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‘Hate speech’ laws promise cohesion at the cost of division

Opinion Piece

by Dane Giraud

Dane Giraud

The Government’s proposed hate speech laws are being presented as a tool for much needed social cohesion. However, few who advocate for these changes can tell us how cohesion will be practically achieved.

The story we are told is that, using the deterrent of hefty prison sentences and substantial fines, harmful speech can be successfully policed. Yet, if speech is driven by deeply held belief, state suppression will not make that belief or the desire to express it simply disappear.

Whatever hate speech laws pretend to be, they are not a remedy for racism. Indeed, on the contrary, “hate speech” laws, both traditionally and in the contemporary context, have proved incredibly incendiary.

Even supporters of “hate speech” laws will often stumble upon this uncomfortable potentiality. A spokeswomen for the Islamic Women’s Council New Zealand noted that “debate about the (hate speech) proposal will see the Muslim community subject to further abuse. There is a danger that people will be unhappy with the law and then they will blame the Muslim community for it”.

Former president of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), Nadine Strossen, explains why such laws generate so much resentment in her 2018 book Hate: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech by claiming that “hate speech laws not only violate the cardinal viewpoint neutrality, but also the emergency principles, by permitting government to suppress speech solely because its message is disfavoured, disturbing, or feared to be dangerous, by government officials or community members, and not because it directly causes imminent serious harm”.

Another supporter of “hate speech” laws, Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley, fails to address “hate speech” law’s propensity towards division, despite being an expert on white supremacist groups.

Along with being an ancient hatred, antisemitism is also a conspiracy theory. Taking citizens’ rights away in the name of “protecting” Jews has the potential to affirm many of the far-Right and hard-Left narratives on Jewish control.

It seems extraordinary that the potential dangers here haven’t been part of the conversation. Especially considering we are seeing antisemitism rise exponentially in Europe, in spite of the continent having robust and far-reaching “hate speech” laws.

Aren’t these laws meant to be about creating a safer environment for minorities?

Troublingly, our Human Rights Commission admits that the term “hate speech” has “no definition under international law, and national definitions vary”. They have also published various international rulings used to justify the theory that “hate speech” leads to cumulative harmful effects, with the caveat that empirical evidence on this thesis is wanting. Again, next to no serious consideration of potential polarisation.

Much of our Human Right Commission’s research in this area is anecdotal, and while lived experience is important, the Human Rights Commission, and even the Government, carefully curates who it will consult with. When the Free Speech Union approached Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt’s office, we were told he would not be speaking to us as we were not an “interested party”. This despite our steering group having multiple members of religious minority groups and from the LGBT community. You can be the wrong type of minority member for the HRC, or hold the wrong opinions on this matter, at the very least.

If speech does have a cumulative effect, as the Human Rights Commission and Government seem to believe, their messaging that we, as minorities, are all singing from the same song sheet regarding a desire to remove the free speech rights of fellow New Zealanders, could finally prove to be the most irresponsible speech of all.

■ Dane is a spokesperson for the Free Speech Union and a member of the NZ Jewish community.

  1. David Jackson says:

    Quote 1; “…Indeed, on the contrary, ‘hate speech’ laws, both traditionally and in the contemporary context, have proved incredibly incendiary.”

    That’s because trying to contain a truth is like containing a fire with its own oxygen supply – that becomes known as an explosive! This is when societies are so contained that all the people explode together, such as French Revolution or Russia in 1917. And then the rulers get what they deserve for causing the people all that suffering without a safety release valve called expression of free will.

    Quote 2; “…by permitting government to suppress speech solely because its message is disfavoured, disturbing, or feared to be dangerous, by government officials or community members, and not because it directly causes imminent serious harm”.

    True! I’m a Prophet {like it or not / sanctimonious water walking not included / don’t forget Judas betrayed Jesus because life in reality is not the propaganda travel brochure often presented}.

    Police have villainously blocked my facebook page. This is Treason against all the sacrifice and blood of World War 2 which made mankind think about how to prevent another situation.

    More importantly, it is also an “Enemy of mankind” because in the face of real Prophecy they have worked to suppress hard evidence – which is to directly oppose God himself.

    I have decided not to fight the facebook treason as writing takes much of my time and I get little done. After writing in NZ for 20 years about a Kingdom to replace democracy / . . . after announcing what transpired to be 9/11 “three weeks before 9/11” {letters to editor, Ruapehu Bulletin 21st Aug 2001} / speaking on radio live before being suppressed etc… for me the country is like a university class that has had more then its fair share of lessons and “now is the test time”.

    So I will work on getting ready to leave the country and even by way of religious persecution / political asylum. {I have to literally carry my food and water with me to avoid poisoning. The Russians are more honest about poisoning their dissidents even when they lie because the truth is “in the obviousness”. But in the west they do it to induce cancers / heart attacks etc… so ‘they can get away with it’ while depending on the people’s ignorance.}

    Just as Prophetic business proved true in this country for some people who didn’t listen. So the whole country will find out the hard way when I leave the country for good. To be clear; God will use Maori disgruntlement to take away the peace and God will dry the country up completely.

    Last time I left to go to Israel November 28 2016 and came back to this country Jan 5th 2017, what happened to Gisborne in the space of a month, which the paper said was “the worst drought in 112 years!” ….will happen to the entire country! A grand father in law used to say “you don’t learn by your own mistakes – you learn from other people’s mistakes”.

    But in life people have to make their own mistakes and learn the hard way or it isn’t valued as much.

    Prophetic “business” in this country would have served as a petri dish for the whole land had the people had any sincerity in their hearts. But ‘the wolves in sheeps’ clothing in control’ chose to bury and hide the truth for their own ends.

    Those ends? Regarding people who can be a law to themselves in this half civilized society of scoundrels…. God said he is handing nations over to me to rule with a rifle – and as a consequence is “bringing His End through me!” I have vowed certain persecutors are to go on the stake alive {after therapy} with a sanctimonious nappy and some icing sugar and a dollop of whipped cream on their heads for good measure and to ‘top it off’ just to make a mockery of liars and their true value!

    Freedom of speech is vital and good. But when liars want to suppress the truth, “Silence will prove the to be the deadly weapon” when the truth comes to town!

    To top this off. The suppressing free speech brigade ‘is some new religion’ of lairs who like to get offended in order to paint their mask. They have said Christianity is the main religion of the nation. But the real religion of mankind has been “painting the pot or kettle blacker then yourself!” There is some little truth in that, at least it’s heading for a direction.

    Suppressing certain truths is best summed by saying in the future “road signs that warn of ice conditions” etc… are to be taken down because it offends them! “How dare you tell me I’m going to crash my car because of ice or turns in the road – are you telling me I cant drive? – I find this Offensive! ‘Mr policeman to the rescue please!'”

    And in their warped minds their reality is “their painting paradise ‘because it’s in their power to paint paradise'” and that’s how the world works for toddlers who have control of the Kindergaten and cookie jar and don’t like to be told they get diabetes or rotten teeth!

    I could say many things from many angles like an army to refute them. But it’s like a University Professor doing the test of the students. So it’s time to back off and see if they have been listening. Or NZ becomes the petri dish and example.