- Date published:
7:54 am, March 26th, 2019 - 564 comments
Categories: censorship, Christchurch Attack, Deep stuff, don brash, internet, interweb, Politics, Propaganda, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: dan satherley, jordan williams, Thomas Beagle
The Free Speech coalition has a somewhat checkered history. It was formed to support a couple of low class fascists coming to New Zealand and insulting multiculturalism for clicks and profit.
The really upsetting thing about the fascists was that it seemed questionable that they actually believed what they said. Instead it appeared to be monetised hate speech.
Jim Parker summarised the business model well:
There’s a pattern emerging. [Lauren Southern], Milo, the Information Wars guy and Australia’s assortment of provocateurs have latched onto a business model. This involves calculatedly creating outrage to generate notoriety and ‘brand’ awareness. The politics is neither here nor there. What’s important is getting noticed and monetising that attention. It’s the desperate last days of neoliberalism and these outrage manufacturers are the ultimate expression of its bankruptcy as an idea.
So who is the Free Speech coalition.
Don Brash is a member. As I said earlier his commitment to the freedom of the publication of ideas is such that he once took out a preemptive injunction trying to stop the publication of Nicky Hager’s book Hollow Men.
And he is also totally opposed to the use of Maori. Freedom of speech as long as it is not about him and is in English.
The spokesperson is Dr. David Cumin who thought that the New Zealand supported UN resolution on Palestine at the end of last year unfairly demonised Israel and who opposes “hateful” graffiti that attacks Israel. Anti Israeli graffiti clearly for him is not the exercise of free speech.
And Jordan Williams is still there. As I said earlier he has some history. He did not like it when Eleanor Catton criticised National and is not happy about Colin Craig exercising his right to free speech and say not very nice things about Williams.
So what do they think about the Censor’s decision to ban the manifesto of that person who shall not be named? From Dan Satherley at Newshub:
“This is a completely improper use of the censorship powers,” Free Speech Coalition spokesperson Stephen Franks said. “Most New Zealanders will have no interest in reading the rants of an evil person. But there is a major debate going on right now on the causes of extremism. Kiwis should not be wrapped in cotton wool with their news and information censored.”
But wait. There is another organisation in our country full of legal talent and dedicated to the protection of our freedoms. I wonder what they think?
But another free speech group, the NZ Council for Civil Liberties, says the Chief Censor’s decision falls “right in the middle” of what the law calls for.
“It’s not an extreme ruling or a novel interpretation of the law,” chairperson Thomas Beagle told Magic Talk on Monday.
“I think it’s important that people in New Zealand do know the basis for what has happened. I’m not sure whether they need the interpretations from the media, or go read it themselves. We believe that freedom of expression is important, but we also believe there should be limits to it, as is justifiable in a free and democratic society. And I can’t see this particular ban as being a serious impediment to that.”
Beagle said it wasn’t a “gross invasion” of free speech, and even if the document wasn’t banned, sharing it could contravene other laws – such as the Human Rights Act, which outlaws inciting racial disharmony. The manifesto details the gunman’s white supremacist and anti-migrant views.
Beagle is perfectly correct. There is no absolute right to freedom of speech.
In particular the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 provides that a publication is deemed to be objectionable if it promotes or supports, or tends to promote or support acts of torture or the infliction of extreme violence or extreme cruelty.
And the manifesto clearly does. It is a call to arms against the Muslim community.
It advocates for and urges acts of hostility against Muslims living in Aotearoa New Zealand of which there are many.
Honest this is not even close. I am amazed that the Free Speech coalition should even think about arguing this.
And this is not a recent Government inspired change to practice. This sort of decision would have been made at any time since the passage of the legislation. And to those conspiracy theorists out there the same decision has been made about ISIS propaganda.
If you need more details then read the Censor’s views.
He says this in the press release accompanying the decision:
There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech’, which may be rejected by many right-thinking people but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism,” says Mr Shanks.
“It crosses the line.”
It is recognised that the publication has been widely reported on over the past week, with many media outlets publishing commentary on it, and sometimes providing links to it or downloadable copies. Many New Zealanders may have read it, possibly seeking answers for why this dreadful atrocity took place.
Most people reading the publication will not be harmed by it. “Most New Zealanders who have read this will simply find it repellent. But most New Zealanders are not the target audience. It is aimed at a small group who may be receptive to its hateful, racist and violent ideology, and who may be inspired to follow the example set by its apparent author.”
There is power in the Act for the Censor to grant exemptions to scholars and reporters so that the manifesto can be analysed by them if they want.
It is a shame we cannot have a sensible debate about this issue especially at this difficult time. Hysterical grandstanding is the last thing that we need.