15 June 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Appointment Of New Chief Censor Opportunity To Strengthen Respect For Free Speech In New Zealand
The Free Speech Union looks forward to working with newly appointed Chief Censor of Film and Literature, Caroline Flora. With increasing government overreach and calls for regulation of Kiwis’ speech, we call on her to embody the restraint and prudence intended for the Office of Film and Literature Classification, says Jonathan Ayling, spokesperson for the Free Speech Union.
“The appointment of a new Chief Censor over the Office of Film and Literature Classifications is an opportunity to strengthen the deference government and state actors have for Kiwis’ free speech. Ambiguous references to ‘harm’ and ‘safety’ are not sufficient to guide the work of individuals tasked with limiting free expression.
“We have already reached out to the new Chief Censor inviting her to sit down with our team. As New Zealand’s largest organisation dedicated to protecting and extending Kiwis’ fundamental speech rights, we are committed to engaging with her as we continue to ensure this liberty is preserved.
“The independence of the Chief Censor is crucial for her ability to function impartially. We call on Ms. Flora to execute her role with the respect due to Kiwis’ free speech, and not with disregard for diverse or minority opinions which has become commonplace. It is unclear exactly how her previous professional experience is related to this significant role. We look forward to discussing this with her and hope still will succeed in withstanding Government intervention and other pressures over this work.
“We look forward to her acting as a voice of reason to the Government’s follies of hate speech and censorship reform. Public engagement on issues like this has made it clear that Kiwis don’t want or need to be told what they can say.
“We also acknowledge the work of outgoing Chief Censor, David Shanks, and the cordial relationship we had with him during his tenure as parties invested in Kiwis’ freedom of expression. We hope this new relationship with the Censor will be equally constructive and receptive.”
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