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Hate speech wide-eyed scaremongering

Written By: - Date published: 11:13 am, June 30th, 2021 - 111 comments
Categories: democratic participation, human rights, Politics, Social issues, uncategorized, United Nations - Tags:

There’s been a lot of wide-eyed scaremongering about this new hate speech proposal and, frankly, not much clarity from the Government about what it actually entails. So, I went and had a read. It’s only a few pages and easy enough to read – I recommend you have a look yourself.

So: what is being proposed and why does the Government want to make the changes?

The first set of proposals is from the Royal Commission into the March 15 attacks:
• expand the existing law against incitement to cover incitement against a religious group, or on the basis sex, gender, sexuality, and disability.
• change the wording of things that it is illegal to incite, replacing the terms “hostility”, “ill-will”, “contempt” and “ridicule” with “hatred” to make it clearer (it’s arguably a more relaxed standard), and put it in the Crimes Act with a longer maximum sentence (it’s already a crime in the Human Rights Act)

The Government is also asking whether to clarify that trans, gender diverse, and intersex people are protected from discrimination.

So far, so unexciting. Protect more groups from incitement and discrimination, make the wording clearer, move something from the Human Rights Act to the Crimes Act and increase the sentence.

National says they don’t want “speech beyond the threshold of ‘inciting violence” criminalised. But the Human Rights Act (passed under National) already makes it criminal to “excite hostility or ill-will against, or bring into contempt or ridicule” a protected group – so what’s the difference exchanging those terms for “hatred”? If anything, “incitement to hatred” is a higher bar. Not to mention, things like blackmail, perjury, and fraud – all illegal speech short of calling for violence. So, I honestly don’t know what they mean.

What I think does have the backs up of the people who totally don’t want to slur other groups but get really worried about any law that might restrict their ability to slur other groups is the proposal is to make incitement to discrimination a civil offence.

This phrase “incitement to discrimination” comes straight out of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which New Zealand ratified under Muldoon. The ICCPR requires us to ban “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”

So, hang on, why are we only now looking to put into law an international treaty we signed when disco was cool?

Well, we kinda already did. The Human Rights Act bans “matter or words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons in or who may be coming to New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that group of persons.” That sort of covers incitement to discriminate, but not quite – and the Justice officials say it has hardly ever been used, despite hate speech clearly being a thing, so the current law is ineffective.

So, they want to slide “incitement to discriminate” into the existing s61 of the Human Rights Act – slightly widening the restriction that already exists.

But, Clint, what does discriminate mean? It could mean anything! Does it mean I can’t make fun of your combination grey hair and brown beard that makes you look, in the words of one client, “like a badger or other small woodland creature”.

Well, no. It only covers incitement to discriminate on grounds like sex, gender, religious belief, colour, race, ethnic or national origins, disability, or sexual orientation. It doesn’t cover non-protected categories such as the hair pigment challenged. And, crucially, it is about groups, not individuals.

It also means you can still call for venues to not host talks from TERFs or Nazis or socialists, if it takes your fancy. Political opinion isn’t listed as a category that it would be illegal to incite discrimination against and the politicians have been clear they don’t want to limit political discourse.

And, thankfully for the twitterati, it doesn’t make ‘being a dick’ illegal. The term discrimination is rigorously defined in the Human Rights Act already. This just makes inciting others to do it unlawful too – like how it is illegal to rob a bank and also illegal to incite someone else to rob a bank.

As Kris Faafoi puts in it the Cabinet Paper “examples of inciting discrimination of a group include encouraging their exclusion or unfavourable treatment in the provision of goods and services, rental housing, or employment. In my view, as it is unlawful to discriminate against population groups, it should also be unlawful to incite others to discriminate against these groups”.

That really doesn’t sound that scary. It brings our law into line with a treaty we adopted 33 years ago that makes clear that encouraging people to do stuff that is unlawful is itself unlawful.

There’s a lot of fearmongering from the kind of people who spend far too much time worrying about who strangers are having sex with that this is all somehow vague and creates a slippery slope and soon they won’t be able to write ‘Cindy is a commie’ on Twitter anymore. But there’s no undefined terms here – what discrimination means, what incitement means, what hatred means are all well-understood.

There’s always a line to be drawn between banning the kind of hate speech that, without directly calling for violence, inspired the March 15 terrorist while not making a criminal out of every drongo with a keyboard and a Facebook account. But nothing in these proposals looks like they’ve got that balance badly wrong.

And, hey, if you reckon differently, it’s only a proposal – engage with the detail and write a submission.

Clint Smith is a former senior staffer for the Labour and Green Parties and the owner of Victor Strategy and Communications. He has a law degree but he pretty much winged it, so, for god’s sake, don’t take this as legal advice.

111 comments on “Hate speech wide-eyed scaremongering ”

    • Tiger Mountain 1.1

      Good point. “PC” (gone mad!) was short hand for what felt like decades, as used by various grumps, uninformed and bigots, seeking to keep their right to babble on offensively.

      “PC” was nothing more than fighting for peoples rights in various iterations of the hierarchy of oppressions and exploitations present in capitalist society. Woke has indeed been appropriated in the same warped way.

      “Woke” surfaced a long time back (40s even) in the African American community–“stay woke!” referring to awareness of social and racial justice. So those supposing it originated as some white hipster term have missed the point.

  1. weka 2

    I'll keep saying it: where are the concrete, real life examples that make sense of this? Everything I've read so far attempts to explain abstract concepts abstractly or via opinions about what it will mean. Why are we not also using historical examples to make it really clear where the lines are?

    All the same, nice to have a post from you Clint.

    • Craig Hall 2.1

      At various times and places in human history, slavery was acceptable. At some point (late 1700s seems to be the big tipping point), slavery in general stopped being acceptable. Arguments then shifted to being about the inferiority of Africans compared to whites, with a lot of spurious science and religious reasoning, and that if anything, it was morally required/justified to enslave Africans as any other option might lead them away from salvation.

      Eventually that led to the US Civil War and the continuing impacts of slavery on African Americans – grandfathering, Jim Crow, lynching, Tulsa massacre etc.

      That's obviously a long time ago in a different legal context, but I can't see how anything good comes of letting people preach or otherwise extol that people are superior or inferior based on skin colour when scientifically, there is very little genetic difference between humans, and there is quite the long history of unpleasant incidents (and worse) as a result of such beliefs. We can't stop people believing anything they like, but we don't have to grant the automatic right to publicly spew hatred either. Inciting violence is illegal currently, but eloquent nonsense about the inferiority of other people based on inherent characteristics while avoiding any actual suggestions of violence or other crimes is also a way to stir up violent mobs with plausible deniability.

      • weka 2.1.1

        that's a good example of abstract argument. Care to follow it up with specific examples. eg for "eloquent nonsense about the inferiority of other people based on inherent characteristics while avoiding any actual suggestions of violence or other crimes is also a way to stir up violent mobs with plausible deniability."

        • Craig Hall

          I gave some concrete examples, particularly slavery moving from being generally acceptable to the usage of eugenics arguments as the reason for continuing American slavery until eventually the American Civil War happened because the South would not give up slavery and seceded instead.

  2. weka 4

    Noting again that one of the proposals is to change "the wording of the ground of “sex” to include “sex characteristics or intersex status”". Haven't found an explanation of that yet.

  3. Drowsy M. Kram 5

    Nice post – thanks. Hopefully feedback on the proposed reforms of hate speech laws will include believable accounts of harm to those targetted by hate speech, though imho a "just take it on the chin" attitude is (still) quite prevalent in NZ, and some other countries.

    Up to three years in prison for hate speech under reforms [16 April 2021]


  4. Muttonbird 6

    I've noticed something. The people most concerned about speech legislation always inadvertently conflate free speech with hate speech, just in case.

    They claim they are defending free speech but in reality they are protecting their perceived right to hate speech.

    Example: A few days ago Heather Duplicity Allen was criticising the government's handling of hate speech reforms, then segued to the next story about SUFW winning their court case against Palmerston North City Council.

    In the segue she said, "Talking about free speech…" but then caught herself for a moment. I was listening and knew she, like other promoters of the 'free speech' meme, doubted her own position.

    Duplicity Allen knows that the government is concerned with hate speech as it relates to preventing terrorism but nonetheless confused this with her concept of free speech.

    • Populuxe1 6.1

      I've noticed something. The people most unconcerned about speech legislation always generalise about the concerns of critics who conceivably might be more worried about previous abuses of well-intentioned laws by NZ governments and powerful people and issues raised in other countries where similar legislation has been brought in.

      Yes, the argument against is heavily dominated by right-wingers and bigots, but by no means does that include all critics of this proposal.

      No decent person wants to protect hate speech. We may, however, be very dubious about the way the proposed legislation defines (or doesn't define) it, especially when some interest groups have gone to great lengths, often very successfully, in order to muddle the distinction between criticism and hate speech.

    • Caroline 6.2

      Hate speech laws are a limit on freedom of speech. They are arguably a justifiable limit on free speech, in the same way that libel laws and name suppression and the various confidentiality agreements I have had to sign for various reasons are justifiable limits on freedom of speech, but it is not wrong to class them as forms of limitation of freedom of speech.

      • Unicus 6.2.1

        My pennys worth is that since the PM herself has referred to this law as a partial response to the Christchurch attacks it’s fair to say that as a nation we are attempting to deal with the most devastating outrage committed here.

        It’s not our generations prerogative to discuss or analyse the event itself but through discussion we can as a people to heal ourselves

        what the government has done is an attempted catharsis through a practical number eight wire Kiwi salve – by throwing a law at it and hoping everyone will shut up

        That won’t happen because the cut is to deep and the proposals for the law so half baked they’re almost Pythonian . I can’t understand for example why the gender confused who nobody really thinks about make the victims list and cyclists who everyone openly hate don’t . Or me and my fellow white middle aged males who have been pissed on and pilloried ever since Germain woke up with a guilty hangover have again been passed over.

        And given that the vast majority of New Zealanders are non religious we are ambivalent rather than hostile to those who have decided that a nice way to spend Sunday is to wade through reams of antiquated dogma with ones friends.

        personally I prefer the simplicity of an indulgent prayer and a barbecue in the company of Appolo . For which I don’t expect the protection of the law

        As for Jacinda . Her own goal has sent a frozen shudder through the Labour Party and the realisation she is fallible – that she has a use by date .

    • Anker 6.3

      Muttonbird, I am not sure what you are trying to imply here.

      But lets just be clear here. Some of twitter have referred to SUFW as a hate group.

      The Judge in the High Court last Friday was very clear they are not a hate group.

      I don't know this for sure, but it is possible under the new legislation that you could be charged with hate speech for referring to SUFW in this way.

      A court in the UK in the Maya Farbater case has asserted that gender critical ideas are protected under human rights.

      I have grave concerns about this new bill that expressing gender critical views could be viewed as hate speech. For Maya merely saying on her twitter feed that she didn't think it was possible to change your sex lost her her job. FFs Maya's view are merely science.

      • McFlock 6.3.1

        Ignoring the politics and what some believe to be the "science" of the issue, political groups are not currently a protected category and, according to the post:

        Political opinion isn’t listed as a category that it would be illegal to incite discrimination against and the politicians have been clear they don’t want to limit political discourse.

        SUFW currently have the opportunity to sue for defamation if someone horribly mislabels them, and would continue to have that opportunity after the legislation as currently outline.

        On the flipside, if the trans community is added to the list of protected categories, yes some people might want consider phrasing their position more carefully, just to be clear that they are not intending to incite or normalise hatred.

        • weka

          definitely think words need to be chosen with more care all round, but how does one be clear there is no intent to incite or normalise hatred when things like saying trans women are men is considered hate speech by many?

          • Populuxe1

            Not reducing volatile situations to slogans might be a start.

          • McFlock

            Well, seems to me that the burden of proof is the same as with most other crimes that come to mind: if doing something "with intent" is the crime, then the burden is on the prosecution to prove the intent. "Mens rea" ISTR from first year law (although I didn't apply for second year, so take it for what you will).

            • weka

              lot of damage can be done between tweet/speech/whatever and court. In the UK people are being arrested and/or listed by police under hate crime even when they haven’t broken any law for tweeting pretty innocuous stuff by SM standards. Imagine trying to figure out how to alter one's speech in that atmosphere.

        • Anker

          Yes of course to be careful about the language. I am sometimes pulled up on The Standard for this, but I am not a young person and don't mix with many people so not exposed to the latest developments in language.

          I wonder though if gender critical beliefs will be seen as hate speech?

          Do people who support Trans ideology consider gender critical views hate speech?

          I don't have a problem with people identifying as the opposite of their natal sex. My problem is when they want me to concur with an ideology around that. I also want to preserve women's rights to single sex facilities and sporting competitions (as is specified in the 1993 Human Rights Act.

          People are entitled to live their lives in the own way but I reserve the right to stand up for the rights of women and not to have to agree with someone else's ideology

          • McFlock

            like I said, I'm not going into the politics of it. I've had enough vexation today.

  5. Anne 7

    Bang on Muttonbird.

    Clint Smith refers to it in the following excerpt:

    What I think does have the backs up of the people who totally don’t want to slur other groups but get really worried about any law that might restrict their ability to slur other groups is the proposal to make incitement to discrimination a civil offence.

    Not surprised HDPA is worried about the proposal. And I expect it applies to her spouse too.

    • Populuxe1 7.1

      It may very well apply to a number of human rights activists too, so there's that.

      • Anne 7.1.1

        There are always extremists on both sides of an argument. Its been going on since God made little apples. But I have no quarrel with proposals to enshrine limitations on such individuals by way of legislation in order to reduce the level of violence and damage they inevitably cause.

        However I do agree it is a very tricky exercise and will require a massive effort from the experts in this field to come up with a Bill that is fair to all citizens – after due consideration of the submissions they receive. If they succeed it will have been a mighty effort indeed.

  6. Visubversa 8

    The conflation of sex and gender is problematic. There is no good definition of gender identity – there are hundreds of them out there – each with their own pronouns and their own flag. Basically, your gender identity can be anything you want to say it is. And intersex (Difference of Sex Development) is a number of known medical conditions and does not belong with gender.

    • Rosemary McDonald 8.1

      The conflation of sex and gender is problematic. I literally lose sleep over this. The transactivists seem determined to make them one and the same. They're not.

      • Visubversa 8.1.1

        Absolutely. The truth about your sex is in every drop of blood in your body. Gender identity was invented by Dr John Money as part of his eugenicist experiments on children – it has no physiological basis. Stonewall (which used to support same sex attracted people and no longer does) has even changed the definition of "homosexual" to someone who is attracted to someone of the same "gender". No sex in sexual attraction these days. That is because, in the past – most trans people were same sex attracted. These days – not so much.

        • Populuxe1


          • weka


            See how they say bi people are attracted to both genders? And they don't call them bisexual. Stonewall use gender to mean gender identity not biological sex.

            Where they say that lesbians are attracted to women, their definition of women includes trans women (biological males). This means that their definition of lesbian is women attracted to people whose self ID gender (not sex) is that of a woman. This is a hugely contentious issue, because lesbians are being shamed and pressured to accept the idea of males (with full genitalia) as sexual partners. Their language is being appropriated too.

            "Bi is an umbrella term used to describe a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender."


            This might be considered a more medical term used to describe someone who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used."


            Often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth."


            • Anker

              Yes Weka, I wish more people on the left would wake up to what is happening in the trans gender domain. Pressurizing lesbians to have sex with trans women, ie males, is fucking sick and needs to be outed.

              Btw I saw a clip of a women in Wi Spa in California (I think) when a trans women gained entry to a women only spa where women and girls were. He was naked with his penis out.

              A woman of colour was seen confronting the reception staff, whilIe being filmed. She kept saying things like I don't care what you call him, he's a man, he's got a penis, he's a man. The receptionist was saying no hes a women, its the law…….everyone still comfortable with the gender id bill?

              And would what I have been written be hate speech?

              The Standard will be no longer if this bill goes through. If its comes down to people being offended we are deep bloody trouble.

              • weka

                trans activism/queer ideology, not transgender domain (the difference matters).

                I've seen the Wi Spa clips too, that woman was fierce and awesome. Thing that interests me is how do we know the person with the penis is a trans woman? Do we accept they are because they say they are? Isn't that what I a man lying would also say?

                One US news outlet tried to frame it as a left/right issue (apparently there will be protests outside the spa on Saturday). They're getting ratioed under their tweet by people saying woman objecting to naked men in women's spaces aren't right wing.

                • Anker

                  for me it doesn't matter whether the person with a penis identifies as a women or not. i still dont want a man in a change room etc aroun women and children with his penis out.

                  • solkta

                    i still dont want a man in a change room etc aroun women and children with his penis out.

                    These comments disturb me. Are you really saying that children should never see a penis? As a solo dad with a daughter i find that quite bizarre. Are you trapped in the 1950s?

                    • weka

                      do you honestly not see the difference between a girl seeing the penis of a family member at home and a girl seeing the penis of a stranger in a public *women's space?

                      There are also significant issues for sexual abuse survivors including girls.

                    • solkta

                      Do you really think that i never took my daughter out of the house? That we never went to the beach or pools? Anker was making an ugly assumption about the care of children.

                    • Ankerhe

                      Actually Solkta not the1950's 1993 with the human rights act which states clearly that women and girls have the right to separately public facilities for public decency and safety.

                      I challenge you to explain your assertion that I made an ugly assumption about the care of children.

                      I have no idea what you mean and it is a pretty unpleasant thing to be accused of . Please explain yourself

                    • weka []

                      please fix the typo on your username at your next comment. If you are on a mobile you probably need to check each time.

                    • weka

                      Are you saying that you took your daughter into spaces where men were walking around naked?

                    • solkta

                      That seems the silliest question. Obviously i did.

                      I can't see the difference between girls seeing male nudity and boys seeing female nudity. Men are caregivers too now, the world has changed.

                    • weka

                      Yet you obviously are relatively ignorant about how many women feel about male nudity in *women's spaces, which is what is at issue here.

                    • solkta


                      You said children not girls.

                    • Foreign Waka

                      Solkta – I think this is up to the cultural background don't you think? Or is this what is proposed, a convoluted one size fits all moral (or lack off – depends) "standard".

                      Culture includes religious belief and females do congregate exclusively by biological gender. Many, I would propose the majority of mothers and even fathers would object to having their girls force fed with some political clap trap solution like that.

                      What kind of stupidity is going on here? Whether someone wants to go to a nudity fest should be up to the individual at places the clearly state that this is what they are.

                      Changing rooms are clearly not falling into this category.

                    • left for dead

                      Just take that as meaning,"uninvited"fool.or are you the troll.

                    • Are you really saying that children should never see a penis?

                      They should never see one in the women's changing room, something which ought to be utterly uncontroversial.

                • Ankerhe

                  Point taken Weka. It is the trans ideology/activism I am concerned with.

                  Re Rachel Stewart, if she made death threats she deserves to have her fire arms licence removed. Not acceptable at all.

                  • Anker

                    I did say children Solkta but it was an error. I meant girls. Girls and women were at the Wi Spa in the US when a man who identified as a woman either their spa room, naked with his penis out. Nothing to do with families and their values around nudity, privacy. I was not talking about that.

                    Just to reiterate the Human Rights Act as of 1993 sets out that women and girls are entitled to have separate sex change rooms and toilets for public decency and safety. So no, not ideas from the 1950's, not bizzare, its the law.

              • weka

                afaik what you've written won't be hate speech. There is no incitement to hate or discriminate against trans people. But, I do agree there is cause for concern while the line is being set, and this is the most obvious area to see it.

                As a comparison, Rachel Stewart had her firearms and licence suspended today after a tweet a while back where she made a violent joke about kidnapping and hunting down a trans ally. It's an appalling tweet, and I have no problem with the police investigating if she should keep her licence, but they've also said that SUFW are anti-trans and tied this to RS' own beliefs, and that's setting off warning bells given the UK context.

                • Ankerhe

                  Solkta my comments about the man with the penis out were reference to the wi spa in the united states where women and girls in a women's space were exposed to a stranger with his penis out.

                  i absolutely didn't say a girl should never see a penis and you know it.,

                  You can be disturbed all you like by my comments but I think there would be very few people who would think it appropriate for a male to be naked with his penis out in a change room around women and girls. The women in the clip at wi spa were outraged and one women called the receptionist out on it very effectively.

                  Please don't use the tactic of implying I am a prude about these things. Its just a way of deflecting from the arguement.

            • Populuxe1

              With the exception of pressuring people to have sex with anyone they don't want to, which no one should have to put up with for whatever reason, you seem to be quibbling over terminology that gay people have preferred for themselves for around a century. And I have no problems with you disagreeing with their definition of "women" – you are absolutely entitled to.

              But there is nothing particularly contentious about a preference to be called by the informal "gay" or "bi" than the rather clinical "homosexual" or "bisexual". That is, in fact, how most people tend to refer to themselves. I don't even know why you brought that up? While I wouldn't go so far as to try and make it some kind of orthodoxy – it's hardly a conspiracy, it's just a common enough preference not to sound like a scientific specimen.

              I support the right of GC feminists to assert their definition of sex and gender and defend their right not to have to intimately engage with certain kinds of bodies or allow them in their spaces, but when people are going to throw around scare words like "eugenics" and make wild generalisations about the sexual orientations of trans people a line has been crossed.

              • weka

                I think you missed my point. You asked for a citation, I assumed (in the absence of it being stated directly) that you wanted a citation for the bit about Stonewall reframing sexual orientation around gender ID rather than bio sex.

                Visubversa had said this,

                Stonewall (which used to support same sex attracted people and no longer does) has even changed the definition of "homosexual" to someone who is attracted to someone of the same "gender". No sex in sexual attraction these days.

                The bits I quoted from Stonewall weren't about homosexual vs gay. It was about how they're not defining homosexuality as same gender (identity) attraction not same sex. Which means there is pressure brought to bear on lesbians in particular, but all people, to not be same sex attracted, but same gender attracted. This means expecting lesbians to date males (trans women) and so on. It's leading to discourse online about how genital preference is transphobic.

                There are trans women calling themselves lesbian and expecting to date lesbians. There are dating apps that ban people for saying they are same sex attracted. I'm not making wild generalisations, this is common knowledge among people following the issues online. And to be clear, there are plenty of trans people not doing this shit, but too many that are and they are well supported by orgs like Stonewall, in academia and by the LGBT community.

        • Anker

          100% Agree Visubversa. And now some gender neutral person in the UK has self identified as Korean and had 18 surgeries to look more Korean, so he can be his true self. Apparently some trans activists are not happy about this.

        • Tabletennis

          And when "gender identity" is replacing sex, you no longer can defend/define sex discrimination (e.g. in employment matters) or sexual abuse.

          The following interview with Lawyer Katherine Deves goes over the gender laws, its intention and its consequences of such laws on children, women and parents. Its long but I found it worth the listenen to the in and outs.

          She also quotes Australian laws for gender identity: which is something like:
          the gender the person identify with.

  7. RedBaronCV 9

    From a Human Rights act perspective I have no trouble protecting things that basically a person cannot change or modify significantly – like skin colour, race ethnic or national origins, gender sexuality and the expression of it, disability (and maybe age and other physical characteristics).

    I have more trouble protecting belief systems which can be changed, modified or dropped at will apart from protecting the right to hold those beliefs and practise them without detriment to others in the community. No spanish inquistions.

    I have real trouble understanding how a religion is defined and how that intersects with the not unusual tactic of religions attacking others for their race or sexuality or other protected characteristics. Perhaps some one in the government could explain how a religion is defined?

    But aren't we proposing to criminalise some of these protections which is a whole new game

    • because we aren't being told why the current criminal law is insufficient to deal with the current harms
    • because enforcement will then be in the hands of essentially third parties (police SIS) which have a somewhat stellar record of acting on their own prejudices. Chasing chicken activists rather than other harm groups. Photographing young children, investigating Nicky Hager etc etc etc. In short following a somewhat aggressive agenda towards certain race groups, lefter leaning or green groups. The opportunity for systemic harm and abuse would be notched up considerably and could present some real opportunities for harm against the left.
    • if the concern is internet groups then we should discuss that specifically and how to craft laws to neutralise the worst of it not go broad brush.

    And making submissions
    – Are they really interested? This feels like a cosmetic wipe unfortunately if they can’t be bothered to even define anything or give concrete examples.
    – there is also the issue that publishing the names of submitters as they do may mean that those people suffer personally.

  8. Ad 10

    It's probable that the Labour-Green government will pass this proposed legislation easily, since they have the numbers. No matter what we do.

    Instead of changing this legislation, PM Ardern should pop down to Christchurch and get on her knees asking for forgiveness for failing to protect her citizens in the first place. This was a state failure, not a citizen failure.

    Hell since the state already surveils the every move of every person through every single security camera on the street and on every public transport vehicle, you would have thought they could do that basic job of protection. We didn't know they used that much power on us, but they do.

    Ardern and Macron's "Christchurch Call" was more effective and where the emphasis should continue to be placed.


    Instead Ardern offloads the implicit blame onto all New Zealanders by making this huge security failure about free speech and 'hate speech'. That's worth getting "wide eyed" about.

    Even though National are low, Smith needs to recall his history. In 2008, Helen Clark’s Labour-led Government, supported by the Green Party, triggered a tipping point. The measures they announced to improve energy efficiency and water conservation – which included banning incandescent light bulbs and regulating shower heads – led to complaints that they were interfering too much in people’s lives.

    The accusations that they had turned into a ‘nanny-state’ government became widespread and contributed to their election defeat.

    If this is what this government really wants to spend its political capital on, so be it.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 10.1

      PM Ardern should pop down to Christchurch and get on her knees asking for forgiveness for failing to protect her citizens in the first place. This was a state failure, not a citizen failure.

      Yep, the sight of PM Ardern "on her knees" would be something to savour, eh Ad?

      Only a "state failure"? The citizenry is blameless – it's all the fault of the state?

      Imho seeking public feedback on proposals to reform NZ’s hate speech laws is an aspirational and progressive challenge to "just take it on the chin" mentality. Recent gun law reforms garnered widespread political support, and contributed to ACTs relative success in the 2020 general election – you win some (vote(r)s), you lose some (vote(r)s.)

      Tighter regulation was imposed immediately after the Aramoana massacre in 1990, the Scottish Dunblane and Australian Port Arthur massacres in 1996. After the Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019, legislation to restrict semi-automatic firearms and magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, and provide an amnesty and buyback of such weapons was introduced and passed by the New Zealand parliament 119 – 1.

      Any parliamentary vote on hate speech law reforms won't be nearly as one-sided, but that would be a poor reason not to have the courage of one's convictions. And who knows what the public feedback will be.

      • Ad 10.1.1

        If you don't understand penitence you should avoid commenting on it.

        The gun laws were good. Few disagreed.

        This government is full of good ideas that go nowhere – this particular one is the reverse.

        • Drowsy M. Kram

          If you don't understand penitence you should avoid commenting on it.

          This government is full of good ideas that go nowhere – this particular one is the reverse.

          Thanks Ad, appreciate your constructive opinions – keep the feedback coming.

    • Margaritte 10.2

      "Instead of changing this legislation, PM Ardern should pop down to Christchurch and get on her knees asking for forgiveness for failing to protect her citizens in the first place."

      Yes that is exactly what she did! where were you when this happened? Nearly everyone else on the planet saw and were glad that she did that!

  9. Interesting discussion.

    Where it can get interesting is when one protected group communicates "hateful" comments against another protected group. For instance some followers of Islam who might condemn homosexuals on the basis of their cultural beliefs. Would those individuals get away with their comments because they are a protected group?

    Compared to say fundamental Christians who probably wouldn't get away with the same comments because they are not a protected group.

    And what if people want to speak out against some cultural practice such as FGM that some protected groups may seek to practice in NZ. Is that criticism allowable, or would it be considered inciting hate against a protected group.

    • McFlock 11.1

      Religious beliefs are also a protected group, so why wouldn't bigots of all creeds be held to the same threshold?

      • Gabby 11.1.1

        Out of fear of being smeared as racist?

        • McFlock

          lol if it gets flipped through to the crimes act, the cops would be enforcing it. That "smear" hasn't stopped them in the past.

          • Populuxe1

            Probably because no previous government has been stupid enough to wade into that particular swamp with legislation. That's why when Marriage Equalisation went through it was made very clear that churches were exempt. What is the distinction between dogma/acts of faith and the faith itself?

            • McFlock

              I'm glad to hear the government's discretion in providing a distinction between the civic practise of marriage and the religious practise of the same name has meant the police are not regularly accused of racism either individually or collectively.

              • Populuxe1

                Don't be disingenuous. There's more than one kind of applicable bigotry

                • McFlock

                  The suggestion was that some people might get more leeway because the enforcement people were afraid of being called racist.

                  The police are already called racist. That does not seem to have particularly affected their prosecution decisions.

                  If the police are the enfocement people for the new legislation, there is no reason to assume this will change.

      • Stuart Munro 11.1.2

        Great lord Cthulhu treats all humanoids equally!

    • Drowsy M. Kram 11.2

      And what if people want to speak out against some cultural practice such as FGM that some protected groups may seek to practice in NZ. Is that criticism allowable, or would it be considered inciting hate against a protected group.

      Intriguing example, but it seems unlikely that any changes to hate speech laws will be used to overturn well-established NZ laws against FGM. Should still be OK for NZers to speak out against the practicise of FGM in other countries.


      The hate speech law reform proposals on which the Govt is seeking public feedback are aspirational/progressive – with any luck after consultation they'll be even better.

  10. AB 12

    I fear this one is like the Section 58 changes (the so-called anti-smacking bill). The proponents exaggerate the benefits and the opponents exaggerate the harms. Yet despite its negligible real-world effects it becomes a catalyst for imaginary outrage or self-righteousness.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 12.1

      Maybe the real-world effects of the so-called anti-smacking legislation were negligible, and yet I can't help wondering if the associated public debate was a catalyst for some soul-searching and real behavioural change.

      Number of parents smacking children drops by half in 15 years

      Researchers found minor assaults against children reduced over that time by almost half, from 77 percent to 42 percent.

      Severe assaults decreased by two-thirds, from 12 percent

      In 2007, the anti-smacking law came into effect but researcher Geraldine McLeod said it was difficult to say whether it was a big factor in the decline.

      Over the study period, views around the acceptability of physical punishment have changed as well, McLeod said.

      • AB 12.1.1

        It's good if that's true, and it's not a just case of the trend being there already. Even causing an acceleration of an existing trend would be a good thing. I'm not sure though that legislation can be justified by its beneficial effects on public attitudes – except retrospectively.

      • Populuxe1 12.1.2

        Soul-searching, or mainly brown families intimidated into cultural change by really bad previous experiences of dealing with the police?

    • RedBaronCV 12.2

      I disagree. The s.58 changes were pretty clear cut. To put assaults on children on the same legal footing as assaults on adults and remove the "reasonable in the circumstances"test -which IMHO should have been dunked by the courts long before. It was always a two fold test "reasonable force" & "in the circumstances". Since the force in the court cases was usually pretty high it just left the circumstances. Any fudging came from a lobby that was pretty determined to cloud the issue before the vote.

      This is pretty much the reverse. The fudging is in the changes- I don't see any much that is rigorous about it. For starters every commentator seems to have a different approach.

      Personally I can't wait for the "First Church of the never wear brown shoes again" or the "First Church of the Shorter people who want to stand at the front of the crowd".

  11. Foreign Waka 13

    Essentially, there are seven core international human rights treaties.


    If we follow these nd actually implement, there should be no need to shut anyone up. It is a pretty fascist approach to forbid someone’s opinion. But then again, learning from the past would mean knowing the past.

  12. Populuxe1 14

    I think that's a bit glib. For many people the concern is less actually being charged with something than the having to deal with the police if someone makes a vexatious complaint. And I get the feeling that most of the people dismissing the issues with religion probably have little actual experience of communities of faith for whom certain things aren't merely opinions but an absolute reality.

    • Visubversa 14.1

      Have a look at what happened in Britain with Harry Miller where the Police decided to talk to someone about his "wrongthink". https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/miller-v-college-of-police-judgment.pdf

      • Anker 14.1.1

        Again 100% Visubversa. The judge in the Harry Miller case against the Humberside Police Force described their actions as chilling and Orwelian.

        I am very afraid of this bill.

        And I don't understand the implications of "sex characteristics". are they taking women out of the mix?

        • weka

          I don't think so, but given the government is prioritising gender over sex my concern is that calling it sex characteristics instead of leaving it as sex may cause issues. It's an oddly dehumanising term. Am hoping to talk with some of the UK feminists about working in UK law.

    • Tabletennis 14.2

      Well I see this too as an issue: that of vexatious complains. That in itself is enough to have more people no longer express themselves in public life.
      Those that belong to the 1% of high income bracket wouldn't worry about it.
      But if you are a middle income earner or low income earner, and being dragged before court is an expensive past time. Regardless of being found guilty or not.
      And further exacerbate who has a say and who doesn't imo.

    • For many people the concern is less actually being charged with something than the having to deal with the police if someone makes a vexatious complaint.

      Exactly this, and the UK has supplied plenty of examples to justify that concern. People on the left just hand-waving that away is ridiculous.

      The UK experience has been that some people have the threat of prosecution hanging over them for months, are pilloried in the media and have to spend large sums on lawyers, if some police officer happens to agree with a vexatious complainant. In some cases, the threat of prosecution has actually eventuated, but even if this weren't the case we can't hold up lack of prosecutions as evidence of 'success' of the law.

  13. Gosman 15

    If there is a gap in the existing law meaning there are cases the Police would like to take but are unable to where is the evidence supporting this? Where are the examples of people making hateful cases that have been brought to the attention of the NZ Police but the Police are stating they would like to prosecute but their hands are tied?

    • RedBaronCV 15.1

      Sheesh I find myself in some sort of agreement with Gosman. Never thought that would happen. Gives a whole new meaning to "where there's life there's hope"

    • Where indeed. Ministers of the Crown certainly haven't pointed to any.

  14. Cricklewood 16

    The proposal just isnt clear when it comes to how this will work, the Minister and Prime Minister seemed to be saying quite different contradictory things in televised interviews.

    Very clear guidelines will be needed leaving it to police to interpret intent is a bad idea as they'll likely default to 'let the courts decide' and we'll end up in a messy situation where while we wait for the Courts interpretation and precedent to be established.

    That could well see all sorts of people dragged into the court system at horrendous cost.

  15. Margaritte 17

    Well I am just really glad no one can call me "anti-vaxer" anymore!

  16. Stuart Munro 18

    I expect that, like the contentious anti-smacking law, the benefits, if any, will not be apparent to large sectors of the electorate. But I look forward to seeing the unpleasant persons given to labelling me a 'pale stale male' receiving time in the chokey commensurate with their malicious intent.

  17. Anker 19

    Yeah stale pale and male. F..g bomers,, F'ing Terfs. Trans gender women are biological males, Women are bitches, chicks……………………

    SUFW is a hate group ….sorry sonny, they’re not and a High Court judge said so.

    Gosh the police could be busy.

  18. Darien Fenton 20

    Thanks Clint. The cabinet papers are worth others reading too.

  19. RedBaronCV 21

    So I'm sitting offshore in some cosy location from which I cannot be extradited with a NZ domain name available to me spreading some thing not so great and joined by others. Now how does this law get to me – or an offshore newspaper that decides to run lots of dodgy articles as well as a few more straightforward ones. The domain name is shared in NZ as a proxy for the dodgy stuff. Anyone challenged goes "I'm reading the nice articles not the dodgy stuff". What happens next?

    • McFlock 21.1

      As long as it's low-level, nothing.

      Firstly, you're basically referring to people receiving objectionable content on the NZ side. As long as you stay overseas, nobody will make much effort to get you or freeze your finances unless your hate speech goes well overboard.

      Internet traffic analysts might document your followers here to build knowledge of local dangerous networks, but even that would require resources and privacy violations that lower-level hate might not warrant.

      It's like porn: there's lots of international police cooperation to catch people who collect the really dark shit. But the actual criteria of objectionable material differs from nation to nation. NZ stipulates some content that e.g. Australia doesn't, and vice versa.

      NZ isn't likely to get much help cracking down on stuff that the other nation regards as acceptable.

      • RedBaronCV 21.1.1

        So if we have no ability to crack down on off shore non compliance then the whole thing is a waste of time basically. A large loophole for the professional rabble rouser

        • McFlock

          But we can handle the bits in our power. Rallies, online comments by locals, etc.

  20. Jackel 22

    This isn't new legislation, this is just seeking to clarify existing legislation. Apart from the opposition using the buzz words "free speech" to play a bit of politics I don't see what the fuss is about.

    • Muttonbird 22.1

      +1. The opposition and their followers deliberately substitute hate speech for free speech in an effort to protect their privilege.

      Meanwhile the media are all over this, like seagulls after your fish and chips.

      • Crashcart 22.1.1

        What happens when someone deems your speech to be hateful? What if a comment you make about conservatives falls under this proposal or is even just reported to the police resulting in an investigation. Would you start referring to your own speech as hateful until someone decides it is simply free or would you bemoan the invasion on your right to free speech.

        This is why people are using the free speech term. Hate speech under these changes could become a matter of opinion. It may seem obvious when you only think of it being applied to those you disagree with. When a nice police officer comes knocking on your door I imagine it may change your opinion.

        • Muttonbird

          I'd love for my comments to be tested under this proposal.

          My comments are tested all the time by moderators here. I think it would be a good exercise if that were expanded to be reviewed by the actual justice system. A judge would get bored very quickly, I think!

          I suspect under any new hate speech laws my comments will be seen as on the mild end. After all, I have not incited violence as far as I know.

          • Populuxe1

            Moderators here are not quite the same thing as having the police knocking on your door and you don't require the services of a lawyer.

            • Muttonbird

              Like I say, I don't think my comments are going to trouble professional officialdom.

  21. Leighton 23

    Sorry Clint, saying political opinion isn't one of the listed categories being considered for protection is either dancing on the head of a pin or flat out wrong depending on how one views it.

    Let's go to the Discussion Document:

    Under this proposal, more groups would be protected by the law if hatred was
    incited against them due to a characteristic that they have. This may include
    some or all of the other grounds in the Human Rights Act. These grounds are
    listed in section 21 of the Act, which is included at Appendix One.

    Have a look at Appendix One and s 21 of the Act, and sure enough you'll find "political opinion".

    Nobody sensible is arguing against protecting inherent characteristics like gender, race, sexual orientation etc. But if you're going to include things like religion and political opinion in the law, the bar for hate speech needs to be set really high – essentially the "incitement to violence" level. These things are human constructs and matters of choice which can and have caused great harm to others if exercised without restraint. The ability for robust discussion and criticism is essential and anything that even potentially chills that is cause for concern. Labour needs to tread very carefully here.

  22. Forget now 24

    Reading through the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR – it's a bit of a slog). Noticed a bit of a glaring omission in the Discussion Document's summary:

    Article 20

    1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.

    2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

    If we find are discussing implementing ICCPR; 20,2, then why not the prohibition of war propaganda as well?

    Though from a page last updated in August 2020:

    The Government of New Zealand having legislated in the areas of the advocacy of national and racial hatred and the exciting of hostility or ill will against any group of persons, and having regard to the right of freedom of speech, reserves the right not to introduce further legislation with regard to article 20.


  23. Anker 25
    • So are you allowed to call people who don’t agree with gender ideology Terfs?
  24. Anker 26
    • No one in particular just wanting to hear people’s views.

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    The Government has reprioritised up to $5 million to provide immediate relief to vulnerable whānau Māori and communities during the current COVID-19 outbreak Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson announced today. The COVID-19 2021 Whānau Recovery Fund will support community-driven, local responses to gaps in access and provision of critical ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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