He Who Shall Not Be Named: The Censorship Following on from Christchurch
They say when confronted with a monster or enemy, the three typical responses a human has are fight, freeze and flight.
Fight, meaning you tackle the monster head on, freeze being when you are stulted by fear, and lastly flight is when you run for the hills.
The reason I bring this up is in reference to the responses that governments and tech companies are having in the face of the horrific tragedy of Christchurch.
While 50 people were horrifically and publicly murdered in a killing that ostensibly had been inspired by online memes and a culture of trolling, the monster has since ceased to be physical.
As Brenton Tarrant now lays behind bars, the true monster has now taken psychological form, in the fear that there may be others like him.
These are fears I share.
When I read Tarrant’s manifesto, it was coherent, lucid, and articulate. It was also a call to arms. This was perhaps the most shocking factor. Anyone who might be on the precipice of white nationalism, could very well be pushed over the edge by reading the manifesto.
But my response to those fears appear to be quite different to those of the New Zealand government, who has since declared they will be imprisoning those who share either the footage of the massacre or the manifesto, with the upper limit being 15 years in prison.
Jacinda Ardern, the lauded PM of NZ, has also declared a tightening on gun laws as well as a refusal to mention the killers name.
Now on face value I can understand everything she has done. However, having read the manifesto myself, some of the choices seem questionable.
For one, the killer mentioned that a tightening of gun laws was his exact intention, to create a greater wedge between the government and gun advocates, when officials inevitably attempt to take guns away from the civilians. This may be something Ardern has factored into her decision, but it could also be seen as playing right into the killers hand.
And as far as not mentioning his name, while I get the merit, Tarrant also referenced 9/11 in his manifesto.
To highlight the fact that you probably don’t know the names of those that committed the worst terrorist act of the 21st century. And don’t feel bad if you don’t know their names. I don’t, nor does anyone I know. The point is Tarrant’s name will quickly be forgotten, and this seems to be something he is okay with.
But this is all semantics. I’m not pro-gun, nor do I really care if Tarrant’s name is never mentioned again.
My main issue is the banning of the manifesto, which has recently been backed by Facebook, who declared they will be banning any post which mentions, or any individual who speaks of white nationalism in a positive sense. This comes back to fight, flight or freeze.
You can argue that taking guns away is fighting back, but it is harder to argue that silencing ideas is to fight. In fact, I would posit that banning the manifesto and thoughts of white nationalism is tantamount to flight, or running from the battle.
Because if bad ideas cannot be dismantled by better ideas through the process of discussion, the only other available option is violence.
For those that are latent white nationalists, who perhaps have read the manifesto or wish to, they will find a way. However now there will be nobody to talk them out of it. Nobody to highlight the benefits of a pluralistic society, or of freedom of religion or any other retort.
The ideas that led to the Christchurch massacre can once again fester in the underbelly, without ever seeing their one true poison; the light of day.
What happened in Christchurch is unspeakably evil. But make no mistake, if dialogue shuts down surrounding the belief systems which led to the atrocity, we will no longer be able to dissuade anyone who thinks as Tarrant did.
Speaking to one another is always the answer, and when you remove that option you encourage people to spread their message in whatever other way they see fit.