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Andrew Little’s proposed review of hate speech laws – Some comments and thoughts – Updated

18/03/2020

 

I originally posted this in April 2019, given recent comments by Andrew Little and the fact that much work has apparently been done, but behind closed doors, it seemed timely to repost it.

As time has gone by my concerns have increased. I have no confidence in Arder,Little,Peters and Shaw in this are, nor in the present head of the Human Rights Commission, who is apparently a staunch Corbyn supporter.

 

Andrew Little proposes review of  hate speech laws

RNZ’s Morning Report had several items this morning on the proposal by Andrew Little to introduce new legislation concerning hate crime. His initial step has been to propose a review.

Simon Bridges was asked about this by Susie Ferguson

In a separate article on the RNZ website    Mr Bridges was quoted, referring to the interview,

Mr Bridges was taking a wait-and-see approach and said the review was the right thing to do, but government must be cautious about how it was treading.

“I have no criticism of Little having a review of this, but where free speech line crosses into hateful incitement of violence is not easy. Let’s see the review, let’s look at it carefully, and let’s have that conversation,” he said.

Mr Bridges said freedom of speech was a bedrock principle of New Zealand society and sometimes we have to tolerate views that we disagree with, or even find offensive within that freedom.

“Where the line on these things is so incredibly hard,” Mr Bridges said.

“We need to take our time and do it right.”

That is the crux of the issue.

Key initial questions in Adam’s mind are:

1 Who will lead the review”

2 How will the review head be chosen?

3 Who else will be involved in the review?

4 Will the review team be broadly based – with multiple shades of opinion represented? A key factor in Adam’s view.

5 What will be the terms of reference for the review? This is critical.

6 What will be the time frame?

7 Will there be public consultation? Will that consultation be meaningful?

Adam’s major concerns include

The comments attributed to Little in the RNZ article do not provide any degree of confidence to Adam

He has asked justice officials to look at the laws and he was also fast-tracking a scheduled Human Rights Act review.

“The conclusion I’ve drawn as the minister is that the laws are inadequate and I think we need to do better,” Mr Little said.

It seems likely that the review will be done by public servants  within the Ministry of Justice and any involvement of the Human Rights Commission is disturbing given that the newly appointed head has a track record as a UK Labour Party activist and whose recent comments on Twitter seem to Adam to incate that his view of matters is very narrowly drawn.

Adam’s fear is that the review will be a figleaf for legislation that under the guise of reducing/eliminating hate speech we will lose basic freedoms.

We are seeing some of this now with calls for internet regulation, wide ranging demands for censorship of social media and demands by some vocal elements for various people and ideas to be banned.

Little’s reported comments suggest that he has reached a conclusion without any research .

Potentially we are starting down a very slippery, nay perilous path.

Thomas Paine wrote:

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

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