GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Hate has no colour


The day after the mob assault on the US Capital Building I listened to a number of commentators comparing the rough treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters by Federal and State authorities to their soft approach to the Pro Trump rioters and thought – yes, the authorities are colour blind . Only dark- skinned people aparrently are a threat to social order and stability.

I think the same was true of the events leading up to the Christchurch mass murder on March 15th 2019. Yes – our police and border authorities were on the lookout for terrorists – but not white ones.

Hate has no colour.

You find it in every society. The idea that ‘they ‘ are not ‘us’ is the story of war – whether it be civil or international.

Those of us who lived through the violence surrounding the Springbok Tour of 1981 know
that we , here in New Zealand , are not immune from turning on each other and fighting in the street over strongly held beliefs.

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We don’t have a specific Hate Law in our country . I think we should, but it needs the political will to put it on the table and carefully worked through because I don’t pretend that crafting a viable Hate Law will be easy. Hate Speech, for example , in my view, needs to be treated as a separate legal issue because of the way it intersects with the principle of freedom of speech and opinion which I, for one, hold dear.

But Hate Crime – actually attacking someone because of their race , religion, sexual preference or whatever – needs to be separated from Hate Speech.

Yes Hate Speech if often the precursor to the committing of a Hate Crime and I would put inciting people to riot at the high end of offending under a Hate Speech law, but as I say any Hate Speech legislation needs to be carefully crafted so it does not impose unreasonable restrictions on Freedom of Speech.

How hard would that actually be?

In my view, not very.

I’ve never believed the right to free speech include the right to abuse or threaten people socially, mentally or physically and regular readers of my page will know that from time to time I have to publish the rules of my page which includes no name calling and no bad language.

Our bias, if bias it be, should be towards respecting – not disrespecting – each other.

In other words to tackle the topic, not the person expressing their opinion and that remains the No 1 rule of my page because I believe we cannot have a decent society if we do not treat each other with decency in our daily lives.

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Thank you for crucially differentiating between hate crime, and hate speech. Even before the NT lesson of the Good Samaritan, there were pagan societies who welcomed the outsider, for he could be a god, practically or metaphorically. Post NT, the horror of Hitler’s Holocaust should be a permanent reminder of the barbarity of
    judgments based on presumed race, colour or creed. It’s happening here in New Zealand right now.

    Politicians unable to recognise or accept their own prejudice would be better advised to withdraw from the corridors of power, rather than use it as a basis to foment hatred among their own devotees. The community deserves better and is, I suggest, better than this. We have to be.

  2. Wouldn’t just be weeding out hate speech. They’d also be protected in there own bubble outside of society. Solving the pronoun issue fist might go a ways to making sure vulnerable groups don’t turn onto a little tranzillvania. Y’know we want everyone to be able to walk the streets comfortably.

  3. Your hopes and visions of a ‘decent’ society sounds more like a Prozac society so I’ll stick with ‘bad language’ indecency thanks all the same.
    I’d like to remind you that this is Earth and we are humans. Battling it out is what we do.
    You also forgot to mention that most vital and precious element of being human. A sense of humour.
    Ronald Biggs I think it was said: “We can lose our health and our wealth but we can’t afford to lose our sense of humour.”
    Anyone proclaiming to know what’s best for the rest of us while claiming to know what a decent society might be like gives me a creepy feeling up my spine.

    • Country boy: “I’d like to remind you that this is Earth and we are humans. Battling it out is what we do.”

      Exactly. Commentators tend to forget about human nature. We’re a groupish species: we prefer other humans who look like us, speak our language, share our culture and mores. There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s just the way the world is.

      Attempts to control what people think and say is an exercise in futility. The best we can manage is to have a system of laws which proscribes behaviours considered harmful to other citizens. And that’s what we already have.

      Hate speech? I’m yet to see a definition that couldn’t be glossed as “things you say that I don’t like” or vice versa.

      “A sense of humour.”

      I hope that you saw this today: it’s hilarious! Why can’t we in NZ poke the borax in a similar fashion? Too much humourless woke leftery, maybe:

  4. Tell me if you think this sounds like hate speech. Its a real speech, made here in NZ, well after the open violence of the Springbok tour:

    “My fellow New Zealanders, tonight I want to address a real crisis in our country. The crisis I want to address tonight is the crisis of confidence our people are feeling towards their Government. New Zealanders have quite rightly grown up with the belief that we will do what we say we’re going to do, and if not, then we will explain ourselves. For six long years now we have failed you and tonight I pledge to all New Zealanders that the era of broken promises, of hidden agendas, of arrogant rule, is over. It ends tonight. I utterly reject having my Government driven by ideologues who know the value of nothing other than the purity of their imported theories. I completely reject these obsessed purists who put the balancing of the country’s books ahead of balancing the nation’s needs. Fostering greater understanding between Government and its people and restoring a social cohesion that has stretched beyond breaking point is my responsibility and tonight I exercise it. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. I resolve to do better in explaining the nature of the choices we face as a people. I will either bring you into my confidence or I will step down. That is my commitment to you here tonight. The road ahead will prove a difficult one. We are in recession and our economy is not yet strong enough to provide jobs and security for all our people. But we will get there … together.”

    Then think about what happened next, who this person was, which party they belong to, who “opposed” them, what that person did and became, and what we have now. Hate doesn’t always sound like hate. I suppose it’s a bit like kindness. You can write laws so Trump can’t illegally and literally tell people to attack other people, and it seems that even then they won’t be enforced. What the speaker of the above speech knew was that control of the environment is the way in to inflluencing how people respond, behave, and speak.
    Enforce the laws we already have. Forget about more “hate speech” laws. It’s the environment that is the problem. Secure happy people don’t wake up one day and say to each other – let’s go kill those other people. Wars don’t start for fun. There’s a long lead in. People are responding to a hostile environment. If you or I use an obvious slur against someone else, why would that be? Are we just idiots who haven’t experienced anything of life, living in a vacuum devoid of human emotional repsonse? Of course not. How do we discover the motivations of people? Think up a check list such as used by the woke witch hunters, that sounds great in it’s logical perfection, but that completely eliminates context?
    Fix the environment, people will be less inclined to shout at each other. The role of law and government is to control the enivronment. Then we get down to individual people hating each other to avoid facing their own issues. That is the role of families and communities to address. At present we allow people who will not face their own issues to make policy that allows other people to not face their own issues.

    I’d be really concerned about someone who talked about kindness, and then made the enivornment much worse for the most vulnerable in society. Those vulnerable people would start making some hateful noises. I guess then we could target them as a danger to society, blame them for the way things are, even though they aren’t the government, can’t change the environment, and at best, can only sort of cower as the battens swing down on them.

    Is it fair minded to expect them to be not just educated to post university level, but be also be spiritually enlightened, and to have mastered their emotions? Is it fair minded to expect the most battered people in society to be on a level similar to the great prophets of human history? Point to a politician or law maker who can say they have achived that. Have you?

    While government, and our laws, continue to create a hostile invironment, we will need more and more “anti” everything laws. Who are the haters again?

    • EJ I hear, and agree. And starts the slippery slope. The right to be wrong is more important than the right to be right. It’s difficult to see a positive pathway once you poke a stick at this wasp nest.

  5. You can’t make laws to stop people from hating, any more than you can make laws that compel them to love. A law to ban hate is an oxymoronic contradiction in terms. Coercion cannot be used to overcome hate but the love that comes from God can.

    • Over the years many have die in the name of God which ever god you worship The Christian god I learnt about is the same god Trump supporters pray to and pastors like Brian Tamaki worship and call down his wroth on those he perceives as evil.
      Common sense and a good moral compass is really all people need to get on together . Unfortunately these are in short supply among our leaders both politically and spiritually

      • Kia ora Trevor Sennitt
        I only said that love comes from God. It is beyond reason, beyond “common sense and a good moral compass”. As the song says “Tuku iho, tuku iho”. Now God, like all things in this universe, exists as objective entity and subjective perception. The way that Brian Tamaki perceives God may be quite different to the perception of the brothers and sisters of my own hahi, even though we may worship the “same God” as you say. The point is that the state has not capacity to compel us to love or to outlaw hatred. Those who think that it can have unreasonable expectations of the state. They have come to see the state as omnipotent or all-powerful, when it is anything but that. If you try to put the state in place of God you will be very disappointed by the outcome.

  6. Off all capitalist commodities, violence is their cheapest. Hate, pin number hide, do not tell your fellow workers the wage Im, paying you , as you work among US.

  7. They those in charge of the Donald, America, have had a month, to stop this derange of their country control,yet not in America, can we do this, we are not some South America, or a distant socialist street fighting demi god, wonderland.
    They should have four weeks ago, infused their god charter their AmericAN bible rule their right, of their constitution to un-HICH, their knowing wagon from this now known ego monster,known well into his ego! first year known, and let to today.
    Money, power, shall if they allow this today he can be gone by lunch, if they use their define their American bible, of their children class room teaching, their document of who they and America is founded on.

  8. As Maori, SnowWhite,Maori , also slaughterd Maori, under profit of English rule. The Scot in my birth place, has never done violence to any human, and my place of birth, if needed had its violence their, but not in my socialist way. The K.K.K. AMERICA, and their cowboys Drovers, also Scot from the highlands of Scotland, who drove their cattle to market from the highlands, to their lower cities. Colour is not blind, all colour see the light of day, that is our humanity prisim of light, is wight a colour no, its all colour in our prisim of colour. Is our colour breathing, yes our humanity is breath our blood red is our being humanity.

  9. From my perspective, the only way for me to act toward others, is to treat all others ONLY how I wish to be treated. Not always easy, but possible. Also simple – no “high flown” philosophy to keep in mind.

  10. Islam should be criticised just as much and as strongly as Christianity.

    Yet people such as Bryan Bruce see Christianity as being “Western” and believed in by “white people” and thus is up for criticism, but Islam is exotic and perceived by Bryan Bruce as being a “people of colour” belief set and therefore must not be questioned or critiqued.

    People should have the legal right to point out that Muslims believe that Muhammad was the perfect individual who did nothing wrong in his life, yet was definitely a pedophile (yes the West completely ignores the likes of Plato and Leonardo da Vinci’s inppropriate relationships with teenage boys, but no one is saying that they were morally perfect).

    Islam should also be heavily criticised for its extreme homophobia. A crazed Muslim terrorist killed 60 gay men in Florida only a year before the Christchurch shooting yet there was no moral outrage of how could such homophobia happen. It’s also like the beslan school massacre where over 150 children were murdered never happen.

    One of the individuals (Sheikh shady) who inspired and provided moral support for the Florida shooting was invited to Christchurch after the shooting and was initially banned from entering New Zealand. The guy was banned here because he was already excluded from Denmark due to his extreme homophobic remarks and participating in a conference where his fellow presenter called for gay people to be murdered.

    Yet Sheikh Shady was allowed into New Zealand after “political intervention” ( the term used by immigration New Zealand) and got meet the prime minister and Christchurch mayor.

    Yet and fellow woke hipsters of Bryan Bruce made the assertion that Sheikh shady was banned from New Zealand because of institutional white supremacy. Rather it is the woke homophobia of the likes of Bryan Bruce who conveniently turn a blind eye to such things who were the ones who allowed such people here.


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