The Free Speech Coalition is relaunching as a trade union under the name “Free Speech Union” and has successfully registered under the Employment Relations Act.
“That name is not ironic”, says Dr David Cumin, a founding member of the Union’s Council. “We think it says crisply just what is now needed to defend freedom of speech. We need to stand with people being intimidated, cancelled, de-platformed, piled on by social media, doxxed and threatened with bankruptcy if they seek legal protection.”
“Becoming a bona fide union is important because defending freedom of speech has come to need the collective solidarity, the mutual support, the kind of activism that made labour unions so important over 100 years ago.”
“For the last two years, the Free Speech Coalition has been campaigning to prevent the growth of anti-free speech case law and legislation. The Coalition was founded in response to the statements by the Auckland Mayor and actions of his Council in banning two controversial speakers from hosting a talk at a publicly owned venue. The founding members of the Coalition saw the greatest threat to New Zealand’s tolerant and diverse culture of free public discourse as coming directly from the power of the state.”
“But over the past few years, it has been impossible to ignore the rise of a culture of intolerance of free speech,” says Dr. Cumin. “We have seen it expressed in the increasingly frequent instances of people suffering employment consequences for perfectly legitimate expressions of free speech. The University of Canterbury dragged one of their academics through a lengthy disciplinary process for a paper critical of New Zealand Universities’ connections to the Chinese Government. A high school teacher was doxed by a blogger and investigated by his employer for wearing a MAGA hat at an Auckland BLM rally. An Auckland Transport staffer was harassed and intimidated on social media for a comment on a private Facebook group.”
“We’ve seen too many examples of people being ‘shut down’ for controversial views. We must defend the rights of workers to be able to express their personal beliefs without the threat of losing their job. We need to promote a culture of tolerance, including for those we disagree with. A flourishing civil society, where all New Zealander’s feel they can contribute their ideas and engage in robust and even controversial debate, is only possible when employers know that disciplining workers for stepping out of line is not an option.”
“If you fear being punished by your employer for exercising your right to free speech, if you feel you may be targeted by the media or online mobs for comments expressed in a personal capacity, if a petition could be launched calling for you to be fired; or if you want to help protect those that might be, then join the Free Speech Union today.”