Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Free Press, 1 April 2019 – The Free Speech Fight

The Christchurch terrorist attacks have set off a debate about hateful actions and speech that targets particular groups and whether we need new laws to protect New Zealanders.

Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are. In theory, these offences attract tougher sentences because they target particular groups. Consider two scenarios. In the first, a person defaces a grave. In the second, a person, driven by hostility towards Jewish people, defaces a Jewish grave with a swastika. Most reasonable people would find the second offence more distasteful and accept it should be punished more severely.

The Law

Our law is already equipped to deal with such offences. If a person commits a crime because of hostility towards a group with a particular characteristic – be it race, religion or sexual orientation – our Sentencing Act requires judges to treat that as an aggravating factor that can attract a harsher penalty. Fair enough.

The Danger Zone

Where we are in danger of crossing a line is in creating new crimes for having distasteful opinions. Justice Minister Andrew Little is right now considering whether New Zealand should do that. We are yet to see the proposals, but the Government could police our speech and tell us which of our words are unacceptable.

Authoritarianism in the UK

In the UK, it is an offence to use “threatening, abusive or insulting words that causes another person harassment, alarm or distress”. Earlier this year, a UK woman was arrested and thrown in jail for seven hours after she referred to a transgender woman as a man on Twitter. Kate Scottow had her photograph, DNA and fingerprints taken. Police took her phone and laptop and served her with a court order preventing from her referring to her accuser as a man. Some people have called this “hate speech”. We are not making this up.

Shutting Down Debate

The intolerant Left argues that “free speech doesn’t include hate speech”. What does that even mean? Yes, there are limits on speech that have evolved in the common law over time. These can be objectively tested in court. You can’t incite violence. You can’t make a nuisance of yourself by shouting fire when there is no fire. You can’t defame people. Hate speech, on the other hand, is just a subjective test that can be used to silence unpopular opinions.

Who Decides?

Here are two important questions for those wishing to impose hate speech laws on New Zealanders: Who gets to decide what hate speech is? And how do we trust those people not to use hate speech laws to suppress ideas they don’t like?

Paul Hunt

A far-left bureaucrat you’ve never heard will have some say in deciding what “hate speech” is. Paul Hunt was appointed Chief Human Rights Commissioner in January. Just two months earlier he unsuccessfully stood for a position in the UK Labour Party as a Jeremy Corbyn-aligned socialist. Earlier today he said New Zealand hadn’t “achieved a balance” between free speech and hate speech, that we need a debate about speech and a review of the laws governing speech. Unless we are constantly vigilant about freedom of expression, these are the kinds of people who will define hate speech for us and suppress ideas they don’t like.

Why Free Speech Matters

Our survival depends on an open culture of ideas and speech. We cannot solve our most pressing problems if we are not able to try new ideas, discard those that don’t work, and look for better ones. We can only do that in an open society in which free thought and open enquiry are encouraged.

Join Us

The free speech fight is just beginning and ACT will be at the forefront of it. If you’re willing to support us, you can do so here.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Chilling The Warm Fuzzies About The US/China Trade Deal

Hold the champagne, folks. This week’s China/US deal is more about a change in tone between the world’s two biggest economies – thank goodness they’re not slapping more tariffs on each other! - than a landmark change in substance. The high walls of US and Chinese tariffs built in recent years will largely remain intact, and few economists are predicting the deal will significantly boost the growth prospects for a slowing US economy. As the New York Times noted this morning, the likes of New Zealand will still face the trade barriers imposed by the Trump administration during the recent rounds of fighting. More>>


PGF Kaikōura $10.88M: Boost In Tourism & Business

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $10.88 million to boost business and tourism opportunities in Kaikōura, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. More>>


Whitebaiting: Govt Plans To Protect Announced

With several native whitebait species in decline the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has today released proposals to standardise and improve management of whitebait across New Zealand. More>>


Education: Resource For Schools On Climate Change

New resource for schools to increase awareness and understanding of climate change... More>>


In Effect April: New Regulations For Local Medicinal Cannabis

Minister of Health Dr David Clark says new regulations will allow local cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products that will potentially help ease the pain of thousands of people. More>>


RNZ: New Year Honours: Sporting Greats Among Knights And Dames

Six new knights and dames, including Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua and economist Professor Dame Marilyn Waring, have been created in today's New Year's Honours List. The list of 180 recipients - 91 women and 89 men - leans heavily on awards for community service, arts and the media, health and sport.


Gordon Campbell: On What An Inquiry Might Look Like

Presumably, if there is to be a ministerial inquiry (at the very least) into the Whakaari/White Island disaster, it will need to be a joint ministerial inquiry. That’s because the relevant areas of responsibility seem to be so deeply interwoven... More>>






InfoPages News Channels