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Fascist—Shut Up and You Can Have Your Free Speech

SOLO-NZ Op-Ed: New Zealand Fascist—Shut Up and You Can Have Your Free Speech

By Lance Davey

17 December 2007

To the free, proud, sovereign individuals of New Zealand.

"The Electoral Finance Bill is not about free speech, it's about protecting our democracy from wealthy elitists trying to buy our elections."

How many times have you heard that, or variations thereof, from Electoral Finance Bill supporters? Seems reasonable doesn't it? After all, if the wealthy elite are buying our elections, they must be stopped. But are they? Can you actually purchase an election result? I can think of one way and one way only: bribery. Offering financial incentives to people to vote in a particular way. Offering an incentive significant enough that they disregard their own principles. National and Labour have been trying it on under the guise of welfare for years. One offers to rob you a little less, the other to give a little more of its robbery back. Some call it policy, I call it bribery. The irony is they bribe you with your own money—and boy, do they have a lot of that?!

The result of an election is essentially how the sum total of votes is applied. So to buy an election, you need to buy votes. To buy votes, you need to buy people. Are you a vote whore? Is your vote—nay, are YOU—for sale? How much would I have to offer YOU to vote National or ACT (or heaven forfend) Libertarianz? If this bribery thing works I'd like to know, because, from worst to best, those are my preferences. Not that it matters, as I don't have the resources to buy that many votes outright. But I do want them to win. It's important to me because I believe (in varying degrees) in their policies.

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Money being spent on communication between private citizens and groups can and does influence the elections. And it should! The more money being spent on communication between private citizens in an election year the better! Why? Not because any votes have been bought, but because people have heard of policies and principles that appeal to them. People who vote one way, have been able to communicate, utilising free speech, with other people, and have managed to convince them that theirs is the better way. That is supposedly what democracy and voting are all about. But the government thinks that you should not be allowed to do that! They don't want you to be as loud as you can be with your own money. They want you to be quiet, un-influential, unable to compete with the massive resources of not only the state, but of their legitimised bribery.

The EFB will most certainly be passed on Tuesday, and the tragedy is that it is going through based on lies:

The lie that private wealth has any sort of "undue" influence on elections. Any influence it has, is as just, right and proper as the influence that private time and private popularity have.

The lie that some mysterious wealthy elite has the power to buy you and your vote and the EFB is the only way to stop them.

The lie that this law will not affect you, the average citizen.

The lie that if you shut up then you can have your free speech. New Zealand Fascist leader Winston Peters said in Nelson: "As long as you remain apolitical then this Bill will be no threat." You cannot legitimately preface any statement about an inalienable right such as free expression with "As long as."

The lie that ambiguous "common sense" will always trump a non-objective, poorly written law. The EFB, NZ tax laws, the section 59 "anti-smacking" repeal, are all far-reaching, poorly written, non-objective laws. They give the state power to legitimately take down nearly anyone at anytime. It's called the "chilling effect" when it applies to free speech. Because you never know just how liberally or conservatively "common sense" will be applied. Common sense? Is it enough to know that despite the potential accusations, investigations, harassment and the time and financial cost of defending yourself, after all that; common sense "should" prevail? The "chilling effect" is what happens when you don't want to risk finding out.

The lie that the Electoral Finance Bill was ever consistent with the Bill of Rights, and that the process of passing it wasn't a rotten, corrupt farce.

The lie that the Green Party are supporting it on principle rather than as pay back for Labour's votes on the "anti-smacking" law. The anti-smacking law that Helen Clark has been quoted as saying she would never vote for.

The complete and utter lie that "issues" campaigning is protected We vote for a party, we don't get any vote on policies. To campaign on issues effectively you must at least imply party support or opposition.

New Zealand, it's all a lie. The justification for the EFB, the alleged consistency with the Bill of Rights, the supposed positive impact on democracy, all of it. It is one massive lie to further entrench the state as our master, not our servant. Electoral communication will, for the entire election year, be more overwhelmingly dominated by the state than ever before. It's YOUR government, YOUR democracy; YOU decide how much you get to speak—not they.


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