Pages tagged "Hate Speech"

  • Hate is subjective, whether hate crimes or hate speech

  • Letter to Chlöe Swarbrick: "From the River to the See" and Hate Speech.

  • Rotorua Lakes Council Votes To Silence Submitters With Censorious Submissions Policy

    9 February 2023


    Rotorua Lakes Council Votes To Silence Submitters With Censorious Submissions Policy

    The Rotorua Lakes Council voted yesterday, without public consultation, to progress a policy to “remove from consideration” public submissions if they are deemed “offensive”, “discriminatory” or “irrelevant”. This represents a clear violation of the speech rights of submitters to this Council, and a breach of the Bill of Rights Act says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

    ‘When this policy was presented to the Councillors yesterday, it was initially sold as abridging language such as swear words, or clearly vexatious submissions. Yet the true effect of the policy was immediately betrayed with discussion on it capturing “hate speech”.

    ‘Empty gestures were made about protecting freedom of speech. Yet, as the policy was described as “running a filter over things” it is clearly aimed at suppressing submissions the Council simply does want to hear. The debate on the policy was truly disappointing, revealing the contempt some of the Councillors had for the public submissions process, one Councillor remarking “you sit there and go "how did this get through."

    ‘Particularly insulting (and ironic) is the fact that the policy was put to Council without any consultation with either the public, or even elected representatives. Concerns were raised about the perception of this policy and the reputational risk it poses to the Council. Such concerns are entirely justified.

    'Kiwis have the right to be heard by their representatives and to raise concerns with their elected representatives on matters of policy. Representatives have an obligation to hear these concerns, even when the representatives believe the views expressed, or the manner in which they are expressed, are offensive or derogatory.

    'This policy, where certain submissions are screened and disregarded due to such content, is inconsistent with the role of local government representatives. We are preparing legal filings against the Council in this issue.'

  • Hate Speech Laws Withdrawn: Major Victory For Free Speech

    8 February 2023


    Hate Speech Laws Withdrawn: Major Victory For Free Speech

    The Government has finally done the right thing by scrapping its neo-blasphemy laws, the product of its “hate speech” proposals, after a years-long fight. This is a major victory for free speech, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

    'After Minister of Justice Kiri Allan dropped 5 of the 6 proposals, we didn't believe that even minor changes to the laws were acceptable. Elevating any community above public conversation and dialogue, no matter who, is an unacceptable limitation on Kiwis' speech rights.

    ‘This Bill was nothing less than a re-introduction of the blasphemy laws the Government repealed (to much self-congratulation) in 2019. Kiwis have the right to voice disagreement with religious views, even to the point of ridicule and contempt.

    ‘Even though the hate speech laws have been kicked to touch, with the Law Commission doing a 'deep dive', we don’t believe they’ll find anything that the Human Rights Commission, Royal Commission into the March 15th Attack, or the Ministry of Justice couldn’t. But if censorious legislation does rear its ugly head once again, the Free Speech Union will be ready and willing to stand for our fundamental right to free speech.

    'The Free Speech Union coordinated the largest public consultation to any Ministry of Justice proposals ever, with almost 20,000 submissions. This victory just adds to the momentum we are building, and the re-emergence of free speech as a cornerstone of Kiwis' democratic liberties.'

  • Submission on Hate Speech Bill


    If not showing click here – Hate Speech Submissions

  • Government Backdown On 'Hate Speech' Laws Major Win For Free Speech

    19 November 2022


    Government Backdown On 'Hate Speech' Laws Major Win For Free Speech

    The Free Speech Union welcomes Minister of Justice Kiri Allan’s announcement that each of the 6 proposals released last year to amend hate laws will be dropped, except the inclusion of religious communities. We commend the Minister for listening to the overwhelming public response calling for free speech to be upheld. This is a major victory for all free speech-loving Kiwis, says Jonathan Ayling, spokesperson for the Free Speech Union.

    ‘Hate speech laws don’t work. For over 18 months, we have led the charge calling on the Government to back down from the idea that hate can be outlawed. Over 80% of the submissions against the ‘hate speech law’ proposals specifically endorsed our submission. Ours is the largest petition against these proposed laws, with over 50,000 signatures.

    ‘Two Justice Ministers have now failed in pushing their ideological agenda of expanded ‘hate speech’ laws through and have now passed this poisoned chalice to the Law Commission for a ‘deep dive.’ The Ministry of Justice has just spent over two years working on this very issue. It’s time better solutions were given a chance, solutions that elevate dialogue, reason, and counter-speech.

    ‘If hate speech laws don’t work for other ‘vulnerable communities', we need to rethink the entire venture. The question, ‘if this group, why not that group’ is legitimate.

    ‘The Government must stand for Kiwis' right to express their opinions in speech and do away with the notion that gagging voices resolves complex issues. Sections 61 and 131 of the Human Rights Act should be repealed entirely and simple incitement to violence outlawed as speech beyond the pale of free expression.

    ‘This campaign has shown that through debate and an open exchange, free speech enables reason to prevail. If the Government with the strongest election mandate in a generation backs down on this issue, free speech remains a core value for all Kiwis. Today is a win for all Kiwis' freedom of speech.

  • Free Speech Union Ready For Round Two Of Government’s Proposed Hate Speech Laws

    30 October 2023


    Free Speech Union Ready For Round Two Of Government’s Proposed Hate Speech Laws

    Justice Minister Kiri Allan today guaranteed that she will have hate speech laws introduced to be implemented by next year’s election. The Free Speech Union guarantees that we will lead the coalition of Kiwis opposing these laws, ensuring Kiwis basic freedoms to speak are protected, says Jonathan Ayling, spokesperson for the Free Speech Union.

    ‘When the hate speech proposals were introduced last year, nearly 20,000 kiwis submitted. It was the most successful public consultation on any policy issue, with 80% of submissions opposing the laws. It remains clear that New Zealanders don’t need the Government restricting their fundamental right to free speech.

    ‘The simple fact is that hate speech laws don’t work. They cannot be written in a wat that clearly defines what is and isn’t hate speech. Kris Faafoi couldn’t give assurances that any proposed law wouldn’t be vague and open for abuse. This Minister is also unable to ensure that basic liberties are not threatened by this legislation.

    ‘Inevitably, “hate speech” becomes defined by whoever is the Government of the day, opening the law up to abuse by those would seek to impose their own beliefs on Kiwis through the force of law. These laws shut down important conversations and force people into polarised corners.

    ‘There will be many groups and organisations invested in this fight, and we intend to lead a broad coalition to ensure that hate speech laws remain unthinkable to any Government that values the rights and freedom of its citizens to speak and believe freely.’

  • Free Speech Union Update: 30 November, 2021

    Dear Supporter, 

    We all know we're entering the 'silly-season', but as you can see from this Free Speech Union update, it's not because we're getting close to Christmas. 

    Royal Society investigates Fellows for defending science 

    Prof. Garth Cooper

    Last week, we uncovered the investigation the Royal Society is conducting into two Fellows for their part in writing The Listener letter, which posited that mātauranga Māori is distinct from science. 

    A counter-letter was swiftly drafted and circulated by Shaun Hendy and Siouxsie Wiles — which claimed to “categorically” disagree with the professors’ views. I had the chance to sit down with Profs. Cooper and Clements to discuss the mischaracterisation of what they wrote, and the backlash they have endured. You can listen to the podcast here.

    We invited dozens of those who had signed the open letter to join us in this conversation to discuss their differences of opinion. Not one of them was willing to participate. 

    Likewise, when we asked to sit down with Sandra Grey, the head of the Tertiary Education Union to discuss the implications of investigations like this on academic freedom, she was entirely uninterested in engaging.  

    You might agree with the authors of the letter about mātauranga Māori and science or you might not, but that's really not the point. Prof Cooper is Māori himself and has taught kaupapa Māori for decades — it is crazy that the academy is so ideologically captured that it would condone this pile-on. The fact that those who are orchestrating these bullying and censorious tactics have no interest in engaging in a discussion is very telling. As you'll often find, one side of the debate around free speech is almost always more tolerant than the other. 

    Coverage in Radio New Zealand, Newsroom, and Stuff, each present different perspectives, but what's clear is we're generating a conversation  and that's exactly what free speech is about! 

    Journalist Graham Adams interviewed Prof. Cooper and concluded:

    ... we have ended up in a situation where a very distinguished Māori-Pākehā scientist who has helped thousands of Māori in their careers over several decades is being investigated by the Royal Society for what can only be described as holding a heretical view about the distinction between science and mātauranga Māori.

    Who knew an eminent scientist expressing an honestly held opinion — that mātauranga Māori, while valuable as a form of knowledge, is not science — would end up dealing with an Inquisition in 21st century New Zealand?   

    In another piece Graeme Adams wrote for us, he outlines the remarkable achievements of the late Prof. Michael Corballis, who until his recent passing was also under investigation by the Royal Society.

    Prof. Michael Corballis

    Some have claimed that Prof. Corballis was the best chance Auckland University has ever had of acquiring a Nobel Prize as he was arguably the global authority on left-hemisphere/right-hemisphere issues in neuropsychology. "Yet — despite having awarded him the Rutherford Medal — a full fortnight after his death the society had still not written an obituary. Unfortunately, Corballis had lately been relegated to zero from hero. His crime was effectively one of heresy."

    Steven Pinker who celebrated the life of his former professor with a laudatory tweet, pulled no punches when he was asked about this issue while being interviewed by Kim Hill on RNZ over the weekend:  

    Silencing or punishing someone for an opinion runs counter to reason. … No one is infallible; no one is omniscient. The only way our species has been able to do anything worthwhile is by voicing opinions and allowing them to be criticised…

    If you’ve got a regime where merely voicing an opinion gets you silenced or punished then we’ve turned off the only mechanism we have of discovering knowledge. It is a way of locking ourselves into error…

    If we have a regime that can subject someone to an investigation based on an opinion, we know from history that’s the way totalitarian autocracies work and oppressive theocracies work.

    The Free Speech Union is committed to standing up for these distinguished professors, and their academic freedom.

    Because of donations from supporters just like you, we have been able to cover the legal costs of the investigation and will be continuing to support them however we can.  

    Getting the message out there

    If you pick up the NZ Herald today, be sure to check out our full-page advert highlighting what the Royal Society is doing.

    Full Page in the NZ Herald

    Click for larger image

    Hate speech petition presented with strong cross-party support 

    Tens-of-thousands of Kiwis signed our petition calling on the Government to can their proposed hate speech laws, and on Thursday we presented this petition to a group of MPs at Parliament. Members from the ACT Party, the Green Party, and the National Party all agreed that the changes the Government is suggesting are dangerous. 

    This proves the point we constantly make: free speech is not a Left-Right political issue. Free speech is about defending the basic foundation of Kiwis' democratic liberties. MPs who agree on virtually nothing else joined together with us calling on the Government to drop their anti-speech proposals. 

    Hate Speech Petition Presented to Parliament

    It is outrageous that the Government is proposing to impose harsher criminal sanctions for words than those that exist for a number of violent offences. 

    Even more so given that neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Justice have been able to say when asked what speech would or would not be prosecuted under the proposals. 

    This places an unacceptable and undemocratic burden on the police and the courts which will inevitably be left with the task of exploring the application of these laws.

    We've already seen a Police Officer in Auckland tell street preachers that "there's a difference between hate speech and free speech" and that they were "very close to the line" before any such laws have even passed. 

    There is no public mandate for these changes. Of the 18,000 responses which were made to the Ministry of Justice about the hate speech proposals, 15,000 of them specifically endorsed the Free Speech Union's submission. Yet, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of the submissions were facilitated by the Free Speech Union, the Minister has repeatedly refused to meet with us to discuss our concerns and has apparently requested none of the other ministers we have asked to meet with sit down with us.

    We couldn't resist

    It just so happened that as we were presenting the petition, Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi walked by, and so we had an opportunity to invite him in person to receive the petition signed by tens of thousands of Kiwis...

    Unsurprisingly, he declined. 

    Minister of Justice declines to receive petition

    Hate Speech debate with Paul Hunt

    The Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt, has been a strong proponent of the anti-speech laws the Government is proposing. Free Speech Union Member Daphna Whitmore was invited to debate him on this issue and did a stellar job.

    Hate Speech Debate with Paul Hunt and Daphna Whitmore

    In his conclusion, Hunt parahprased Isaiah Berlin and claimed "'Total liberty of the powerful, the gifted, is not compatible with the rights to a decent existence of the weak and less gifted.’ And that’s why we need a high-level threshold of hate speech. Otherwise, the liberty of wolves will lead to the death of lambs."

    This perfectly encapsulates the patronising and infantilising perspective that underpins the justification for anti-speech laws, and which ironically insults the ethnic, religious, and gender minorities of our country.

    As Daphna points out, anti-speech laws are a political project which the elite imposes top-down with threats of imprisonment. Why? Because they don't trust everyday Kiwis to respect others or tolerate differences. 

    >>> Watch the debate between Hunt and Whitmore here<<<

    Jonathan Rauch, who we were fortunate to have as our most recent SpeakEasy guest, tackles the argument of authorities purporting to speak on behalf of minorities head-on in his interview with Dr David Cumin available on our podcast.

    Victory in Michael Laws Case as Codes of Conduct threaten to undermine accountability

    As well as taking on the woke academy and paternalistic Government, we're also continuing to look into the way Codes of Conduct are being weaponised and used to silence our elected local representatives. 

    Cr. Laws

    We were very pleased to let you know that the complaint against Otago Regional Councillor Michael Laws covered in previous newsletters has notbeen unheld upon investigation.

    Reports we've received from within the Otago Regional Council have claimed that the letter we sent to the Chief Executive was instrumental in the investigation, and the complaint being dropped. This just shows the way these complaints are lobbed about to intimidate councillors. 

    Before the investigation was concluded, we sat down with Cr. Laws to discuss the case, and how common it is for these Codes to be used to attack elected representatives by bureaucrats. We doubt these Codes are lawful and are continuing work in examining their use to undermine democratic accountability.

    Council codes of conduct: Facebook Live – Thursday 7pm 

    FB Live Discussion on Council Codes of Conduct

    On Thursday night, at 7pm, Free Speech Union Council Member and lawyer Stephen Franks will be sitting down with 3 Councillors from around the country to hear their stories concerning the opposition they have faced from Code of Conduct complaints, and proposals they have to improve the system, and defend free speech. We'll be going live on our Facebook Page, so make sure you have liked our page to receive a notification when we go live. 

    Donate to the FSU

    The attacks on free speech simply remind us again and again why a collaborative effort is needed to defend this core liberty. We are only able to operate because of members and supporters like you. 

    Join the FSU

    Thank you for making this work possible. 


    Jonathan Ayling

    Free Speech Union

  • Hate Speech MoJ Submission


  • Mr Hunt, you don’t speak for me

    Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt’s op-ed yesterday defending the government's proposed hate speech laws is thoroughly predictable after a month of terrible comms that failed to convince New Zealanders on the issue. An overwhelming 80% of submissions opposed the laws. This has failed to move Hunt, who seems happy to be out of step with the rest of New Zealand.

    And make no mistake, those opposed to the laws are incredibly diverse. Our steering group itself is made up of several members from ethnic and religious minority groups and folk from the LGBT community. Despite this, Paul Hunt has labelled us an “uninterested party” and will not meet with us. His reasons barely need explaining: these minority members won't support his narrative.

    Paul Hunt argues in his piece that hate speech is wrong because “it denies dignity and equality to individuals and communities”. Where is the dignity in the State sending police officers to knock at your door over opinions you've expressed? Where is the dignity for the family le> without a father or mother while this parent sits in a prison cell, for up to three years, due to words they spoke? The freer the society, the more dignity. A society that censors speech to the degree we see in the proposed laws is a society with utter contempt for its citizens, and their dignity.

    Hunt also talks of hate speech denying equality. But it is speech restrictions that deny equality. All you must do is think of the potential impact on feminists should laws be brought in that prohibit robust criticism of gender identity. The effect of such a law will unquestionably “stack the deck” against women and women's issues. But these laws will go much further. They will very specifically violate the equality of minorities within our minority groups. Take, for example, anti-Zionist Jews within the Jewish community, minority Muslim sects like the Ahmadiyya community, and dissenting LGBT voices, such as lesbians who have all but been thrown out of PRIDE celebrations due to wrong- think. If international trends are anything to go by, nonconforming minorities have the most to fear from the proposed new laws.

    Hunt writes in his piece “if you are powerful and privileged it is easy to dismiss the idea of boundaries indicating what is acceptable but if you are a member of a disadvantaged group or ethnic minority, faith community, sexual minority a woman or disabled person boundaries matter”. What Hunt is trying to say here is that minorities “get it” and that by promoting this illiberal policy he is somehow speaking for us. A recent poll commissioned by the Free Speech Union found that 42% of Muslims now oppose the proposed laws. The Jewish community was so split over them that many of the planned submissions were abandoned. Hunt is simply lying when he suggests minority groups are of one mind on this. The Human Rights Commission very carefully curates who it will speak to within our groups and simply ignores the perspectives that don’t bolster their arguments. This is a common talking point within our communities. This is seriously damaging to us because it denies us our diversity and sends a dangerous message to the public that the majority of us want to take our fellow New Zealander's rights away. Be assured, this is simply not true.

    The fact is, minorities know better than most of the importance of free speech - even nasty and truly offensive speech - because free speech was the central principle that delivered us full rights in the West. A>er claiming he is concerned about hate speech promulgating stereotypes, Hunt is trying to promote a picture of us to the public that is false.

    Your average member of a minority group has far more to fear from the advocacy of individuals like Hunt and his speech restrictions than we do from offensive or even hateful speech. Both Hunt and the laws are determined to associate us with fear in state censorship in people’s minds, and in doing so will throw up walls between us and the majority. Maybe as an especially privileged member of the majority himself, Hunt just is unable to grasp this. But signalling to wider New Zealand that they need one of their most basic rights taken away in order to make us happy is reckless and irresponsible.

    This man is not our friend.

    Not only does Hunt fail to make any real defence of speech restrictions in his op-ed, but he calls into question the function of his organisation and makes clear that it is minority groups that should be leading anti-racist campaigns and programs – not detached, upper-class academics.

    Even if I could be convinced his intentions are 100% pure, Hunt’s goal of controlling the speech of everyday New Zealanders will hurt minorities and must be rejected.

    Dane Giraud is a member of the Jewish Community and a Council Member of the Free Speech Union.

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