‘Hate speech’: who decides who needs protecting?

Rev Stu Crosson warns of the proposed "hate speech" changes and what this means for truth and freedom.

Today, submissions close for the Government’s proposed changes to the Human Rights Act 1993. The proposal, which the Government "agrees to in principle", is to make illegal "hate speech" against a range of different groups of people.

This is a very dangerous step for any society to make. It seems incongruous, doesn’t it? Surely protecting people from hatred is a good thing, especially if those people are a vulnerable minority. The trouble comes, as the 20th century has so violently taught us, that the moment governments take the authority away from people to speak freely and openly (even forcefully) about things we disagree on, is the moment we open the door to tyranny.

Jim Flynn eloquently stated before his death last year, that in the pursuit of truth, you either have a contest of ideas or you have a contest of power. “When you forbid certain ideas, the only way you can be effective is by being more powerful. So it becomes a contest of strength,” Flynn said.

He is right. It doesn’t matter if the ideas outlawed come from the left or the right of the political spectrum, the end result will inevitably be violence. Under Lenin and Stalin’s Russia, it was the voices on the right who were silenced and exterminated. Under Hitler’s Nazi Germany it was the voices on the left who were silenced and exterminated. Chris Trotter writing in this page last month (July 2, 2021) described “the urge to suppress ideas and beliefs which contradict what one fervently believes to be the truth is not a healthy urge. It is a totalitarian urge.”

Currently in Western culture, the dominant voice on social media that ruthlessly silences opposing voices comes from the political left of centre. But it will not always be so. There have been and are currently today, many regimes which are just as dominant on the political right. It could be argued (if we are allowed to argue) that there is truth in both directions; the left’s desire for equality for all people and the right’s desire to see freedom for the individual, both need to have their contest of ideas allowed to be voiced/spoken/printed/drawn and sung, for truth to be discovered.

I wonder what Jacinda Ardern means by "hate speech". I wonder how our judges will interpret this phrase should it pass into law. In the discussion document from the Ministry of Justice called: "Proposals against incitement of hatred and discrimination", it is stated that: “Hate speech is a broad term that is not used in Aotearoa law. It is generally defined as speech that attacks an individual or group based on common characteristics, for example ethnicity, religion or sexuality.”

Well that doesn’t really help me much. The next question in my mind is what does "speech that attacks" mean? If I voice my strong opposition to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. If I attack their application of the Koran in violently silencing and oppressing the women of Afghanistan, and of murdering the infidel Christians, under these proposed new laws, I will be guilty of hate speech against another religion and could be jailed for up to three years.

Of course, there is much popular support in our culture today to silence the opposing voices. Last month, Winston Marshall, the banjo player for the popular band Mumford and Sons, announced his departure from the band. The reason behind his departure was a firestorm from a single tweet he shared in May this year supporting the author of a book called Unmasked. The offending tweet read: “Congratulations @AndyNgo; Finally had time to read your important book. You are a brave man.” The resulting backlash on social media in Marshall’s view, threatened the viability of the band he loved, and so he selflessly stepped down. Partly to allow the band to disassociate itself from his views, and partly to ensure he had the freedom to voice is own political views publicly. I would say today, "congratulations @Winstonmarshall, you are a courageous man", but, I am deeply concerned about a culture that destroys the careers of people who dare to voice an opinion.

I haven’t made comment about the groups of people the Government is seeking to protect. Mainly because that is not the issue here. The issue is confusing physical protection of vulnerable people with the fundamental need for human beings to be able to think and speak freely. The all-important question is who decides who needs protecting?

Jesus said, “... you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.

Truth and freedom are two commodities that all human beings cannot do without. Not just the chosen few. The steps being proposed by our current Government to introduce "hate speech" laws will seriously compromise our freedom and stifle the quest for truth.

 - Rev Stu Crosson is the senior minister of Hope Church, Dunedin.


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It's a worry. It certainly is.
I might like to say religion should stay out of politics; that Christian fundamentalism is oppressive of women and favours aversion therapy for sexual orientation.
I might be inclined to say that the Westboro Baptist (US) are dangerous haters and white supremacists are Christian identitarian.

I won't, of course.

I do not think this is a Left v Right issue but a Conservative v Liberal issue, which isn't necessarily the same thing. An example could be Stand Up For Women who probably come from different political persuasions but would be clearly breaking the proposed Hate Speech law (as outlined so far) by opposing legislation favouring a protected group. Any opposition would have the potential to "stir up" hate.

Stu, hate speech is when you bring people (humans) into a rant to the degree they feel personally intimidated or threatened.
It's when you take an arguments, discussions or expressed beliefs to a higher level that could cause that person to feel afraid to carry out their normal functions.
Petty simple really.
And it has NO place in our society.
It is possible to express a view without threatening or expressing hatred.
However, this proposed law is to counteract the gutless keyboard warriors out there.

Personal threats are actionable under present law.

It is possible to express a view without threatening or expressing hatred, that is true, and it is that ...that is contentious. That those very unthreatening expressions of opinion or fact may be silenced by accusations of hate speech or racism. It also has the effect of diverting what has been said to the person who said it, which may be the purpose of the accusers.

Amazing the ministry of propaganda allowed that to be published. A very suscinct piece detailing what's going on. It's not about hate speech. It's about dissent. If you don't follow and agree with what the politicians are doing and voice any decent, it's hate speech. I'm glad to see this article made it through! Good to see there is still a voice of reason out there.

Also, Red Pill, if you write something on here other readers don't like, you'll be inundated with ad hominem insult, ie, 'would you rather be a toilet or a bath?' an utterly mystifying comment. Not to mention professional columnists being remonstrated with.

There is no restriction of freethought on this organ, officer.

More misinformation from the Matrix.
The proposals are not about dissent. If it were then red_pill would be quivering in his boots and looking for somewhere to hide.
Nothing in our current law or the proposal bans dissent, quite the contrary, they emphasise the importance of dissent in our society. There is no reason to expect that will change.
What the proposal talks about is inciting hatred. Now, I understand that red_pill will have difficulty separating these two elements but I do not believe that most NZer's will have a problem. Most people know they can freely express their opinions whether they conform to the establishment or not. Most kiwis also understand that taking that extra step and encouraging others who share their view to go out and harm those who oppose them, is wrong. That is what this proposal is clarifying and experts from many countries around the world have stated their support for it.
Speak your mind as you see fit, no matter how ignorant, biased, bigoted, unfair it may be, invite others of the same opinion to join up with you for protests or sign petitions, just don't encourage, or incite, violence or hatred against those who don't share your view.

Yep...no surprise there. We all know who appointed themselves as the hate speech monitor.

I'm very curious, why all the derogatory condescending comments towards anybody who doesn't agree with you? Everything with you is personal. Stop already. Everybody has the right opinion. What you've expressed here typifies the fear many people have towards hate speech and who defines it. You take upon yourself to define the hate speech whereas the only hate I see is in your response.

Indeed. We also seem to be living in a time of indoctrinated wokeism now, where smart people are silenced, so that 'less smart' people won't be offended.

The Rev Crossan takes too narrow a view on this issue, a trait I have found common with religious preachers. The examples he uses to support his opinions are simplistic, naive, and fundamentally wrong
Firstly, NZ has had hate speech laws for ages. The proposed revision come from the Royal Commission of Enquiry and were based on the evidence they heard, experts in this topic both local and international. From this the Govt produced a discussion document, it will have received many submissions. These will be considered as the Bill is drafted. The Bill will then be debated and the final law will likely look a lot different from what we started out with. It's the correct way to do things
Second, the dominant voice in social media is left wing? An opinion, not a fact and not supported by any evidence
Third, Crossan's interpretation of suppression in USSR and Nazi Germany is just fundamentally wrong. These regimes silenced dissent from anyone, left or right on the political spectrum. Any simple high school history primer will make that clear
Finally, the issue of this proposed change is incitement It's OK to express opinions against something, but not to incite hatred against it.

Strongly agree with this article. The current laws are already sufficient to deal with what they are trying to achieve and the ambiguity of the hate speech law is a dangerous power that can be molded to suit different ideologies. I personally oppose the hate speech laws

Sorry Kyle, I missed hearing your qualifications, experience and background which would given me reason to consider your opinion over that of the Royal Commission of Enquiry. That is, the Royal Commission that was headed by an experienced High Court Judge and took sworn testimony from dozens of witnesses, all experts in their field of Human Rights, from all over the world, before they came down with their considered recommendations.
Oh and just to set the record straight the proposal that Rev Crosson is commenting on is not a law, it's not even a draft law. It's a proposal.
I remember being told once that an opinion is the product of thought. That suggests that the person expressing it is informed, has studied opposing points of view before forming that opinion. An opinion is not an emotive blurt expressed in reaction to some stimuli, without thought.
Your comment strikes me as a blurt.

Hmmm, I think we missed your qualifications somewhere along the way. Conceit is the finest armour a man can wear. You wear it exceptionally well!

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