'Hate' is subjective: whether speech or crime

Dear Minister Goldsmith, 

'Hate' is an important term referencing a powerful emotion. Where individuals in our society are targets of hate, we must work to counter this hate and promote tolerance and inclusiveness. 

'Hate' is a powerful term, but an unavoidably subjective one; this is true whether it is used against word or action.

It is not the role of our criminal justice system or laws more generally to regulate this emotion. 

We have insisted that 'hate' speech laws would simply introduce a means to censor unpopular opinions. We applaud your decision to stop work on these proposals.  

'Hate' crime laws suffer from the same weaknesses and have no place in a liberal democracy that values freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the rule of law. 

Introducing 'hate' crime laws would see police and the judiciary tasked with deciding if one individual acted more criminally than another despite breaking the very same law, based on their motivations not their actions. 

We have no interest in defending criminal actions. If an individual breaks the law, they must be held accountable. But the law must apply impartially, regardless of who breaks it. There aren't 'right' reasons to break the law, or reasons that are 'more wrong' than others.

Breaking the law for 'hate' shouldn't stand alone as a category any more than breaking the law for 'love'. Who is impartial enough to determine objectively when either of these would apply? 

Keep our laws impartial, the rule of law strong, and our speech and consciences free. 

We call on Hon. Paul Goldsmith, the Minister of Justice, to reject all advice to develop 'hate' crime legislation that would introduce unacceptable subjectivity into our laws, and be used to target unpopular perspectives and unorthodox beliefs. 

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Showing 1385 reactions

  • Graeme Young
    signed 2024-04-15 09:26:42 +1200
    Current laws cover all activities associated with hate. No need for ambiguous laws that limit free speech. We the people do not want our democracy attached with this type of law.
  • John Mazengarb
    signed 2024-04-15 08:11:23 +1200
  • Mark Sandford
    signed 2024-04-15 00:13:12 +1200
  • Kathleen Griffin
    signed 2024-04-14 22:04:33 +1200
  • Jerry Walton
    signed 2024-04-14 20:51:59 +1200
  • Matthew Garland
    signed 2024-04-14 19:45:30 +1200
  • Charles Penney
    signed 2024-04-14 19:31:20 +1200
  • Kai Hackemesser
    signed 2024-04-14 17:59:42 +1200
  • Elizabeth Devine
    signed 2024-04-14 16:33:46 +1200
  • Daniel Walker
    signed 2024-04-14 15:30:53 +1200
  • Karen Richardson
    signed 2024-04-14 14:23:03 +1200
    It must not be a crime to hate something or someone. Hate is a normal human emotion.

    Only the person making the allegation of feeling hated could claim an offence might have been committed. If there is no action witnessed how can it be proven that hurt feelings are criminal damage?

    Hate speech is a nonsense as all speech has potential to offend someone. In a library for instance talking used to be forbidden. I accept there are places where speech needs to be restricted, but only in special circumstances or places.
  • Christopher Mason
    signed 2024-04-14 14:04:49 +1200
  • Andrew Leys
    signed 2024-04-14 13:42:46 +1200
    Setting up police or other agency to enforce “hate rules” creates the conditions for Scottish “madness”. Let’s not go there. Just enforce the existing laws and the reason for the offence becomes a factor in sentencing.
  • Mia Lund
    signed 2024-04-14 13:42:21 +1200
  • barry stollery
    signed 2024-04-14 13:23:06 +1200
  • Vivien Gallie
    signed 2024-04-14 11:27:52 +1200
  • Stuart Kent
    signed 2024-04-14 11:25:00 +1200
  • Craig Blackwood
    signed 2024-04-14 11:01:05 +1200
  • Ben Allen
    signed 2024-04-14 10:53:53 +1200
  • Bruce Buckby
    signed 2024-04-14 10:49:45 +1200
  • Christine New
    signed 2024-04-14 08:55:04 +1200
  • Glenn Alexander
    signed 2024-04-14 08:47:14 +1200
  • Jamile Novaes
    signed 2024-04-14 08:39:48 +1200
  • Hamish Dalziel
    signed 2024-04-13 23:19:21 +1200
    Keep up the fight
  • Christian Anderson
    signed 2024-04-13 22:26:51 +1200
  • Ro Edge
    signed 2024-04-13 22:06:55 +1200
  • Christopher Waples
    signed 2024-04-13 20:33:23 +1200
  • Jonathan Penfold
    signed 2024-04-13 19:33:44 +1200
  • Graham Dyce
    signed 2024-04-13 19:13:14 +1200
  • Joanne Francis
    signed 2024-04-13 19:10:51 +1200

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