In a controversial speech, New Zealand’s leftist Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that free speech on social media can be considered a modern “weapon of war” and that she is working on an initiative to automate methods of censorship.
During her message to the UN General Assembly, Ardern said she was working with companies and non-governmental organizations to develop an initiative “to help improve research and understanding of how a person’s online experiences are curated by automated processes.”
The New Zealand leader said the work would be important in “understanding more about mis- and disinformation online,” which represents a “challenge” for world leaders.
“As leaders, we are rightly concerned that even the most light-touch approaches to disinformation could be misinterpreted as being hostile to the values of free speech that we value so highly. But while I cannot tell you today what the answer is to this challenge, I can say with complete certainty that we cannot ignore it. To do so poses an equal threat to the norms we all value.”
New Zealand’s PM said free speech can confuse the public and suggest ways of thinking that diverge from the dominant left-wing narrative, such as climate change.
“After all, how do you successfully end a war if people are led to believe the reason for its existence is not only legal but noble? How do you tackle climate change if people do not believe it exists? How do you ensure the human rights of others are upheld, when they are subjected to hateful and dangerous rhetoric and ideology?” asked Ardern.
She then referred to the free expression of ideas online as a “weapon of war” that can be used to “cause chaos” and prevent others from defending themselves, to “disband communities” and even to “collapse the collective strength of countries who work together.”
In this regard, she urged the leaders at the General Assembly to work together “to ensure that these particular weapons of war” are not used against their objectives.
“For every new weapon we face, there is a new tool to overcome it. For every attempt to push the world into chaos, is a collective conviction to bring us back to order. We have the means; we just need the collective will.”
The “face of authoritarianism” rules in New Zealand
This is not the first time the leftist has proposed mass censorship. In May 2019, after a terrorist attack on a mosque in the city of Christchurch, Ardern organized the so-called Christchurch Call to Action Summit, in which she proposed to require Big Tech greater restrictions on online freedom against speech deemed “extreme”, with the alleged aim of preventing terrorist attacks.
Signatories to the treaty, in addition to New Zealand, the European Commission and UNESCO, included multiple European countries, Mexico, Colombia, Canada, Peru, among others. The Trump administration refused at the time to adhere to the initiative.
Ardern’s “dangerous” speech caught the attention of various political figures and social media users.
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald said that Ardern represents “the face of authoritarianism” and that her ideas are the “mindset of tyrants everywhere” in the world.
“This is someone so inebriated by her sense of righteousness and superiority that she views dissent as an evil too dangerous to allow,” Greenwald said.
Youtuber and producer Luke Rudkowski referred to Ardern as a “lipstick mini Hitler.”
Political consultant and television personality Steve Cortes sees in the prime minister “the very face of repression.”
Journalist Dan Bongino said her speech was “one of the most dangerous” of the year.
Ardern has a history of imposing heavy restrictions on freedom while maintaining a calm, smiling countenance. In November last year, thousands of people took to the streets of New Zealand to protest against her for the vaccination mandates and extreme quarantines she imposed under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tomás Lugo, journalist and writer. Born in Venezuela and graduated in Social Communication. Has written for international media outlets. Currently living in Colombia // Tomás Lugo, periodista y articulista. Nacido en Venezuela y graduado en Comunicación Social. Ha escrito para medios internacionales. Actualmente reside en Colombia.