Free speech includes stupid speech

Sun, 14 Apr, 2019

“If people weren’t allowed to make stupid and historically inaccurate statements, we’d have to close down Parliament,” says ACT Leader David Seymour, “but that is what Justice Minister Andrew Little seems to be suggesting in his response to a One Law for All pamphlet this weekend.”

“Mr Little is not claiming that the pamphlet incites or threatens violence, is defamatory, or is even a nuisance. Those would be legitimate reasons to curtail speech, but Mr Little is claiming the Government needs the power to shut down speech that is foolish.”

“We live in a world where the Reserve Bank Governor thinks the Bank is a Kauri tree, the Treasury is trying to measure your sun and moon feelings, and the Minister of Statistics says a census that missed 700,000 people is good work by the Chief Statistician. If this Government wants to ban foolish speech, it will have to seriously look at shutting itself down.”

“More importantly, creating a Censor with the ability to make arbitrary judgements of what is and isn’t a reasonable opinion for people to express is counter to the Bill of Rights Act, which says: Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.”

“Creating such a ‘public decency tribunal’ as Peter Dunne seems to advocate, is the stuff of police states and third world dictators. Hiding behind the euphemistic language of ‘public decency’ is the terrifying power of the Censor who can visit punishment on people, with opinion being the only test of whether a crime has been committed and punishment is warranted.”

“That Orwellian future is one that must be resisted by every free-thinking New Zealander at all costs.”