The opposition is mostly asleep on hate speech

ACT leader David Seymour: “Usually opinions are met by other opinions, but under hate speech laws they are met by the power of the state. Citizens can only hope their opinions are in favour with the government.” Stuff. Image credit: ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

David Seymour is the only politician saying how hard it is to define hate speech; how unworkable it would be and open to abuses of power if brought into law. The silence from National ministers is deafening. Perhaps they, like Golriz Ghahraman, are confused.

Six weeks ago, Simon Bridges was balanced uncomfortably on the fence. Quote.

National Leader Simon Bridges is backing the Government’s plans to review New Zealand’s hate speech law but is warning against limiting free speech in the process.

“Where that line between free speech into that hateful and incitement of violence and the like is, is not easy.”” End of quote.

A newspaper

Bridges is heading in the right direction but needs to go further and actually admit that defining hate speech is more than “not easy” it is downright impossible.

But Seymour has a good grasp of the problem. Quote.

“When the Government makes it its role to start working out which opinions are right and which are wrong and which ones should be punished, that’s when you get into real difficulty,” he told RNZ.”

end of quote.

Seymour criticised Golriz Ghahraman’s take on hate speech. Quote.

On Wednesday, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman claimed hate speech leads directly to violence. That’s a tenuous argument.

Even Helen Clark, who argues for tougher hate speech laws, admits protecting religion from hate speech wouldn’t have prevented the Christchurch attack. Her foundation’s report says “it is difficult to establish a causal link between online hate speech and violence”.

Another argument advanced by Ghahraman is that hate speech can be objectively defined. That’s not true. Where the line between fair criticism and hate speech lies can only depend on opinion.”

end of quote.

Dr Paul Moon is also sceptical about this government’s ability to lead the way in defining hate speech. Quote.

Professor Paul Moon, of the Auckland University of Technology, believes no country has been able to clearly define hate speech. This means citizens don’t know where the “boundary of the criminality of speech begins” and start to self-censor. Hate speech laws have a chilling effect.” End of quote.

One from ignorance and the other to wield power, both Ghahraman and Clark want harsh penalties for breaches of hate speech law. Quote.

Ghahraman and Clark do agree when it comes to the German model of regulating social media. Under the Network Enforcement Act, companies face fines of up to $80 million if they fail to remove harmful content quickly.” End of quote.


Of course, they do, because where there’s no stick, there’s no incentive for people to accept your opinion over their own.