Family First today is highlighting the findings of a new poll (which it commissioned) that gauged public opinion on so-called hate speech.
The poll found just one in ten New Zealanders think it should be a crime
- to publicly claim that gender is revealed at birth and is not a matter of personal identity, or
- to publicly state that marriage is between a man and a woman only.
Family First – and all other critics of the government’s readiness to further crimp our liberties – should make much of the judges’ landmark ruling in the British case of a mother who called a trans woman “he” on Twitter.
The judges said:
‘Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.’
But the government in this country is under pressure from several quarters to deliver on its promise to tighten the laws on “hate speech”, further requiring Kiwis to watch what they say or write.
Multicultural New Zealand (MNZ) raised concerns after anti-Islam graffiti was painted on the newly opened Mosque in Queenstown and hate speech was spray painted on a sign outside a school in Invercargill.
MNZ President, Pancha Narayanan, says incidents like these show the urgent need for hate speech regulation.
“New Zealand has come a long way in some respects, but we still have some work ahead of us. These despicable acts are alarming and unacceptable.”
Narayanan says the New Zealand Government has been pressed “to improve” hate speech laws for many years by independent bodies such as the United Nations and Human Rights Commission.
“These are changes that the government has already publicly committed to, and they have no excuse not to act on it.”
Before the election last year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she wants to make it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of someone’s religion as well as possibly sexual orientation or disability.
The Government then was reviewing hate speech.
Ardern signalled last month that views on issues such as gender and same-sex marriage would be included in the laws the government is considering.
Family First, reporting its poll results today, notes that both issues have been included in aspects of ‘hate speech’ laws or proposals in other countries including Scotland, Norway, Canada, UK, and in Tasmania state.
… this is clearly rejected by Kiwis according to the results of this poll.
In the poll of 1,000 New Zealanders surveyed last month by Curia Market Research, respondents were asked:
“Should it be a crime to publicly claim that sex is revealed at birth, and is not a matter of personal choice?”
Nine per cent of respondents thought it should be a crime to publicly state this view, with 73% opposed (and 17% unsure or refused to say).
There was little difference in views based on age, gender or political allegiance (including strong opposition to it being treated as a crime from Labour and Green voters).
Respondents were also asked:
“Should it be a crime to publicly state a belief that marriage should only be between a man and woman?”
Only 12% of respondents think it should be a crime to publicly state this view, with 80% opposed. The remainder were undecided or refused to say.
Once again, opposition was strong across all political allegiances.
“This latest polling confirms that despite the country’s horror at the terrorist act in Christchurch and the grotesque ideology behind it, the Government does not have the support of New Zealanders for a radical transformation and expansion of ‘hate speech’ laws, and the government may actually alienate the very base that put them in power. The importance of freedom of expression and open debate in a civil society are ideals every New Zealander has an investment in – and will defend.” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
The nationwide poll, commissioned by Family First NZ, was carried out last month and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.
The full poll results are HERE.
While the poll was being conducted, two judges in Britain were giving their ruling in a hate-speech case involving the sensitivities of a transgender complainant.
They decreed that freedom of speech includes the “right to offend” in a landmark case which the Daily Mail says could help turn the tide on “woke” intolerance.
Woke intolerance has become more of a tsunami than a tide, of course.
But liberals can take comfort from Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby, in Britain’s Court of Appeal, declaring:
” … free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another.”
The ruling found in favour of mother-of-two Kate Scottow, from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, who had been found guilty under the 2003 Communications Act earlier last year.
She was accused of describing Stephanie Hayden, a transgender woman, as a ‘pig in a wig’ alongside a number of offensive and upsetting tweets
Hayden had insisted Scottow was bound by law to refer to her as a woman. She argued that the defendant was guilty of “harassment” and had “misgendered” her just “to annoy people like me”.
Scottow, a radical feminist, had been arrested by three police officers in 2019 at her home in Pirton near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in front of her daughter, 10, and son, 20 months. Boris Johnson later called it an abuse of power.
In February last year radical feminist Miss Scottow, 40, was handed a two-year conditional discharge, and ordered to pay £1,000 compensation.
District judge Margaret Dodds told her:
“Your comments contributed nothing to a debate. We teach children to be kind to each other and not to call each other names in the playground.”
Overturning the decision, Mr Justice Warby explained that the relevant parts of the Communications Act “were not intended by Parliament to criminalise forms of expression, the content of which is no worse than annoying or inconvenient in nature”.
He said the prosecution had been an “unjustified state interference with free speech”.
Lord Justice Bean said the appeal illustrated the need for decision-makers in the criminal justice system to have regard to issues of freedom of speech.