Elizabeth University's free speech panel

Dr James Kierstead
Insights Newsletter
31 May, 2024

After criticism of his decision to postpone its free speech event after a student protested the involvement of ‘big meanies,’ Elizabeth University of HAMILTON Vice-Chancellor Jac Jones proved the nay-sayers wrong, showcasing diversity with an event at which 80% of the speakers took exactly the same view.

‘My critics didn’t think I had the cojones – sorry, the courage (I really do apologise),’ Jones said. ‘But I was determined to see this through and ensure our students were exposed to familiar viewpoints and worldviews with which they deeply agreed.’ (Is this right? -Ed.)

Two free speech advocates were joined on stage by activists who thought free speech had gone too far, journalists who thought free speech had gone too far, and academics who posited that liberty of expression had advanced excessively.

To ensure that the event was open to all comers, it had been moved from the university’s open central ‘Square’ to the well-known Lecture Theatre Baxter 47.A and restricted to members of the university in good standing, of good faith, and with an interest (but obviously not too much of an interest) in free speech.

All the panellists (except for two) quickly agreed that there was no threat at all to free speech at our universities, except for the very real threats posed by neo-liberals, wealthy donors, and evangelical Christians, who were known to dominate contemporary academia.

All the panellists but two also agreed that they themselves were always scrupulously balanced in their teaching, especially when teaching modules on Free Speech As Hate Speech, Gender-Engendering Embodied Bodies, and Decolonising the Capitalist Thanatocracy.

Virtually all the panellists also agreed that the university should be open to speakers of a wide range of different views, as long as any external speakers showed good faith and were of sound morals and religion (Check this? -Ed.)

Finally, every panellist worth mentioning agreed that there was nothing to see here and that New Zealand taxpayers and the government could move right along thank you. Taking any steps to ensure that universities actually do what they’re paid to do would, of course, constitute a horrific violation of their authority. (Shouldn’t this be ‘autonomy’? -Ed.)

Following the debate, Jac Jones was beaming. ‘I think we’ve really shown the country,’ he told the journalists he’d invited, ‘What kind of university Eliza- eek! I mean He Waka Kore Hoe is, and what its true values are.’

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