had had the consumer firepower to organise such boycotts he would do so quite happily.

    Comment by Steve — November 11, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

  64. Psycho,

    A point you consistently fail to address is that no one has actually stopped them from expressing their opinions, hence their freedom of speech has not been attacked. Unless you think that they – these two people – have a particular freedom to speak on a commercial radio station that you and I don’t have. If so, why do they have this special right?

    Odd way of defending it, then.

    It’s not binary – we don’t have to claim Giovanni is defending free speech just because we don’t think he’s specifically attacking it. I had vegemite on toast for breakfast this morning; is that an attack on or a defence of freedom of speech?

    Comment by Steve — November 11, 2013 @ 11:45 pm

  65. >Is it really that hard to admit the other guy has got a point (that you don’t agree with) rather than getting increasingly uptight that he refuses to agree with your world view?

    Patronizing and dismissive is a common response to disingenuous and obtuse. But yeah, it’s got pointless. I’ll admit I don’t usually wear anger well.

    >I suppose that is a good thing, a great tactical victory over a couple of reactionary populists .

    I don’t actually hate those guys, just what they said last week. If they learned, and maybe they can after a kick up the arse, I wouldn’t object to them going back on after a turn in the sin bin. Do you really dislike them that much? My understanding was that you had a real problem with Danyl’s analysis of their Waitakere Man appeal, that it is an analysis you have a lot of sympathy for.

    >But I suspect that by setting a precedent, the left has made a very big rod for it’s own back

    Perhaps some floodgate has been opened. I don’t think so, boycotting is as old as .. Boycott. It usually only works as a one-off and only on something that captures the popular imagination as especially bad. I thing the blatancy of the actions coupled with the inaction of the police and the ongoing fear of pressing charges by the victims pressed a button in the national consciousness.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 11, 2013 @ 11:50 pm

  66. Eugh – anthropogenic global warming. Stink iPad autocorrect.
    Though personified global warming would be novel – I’m picturing a mixture Fat Bastard and Henry Kissinger.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 12, 2013 @ 12:25 am

  67. Steve @64. I did address it – last para of comment 53. Re neither attack nor defence, we’re not talking about making toast here – we’re talking about deciding to take what action is available to you to stop a couple of arseholes broadcasting their obnoxious views. It’s not a neutral action in terms of freedom of speech.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 12, 2013 @ 5:37 am

  68. Here’s what Mr Tiso has to say about the boycott – http://bat-bean-beam.blogspot.co.nz/2013/11/a-surge-in-tide.html

    Not sure why it’s rights to speech that exercise some folk so much compared with all the other rights they must be balanced against? Any right doesn’t exist in isolation, or we wouldn’t need courts and other mechanisms to weigh them.

    Comment by Sacha — November 12, 2013 @ 8:11 am

  69. Here’s what Mr Tiso has to say about the boycott…Not sure why it’s rights to speech that exercise some folk so much

    There seems to be something about Tiso that excites the anklebiters. You may recall Sanctuary/Semmens’s attempt to silence him because he wasn’t a “real New Zealander”. Priceless. Psycho Milt’s yibbling from behind a pseudonym about having the courage of one’s convictions was comedy gold, but as he notes himself, his subsequent posts have been pretty much a waste of space.

    Comment by Joe W — November 12, 2013 @ 9:47 am

  70. “(oh, sorry, ross … self-described repeat rapists, whom it has yet to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt actually did the things they proudly boasted about on the internet, so let’s all cut them some slack)”

    Yeah, let’s just hang em from the nearest tree. Think of all the money we could save from actually having a trial…not that they’ve been charged with anything but why should that get in the way?

    Comment by Ross — November 12, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

  71. Sorry, ross … in what way is “self-described repeat rapists, whom it has yet to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt actually did the things they proudly boasted about on the internet” a mischaracterisation?

    If you want to speak up in the defence of their right to portray themselves to the world in this way without suffering any negative comment or consequences, then feel free to do so. Because no-one here is “hanging” them. We’re just responding to what they say they are.

    Comment by Flashing Light — November 12, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

  72. Well Ross, the way the RB boyez provocatively left their rapeyness out there for all to see, I’d say they were damn near gagging for it.
    If there was any lyncing, it would have to be considered consensual lynching, no?

    Comment by Doublestranded — November 12, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

  73. Psycho, let’s start where I agree with you. If you value freedom of expression at all then you have to accept that others have a right to express views that are abhorrent to you. Saying “I value freedom of speech, unless you say something that I find really offensive” is the same as saying that you don’t value freedom of speech at all.

    That said, I don’t think at 53 you quite addressed the point that they still have their freedom to express their views. The thing that’s been “attacked” (if anything) is specifically their ability to express their views through the broadcast of a radio show. That aspect of their speech – the ability to have it broadcast – is not a right they have that we need to respect; it’s a privilege.

    These two had a position where they could have their views broadcast to the nation, on a reasonably popular network. That gives them an opportunity to propagate their views well beyond you, me, Giovanni or any other average person.

    As I said earlier, I do defend their right to hold and express views that I find repugnant, fatuous, and all-round offensive. In fact, just about everyone on this thread seems to agree with that. If someone tried to censor their views or criminalise the expression of such views, we’d be against it.

    But you’re going further, and saying that in effect we have to defend their particular, privileged platform for expressing their views, otherwise it’s an attack on their free speech. That buys into the systemic advantage they already have.

    Comment by Steve — November 13, 2013 @ 12:01 am

  74. What’s been meted out to Willie & JT isn’t censorship. Proper censorship would be if Willie & JT got press-ganged away to a dimly lit room, and got the waterboard treatment or their lips forcibly sewn together.

    If anything, it’s simply civil disobedience in action. Although to certain people, civil disobedience is nothing more than unlawful assembly, because they know deep down that it usually gets results, just not the results they like. And as for Psycho’s mentioning of theo-cons staging boycotts, they’re well within their right to do so. The right to make a complete moron of oneself comes to mind.

    Comment by deepred — November 13, 2013 @ 12:42 am

  75. Saying “I value freedom of speech, unless you say something that I find really offensive” is the same as saying that you don’t value freedom of speech at all.

    Hold that thought while we look at this bit.

    That said, I don’t think at 53 you quite addressed the point that they still have their freedom to express their views. The thing that’s been “attacked” (if anything) is specifically their ability to express their views through the broadcast of a radio show.

    Like I said, anything to do with them is irrelevant to the question of whether I have attacked their freedom of speech. The subject of the verb ‘attacked’ in that sentence is ‘I’ – it’s what I did and intended that’s under consideration, not the speech or who said it or in what context or what means they used to express it – or whether they still retain other means of expressing it after my attack. Those are post-hoc justifications that are kind of ironic for people to be making under the circumstances.

    Back to that first quote. The point is that saying “I value freedom of speech, unless you say something that I find really offensive in a public broadcast medium” is also just the same as saying that you don’t value freedom of speech at all – it’s a principle, not a bargaining position.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 13, 2013 @ 6:36 am

  76. I suspect many of those supporting the demotion of WJ and JT were equally outraged when John Key got to host various guests on Radio Live before the last election. Some people seem confused over what freedom of speech means.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10784419

    Comment by Ross — November 13, 2013 @ 10:06 am

  77. I suspect many of those supporting the demotion of WJ and JT were equally outraged when John Key got to host various guests on Radio Live before the last election. By “many of those” Ross, do you mean the Electoral Commission?

    What, you mean like the Electoral Commission?

    From your link: “An Electoral Commission ruling due out today has found the Radio Live show hosted by Mr Key last September was an election programme and therefore a prohibited broadcast.”

    I’m guessing you are one of those confused over what freedom of speech means within the context of this discussion, given that your point is a complete non sequiter.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 13, 2013 @ 10:19 am

  78. “whether they still retain other means of expressing it after my attack”

    As noted, nobody is cutting out their tongues. And their broadcast went to air uncensored before it attracted some ‘free speech’ in response.

    Comment by Sacha — November 13, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

  79. Absolutely. And the Florida Family Association will be able to say the same, should they succeed in getting the “offensive” TV programme “All-American Muslim” taken off the air. The thing is, if you look on freedom of speech as a principle, rather than as a starting point for interesting exercises in sophistry, that is not a good thing.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 13, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

  80. Why freedom of speech to the exclusion of other freedoms?

    Comment by Sacha — November 13, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

  81. > “The point is that saying “I value freedom of speech, unless you say something that I find really offensive in a public broadcast medium” is also just the same as saying that you don’t value freedom of speech at all …”

    I’m the one saying organising some sort of action that may result in a commercial boycott (eg asking advertisers what their reaction is to a broadcast) isn’t an attack on free speech per se. So if that’s all I’m doing in response to the broadcast, I wouldn’t consider I was attacking free speech.

    So I agree, if you think there shouldn’t be laws proscribing what I say, unless I say something that you find really offensive in a public broadcast medium then you don’t really value free speech.

    But if you accept that there should not be laws proscribing my right to say even the most appalling, insensitive, crass shit, no matter how offensive, then you and I are on the same page.

    But as I said, you’re going a step further – your way of valuing free speech shield’s the speaker from consequences of their speech, which is not, in my view, the point of valuing freedom of expression.

    One result of looking at it your way is that if a person publicly states that they aren’t going to listen to some radio show because of some jerk of a host, they have crossed the line to attacking free speech. Because it just might (especially if enough people are saying it) pressure the bosses into dropping the particular person from the show. It’s a bizarre position.

    Comment by Steve — November 14, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

  82. Does the concept of “editorial independence” have anything to do with freedom of speech?

    Comment by Swan — November 14, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

  83. But as I said, you’re going a step further – your way of valuing free speech shield’s the speaker from consequences of their speech, which is not, in my view, the point of valuing freedom of expression.

    The broadcasters of “All-American Muslim” are experiencing “consequences” of their speech too. I have a hard time with the concept of upholding the principle of freedom of speech by taking steps intended to see to it that those broadcasters whose opinions you don’t like lose their jobs and don’t get to broadcast their opinions any more. There’s no way to reconcile the principle with the action that leaves the principle with any coherent meaning.

    One result of looking at it your way is that if a person publicly states that they aren’t going to listen to some radio show because of some jerk of a host, they have crossed the line to attacking free speech.

    The relevant question in deciding whether you’re attacking freedom of speech are “What is your intent/purpose?” In that respect, the difference between telling people you’re no longer going to listen to Willie and JT’s show because they’re cunts, and actively organising an advertiser boycott of their show should be fairly obvious.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 14, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

  84. I suppose, given that “anything to do with” is fairly broad. Independent from commercial considerations?

    Comment by Steve — November 14, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

  85. Doh! My reply above is to Swan.

    Comment by Steve — November 14, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

  86. “I’m guessing you are one of those confused over what freedom of speech means within the context of this discussion, given that your point is a complete non sequiter.”

    Thanks for proving my point. The Electoral Commission are not champions of free speech. Nevertheless, the EC didn’t tell Key he couldn’t appear on Radio Live again just prior to an election. He could if he wanted to.

    Comment by Ross — November 15, 2013 @ 6:33 am

  87. Psycho,
    The distinction isn’t that obvious. If a person makes it clear publicly that they won’t be listening to such-and-such a radio show any longer there is an implication that they will reconsider if things change. And if you read Giovanni’s explanation of what he did, you’ll see he didn’t have in mind he was “actively organising a boycott”.

    As for the “All-American Muslim” issue you raise, I want to emphasise I have not looked into other than the most cursory google-foo. But as I understand it, an organisation of bigoted fuckwits, the Florida Family Association, got one advertiser – hardware store Lowe’s – to pull advertising from the show. (As far as I can tell, that was the only advertiser to pull its advertising.)

    I’m against the Florida Family Association’s actions, but not so much because I think they attacked freedom of speech, but because I’m against bigoty.

    Since then: “Christian and Muslim groups alike, joined by celebrities Mia Farrow, Kal Penn and Russell Simmons, showed their support for the series and boycotted Lowe’s.”
    I’d join that boycott.

    Comment by Steve — November 15, 2013 @ 8:58 am

  88. The distinction isn’t that obvious.

    Then I’ll spell it out. What matters is the intent of the action you take. If your plan is to stop listening to Willie and JT and tell other people why, your intent can’t be to get them taken off the air (unless you’re sadly delusional). However, if your plan is to put pressure on the show’s advertisers so they consider pulling their ads from the show, your intent is to get Willie and JT taken off the air. That’s the distinction and it is actually a very obvious one.

    I’m against the Florida Family Association’s actions, but not so much because I think they attacked freedom of speech, but because I’m against bigoty.

    The thing about a principle is, it’s a principle. The whole point of a principle is that it’s not contingent on what you’re for or against.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 15, 2013 @ 10:00 am

  89. “if your plan is to put pressure on the show’s advertisers so they consider pulling their ads from the show, your intent is to get Willie and JT taken off the air”

    Maybe the intention is not to get them taken off the air but certainly it suggests that advertisers pulling the plug would likely lead to the hosts being given an enforced holiday.

    Comment by Ross — November 15, 2013 @ 10:54 am

  90. Thanks for proving my point. The Electoral Commission are not champions of free speech. Nevertheless, the EC didn’t tell Key he couldn’t appear on Radio Live again just prior to an election. He could if he wanted to.

    I’m confused. The Electoral Commission aren’t proscribers of free speech either. The EC didn’t tell Key he couldn’t appear. In fact they didn’t speak to Key at all. Radio Live consulted the EC, and as the article states, the EC told them to be extremely careful, presumably requesting that any appearance skirt around electoral stumping. Clearly Radio Live didnt heed that advice, hence the post facto slap on the wrist.

    How that proves your point of “I suspect many of those supporting the demotion of WJ and JT were equally outraged when John Key got to host various guests on Radio Live before the last election”, I’m not sure.

    The comparison is completely irrelevant, given that Radio Live was (toothlessly) censured for contravening EC rules, while Taimhere and Jackson broke no rules, but merely exhibited poor judgement.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 15, 2013 @ 11:00 am

  91. Rights aren’t about intent.

    Comment by Sacha — November 15, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

  92. This seems to be the situation: Some advertising bloc — call them A — believes that members of a radio audience — B — can be persuaded to buy A’s products if they listen to Interviewer C. Therefore A pays a radio network (D) to broadcast C’s views. However, events convince A that this is not the case, and that in fact listening to C is persuading B against buying A’s products, so they stop paying D for the broadcasts.
    If I correctly understand Psycho Milt’s expansive definition of the term, this is an attack on free speech, by B against C.

    The only way that audience members can avoid restricting the interviewer’s freedom of speech is by lying to the advertising bloc (or the network), and telling them “Yes, we like C’s views so we will continue to buy A’s products”.

    Sorry, this definition of “freedom of speech” strikes me as so broad as to be meaningless.

    Comment by herr doktor bimler — November 15, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

  93. If “events” convince A that advertising on this show is against their interests, then yes, characterising random, undeclared “events” as an attack on someone’s freedom of speech would be a ridiculously broad definition. Fortunately for my preference not to appear ridiculous if avoidable, we aren’t talking about “events,” we’re talking about a person or organisation contacting said advertisers with the intent of persuading them that advertising on the show is against their interests. That is not a definition of attacking someone’s freedom of speech that is so broad as to be meaningless, it’s actually a clearly-defined and easily-defensible one.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 16, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  94. “How that proves your point of “I suspect many of those supporting the demotion of WJ and JT were equally outraged when John Key got to host various guests on Radio Live before the last election”, I’m not sure.”

    The fact is that the EC received complaints from people outraged that John Key hosted a show on Radio Live. Those people presumably wanted to curtail Key’s right to speak. Whether the EC’s determination was correct is another matter and is irrelevant in this context.

    Whether rules were broken or poor judgment exercised is also irrelevant. What’s relevant is that many people say they value free speech while completely failing to understand what that actually means.

    As Voltaire might have said, “I don’t care if you’re an arsehole, but I’ll defend to the death your right to speak”.

    Comment by Ross — November 16, 2013 @ 8:53 am

  95. I think the attack on free speech is primarily by the network itself not giving editorial independence to its producers/pundits.

    Comment by Swan — November 16, 2013 @ 10:46 am

  96. Those people presumably wanted to curtail Key’s right to speak.

    Was their intent to prevent Key broadcasting opinions they didn’t like, or to object to his flouting the electoral rules with the assistance of a friendly media company? If you didn’t pick the second one, you’re only fooling yourself.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 16, 2013 @ 10:52 am

  97. If your plan is to stop listening to Willie and JT and tell other people why, your intent can’t be to get them taken off the air (unless you’re sadly delusional).

    Tell that to Graeme at 25, who said (my emphasis): “…I do consider that a better form of boycott would be telling Radio Live you aren’t going to listen to Willie and JT again.”

    Also, I don’t recall advertisers being targeted much in the Paul Henry controversy from three years ago. But many hundreds of people lodged formal complaints with TVNZ, and many more made informal critical comments in various media directed at Henry and TVNZ . The notion that none of these complainants could be said to have been intending to get him taken off the air is ridiculous.

    Comment by Steve — November 16, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

  98. Broadcasters behave like dicks, the public and advertisers respond to that, but somehow it’s all an ‘attack on free speech’. Grow up.

    Comment by Sacha — November 16, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

  99. Some of us have grown up, that’s exactly what opponents of free speech find annoying. It’s always been true that speech others find offensive can have “consequences,” which is why atheists have historically been well advised to conceal their atheism, and more recently why Danes living in the Middle East have wished their newspaper cartoonists would stick to cartoons not involving Islam. If you actually have grown up and become the kind of person not to join a baying mob because someone said something offensive, here’s a chance for you to demonstrate that.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 17, 2013 @ 7:18 am

  100. No one’s suggested anything more serious for Willie and JT than that their show get canned. This happens to shows all the time. Comparing to the Inquisition, or death threats against an entire nation because of one of its cartoonists is hyperbole. That’s the entire basis of your argument, to stretch out the magnitude of the harm and to and to ignore everything else. You seem incapable of grasping that what happened on the show could have harmed the people paying for it, and that’s only the smallest prong of what what wrong about it. As a perfect example of what two old men who think they’re being sensitive and asking all the right questions did to shut down a whole line of inquiry, and turn it into a finger waggling exercise at the morals of the girl herself, broadcast to thousands of listeners, the show gave any girl thinking of reporting their rape experience a reason not to. Which is probably what the advertisers responded to, certainly it is what the “baying mob” (none of whom has threatened violence on the broadcasters) were angry about in their thousands. But you don’t give a *shit* about that. What’s important to you is holding onto a useless definition of free speech so you can have a crack at one of the few people who’s managed to actually do something good about rape in the last few weeks.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 17, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  101. Look, Giovanni Tiso cheerfully describes himself as a Marxist. You can’t tell me that a Marxist wouldn’t find a happy bonus in the fact that getting Jackson and Tamahere off the air also just happens to remove two populist rednecks.

    Sure – they behaved like dickheads. But let’s be honest. If one Saturday morning a particularly querulous Kim Hill was somehow as insensitive on a touchstone issue to the liberal left as Willie and JT were on this one you wouldn’t hear boo to a goose from Giovanni Tiso

    QED, there IS a strong “attack freedom of speech argument” to be made.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 17, 2013 @ 9:22 am

  102. One guy – a guy maybe one percent of the population know exists AFTER this furore – who asks advertisers whether they are comfortable plugging for a show whose presenters have demonstrated such poor taste and judgement, sets a pretty low bar for ‘attacking freedom of speech’.

    If Tiso had called for them to be barred from expressing their views, imprisoned or lynched, then there’d be a case.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 17, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  103. Thinking more about this, I think Psycho et al are right, Giovanni’s actions do amount to an attack on freedom of expression.

    Editorial independence is a concept and convention that is inextricably linked to free of expression. It, like many other conventions that underpin a liberal democracy, only persists because the key stakeholders choose to acknowledge it. Corporate owners of media have to choose to not interfere, and the same goes for corporate advertisers. So the corporates voluntarily allow the media to operate at arms length. So in that context what Mr Tiso did was to draw the corporates into the debate, and to encourage them to act.

    Ok you can argue that it was their choice, but, given the nature of these arrangements, and the fact that Althea corporates don’t particularly consciously care about editorial independence, Tiso’s actions were inflammatory. The advertisers were faced with walking a tightrope on a very sensitive issue, or pulling their funds. For a business that thinks mainly about how to flog more frying pans it is not hard to why see they made the choice they made.

    Comment by Swan — November 17, 2013 @ 10:16 am

  104. Libertarian mental gymnastics are entertaining to behold, I’ll give you that.

    Comment by Sacha — November 17, 2013 @ 10:21 am

  105. >QED, there IS a strong “attack freedom of speech argument” to be made.

    You have to spell out the missing premises and logical leaps to get to a QED strength deduction. If Kim Hill had conducted the interview just like that, I have no doubt that Gio would have done much the same thing as he did. He’s that kind of guy, as uncompromising with his friends as with his enemies. But even if he didn’t, the attack on freedom of speech argument is seriously weak when it comes to boycotts. You have to equate freedom of speech with freedom to a paid pulpit, and you have to *suppress* the freedom to call for a boycott, which is a form of speech that we actually do have a direct right to.

    In so far as Gio’s motives go, I think he actually had something else in mind initially. I think he didn’t expect a full scale boycott to happen, and was planning to write an article showing how ineffective the free market is when it comes to taking action over repugnant use of a limited resource like the airwaves. So long as the advertisers bottom line was unaffected, market forces would dictate that they don’t hurt their own bottom lines by pulling advertising reaching all those rednecks who love Willie and JT. I doubt he’s bitter that he didn’t get to write that article, though. People who want real change about a massively important issue take it any way they can, often, and will laugh about twits quibbling from a position of complete disconnect about whose freedom of speech rights got impeded, and seek to cast some minor actors in the big picture, a couple of radio shock jocks, as the victims in the bigger picture.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 17, 2013 @ 10:33 am

  106. Principled defense of free speech (good or bad) is now only the domain of libertarians??

    Comment by Swan — November 17, 2013 @ 10:40 am

  107. Feel ‘free’ to outline the principles you draw on to determine whose speech deseverves protecting, and what forms of speech count. Otherwise it looks awfully like the same sloppy self-serving ‘thinking’ we’ve all been subjected to over the past few decades.

    Comment by Sacha — November 17, 2013 @ 11:19 am

  108. You could start with Ben’s points:

    “You have to equate freedom of speech with freedom to a paid pulpit, and you have to *suppress* the freedom to call for a boycott, which is a form of speech that we actually do have a direct right to.”

    Comment by Sacha — November 17, 2013 @ 11:20 am

  109. Comparing to the Inquisition, or death threats against an entire nation because of one of its cartoonists is hyperbole. That’s the entire basis of your argument, to stretch out the magnitude of the harm and to and to ignore everything else.

    It’s not hyperbole, it’s pointing out that a principle is the same in the small as it is in the large. That’s what being a “principle” means. As to the basis of my argument, it’s a simple one:

    1. An attack on freedom of speech consists of taking action intended to punish or restrict another’s speech.
    2. This action was intended to strike at Willy and JT’s ability to continue broadcasting.
    3. Therefore it was intended to punish or restrict their speech.
    4. Which in turn means it was an attack on freedom of speech.

    Any rebuttals of that argument that amount to “well it was a very small attack” or “but what they said was very offensive indeed” lack merit.

    One guy – a guy maybe one percent of the population know exists AFTER this furore – who asks advertisers whether they are comfortable plugging for a show whose presenters have demonstrated such poor taste and judgement, sets a pretty low bar for ‘attacking freedom of speech’.

    See above. The bar is set very low, and is set without reference to how limited the action was, or how offensive the speech was.

    Obviously, offensive speech does have consequences, and those consequences don’t have to include attacks on freedom of speech. Many such consequences spring to mind: people might form a poor opinion of you, media pundits might publish columns disagreeing with you, the nation’s comedians might have a field day taking the piss out of you, erudite and eloquent academics might enjoy devoting a few paragraphs to laying out everything that’s wrong with your views and the extent of the character flaws and moral failings laid bare by them, Members of Parliament may even denounce you in the House of Representatives for your offensive comments. Those consequences are different in kind, not degree, from consequences in which people deliberately try to get you fired, stood down, deprived of whatever platform you used for your offensive speech etc.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 17, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  110. And for the bonus, explain what rights other than to speech you see being part of decisions in the current Ratboasters event, and how your principles help you weigh them against one another.

    Comment by Sacha — November 17, 2013 @ 11:23 am

  111. “Those consequences are different in kind, not degree”

    They all sound conveniently mild compared with having the privilege of your megaphone taken away.

    Comment by Sacha — November 17, 2013 @ 11:25 am

  112. >1. An attack on freedom of speech consists of taking action intended to punish or restrict another’s speech.

    OK, so I dispute premise 1 (again). Next. Well actually I dispute premise 2, too, but it’s unnecessary for the purposes of showing that this argument is unsound.

    >Any rebuttals of that argument that amount to “well it was a very small attack” or “but what they said was very offensive indeed” lack merit.

    They don’t lack merit, and they’re not the only rebuttals. Your definition is so vague that it makes many things an attack on freedom of speech which fail any kind of common sense test in that regard. If we are to continue using such a wide definition, and yet to also allow for most of the current functioning of civil society, then we have to conclude that attacks on freedom of speech are perfectly well justified in a great many circumstances, indeed they are so common that every day we experience dozens and dozens of them and think nothing of them at all. If you want to do that, fine, you’re allowed your freedom of confusion. Indeed, I think you are doing that. I don’t think it gels with the highly emotive phrasing that you choose (Attack on Freedom of Speech), and it certainly doesn’t gel with ANY example you have yet given, most of which are so hyperbolic that they involved massive use of state power, threats of violence and resulted in countless deaths. You’re only one step from Godwinning this debate out.

    Freedom of speech is not a valueless concept – the courageous defense of it has achieved a lot of things over the years. But you are trying to devalue it by conflating it with any limitation imposed on the ability of someone to speak. It’s not the same thing at all. You even gave a whole bunch of examples of things that might have led to precisely the same consequences, but no reason at all why they somehow fall outside of imposing limits on the freedom of speech. How likely is it that, for example, a devoted feminist Labour MP denouncing Willie and JT would not be happy for them to lose their show? Or any of the other people denouncing them? And why shouldn’t they be happy about that? Why the hell would they do it at all if that was a consequence they were afraid of?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 17, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

  113. Psycho – to extend Ben’s point, if I were to verbally incite an act of racial violence which resulted in my being brought before the courts, would my freedom of expression have been curtailed in anything beyond the technical sense?

    Setting aside that this incitement was a criminal offence, would you be comfortable defending my right to incite others, the incitement being the act of expression, irrespective of the result of that expression?

    Comment by Gregor W — November 17, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  114. OK, so I dispute premise 1 (again).

    Feel free. It’s traditional to point out the claimed error of the premise, though. Likewise with premise 2.

    They don’t lack merit, and they’re not the only rebuttals.

    Well, they lack merit unless you reject the concept of freedom of speech as a principle. And rationalism. I’ve kind of been assuming readers of this blog wouldn’t do that.

    Your definition is so vague that it makes many things an attack on freedom of speech which fail any kind of common sense test in that regard. If we are to continue using such a wide definition, and yet to also allow for most of the current functioning of civil society, then we have to conclude that attacks on freedom of speech are perfectly well justified in a great many circumstances…

    You seem to be confusing the issue of what constitutes an attack on freedom of speech with the issue of whether a particular attack on freedom of speech is justified or not. They’re not the same thing.

    I also don’t see these many ordinary things that would apparently meet my definition of an attack on freedom of speech. It’s neither a wide, nor a vague definition, as the examples I provided demonstrate.

    … it certainly doesn’t gel with ANY example you have yet given, most of which are so hyperbolic that they involved massive use of state power, threats of violence and resulted in countless deaths.

    Do you understand the meaning of the term “principle?” The law will cheerfully consider you to have committed “assault,” whether you’ve pushed someone lightly in the chest or punched them to the ground and given them a kicking that leaves them to learn to walk and talk again. If you argue that pushing someone in the chest is a ridiculously low bar for “assault” and it’s wild hyperbole to compare it to dishing out a savage beating, the law will beg to differ because the principle is the same.

    You even gave a whole bunch of examples of things that might have led to precisely the same consequences, but no reason at all why they somehow fall outside of imposing limits on the freedom of speech.

    Well, apart from a good dozen comments at least on this thread explaining exactly that, but go on.

    How likely is it that, for example, a devoted feminist Labour MP denouncing Willie and JT would not be happy for them to lose their show?

    They can be transcendent with joy about Willie and JT losing their show, if they like. The question is, did they take action intended to cause Willie and JT to lose their show? Surely it can’t be that hard a concept to grasp?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 17, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

  115. Setting aside that this incitement was a criminal offence, would you be comfortable defending my right to incite others, the incitement being the act of expression, irrespective of the result of that expression?

    This is that same issue – the question of whether something is an attack on your freedom of speech or not isn’t the same thing as whether an attack on your freedom of speech is justified or not. In cases like incitement to violence, shouting fire in a crowded theatre etc, you can make an excellent case for restricting freedom of speech, even criminalising speech. I think the question of whether Tiso’s attack on Willie and JT’s freedom of speech was justifiable or not is eminently arguable – but whether it was an attack on their freedom of speech isn’t.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 17, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

  116. “You have to equate freedom of speech with freedom to a paid pulpit…”

    I don’t know if editorial independence is exactly the same thing as freedom of expression, but it is close. The freedom of those in the media is of value. If the corporate owners of our media decided to start calling the shots editorially in collusion with their advertising backers would that be an attack on free speech?

    “…and you have to *suppress* the freedom to call for a boycott, which is a form of speech that we actually do have a direct right to.”

    I’m not suggesting Tiso didn’t have a right to call up Briscoes or whoever. I am saying it was a move that erodes the independence of the media.

    Hypothetically let’s say that the results of the upcoming referendum are “No” by a large majority, with a very high turnout. And The govt says “ok we don’t care, we will continue with the program”. Now the opposition and media would no doubt make an argument that the government is acting without a mandate, being undemocratic etc. They might hound the support parties asking when they will withdraw their support. That’s all fine. But what if a few reporters started hounding the GG asking if and when he was going to dissolve parliament. Drawing him into a political debate. I think such actions would erode the convention of an apolitical GG in the same way Tiso’s actions erode the convention of editorial independence .

    Comment by Swan — November 17, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

  117. I am saying it was a move that erodes the independence of the media…. Tiso’s actions erode the convention of editorial independence .

    The only ‘convention’ that Tiso appears to have offended against is the supine fantasy that the media owns its audience in some kind of perpetual passivity. All of the plucking of faux ‘principles’ from self-ordained pundits’ bottoms is just so much squeamishness at the prospect of unordained amateurs challenging the status quo.

    Comment by Joe W — November 17, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

  118. >Feel free. It’s traditional to point out the claimed error of the premise, though.

    Now you really are being disingenuous. That was *exactly* what I did for the rest of that post.

    >Do you understand the meaning of the term “principle?” The law will cheerfully consider you to have committed “assault,” whether you’ve pushed someone lightly in the chest or punched them to the ground and given them a kicking that leaves them to learn to walk and talk again. If you argue that pushing someone in the chest is a ridiculously low bar for “assault” and it’s wild hyperbole to compare it to dishing out a savage beating, the law will beg to differ because the principle is the same.

    Wow, you really do have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. There are a whole raft of different crimes against the person, all with different conditions and caveats. If you can’t see that the two things you are raising there aren’t different, even in principle, and you can’t believe that one is likely to get you no legal consequences at all and the other could give you 14 years in prison, then there really is not further point talking with you.

    >The question is, did they take action intended to cause Willie and JT to lose their show? Surely it can’t be that hard a concept to grasp?

    Yes, you said they spoke out strongly against them in Parliament. If this brought it to a number of advertiser’s attention, and they pulled the pin on the show, then it would be identical in consequence, and intent, to what Gio did. So yes, I find your concept hard to grasp, in so far as it is vague at best, inconsistent at worst. As to the motivation behind it, that’s just a complete mystery.

    >I also don’t see these many ordinary things that would apparently meet my definition of an attack on freedom of speech. It’s neither a wide, nor a vague definition, as the examples I provided demonstrate.

    You’ve been extremely short on useful examples.

    -You refer to an American boycott that I wouldn’t agree with, but it did happen anyway. The show was not canned, but Lowes got boycotted in return.
    -You referred to threats on the lives of cartoonists from Denmark. There was no threat of violence here.
    -You referred to religious oppression. Because you felt that torturing people and burning them as witches was the same *in principle* as what Gio did?

    Then you rolled out
    > Many such consequences spring to mind: people might form a poor opinion of you, media pundits might publish columns disagreeing with you, the nation’s comedians might have a field day taking the piss out of you, erudite and eloquent academics might enjoy devoting a few paragraphs to laying out everything that’s wrong with your views and the extent of the character flaws and moral failings laid bare by them, Members of Parliament may even denounce you in the House of Representatives for your offensive comments. Those consequences are different in kind, not degree, from consequences in which people deliberately try to get you fired, stood down, deprived of whatever platform you used for your offensive speech etc.

    You haven’t explained how it’s not punishing to have a Member of Parliament denounce you in the House and how it could not have any impact on your employment chances as a broadcaster, nor how any of the other thing could fail to have punishing and potentially career limiting consequences. Indeed, all of these thing DID happen to Willie and JT and were most likely contributory factors to their eventual canning. All of them helped. They all added up. Gio is extremely quick to point out that his own day in the spotlight takes nothing away from tireless work from lots and lots of people trying to do exactly the same thing, to highlight rape culture when it’s brought to light. What he did might not have worked at all without all of that, and it might also have happened anyway. You’ve decided to pick out one example of free speech from amongst all of those to say is an attack. In other words you fitted your definition to your point.

    > I think the question of whether Tiso’s attack on Willie and JT’s freedom of speech was justifiable or not is eminently arguable – but whether it was an attack on their freedom of speech isn’t.

    There isn’t any law out there that defines freedom of speech the way you do. Such laws as we do have about speech do not define it as any kind of human rights violation. The more general principles from the big thinkers about it don’t go so far as to condemn boycotts, since those are themselves expressions of speech. So in short, there’s not good reason to accept your definition, every reason not to.

    Now you’re caveating your views by saying there are justifiable attacks on freedom of speech and we’re right back at where I knew this would go, to the point of the needlessness of the entire semantic debate.

    Having moved on to this rather inevitable point, I have to ask again whether you really think it was an unjustifiable attack on freedom of speech, since you insist on this usage of the words?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 17, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

  119. …squeamishness at the prospect of unordained amateurs challenging the status quo.

    He’s certainly challenged the status quo that advertisers shouldn’t be exerting editorial control over current affairs shows. I guess it comes down to whether you see that as a good thing or not. For the sake of public discourse, I hope a lot of people would pick “not.”

    Wow, you really do have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. There are a whole raft of different crimes against the person, all with different conditions and caveats. If you can’t see that the two things you are raising there aren’t different, even in principle, and you can’t believe that one is likely to get you no legal consequences at all and the other could give you 14 years in prison, then there really is not further point talking with you.

    I really wish you’d go with that thought – this is getting ridiculous.

    Then you rolled out…

    …the examples I was referring to – examples of “consequences” of offensive speech that aren’t attacks on freedom of speech.

    [If an MP]… spoke out strongly against them in Parliament. If this brought it to a number of advertiser’s attention, and they pulled the pin on the show, then it would be identical in consequence, and intent, to what Gio did. So yes, I find your concept hard to grasp…

    I see. Case 1: I express displeasure with someone, and a listener takes it upon themselves to go and punch the object of my displeasure in the face. Case 2: I solicit someone to go and punch the object of my displeasure in the face. The consequences are identical, yes – the intent, most definitely not.

    There isn’t any law out there that defines freedom of speech the way you do.

    This isn’t about the law. It’s about the principle of freedom of speech.

    The more general principles from the big thinkers about it don’t go so far as to condemn boycotts, since those are themselves expressions of speech. So in short, there’s not good reason to accept your definition, every reason not to.

    Argument from authority now? Everyone worth a damn who’s had something to say about freedom of speech has phrased it in some variant of being willing to defend and protect speech they personally find offensive. How boycotts fit in with that is up to you to argue.

    Having moved on to this rather inevitable point, I have to ask again whether you really think it was an unjustifiable attack on freedom of speech, since you insist on this usage of the words?

    Already told you – I don’t like advertiser boycotts on principle. As far as I’m concerned, none of them are justifiable. However, I’m not stupid enough to imagine that my personal assessment of right and wrong is some kind of universal standard – apparently I’m somewhat unusual among Dim Post readers in this respect.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 17, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

  120. For the sake of public discourse, I hope a lot of people would pick “not.”

    So legitimate ‘public discourse’ is restricted to licensed media operators and the sacred power of the market, and excludes citizen activists. Again,Tiso’s crime against ‘principle’ is simply his amateur status.

    Comment by Joe W — November 17, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

  121. No right is unfettered. They come with responsibilities. The French a couple of centuries ago seemed to have a better grasp of this subject than current-day dunces:

    “The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech

    Comment by Sacha — November 17, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

  122. So legitimate ‘public discourse’ is restricted to licensed media operators and the sacred power of the market, and excludes citizen activists.

    That’s an odd conclusion to draw from that quote. Swan’s explained it pretty clearly: if we tell advertisers that we assume their placement of ads in the ad breaks of a popular current affairs show constitutes endorsements of the views expressed between the ad breaks, we’re telling them they’d better make sure they do actually endorse the views expressed. And if your business is selling furniture and appliances or whatever, what you’ll want to endorse is the least controversial views possible. It’s actually even worse than that – an advertiser boycott quite explicitly tells advertisers that you demand they exert editorial control over the content of the shows between their ads. That is the threat to public discourse, and it’s a pretty stupid one for “citizen activists” to subject the rest of us to.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 17, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

  123. It’s actually even worse than that – an advertiser boycott quite explicitly tells advertisers that you demand they exert editorial control over the content of the shows between their ads. That is the threat to public discourse, and it’s a pretty stupid one for “citizen activists” to subject the rest of us to.

    You feel subjected? Poor petal. JT and his hapless sidekick simply revealed themselves for what they really were – a piece of rancid advertiser bait masquerading as a current affairs show that had come to stink to high heaven. From the quoted responses of advertisers once Tiso brought this to their attention they appeared to agree, even to the point, in at least a couple of cases, of donating to Rape Crisis. In the meantime, no-one’s threatening your freedom to crutch in here on your pseudonymous rubber spine and take pot-shots at someone who’s demonstrably more courageous than you’re ever likely to be. Your immediate beef appears to have to do with being taken seriously. And that, Psycho, is a situation entirely of your own making.

    Comment by Joe W — November 17, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

  124. I’m guessing from your comments so far that this will come as a terrible shock, but the discussion here isn’t about Giovanni Tiso, and it isn’t by any remote stretch of the imagination about me. Are you able to think about issues in terms other than your personal feelings about the participants, or is this as good as we’re going to get from you?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 17, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

  125. “… Are you able to think about issues in terms other than your personal feelings about the participants, or is this as good as we’re going to get from you..?”

    Take it from me, this is as good as he gets.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 17, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

  126. but the discussion here isn’t about Giovanni Tiso, and it isn’t by any remote stretch of the imagination about me. Are you able to think about issues in terms other than your personal feelings about the participants, or is this as good as we’re going to get from you?

    You’ve been sniping at Tiso right through this thread. You even called him stupid in your second to last post. As for framing the discussion, in case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t your blog, sweetheart :)

    Take it from me, this is as good as he gets.

    The simpering sidekick, auditioning for the Willie role to Psycho’s JT. Good luck with that.

    Comment by Joe W — November 17, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

  127. >I really wish you’d go with that thought – this is getting ridiculous.

    Yes, you reached a low point when you said that pushing someone over and beating them half to death are essentially the same thing, in principle. If you really think that, then your moral compass isn’t what’s broken, it’s your basic perception of reality.

    >…the examples I was referring to – examples of “consequences” of offensive speech that aren’t attacks on freedom of speech.

    Yes, I know you attempted to win the debate simply by defining the opposition out of it. Your argument is :”Boycotts are by definition an attack on freedom of speech, therefore boycotts are an attack on freedom of speech”. You provided no substantive evidence for that claim, no clear line of reasoning as to why this particular completely legal consequence is more “attacking” than any other, and simply stick to your guns, defending a fucked up principle, to in turn defend some fucked up actions, which in turn defended some even more fucked up actions. There is simply no reason to accept your definition.

    >The consequences are identical, yes – the intent, most definitely not.

    You keep harping on about how vital that is, like this is some kind of murder case. It’s not – it’s not even a *crime*.

    >This isn’t about the law. It’s about the principle of freedom of speech.

    Yes, and that principle isn’t written down anywhere officially, so your right to lay claim to what it means is extremely weak.

    >Argument from authority now?

    How else was this ever going to go? You’re insisting on a definition as if it’s graven in stone somewhere, and that’s pretty much all you’ve got.

    >As far as I’m concerned, none of them are justifiable.

    Righto, just checking. So advertisers have no freedom of speech, indeed they must actively support views they don’t like? Or does that only apply to rape apologism?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 17, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

  128. Psycho, you keep bring up the principle of freedom of speech and how we must stand by our principles and not pick and choose when to apply them. That is irrelevant to most of the arguments here – certainly to mine. I’m saying that what you’re fretting about doesn’t count as an attack on the freedom of speech, and therefore the principle isn’t violated in the first place. To be clear, if you still don’t get it: I value the principle of freedom of speech, I just think your definition of freedom of speech is stupid.

    Your problem is that you’ve failed to provide a convincing argument as to why I should change my mind and consider that yes, indeed we should count what Giovanni did as an attack on freedom of speech.

    Your argument at 99 is fatuous. No one is arguing a person should be able to threaten another’s life if they don’t stop expressing an idea.

    Everyone worth a damn who’s had something to say about freedom of speech has phrased it in some variant of being willing to defend and protect speech they personally find offensive.

    As have most people here. It goes along the lines: I’m against a law banning the expression of the stuff Jackson/Tamihere said. I’m against them being censored by the state. I’m against threats of violence against them (or their broadcasters/producers, or advertisers) from anyone. I defend their right to hold and express their views – fucked-up as I consider them to be.

    I uphold free speech.

    I uphold the right of someone to stand in front of RadioLive’s office and yell: “Hey, take those fuckers off the air, or I won’t listen to you again!”
    I don’t uphold your faux-free speech, whereby that person is considered to be in breach of the principle, because of their intent.

    Comment by Steve — November 17, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

  129. As for framing the discussion, in case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t your blog, sweetheart

    Indeed it isn’t. But readers will no doubt forgive me for assuming, from the post title “Advertising Boycotts and Freedom of Speech” and the specific question “Do these advertising boycotts attack freedom of speech?”, that the discussion was thus framed. Don’t despair – should Danyl at some point write a post inviting reader opinion on whether Giovanni Tiso is a great guy, or whether Psycho Milt and Sanctuary are mouthy gits, I’m sure you’ll have some valuable contributions to make.

    Your problem is that you’ve failed to provide a convincing argument as to why I should change my mind and consider that yes, indeed we should count what Giovanni did as an attack on freedom of speech.

    I’m not surprised you’re unconvinced, if you endorse a definition of “freedom of speech” as miserly as “I’m against a law banning the expression of the stuff Jackson/Tamihere said.”

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 17, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

  130. “that principle isn’t written down anywhere officially”

    Hey I tried to offer some historical context with that last link. Might help some silent readers if any are left by now.

    Comment by Sacha — November 17, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

  131. Psycho @ 115 – You seem to be treating freedom of speech as a totally abstract concept. Which is cool, I guess.

    In effect your position appears to be that any time two parties disagree on a point and one tell the other to shut their piehole, an ‘attack’ on free speech has been made irrespective whether it results in the conversation continuing or either party being ignored, laughed at, imprisoned or murdered.

    I’m not sure that definition is that that useful, mostly because you appear not to accept any concept of moral intensity in determining whether an ‘attack’ has occurred, while simultaneously accepting that intent to harm holds as much weigh a actual harm, when determining whether an ‘attack’ has occurred.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 17, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

  132. I don’t object to the pressure put on advertisers but Psycho has a point.

    This has been a campaign to bring financial pressure to stop particular people having a media presence.

    I agree with Psycho that this does set a precedent and there’s been a bit of blindness to this because it suits peoples’ political views.

    It suits mine as object to WJ and JT but perhaps the means isn’t justified.

    Comment by NeilM — November 17, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

  133. whether Psycho Milt and Sanctuary are mouthy gits

    Sanctuary’s heaps more entertaining than Pete George. You, I’ll spare your feelings, you’ve had enough for one day.

    Comment by Joe W — November 17, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

  134. The more I think about it the more I agree with Pyscho and Swan.

    It’s the responsibility of the stations managers to make editorial decisions, it shouldn’t be done by advertisers.

    Of course it’s a symbiotic relationship – shows are created partly to appeal to an audience that can draw advertising income so my initial position of letting market forces decide just recognises that.

    But I’m not sure that having advertisers exert greater direct editorial control via threats of financial penalties is such a good thing for freedom of expression.

    Comment by NeilM — November 18, 2013 @ 1:10 am

  135. In effect your position appears to be that any time two parties disagree on a point and one tell the other to shut their piehole, an ‘attack’ on free speech has been made irrespective whether it results in the conversation continuing or either party being ignored, laughed at, imprisoned or murdered.

    Kind of. I’d put it more like this: you can’t be both committed to upholding freedom of speech and busy getting this asshole fired from his broadcasting gig because you found his speech offensive. They’re mutually exclusive.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 18, 2013 @ 6:02 am

  136. you can’t be both committed to upholding freedom of speech and busy getting this asshole fired from his broadcasting gig because you found his speech offensive. They’re mutually exclusive.

    Or at least hypocritical. However, this presupposes a number of assumptions in this particular scenario.

    1. That Tiso is a committed upholder of free speech.
    2. That Tiso, by raising his query with the shows advertisers, intended to ensure that Tamihere and Jackson taken off air as opposed to merely censured or embarrassed.
    3. That the advertisers responded solely to the pressure applied by Tiso, and were compelled to exit their arrangement with Radio Live against their will and would otherwise have not done so (i.e. that they were not free agents and were incapabale of independant moral decisionmaking and risk analysis).

    Comment by Gregor W — November 18, 2013 @ 8:47 am

  137. This has been a campaign to bring financial pressure to stop particular people having a media presence.

    Has it? I dont recall Tiso demanding that anyone pull their advertising or face his limited wrath.

    It’s the responsibility of the stations managers to make editorial decisions, it shouldn’t be done by advertisers.

    Which the station managers have done. Or do you have information that the advertisers directly demanded that Jackson and Tamihere lose their platform?

    Comment by Gregor W — November 18, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  138. Re the assumptions:

    1. That Tiso is a committed upholder of free speech.
    My claim is that you can’t be committed to free speech if you’re also setting out to try and have someone’s broadcasting gig canned. If there’s an assumption about Giovanni Tiso’s commitment to freedom of speech inherent in that, it’s that he hasn’t one.

    2. That Tiso, by raising his query with the shows advertisers, intended to ensure that Tamihere and Jackson taken off air as opposed to merely censured or embarrassed.
    Not quite. The assumption is that by raising his query with the show’s advertisers he intended to try and get Jackson and Tamihere either taken off air or intimidated into suppressing future instances of offensive speech. And that assumption seems to me an entirely reasonable one to make – the alternative, that the query was made out of idle curiosity, isn’t plausible.

    3. That the advertisers responded solely to the pressure applied by Tiso…
    I don’t think that assumption’s inherent in my claim at all. The claim relates solely to whether he intended to try and get them taken off the air – what the advertisers did, or thought, is irrelevant to that.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 18, 2013 @ 10:24 am

  139. Point 2 and 3 – IMO there is a vast grey area between idle curiosity (which I agree is unlikley to be Tiso’s driver) and intimidation / suppression (terms laden with meaning, which I also don’t think is Tiso’s driver). But as with all things, the intent and effect are in the eye of the beholder.

    In a nutshell, unless Tiso’s clear intent to remove them from air or supress their speech because of ideological differences can be demonstrated – something whcih I dont think can be as the outcome could just as easily be correlatory as causal (point 3), then we will fundamentally disagree that an ‘attack’ has occurred beyond the most technical sense (i.e. a disagreement between parties).

    Comment by Gregor W — November 18, 2013 @ 10:54 am

  140. > In a nutshell, unless Tiso’s clear intent to remove them from air or supress their speech because of ideological differences can be demonstrated

    Are you suggesting that Tiso would be happy to see them back on air espousing the same views about rape? I think you’d have a hard job showing that.

    Comment by Ross — November 18, 2013 @ 11:18 am

  141. > No one’s suggested anything more serious for Willie and JT than that their show get canned. This happens to shows all the time

    True but that’s usually because of editorial decisions and or the shows are not rating well. It’s not because someone said something that offended the baying mob.

    Comment by Ross — November 18, 2013 @ 11:29 am

  142. Are you suggesting that Tiso would be happy to see them back on air espousing the same views about rape? I think you’d have a hard job showing that.

    Not at all. But I’m also not attempting to guess Tiso’s motivations or seek deeper intent. My issue with Psycho’s analysis is that his position IMO is extreme. It’s either black or white; no middle ground.

    I think it’s a trap to paint Tiso as some form of pinko svengali, able to manipulate powerful commercial interests at his whim to liquidate his ideological enemies when a far simpler explanation is more tenable; that Jackson and Tamihere made complete cocks of themselves, were too thick not to realise that their creepy, dinosaur views were out of lockstep with public opinion on a very sensitive issue and further, they failed to atone either fast enough or sincerely enough.

    A best,Tiso saw an easy opportunity to humiliate them and Radio Live. Anything beyond that and you are attributing some impressive weight to Tiso (so great his cred would have to be measured in richter). Given that this guy is basically invisible beyond academia and the blogosphere – certainly until this story took hold – there’s nothing to see here.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 18, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

  143. Gregor W: clearly we’re not going to agree on this. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who troubles themselves to write to advertisers in this context has a purpose in mind that is incompatible with upholding freedom of speech. I don’t accept that that basic incompatibility can be quibbled into compatibility using the details of any particular incident. Others are of course free to differ, and have.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 18, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

  144. Psycho – I do see your point. Like you say though, I dont agree.

    A final question I would put to you; if Tiso had gone direct to Radio LIve rather than tweaking advertisers, would you consider his action an attack on free speech? By logical extension, would you agree that a letter to the editor from anyone else diagreeing with an editorial of similar content, would be an attack on free speech?

    Comment by Gregor W — November 18, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

  145. Milt, you may want to read Giovanni explain his motivation and actions:
    http://bat-bean-beam.blogspot.co.nz/2013/11/a-surge-in-tide.html

    Then perhaps you could tell us all what exercises you so much about freedom of speech? Was there some event in your past that has triggered an abiding interest? Or something you read, perhaps?

    Comment by Sacha — November 18, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

  146. “My issue with Psycho’s analysis is that his position IMO is extreme. It’s either black or white; no middle ground.”

    it seems pretty simple to me; you either believe in free speech or you don’t. You don’t get to pick and choose what speech you want to hear and what you don’t want to hear. Free speech is all about being able to offend and to be offended.

    Comment by Ross — November 18, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

  147. Thanks, Sacha.

    Giovanni makes the same basic error that so many other bloggers and commenters have made:

    “This had nothing to do with the emails and the tweets, and everything to do with the public outrage over the serial rapes committed…”

    Actually, we don’t know if any rapes have been committed. Even though I’m surprised and disappointed that Giovanni could make such a schoolboy error, I’m not going to boycott his blog.

    Comment by Ross — November 18, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

  148. “Actually, we don’t know if any rapes have been committed.”

    Must just be a coincidence that multiple braggarts and complainants in this case reckon otherwise.

    Comment by Sacha — November 18, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

  149. if Tiso had gone direct to Radio LIve rather than tweaking advertisers, would you consider his action an attack on free speech?

    Depends what his intent in writing to them would be. “I’ll never listen to Radio Live while these shitheads have a slot” – fine. “Just what do you intend to do about your offensive broadcasters Jackson and Tamihere?” Not so fine, because then there would be big question marks over who wants to know and why. What’s the purpose of this enquiry? Idle curiosity can be ruled out. The other contenders generally aren’t compatible with a commitment to upholding freedom of speech.

    By logical extension, would you agree that a letter to the editor from anyone else diagreeing with an editorial of similar content, would be an attack on free speech?

    Same deal – depends on the intent of the correspondence. If an editor can reasonably infer from your letter “This prick’s planning to make trouble for us if we don’t sack Bozo who wrote the stuff he doesn’t like,” you just lost any claim to a commitment to freedom of speech.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 18, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

  150. Please provide references for freedom of speech depending on ‘intent’.

    Comment by Sacha — November 18, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

  151. “Must just be a coincidence that multiple braggarts and complainants in this case reckon otherwise.”

    So, we shouldn’t bother with a trial? So much for the presumption of innocence…

    Comment by Ross — November 18, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

  152. Ross – actually as a citizen in a democracy, you do have the right to pick and choose what you hear. Which is why the advertisers have spoken with their wallets.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 18, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

  153. “So, we shouldn’t bother with a trial? ”

    Test the evidence by all means. Pretty thin grounds for defending it, you’d think.

    Comment by Sacha — November 18, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

  154. “depends on the intent”

    what a paranoid world

    Comment by Sacha — November 18, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

  155. someone could have warned me that Milt hails from the reality-free zone that is NoMinister #pffft

    Comment by Sacha — November 18, 2013 @ 11:02 pm

  156. Ross,
    I’m not going to boycott his blog.

    But if you did, and used your freedom of expression to tell anyone who’d listen to try to convince them to not read his blog, then you’d be entitled to do so. And I wouldn’t criticise you for “Attacking free speech!”

    I may well criticise your reasons for wanting to boycott his blog. I would certainly criticise your judgment; Giovanni’s a very good blogger and you should read him more. But attacking free speech? Nah.

    I agree with Keith Ng’s post on this topic.
    http://publicaddress.net/onpoint/on-freedom-of-speech/

    Comment by Steve — November 18, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

  157. Psycho,
    I’m not surprised you’re unconvinced, if you endorse a definition of “freedom of speech” as miserly as “I’m against a law banning the expression of the stuff Jackson/Tamihere said.”

    And you’re arguing for a wider definition, yes. So all you said in that statement was that you aren’t surprised I’m unconvinced by your argument given that you failed to convince me. You do seem to like making these ‘begging the question’ type comments.

    Depends what his intent in writing to them would be. “I’ll never listen to Radio Live while these shitheads have a slot” – fine.

    How can that comment not be said to have the intent to get them off the air? It carries the unavoidable implication that if said shitheads lose their slot, the writer will (or at least may) return to listening. That writer is clearly prodding Radio Live to drop the shitheads. It meets your “bar” for an attack on freedom of speech.

    Comment by Steve — November 18, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

  158. All those years of online bloviation, with no respect apart from the occasional leg-hump from a fellow sad sack. There’s no way that jumped-up little marxist could have been playing by the rules, they’ll get him on a technicality,

    Comment by Joe W — November 18, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

  159. So all you said in that statement was that you aren’t surprised I’m unconvinced by your argument given that you failed to convince me.

    Actually, I’m saying there’s no point in discussing it with someone who has as contemptibly limited a definition of free speech as that.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 19, 2013 @ 6:05 am

  160. Giovanni offers an eloquent response about all this – http://bat-bean-beam.blogspot.co.nz/2013/11/the-business-of-free-speech.html

    Comment by Sacha — November 19, 2013 @ 7:30 am

  161. “Test the evidence by all means. Pretty thin grounds for defending it, you’d think.”

    Yet no one has been charged which suggests the evidence is fairly weak. Police will usually lay charges even on the flimsiest of evidence.

    Comment by Ross — November 19, 2013 @ 8:48 am

  162. Giovanni offers an eloquent response about all this.

    Eloquent and morally bankrupt. It contains the following theses:

    1. Freedom of speech is entirely consistent with trying to get someone fired for saying something you don’t like.

    2. Sponsor boycotts are a permissible tool for progressives to use because our cause, the fight against neoliberalism, is just.

    3. The precedent set by the use of sponsor boycotts doesn’t matter because the other side isn’t well placed to use the same tactic against us.

    Not exactly a great stand for moral principle, is it?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 19, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  163. > The precedent set by the use of sponsor boycotts doesn’t matter because the other side isn’t well placed to use the same tactic against us.

    But what if the other side eventually become well-placed to use the same tactic against ‘us’? Presumably there’ll be no complaints because that would make ‘us’ hypocrites.

    Comment by Ross — November 19, 2013 @ 10:47 am

  164. But what if the other side eventually become well-placed to use the same tactic against ‘us’?

    As long as you’re addressing poor old Psycho’s crack-brained fantasies, rather than anything Tiso actually said, that remains a very remote possibility.

    Comment by Joe W — November 19, 2013 @ 11:36 am

  165. “you can’t be committed to free speech if you’re also setting out to try and have someone’s broadcasting gig canned.”
    Why not?
    This seems to be the flimsy basis for a very silly argument. Somehow you’re equating ‘free speech’ to being able to broadcast on a radio station owned by someone else, supported by advertisers money.
    And that’s just a stupid. We have a right to free speech that most of us would vigorously defend. Noone has “the right to broadcast on a radio station owned by someone else, supported by advertisers money.” It’s a job, a privilege, a bonus, whatever. Not not a right. Just NOT THE SAME THING as free speech.

    Comment by Rob — November 19, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  166. Actually, I’m saying there’s no point in discussing it with someone who has as contemptibly limited a definition of free speech as that.

    And yet “I’ll never listen to Radio Live while these shitheads have a slot” is fine. Why? Why do you show freedom of speech such contempt, Psycho. Why?

    Comment by Steve — November 19, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

  167. Tamihere just keeps on giving.

    “Radio presenter and former Labour MP John Tamihere has told a radio station he is going to sue media company MediaWorks…”It’s interesting too at MediaWorks, it’s a sisterhood running it, I’m just writing up my affidavit now and I’m just reflecting on it. It’s amazing, it’s like back to the future with [former prime minister] Helen [Clark] and co.””

    Comment by Gregor W — December 20, 2013 @ 12:34 pm


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