Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


NRT: An Archaic Law Which Must Be Repealed

An Archaic Law Which Must Be Repealed


http://norightturn.blogspot.com

The charging of Tim Selwyn with publishing a seditious statement over the pamphlets distributed as part of the axe attack on the Prime Minister's electorate office last year marks a new low for freedom in this country. Here a man is facing up to two years in jail, not because of something he did (that is covered by a seperate charge of conspiring to commit criminal damage), but because of something he said. This criminalisation of speech is an affront to our democratic values which must be ended.

The charges have been brought under an archaic section of the law which criminalises making, publishing, or disseminating any statement expressing a"seditious intention". A "seditious intention" is defined as an intention to "bring into hatred or contempt, or to excite disaffection against" the Queen or the government, to "incite... or encourage violence, lawlessness, or disorder" or any offence that is "prejudicial to the public safety", to incite "hostility or ill will" between different classes or groups of people, or to incite the public to bring about constitutional change by unlawful means. While some of this sounds reasonable, or even necessary to protect the rule of law, there is a serious problem: the question of what excites "disaffection", "lawlessness" or "hostility" is entirely at the whim of the authorities. And generally, it has been used as a tool of political persecution. In the past, sedition charges have been brought against unionists, conscientious objectors, and those advocating unpopular or "unpatriotic" political causes. Peter Fraser (the future Labour Prime Minister) was jailed for sedition in 1916 for advocating the repeal of conscription, and Bishop James Liston was charged in 1922 over a St Patrick's Day speech criticising the behaviour of the British in Ireland. Conceivably, such charges could also be brought against those agitating for republicanism, urging civil disobedience, or questioning the prevailing interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi.

This history of abuse shows the fundamental problem with laws against sedition: they are primarily targeted not at immediate incitement, but at abstract advocacy. Calling for an end to conscription, for Irish independence, or even for proletarian revolution does not entail any immediate danger to people or property which would justify criminal sanction. Instead, they are simply ideas the governments of the day did not like. But in a free and democratic society, the government should not be dictating what its citizens are allowed to think and say. Democracies do not believe in "ThoughtCrime".

The criminalisation of sedition is fundamentally incompatible with modern conceptions of a free and democratic society, and fundamentally incompatible with the affirmation of the right to freedom of expression in our Bill of Rights Act. It is an archaic remainder of a bygone age which has no place in modern New Zealand. It is time for this law to go.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news