A response to Andrew Little’s article on redefining free speech

Mr Little, in your opinion piece you have expressed what I believe to be a desire to redefine free speech.

The first three paragraphs you write appear to affirm the importance of free speech but come on now, we all know that trick. Whenever someone starts an article stating how ‘important’ a universally important process is, we all know they are about to stomp on it, usually with the old sequence of: ‘So important’ “but” ‘let’s get rid of’ and in the fourth paragraph, you do not surprise:


You then piggyback on emotional comments made just after the coward’s attack. That is highly distasteful, but let’s look further at that: quote.

Others have said these types of statements allow a climate to develop that is tolerant of harmful discriminatory expression. end quote.

Really? What discrimination would that be?
Can women go into the men’s part of the mosque? Can battered men go into a women’s shelter? Should Iwi have quotas for Pakeha board members? How about boys playing in girls rugby teams? What are you, or these “Others” you refer to, meaning when you say “harmful discriminatory expression”? quote.

A responsible government must consider these claims, and on a principled basis.” end quote.

Your government is not so much principled as emotion-driven, as we have heard your leader proudly proclaim recently. This dilutes your assertion of being “responsible”…(unless you are defining a conservative government which is naturally responsible; if so, very good.)

You follow that ditty up with telling us that you have asked the “Ministry of Justice to work with the Human Rights Commission”.
Well…considering that our Justice system is okay to sentence killers and sexual offenders to chill out on Home D, and that the Human Rights Commissioner is a pretty hard leftist who has also spoken on free speech with what seems to be thinly-veiled disdain, I suspect the report will align well with your ‘Free-speech-is-important-but-nah’ looking push.

I am glad you at least recognise that we have laws that theoretically oppose defamation and calling for violence, even bullying after a point. As for your desire to include religion in an expansion of the law “against incitement of disharmony”, that in itself is extraordinarily dangerous.

Firstly, skin colour is a physical property of one’s body, while religion is an ideology. It is not an inseparable and unchangeable part of one’s physical self.
Secondly, it is fascinating to discover that, after many years of Christianity being ideologically mocked, attacked, even removed from parliament by one of your comrades, only now do you wish to expand prosecution to include ideological ‘disharmony’.

Let me be blunt in what I think: you are seeking to prohibit criticisms against ideologies you support.

You then move into asserting that our bill of rights “draws on worldwide traditions to uphold basic human rights”.
Really? Okay then let’s see…Soviet Russia? Communist China? Taliban-ruled Afghanistan? Socialist North Korea? No?
Ah, you mean other western culture nations, those with free speech…got it. As for the UN…let’s leave that amoral morass to the side for a bit.

Of course, just like the first three paragraphs, your last three paragraphs are feel-good portions of a smooth-sounding pitch. Why yes, I’ll buy one of those vials of cure-all.

I recall your appearance at the UN in January and your words then, that chilled me for what the future may bring under your watch. quote.

The government has a plan to review it’s Human Rights Act with the specific intention to amend the current discrimination provisions on grounds of sex, or sex discrimination, to ensure that the law is clear that includes prohibition of discrimination on grounds of gender identity and to ensure that is very clear to, to all New Zealanders end quote.

Ideology indeed…