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After claims the event would be protested about by groups opposing the speakers' views, Auckland Live, which runs the city's council-owned venues, cancelled the August booking for Takapuna's Bruce Mason Centre.
The cancellation, Auckland Live said, was based upon practical concerns including the health and safety of the presenters, staff and patrons. But that stance was seemingly contradicted by a tweet from Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who said the city's venues should not be used for stirring "ethnic or religious tensions".
"Views that divide rather than unite are repugnant and I have made my views on this very clear. Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux will not be speaking at any council venues."
Mr Goff said the pair were free to speak elsewhere in the city but the tour's promoter said such short notice meant that would not be possible.
It is not unreasonable for Mr Goff to suggest the pair's views are divisive. They both have hundreds of thousands of subscribers on YouTube, on which they post opinions from the far right of the Western political spectrum. Their messages centre on what could loosely be called the conflict between extreme liberalism and extreme conservatism. They are labelled "alt-right". They attack feminism, Islam, gender-diversity and mass immigration. They are divisive.
Their views are undoubtedly unpalatable to most New Zealanders, but should the pair have been banned from a city's venues by decree of an elected official? Council venues are not owned by sitting mayors; they are built for and paid for by ratepayers - ratepayers who represent every point of the political divide, including the far right. Views that divide are inherent in New Zealand. Since MMP was adopted in 1994, the country has seen political parties from each end of the political spectrum promote what could be termed, by their opponents at least, divisive policies. There can be a "team sport" mentality to our politics that actively emphasises division.
Religious and anti-religious members of our society live and work side by side while preaching very different messages.
The same is true for those who believe in immigration and those who don't, who believe in the unique rights of tangata whenua and those who don't. We are a country full of divisions of opinion and divisive views. Many New Zealanders hold perspectives other New Zealanders would label repugnant. To pretend otherwise could only be naivety or ignorance.
Despite this, we strive to be a country of inclusion and compassion. We achieve that through transparency, openness, a free and fair media, through talking and listening. We are not perfect, not by a long stretch. But as an electorate we repeatedly produce stable, representative, transparent and tolerant governments.
But tolerance means little if we refuse to allow those with differing views a place to speak. It is essential views which divide are aired openly if we are going to choose, rather than be coaxed, to unite regardless. There is little doubt Ms Southern and Mr Molyneux hold views the majority of New Zealanders disagree with, even find loathsome. But a last-minute sabotage of their speaking arrangements does more to funnel attention to them and their views, as well as to the insecurity of our own convictions, than it serves to make a stand against them.
It would be better to let these speakers come, let them have their hall, let them have their say. And, if we deem their message divisive and repugnant, let us disagree with them. Let us explain why. Let us hear the divisive yet choose to unite.