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The freedom to insult

Written By: - Date published: 5:37 pm, June 15th, 2019 - 149 comments
Categories: act, Christchurch Attack, david seymour, law, law and "order", terrorism, uncategorized, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

A 0.4% of the electorate party is looking to increase its reach by proposing a rather strange thing to advocate for, the absolute right for people to insult.

From Radio New Zealand:

Leader David Seymour said the government was planning to restrict speech laws, and his party’s new Freedom to Speak Bill would repeal parts of the Act and the Summary Offences Act which makes insulting and offensive speech unlawful.

Mr Seymour said the Human Rights Commission had failed to defend the country’s most “basic right”, and he wanted it to be abolished.

Speaking on TV3’s Newshub Nation today, Mr Seymour said while it should be a crime to incite or threaten violence, no one should be punished for insulting speech.

“What’s more important is that we don’t go down a path that the UK has been down where people can have the police come around to their door and potentially arrest them – and have actually detained people just for sending a tweet.”

Yes there is a theoretical jail sentence attached to offensive speech under the Summary Offences Act 1981 but it has to be speech that is likely in the circumstances to cause violence against persons or property to start or continue.

And there is an offence of causing harm by posting a digital communication, but the poster has to intend harm, the message has to be the sort that will cause harm to an ordinary person in the position of the victim and it has to actually cause harm, 

So should “just sending a tweet” ever result in an arrest?

How about if the tweet had a picture of a crossbow with the caption “We are ready for civil war, are you?”  Or what about branding an MP as a “traitor” and telling her to “remember what happened to Jo Cox so be careful”.

Or what if the recipient suffers from epilepsy and you send him a gif of a strobe light with the intent that you trigger an epileptic episode and actually trigger an episode?

Or how about offering money by tweet for someone to be killed?

I suspect Seymour’s response would be “snowflakes”.  But in any civilised rule of law system this sort of behaviour should never be tolerated.

In a perhaps unfortunate coincidence an idiot was arrested outside the Christchurch High Court this week for offensive behaviour, to wit the insulting of some of the victims of the Mosque shooting.

From stuff:

A man arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour after making racist comments towards Christchurch mosque attack victims outside court on Friday has been released on bail.

Rodrick Wayne Woods, 33, was charged with behaving in an offensive manner and was granted bail to reappear in the Christchurch District Court on June 28. He did not enter a plea.

Police alleged he said something offensive to people who were giving a television interview outside the court house in Lichfield St.

He was arrested under the very section that Seymour is talking about repealing.  This incident shows how bizarre Act’s proposal is.  Who in their right mind would change the law to allow neo fascists to insult others because of their ethnicity?

149 comments on “The freedom to insult ”

    • woodart 1.1

      if seymour insulted me, and I used the "mental health patient" get of jail free card, can I give him a damn good thrashing and be let off?

      • fustercluck 1.1.1

        No, you may not. Responding to speech with violence is a crime. The fascist far left, i.e., the National Socialists, in Germany did this and look where it led.

        • Dukeofurl

          Germany had 2 socialist left wing parties , The KPD and SPD. The facists were far right, always have been.

          Your historical facts are wrong.

          The facists actually used the defamation laws in the 1920s against newspapers and journalists who told the truth about them, helped by sympathetic judges. Later they just bust into the offices and smashed up the printing presses

          • Foreign Waka

            Thank you Dukeofurl, it is so unfortunate that NZ has not got a proper history class thought in its schools, neither their own nor the world. It will lead to a repeat of the past that others have already shown how it ends. There is a difference between being right or being righteous.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            Just to disambiguate- the modern SPD from the Bundesrepublik is not really "socialist" in that sense, they are social democrats, ie. a labour-oriented organization, not post-capitalists. The East German branch of the party was forced into a merger with the KPD to become the SED, (Socialist Unity Party- other client states that had allowed two-party elections had sometimes had poor results for the communist-backed party, which would have been the KPD, so a new one-party policy was adopted) which then was succeeded by the PDS, (Party of Democratic Socialism) which post-reunification merged with WASG (Labour and Social Justice – the Electoral Alternative) to become Die Linke, (“The Left”) and is the second "red" in news stories about a possible "Green-red-red" coalition in Germany. (although they're usually diagrammed as a purple-red to disambiguate from the SPD, which arguably had prior claim on their official red colour when they reunified into the Bundesrepublik or German Federal Republic)

        • Psycho Milt

          The fascist far left, i.e., the National Socialists…

          There really are some very special kinds of stupid out there…

        • Gabby

          Nice try cluckaduck.

        • Matthew Whitehead

          Fascists called themselves socialists because it was popular to be a socialist at the time. Authoritarian movements have a long history with co-opting other group's labels (and symbols- look into the hindu origins of the Swastika, for instance. I once ended up explaining to an upset young jewish colleague why an Indian acquaintance of mine was "allowed to use that name") so as to make it harder for areas they would like to colonize to organize against them because they get stuck in debates about whether and how to re-brand, or what to call the people co-opting their identity. It's like they're stuck doing populism by reference to everyone else in public culture.

  1. Stuart Munro. 2

    Meh – most basic right is equality before the law – frequently honoured in the breach.

    The RWNJ only love speech because it doesn't cost anything.

  2. Kat 3

    “Silly little boy”

  3. RedLogix 4

    Give the state more powers and it's not always obvious how they're going to be used. Just over the Tasman:

    Meanwhile, even more powers the new laws granted to the Government have been dramatically and publicly put into action.

    It appears police conducted last week's media raids using new secrecy laws contained within the foreign interference legislation, which change Parts 5, 6 and 7 of the Crimes Act.

    The legislation says the new secrecy laws "appropriately criminalise leaks of harmful information while also protecting freedom of speech".

    The definitions of "harmful information" are broad — for example, "loss of confidence or trust in the Australian Government by an overseas government or organisation".


  4. Sanctuary 5

    Seymour is disgusting opportunist who sees political salvation in the massacre of fifty people.

    He is also completely politically irrelevant.

    I say speak no more of this pathetic and desperate man.

    • Muttonbird 5.1

      Yep. Who of sound mind would seek to encourage and protect white supremacists just weeks after the unprecedented mass murder of 51 people by a white supremacist.

      Who else but the tone-deaf David Seymour.

      And just whose votes is he trying to win with this sort of backward thinking? The votes of people who are unwelcome in this country as far as I can tell. They can piss off to Australia where they belong.

      • fustercluck 5.1.1

        If you do not protect the free speech of those you abhor, you do not have free speech.

      • MickeyBoyle 5.1.2

        So only racists believe in free speech?

        • Muttonbird

          Racists seem most upset with the scrutiny. There are some other hand-wringers in there for whatever reason.

          And it’s pretty gross for racists to highjack the concept of free speech in order to further their destructive divisiveness.

      • Foreign Waka 5.1.3

        Wakey wakey – sometimes others can do the dirty work if you want totalitarianism by other means. Freedom has a price and sometimes one has to look beyond to recognize what the meaning of that word is. Millions have died to defend free speech, it does not mean selective free speech or only free speech if you agree. Democracy as we know it is based on it and a test of arguments for either side. Take this away and you are left with one thought, one leader, one idea – and what do you call this?

        • Muttonbird

          Gawd. Why so paranoid?

        • McFlock

          We already limit speech that is harmful.

          Not just incitement, but things like "I'm a doctor" and "this arsenic potion is safe to drink" and so on.

          I guess we're already there /sarc

      • SHG 5.1.4

        Who of sound mind would seek to encourage and protect white supremacists just weeks after the unprecedented mass murder of 51 people by a white supremacist.

        Those of sound mind, obviously.

        • Muttonbird

          White supremacists won't be appeased, only emboldened. I would have thought this lesson might have been learned some time ago.

  5. Cricklewood 6

    For every good reason to have a law like this there will be an unintended consequence down the line as per Red's post up there.

    Better not to have them as sooner or later they will be misused by an authoritarian state.

  6. WeekendWarrior 7

    MS, most of the examples you listed were incitements of violence – something which you directly quote Seymour as saying should still be a crime?

    I have no issues with Seymour fighting this, it is a slippery slope when Governments over-reach in this area.

    Under this law, will I still be able to insult anti-vaxxers? And have them insult me in return? How about when I insult flat earthers? Scientologists?

    Or does the Government/Police get to decide what is insulting on our behalf?

    • mickysavage 7.1

      WW I was responding to his comment "and have actually detained people just for sending a tweet" to show that just sending a tweet can be very sinister.

      I am actually fine with protection of insults. It is insulting the families of people who have been murdered by right wing extremists that I draw the line at.

      • fustercluck 7.1.1

        Insulting the families of murder victims is a complete asshole move. But once you make being an asshole a crime, we will all be criminals at some point. Then it is just the whim of the state that separates you from prison. I disagree, Micky. Even the disgusting speech that insults murder victims families must be protected if free speech means anything.

        • Dukeofurl

          "we will all be criminals at some point" – ah the slippery slope analogy.

          of course it only applies when you think it should

        • Lucy

          Why must insulting a person in their grief be protected? Particularly if the insult is about their religion. This is more than a dick move, it is like the people who protest at funerals of people who died of Aids – they may let them do that in America but that is not free speech. It is a level of abuse and the least that should happen is that they get removed by the police! Free speech does have consequences and unfortunately one of the consequences is the rise of stupid people yelling down all other opinions.

          • SHG

            Why must insulting a person in their grief be protected? Particularly if the insult is about their religion.

            What the fuck sort of retarded question is this

        • Jenny - How to Get there?

          Fustercluck if you truly believe there should be no limits to free speech; Here is an experiment for you to try,

          Go up to a police officer and start using profanities.

          Go on, I dare you.

          Or is the right to insult and abuse others that you say you support only reserved to used against the powerless.

          NZ police may want a word with Greer

          August 24, 2003

          Germaine Greer may find herself under arrest when she returns to New Zealand next month for the first time in 30 years – for failing to pay court costs over a conviction for swearing in public.

          Ms Greer, 64, has not paid about $40 in court costs following her 1972 conviction after she said "bullshit" and "f—" during an Auckland Town Hall meeting.

          Police confirmed there was a "possibility" the Australian-born feminist could be arrested on the warrant for her jailing…..


          One more thing Fustercluck, if you truly do believe in there being no limits to free speech, why do you censor yourself, by using a euphemism for your pseudonym?

          Could it be that you are a hypocrite?

          In practice why do you limit yourself?

          Could it be that you actually do believe that there are limits to free speech?

          • Jenny - How to Get there?

            Talking of self censorship.

            Last night TVNZ news at 6, gave a report on the attack launched against a Japanese owned oil tanker in the Gulf of Hormuz while the Japanese Prime Minister was in Iran.

            Not once did TVNZ News at 6 report the fact that the Japanese owners and crew of the crippled oil tanker disputed the US version of events, that the tanker was crippled by limpet mines placed there by the Iranians.

            Probably even worse was Stuff.co.nz censoring this story, along with its embarrassing eye witness evidence contrary to the US version of events, completely.

            The Sydney Morning Herald was not nearly so cowardly and sychophantic towards the US as the New Zealand media.
            Possibly because as the SMH reported, this is the number 1 trending story in the world.

            Japanese ship owner contradicts US account of how tanker was attacked

            By Simon Denyer

            June 15, 2019 — 10.09am

            Tokyo: The owner of a Japanese tanker attacked in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday has offered a different account of the nature of the attack than that provided by the United States….

            Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, the Japanese company operating one of two oil tankers attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.

            Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, the Japanese company operating one of two oil tankers attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.CREDIT:AP

            The incident in the Gulf of Oman has compounded the already simmering hostilities in what’s possibly the world’s most pivotal maritime corridor.

            "The crew are saying it was hit with a flying object. They say something came flying towards them, then there was an explosion, then there was a hole in the vessel," he told reporters. "Then some crew witnessed a second shot."


            So much for free speech in New Zealand when our mainstream media and journalists are so craven or bowed that they refuse to report this story properly, reporting only the US version of events, or not at all.

        • Jenny - How to Get there?

          Right Wingers like Fustercluck and David Seymour scream like stuck pigs over free speech for fascists and bigots, but are completely silent in the face of open censorship, by the mainstream media of any evidence that contradicts the US pro-war narrative against Iran.

  7. What's depressing is that that it actually needs pointing out that it shouldn't be a criminal offence to insult or offend someone. We had no business making it a criminal offence in the first place – now we get to have people like David Seymour holding the moral high ground. Thanks, National.

    How about if the tweet had… etc.

    Incitement to violence shouldn't ever be protected speech and would remain an offence even if we removed the sections about insult and offence from the HRA.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      That's exactly the point, it's impossible to say anything meaningful without offending someone. Hell this place is evidence enough of that.

      • mickysavage 8.1.1


        • In Vino

          Yeah, how come this website doesn't have a prominently displayed disclaimer pointing out that comments may cause offence, and that parental guidance is recommended, if not post-trauma therapy?

          • lprent

            I can't fit everything into the front page.

            Anyone who doesn't read the site policy really shouldn't be on the site.

            I suppose that I could summarize it to a front page summary…

            Beware: arseholes will be persecuted – read the policy before commenting.

            But as we all know – all arseholes will assume it only means the other guys. Not them…

            • In Vino

              I was going to say, 'Yes, they are a rotten lot.'

              But on second thoughts… smiley

  8. Rae 9

    You know, in an ideal world, he would be right, because in an ideal world there would not be any hate speech, in an ideal world we would all happily live by "do unto others".

    But we don't.

  9. observer 10

    It's a mistake to take Seymour's proposal in good faith.

    A private member's bill can only progress if the MP tries to build cross-party consensus. Louisa Wall did this with marriage equality, Sue Bradford did it with smacking, and (oh irony!) Seymour has done it quite successfully so far with euthanasia/assisted dying.

    But those are genuine attempts to pass a law. Which is why the proponent aims for 61.

    In this case Seymour wants the very opposite. He knows that National will not support him (for one thing, they'd have to undo their own legislation). He doesn't need the bill to pass, doesn't even need it drawn in the ballot.

    He just wants to repeat his gun law performance – act the martyr, and say "I am the courageous hero, alone." Discussing the theory and practice of balancing freedoms is a good for law seminars, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with ACT , whose real dream is not of Sweet Liberty, but a precious percentage point in the polls.

  10. McFlock 11

    Hate speech isn't speech that is merely offensive (although we do restrict offensive speech simply because it's easier than processing everyone for the resulting brawl).

    Hate speech is about domination, subjugation, and eradication. It's used by cowards incite others without actually giving them direct instruction. It's used by bullies to threaten others while keeping the very definite threat implicit. And it's about reinforcing the bonds of a homogenous group with criminal intent.

    Saying hate speech is insulting is like saying the world heavyweight title fight is an excellent upper arm and core body workout. It sort of misses the point, in order to make it seem harmless.

    • RedLogix 11.1

      Of course hate speech exists, no-one is quibbling that. The problem is … who defines it?

      It's not like there isn't a problem here, but the proposed cure is much worse than the disease.

      • McFlock 11.1.1

        The legislature defines it and then the courts assess whether specific instances meet that definition.

        That's basically how laws work.

        The question is whether the current definitions hit that spot between being narrow enough to protect people expressing opinions without intent to foment violence while being wide enough to keep white supremacists, fascists, and other fuckwits marginalist fuckwits on the fringes of society (rather than in the fucking legislature).

        I have no problem with this line being reviewed by the legislature and law society every so often. It does work both ways – removing sedition from the Crimes Act, for example.

        • RedLogix

          Why just white supremacists? Why just fascists and not marxists? See you've already produced a list that plenty of people would have strong reason to disagree with. As for fuckwits … good luck getting your magic legislation to pin that one down; it seems just provocatively broad.

          Sedition was interesting, how about all the possibilities around blasphemy? Now there's a can of ecclesiastical worms if there ever was. devil

          • McFlock

            Blasphemous libal was also removed from the books after a legislative review.

            There are 51 reasons I chose white supremacists and not marxists. You might have read about it in the papers.

            • RedLogix

              Consult your 20th century history, marxists hold the records man.

              • McFlock

                Maybe, but I'd need to use something other than the wallplanner in my office to look up the date.

                Genocidal marxists and Māori supremacists wanting to exterminate all white men would come under the purview of present and future legislation, but they're not the problem at the moment, are they?

                And even if they weren't covered by any post-march15 legislation, what's the problem? Is it unfair that nazis can't be nazis if marxists are allowed to say the bourgoise are parasites on society? Is it really a big civil rights issue if white supremacists (the most stupidly redundant of the supremacists) can't have their klan rally? Why would anyone care? It's not even a slippery slope issue, because in that situation the apparent unfairness is that the slope isn't slippery enough. Hey, if those other groups become a problem, we can legislate again. Laws aren't immutable.

                • RedLogix

                  I note that you had no problems including nazis and fascists even though I'm pretty sure their big push doesn't land on your wall planner either.

                  My point is simple, you came up with a list that suits your view of the world. Why do you imagine your view would always prevail?

                  Because as plenty of others have pointed out, if the radical left wants to play this speech criminalisation game, why do you think the extreme right won't come to the net and serve it right on back. They've already done it with identity politics.

                  • McFlock

                    I came up with a list that included the three near-identical groups that are in resurgence and highly active in NZ and similar nations right now.

                    And you know what, genocidal marxists also should be covered by legislation. If they turn up in the town centre, I hope I'd support punching them, too. But they're not the fucking problem at the moment, are they.

                    • RedLogix

                      resurgence and highly active in NZ

                      Ever wondered why? Nothing to do with this Universal White Guilt the left has been thrusting down everyone's throats for several decades do you think?

                    • McFlock

                      Oh, suck it up, snowflake.

                      Even if it is all the fault of left wing identity politics and has nothing to do with right wing politicians and media magnates getting material benefit from a paranoid populace, going back to the days when men could rape their wives, homosexuality was illegal, and teachers beat Māori students who used their own language is still too high a price to pay for fear of some pimpled inadequate with a gun. The better option is still to ban hate speech.

                    • RedLogix

                      Snowflake = Racist anti-white hate speech term

                      How easy was that? Just as well I'm not allowed to be offended.

                      Humans have two forms of cooperation, a very ancient one based on genetic affinity, and a much more recent one based on reciprocity and social cohesion. When you cancel the latter, they will always default to the former.

                    • McFlock

                      Except that skin tone snd ethnicity have little if anything to do with genetic affinity.

                      You want to demonstrate how calling you a snowflake is hate speech rather than just offending someone who's overly sensitive about imaginary problems?

                    • New view []

                      Have you noticed that on this website in my opinion, most try to take any view that is not their own as a personal insult. What you think of Seymour as a person or politician is not the point. The point is that you don’t miss freedom until you don’t have it. Seymour started the conversation because it suits his politics but the conversation needs to be had.

                    • solkta


                      with this Universal White Guilt

                      This is such a funny concept because only racist people feel guilt about what their 'race' has done. They create the idea through their own perception. The rest of us who don't buy into this 'race' bullshit just see social relations that aren't fair and seek to change them.

                    • McFlock

                      The point is that you don’t miss freedom until you don’t have it.

                      But that's only half the point. The other half of the point is that without some curbs on freedom, some dickhead will ruin it for the rest of us.

                      I don't have the freedom to practise medicine however I want because snake-oil hoaxters kill people, or use builder's silicone to do cosmetic surgery. I don't have the freedom to drive a car at certain speeds because some dickheads take out pedestrians and other drivers. And the country is taking another look at the line of free speech because some dickheads like to encourage other dickheads to shoot people based on creed or colour or sexual orientation.

                    • New view []

                      The point is in some countries restricting speech by law is a tool used by those in power to stay in power. We use hate speech as the example but it’s not a big step for certain Governments to use those same laws to inhibit speech critical of those Governments.Maybe Seymour is looking at the bigger picture.

                    • McFlock

                      And in some countries hate speech was not restricted and the fuckers ended up in charge – actually becoming some of the countries you mentioned, as it happens.

                    • New view []

                      Ah but at least where those fuckers are , those who disagree don’t disappear in large numbers as they do in some parts of South America,Asia and elsewhere.

                    • McFlock

                      No, the nazis and fascists were free to speak in the 1920s. Look what happened.

                      And even in the US today, they are literally at the stage of putting law-abiding people they don't like in overcrowded internment camps, with deaths resulting.

                      Oh, not to mention people being shot in nz.

                      So fuck those guys. And if genocidal marxists also get scooped up, good.

                    • Newview []

                      No, the Nazis and fascists came to power Because they were popular at the time. Just like Any cult but on a massive scale. Of course the real dirty work was done out of public sight. In countries like China it’s done by stealth. You vote the leader in for life then he changes the law so nobody can speak out of turn. Plenty of people think trump’s an arse hole including me but in the USA you can say what you like if you have the money.

                    • McFlock

                      No, the Nazis and fascists came to power Because they were popular at the time.

                      Which might have been difficult to achieve if particularly H's views of certain groups weren't permitted to be expressed so explicitly.
                      That’s why their salutes are banned to this day – so they don’t regain popularity.

                    • Newview []

                      In H’s Gemany pre 1939, times were really tough. Jews were always unpopular there for many reasons but their worst mistake was to be good with money. They owned businesses and were generally better off than most. That made them even more unpopular. It was then a piece of cake for Hitler to do his dirty work. The Jews were shipped out and nobody missed them. Perfect. . The salutes are symbolism and should be stopped but the damage was already done. H’s hate speech was accepted because Jews were disliked to start with. Plenty of instances of that around now but hate speech does nothing on its own it needs a combination of events to happen. I agree with a lot of what you say but free speech is a complicated issue. We’ll agree to disagree. Good discussion though.

                    • RedLogix

                      Which might have been difficult to achieve if particularly H's views of certain groups weren't permitted to be expressed so explicitly.

                      It's well understood that post-WW1 Germany was deeply stressed by onerous and oppressive armistice terms. There was a real sentiment that Zionist interests in the USA had betrayed Germany and their ongoing national humiliation, rightly or wrongly set up the conditions where many Germans were highly receptive to Hitler's message.

                      Repeating what I said above, humans have two modes of social cooperation, one very ancient one we share with primates based on genetic affiliation, and another much more recent one based on reciprocity, fairness and mutual trust. But these three social virtues do not spring from the human bosom fully formed; quite the contrary they're hard won via frank discussion, painstaking negotiation and the courage to withstand mistakes and betrayals.

                      Think of any truly worthwhile relationship in your life. It's not predicated on the idea that you both think alike, agree on everything and have a nice safe unprovocative time together. Quite the opposite, you value it because you know you can argue, compete, contend with each other, give each other endless shit . There is no legislative short-cut to this; you don't get to trust and respect unless you can first talk and find out what the other is really up to.

                    • McFlock

                      yeah nah. You can look at some of the root causes all you want, that's not an argument against options that might stop it.

                      As for your ideas on social cooperation, I'm not really sure how accurate they are or how useful they are even if they're broadly accurate. Nice story, but probably won't change a damned thing.

                    • McFlock

                      Wow. Some nice victim-blaming stereotypes and then an "agree to disagree". Classy.

                  • Jenny - How to Get there?

                    So Red, would you walk up to a police officer and use profanity and racial epithets and expect not to be arrested?

                    Tell me this Red:

                    1/ Would you support the right of someone to verbally denigrate a uniformed police officer in racial terms as 'free speech'?

                    2/ Would you support the right of racists and white supremacists who are offended my Maori or a Muslim in a Police uniform, calling them by racist epithets, as 'free speech'?

                    3/ Do you think such people shouldn't be arrested for such behaviour?

                    4/ Do you think such people should be arrested if they said the same things to someone who wasn't a police officer?

                    5/ Do you think racist views that shouldn't be said before and about a police officer, without risking arrest, should be allowed to be said and about, powerless minority groups and individuals, because you know, 'Free Speech'?

                    My guess; like most veiled bigots, and the racist bullies you think should have the right to abuse minorities, that you are a coward, and will refuse to answer.

                    • If you think cops don't get called some ugly shit on occasion, you must have led a very sheltered life. They generally ignore it because being an arsehole isn't a crime. Nor should it become one, because "So who's the asshole here?" is a question sometimes not easily answered.

                    • Incognito

                      If I were RL I’d refuse to take the bait. I think you’re way OTT with your personal slurs aimed at RL. I hope you can see the irony. My advice is to tone it down.

                    • Jenny - How to Get there?

                      Just as you say Psycho, cops get called some ugly shit. You must have lived a very privileged life if you don't know that people get arrested for it. Just as you say Psycho the police can choose not to arrest people for it. But in my experience the police are more likely to arrest you for it than not. (And in a rather rough manner I might add). Just you try it and see. Though you are probably more likely to get away with verbally abusing a police officer or traffic cop if you are dressed in a dinner suit and you are Bob Jones coming from a fancy dinner party, than a PI factory hand from South Auckland dressed in shorts and singlet coming from the pub.

                      The fact is that 'assholes' (your term), which I take to mean racist, bigots and white supremacists, generally give figures in authority a lot more respect than they give to powerless and vulnerable minorities. It's the nature of their assholery by definition. Boil it all down and racists, fascists, and white supremacists are bullies. While none of us are allowed to freely verbally abuse police officers David Seymour thinks that racists and fascists should be free to abuse, (generally powerless and vulnerable), minorities who don't have the power to arrest them, or otherwise defend themselves from such abuse.

                    • Jenny - How to Get there?

                      The real irony here Incognito is that Red is arguing for the right to insult minorities, and you say that I should tone it down by merely challenging him to answer some straight questions, or prove himself a coward. Normally I wouldn't, but I knew that he wouldn't reply and he has proved me right. By proving me right, you could say he has insulted himself.

                    • Incognito []

                      I don’t think RL is arguing that at all but that’s a difference of opinion (or interpretation).

                      I don’t think you were “merely challenging him to answer some straight questions”. They were loaded to the max. You don’t get to dictate the outcome of discussion or debate here by branding another commenter “a coward” if they don’t follow your demand. If you are or were genuinely interested in his answers to certain questions, you could or would have asked in a different way without ‘the ransom’, IMHO.

                      This isn’t some kind of weird point-scoring duel as to who’s right and who’s wrong. Again, what is the point of all this?

                      The ‘logic’ of your last sentence is really lost on me but I sincerely doubt RL feels self-insulted by not answering your “straight questions”. Would it make you feel better? I don’t get the point.

                    • RedLogix

                      Normally I wouldn't, but I knew that he wouldn't reply and he has proved me right.

                      That's because I have been watching a truly fascinating new HBO miniseries on Chernobyl. It's about the consequences of lies, or more accurately, about what happens when people cannot speak the truth.

                      Incidentally your questions are easily answered. You frame freedom of speech as a 'right to offend' the weak and vulnerable. I view it as a responsibility to speak the truth.


                    • Jenny - How to Get there?


                      17 June 2019 at 12:03 am

                      ……You frame freedom of speech as a 'right to offend' the weak and vulnerable. I view it as a responsibility to speak the truth.

                      Indeed, now we are getting down to the nub of the argument.

                      But what I find striking is that right wingers who are very vocal in defending the right to make racist, and fascist comment as 'free speech'. Are silent in cases of blatant censorship by the corporate media.
                      Especially if this censorship, and lying by omission, is in the service of premeditated mass murder. (ie war.)

                      Your silence is deafening.

                      Jenny – How to Get there?

                      16 June 2019 at 5:04 pm

                      Talking of self censorship.

                      Last night TVNZ news at 6, gave a report on the attack launched against a Japanese owned oil tanker in the Gulf of Hormuz while the Japanese Prime Minister was in Iran.

                      Not once did TVNZ News at 6 report the fact that the Japanese owners and crew of the crippled oil tanker disputed the US version of events, that the tanker was crippled by limpet mines placed there by the Iranians…..

                    • RedLogix

                      Indeed, now we are getting down to the nub of the argument.

                      Maybe we are, but speaking in a way that could offend people just because you can is very bad manners. Every right comes with responsibilities.

                      As for the 'complicit in the silence of the corporate media' thing … your observation has some kernel of truth. The moral system of left wingers places a prime emphasis on empathy and avoiding harm, while right wingers cluster this together with other values such as duty and loyalty. Thus they're less likely to challenge the conventional narrative, especially when it's contentious.

                      As for the US/Iran story; everyone knows the corporate media is part of the propaganda machine, at least at some level. If you need me to say so … well I just did. This incident really does trigger skepticism, and while I think there is a 50% chance Iran is the culprit, the information we have is well short of conclusive. And at this morning it looks like there is not much appetite to attack Iran on the part of Europe and others.

                      The USA is discovering that having slaughtered it's moral authority over Iraq and Syria, followed by Trump's reckless disregard for the international community … that the days when POTUS could say 'jump' and the rest of the West would reply 'low orbit or geostationary?' are fading. Except of course for the craven pack of Tories in the UK who are desperate for a post-Brexit UK/USA trade deal.

                • Foreign Waka

                  McFlock – This is not about a moment but about a framework under which a society works. In other words what is good for the goose must be good for the gander. If you separate any group and isolate them by legislation it is no better than any other totalitarian state. Whether you agree with their idea or not is irrelevant. The slippery slope starts if the law is being used to design discrimination of any kind.

                  • McFlock

                    But if the restriction is simply on hate speech and symbols designed to evoke hate, all that slippery slope bullshit disappears.

                    And listing specific groups doesn't work anywy – they just change their names.

                    • RedLogix

                      You keep saying that as if 'hate speech' was a well defined, non-slippery thing.

                    • Gosman

                      McFlock's probably got an easy solution. All the government needs to do is appoint Mcflock as the Commisioner in charge of determining what is and isn't hate speech. Job done.

                    • McFlock

                      That's the role of legislators. Usually section 2 of any act of parliament.

                      Problem solved.

                    • RedLogix


                      Here for example is the definition Iceland came up with:

                      Anyone who publicly mocks, defames, denigrates or threatens a person or group of persons by comments or expressions of another nature, for example by means of pictures or symbols, for their nationality, colour, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, or disseminates such materials, shall be fined or imprisoned for up to 2 years.]

                      Under this definition The Standard would have to be closed immediately and quite a few of it's regulars imprisoned. Including you. The other day you mocked me as a 'snowflake', clearly a term intended to denigrate 'whiteness', intended to subjugate me as 'weak' and worthy only of 'extermination' as I melt away in the heat of your contempt. Or at least I could claim that is how I felt about it, and in law that is all that might matter.

                      This is one of the reasons why in recent years I have very much refrained from personal attacks; I could see this kind of legislation coming down the tracks at us and the potential for it's perverse misuse.

                    • McFlock

                      lolna snowflake is about your fragility, not your colour.

                      Either way, if the legislature decides that wikipedia can be cut&pasted into an interpretation section, we've got bigger problems than anything you've raised.

                    • RedLogix

                      What you claim is irrelevant; under any meaningful hate speech legislation it is how offended the target is that counts. How could it be otherwise? Imagine if real Nazi's could claim they only intended to use the swastika as 'as an ancient cultural symbol of spirituality and divinity' and everyone else was just being 'fragile' by overreacting to it.

                      And take the time to read that wiki link; I only pasted one example that caught my eye of just how very broad some of these hate speech definitions are, and how very easily they can be perversely misused.

                    • greywarshark

                      I'm concerned that it will cut out the passion required to seek truth and denigrate the 'grey' people who glide on grease saying everything is pretty good. A rant, a recoil from such slithery snakes and ambidextrous dealers become politicians desires strong language sufficient to wake NZs from their Rip van Winkle slumbers.

                      SEX EVERYONE. Oh nos I didn't expect The Spanish Inquisition.

                    • McFlock

                      Some are broad, some are narrow, some have nothing to do with insult or causing offence at all.

                      I'm sure that many or all of these issues will be covered in the review. But what we have now isn't working.

                    • RedLogix

                      What evidence do you have that your proposed cure will be any better than what we currently have?

                      The Soviet Union is a vivid example of what happens when people cannot speak their truth, when everything has to conform an officially approved 'safe' narrative.

                      Don't get me wrong, hate speech is real. But the correct way to deal with it is contempt, mockery and robust rebuttal. Hate speech laws explicitly shut this down.

                    • Gosman

                      Why isn't it working (i.e. what makes you think our existing laws are not working)?

                    • McFlock

                      What evidence do you have that your proposed cure will be any better than what we currently have?

                      I'm happy for it to be left up to the legislature to do a more in-depth analysis on the issues involved. Maybe they will say this is the best we can do – but I doubt it.

                      Why isn't it working (i.e. what makes you think our existing laws are not working)?

                      Fair enough Gos – your question was answered within a link within a link in the post, but that would require more good faith interest in the post to find than you have ever displayed. Read and be enlightened.

              • arkie

                @RL so by 'Marxists' you actually mean 'Communist Regimes'. Marx was a theorist writing about the costs of capitalism.

                I wonder what you think of the millions of people who starved due being unable to afford to eat throughout the 20th Century?

                • RedLogix

                  Marx was a theorist writing about the costs of capitalism.

                  If that was all he wrote about, he'd be a left wing hero. But it wasn't, and disconnecting Marxist cause from the subsequent catastrophic impacts of Communism is a transparent ploy really.

                  I wonder what you think of the millions of people who starved due being unable to afford to eat throughout the 20th Century?

                  If famine was unique to the 20th Century and just capitalist countries, you'd have a point. Moreover after 70 odd years of intense globalisation since the end of WW2, we've reached the point where starvation is now uncommon and more people are free from the threat of it than in all of human history.

                  • arkie

                    And yet your vilification of the 'Marxist cause' transparently shows your lack of historic understanding of the left wing in general.

                    After 70 odd years of globalisation we still have a world of stark and growing inequity and dying planet. We throw away tonnes of food, spoiled of shop shelves, while children go hungry, houses sitting empty while people freeze sleeping rough. And anyone without access to money will feel this threat. These are just some of the costs of Capitalism.

                    • RedLogix

                      shows your lack of historic understanding of the left wing in general.

                      No it shows that I don't pretend Mao, Stalin and the rest of that vile crew weren't just 'misguided'. Until the left can bring itself to fully repudiate them as we demanded the right repudiate the Nazi's, our moral authority will be on shakey grounds.

                      After 70 odd years of globalisation we still have a world of stark and growing inequity

                      Goalpost shifting, first it was starvation, now it's something a lot more slippery 'inequity'.

                      It's not hard to argue that as narrow materialistic ideologies, both Capitalism and Communism are proven failures in their puritan form, yet elements of both are deeply entwined into the system we currently have.

                      Time I would argue to expand the domain of solutions if we want to make progress.

                    • arkie


                      You actually read Marx? You parrot JBP so assiduously I assume, like him, haven't bothered to. Where are the Maoists to repudiate? Where do I find these Stalinists that the Left must reject?

                      It's not hard to argue that as narrow materialistic ideologies, both Capitalism and Communism are proven failures in their puritan form, yet elements of both are deeply entwined into the system we currently have.

                      Time I would argue to expand the domain of solutions if we want to make progress.

                      Yes, agreed, and my argument is that part of that expansion of the 'domain of solutions' involves reading Marx.

                    • RedLogix

                      I read the Gulag Archipeligo in the 70's when it was first published; and unlike anyone else here, I’ve made a point of visiting gulag sites, the museum at Perm and I’ve worked in the Kolyma region. It's JBP who's channeling RedLogix.

                      It is completely illegal to endorse or display anything about the Nazi's in Germany, by contrast Mao and Stalin and both are still revered in their respective countries. Stalin still lies in state in Red Square, and the CCP still derives much of it's historic and moral authority from Mao.

                      Trying to pretend that Marx has nothing to do with the 20th century communist revolutions is flat out dishonest. I'm happy to acknowledge he was the first to outline the limitations and flaws of capitalism, but as I said above, if he'd stopped there he'd be a hero.

  11. Incognito 12

    This is a great topic to delve into but unfortunately, it is ‘contaminated’ by ACT and others. It would be great to do another post on free speech without the political noise and the boy crying wolf relevance.

  12. Ad 13

    Any political party launching a Freedom to Speak bill the day after the Christchurch mass murder pleaded Not Guilty concerning his freedom of expression within a manifesto of hate twinned with a live publication of 50 New Zealanders being shot to death, takes some balls.

  13. Doogs 14

    Yes incognito, relevance! That’s what it’s all about. Desperately striving to have some value in a world that has moved on leaving his feet firmly stuck in the 1950s. I also love Sanctuary’s comment at 5 – desperate and pathetic. Watching the Newshub interview I was left with the feeling that, probably because the interviewer was female, there were some none too subtle put downs in there. The man infuriates me. There’s always a slight sneer in his presentation, a sort of ‘well, everyone I know thinks like this, what’s wrong with you?’ If the Natz have any shred of nous left they’ll stand a candidate in Epsom next year and consign Seymour to the dustbin of politics.

    • Incognito 14.1

      I don’t mind politicians striving for relevance and I can also understand and thus tolerate cynical politics to some extent but when it crosses into dangerous territory and people might get harmed that’s when I draw a line. Seymour is playing with fire and to some degree, he has to because he needs to get attention and cut through the noise. The problem arises when this might attract enough attention to turn into votes and show up in the (internal) polls, that’s when it starts to get real traction.

      I don’t think National are quite ready to kill off their only ‘friend’.

      • Psycho Milt 14.1.1

        It would be nice if we'd made him irrelevant by not criminalising the expression of opinion in the first place. Various government politicians' expressed views that we should extend the criminalisation of opinion even further, backed up by various influential figures (up to and including at least one university Vice Chancellor, which is in itself quite horrifying) is what's making him so damn relevant – maybe they could stop doing that?

      • Psycho Milt 14.1.2

        Ended up with a duplicate comment for some reason

  14. Jackel 15

    Happy content people with plenty of well-being have no need to insult others. Which is where we're heading isn't it. So I see this bill as irrelevant.

    • Formerly Ross 15.1

      You've apparently never watched 7 Days. It's why David Bain changed his name and moved to Australia. 🙂

  15. Formerly Ross 16

    It seems like I have to say this again: the answer to hate speech is more speech. That some on the Left don't get that is a real concern.

    “The principle of free speech is the bedrock on which free societies are built. It ensures we can, without threat of legal sanction, discuss controversial things in order to sort out good ideas from bad. It is precisely the expression of controversial, and potentially offensive, ideas—not safe or mainstream ones—that the principle of free speech is required to protect.

    People of a similar political stripe to [Jan] Thomas might be unperturbed by the prospect of [Don] Brash facing arrest for expressing his views, but they would do well to consider that their political allies won’t always be in the ascendancy. In another political climate, it might be people like Green MP Julie-Anne Genter facing prosecution for comments about “old white men”.

    How would those of us on the Left feel about being prosecuted for expressing our opinion? Would we be able to burn a flag at a dawn ceremony on Anzac Day a la Valerie Morse without fear of being jailed? I will be putting politics aside and supporting Seymour’s Bill.


    • observer 16.1


      Support Seymour's bill? There is no bill. As I explained above.

      This is how it would play out, in the unlikely event that ACT's numbers could get National into power after the 2020 election:

      Nat leader: "Hi David, I'm offering you a job. Associate Minister for Paper Clips. In return, you will support National on confidence and supply".

      Seymour: "Thanks. But you must also repeal these laws. I have principles!"

      Nat leader: "Forget it. I've made the offer, do you want it, or a Lab/Green government instead? And what will you tell voters in Epsom?".

      Seymour: "It's forgotten already."

      (I mean, either you understand what Seymour is doing, because you know who he is … or you don't. Seymour's *principles* do not exist. He will do whatever National requires, because the only *principle* he will fight for is keeping his job).

    • barry 16.2

      "It seems like I have to say this again: the answer to hate speech is more speech. That some on the Left don't get that is a real concern."

      Except it doesn't work like that. More speech just means more noise and the extremists are most capable of noise. The moderate voices just get lost.

      There have always been voices of hate (not just the right wing racists), but mostly they have just been ignored. the internet has not created the problem, but exacerbated it. Whereas previously the news media could exercise restraint and the extremists (even the well-intentioned social warriors didn't get a platform, now everyone is a publisher.

      So yes laws against certain forms of speech are dangerous, but we do want the most significant social media platforms to control the dialogue a little. I think the current laws are not bad, and I will wait to see what the new proposals are.

      • Formerly Ross 16.2.1

        More speech just means more noise and the extremists are most capable of noise. The moderate voices just get lost.

        That is not a convincing argument, Barry. Our laws are generally made not for the benefit of the noisy. They are usually made after careful consideration. Debate and disagreement are a normal part of everyday life.

  16. Morrissey 17

    Trouble is: if governments stop idiots like Neo-Nazis, NewstalkZzzzB hosts and ACT MPs speaking their minds, they'll stop thoughtful and intelligent people as well.

    • Andre 17.1

      Don't worry, mozzie, your speech will be unaffected since you don't fit any of those categories.

  17. Matthew Whitehead 18

    Seymour is full of shit about this being about freedom of speech. If the Human Rights Act provision on "inciting racial dishamony," which is under-enforced, concerned you on freedom of speech grounds, then you'd surely be absolutely mad about defamation law in New Zealand, (which is literally "making insulting someone a crime") which makes quoting an inaccurate news story grounds for you to be sued.

    Here is Seymour characterizing our law as unfriendly to plaintiffs on defamation:


    I've previously pointed out that we have wealthy individuals like Bob Jones who make a habit of chilling free speech with defamation lawsuits against perfectly reasonable comments that our law makes difficult to defend as truthful despite being reasonable statements of opinion on uncontested facts.

    If Seymour gave a shit about free speech, he would know our defamation laws are out of balance like he claims our "hate speech" laws (ie. racial disharmony law, as it specifically can only be used for race relations) are.

    Now, that said, I will say that both defamation laws and hate speech laws have a place, that place simply needs to be in balance.

    Defamation is supposed to protect people against "fake news" type attacks on their character. It needs to be relatively strong to do so, but not so strong that a disparity in access to the courts makes it into a system that can bully people into shutting up because they can't afford to front a defense despite absolutely having a case. We need to make summary judgements on defamation much easier, as dismissing mendacious lawsuits at that stage saves most of the lawyers’ costs, and allows defense lawyers to quote a more reasonable figure to those being slapped with STFU suits.

    Hate speech law also has a place- its place is to prevent the intimidatory effect of hate speech. It's reasonable not to criminalize people for "expressing their opinions" in private places. It's not reasonable, however, to allow people to publicly intimidate minorities through bullying behaviour, and sadly, yes, a lot of the stuff people defend with statements like "well that's just my opinion" is indeed in function intimidatory. Now, there should be relatively clear thresholds as to when hate speech or hate crimes laws become active- things like when a violent crime is committed with a motive to target a minority group, or your "just giving your opinions" is an overt incitement to violence are clearly "in," it's just a question of how do we balance leaving enough things "out" that you can reasonably be a dick in public, but also that we fight stochastic terrorism sufficiently that we stop another ChCh attack from happening?

    That is a debate we can have in good faith- if conservatives and right-wingers agree to leave Seymour the fuck out of it, because he's made very clear from his refusal to dump Berry, to his trolling vegetarians and feminists, to his flirting with gun groups after the ChCh attack, that he is absolutely going for the alt-right vote, and thus cannot be trusted to act in good faith.

    • observer 18.1

      Matthew +1

      Lots of "free speech" issues in NZ: defamation, name suppression in courts, ban on election day, ban on TV ads at Easter, Xmas etc …

      All restrict free speech. Some I personally like (election day), some I don't (excessive name suppression of wealthy accused). All debatable in good faith.

      But … None of which Seymour wants to campaign on. Gosh, I wonder why.

      • Matthew Whitehead 18.1.1

        I think we usually get name supression right in the law, it's just a question of whether it's correctly applied by judges. Name suppression has exactly the same purpose as defamition should- to protect you if you are taken to court unjustly and a case is dismissed, so that you don't face reputational damage unreasonably. But again, if a bad call is made on when to give it, or it's combined with things like suppressing mention of prior offenses in court, it can have perverse outcomes in practice.

        Absolutely with you on banning ads on election day- think it's pretty foolish myself, we should just ban them in proximity of polling places instead.

        I do like ad-free days, and I don't think you'd get them without legislation. Remember equity of speech is as important as unrestricted speech is- ads are the rich man's graffiti, except it's illegal to damage them. 😉 It's absolutely a public service to give us a few days of broadcasting without ads plastered through it. If we had some decent content for people to watch on xmas and easter, then it'd be even better. 😉 😉

    • Formerly Ross 18.2


      You claim it’s unreasonable to publicly intimidate minorities. Hmmm that would presumably mean you’d have to be very careful how and when you criticised white supremacists. Clearly such people are a minority.

      Mark Reason has discussed the importance of free speech as has the commentator I linked to above. If gays have a claim of hate speech against Folau, maybe Folau has a claim of hate speech against those who find his religious views repugnant.

      The debate can become very messy unless one realises that the answer is more speech. Becoming more resilient may also help, and there are professionals who teach people how to be more resilient.


      • Matthew Whitehead 18.2.1

        So, this is where we get into fucking semantics and I hate it, so thanks a lot. 😉

        So, for example, do men count as a minority because there's actually less of us than women? I think we'd agree the answer is no. That suggests that when we say a word like "minorities," what we really mean is people who suffer structural oppression, rather than actual groups that are less than 50% of the population.

        But the terms that shorten that particular idea are things people don't understand well. So I say minorities, despite obviously a group being small (like say, TERFs or White Supremacists) doesn't make them automatically oppressed. They can absolutely be small and unpopular because despite them actively trying to enlarge and reinforce existing systemic oppressions, they take what is currently covert (transphobia or racism) and try to make it overt.

        The idea that more speech somehow reverses the effect of incitement to violence, or constant harassment, is just straightforwardly wrong, Ross, and again, when we try to do things like this- I will remind you to google one Renae Maihi- often people get slapped with defamation lawsuits if they are talking about someone rich or powerful. We don't have a right for the oppressed to speak as freely as the oppressor in New Zealand, even under the law, and that's ignoring the fact that it's difficult for women, people of colour, and queer people to maintain platforms. Look at how many have departed or refused to work with even places with arguably good missions, like this site or TBD, because there have been cultural trends (in TS' case) or individuals (in TBD's case) involved that made the environment toxic. Look at how unbalanced the media landscape is in favour of rich, white, cis-straight men. And then get back to me on how you're proposing I get to be heard as much as David Fucking Seymour who can fart about free speech and get straight onto the news while polling in the per milles, but somehow the fact his fellow ACT candidates are openly supporting the most virulent of TERFs and white supremacists never gets covered.

        • Psycho Milt

          It would come as news to most feminists that they are trying to "enlarge and reinforce existing systemic oppressions." News to me too, for that matter – can't say I've noticed them doing it.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            Trans exclusion isn't the subject of this thread so I don't wanna derail it too heavily, so I'll simply say you're assuming facts not in evidence in claiming "most feminists" are okay with exclusionary politics towards trans women. (and from what I've seen, also trying to re-define trans men's identities for them as butch lesbian)

            • Psycho Milt

              As you say, not the subject of this thread, but TERF is a slur, so be careful what you wish for – restrictions on having an opinion may not just apply to opinions you don't like.

              • Matthew Whitehead

                Look, as someone who thinks mainstream feminism is good for men too, I won't tell you what is and isn't feminism because that's not my place, but you have to accept that you can't tell a queer person what is and isn't a hategroup against other queer people, and that I'm not gonna lump them (you?) in with a group (intersectional feminists) I consider to broadly be allies.

                I can't refute your assertion here, because saying "TERF is a slur" is a classic gish gallop move where it takes seconds to say but minutes to refute, including going into the movement's interesting history with colonization of other people's spaces. Now please stop trying to make this thread about anti-trans hate movements. If you need to, just wait until I post something on them, I'm sure I'll find an opportunity.

                • Well, you raised the subject, I was just responding to it. All good, though – my point is that "hate speech" is a subjective term (eg, we're never going to agree when it comes to the term TERF) and criminalising opinion can have unintended consequences.

                  • Matthew Whitehead

                    I made a throwaway reference to Steven Berry's support of that movement, sure, but it's not bringing the issue up for full debate, and I will note last time the topic came up it had an issue similar to the 2016 US elections where it absolutely consumed the entire comments section, and absolutely need to be contained to dedicated threads.

                    • Which is one reason I don't make throwaway references to it on The Standard's comments threads.

                      Any thoughts on how this is one example of the various ways that criminalising opinion might come back to bite us?

                    • McFlock

                      When calling someone a "TERF" gets one put in jail because one's anti-terf mates live-streamed a massacre, I'm not sure I'd be particularly opposed to that.

                    • And if the criteria for criminalising opinion included the requirement that someone live-streamed a massacre in support of that opinion, I'd have no problem with criminalising it. I don't think that's one of the criteria, though.

                    • McFlock

                      Yeah, I'd be a bit irked if it had to wait until after the massacre, too.

                      But we know what happens when we pretend it's just an "opinion" with no further repercussions. So maybe a review of where the line is could be a good idea.

                    • Matthew Whitehead

                      PM- It was a relevant mention as the groups are roughly equivalent in their advocacy against PoC and trans people. It paints a picture of Berry as an unacceptable candidate and proof that Act are unwilling to cut ties with the alt-right, who are absolute fans of what anti-trans groups in NZ are doing. It's inaccurate to simply say he is palling around with white supremacists, as he goes much further than that, to the point where he is on a blocklist for hate accounts in New Zealand now.

                      McFlock- IMO the line on what speech is reasonable to restrict should be clearer than it is in current law, especially if we're going to expand the provision under the Human Rights Act to deal with racial discrimination. I'd personally suggest targeted action with an intent to (and maybe repeated, depending on severity) intimidate or harass of any group protected by New Zealand human rights law is what we'd definitely want "in" as an offense under a hate speech law. (I say action simply to make it clear that things like bigoted graffiti are also speech, but that may not be necessary in law. We also have to be a little bit careful here because some of the protections under NZ law are implicit, not explicit, so we might need to name some additional ones if we tried to reference groups listed in BORA, for instance, as some of them have been interpretted as having BORA protections in the courts but are not explicitly in legislation)

                      I'd actually also favour introducing hate crimes legislation to add an additional charge to those who specifically target protected groups in serial violent crimes, as it has an intimidatory factor that is an extra injury to the public at large- essentially my view is that the purpose here isn't to "criminalize opinion," it's about making it clear that systemic intimidation, harassment, or violence against vulnerable groups to try and make them live in fear is unacceptable in a polite society and a seperate injury to any speech or violent action taken, and this is appropriate even in a society that believes in freedom of expression.

                      The moment one person's freedom of expression and another one's legitimate fear for their personal safety come into conflict, I think we really need to consider what kind of society we are and whether we think speech should be allowed to translate into attacks this way. Where speech is political, it has political consequences. Where speech is action or incitement to action, it should have legal consequences, if that action is demonstrably harmful and illegal- and we've seen that white supremacy is absolutely demonstrably harmful to New Zealanders.

        • Formerly Ross

          The idea that more speech somehow reverses the effect of incitement to violence, or constant harassment

          But, Matthew, we already have laws against incitement to violence and harassment. We don't need more laws.

          Gay people have benefited tremendously from free speech. It's odd that we'd even contemplate turning the clock back.

  18. Jenny - How to Get there? 19

    A privileged white male wants the right to tell racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic jokes, in public.

    He wants to reinforce his social position by depicting those not like him as inferior.

    He wants the state to protect his right to do so.

    David Seymor wants the right to belittle, demean and mock those who don’t enjoy the privileges he does.

    Why am I not surprised?

    • He wants the state to protect his right to do so.

      Nope. He wants the state to not criminalise him for doing so, which is something else entirely.

    • Morrissey 19.2

      So, because people like David Seymour are horrible, you want to curb all of our tongues, and censor all of our writing.

      Who's going to do this curbing and censoring?

    • greywarshark 19.3

      Life's a bitch ain't it. Or am I not allowed to say that.

  19. JustMe 20

    What is it about David Seymour that he at every opportunity eagerly hunts and seeks out all chances of being the centre of attention?

    When he isn't looking or behaving like the perpetual Village Idiot on some tv show and no I am not referring to his 'Look at me. Aren't I fantastic?" scenes in NZ politics he is dancing his way into stupidity on some show that I have never bothered to watch.

    Maybe this all explains why we unfortunately have David Seymour in parliament. He is in love with himself and his sense that he MUST BE THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION at ALL TIMES.

    Where was Seymour's voice of concern whilst he was part of the previous National government????!!!!! Oh right. He was a voice-less Village Idiot that was ONLY there in the previous government to vote ALWAYS in favour of National.

    He claims to be part Maori but will only apply the Maori part when it suits him and his agendas. Outside of that time we probably wouldn't even get him saying anything like "I think raising GST to 15% is unacceptable for low income NZers of which most Maori come into that category…"

    Nope. David Seymour is just behaving like an opportunistic and self-serving ratbag. What little population in his electorate voted for him should hold their heads in shame. They got a Village Idiot as their representative.

  20. SHG 21

    If my choice come election time is a choice between a party protecting free speech rights and a party that wants to make it illegal to hurt people’s feelings, I’m voting for the first party.

    Nice work Rimmer. Keep it up.

  21. Observer Tokoroa 22

    "Do as I say " says David

    Is this the same Seymour who is demanding that Doctors be called upon to assist people to die ?

    I am not wishing to insult the National Party stooge, But we all know from daily accounts that Killing is extremely easy.

    Bringing people back to life however, is impossible. Even for the Act Party.

    • greywarshark 22.1

      Actually dying is very hard to achieve in this country on a lawful basis, and no matter how much desired. It is a sad act when one has to starve to death purposefully, or to plan to commit suicide and die alone without a friend or relative with you to say farewell to, help smooth the way with all things attended to, and note your leaving.

  22. SHG 23

    A government that decides that it should control speech that offends people is a very small step from deciding that it should control speech that offends the government.

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