For the past few weeks, we have seen a lot of rhetoric from various ‘right wing’ figures – the Mike Hosking types, for instance – about how ‘free speech’ is under threat from “The Left”.
Yet take a look at what’s been the major ‘moving parts’ in several recent ‘anti-free speech’ controversies.
ANZ Bank issued this statement on Tuesday: “we do not support the views of Silver Fern Maria Folau and have made our views known to her employer Netball NZ.”
[NB – the controversy surrounds Folou’s husbands casual tweets on twitter which were construed as homophobic in nature by media, and she refused to condemn him, as his wife – J. Flores]
ANZ, being a rather major sponsor of the Silver Ferns, this may be a ‘lack of support’ presumed to carry weight, to exert pressure – rather than mere rhetorical bluster.
Now, I am not quite sure which of Maria Folau’s “views” the ANZ has taken especial umbrage against. Perhaps she might be thought to share her husband’s soteriological perspective. Maybe it’s as simple as her “standing by her man” through a time of turmoil. They haven’t specified.
I have my own theory as to just why the ANZ has suddenly discovered that it feels extreme distaste for Maria Folau, in the very same week that its corporate and CEO misdeeds have become a major media story here … but that is somewhat tangential to the point I am making here.
Unless we are truly through the looking-glass due to the dialectics being seriously in motion – the ANZ, a mega-scale financial institution here in Aotearoa, is *not* a “left-wing” organization. It is not pushing a “left wing” [in the economic sense, anyway] perspective.
It *can* be said to be advancing a ‘rainbow’ agenda, arguably … for ‘pink-washing‘ has been a long-running corporate theme.
But just because it is ‘rainbow’ does not mean it is ‘let-wing‘. It is perfectly possible to be hard-neoliberal and ‘pro-rainbow’, etc. The ‘rainbow’ spectrum, as we see, goes above and across “left and right”.
‘Freedom of Speech’ has been under threat for some time. You say something that is against ‘power’, whatever its forms and concentrated in whichever of its institutions … and you see what happens.
A few months back, for instance, one of my editors found himself in dire financial straits due to the police putting the screws on him through his bank. A few days ago, another of my editors found himself temporarily de-platformed by a well-known outlet due to his publishing of our simple and entirely factually based reporting on recent geopolitical events around Iran.
In both cases, the actual pressure-exerting institutions, were combinations of neoliberal and/or neoconservative oriented governmental decision-makers and implementation-institutions, along with big corporate financial or other capitalist outlets.
They had clear reasons for doing so. Because they felt *threatened*. Because they *knew* that ‘the facts’ were not on their side, and figured that silence was a greater win than open debate.
Some ‘rainbow’ activists get pretty heated demanding that this or that figure whom they disagree with, be booted out of public life. Yes, this is so. And sometimes, even, rather legitimately – consider the Fred Phelps, Westboro Baptist Church types of this world.
But it is a massive bait-and-switch of the absolute worst and most distortionary kind to try and pretend that the Anti-Freedom of Speech Agenda is a “Left Wing” phenomenon. Some “left wing” [self-identified, or actual] people *are* against the concept of freedom of speech. Some “right wing” people are *also* against the concept of freedom of speech.
Yet the *actual* forces that, whether they initiate it or otherwise, mete out the smothering of your freedoms, in almost any arena you choose to name … they are corporate, they are capital, they are *control*.
And they are engaged in some *very effective* ‘active camouflage’, pretending that it’s ‘social movements’ of this or that stripe or persuasion who’re the “real” threat.
Keep that in mind, at all times!
Of course, some people aren’t going to be very keen on this. They’re going to insist that no, no it’s the “CULTURAL MARXISTS” who’re responsible for everything, all the way down.
That somehow, ANZ are “MARXIST”.
And the same old story shall play out over, and over again.
Because it’s easier to believe, for some, that the “NEO-BOLSHEVIK HORDES” are ravening at the gate , than it is to *see the reality* – that incredibly large and increasingly powerful corporate entities are presenting a sanitized version of public life which directly benefits them, and them alone.