Pages tagged "Gang Patches"

  • Looks can be deceiving

    Hate speech laws can sound noble at first. Who doesn't want to combat hatred? 

    But looks can be deceiving. 

    You'll know by now why we strongly (not to mention successfully) opposed the hate speech laws. We'll say it again and again: Bad ideas are beaten by good ideas. 

    Censorship drives toxic ideas underground to fester, meaning they can crop up in unexpected and far more dramatic ways. 

    I'd rather know when a 'hateful' message exists. As the member of a minority group myself, how can I combat hatred against my community if it is spoken in whispers behind closed doors?

    Suppressing bad ideas doesn’t make them go away. As American journalist and author Jonathan Rauch says, the problem with hate speech is the hate, not the speech.

    This is why I don't see the Government's legislation to ban gang patches any differently from the hate speech laws that were proposed in June 2021. 

    Many of you have raised your concerns when we've spoken about this issue so far:

    "How can you defend gangs?"
    "But patches are for intimidation!"
    "They don't deserve the same rights as us."

    Remember, standing up for someone else's freedom of speech and expression does not mean you have to agree with them or like them. It doesn't mean your moral compass is slipping either. You're standing up for someone else's rights today so that yours will be defended tomorrow.

    We must insist that the Government doesn't set a dangerous precedent. And if you think these new laws won’t suffer mission creep you wait until you get to the end of this email!

    A problem with censorship

    Yes, most people find gangs detestable. This topic triggers strong feelings for many. But we need to take a step back.

    Where will the Government draw the line next? 

    What happens when other symbols, slogans and phrases that are unpopular become banned?

    If we don't like something, we have to find another way to oppose it than banning it, because such laws will quickly be used against us. 

    Free speech for all or not at all

    If the Government is okay with this breach of rights, then what's next?

    We should all be concerned when the Government is prepared to suppress the expression of a particular group of people, because when will it be our turn? 

    We need to crack down on the criminal activity of gangs and enforce the laws already in place. Stopping gangs from telling us who they are doesn't actually help us address what they do.

    The Bill of Rights should not be breached as a solution to fix criminal activity. The Free Speech Union (then Coalition) was formed expressly to defend our Bill of Rights. We have a duty to defend it as does every supporter of free speech.

    We've written a submission to the Justice Select Committee on the Government's legislation.

    Our submission

    We've recommended some constructive amendments to the legislation that we can all agree on without breaching the Bill of Rights. We've recommended that a sunset clause is added so that in six years, the Government and the public can review if this legislation has turned into a slippery slope or not. 

    We've also recommended that the definition of 'gang' is tightened and that the Attorney-General must sign off on any further additions to the 'gang list'.

    Below is a tweet from Labour opposition MP Shanan Halbert.

    We all have an opinion on Destiny Church, and at the Free Speech Union, we do not support law-breaking actions such as some of the vandalism we have seen. But should they be treated like a gang? Could this law end up including them? And if Destiny, why not other churches, or certain disruptive environmental groups?

    Censorship is a hungry beast. It is never content. Whenever a society opens the door to any censorship, it does so at our peril.

    Still think we're just being dramatic? Or do you think these laws are tight enough to be beyond the risk of a slippery slope?

    Attorney-General Judith Collins is a fan of being strict on gangs, and even she says that these laws are an unjust breach of human rights. 

    The Government would be advised to listen to her.  

    Dane Giraud

    Dane Giraud
    Council Member
    Free Speech Union

    PS. The Government's new legislation banning gang patches is a risk for us all. Read our submission to the Justice Select Committee here.

  • Gang patch ban further erosion of Kiwis’ speech rights: FSU submits to Justice Select Committee



    3 April, 2024

    Gang patch ban further erosion of Kiwis’ speech rights: FSU submits to Justice Select Committee

    The Government’s Bill to ‘crack down on gangs’ is an unjustified breach of the Bill of Rights according to the Attorney-General. She’s right. Banning gang patches and insignia may be a politically popular decision in some communities, but is a troubling precedent further eroding Kiwis’ freedom of expression, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union. 

    “We have submitted to the Justice Select Committee highlighting four significant areas in this legislation that must be reconsidered. You do not need to support the illegal activity of gangs to see the dangerous flaws in this legislation.  

    “We don’t get to pick and choose whose rights are protected under the Bill of Rights. It has to apply to all Kiwis, or we may quickly find our own rights being removed. 

    “We also propose five amendments to the legislation to address the pitfalls in the current design. These include requiring the Attorney-General to consent to the addition of groups defined as ‘gangs’ under the legislation, and introducing a sunset clause giving the Government and public the opportunity to review the legislation.

    “This legislation is too broad, appeals to emotion rather than evidence, and does not consider the wider implications on our nation. 

    “Playing politics with fundamental rights is a risky game in which we all lose. Where any community is committing illegal activities, they must face the consequences. But criminalising expression is a slippery slope.” 


    Read the submission here. 

  • Proposed ban of gang patches sets a dangerous precedent


    07 March 2024

    Proposed ban of gang patches sets a dangerous precedent

    The Government has finally released legislation that will prohibit gangs from wearing patches in public. While this policy seeks to address an area of great concern for many Kiwis, this is not the way to address gang violence; it sets a terrible precedent that further erodes New Zealanders' speech rights, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

    "We already have laws in place for crime and violence. The Government should focus on these, not banning what criminals wear. 

    "Equally, where New Zealanders feel actively threatened, intimidated, and harassed, the law already exists and should be enforced to protect those going about their daily lives. If we focus on banning certain forms of expression, where do we draw the line? 

    "Removing gang patches doesn’t mean gangs, or the crime and harm they cause, cease to exist. Suppressing the symptoms of this issue may even make it harder to address the cause itself. 

    "If the Government is concerned about gang activity, they should focus on exactly that. How these powers are used today sets us on a troubling path for the way they may be manipulated tomorrow." 


  • Police Attempts To Criminalise Black Power Gang Patches A Gross Overreach Of Their Duties

    13 September 2022


    Police Attempts To Criminalise Black Power Gang Patches A Gross Overreach Of Their Duties

    Police attempts to seize and criminalise a flag and the patch of a new chapter of the Black Power gang in the Marlborough region are a gross overreach of their duties and powers, and must be opposed, says Dane Giraud, spokesperson for the Free Speech Union.

    “In attempting to secure the classification of an offensive gang patch as objectionable, Police are setting a dangerous precedent of creating ‘hate speech’ on the fly.

    “There is nothing in the patch that is inherently promoting crime or violence, this is simply an attempt at the suppression of an organisation’s right to speech and association, as protected under the Bill of Rights.

    “That the patch is upsetting to some is no excuse for classifying it as objectionable and thankfully the chief censor’s office agreed. What was so chilling about the submission made by the police to the censor’s office was the use of the same weak talking-points frequently used by pro-censorship activists in order to violate the rights of the gang chapter. New Zealanders should view this as a seriously distressing development.

    “The ’N-word’ that features on the flag and patch is offensive to many. But representatives of the chapter have stated that their use of the term is about neutralising it and separating it of its historic power to do harm by making it their own. Surely a historically oppressed and victimsed people should reserve this right, just as a Member of Parliament attempted to reclaim the ‘C-word’ only a few years ago. The Police didn’t try to arrest the MP then. How dare anyone, let alone law-enforcement, seek to abuse the law now.

    “This case really shows how subjective our relationship with words are - how words carry different meanings to different people - and how policing them will always violate someone’s equality.

    “That race relations commissioner Meng Foon has voiced support for this Police action is also a failure of his responsibility.

    “A chapter of a gang using an offensive slur in their patch should be the least of the Police’s concern, especially at the current time of high crime rates. Stamping out criminal activity requires the targeting of that activity, not the speech and free association of groups of people.

    “Ultimately, this is just another attempted use of the law to censor and suppress an organisation, with the weak, nebulous justification of ‘offense’.”

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