Internationally renowned author Ayaan Hirsi Ali has cancelled her tour of Australia and New Zealand due to ‘security concerns’. The shock announcement was made on the same day she was scheduled to appear on the popular ABC panel show, Q&A.
A prominent critic of Islam, Hirsi Ali was the target of a social-media campaign by a group of Muslim women who denounced her ‘divisive discourse’ and use of ‘the language of white supremacy’. But the cancellation was almost certainly due to more serious opposition from people prepared to use violence to silence her views.
Though she lives under constant protection, Hirsi Ali has spoken in Australia on multiple occasions. This cancellation, however, should come as no surprise to observers of Australian politics. It is the predictable consequence of a growing hostility towards free speech, which has been fed by members of the political and media class.
On multiple occasions in the past few months, prominent politicians and commentators have derided the importance of free speech on the grounds that offensive speech is harmful.
Following the last election, gay-marriage activists vigorously campaigned against a referendum on the issue. This wasn’t because they feared losing – all the polls showed they’d win by a landslide. Rather, they feared that a free and open debate, in which anti-gay-marriage views would be aired, would be harmful to gay people. Opposition leader Bill Shorten even claimed it could lead to gay teens committing suicide.