EXCLUSIVE: Dr. James Kierstead & Dr. Michael Johnston: Why the New ‘Hate Speech’ Legislation Should Be Scrapped

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New Hate Speech laws make President Vader happy. The State will never abuse those powers. Ever.

It’s no secret that the government is planning to introduce new, strengthened laws against ‘hate speech.’ New Zealand already has several pieces of legislation that set the outward bounds of free expression, including the 1993 Human Rights Act, which outlaws any speech that intends ‘to excite hostility or ill-will against, or bring into contempt or ridicule, any group of persons in New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins.’

 

With their new proposal, the government wants to add further grounds to this, so that it would be illegal to incite hatred against any group of people on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, employment status, family status, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), ethical beliefs (or lack thereof), or political opinions. They would also stiffen penalties, to ‘up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $50 000.’

 

It should immediately clear that the language here is unworkably vague. When exactly does blunt, on-the-nose criticism become hatred? Which beliefs, precisely, would qualify as political – and thereby be protected from hate speech – and which wouldn’t? If (as we’re often told these days) everything is political, what beliefs wouldn’t be protected under the law? And if virtually all points of view would (in theory) be covered by the new laws, what hope would there be for the kind of robust, open discussions on which democracy depends?

 

The problem is compounded by how astonishingly broad the proposed laws would be. They would apply, as we’ve seen, not only to speech about ethnic groups, but also to groups defined by age, employment status, or religious, ethical, or political beliefs. Even for characteristics that are relatively easy to define (age, say) this would potentially criminalize a good proportion of New Zealanders’ everyday conversation on social and political themes. Tova O’Brien recently asked the Justice Minister, Kris Faafoi, whether millennials could be prosecuted under the new laws for bashing Boomers. Amazingly, the minister couldn’t rule it out.

 

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

This brings us to the breathtakingly harsh penalties the new laws would make possible. As ACT leader David Seymour has pointed out, three years’ imprisonment is a longer sentence than for some types of physical assault. But comparing ‘hate speech’ with assault misses the point. Imprisoning people for expressing their views is something that only happens in totalitarian dictatorships: East Germany, the Soviet Union, contemporary China. Does New Zealand really want to add itself to that list?

 

Supporters of the law will call this fear-mongering. These new laws will set a high bar for prosecution they say; the idea that people will be arrested for making jokes or for expressing opinions is ludicrous. But these things have actually happened in Scotland under its new hate speech laws, despite similar assurances that their laws would rarely be used. (In any case, it’s not immediately obvious why proponents of the new laws are so keen to introduce them at all if they think they’ll almost never be used; but we’ll have to leave that aside.)

 

It’s true, of course, that it would be impossible to prosecute everyone who engages in ‘hate speech’ under the new laws. That follows from the breathtaking breadth of the provisions, which, as we have seen, would seem to encompass vast swathes of ordinary speech. Since these laws can’t be applied consistently, the only alternative will be to apply them inconsistently, that is, unfairly. As the Scottish case makes clear, people who criticize ideas that are currently fashionable within the socio-economic elite will now risk not only ostracism but criminal charges. Those, on the other hand, who engage in clearly hateful language but from the ‘right’ side will be allowed to continue to do so. This, of course, is how laws restricting the freedom of expression – laws against blasphemy or heresy, for example – have always worked.  

 

Could we not live with a bit of inconsistency if it protects vulnerable groups, like Muslims? The Prime Minister clearly thinks these laws will help prevent another Christchurch. The problem here is that it’s not entirely clear that limiting free expression (in the several different contexts that scientists have looked at) significantly reduces violence. Violence has, as it happens, declined markedly over the past few hundred years – just as legal restrictions on speech were being ignored or done away with and liberalism was spreading across the globe.

 

The government has claimed that their proposed laws would actually strengthen free speech rights, ‘including the rights of people who are the targets of hate speech to express themselves freely.’ The idea here is that some are intimidated into silence; and verbal abuse can certainly be intimidating. But so can the threat of three years in jail. Does the government seriously think that threatening to imprison people if they say something hateful (vaguely defined) is going to make for an overall improvement in the climate for free expression?

 

Journalist Marc Daalder has claimed that the proposed changes, far from broadening the application of our ‘hate speech’ laws, would actually narrow them. Instead of the 1993 Human Rights Act’s ban on speech that intends to ‘to excite hostility or ill-will against, or bring into contempt or ridicule,’ we would be proscribing language that was meant to ‘incite/stir up, maintain or normalise hatred.’ But most types of speech that can be accused of exciting ‘hostility’ or ‘ill-will’ can just as easily be accused of inciting hatred. And in any case, as we’ve seen, the new law would hugely expand (even ad absurdum) the range of characteristics that would be protected.

 

A number of critics of the proposed changes have argued that liberal democracies should baulk at criminalizing speech that falls short of direct incitement to violence. In response to this position, Victoria University Law lecturer Eddie Clark has pointed out that we already penalize certain types of speech that fall short of this mark – knowingly untruthful speech in court, for example, otherwise known as perjury. But of course there will be rare exceptions to liberal democracies’ tolerance for speech; the point is that these should remain rare exceptions and that pose no risk of criminalizing citizens for ordinary expression, as these new laws do.

 

Free speech is the foundation-stone of both liberalism and democracy. Without free speech, other freedoms lose their rationale. What good is the freedom of conscience, for instance, if people can’t express their views (or are forced to mouth views they disagree with)? And without free speech, democracy – a system based on the political equality of all citizens – would be a dead letter. What meaning does the principle of political equality have, if people aren’t equally free to express their views about issues of public policy? Free speech, and the contest of ideas it allows, has also played a crucial role in the advance of science and learning – one reason, perhaps, that development and democracy are strongly associated.

 

The debate over ‘hate speech’ laws in New Zealand isn’t happening in a vacuum. The last few years have seen the rise of an alarming new brand of illiberalism across the English-speaking world. Speakers with disfavoured opinions have been met with ‘de-platformings,’ violence, and even riots. Books have been withdrawn from stores, articles have been retracted from journals, and scholars have been hounded out of their jobs or fired, all for ideological reasons. We have already seen the first few examples of this phenomenon in New Zealand. By proposing to strengthen and broaden our ‘hate speech’ laws, the government has signalled that it sees no problem with this growing movement against the bedrock principle of the open society. Indeed, it has eagerly joined it, implicitly sanctioning terrible ideas – the notion that speech can literally constitute violence, for example – in the process.

 

As academics of a now thoroughly out-moded sort, we would, in ordinary circumstances, be somewhat reluctant to make statements of a party-political nature. This government obviously isn’t sitting on a large majority in Parliament for nothing; and it’s by no means impossible that it could still make headway on some important issues facing New Zealanders, including housing, inequality, and unemployment. Progress on these sorts of issues – the proper purview of left-wing governments – might well have won the government the respect of New Zealanders across the political spectrum, had its ministers chosen to focus their energy and abilities on them.

 

Instead they have opted to blunder into the sensitive and delicate area of limits on speech without even bothering to prepare answers to the most obvious questions on the topic, and apparently blithely unburdened by any understanding of the seriousness of the issue. New Zealanders should bear this in mind when they next find themselves at a ballot-box; in the meantime, we would urge them to make their voices known – by making an official submission, by posting on social media, or by writing to their MP (of whatever party) – before these disastrous proposals become enshrined in law. 

 

Dr. James Kierstead is Senior Lecturer in Classica at Victoria. Dr. Michael Johnston is Associate Dean (Academic) in the School of Education at Victoria. They are co-hosts of the Free Kiwis! podcast, which is dedicated to free enquiry in a New Zealand context.

 

65 COMMENTS

  1. Several of the comments I made on TDB yesterday, though I was trying to discuss an environmental issue, would under the proposed law quite possibly be defined as “Hate Speech”.

    I’m already trying to work out how to say what I believe needs to be said, without “causing offence” to whatever group. Someone will always take offence, and yet “causing offence” or being “insulting” is a tenet of the proposed law.

    What would we be able to write?
    How to get a point across without “offending” or “insulting” anyone, when taking offence or feeling insulted is a very subjective thing.

      • Yes. There IS certainly the risk of that:

        This from the main post above:
        “risk of criminalizing citizens for ordinary expression, as these new laws do.”

        • Don’t let yourself be silenced. Say what you need to. We can a take it. Nobody here will be offended and dob you in with the cops. For one, most of us wouldn’t be on Twitter (just guessing) to find support for our massive woke ‘outrage’ lol rofl.

  2. If I repeatedly say publicly that I hate terrorists will the cops charge me with hate speech? And if a cop repeatedly says she hates all criminals, will she be charged with hate speech?

  3. Few New Zealanders today realise that Sid Holland’s National Government banned the Watersiders Union from publishing pamphlets explaining their side of the dispute.
    The government had to pass legislation to do this.
    Vague hate speech laws will make this all much easier. The legislation will exist. All you have to do is use it.

    • Precisely. And that same government made it an offence for citizens to provide food to watersiders’ hungry families, and in the following snap election, bishops instructed clergy and nuns- and I don’t know who else- who not to vote for, with what could now well constitute hate speech – it certainly did in the Cold War 50’s – because there is a time and a place and a context for most things.

      What’s more, word meanings and impacts can change, or be socially engineered to change, as witnessed in MP Marama Davidson’s attempt to normalise usage of the word ‘ cunt’, to suit her own feelings, and some speech and some writing can damage or inflame without any intent to do so.

    • Exactly, the woke haven’t realised that they will put this through, be out of government and then the police will be knocking on Hagers, Minto and Bombers door. Oh ok, they probably already have under the Natz, but this time they can go crazy and arrest them for hate speech on their views and Emils and blogs on Israel for example, and give them a $50k fine/jail for every time they were deemed anti Semitic and offended someone… Cue, Gabby!

      Sort of ironic when they arrest Marama in a few years if she was the one driving this through!

      Or we might get a far left PRC government and get our cultural revolution happening, Delete yourself, bro (pakeha men), TERFs, christians and muslims and any religious groups that don’t believe in woke speak, farmers, landlords, pakeha home owners, NIMBYS, men who might be accused of rape, micro aggressive behaviour, pest controllers and hunters with guns. Environmentalists who are not the right colour as deemed by the woke such as School Strike 4 Climate Auckland who disbanded after some soul searching about being too white, after guidance from BIPOC community. (Because in woke land, environment is only allowed to be saved by non white guidance, and organising a Stasi style/red guards racism police is the priority, which if not forthcoming, environmental action can be delayed to 2050, or not at all). Wonder who this benefits!!!!

      • saveNZ – I am already apologising all over the place for having been a Green supporter – used to end emails, “ Vote Green,” including to witchey-pooh neighbours- but old writings could do me if al/serco /the army ( or whoever replaces our vanishing police force) can prove that I caused to hate. A big ask.

        Seriously – I’m thinking of suicides I knew – two poets and one doctor – all too young, and two of them good friends – and thinking that this could get very very messy and these politicians need to move on from their knee-jerk reactions and their student canteen level lawmaking – but it may suit them to be writing cartes blanches – and the potential landscapes are overwhelming.

      • You assume too much of the woke when you say ‘thought’ or ‘think’.
        They don’t think like normal people do because they say that they’re not normal, their choice of what they are does not include being ‘normal’ so therefore they don’t think like the rest of us.

        Which is true because they’re fuckwits!

        WokeWorld is a epiphany, a moment in time and history where fuckwittedness rears its ugly head, until someone chops the fucker off!

        We need a visit from Thanos the Greek God of Death!

        • Well I reckon that most of them are still pissed off with their parents, and the rest of us get clobbered because everything didn’t always go their wee way.

  4. Does this means both the Bible and Koran will be banned for encouraging genocide, slavery, rape, child sex etc – or will it simply apply to people who point out that the Bible and Koran encourage genocide, slavery, rape, child sex etc

    • Again, they have already removed tens of thousands of books from our National Library. There is no end in sight for this epidemic of insanity.

        • I think that those promoting these ideas would simply enact their agenda through whichever party was in power. They are outside of traditional concepts of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’.

    • Would be a nice thought, religious texts generally generate more hate & ignorance, than the “love” & wisdom they purport to preach.

    • Clearly a biblical scholar you are not. The Bible does NOT “encourage genocide, slavery, rape, child sex etc”.

      The Bible does give historical accounts of such practices AND their terrible results/consequences – cautionary tales.

      Be careful when touting cliches as if they were axioms.

  5. Thankyou Mr. Kierstead and Mr. Johnston for a very clear paper on the danger to our democracy being proposed by this Jacinda Ardern led Labour Party. Agree when next at the ballot box New Zealanders should bear this in mind.

  6. The Daily Blog seems close to repeating the “Sue Bradford Section 59” media approach here. That bill sought to remove a legal defence for a small number of people that beat the crap out of their kids–but was almost universally labeled “the anti smacking bill”. Society moves on of course–most people now agree hitting vulnerable children is not a great idea in any circumstance.

    TBD is coming close to that misrepresentation with “Hate Speech” articles day after day. Even the linked Justice Department document above is titled “Proposals against incitement of hatred and
    discrimination” NOT “penalise free speakers”.

    • nobody wants this police overreach in NZ… examples of how it goes in UK

      On 13 October 2001, Harry Hammond, an evangelist, was arrested and charged under section 5 of the Public Order Act (1986) because he had displayed to people in Bournemouth a large sign bearing the words “Jesus Gives Peace, Jesus is Alive, Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism, Jesus is Lord”. In April 2002, a magistrate convicted Hammond, fined him £300, and ordered him to pay costs of £395.[15][16][17]

      On 2 September 2006, Stephen Green was arrested in Cardiff for distributing pamphlets which called sexual activity between members of the same sex a sin. On 28 September 2006, the Crown advised Cardiff Magistrates Court that it would not proceed with the prosecution.[18][19]

      On 8 December 2009, Mr Justice Richard Clancy, sitting at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court, acquitted Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, hoteliers, of charges under the Public Order Act 1986 and under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The Vogelensangs were charged after a guest at their hotel, Ericka Tazi, complained that the Vogelenzangs had insulted her after she appeared in a hijab.[20]

      On 4 March 2010, a jury returned a verdict of guilty against Harry Taylor, who was charged under Part 4A of the Public Order Act 1986. Taylor was charged because he left anti-religious cartoons in the prayer-room of Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport on three occasions in 2008. The airport chaplain, who was insulted, offended, and alarmed by the cartoons, called the police.[21][22][23] On 23 April 2010, Judge Charles James of Liverpool Crown Court sentenced Taylor to a six-month term of imprisonment suspended for two years, made him subject to a five-year Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) (which bans him from carrying religiously offensive material in a public place), ordered him to perform 100 hours of unpaid work, and ordered him to pay £250 costs. Taylor was convicted of similar offences in 2006.[24]

      On 20 April 2010, police arrested Dale McAlpine, a Christian preacher, of Workington in Cumbria, for saying that homosexual conduct was a sin. On 14 May 2010, the Crown decided not to prosecute McAlpine.[25] Later still the police apologised to McAlpine for arresting him at all, and paid him several thousand pounds compensation.[26]

      On 23 April 2018, Scottish YouTuber Mark Meechan of Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire was fined £800 after being found “grossly offensive” for posting a YouTube video that was viewed over 3 million times depicting him training his girlfriend’s pug to respond to the phrase “Sieg Heil” by lifting his paw in a Nazi salute. [27] Tory MP Philip Davies requested a review of freedom of expression in parliament in response to the conviction.[28] Comedians Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel tweeted in support of Meechan.[29][30][31] Tom Walker, Shappi Khorsandi, and Stephen Fry defended Meechan and criticised other comedians for their silence on the issue.[32][33][34] Meechan, who plans to appeal, was sentenced to pay an £800 fine on 23 April 2018.[35][36] A crowd of about 500 people protested the move in London.[37]

      In 2017, 19-year old Croxteth resident Chelsea Russell quoted a line from Snap Dogg’s song “I’m Trippin'” on her Instagram page. The line, which read “Kill a snitch nigga, rob a rich nigga”, was copied from a friend’s page as part of a tribute to Frankie Murphy who was killed in a car accident at age 13.[38][39] Hate crime investigators were alerted to the presence of the slur and charged Russell with “sending a grossly offensive message by means of a public electronic communications network”. Defence lawyer Carole Clarke stated that she received a request from one of the arresting officers that the word “nigga”, the subject of the trial, not be used in court.[40] In April 2018, District Judge Jack McGarva found Russell guilty and delivered a sentence which included a £585 fine, a curfew and an ankle monitoring bracelet.[41] However, Russell’s conviction was overturned by Liverpool Crown Court on 21 February 2019.[42]

      • A correct, but ageing list. Are you able to update at all? I would, for example add last year’s removal of Hatun Tash from that bastion of British liberty Speaker’s Corner for incitement of male Muslim rage. Although I think the appeasing British police phrased it rather more delicately, perhaps something like disturbing the peace. Whatever, their failure to enforce the law by curbing the instigators of the disturbance led, a couple of weeks ago to Ms Tash being stabbed in broad view of the surrounding crowd, by a Allah Akbar-shouting man. Police, sitting in their vehicle 20 meters away were unable to catch the offender but are devoting much effort to warning Ms Tash’s supporters not to ascribe religious motives to the stabbing.

    • You are right Tiger Mountain. The bar is set very high and must meet all 6 definitions AND get past the Ombudsman BEFORE going to court.

      • It is not about going to court. (And courts are already overloaded so now we need this too??) It is giving the police and people in power, the right to harass people under these laws. If you look above at the UK cases, most of them are quashed in court, but still the victim has been arrested, questioned and criminalised. Not OK!

        It is already a fight in family court, imagine all the ‘hate speech’ examples and complaints to try and knock each other out and gain control of kids/money etc going forward.

        People in NZ have become very individualist and quite happy to put someone in jail and false complaints if they feel they can get something out of it, or for pure revenge.

        Also once the put in this law, successive government will revise it and make it into whatever they want. Governments are getting more and more totalitarian and as the crisis in water and land intensifies the ability to criminalise speech is not ok.

        • saveNZ – Prison sentences aren’t a great deterrent in preventing murder or the battering of women and babies, so it’s a bit of a stretch to think that they’ll shut up bad-mouthed people. That proposed $50,000 fine could work though. I wonder why murderers and child abusers don’t get $50,000 fines.

    • Sounds like you are inciting hatred against TDB Tiger mountain.
      Especially with what you and Greenbus have been saying about TDB on the standard.
      Pretty sure political views are protected under the new rules, even those which aren’t yours which might be a surprise.
      I wonder what the inevitable social media algorithm will make of your blog posts in the brave new world post hate speech laws? (All hail the algorithm, keeper of safety)

  7. Putting people in jail for ‘hate’ crimes like preaching or telling jokes or offending the easily offended, is only going to inflame the situation, it is also a huge invasion of freedom of speech and expression.

    As only the woke-puritan-individualists and stupid can do, the proposed hate crimes seems more akin to the Nazi’s banning Jews going to the Synagogue and practising their religion in public. We see what happened in the UK with their ‘hate speech’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_the_United_Kingdom approach which seems to be more terrorism, more violence and more division once they bought in the laws.

    NZ woke are also ‘Oliver Cromwell’ type puritans, prepared to burn anybody to the stake who doesn’t not agree with them, leading aggressive coups everywhere including the right wingers, left woke, and power grabs like police being armed, more state power to arrest, more surveillance and so forth.

    Angry and upset people who are not heard, get more angry or mentally ill and suffer in many ways like depression or suicide. On the far end of the scale, you can see the outcomes of anger, stupidity and gross individuality collide when you have school shootings, terror attacks and so forth.

    Dialogue is the antidote as well as fair laws for all, not just telling people to shut up or they will be fined and imprisoned. NZ has fined tuned lazy immigration now we have to endure lazy leglistation to pretend everything is rosy here. Like trickle down economics, you can keep pretending it works, but eventually it stops and nobody believed it apart from the puritans.

    Too much power, persecutions and revenue grabs are occurring in NZ during the chaos, aka while Pike River/CTV building catastrophes remain unpunished by police (including an engineer with fake qualifications and identity fraud not being prosecuted), the proceeds of crimes act ‘novel case’ laws gallops on. It seems that laws set up for hardened cash criminals aka drugs and contraband are being used for revenue grabbing for the state outside of traditional NZ laws, case of Ron Salter https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/court-tells-cops-it-has-to-cover-company-losses-if-it-loses-novel-proceeds-of-crime-case/4WSL7VGWKTCDYGBE3FDT7ZL2GU/ Meanwhile ex mobster Harry Tam, a regular on government enquiries, gets 2.75 million from proceeds of crime, so it’s starting to look like police are enabling the criminals!

    So sadly my view is that that this is more a situation to try to repress the bubbling over of views from policy from the last 30 years so the neoliberals can keep banging their neoliberal drums and take power for longer. But until everybody is allowed to speak and government actually listens to what people say who are not from their cosy woke, neoliberal group, then the same problems will remain and actually they seem to be getting worse, aka we can’t even build a house here anymore from government and their legions of PPP type providers.

    • Your approach is hyper vigilance in my view saveNZ. After the Brexit debacle and Boris COVID botches the poms might be the last people to be used as some sort of slippery slope warning.

      My approach to free speech is say what you like–and be prepared for any blowback, e.g. protest outside a women’s health clinic when I am accompanying a friend–hope you have a cheap dentist.

      • That is where we disagree Tiger Mountain, I think assault is criminal and a police matter, but it should be ok to visit a womens health clinic, and also OK to protest outside a women’s health clinic, unless you threaten or actually harm anybody.

        aka current law, works.

        Tarrant managed to kill all those people because NZ allowed him into our country without any checks, the police failed to act on complaints about his behaviour and intent to harm others and the police gave him an automatic gun license while not checking his internet references…

        So I don’t think the answer is more power to police… more efficiency and care from police is my take home.

        • As a unionist over the years I have been on many information pickets and stronger pickets where you physically stop people (scabs) from entering a place during an industrial dispute. Apart from a few run over attempts and verbal abuse from members of the public, the heavy stuff has always come from the Police acting for the employer. The cops will turn up within minutes generally if an employer calls them.

          As a supporter of various solidarity movements, ’81 Springbok Tour, unemployed movement in 80s/90s, land occupations in Far North, protests against developers activity in Far North, Palestinian solidarity now, violence, lower level intimidation and “push and shove” and arrests of course, have always come from the Police!

          I would not trust the NZ Police to find a lost tramper, let alone defend citizens rights of freedom of speech, assembly and association.

      • Brexit debacle? Not sure what you mean. The British public showed good sense in extricating their country from the ever-tightening tentacles of the EU.

  8. implicitly sanctioning terrible ideas – like the notion that speech can literally constitute violence, for example

    Yes, that is particularly thought provoking.

    • The tongue is mightier than the sword. Survivors of verbal family violence, for example, have experienced being paralysed into inaction, or experienced panic attacks as physically disabling as physical blows. Persistent verbal assaults can cripple, but I doubt whether this proposed law is meant for that – it looks more like boys’ comic readers brandishing their swords and shouting, “ Death to the Hun – Protestant – Nose Picker.” This is an area where vigilante groups can be easily misled, and sometimes with terrible results – but existing laws already cover that.

      • Yes, you are right re abuse, but that comes under the Family Violence/ Domestic Violence laws, and is dealt with there. This proposed law will apply to anyone anywhere, in any otherwise innocent situation, I think?

        • Kheala – Well from what the PM has said, it looks as if what the police think is what matters. The police’s job is to enforce the law, not make it, and good law should be clear cut, so this is a departure from the separation of powers, if it is up to the police, rather than the legislature, to decide whether an alleged hate event, is in fact, a breach of a law. I’m not putting it very well, but it is very nebulous, far too subjective, and a legal minefield. So it raises questions of the possibility of other eg political agendas, which seems to have been happening in the USA and UK. In the US, “ To Kill a Mocking Bird” is now being banned some places – but I can’t remember why – and within the past week, a UK author has faced unpleasant accusations because words spoken by a protagonist in one of his novels are now being claimed to represent his own personal views. This sort of insane transference would see Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy etc in big trouble – and off the top of my head James Baxter would be too – and all these gents, every single one of them, expressed eternal truths – but oops – we all have different “ truths” now – and up the Beehive, it’s feelings that count now anyway.

          None of us want another Adolf Hitler having the opportunity to destroy the New Zealand community, but there is a lot of social divisiveness going on right now,
          and this potpourri of a law could endanger our social cohesion if it silences people or seizes upon non-silences in an unreasonable way. At the back of my mind are anecdotes of Stalin doing this, with dire consequences for his victims.

          (To be on the safe side, I’d start skipping the workplace happy hour, keep minutes of the family Christmas dinner, and maintain a silence in the company of
          adolescents and taxi drivers.)

          • Snowy, I thought I’d look up “book burning in history”, as I seem to remember it as being a step towards takeover of power in any country or culture.

            However I’ve been waylaid as the first one that turned up is this:
            https://www.amazon.com/Burning-Books-Leveling-Libraries-Destruction/dp/0275990079

            From Reviews, by a Librarian:
            “This carefully researched volume is a sobering investigation of how in one century’s time the world has lost extraordinary amounts of recorded human heritage.”

            (Tho’ I don’t want to read it, .. would send me spiralling into depression, I think.)

            • New Zealand’s in on this one too:

              “ The SAS troopers conducted a search of Naimatullah’s house…They set fire to the room containing his religious books … and left with the house burning in the night. There is little doubt that these were calculated acts.”

              Hager & Stephenson ‘ Hit &Run ‘ potton&burton 2017

              I’m pretty sure that this poor subsistence farmer up in the Turigin Valley had just the one shelf of books, and from the size of his home, it may not have been a very big shelf; well done Key and Mateparae cracking ‘ Knighthoods for Dummies.‘

              • A man with a library of more than 100,000 books, many of them historical, had his home and library bombed out of existence just a month or so ago. It was a targeted bombing and the man was not connected to any political party. (I don’t want to say any more as it becomes too inflammatory.)

    • Yes. The Woke partys, Labour Greens and Maori are starting to make Gobels, Hitler and Himmler appear like mild fascists. Whereas they are a thing of the past, these lot are only getting started!

    • Not how the police are reading it in NZ and they are the ones with the power!
      https://www.tiktok.com/@jesuspreachingnz/video/6986750398782622977?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1

      Not how the millennial and HR are reading it judging by Terry…

      “So I’m now the subject of someones complaint to HR. My team had a brief discussion about adding pronouns to our email signature. I added that it wasn’t for me. One of the children (new graduate, in her first adult job ) took me up on it, then asked me if I believed that trans woman were real women. I said that I wouldn’t answer that question & it was not appropriate in my work place. She said that she took it that I didn’t believe that trans women were women. I was told that she would complain to HR and has accused me of hate speech. HR have advised me that they have received a complaint of serious misconduct…”

      Not how the Mayor and media company, is reading it in Wellington.
      “Lower Hutt’s Mayor has apologised after saying controversial group Speak Up For Women could hold one of their events in a council waste bin.
      Meanwhile, one of the group’s billboards has been taken down from one of Go Media’s central Wellington sites.”
      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/speak-up-for-women-controversy-billboard-removed-mayor-apologises/CGUGDIAATDU3CCE56TUMCMJOQM/

      Sorry cancel culture has gone too far when the police can arrest you over something you said or believe!

      Pretty sure there is already laws that make it illegal for anybody to threaten to harm or kill someone, and that should be the threshold for police investigation, not a belief!

      • That was me! Anyway these laws will be used by “the bullies” of whichever persuasion they are. Have you ever noticed that it was the school bully who told teacher who the culprit was, or the “office bitch” who would report back to the boss, what everyone was up to while he was out of the office.

        Anyway a couple of years ago a friend was walking through the Lower Hutt library car park, on a Sunday afternoon. Someone in a car wizzed passed him, the passenger wing mirror hit him. The drive was texting. So he has a chat to the driver, she happens to be a middle aged English woman. She basically tells him too bad, so he tells her that she’s a f@$king pommy snd to go back to where she came from.

        Several days later he has policeman plod knocking his door and is cautioned & warned about hate speech.

      • Savenz The scary thing about the Lower Hutt mayor and his waste bin comment, is that he is quite a young male. I assumed that he must be some elderly red-neck, and was taken aback to see he isn’t – but nor are the Stuff columnists inflicting their personal views as news to suit their own agendas.

        Informed analysis can be stimulating, but these guys seize something then try to squeeze it to retrospectively fit it into a current mantra. A recent example was something about how western or colonialist science hasn’t helped the sewage in Porirua Harbour, and looked mind-blowingly puerile – the comment that is.

      • savenz at 1.15 I would like some advice from a lawyer on how to respond to the sort of harassment that you described from this young person. Surely a counter-claim can be made that the person is being disruptive, trying to disturb the workplace, contentious, harassing others, discriminating and forcing proselytising viewpoints on others etc.

        It wasn’t long ago that workplaces were not employing people who they said ‘didn’t fit’ – so what was behind that? It seemed to be much earlier than the present discriminatory behaviour. It is unbelievable but it is happening; the Nazis had children reporting to authorities on their parents for anything not sanctioned by the regime! To think that my birth father and all those other determined brave people fought, were injured or died in WW2 and have it result in this violation of the values they fought for, respect for the individual and the countries way of life being the aim. Now we have a thankless group mounting a faux revolution of the perpetually aggrieved – they can be considered anti-social.*

        Anti-social behaviours are actions that harm or lack consideration for the well-being of others. It has also been defined as any type of conduct that violates the basic rights of another person and any behaviour that is considered to be disruptive to others in society. Anti-social behaviour – Wikipedia

        Submission extension closes tomorrow 6th August 2021. It has pdfs in most world languages – people have flocked to New Zealand – strange when we are so awful.
        https://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/proposals-against-incitement/

        and, for those of us who feel harassed, I presume that we have rights to complain also:

        Google heading – Proposals against incitement of hatred and discrimination
        https://www.justice.govt.nz › assets › publications PDF
        25/06/2021 — Submissions are open from 25 June 2021 to 6 August 2021. (Watch out for closing time , it may be 4 or 5pm – doesn’t show where I am looking.)
        If the Government agrees to progress changes to the law, you will also have the …

        What you can do if you are experiencing hateful speech or behaviour?
        Your safety is important to us. If the content in this document puts you at risk of physical or mental harm, it is important that you know where to go for information or seek help.
        – If you feel that your safety is at risk, contact the Police. If it is an emergency, call 111. If you are not in danger right now, call 105.

        For information about how the Human Rights Commission can help see:
        https://www.hrc.co.nz/enquiries-and-complaints/how-make-complaint/
        For information about racial harassment https://www.hrc.co.nz/enquiries-and-
        complaints/faqs/racially-offensive-comments/
        – For abuse happening online https://www.netsafe.org.nz/
        – If you wish to talk to someone about how you are feeling you can call or text 1737.

  9. Tiger Mountain – unfortunately it ended up as an ‘anti-smacking bill, as I understand it. Are you saying that parents can still smack their children? I thought that it had made it a no-no. I think that people are right to get upset about this ‘hate speech’ bill as it offers such exponential opportunities for expansion. I think that the previous commenters have expressed their realistic concerns well. Perhaps you can pick out examples that you think are OTT or unlikely, point them out, and we could follow through the possibilities showing the way that the proposed bill will work.

    I am interested in the situation where someone behaves badly in a physical way, without speech; does sound come into it? I wouldn’t want to be confronted or followed by someone blowing a whistle, banging a drum, making fart noises, or just ‘dogging’ my footsteps, following me everywhere. That would be stressful and eventually seem sinister. How would the legislation help women who are being oppressed by men they have had relationships with, and who find that protection orders don’t protect them or their children, with too often murder or manslaughter following? There has been hate out there for women of any culture, and the government has not supported them with great concern.

    I think that a re-education workshops should be required for such people who by ordinary people’s standards, are mentally unstable to the point of being insane. What about that approach, rather than attempting to push down negative thoughts all the time, which will be toxic to society’s mental and physical health. In the book Brave New World people were fed a drug ‘soma’* which blunted passions of all sorts. Very handy in handling emotions, but humans have intelligence and knowledge enough to think up better ways of teaching self-control and empathy with others than drugs, or severe laws to oppress thought, which will assuredly result in severe policing.

    Recently shown on blogs was a cellphone camera record of a young woman, who appeared to be Maori, verbally abusing a young woman who appeared to be Muslim (with headscarf hijab) and virtually dancing a haka in front of her, retiring and coming forward to shout more abuse, apparently throwing stones at her. If she did that without any speech or sound, would that be regarded as wrong under this proposed bill? To me it would be classified as ‘aggravated harassment’ showing lack of respect for an individual going about their reasonable and lawful pursuits; that wording seems to be pretty right!

    Thinking about ‘soma’?
    *https://lithub.com/aldous-huxley-foresaw-americas-pill-popping-addiction-with-eerie-accuracy/
    *Soma is a drug that is handed out for free to all the citizens of the World State. In small doses, soma makes people feel good. In large doses, it creates pleasant hallucinations and a sense of timelessness. The citizens of the World State are encouraged to take soma by “hypnopaedic” sayings like “A gram is better than a damn.” When they experience strong negative emotions, citizens take a soma “holiday” to distract them from the unpleasant feelings. https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/bravenew/key-questions/what-is-soma/

  10. And if virtually all points of view would (in theory) be covered by the new laws, what hope would there be for the kind of robust, open discussions on which democracy depends?

    That encapsulates my concerns.

  11. From the article and many of the ‘wiser heads’ commenting here, the issue of protecting freedom of speech becomes more and more vital to protect our democracy. I never thought that our fair land would be under threat by a subtle form of the sort of bombastic totalitarian govts we have fought against and witnessed overseas.

  12. “Who will sacrifice an essential freedom for the sake of a little security deserves neither the freedom, nor the security’ (attributed to Benjamin Franklin).
    How much more contemptible, then, are those people who would, for the sake of a little security for themselves, would sacrifice the freedom of others?

  13. I’ve said this before, but here it is again: If you, anyone, have books that you value, secure them. They may become irreplaceable.

    • Ain’t life grand under a Labour government?
      Honestly, securing your books under a Labour government cause one might be afraid that they get arrested for thought crimes.
      Vote Labour 2023

      • Or you could just have National ” throw the book at you” and beat you with.a.stick.

        Vote National 2023

        • Kheala “ This is a phenomenon that I’ve noticed in lots of places.” Me too. Initially it was mainly in the USA, and objectively interesting as seemingly disconnected interest groups seized upon all sorts of literature to use for negative political purposes, and literature which existed for its own sake as expressions of the human condition and never intended to be other than that.
          Some of it may be work we read and reread, without consciously wondering why we do so – and which I won’t now either.

          Then over to the Uk, with teachers being censured, and in some cases losing their jobs, for the things they say, or the books being studied, seen as offensive, or causing offence, so that even Chaucer fails through a 21stC lens. The parallel here is the New Zealand National Library burning books which are an important part of our cultural heritage, are our links with where we have come from, and which shed light on how and why we are the way we are. I don’t want to expand on that now either.

          I taught in Nth London at a boys’ comprehensive secondary school, in an area with a large Jewish population, without any problems. This included Religious Studies, which back then got dumped on new staff, with an almost non-existent curriculum. I never had to self-censor there, or here, apart from the the normal courtesy or respect which one extends towards others who may be different – although New Zealand has always been a dreadful damn country in which to be different – and the Brits gloriously tolerant of eccentricity and difference.

          Suddenly now, global censorship resembles living during Chairman Mao’s cultural Revolution, and in New Zealand anything connected with the incredible tapestry of our European heritage is dubbed colonial and therefore bad. This is bad, but it is a global phenomenon, and the tragedy is that it may all be due to cynical manipulation by the few who hold the power, and that is their only interest, their power – just like grubby small town politicians everywhere. But hey – NZ First had a politician in Tauranga who said that he hadn’t read a book since leaving
          school, so all is not lost…

          Books got me through a difficult childhood – today’s children may not have those same escapes or broader horizons.

          • Did you ever think of writing your autobiography? From snippets here and there, you’ve lived a really interesting life… and your writing style is usually lively and colourful, fun to read 🙂

      • It’s tragic that this vigorous and thoughtful government has been drawn into a sinkhole of fake outrage and contrived moral rectitude

        To see it destroyed in 2023 because of this will make the Labour movement hang its head in shame for generations .

  14. There soon won’t be a Labour Party. unicus. There won’t be any workers, all tech, and there won’t be any worker reps just lawyers, and academics forcing fanciful ideas about zero waste with jail terms and orange forage suits for a chain gang guilty of littering. Witch-hunting with a difference will be the main sport. Another visionary figure will arrive and stand in for Jesus. I’m not sure whether that is Jordan Peterson already.

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