Monday 19 April 2021

Is The Government’s Proposed “Cure” For Hate Speech Worse Than The Complaint?

For Our Own Good? Police officers knocking on New Zealanders’ doors on account of what they might think, or what they have said, is more likely to make the rest of us think we are living in Nazi Germany – not drawing lessons from it. The disharmony such heavy-handed state intrusion is bound to create will exceed by a wide margin the disharmony it is attempting to prevent.

IF ANY NATION UNDERSTANDS the relationship between “Hate Speech” and “Hate Crime” it is the German nation. Not only is Germany the nation which gave birth to Nazism, but it is also the nation which gave birth to the constitutional protections which allowed Nazism to destroy Germany’s fledgling democracy.

The constitution of the Weimar Republic – fragile successor to the defeated German Empire of Kaiser Wilhelm II – was the most progressive of its time. It conferred upon the German people civil and political rights as new as they were exhilarating. Foremost among these was that capstone of democracy, Freedom of Expression. Without this crucial freedom, all of Democracy’s other rights and freedoms are swiftly rendered illusory.

But, as the excellent German documentary series The Abyss: Rise and Fall of the Nazis, makes clear, the Weimar constitution’s unconditional guarantee of Freedom of Expression allowed the virulently anti-Semitic newspaper, Der Stürmer, to go on pumping its poison into the German body-politic. Tellingly, at the post-war Nuremberg Trials the editor of Der Stürmer, Julius Streicher, was charged with being an accessory to the mass murder of European Jewry. For his relentless incitement of hatred against the Jews, Streicher was found guilty of aiding and abetting the Holocaust and condemned to death. He was hanged on 16 October 1946.

The judgement of the international jurists at Nuremberg was clear: hate speech leads to hate crimes. To incite hatred is to invite violence – and worse. The constitution of the German Federal Republic (modern-day Germany) reflects the lessons learned from the tragic fate of Weimar. Germany’s “basic law” makes it clear that democratic rights and freedoms do not include the right to turn democracy against itself.

The question which New Zealanders must now answer is whether or not they confront a situation which in any serious respect resembles that of the doomed Weimar Republic? Is there a political force at work in New Zealand society remotely similar to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party? And, if such a force does exist, is it reasonable to characterise its protagonists as an existential threat to this country’s democratic institutions?

The answer to all of those questions is an unequivocal “No.” Nevertheless, the Labour Government is getting ready to pass legislation which will more define more clearly – and punish more harshly – “hate speech”. It is doing so at the behest of the Royal Commission of Inquiry in to the Christchurch Attacks of 15 March 2019. In the name of strengthening “social cohesion” – and thereby lessening the likelihood of future attacks – the Commissioners concluded that some revision of our current legal protections against hate speech was in order.

Before examining the Government’s proposed changes, it is important to determine whether the “Lone Wolf” Australian-born terrorist who carried out the Christchurch attacks did so as a consequence of absorbing hate speech uttered and/or published by New Zealanders on New Zealand soil. Or, more bluntly, was Brenton Tarrant incited to murder 51 people by a New Zealand variant of Der Stürmer? Once again, the answer is unequivocal: “No, he was not.”

Tarrant’s inspiration came from much further afield. He was a disciple of the Norwegian Lone Wolf terrorist Anders Breivik. He spent years visiting battlefields in southern and central Europe where Christian and Ottoman armies clashed more than 500 years ago. He participated in chat-rooms on the notorious US-based “4-Chan” social media platform. His political focus was upon events unfolding in the Northern – not the Southern Hemisphere.

Indeed, Tarrant chose New Zealand as the location for his attack on Islam precisely because it was so blessedly free of the unbridled hate speech that so inflamed the political discourse in other jurisdictions – along with the protections erected to preserve their citizens from its consequences. Prior to Tarrant’s deadly attack, New Zealand had not experienced a fatal terrorist incident since the death of Ernie Abbott in the Wellington Trades Hall bombing of 1984, and the loss of Fernando Pereira a year later in the state terrorist bombing of the Rainbow Warrior by the French government. Tarrant felt able to hide in plain sight in this country, confident that until he acted, he would not be detected. He wasn’t wrong.

All of which is not to suggest that New Zealand is entirely free of racial and religious prejudice and hatred. Verbal and physical assaults on people of colour and adherents of non-Christian religions are, sadly, all-too-common here. The point remains, however, that the level of this verbal and physical harassment was low enough for Tarrant’s attack to fall upon New Zealand like a bolt from the blue. No one anticipated anything like the horror and mayhem of the 15 March 2019 mosque shootings.

Why, then, did the Royal Commission feel moved to recommend a strengthening of our hate speech legislation? Did they not consider our democratic institutions robust enough to meet the outpouring of hatemongers head-on? Did they not regard the power of our news media to name and shame extremists of all kinds as a sufficient bulwark against the rise of a New Zealand Nazi Party and/or the publication of a down-under Der Stürmer? After all, when Far-Right and White Supremacist groups have shown themselves on the streets, the only impression they have left is one of profound weakness.

Although not yet “official”, the following wording would appear to be the Government’s preferred alternative to the existing legal prohibition against inciting racial hatred, it reads:

the incitement of disharmony, based on an intent to stir up, maintain or normalise hatred, through threatening, abusive or insulting communications.

It is further reported that legislative protection will be extended to target hate speech directed at religious belief and gender identification. Those found guilty of hate speech will be liable for a prison sentence not exceeding three years.

What sort of speech will it take to convince a jury of ordinary New Zealanders to send a fellow citizen to jail? One suspects that hatred of the sort perfected by Julius Streicher in Der Sturmer will be required to secure a conviction. Speech falling short of that measure will almost certainly result in acquittal. In the process of sorting out where the cut-off point lies (which is unlikely to be very far from where it is currently) real damage could end up being done to New Zealand democracy.

The framers of the Weimar constitution weren’t wrong to hold up Freedom of Expression as the capstone of democracy. They could not have foreseen the intensity of the hatred that fuelled the rise of the Nazis – hatred which the victors of World War I did so much to feed. Nor should we condemn the framers of Germany’s present constitution for attempting to learn the lessons of their country’s awful history. The problem our government faces, however, is that New Zealand is not Germany. Our political history contains nothing even remotely resembling the Nazi Party – or Der Stürmer.

And that’s the rub – isn’t it? Police officers knocking on New Zealanders’ doors on account of what they might think, or what they have said, is more likely to make the rest of us think we are living in Nazi Germany – not drawing lessons from it. The disharmony such heavy-handed state intrusion is bound to create will exceed by a wide margin the disharmony it is attempting to prevent.

This essay was originally posted on the website on Monday, 19 April 2021.


Phil said...

There have been a couple of reports that hate speech against "Political Opinion" has also been included.

"the incitement of disharmony, based on an intent to stir up, maintain or normalise hatred, through threatening, abusive or insulting communications" I will not mention names but I am sure it would be easy to find some rather insulting articles on blogs about our politicians. The idea that such bloggers need to shut up or be locked up is disturbing.

The Barron said...

One of the most famous cases in a comparable legislator was R v Keegstra, [1990] in the Canadian Supreme Court.

James Keegstra was a teacher at a public school in Eckville, Alberta. Canadian criminal law made it an offence to promote hatred. He had claimed to his classes that "created the Holocaust to gain sympathy", along with other extreme anti-Semitic views. Keegstra claimed freedom of expression, but the Canadian Court (upheld on appeal) that "that freedom of expression...would not be limited by [equality rights] and [recognition of multiculturalism]" as prescribed in the Law. The ruling stated "the violation of freedom of expression was the law had a rational connection to its objective, it was not overly limiting and the seriousness of the violation was not severe as the content of the hateful expression has little value to protect."

The Canadians saw legislation on hate speech as a balancing act. Expression was a right under Canadian law, but limited by whether the right was out weighed if the use of that freedom would violate the right of others.

This is not out of line with the famous quote attributed to Oliver Wendell-Holmes (but probably not O.W-H) “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.”

Personal rights must be limited by the harm they can cause others, as all have a right to safety within our society. We already recognize that teachers, police and most state sector employees are limited in what could be seen as hate speech. Unions recognize that safety in the work place includes being safe from unreasonable abuse or hate speech. Waikato University ruled on anti-Semitic and racist Hans Kupka on ethic grounds. Broadcasting standards are enforced.

Regulations and restrictions against public articulation of views that are reasonably likely to cause harm to minorities is what our communities abide by in most of our spheres. Legislation which (like that of Canada) can assist with the balance between the freedom of expression and the freedom against being exposed to harm would seem to me overdue.

AB said...

People expect their governments to take reasonable steps to keep them safe. A line has to be drawn somewhere. The legislation won't pass in it's current form, but a line will still be drawn. Then we can all argue about it all over again - mostly in bad faith.

Odysseus said...

You are correct on every count. This is an extremely bad proposal which if enacted would have a chilling effect on free speech. The protection afforded to religious belief would also enable religious extremists to go about their evil business without fear of scrutiny or being called out. It's hard to think of more hateful, "disharmonious" doctrines than those promulgated by certain certain religious texts. The Royal Commission has done New Zealand a grave disservice. People from across the political spectrum must unite to protect the fundamental right of freedom of speech.

John Hurley said...

I suppose they want to put fear in those inarticulate types who resent a society that no longer carries their scent.

Anonymous said...

This isn't exactly true. The Weimar Republic had a form of "hate speech" law and between 1923 and 1933, Der Stürmer was either confiscated or its editors were taken to court on dozens of occasions. The laws, though, backfired as t‌he more charges Streicher faced, the greater became the admiration of his supporters.

Tom Hunter said...

Anybody talking about the likes of Der Sturmer also needs to recognise the overall environment which enabled such ideas to spread and take hold. Had Streicher and his paper never existed the results would have been the same but through other channels.

Perhaps the real question to be asked of that situation is why all the free speech on the other side failed to knock back the Nazis. Certainly once they were in power the Nazis made damned sure to shut down such alternative ideas and arguments.

Police officers knocking on New Zealanders’ doors on account of what they might think, or what they have said,

It's already been happening in Britain for several years and few politicians seem concerned enough to wind the laws back. Forget the technical arguments over whether such speech will rise to the criminal level required for a successful prosecution. Even in Britain there's been little of that.

Charges, trials and convictions are not the outcome here. The process will be the punishment, starting with that knock on the door.

And I see our local Lefty Authoritarian, "The Barron" eagerly talking about wonderful Canada. Just recently the Ontario Fascist government ordered the provinces police forces to start hauling up anybody found outside and demanding to know why they were out and about: all part of yet another Covid lockdown. A glimmer of light appeared when all but one of the police groups told the Premier and his Himmlerites to get stuffed and that they would not be enforcing such a law.

But how long will those police hold out before they too are pushed out?

John Hurley said...

@ Barron
Better cut this crap

This criticism of the use of the term "mana whenua" as part of the definition of the term "tangata whenua" has also been adopted by the Environment Court. The Court concluded that it was not appropriate to use the term Manawhenua Iwi in a District Plan.27 The Court adopted the criticisms made by the Waitangi Tribunal of the term mana whenua and considered that the use of the term as a proper noun, Manawhenua, did not resolve the concern over the exclusivity implied. Justice Durie has commented extrajudicially that one way in which the term was used historically, not only implied exclusivity, but it also implied exclusivity in a negative way – that is, the term was used in order to assert control to the exclusion of others, often at the beginning of a war or other dispute over the resource in question. It was thus not a term to be used in a peaceful context such as in legislation.28,-2010/06-Iorns.pdf

John Hurley said...

What bothers me about this legislation is the way society is being steered in a certain direction.

Essentially they are following the Spoonley doctrine in Recalling Aotearoa.

It reminds me of my father. I used to enjoy the 6 o'clock news in the 90's.
My father liked cooking and whenever I popped in he would cook for me. We would sit there but the TV would go off at 6pm. Dad wouldn't say a thing "what?" , "what?".

We are in the middle of massive social change reengineering the identity of the whole country.

[This aligns with the] components of social cohesion outlined in
Ministry of Social Development papers9
• Belonging involves a sense of being part of the wider
community, trust in other people, and common respect for
the rule of law and for civil and human rights. New Zealand
is home to many peoples, and is built on the bicultural
foundation of the Treaty of Waitangi.
New Zealand’s ethnic and
cultural diversityshould be recognised, celebrated and valued.

Maori are special - that's why everything that doesn't/does move gets a Maori name.
And why kids are to get an education of shame and redemption.

The rest of us value diversity - (the incoherent moral order). I see the Great Helmsman Spoonley regrets pushing superdiversity. Russian scholar Anita Pavlenko pulled the wings off it and left it buzzing on the floor in circles zzzz zzzzz zzzzzz!

This didn't just happen it was Labours plan all along.

Legitimacy includes confidence in public institutions that
act to protect rights and interests and to mediate conflicts,
and institutional responsiveness.
Public institutions must
foster social cohesion, engender trust and be responsive to
the needs of all communities.

This work thus suggests that for multiculturalism to succeed identities need to be transformed. And, importantly, as Kymlicka suggests, this transformation applies not only to the minority but also to the majority. Indeed, perhaps the major identity transformation is required from members of the majority as their attributes are, as a rule, the same as the ones that define the national identity. Minorities need to be written into the self-definition of the national identity such as to imbue them with existential legitimacy as citizens in parity with the majority.

Cue Golriz angst - I'm made to feel I'm not Kiwi enough.

Such civic definitions serve to place the majority group as a sub-group within the system of intergroup relations, which allows for a new identity to emerge. Legitimacy and status as members of the new community are then less likely to be defined by ethnicity. Such civic based definitions also shape sub-group relations such that ethnically-defined difference becomes less relevant to the community as a whole.

and what happens to symbols, myths and things that hold us in awe. Who takes over that function: snooty Auckland lawyers on the NZ On Air board?

Moreover, there needs to be an institutionalisation of the public discourse as in line with terms outlined by Parekh (2006).

A still tongue makes a happy life - Prisoner 1961.
New Zealanders can no longer be themselves in their own country since Clark Ardern and Co created a society of "love and social change" - one that "celebrates difference".

David George said...

Good essay and not much to disagree with Chris, a couple of things:
"Verbal and physical assaults on people of colour and adherents of non-Christian religions are, sadly, all-too-common here"

Assaults (physical and sexual) by POC on people of no colour(?) are even more common than visa versa. The obvious problem is trying to establish motivation, was "hate' the motivation or something else. Does it matter? Perhaps we'd all be safer and better off if the police would concentrated on getting on top of that rather than getting into the inevitable quagmire of motivation.

There's no lack of criticism and outright abuse directed at Christians and Christianity either. The Gloriavale community have been subject to a public vilification campaign for years, perhaps their members have been insulted in the streets as a consequence. They would be protected I suppose, no more media hit pieces on them but perhaps their beliefs and practices should be allowed to be honestly discussed as with any belief, culture or ideology. Why not?

The Weimar Republic did implement laws to prevent anti Semitic speech. Leading Nazis, including Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch, and Julius Streicher, were all prosecuted for anti-Semitic speech. And rather than deterring them, the many court cases served as effective public relations machinery for the Nazis, affording them a level of attention that they never would have received in a climate of a free and open debate. They also served to reinforce the notion that the Jews were being favoured and protected and bolster the assertion that the German people were the victims. Talk about unintended consequences!
A lesson there for us today I think.

Unknown said...

Compare her to Jacinda: Not married; represents humanity. Love (and affection) has to be specific or it isn't love.

John Hurley said...

You can see here that in a situation where the state backs a paradigm objectivity goes out the window:

The reader and listener would have been no doubt from the contextual statements in the written article that a range of perspectives exist on the establishment of these wards. It is well accepted journalistic practice that balance can be achieved over the period of current interest in a particular topic and there has been extensive coverage of both those in favour and those against the establishment of wards in recent reporting. In this case those viewing and reading would be in no doubt that a range of perspectives exist.

But this is RNZ The Detail

and I got exactly the same response from the BSA over TVNZ Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta - New New Zealand.

Let's assume the above are matters relating to Covid/Science?

Graham Hill said...

In your earlier piece you made an inspired mention of Tarrant's Manichaeism. When Marxism shed its economics and became Neo Marxism what was left was moralism which inhabits critical theory and the Neo Marxist binary (duality) Oppressor (evil) v Oppressed (good). Things seem to be seen in 17thC puritan morality complete with ritual int eh case of Extinction Rebellion.

I think two pieces are missing from the Tarrant puzzle. I was asked to do research on Tarrant and shot down for my conclusions. I dared suggest, given he was from a depressed sugar growing area not unlike a USA rust belt deplorable, and his Manichaeism was fuelled by existential threat. An article in Quillette laid the seeds for that conclusion as working class young males face this. These people are as Chantal Delsol and Spiked on writers (O'Neill, Myers Ferudi) have noted are ridiculed by educated wokeish elite. The Censor's decision on the Trarant Manifesto makes a subtle jab in this vein which is wrong but of no moment anyway.

The two pieces of eh puzzle leading to is wayward thought it is muddled given Eco Fascism and his admiration the CCP) is his reliance on the outlines of the Unabomber's manifesto and Reynaud Camus" The Great Replacement. Camus' type of thinking has a history in France to which Tarrant visited directed at Arabs/Muslims. This provides in my view the fuel for him leading to the Manichaeism view you right with respect properly articulate.

greywarbler said...

John Hurley - that comment of yours at 17.53 on 19/4 sounds unpleasant to say the least.
Who are 'they' who have a scent that will be wiped out? Lavender growers? Do explain further otherwise it would leave a smell of sour mould which I regard as unhealthy.

Personally I want to be able to criticise when I think justified. But the words 'bounded' and 'not inciting negative feelings encouraging attack, either verbal or physical, against all other people similar to the subject of criticism', eg, women, men, people with ginger hair, wpmen and men with no hair, women with hair to their waist (so annoying when it clogs the plughole), people with slanty eyes, people with protuberant eyes (think of Marty Feldmann, comedian), people with skins, very dark, medium dark, golden, yellow (looking jaundiced), people wearing T-shirts with provocative messages etc.

Actually people have written lists of unsuitable people in parodies of Gilbert and Sullivan.
While on the serious subject of being called out for offending, inciting or just being rude, here is G&S Mikado I've got a Little List, modern style. or nearer the original -

And last but not least the amazing Nicky Hager and his study of the slithery snoops Thompson and Clark and the Exclusive Brethren who resist free speech from their own to such an extent that they cast them out, bar them from contact with their families, and then...have been
watching them night and day, tracking them like the Stasi might have.

Anonymous said...

The best explanation of why free speech is important - from Rowan Atkinson

Patricia said...

I think that I would would put my faith in a jury - it will be a jury.. Hatred builds up slowly but steadily. However saying that think of how the media has altered the pakeha view of the Maori people. So as much as Der Sturmer promoted hatred against the Jewish people the media can be used for the common good. But there again it depends on who owns the media.’
I just don’t know but if it is passed I think we will have to put our trust in those twelve members of the jury.

greywarbler said...

unknown 8,54
I am not up with all the celebrities. Who is she?

Sam said...

Yeah well I'm not buying food from one of them fat body positive whales because diversity.

John Hurley said...


I suppose they want to put fear in those inarticulate types who resent a society that no longer carries their scent.
I meant those people at the bottom who feel betrayed. Nation is an extension of family; of tribe within a national boundary. That's what I meant by carrying their scent.

Inclusive societies that actively seek diversity threaten the unique sense of belonging of those who have little else.

John Hurley said...

Graham Hill

In this video George Megalogenis explains how immigration is the fifth pillar of the open economic model. It is demand driven and "that demand doesn't happen by an employer putting his hand up for a skilled employee. It is coming from China and India"

Under that model Australia has received an extra million per decade.
Unlike earlier migrants they are (mostly) landing at the top: "best houses best schools best jobs".

Livability suffers but they don't notice as they escape over population and degraded environments.

Three Australia's are developing and Bernard Salt told Kathryn Ryan that that is what is behind the cooling of relations between NZ and Australia.

It is hard to imagine that that didn't escape Brenton Tarrant's notice.

Jon Haidt says humans are deeply intuitive creatures. We are also a species of primate.

So called nativist instincts led to the election of Donald Trump.

Eric Kaufmann (scholar of nationalism) says majority ethnic groups are the architecture on which nation states are formed. If they are self confident they welcome new comers but if they are governed by self-abnegating elites the result is right-wing populism (or suppression). He says immigration should be maintained at a level that satisfies the middle of two extremes.

The Barron said...

'local lefty authoritarian' - hmm...

The Trumpian pattern of debate has overly engaged the 'what about'. Rather than respond to the issue at hand, the response is to divert the conversation to a barely related idea.
I show how the Canadian supreme court interpets their hate speech laws, citing a case of exteme anti-Semitism in a public school, and rather than analysis the decision, the response is a 'what about' Ontario public health enforcement during a pandemic.
Avoidance of an opinion as to whether the Canadian law applied to the Keegstra case is applicable to NZ, by substituting a side issue is not useful.

The Barron said...

It might be worth re-presenting the Canadian Keegstra case.

Keegstra, as a teacher in a state school, told students that, amongst other things, the Jews made up the Holocaust.

Currently in NZ, his Teacher Registration would very likely be revoked by the NZ Teachers Council for breach of ethics. Indeed, it would likely breach the ethics of his own Union / Professional Association. In the Civil courts he would struggle to keep employment.

Canada has a criminal offence against the promotion of hatred. Further, equality of rights and recognition of multiculturalism are defined under Canadian law. The presumption for him being prosecuted would be that obviously a child of Jewish ancestry would be educationally, emotionally and mentally unsafe in the school. Further, for a person in a position of power to misuse his position in conveying this to vulnerable learning minds may be seen as injurious to the wider community.

He ran a "Freedom of Expression" defense. Canada has laws protecting that freedom.

The ruling was that violating that freedom was justified in relation to the objective of the hate speech law. More contentious, the Court states that the 'hateful expression has little value to protect.' In this, the Canadian Court has weighted a value judgement on the nature of the expression for which freedom could be otherwise protected.

Despite other commentators seeing my agreement with the Canadian interpretation of their law, while I welcome a framework for balancing competing rights and freedoms to be with the Courts, I would be interested as to how NZ would frame legislation giving direction as to how to weight the value of differing expressions.

Geoff Fischer said...

"No one anticipated anything like the horror and mayhem of the 15 March 2019 mosque shootings". Clearly you did not, but others did, and, tragically, their warnings were ignored.
The New Zealand government banned Tarrant's manifesto not because it could incite hatred, but because it might provoke discussion of the nature of the threats posed to our people by the individuals and institutions with whom Tarrant is linked.
The colonial regime as a whole does not want violence, discord and disharmony in society, but neither does it want an open and frank public conversation about the colonialist ideology and institutions of government. So it chooses to manage public discourse through a multi-layered system of censorship.
The good thing, and something we should not lose sight of, is that the regime's legal restrictions on public debate will have little effect because on the anti-colonialist side we will continue to investigate, examine and debate in a measured way, in accordance with the tikanga of whakaaro pai ki nga tangata katoa.
Our korero will continue regardless, and if sentiments on the other side are inflamed to a point where there is a threat of palpable harm to our people, then we can take appropriate measures to ensure our own safety. We are ourselves responsible for ensuring that there can be no repeat of the Al Noor massacre. The colonial regime can not and will not do that for us.
We should not even be talking about "hate speech law" which is a distraction from the real issues facing us. We need to be talking about colonialism and its role in fomenting the disharmony and gross inequities of New Zealand society.

David George said...

The pervasive suppression of opinion has reached crisis point, a government bent on making it institutionalised, criminilising our speech. What can you say?
A comment to a letter from a brave teacher that refused to toe the line.

"Who does not look back on the great moral crises of our past and hope, had we been there, that our courage would have risen to meet the terrible moment? Who does not feel anguish at the almost universal silence which enabled the monsters of our shared history? Would we have just followed orders? Or would we have sheltered Anne Frank? Would we have crossed the Selma bridge? Would we have joined the Salt March? Would we have risked everything? Would we have risked anything?

We think: of course we would. Or at least that’s what we post on Facebook. And then we say a little prayer of thanks that our time is nothing like that. Except that once again it is like that. Paul Rossi has taken a stand for the children he teaches. It cannot help but make a difference for them. In fact it clearly already has. The bigger question is: will it make a difference for the rest of us, suddenly forced by his example into our own moral reckoning, and the awful recognition that for each of us our own time of choosing is here. History is back."

David George said...

Geoff Fischer: "the anti-colonialist side we will continue to investigate, examine and debate in a measured way"

That's not what we've seen to date Geoff, in fact some of the rhetoric from your separatist sidekicks would run foul of the human rights legislation we have now. I can only speculate that the only reason it hasn't been taken further than warnings is a naïve complicity from the HR commission, they are a law unto themselves to considerable degree.
Placing it in the criminal realm, however, making investigation and prosecution the responsibility of the police, requires a far higher level of accountability from them and from the justice system generally. There are clearly defined channels to ensure accountability and the prospect of private prosecution if folk are not satisfied that all is just.

Some of the talk is clearly racist, incitement to hate and possibly treason. I wouldn't be getting too cocky.

The Barron said...

An interesting case David, but Rossi was not subjected to any criminal action under hate speech legislation. We have a teacher who disagreed with what I presume was his local school's policy regarding teaching and discussing racism. The school is Grace Church HS, so it is reasonable to assume a private religious school.

He disagrees with the anti-racism circular, he could appeal to the parents, the board or his teachers' Union, but chooses to resign. He may frame it as taking 'a stand for the children', but it is simply a question that he wants a different direction than his employer. He cites one student as agreeing with him.

Not a martyr, just someone who didn't get his way in a meeting.

greywarbler said...

John Hurley Your notions of racism-freespeech-immigration seem a one-stop shop where one goes for a fresh loaf, but get last year's that you have had in the freezer - inedible, but perhaps indelible.

Doug Longmire said...

Unfortunately the use of the word "insulting", in the definition of hate speech leaves it wide open to judge almost any comment as hate speech if someone decides that they were "insulted".

Really - put such a loose term into law shows just how far this current government is prepared to go.

John Hurley said...


That's not helpful criticism. Can't you be more specific?

David George said...

The Barron, Rossi didn't resign but he may as well have. Judging by the response by the school authorities he will likely be fired and find it difficult to gain future employment in the field he loves. He is rightly concerned that some of his students are being vilified, not through fault of their own but because of their race.
That's bad enough but my main concern is that expressions of genuine beliefs such as his will soon be a criminal offence in our country. See the response of the "outraged" authorities:

"I was informed by the head of the high school that my philosophical challenges had caused “harm” to students, given that these topics were “life and death matters, about people’s flesh and blood and bone.” I was reprimanded for “acting like an independent agent of a set of principles or ideas or beliefs.” And I was told that by doing so, I failed to serve the “greater good and the higher truth.”

He further informed me that I had created “dissonance for vulnerable and unformed thinkers” and “neurological disturbance in students’ beings and systems.” The school’s director of studies added that my remarks could even constitute harassment."

A somewhat hyperbolic response but from what we've seen of our proposed anti speech laws that would surely be justification for a prosecution, or twisted into one.

BTW, our schools are going down the same path as Grace Church High, I believe the intent of the new history curriculum is rooted in the same vile ideology, critical race theory.
I'll leave the final words to Thomas Sowell:

"Have we reached the ultimate stage of absurdity, where some people are held responsible for things that happened before they were born, while other people are not held responsible for what they do today?”

greywarbler said...

I agree with Doug Longmire about the word 'insulting' being a most plastic word. It is indeed insulting to the NZ public that Labour should allow this word to be included in the legal phraseology drawn up by their private contracting law firm. (I presume it will be by some legal go-to firm as the previous small department that drafted government law in the past would have been discarded when government became a dirty word.)

The word is sloppy and indefinite and seemingly deliberately included showing that the contractors are unable to cope with the current amorphous suggestions around defining 'racism' and free speech, from peoples' passing thoughts that convey rudeness, uncouthness etc. I think they have virtually created a spectrum leaving the matter of definition for a lengthy Court case which would establish a precedent.

Sloppy law is probably worse than no law; establishing guidelines for courtesy expected between people could be more useful. We could start teaching courtesy to others at kindergarten to start, and carry the expectation of self-respect being both a personal and universal expectation, through to primary, secondary and later. Also teaching restraint, and thinking before speaking, how not to be 'jerks' in life - such concepts carried through would bring untold advantages and savings in costs in every sphere of activity.

The Barron said...

David, you are correct. He has now been fired from the private school which charges $57,000 a year.

He refused to follow the instructions of his employer in regard anti-racism curriculum. He went public, and criticized his employer through the media.

Private and religious schools in America have wide autonomy. It is interesting that you highlight this case as it is a teacher disagreeing with a progressive curricula. Although under the state sector, NZ had a situation several years ago when a teacher in a NZ Catholic school disagreed publicly with his Principal on same sex marriage. The Right was noticeably silent in his defence.
The Rossi case is simply a teacher at a private school refusing to teach the private school curriculum, and disagreeing with the school on an anti-racism program.

David George said...

Thank you for your reply Barron. It's an interesting case on many levels, I don't think it can be dismissed as casually as you suggest.
Just out now: the school head (Davidson) in a recorded discussion, actually agreed with Rossi>
Mr Davidson replied: “I’m agreeing with you that there has been a demonisation that we need to get our hands around, in the way in which people are doing this understanding. We’re demonising white people for being born.”

To this, Mr Rossi said, “And are some of our students white people? OK, so we’re demonising white kids. Why don’t you just say it?”

With the new curriculum we are going to have precisely this problem here in New Zealand, if we aren't already.
How anyone can be unconcerned that children are being burdened with guilt for wrongs (real or imagined) committed years ago by people who just happen to share their ethnicity beggars belief.
What a terrible thing to lay at the feet of children; psychologically damaging and socially dangerous. Perhaps that's the underlying intention.

greywarbler said...

John Hurley 22.45
I have sat down and looked at one of your comments and put my thoughts alongside. 22/4 16.52

There is a lot to think about. Now we have gone international with our free trade agreements with the Rest of the World, us the pimple on the pumpkin, we need to find out who we are, our own particular blend, and watch other cultures and try to enjoy what good aspects they have to offer. And not blame them for their bloody house buying, they are just reacting to market forces. Which we need to blunt somewhat.

Nick J said...

Thats the facts, so for further nuanced information I invite you to hear it from the horses mouth, Rossi himself. Draw your own conclusions.

Check out this Podcast: A Teacher Speaks Out: Paul Rossi on Critical Race Theory and Anti-Racist Teachings "Demonizing" Kids at his School | Ep. 93