The Human Rights Commission report released Friday has called for a balance to be struck between “freedom of speech and the right to be safe.” 

It seems that no-one told Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt that safety isn’t a human right. Not in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Not in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Someone should also tell Mr. Hunt that it isn’t his job to start inventing human rights.

This was not the only baseless assertion from the man in charge of protecting New Zealanders’ human rights. In inquiring about the adequacy of New Zealand’s “hate speech law”, he stated that:

“hate speech is defined as speech that can be proven to cause a third party to act with violence or hostility towards an ethnic or national group…”

The key question this statement raises is; what on earth he is talking about?

New Zealand doesn’t have a “hate speech law” so the origin of this definition is quite mysterious. The Human Rights Act 1993 outlaws racial disharmony (s61), racial harassment (s63), and incitement of racial disharmony (s131), and along with the prohibitions on discrimination and the other common law restrictions on free speech.

But nowhere in New Zealand’s statute books will you find a “hate speech law.” In fact, the Human Rights Commission’s own report from last year states “No definition of hate speech exists under international law and definitions under national laws vary.” Seeing as Mr. Hunt signed off on this report, it is surprising to see him suddenly arrive at a definition, seemingly out of nowhere.

I recommend you give this report a read, as it provides quite a comprehensive overview of New Zealand’s current laws restricting speech but also an insight into the thinking of the Human Rights Commission.

With Labour’s majority in Parliament they will no longer have NZ First acting as a brake on their ambitions to enact hate speech laws.

The supporters of such laws will be emboldened to demand these laws be enacted. Labour will either be forced to submit to these demands or finally admit that not only does New Zealand already have laws which punish and restrict speech deemed threatening, abusive or insulting to people on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity and nationality, but that the extensions to these already existing laws lack any kind of logical consistency.

We can expect more of these demands to restrict speech on the basis of ‘safety’ over the course of the next three years, and that is why it is so vital that there is a voice calling for a principled defence of free speech. 

Join us in making that defence, and donate to the Free Speech Coalition today.

Thank you for your support.

 Stephen Franks
  Free Speech Coalition

In fact, there is no right not to be offended either. Salman Rushdie, the British author of The Satanic Verses, who lives under a fatwa calling for his death that was issued by Muslim fanatics in 1989 said:

“There is no right in the world not to be offended. That right simply doesn’t exist. In a free society, an open society, people have strong opinions, and these opinions very often clash. In a democracy, we have to learn to deal with this.”

Do we want NZ to become a full-fledged Thought Police state? —Eds