Sunday, July 25, 2021
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Hate Speech Laws Will Not Make New Zealand A Safer And More Tolerant Society

The Free Speech Union is reacting with concern to the
Government’s plan to make speech criminal and says the
proposals will go no way towards making New Zealand a safer
and more tolerant society.

The law would change so
that a person who intentionally incites, stirs up, maintains
or normalises hatred against any protected group of people,
would be liable for up to three years in prison if they did
so by being threatening, abusive or even

Spokesperson for Union, David Cumin says,
“The government claims these changes to hate speech laws
will promote social cohesion. The opposite is true —
legislating hatred out of existence is a hopeless
expectation. What’s more, the government is yet to provide
examples of the speech they intend these provisions to

“The ambiguity of certain words in the
legislation such as ‘insulting’ imports a real risk that
speech may fall within the ambit for prosecution that was
never intended to be criminalised by those envisioning the

“Free speech has to mean the ability
to insult. Democracy can’t work if the powers at be can
deem certain arguments or speech as

“Alarmingly, being found guilty of hate
speech would carry a higher penalty than some violent
offences. In any event, a lengthy prison sentence is
unlikely to be the best mechanism to make an intolerant
person rethink their views, if anything, it will push them
into dark corners that would make violence a more tangible

“New Zealanders should prepare for
the very real possibility that those who take offence to
tweets, crass statements or unsavoury protests will run to
law-enforcement to have their offence indulged. The Union
has already been contacted by members of Police concerned
about having to enforce these proposals. While the ambit for
successful prosecution may be high, overseas experience has
shown that the introduction of such laws has resulted in law
enforcement consistently missing the mark, and has created a
structure allowing for legal harassment of the state against
citizens, even if they are ultimately found not

“The Free Speech Union will be fighting
these proposals and invite all Kiwis who value this human
right to join

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