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Bowker may be a dick but he has not breached the draft hate speech legislation

Written By: - Date published: 10:49 am, August 15th, 2021 - 42 comments
Categories: human rights, making shit up, Media, spin, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Troy Bowker has been in the news recently.

I had a check through Standard posts and it looks like he has attracted our attention in the past.

For instance in 2014 Bowker paid for a report strategising the setting up of a centrist party in competition with the Labour Party.  Simon Lusk, he of dirty politics pedigree, was commissioned to write the report and Stuart Nash was implicated in elements of the attempt.  Nash said he torpedoed the idea and did not know about it until the report had been prepared.  Bowker disagreed and says Nash told them to see him when the report was completed. Why Nash was having anything to do with one of the people most implicated in Dirty Politics is hard to understand.

And why Nash would still accept donations from Bowker I am not sure.

Bowker also had this dumpster fire of an opinion piece in the Herald earlier this year that I analysed in this post.

Bowker was really upset that the Government had extended the bright line test thinking that the Government wanted to inflict financial hardship on landlords.  He claimed that this Government is a socialist Government and said this:

A pattern is emerging of a Labour government with a major chip on its shoulder against property investors in New Zealand.

One could be excused for reaching the conclusion these sustained attacks on property investors are driven by socialist wealth redistribution ideology rather than genuine, well-intentioned, well thought out and properly considered reforms.

This is not the only recent example of overblown rhetoric that Bowker has engaged in.

He is part of our population who have this real problem with the use of Aotearoa.

Mani Dunlop at Radio New Zealand has this backgrounder:

Hurricanes Rugby says it does not support comments one of its part owners made about Sir Ian Taylor “sucking up to the left loving Māori agenda”, but it cannot control his opinions.

Hurricanes board member Troy Bowker made comments online calling a post by Sir Ian Taylor talking about the name of Aotearoa a load of absolute nonsense. He then went on to question Sir Ian’s blood quantum.

Sir Ian Taylor, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāpuhi, grew up in Raupunga in Hawke’s Bay. His firm Animation Research is famous for its America’s Cup and global sports graphics.

The company now has a range of resources that teach children about the technology and innovation that brought people to Aotearoa and the Polynesian navigators that crossed the ocean.

Sir Ian’s post on Linkedin was in response to National leader Judith Collins’ backing for a referendum on the use of the name Aotearoa for New Zealand.

He linked to a Tom Scott cartoon, which had the words: “How come NZ excels on the water in yachting, rowing, kayaking etc? Answer: Our ancestral DNA!” and said it could be a “wonderful message for Judith and her friends”.

Bowker, who is also the executive chairman of Wellington-based investment company Caniwi Capital, which has a stake in the Hurricanes, called Taylor’s post “a load of absolute nonsense”.

“Another example of European NZers not being proud of their own ancestors and sucking up to the left Māori loving agenda. FFS. Wake up NZ,” he wrote.

The Scots, Vikings and Romans were building boats “8000 years ago”, his post said.

“What percentage Māori are you?,” he then asked.

Then yesterday Bowker bowled out of Hurricanes Rugby and sold his shares although he said the deal had been arranged in February of this year.  In a carefully polished PR release he said this:

“I am concerned about the future of our wonderful country where I believe freedom of speech is at risk. I would like to acknowledge the overwhelmingly positive support I’ve received from hundreds of people who share my concerns, including many from the Maori community.”

“Many people are simply too afraid to speak up out of fear. Living in a society where a culture of fear restricts the freedom of speech is not something that we as a country should accept,” he wrote.

“Is the Prime Minister willing to comment on whether my remarks would be considered hate speech, prosecutable under the proposed legislation? If she cannot – we should all be very concerned.”

So would saying publicly that someone was “sucking up to the left loving Māori agenda” risk prosecution under the draft hate speech law which has recently been consulted on?  Although nothing can be said with certainty unless and until the final wording is decided on using the test proposed by I doubt it.

Steven Price has set out this test to apply:

To be criminal, someone’s speech would have to do ALL of six things:

  • be of a particular type (insulting, threatening or abusive) AND

  • be aimed at having a particular effect (incite or normalise hatred, including violence) AND

  • have a particular intention (an intention to incite or normalise hatred) AND

  • be aimed at a particular group (eg racial or religious) AND

  • In the way it is applied in the courts it will have to also have to overcome the protection for free speech in the Bill of Rights Act: that is, a court will have to be satisfied that any conviction is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. (Note to Bill of Rights nerds: I say this because of precedents like Browne v CanWest and because the law seems sufficiently open-textured that it could not be said to dictate an outcome inconsistent with the Bill of Rights).

  • sufficiently bad to convince the Attorney-General give consent to a prosecution.

Is Bowker’s comment insulting?  To everyone’s intelligence and to lefties and Maori yes.  It is not abusive or threatening per se.

Is it aimed at having a particular effect?  I doubt it.  The original comment reads like a brain fart.

Was there a particular intention to incite or normalise hatred?  I doubt there was any intent behind the comment, certainly no thought.

Was it aimed at a particular group?  No it was aimed at an individual.

Should tolerance for free speech mean that it has not breached what will be a high threshold?  Of course.

Given all the doubts about points 2, 3, 4 and 5 would the Attorney-General consent to a prosecution?  Never in a million years.

Hate speech of a level that should be prosecuted is not a simple thing to define.  But this should not allow individuals to insult others and when there is a social response to them claim free speech martyrdom.

42 comments on “Bowker may be a dick but he has not breached the draft hate speech legislation ”

  1. Ad 1

    Is a new law necessary when it is very likely to apply to one or two instances every few years?

    The current SIS were able to keep a good fat file on Keith Locke for stuff he wrote 30 years ago, within the existing laws.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Good question. The legislation is a recommendation of the Royal Commission so there is some imperative in proceeding with the bill.

  2. Anker 2
    • I think dialogue is better in such instances. Face to face, like in a restorative justice way.

    I have just read an article on Stuff about Intel’s (sorry no link) and a guy who went uncover to research them. Hopefully they meet the criteria, but I don’t know what you do about people who have been radicalised I e brainwashed.

    I do think the danger of repressive hate speech laws (and I am not necessarily meaning the proposed hate speech laws) is it marginalises people and pushes them underground.

    difficult issues we are dealing with

  3. Anker 3
    • Sorry Incel not intel!
  4. Chris T 4

    It is ironic to me that one article on the Standard can go into more detail on the new hate speech law than any current Labour govt MP who are going to force it through.

    • Incognito 4.1

      It is ironic that you’re back to your old habits of spreading disinformation here in troll-like comments. Moderation is intended to be educational, corrective, and not punitive per se, but sometimes it is just removal of noise generators and immovable obstacles that can in the way of the flow of comments and quality of engagement on this site.

      • Chris T 4.1.1

        Ah jesus.

        Thanks for the early warning this time Incognito, must not criticise anything again.


        • Anker

          I thought that was a valid comment Chris T.

          • Chris T

            You knind of get used to it.

            People chose to dislike other people on boards. The other people don't really get a say in it.

            • Incognito

              No, you’re not getting it; it is ‘dislike’ of commenting behaviour, not the actual person behind the comment, who remains largely invisible and anonymous here, even to Moderators.

              Everybody is free to comment and post here, as long as they read the site’s Policy first and stick to the simple lenient rules.

              What don’t you understand about that? Stop playing the victim.

              • Chris T

                Edited as it was just a stupid post

                • Incognito

                  Edited, because I agree

                  • Chris T

                    TBF you did use those words.

                    But get wht you mean

                    • Incognito

                      To be clear, I did not, in this sub-thread.

                    • In Vino

                      Chris T – you irritate me. I am a teacher of language, and that is why.

                      Your original comment:

                      "It is ironic to me that one article on the Standard can go into more detail on the new hate speech law than any current Labour govt MP who are going to force it through." is a ghastly, barbaric concoction.

                      "any current Labour govt MP" is singular. Yet you carry on with "who are".

                      I believe the dictum that language is the brain's instrument of thought. You appear to have a damaged instrument.

                      Yet you then quibble and argue over niceties, wasting the moderator's time.

                      If I were a moderator I would ban you for having dumb ideas and insufficient language skills to express them.

                      Sorry Incognito if this does not constructively add to the topic on debate, but Chris T is a troll who has annoyed me on other occasions.. He deserves no dignified withdrawal as he is trying to make.

                    • Chris T

                      In Vino

                      Thanks for that input. I appreciate the feed back and take it on board.

                      Do you mind elaborating on how "any current Labour govt MP" is singular.

                      Your point interests me.

                    • Chris T

                      Actually, apologies, you might have a point,

                      I will change it to

                      “article on the Standard can go into more detail on the new hate speech law than the current Labour govt, who are going to force it through”

                      Is that more acceptable?.

                    • In Vino

                      For heaven's sake. 'Any' can relate to plural nouns when used as adjective ("Did you see any unicorns?") but you clearly used it with a singular noun : Labour MP . That is singular. You then confused that with 'Labour Govt' which is still singular, but can be used as a plural in a collective sense – which does not work in your sentence.


                    • In Vino

                      Yes, I like your latest version. Do it that way next time!

                    • Chris T

                      Technicallly a govt is made up of a caucus and the left overs, so it is plural inn't?

                    • In Vino

                      Grrr! Reread your own sentence. You are writing about a singular labour MP, and that alone is the subject of the next verb. Get literate!

        • Incognito

          Okay, you want to play dumb again?

          Here’s one clue: force

          Second clue: it

          Clue #3: any current Labour govt MP

          Last clue, for now: context


          • Chris T

            They have the majority, by definition any objections from others is forcing it through.

            But ignore. I was utterly wrong and take it back.

            I totally apologise.

            • Incognito

              Are you really as ignorant as you pretend to be here?

              Let me ask you this: did you make a submission?

              Your ‘apology’ reeks false to me.

              • Chris T

                Well honestly Icognito, just give me a decent reason for your beef with that post. Because picking out single verbs is frankly bollocks

                • Incognito

                  I can’t help you and do the thinking for you.

                  Did you make a submission?

                  Did others make submissions?

                  Will these be simply ignored and will Government “force” through their own version?

                  If yes, what is the exact contents of that version?

                  Did you read the OP at all?

                  Are we having some kind of political and democratic process here in Aotearo-New Zealand or is this a totalitarian State?

                  I hope this will stimulate your thinking and may lead to better comments from you here on this topic.

                  PS I gave you 4 clues!

                  • Chris T


                    My point was the govt should at least be able to explain it.

                    Give examples of what is bad etc.

                    What words would cause prison.

                    Not sure whar other stuff you are going on about.

                    • Incognito

                      I’m not your mate!

                      I was going on about your words.

                      You’re starting to become a nuisance time-waster again and you add very little of value to this site. Just saying.

                      Bye for now.

                    • Chris T

                      You haven't yet explained what your prpblem with my first post was.

                      And now you have blocked replying to your hit and runs, so not sure how I am supposed to respond apart from trying to avoid you.

                    • Incognito []

                      I’ve blocked nothing (yet); I had work to do, for tomorrow.

                      I’ve explained, and explained, and explained …

                      But you play dumb, which I don’t believe you are.

                      So, I conclude you’re a deliberate time-wasting troll here.

                      I want to relax before I go to sleep, so you will escape moderation this time.

    • mickysavage 4.2

      The PM and MPs cannot and should not say what the law is. That is for the courts to decide on.

      • Gabby 4.2.1

        What? What are they good for if they don't even know what they're doing? Making laws is their forte, it's their whole goddam raison d'etre.

      • pat 4.2.2

        isnt it the courts role to determine the intent of the law makers.?…may help if the law makers know themselves.

      • Chris T 4.2.3

        So they should't have to explain what their own new laws are?

  5. EE 5

    It seems that as soon as one arsehole is cancelled,
    the vacuum is quickly filled by someone else.
    Mind you, the Bob Jones complete-tosser-space left plenty of room.

  6. Populuxe1 6

    It wouldn't matter if he had – he can clearly afford the fine.

  7. DB Brown 7

    38 comments and pretty much no substance on the topic. Well done Chris, you stalwart of intellectualism.

    Thanks for the post Mickey.

    I'm thinking the intent of the law would be to close a gap where an individual or group who might otherwise get away with inciting others to violence, can be called on their shit.

    Kind of an anti-Trump law.

    But I don't really know. I'd prefer to see disinformation laws.

    e.g. someone is spreading disinformation detrimental to public health and safety gets the acid test

    Are they an expert?

    Do they have evidence of their claims?

    No to both, gag the clowns.

    But clearly, that’d come with it’s own problems, imperfect world and daft politicians and all that.

  8. Bowker's lost all respect from the Hurricanes players and no doubt the rest of the organisation by now. TJ Perenara's tweets were more effective than a "hate speech" law.

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