The following excerpt was published in the paper’s editorial titled, Free speech and Chelsea Manning:
… In Dunedin, praise is due to the University of Otago for allowing anti-fluoride speakers a forum at a university lecture theatre. The university’s own dental school experts are, no doubt, horrified by the views being promulgated. University administrators probably think the same way.
Likewise, this newspaper recognises fluoridation of water as an essential public health measure to help save children from our poorest communities from appalling tooth damage.
Nevertheless, the so-called anti-fluoride experts have the right to give their point of view, albeit a minority position against the opinions of almost all official dental experts.
That does not mean, however, that we as a newspaper, or anyone else, are obliged to give Fluoride Free New Zealand an editorial platform.
It is worth remembering that in totalitarian regimes one of the first rights to go is always freedom of speech.
While freedom of speech is never limitless, the presumption in democracies must always be in its favour.
This country has the right to exclude “criminals”, and that can extend to those advocating violence and drug use. Chelsea Manning does not fit into these categories and should be allowed speak.
The outcry and outcome over the Don Brash furore was positive. More New Zealanders could see the point of free expression. Hopefully, viewpoints that Ms Manning should be shut out will illustrate across the political spectrum that free speech cuts both ways, that it is vital so all sorts of convictions are aired.
*Original editorial online at https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/editorial/free-speech-and-chelsea-manning