The Government has announced a raft of initiatives in its response to the recommendations from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Masjidain.
We are told it is not considering the introduction of specific hate crime laws. But a law to deal with “hate speech” – clearly intended to further crimp our freedom of speech to some degree – is another matter.
While hate speech legislation has been promised, and is expected to be announced after the release of the Royal Commission of Inquiry report later today, specific offences for more serious hate crimes will not be coming.
Reaction to the royal commission’s report wasn’t the only matter dealt with by ministers in the past day or two.
The Beehive website shows:
- Contact tracing in New Zealand will get a substantial boost from tomorrow with the addition of Bluetooth tracing to the NZ COVID Tracer app.
- The Government is delivering on a key commitment to better protect security guards’ pay and conditions by adding them to Schedule 1A of the Employment Relations Act.
- Te Ahu o te Reo Māori will be expanded as a nationwide initiative for up to 10,000 teachers, leaders and support staff who wish to strengthen their use of te reo Māori,
But the most significant news was the Government’s response to the recommendations to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Masjidain.
It has agreed in principle to implement all 44 recommendations.
More specifically, it has announced it will strengthen New Zealand’s counter-terrorism legislation and ensure the right legislative tools are available to intervene early to prevent harm, as recommended by the royal commission.
We await – nervously, we must say – more detail around the commitment to deal with hate speech (in other words, its attempt to ensure that hateful thinking is never translated into words, which means we will never know who harbours hateful thoughts and who does not).
The consequences might be comical – but only if you are not the target of misguided heavy-handed action by the Thought Police.
A meat-loving Welshman was banned from Facebook for “hate speech” after praising his local butcher’s faggots in a review on the social media site. He was advised his post ‘”goes against our community standards on hate speech”.
He said he posted his comment to advise people how good the product is and that he cooks them every Tuesday, and to inform those who may have never tried them of their existence.
Facebook later reversed its decision, saying the post had been removed in error.
Much more dismaying is that significant numbers of British students are “self-censoring” because they fear their views will clash with the “woke” values promoted by their universities.
In the latest evidence of the free speech crisis engulfing campuses across the country, 27 per cent of students said they have actively ‘hidden’ their opinions when they are at odds with those of their peers and tutors.
More than half of those who ‘self-censored’ did so because of their political views. A further 40 per cent withheld their opinions on ethical or religious matters for fear of being judged.
Race, religion, trans identity, sexual orientation and disability are the so-called protected characteristics covered by Britain’s hate crime legislation. But once a list has been legislated, pressure to extend it is inevitable.
Misogynists and ageists are now in the gun, according to The Guardian:
Goths, men, women and elderly people could receive protection under hate crime laws after officials announced a wide-ranging review of current legislation.
The Law Commission, the independent body that recommends legal reforms, will look at whether there are any gaps in hate crime legislation as part of a package of measures announced by the Home Office.
Both misogyny (prejudice against women) and misandry (prejudice against men) will be considered by the review, as will attitudes towards alternative lifestyles such as goth subculture, and age.
The commission also has raised the prospect of individuals being prosecuted for hate crimes based on what they discuss in their own homes.
The suggestion to remove the “dwelling” privacy exemption from criminal legislation is buried in a few paragraphs of the Law Commission’s 544-page consultation on hate crime published in September.
The commission said on Wednesday that it was “not intending for private conversations at the dinner table to be prosecuted as hate speech”, although that appears to be one possible consequence of the proposed change.
Until 1986, the offence of using words or behaviour intended or likely to incite racial hatred could only be committed in a public place. The scope was later expanded, but an exception remains “where words or behaviour are used or written material displayed within a dwelling, provided that they cannot be seen or heard outside.”
An untoward remark at the dinner table could have dire consequences. So be careful about your guest list.
As illiberalism insidiously spreads, many people around the world are losing their jobs, being investigated by the police or harassed online for expressing commonly held opinions. The most effective form of defence is silence.
In Britain, Sky Cinema has introduced warning labels to films deemed to have ‘outdated attitudes, language and cultural depictions which may cause offence today’, including Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Gone With The Wind and the sci-fi epic Aliens (because it features a white actress wearing extensive make-up to play a Hispanic character).
But experience in South Carolina suggests the zealots supporting tougher hate speech legislation should be careful about what they advocate.
A check on the outcome since a hate speech ordinance was introduced in the state capital of Columbia found:
The law has been invoked seven times since it was enacted more than a year ago. A Post and Courier analysis showed five of six accused of using racial slurs are people of color.
One person is accused of derogatory language related to sexual orientation, according to court records. None of the records identify the race of the victims or the exact language used to trigger the charge.
One person was recently convicted of the crime. But lawyers for some of those charged question whether policing of the new rule has been overly aggressive or it violates free speech protected under the First Amendment.
At least three South Carolina cities have hate crime ordinances – Columbia, Charleston and Greenville.
Columbia’s ordinance criminalises discriminatory speech based on disability, race, religion, gender, nationality and sexual orientation used during commission of another crime that proves the crime was committed out of bias.
Penalties can include up to a $US500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
Two of the accused people checked out by the Post and Courier listed homeless shelters as their addresses, suggesting the ordinance is being used to sweep up “at-risk populations”.
A champion of the new law acknowledged:
“If that is happening, it is an unintended consequence.”
Latest from the Beehive
9 DECEMBER 2020
Additional tool to support existing contact tracing processes
8 DECEMBER 2020
The Government has today announced a raft of initiatives in its response to the recommendations to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Masjidain.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terror Attack in Christchurch on March 15 has delivered a comprehensive report that will form the basis of a significant work programme to make New Zealand a safer and ultimately I hope, a more cohesive country.
The Government has agreed in principle to implement all 44 recommendations contained in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terror Attack on Christchurch masjidain.
The Government will strengthen New Zealand’s counter-terrorism legislation and ensure the right legislative tools are available to intervene early to prevent harm, as recommended by the Royal Commission into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch masjidain.
The Government is delivering on a key commitment to better protect security guards’ pay and conditions by adding them to Schedule 1A of the Employment Relations Act, Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood announced today.
Following its success over the last two years, Te Ahu o te Reo Māori will be expanded as a nationwide initiative for up to 10,000 teachers, leaders and support staff who wish to strengthen their use of te reo Māori, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis announced today.