Paul Moon: Silencing 'disharmonious speech' will not be golden

Stuff co.nz 11 December 2020
Family First Comment: Well said by Paul Moon
“Criminalising “hate” might be superficially seductive, but should this amendment to the Crimes Act be passed, the repercussions will be chilling. Unlike other prohibitions, such as exceeding the speed limit, theft, and so forth, there will be no precise definition in the legislation as to what constitutes disharmonious or hateful speech, and where the threshold of criminal speech lies.”

OPINION: In July 2017, the Human Rights Commission issued a report recommending that “disharmonious speech” directed at religions be criminalised in New Zealand.

The suggestion was generally dismissed as being little more than ideological posturing – something far too threatening to our fundamental rights of free expression, and too sophomoric in its objectives to be given any currency. Indeed, over time, even its most aggressive advocates seemed to slink away from supporting the recommendation.

However, the just-released report of the royal commission into the Christchurch terrorist attack has shown that there is still a desire lurking in some corners for such restrictions on speech to be implemented.

The commission has resuscitated the notion of disharmonious speech, and has urged that the Government should repeal section 131 of the Human Rights Act 1993 “and insert a provision in the Crimes Act 1961 for an offence of inciting racial or religious disharmony, based on an intent to stir up, maintain or normalise hatred, through threatening, abusive or insulting communication with protected characteristics that include religious affiliation”.
Criminalising “hate” might be superficially seductive, but should this amendment to the Crimes Act be passed, the repercussions will be chilling. Unlike other prohibitions, such as exceeding the speed limit, theft, and so forth, there will be no precise definition in the legislation as to what constitutes disharmonious or hateful speech, and where the threshold of criminal speech lies.
Instead, it will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with the accused knowing whether they have broken the law only at the moment they are convicted.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/123659211/silencing-disharmonious-speech-will-not-be-golden
twitter follow us

Scroll to Top
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap