Tuesday, 28 May 2019

What Tangled Webs Are Being Woven

Precious Petals and "Hate Speech"

On the matter of free speech, we stand with MP David Seymour. The current thermo-nuclear missile deployed and used by his opponents is to allege that his words represent  "hate speech".

Hate speech is a wax nose: it can be twisted into multitudinous shapes.  For example, the statement "I think you are ignorant on the matter" can be classified as hate speech if some take offence.  "I am deeply offended that you call me ignorant, and feel that by saying what you did, you hate me and mine."  The next step is, shut down the offensive remarks and punish the offensive speaker.

Here is Seymour's response to those who want to trammel his rights to free speech.

“The response to my recent comments on free speech proves we cannot trust government to enforce hate speech laws”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.  “Speaker Trevor Mallard is the latest to denounce my views and try to shut down any criticism of those who would take away our right to freedom of expression.

“Imagine if the state had even greater powers to punish speech at its disposal.  The Government, emboldened by the Twitter mob, would now be using that power to investigate and punish a sitting MP’s genuinely-held views.  Hate speech laws turn debate into a popularity contest where the winners get to silence views they don't like by using the power of the state.

“We find ourselves in an astonishing situation: an MP can vigorously campaign to take away our right to freedom of expression, but, if another MP criticises them, Parliament’s Speaker says they are a bully.  Freedom of expression is one of the most important values our society has. It cannot be abandoned because anyone, let alone Parliament’s Speaker, weighs in with accusations against anyone who defends it.

“ACT will continue to defend the critical principle that nobody should ever be punished by the power of the state on the basis of opinion.”
Well said.  Shame on Trevor Mallard, an unworthy Speaker of the House.

But this presents a double irony.  Parliament is supposed to be the an institution and place where free speech is highly prized and protected.  But Mallard cannot restrict David Seymour's speech in this instance because his remarks were not offered in Parliament, but in the media.  There have been no attempts, as far as we are aware, to prosecute Seymour in the courts of the land.

Parliament, under Mallard, appears to have weaker rights of free speech than citizens speaking or writing in public.  This is unheard of--or it was until this year.

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