Think Big Debate - Freedom of Speech

08-Aug-2018 12:35 PM

Media Release - University of Auckland Debating Society

Has PC culture gone too far to the point it is limiting freedom of speech? That’s the question to be debated in the inaugural Think Big Debate hosted by the University of Auckland Debating Society this week.
Views will be heard from Dr Don Brash (Free Speech Coalition), Elliot Ikilei (Deputy Leader, New Conservative Party), Simon Wilson (Senior Writer, NZ Herald) and Fran O’Sullivan (Head of Business, NZME). They will be joined by two of the university’s top debaters, Piper Whitehead and Arun Prakash. Former Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand, will provide the concluding remarks and the event will be chaired by the Society’s President Chris Ryan.
The Think Big Debate series is intended to explore the big issues in New Zealand Society. The timing of this topic is particularly, although coincidentally, apt according to Chris.
“In light of recent events we believe this issue is more important than ever. Finding the correct balance between protecting people from speech which is hateful or degrading and the right to freedom of speech is becoming increasingly difficult,” he said.
“A debate specifically seeking to explore whether or not society should be sanctioning speech – regardless of whether we agree with what is being said or not, and how we determine what hate speech is and what it isn’t, contributes to the broader discussion occurring throughout New Zealand.” 
Hosting public debates is fundamental to the University of Auckland Debating Society’s goal to provide a forum for the discussion and debate of topical issues and to encourage debate within the University and the community at large.  
“The nature of a debate means that attendees will have their arguments exposed to immediate scrutiny,” Chris says.
“It’s also important to remember that in debating - compared with other formats of discussion - speakers do not necessarily represent their own views. Instead they are trying to make the best possible argument in support of, or in opposition to, the motion. Both of these factors make a debate about freedom of speech a particularly interesting way of exploring the issue”.
“However, we expect speakers and audience members to be respectful of different points of view and recognise the ability for debate to challenge ideas and norms in society”.
The University of Auckland Debating Society’s inaugural Think Big debate will take place on Thursday 9 August at the University of Auckland in the Sir Owen G Glenn Building at 6.15 pm.  For further information visit or
For further information contact:
Chris Ryan, 021 0394694 or
Please note that permission for filming at the university needs to go through the university’s media office – contact
It would be appreciated if any other media intending to attend advised us at

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