There was a basic contradiction in the argument of those objecting to the protests at dawn services on Anzac Day last week. On the one hand, the dead they were commemorating supposedly "died for freedom". On the other, that freedom apparently did not extend to disagreeing with that statement or questioning the prevailing narrative around those deaths. In an editorial today, the Dominion Post quietly challenges those objecting to such protests to eat their own rhetoric, and makes a strong case for freedom of speech:
However, leaving aside the legalities of the methods they employed, which are now a matter for the courts, the protesters were entitled to make their point. It will not have been lost on many at the service that the men who they were honouring had died at least partly in defence of the protesters' right to deliver their message, however wrong-headed and inappropriate it may have been.
The answer is neither to stop groups such as Hammerskins and the peace advocates from expressing their views, nor, as others advocate, ignore them and hope that a complete lack of publicity stifles them.
There can be no rational defence for suppressing views simply because they do not accord with the orthodoxy of the day.
There's a dubious circumlocution there - the charges of offensive behaviour and flag burning make the "legalities of the methods" being a matter for the courts is a polite mask for exactly the sort of censorship the DomPost claims to be opposing. But their broader point remains: in a free society, ideas and arguments must stand and fall on their own merits, rather than be crushed by the majority. The answer to objectionable speech must be more speech, not less.