The concept of free speech has had a long history in the Anglosphere.
In 1640’s during the English civil war the Levellers delivered a Petition to the English parliament which included the demand, ‘That no man, for preaching or publishing his opinion on religion in a peaceful way may be punished…’. This was just the beginning of the idea for free speech for the common men in England. In this same period, the famous English poet John Milton, wrote in his 30-page pamphlet the Areopagitica, that ideas and works should be “examined, refuted and condemned” rather than be restricted and prohibited by the strict licencing laws at the time.
A few decades later, following the Glorious Revolution in Britain, these ideas started to be implemented by those in power. The English bill of Rights act from 1689 included that the elected members of parliament had free speech without fear of interference by the monarchy. In 1695 the before mentioned licencing laws were repealed and allowed for a free press.
These ideas introduced during the 17th century in England never waned within the Anglosphere. The United States Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791, insured that the right to free speech and free press were cemented in the newly born country. This newly declared US bill of rights was built on the foundation set in the English Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta.
In Centuries later, In New Zealand we finally got the right to free speech solidified in the New Zealand Bill of Right Act 1990. This Included the freedom of speech, assembly, association and movement. Before this act, most human and civil rights in New Zealand were determined by English Common law.
Unfortunately, this right won after centuries of struggle is under risk within New Zealand by opportunistic groups pushing their own agendas. Here is a quick overview too New Zealand’s enemies of free speech.
There are several Muslim Advocacy groups within New Zealand. One of the largest within New Zealand is the Federation of Muslims Associations. They have been known to give large donations to political parties, including over $10,000 in 2008 to the Labour Party.
There have been increased calls by the association to increase our already existing hate speech laws to include “inciting religious disharmony” or bring a religion into contempt. This type of attitude is common with Muslim Associations that have appeared in a majority of Western Countries following mass migrations of low skill workers brought by the upper and ruling classes.
In 2011 in Austria, a woman was convicted for saying Mohammad was a pedophile. In 2013 in Britain, over 500 instances anti-muslim hate speech were recorded by the police following the murder of British solider Lee Rigby. Some of these people were arrested. We can expect similar arrests and convictions if similar laws are brought into New Zealand.
New Zealand Maori Council:
Its unfortunate that the rights gained by the British and passed on the Maori when they gained the Rights and Privileges of British subjects following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi are now under threat by some powerful Maori for political gain.
Earlier this year the New Zealand Maori Council, a Maori Advocate lobby, had used hate speech as a weapon for blatant political gain. After the lobby group ‘1Law4All’ distributed pamphlets that called against having Maori local wards, against race-based rights and abolishing the Waitangi Tribunal. The NZ Maori Council called 1Law4All’ and a group mentioned in the pamphlets, ‘Hobsons Pledge’, to be investigated for hate speech.
This is worrying as the New Zealand Maori Council has direct access to the Minster of Maori Affairs under the Maori Community Development Act of 1962. Making it a very powerful lobby that can directly whisper into the government’s ear, the government seem to be taking notes.
It’s no secret that the Green Party has been a major factor in the recent push for hate speech. Green MP, Golriz Ghahraman, has been the unofficial spokesmen for the Green Party on this issue. She calls for existing laws to be expanded to protect, religious groups, sexualities and genders from hate. She calls “Calling Muslims Pedophiles” as an example of hate against Muslims. Seems eerily similar to our Austrian friend from 2011 being charged for calling Mohmmad a Pedophile. She then goes on to call “no rights absolute”. This is extremely worrying as greens are in a confidence and supply agreement with the current government and have a large amount of sway over government policy.
The Labour party has had a lot of factions whispering in its ear and pushing for changes to hate speech laws, and unfortunately, they have been listening and are very receptive. Justice Minister Andrew Little, has asked the Human Rights Commission to review whether our current laws are adequate and need expanding.
He also personally expressed how “Opinions and statements can make minorities feel threatened, unwelcome and alien”. Andrew Little had a plan to fast track any new laws in early April but luckily it seems he backed down from this when it seemed it wouldn’t get the same bi-partisan support as the changes too firearms laws. However, with many allies, lobbies and donators of the Labour Party pushing for these law changes for their own gain, it seems likely Andrew Little will likely try put these restrictions on free speech into law.
If these groups had their way, the legacy of our ancestors will be inversely thrown away. Independent thinker will be criminalized for criticizing foreign cultural practices, powerful religious groups and government policy. It won’t be too far-fetched for these laws to be purposely vague so they can criminalize any dissident thought like they do in many Western European countries with similar laws.