‘Free speech’ versus ‘hate speech’ (or intolerance of the intolerant)

The ‘free speech’ debate continues.

‘Free speech’ is not entirely free, and it is far from equal, some people have far more opportunity and power than others to be heard. How free speech should be is a contentious issue.

‘Hate speech’ is harder to define, but someone at Reddit attempted:

“Hate speech” has simply become “Things we hate hearing you say.”

What a weak, feckless, emotionally hysterical culture we’re encouraging.

A quote from Golriz Gaharaman:

“Freedom of speech, like most rights, is not absolute. It’s subject to the rights of others, to safety, freedom, equality. Our gov must balance the right of right wing hate mongers against the greater interests of public safety in NZ. Just as Aus has done in denying their visas.”

I got involved in a discussion on all this on Twitter yesterday (I usually avoid it, it’s difficult to debate well when dabbling while multi tasking). It started with this:

Marianne Elliot: I’m taking notes on who stepped up to support Renae vs who is supporting this lot.

John Hart: The Venn diagram will be two non-intersecting circles I suspect.

PG: I have spoken up for Renae and against Jones’ legal action, and also support free speech at Auckland council venues. You don’t? (I didn’t support Renae’s petition, nor do I support what Southern & Molyneux say).

Sarah Jane Parton: Did you donate to both Renae’s legal fund and Brash et al’s $50k? Are you the ∩?

PG: I’m not cool with him at all. But like many people I have serious concerns about the growing tendency to try to shut down speech people don’t agree with. Have you read this?
http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-cost-of-free-and-democratic-society_9.html

Sarah Jane Parton: WRT to the “legality”, I point you to section 61 of the Human Rights Act,

Sarah Jane Parton: And then there’s the costs of security, policing, damages, etc etc.

PG: Should street protests be banned? There are costs of security, policing and risks of damage with them.
Or a protests a valid form of free speech important to a democracy?

Marianne Elliot: The critical line in that piece is this: “It’s perhaps all too easy to proclaim the general need for tolerance and acceptance of “offence” by others when you’re in a privileged and protected social position.”

PG: As important: “But, if we are going to mark out some social groups as requiring greater protection from the effects of speech, how do we do so, and who gets to decide just who they are? And how do we stop… expanding to capture expression we might think ought to be allowed?”

Marianne Elliot: Those are not simple questions, but with a clear power and risk analysis, nor are they impossible to resolve. The point is that we need someone other than the people who have always been in charge to be leading that conversation.

PG: It’s a growing issue that should be talked about be people other than those in power like . But one of our big challenges is how we do that without being it being trashed by abuse and by polarisation.

Marianne Elliot: Or maybe the biggest challenge is that the people at least risk from hate speech are used to being in charge of our laws and in control of debates about them.

PG: Some of the biggest targets of ‘hate speech’ and abuse and threats and defamation are those most prominent in power.

Marianne Elliot: Defamation is an important legal issue & is also very different hate speech. Calling one powerful white man racist has a very different power & social impact to someone saying “blacks are collectively less intelligent”, or invoking a “quick, decisive, and brutal” white backlash.

PG: It’s different again including many non-powerful white men in general condemnation. I think there needs to be a significant shift, but care has to be taken not to take rights of some when giving them to others.

Marianne Elliot:  Maybe instead it’s time to sit back and listen to the people being harmed by this speech? To listen to their very real and reasonable fears, and resist telling them that they don’t understand what is really at stake?

PG: We should always take time to sit back and listen, but that shouldn’t silence us either. I don’t know who tells others they don’t understand. Attempts to understand should work in all directions. As Andrew said, it’s very complex.

Sarah Jane Parton: I’d like to hear ’ take on this piece.

Eddie Clark: Some differences at the edges maybe, but pretty much agree with Andrew. Anyone who tells you this is simple probably doesn’t understand it well enough.

Marianne Elliot:  It’s not simple. I haven’t heard many say that it is. What many (including me) are saying is that it is time for the people at least risk of harm from harmful speech to listen to people at most risk, and to resist telling them that they don’t understand what’s at stake.

Marianne Elliot:  There are difficult balances to be reached. But for that balance to be fair, what has to change is the make-up of the people who get to dominate the process of reaching that balance.

PG: “what has to change is the make-up of the people who get to dominate the process of reaching that balance” – by suppressing the speech of whom? You can’t easily shut up those you don’t want to hear, nor make those speak who you want to hear.

Marianne Elliot:  Oh lord. I’m not sure there’s much point continuing this conversation if you think that changing the balance of who holds power in setting and interpreting law is about suppressing speech. Over and out.

PG: Oh lord, you’ve jumped to a bit of a conclusion there. I don’t think that.

Sarah Jane Parton: If you are not the people who will be harmed by this stuff then maybe it IS time to be quiet. Goff’s call has not been met with criticism from former refugees, transfolk, or Muslims, which is noteworthy. The ethnic and gender make up of Brash’s “coalition” is also telling.

PG: Are you suggesting that only former refugees, transfolk, Muslims and you should say anything about this? If that’s the case the issue would never have been raised or discussed to any noticeable degree.

Sarah Jane Parton: I’m saying that if you use your privilege to support and amplify the voices of other privileged people whose very aim is to trample on marginalised people, maybe it’s time to be quiet.


That’s more or less how it ran – Twitter threads can get a bit convoluted.

It evolved from debating whether free speech principles overrode claims of hate speech or not, to suggesting that people ‘in privileged positions’ should be quiet and let others speak about the problems with hate speech.

I’m sure no minds were changed in the conversations, but this illustrates some of the issues around complexities of free speech versus hate speech’

It is more an issue of how much intolerance of intolerant speech should limit the freedom to speak.

Previous Post

82 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  July 12, 2018

    perception and reality…free speech is a good idea,just like free trade…neither exist.

    • Corky

       /  July 12, 2018

      Sadly, that’s true. In reality, the reality of free speech should be a very simple concept. How people who don’t like free speech are controlled should also be a simple concept.

      The definition of ‘free’ has a myriad of meanings. Very few apply to what we call free speech.

      Yet another reason why I don’t vote.

      • Corky

         /  July 12, 2018

        Maybe free speech should be renamed ‘acceptable speech? ‘

        • ‘Hate speech’ is misused, but who would decide what is acceptable or not?

          • Corky

             /  July 12, 2018

            That’s my point, Pete. Once you get away from the definition of ”free,” everyone then has a definition of what is acceptable speech or not. If we stick with the definition of ‘ free,’ both hate speech and acceptable speech cease to exist…. and we then have pure free speech.

          • MaureenW

             /  July 12, 2018

            What is hate speech exactly? Another term bandied about to shut down and control people with different political views.

          • Corky

             /  July 12, 2018

            He’s an example of people tying themselves in knots trying to explain opinion imposed demarcations( some converted into law) of what is, and isn’t, free speech.

            https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2018/07/radio-nz-far-right-speakers-and-the-legal-case/

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 12, 2018

    All kinds of false assumptions presented as fact by those wanting to shut other people up.

  3. Instead of banning speech maybe it would be better to ban some of the causes.

    It would be difficult to bane races or white men or power, but as it is the cause of a lot of consternation what about banning religion? Or god worshipping.

    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  July 12, 2018

      [ooooh…ooohhh… how about banning Communism and socialism as topics of discussion as well!! They are the cause of much consternation and have a track record of millions of dead when the talking stops…. ]

      Yeah that makes as much sense as banning discussion of religion…..

      its the things that cause the most consternation that expressly need discussing the most!

      the bit in the [] is obviously a little sarcastic…

      • “its the things that cause the most consternation that expressly need discussing the most!”

        There it is, in a nutshell. The only people who stand to gain from the banning of speech are those with agendas they do not want discussed. The rest of us benefit enormously from such open, stimulating discussion. Without it society is just an empty shell, a record with the needle stuck. Is that what we want?

        All the specious claptrap about insults and safe spaces is just an emotive tear-jerker to distract attention from what is invariably blatant censorship.

  4. Corky

     /  July 12, 2018

    I clicked on the link provided by Sarah Jane Parton( lordy so middleclass). I must be a sick puppy because I agree with much of what he says:

    1-“You cannot run a high IQ [white] society with low IQ [non-white] people…these [non-white] immigrants are going to fail.”

    Well, that’s a fact. Likewise I couldn’t enter an advanced mathematics class because I don’t have the mathematical IQ to understand what the hell is being taught..

    2- “I don’t view humanity as a single species…” That, at face value, is being proved correct at this moment…it would seem we all aren’t ”out of Africa” as anthropologists have believed.

    • The idea that white people have high IQs and non-whites have low ones is so absurd that only an idiot would believe it.It’s not a fact, it’s a racist fallacy.

      Humanity is a single species in that we are all human beings despite differences of skin colour and culture.

      • MaureenW

         /  July 12, 2018

        That’s not quite correct Kitty. Different races do have higher IQ’s and other races have lower IQ’s. It’s not a black /white thing though, Asian populations hold the first 6 places – Singapore first at 108 with Equatorial Guinea coming in at 56

        https://www.worlddata.info/iq-by-country.php

        Who told you that humanity is a single species?

      • Corky

         /  July 12, 2018

        ”The idea that white people have high IQs and non-whites have low ones is so absurd that only an idiot would believe it.It’s not a fact, it’s a racist fallacy.”

        As a generalization it is true. Please don’t try to apply your ignorant narrative to something you know nothing about while living your nondescript lower middleclass life.

        ”Humanity is a single species in that we are all human beings despite differences of skin colour and culture.”

        That is the present belief. However, as I stated above, that is under review. We do not know if we are one terrestrial species

        • Gezza

           /  July 12, 2018

          A relevant opinion piece I came across the other day challenging the race-based-IQ revival. I’m dubious about whether it’s true. Especially given how IQ tests have developed. I watched a TED talk yesterday where the speaker claimed in the original IQ tests when they started around a century ago, the average IQ was 70. People completing the same IQ test today come in at an average of 130.

          https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/02/the-unwelcome-revival-of-race-science

          • Gezza

             /  July 12, 2018

            *To clarify, I’m dubious that IQ is race-based is true. I suspect culture, home environment, social pressure, personality, parenting, education subjects & method, actual degree commitment to education – a host of factors probably all play their part.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  July 12, 2018

              IQ testing asks particular questions in particular ways. It stands to reason people of different races brought up in completely different cultures with alternative problem solving and thinking methods would get differing results.
              If there were robust studies showing IQ variances among different races brought up in similar circumstance there may be something in it. I strongly doubt that would be the case though.

              Whether we are all one species is interesting from a biological and scientific POV, but is otherwise irrelevant.

            • MaureenW

               /  July 12, 2018

              I doubt that IQ is “race-based” too, simply that the results of these tests when graded by country show clear strength and weakness trends.

            • PartisanZ

               /  July 12, 2018

              Clear strength and weakness trends in the tests themselves perhaps?

            • MaureenW

               /  July 12, 2018

              @PartisanZ, had Singapore been last and Equatorial Guinea first, I might agree with you.

            • Corky

               /  July 12, 2018

              The best IQ test available is : what has a culture produced? And if a culture once was advanced( relative to the time) what hAs caused a backward slide of intelligence, creativity and IQ?

            • Gezza

               /  July 12, 2018

              @Corky. Yes, I think you are correct. Even within the West some youth cultures (eg American Rap Culture) are taking an entire generation backwards. Listen to educated Black Americans of yore talking & expounding as intelligently and sophisticatedly as any of their white contemporaries of the day & compare it to many of the incoherent slang ridden twaddle of those who thousands their young people hear & want to emulate today.

              Look at their stats for youth mental health & anxiety. Thousands of teens & twenties with no sense of core identity or self-worth or self-reliance, raised by single moms & fathered by useless tossers who’re no longer in the picture – from all sorts of backgrounds. Mum & her parents spent no time teaching the boys or the girls to be choosy before putting out.

              These are the sorts of things that Molyneux talks about. He’s a bit of a devious prick the way he pushes certain agendas & questionnable research but he hits the nail on the head with how the sexual revolution & laissez faire parenting across the board in America is producing airheaded parents & screwed up kids who don’t want to be parents because their primiscuous lives have become personal disasters – all because dad & mum never said, “ok, you want to go out with this boy. We’ll invite his parents over for dinner & get to know the family. You ended up getting stalked for two years by the boy you slept with because all your friends were putting out to get the boys so you had to. The cops couldn’t touch him until he turned 15. Your single mom couldn’t stop him. His own dysfunctional family just protected him.

              If you were my daughter I’d have been nailing your bedroom door shut after meeting this kid. Your mom would have been holding the nails. Find youself a better boy than this, we’d have said.

              This sort of stuff is resonating with 41 year old lonely women, not just confused young dads paying to keep their kids while the mums are burning through a succession of loser boyfriends. He’s got a real thing about so,o mums having to take some responsibility for their own poor choices of fathers.

              Anti-men type feminists hate him because he’s saying you wanted to be a mum, & only you can be one – but you didn’t make finding a good dad your priority. Kids need dads – girls & boys.

            • Corky

               /  July 12, 2018

              Yes, good post.

            • Gezza

               /  July 12, 2018

              @Corky. The stalker boy was 18, sorry, before her mom could say to him “you turned 18 yesterday”. And he stopped stalking her. That was phone in segment I listened to last night. This lady sounded really nice, academically bright, quite young, really pleasant. All the good men were always taken. All the good looking boys were never interested in settling down. (Why would they want to? All the other good looking girls were happy to put out if she started wanting commitment in return for more nooky.)

              She was 41: she’d had about 60 sexual partners at a guess. In her 20’s her and her friends decided all the boys were just using them for sex so they’d do the same. She felt like a slut. But she couldn’t actually say it because she’d damaged her psyche enuf without beating herself up.

              It was painful to listen to. He wasn’t being horrible. She’d given up. All she had in her life now was her mum. She was too fightened to date any more men. He said she wasn’t into therapy & he gently told her she really should get some therapy, her mom was going to die, she deserved to have someone, not to then just be alone, and she didn’t have to be.

              It was poignant. So although I find him a bit dodgy about some things, you can tell he’s a good dad (he’s got an 8 year old daughter).

            • Gezza

               /  July 12, 2018

              *SHE said (not he) she wasn’t into therapy, & he said I really think you should get some.

              He also has some interesting insights into what’s happened to the playcentre generation, often only children, all shoved together with kids of only their own age, not a mix of ages like when we played as kids, with low paid, constantly-changing “temporary moms” & organised activities that limit their creativity development.

            • @Gezza: I understand that the average IQ of Muslims varies between 64 in Somalia and 82 in Egypt, which would seem to lend some weight to the factors you note.

            • @Corky: “if a culture once was advanced( relative to the time) what hAs caused a backward slide of intelligence, creativity and IQ?”

              I read the other day that Sweden has suffered a noticeable drop in its average IQ over recent years, after decades of steady climb. I wonder what has caused that?.

            • Gezza

               /  July 12, 2018

              @Sailor: education seems to be a key factor. Research seems to point to bettereducated parents or parents comitted to their children being educated produces higher IQ (although how IQ is measured, what’s being tested might be up for more examination).

              If your ability to absorb education is being limited by opposing cultural dogma or beliefs (including religious beliefs) that mean you HAVE to believe nonsense, so are obliged to mentally discount eg scientific evidence or critical evaluation or logical thinking it seems to me it must limit your thinking ability.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 12, 2018

          In your case, I would make an exception , of course. But the rest of us are human beings.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 12, 2018

          You know nothing about my life, which is neither nondescript nor lower middle class. I come from a background of university educated professionals, as you would know if you knew me, which you don’t. My grandmother was a university lecturer in applied sciences and mathematics and lectured to engineering students. How about making sure of your facts before you spout nonsense about people whom you don’t know ?

          If being brown = low IQ, does that mean that you, being half Maori (or so you claim) have a low IQ ?

      • sorethumb

         /  July 12, 2018

        Humans share 98% of their DNA with chimps but it is all the tweeking that counts.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 12, 2018

          In some cases, the tweeking seems to have been minimal.

          • sorethumb

             /  July 12, 2018

            Michelle Obama?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 13, 2018

              Who is a lawyer, so no. Unless you think that black people are apes, of course….

      • sorethumb

         /  July 12, 2018

        A wall has long protected respectable evolutionary inquiry from accusations of aiding and abetting racism. That wall is the belief that genetic change happens at such a glacial pace that there simply was not time, in the 50,000 years since humans spread out from Africa, for selection pressures to have altered the genome in anything but the most trivial way (e.g., changes in skin color and nose shape were adaptive responses to cold climates). Evolutionary psychology has therefore focused on the Pleistocene era – the period from about 1.8 million years ago to the dawn of agriculture — during which our common humanity was forged for the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

        But the writing is on the wall. Russian scientists showed in the 1990s that a strong selection pressure (picking out and breeding only the tamest fox pups in each generation) created what was — in behavior as well as body — essentially a new species in just 30 generations. That would correspond to about 750 years for humans. Humans may never have experienced such a strong selection pressure for such a long period, but they surely experienced many weaker selection pressures that lasted far longer, and for which some heritable personality traits were more adaptive than others. It stands to reason that local populations (not continent-wide “races”) adapted to local circumstances by a process known as “co-evolution” in which genes and cultural elements change over time and mutually influence each other. The best documented example of this process is the co-evolution of genetic mutations that maintain the ability to fully digest lactose in adulthood with the cultural innovation of keeping cattle and drinking their milk. This process has happened several times in the last 10,000 years, not to whole “races” but to tribes or larger groups that domesticated cattle.

        https://www.edge.org/response-detail/10376

      • sorethumb

         /  July 12, 2018

        How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’

        But whether we like it or not, that line has already been crossed. A recent study led by the economist Daniel Benjamin compiled information on the number of years of education from more than 400,000 people, almost all of whom were of European ancestry. After controlling for differences in socioeconomic background, he and his colleagues identified 74 genetic variations that are over-represented in genes known to be important in neurological development, each of which is incontrovertibly more common in Europeans with more years of education than in Europeans with fewer years of education.

        So how should we prepare for the likelihood that in the coming years, genetic studies will show that many traits are influenced by genetic variations, and that these traits will differ on average across human populations? It will be impossible — indeed, anti-scientific, foolish and absurd — to deny those differences.

  5. NOEL

     /  July 12, 2018

    Oh for the pre internet days of a the occasional Skin Head flyer thrust into you hands to be deposited at the next rubbish bin to appear.

    • Corky

       /  July 12, 2018

      Yep, thank god those days are gone. Now subversives can post the rationale behind their beliefs. That allows the likes of you and I to critique them..and, heavens forbid, find they may have a point.

  6. PDB

     /  July 12, 2018

  7. sorethumb

     /  July 12, 2018

    Multiculturalism is a leftist political ideology that sees all cultures, their mores and institutions, as essentially equal. No culture is considered superior or inferior to any other; it is merely different. Multiculturalism represents a new kind of universalism – one where integration of individuals into the state is not predicated on a total disengagement from particularistic community ties. Rather, people are included into the nation state as members of diverse but equal ethnic groups. And the state recognizes that the dignity of individuals is linked to the collective dignity of the community to which they belong. Criticism of other cultures especially non-western minority cultures is labeled “insensitive” or “bigoted” (Schmidt 1997) a multicultural society needs a broadly shared culture to sustain it. Since it involves several cultures, the shared culture can only grow out of their interaction and could both respect and nurture their diversity and unite them around a common way of life. For those accustomed to thinking of culture as a more or less homogeneous and coherent whole, the idea of a multiculturally constituted culture might appear incoherent or bizarre. In fact such a culture is a fairly common phenomenon in every culturally diverse society (Appiah 1994, 1996).

    http://pakacademicsearch.com/pdf-files/art/448/21-32%20Vol%201,%20No%203%20(2011).pdf

    How immigration came to haunt Labour: the inside story
    Comments

    The simple political test of truth “If your intended policies are so good then why don’t you share them with the electorate”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/mar/24/how-immigration-came-to-haunt-labour-inside-story

    The flaw is that a people (an ethnic group with a common identity) share their nest with the multicultural cuckoo. The other flaw is how far upwards will the well being of developed nations tract as they are filled with the third world gumballs.

    Also multiculturalism requires “an institutionalisation of public discourse” = control of the media.

  8. Zedd

     /  July 12, 2018

    Free speech OR Fake news.. both sound the same in 2018 politics ?!

  9. MaureenW

     /  July 12, 2018

    Always think of the “basket of deplorables” speech from H Clinton, which is a perfect example of one person of a political persuasion, trying to control the narrative and shut down another person from an alternate political persuasion. “….They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic — Islamophobic ..” Did she leave anything out?

    At an LGBT campaign fundraising event in New York City on September 9, Clinton gave a speech and said the following:[8]
    I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent; don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, “Well, he’s done this time.” We are living in a volatile political environment.

    You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. (Laughter/applause) Right? (Laughter/applause) They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic — Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully, they are not America.

    But the “other” basket — the other basket — and I know because I look at this crowd I see friends from all over America here: I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas and — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that “other” basket of people are people who feel the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures; and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but — he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

    — Hillary Clinton, [9]

    • sorethumb

       /  July 12, 2018

      “He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now have 11 million.”
      reminds me of the comments that only a handful will show up to see them “New Zealanders are better than that!” etc.

  10. sorethumb

     /  July 12, 2018

    https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/stefan-molyneux

    here’s the thing. You don’t accept SPLC’s verdict.
    For example on race and IQ. Populations in different geographic regions face different challenges.
    https://www.edge.org/response-detail/10376
    They just want to shut down the discussion.
    Evolutionary Psychology. Putnam sat on his findings about social capital and ethnic diversity for 5 years before releasing it.
    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2016/09/robert-putnam-on-negative-effects-of.html

    they want to control the narrative.

  11. sorethumb

     /  July 12, 2018

    But then, look who that threshold gets set by. It’s perhaps all too easy to proclaim the general need for tolerance and acceptance of “offence” by others when you’re in a privileged and protected social position. For, as Saziah Bashir wrote for Radio NZ’s website; “While some may be able to engage with the likes of Southern on a detached, academic discussion, her views and her actions are actually physically and emotionally harmful.” Andrew Geddis

    Ahhh! Multiculturalism is like having guest for a dinner party and you know that certain topics must be off the menu. So the problem is —- multiculturalism (and society can’t progress)?

  12. High Flying Duck

     /  July 12, 2018

    I am a big proponent of free speech for all, and believe almost any curtailment of speech is detrimental as it prevents obnoxious ideas being publicly countered and challenged.

    Then I saw this from yesterday. Not sure how it fits, but all this girl did was use her ‘free speech’ to encourage someone to act on impulses he was already having..
    …………….
    Conrad Roy III was very much in love with his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, who in 2014 encouraged him to kill himself.

    Carter, then 17, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for urging her boyfriend to commit suicide. It was her text messages, the judge said, that pushed the 18-year-old over the edge.

    But Carter’s attorneys, in an appeal filed last month, argued that the judge’s decision violated her right to free speech and that the texts should not have been used to convict her.

    “Because the judge convicted Carter for what she said, or failed to say, not what she did, this case implicates free speech under the 1st Amendment,” her attorneys said in a brief.

    The standard used to test 1st Amendment cases has existed since 1968 and it dictates that abstract advocacy of illegal activity is protected by the Constitution, according to Clay Calvert, director of Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project.

    “A speaker is not protected by the First Amendment if her speech is intended to incite or produce imminent unlawful action and if such unlawful action is substantially likely to occur,” Calvert said in an email.

    Joseph Cataldo, one of Carter’s attorneys, told The Washington Post that Carter did not call for “imminent lawlessness” because there is no state statute that deems it illegal to encourage suicide.

    Initially, some of Carter’s texts encouraged Roy to get help. But later, she began to push him to follow through on talk of killing himself.

    “So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then, all that for nothing,” Carter texted Roy hours before his suicide. “I’m just so confused like you were so ready and determined.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/105420291/lawyers-appeal-us-teens-urging-of-boyfriend-to-kill-himself-was-free-speech

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 12, 2018

      It’s hard to see what she was actually convicted of. What law did she break?

      • High Flying Duck

         /  July 12, 2018

        Involuntary manslaughter:
        …………………..
        Michelle Carter was convicted in June by a judge who said her final instruction to Conrad Roy III caused his death. On Friday morning, NZ time, a judge sentenced her to 15 months jail for involuntary manslaughter.
        Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz gave Carter a 2½-year jail sentence but said she had to serve only 15 months of that. He also sentenced her to five years of probation.
        In convicting Carter, the judge focused his ruling on Carter telling Roy to “get back in” after he climbed out of his truck as it was filling with carbon monoxide and told her he was afraid.
        The judge said those words constituted “wanton and reckless conduct” under the manslaughter statute.
        https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/95437731/girlfriend-who-sent-texts-urging-suicide-to-be-sentenced?rm=a

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  July 12, 2018

          Thanks. Hardly “involuntary” I would have thought. But do words constitute sufficient action to be causal? If so, there are a lot of guilty people around.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  July 12, 2018

            In this case it was a very specific relationship to words and actions – he got out of the car, she talked him back into it.
            It is a very difficult one though. She was abhorrent in her actions, but he had free will and was free to decide whatever he wanted, mental health issues notwithstanding.
            The appeal may shed more clarity on it.

  13. Free speech is a privilege, not a right, and some people forfeit that right.

    If a man stopped a woman in the street and gave a detailed account of what he’d like to do to her sexually, would that be free speech ?

    What about death threats ? Are they free speech ?

    If I read someone else’s medical records and spread the details, is that free speech ?

    • MaureenW

       /  July 12, 2018

      …”What about death threats ? Are they free speech ? …”

      Yes, they’re all examples of free speech, it’s just that some of those things are also prosecutable crimes in some countries.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  July 12, 2018

      There is free speech. There are also privacy laws, decency laws (including swearing), suppression laws and laws against inciting violence. They would cover the circumstances you mention.

      Freedom of speech, is a fundamental human right. It only becomes a ‘privilege’ when you are under totalitarian rule.

      “The rights included in the following 29 articles include the right to seek asylum, the right to be free from torture, the right to free speech and the right to education. ”
      https://www.amnesty.org.nz/what-are-human-rights?gclid=CjwKCAjw1ZbaBRBUEiwA4VQCIfGBenBcOZL2rQyauvHzEqTjMHNdN0Cyab2rDHM-kKGzb3JHhQK4NBoC4YgQAvD_BwE

      • Then there is not free speech.The man who says that he would like to do this, that and the other to a woman in the street is not saying that he will, just that he wants to….but few of us would find that acceptable.

        There are always going to be limits on it.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  July 12, 2018

          You are completely missing the point. Threatening and lewd behaviour are not freedom of opinion and expression.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  July 12, 2018

            Why ? If someone doesn’t do anything except say that they would like to do something, they are merely expressing an opinion.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  July 12, 2018

              There is a difference between opinion and a call to action.
              Someone saying they would “like to do” something would not infringe free speech, unless it veered into lewd or violent *actions*.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 12, 2018

              Exactly.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  July 12, 2018

            I never said that they were,

            I said that the imaginary person would say that they WOULD LIKE TO do it, not that they were GOING to do it.

    • sorethumb

       /  July 12, 2018

      Free speech is a right not a privilege.

  14. High Flying Duck

     /  July 12, 2018

    For those who believe free speech must be earned rather than being a right…

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Article 19.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html

    • If someone rang you up and said that they’d like to do various things to you , burn your house down and kill your family, would you regard that as their right ? Holding opinions without being able to express them is pointless.

      • sorethumb

         /  July 12, 2018

        That is threatening behaviour not free speech.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 12, 2018

          Not unless they threaten to do it, not just say that they wish they could.

          • Gezza

             /  July 12, 2018

            What is effect of some man saying that on some woman or girl though? In some contexts this could well be frightening. Especially if the man keeps appearing & does it again & it’s unwanted. That’s certainly threatening. Stalkers can start off doing this sort of thing.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 12, 2018

              Frightening and disgusting, but if one believed that free speech is an absolute right, he’d have the right to say it.

              The fact that someone doesn’t want to hear it is often dismissed by those who say that freedom of speech is paramount.

              But, of course, it falls through when it comes to whether someone’s right to say it is greater than someone else’s not to hear it.

              In my examples, I did not say that the person was threatening to DO anything, just that they were saying that they would LIKE to.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  July 12, 2018

        You are conflating free speech with threatening behaviour.
        Freedom of opinion and expression is different to freedom to threaten and incite.
        My understanding is the speakers Goff so casually decided were unworthy of allowing to grace the Bruce Mason were going to express opinions and ideas, and had encouraged those who disagree to come for the Q&A session if they wanted to put an alternative view forward.
        They were not going to stand up and incite murder or mayhem, like the Hezbolah supporting protesters Goff had no issue with recently on council property advocating for the bombing and destruction of Israel.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 12, 2018

          If their opinion is that they;d LIKE to do those things, and they are simply expressing that opinion without any threat that they are going to DO them….how can it be a threat ? It’s just saying what they think.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  July 12, 2018

            Thankfully the Supreme court has ruled on this very issue.

            “The Supreme Court made a legally and morally compelling decision in insisting that hateful speech be permitted so long as it is not likely to cause imminent harm. In doing so, it reiterated a principle long ago argued by J.S. Mill, who wrote: “An opinion that corn dealers are starvers of the poor, or that private property is robbery, ought to be unmolested when simply circulated through the press, but may justly incur punishment when delivered orally to an excited mob assembled before the house of a corn dealer, or when handed about among the same mob in the form of a placard.” So long as the rights of individual to be free from physical harm are not imminently endangered, the law ought to protect as wide a sphere of free expression as possible.

            However, while it is true that the law ought to permit Klansmen to articulate their ideals, it does not follow that we ought to listen politely to their insidious messages without vigorous response. Condemnatory counter-speech is essential. We must never forget that the eponymous protagonist of the Brandenburg case was a white supremacist. How rich, indeed, it is for someone like him – who would have keenly destroyed the free speech protections (and much else) afforded to racial minorities were he appointed ruler – to complain that his right to advocate genocide was improperly abridged. As has been recently argued, our law on free speech must be conjoined with a robust ethic of free speech according to which we ought to criticize and condemn the enemies of civilisation who live among us.”

            http://freespeechdebate.com/case/the-brandenburg-test-for-incitement-to-violence/

            In other words, if someone is speaking in this manner to you, you are perfectly within your rights to forceably tell them to fuck off. If they continue, free speech becomes…harassment.

  15. sorethumb

     /  July 12, 2018

    Hate Speech – is directed at “the Alt-Right” but who are the “Alt-Right” and does he care who he insults with his small penis jibe?

  16. I think most normal people can figure out the difference between an opinion and a call to arms. Those who conflate the two are invariably doing so in order to prevent opinions being voiced that they disagree with, or fear being made public. The fact that Goff appears to have succumbed to the demands of a Muslim Association should, given what is currently happening in the bigger Western world, be serious cause for alarm. This is how it always starts.

    Criticism of Islam in Britain, once a shining beacon of Free Speech, will now get you locked up for a dangerously undefined, and indefinable ‘hate crime’. Criticism of Christianity or Buddhism will not. Anyone who thinks this is beneficial to civilisation most certainly has a low IQ, by any definition.

    Free Speech should mean “exactly what it says on the tin”. It is then up to the Law to define specific exceptions to it, such as “incitement to violence”; apparently the standard exception in Britain before commonsense was stamped out.

    Free Speech is not only important for those who wish to speak, it is even more so for those who want to listen. And the ability for the people to hear a wide variety of opinions is the best protection society can provide against creeping despotism. It is not compulsory to listen, as PG has pointed out, so those who try to shut down such speech should be treated with the deepest suspicion. They are likely puppets for the very “creeping despotism” that society should be protecting the people from.

    It is important in these situations to look behind the puppets to see who is pulling their strings. Goff is just a brainwashed clown, as clearly evidenced by the fatuous, parroted Lefty platitude that he trotted out as an ‘argument’. Which wannabee despot is pulling his strings in this situation? See Para1.

  17. wooden goat

     /  July 12, 2018

    What interests me is what the left would do if/when Islam took over a country and shut down *their* speech. Of course, they would never believe that such a thing could happen, but there are many formerly-non-Muslim countries where exactly that (and worse) has happened.

    The lefties would whine that “hey….. someone should have *warned* us”. Well, we’re trying to do exactly that, but efforts aren’t helped by the left’s “useful idiots” trying to sabotage the defence.

    There is one area in which free speech could be beefed up. That is – I would like to see a law stating that if you are telling the *provable truth* about a group or its ideology, it can’t be “hate speech”, however much said group is “offended”.

    That would completely remove the threat of “hate speech” laws being used against people who simply want to inform people about the danger of Islam. Heck, we *really* should know what Islam is like after 1400 years of it – Timurlane and all…..

    • Muslim groups opposed the event planned with the two Canadian speakers. That is their right to free speech.

      Do you think they shouldn’t have had a right to speak on this?

      If international Muslims were planning a speaking event in New Zealand would you support or oppose that? And on what basis?

  18. PDB

     /  July 12, 2018

    The fact is if this wasn’t made into an ‘issue’ most people would have been none the wiser, the speakers would have spoken to the few who were interested in attending and that would have been that. Instead we have;

    *Two speakers not many have heard of getting their day in the sun & milking it for all its worth.
    *Phil Goff making a ‘captain’s call’ that seems to go against Auckland Council policy on venue usage based on what appears to be exaggerated information about the speakers he heard from somebody else without verifying, and now he is trying to blame ‘Auckland Live’ for pulling the plug on the event.
    *Auckland Live are blaming ‘security’ & ‘health & safety concerns’ for pulling the event which seems to not be a consideration whenever anybody else wants to protest something on Council land.
    *Auckland Peace action – a small group of far-left nutters (no doubt welcome to hire out any Auckland Council venue) seem to be able to strong-arm Auckland Council with threats of disruption. Their comrades, the Wellington Peace action group were the same idiots who thought it was a great idea to put fake bombs in a picture theatre.
    *The ‘Free Speech coalition’ being accused of being ‘racists and white supremacists’ – Chris Trotter will be amused no doubt as part of that coalition. The irony of course is that many of the people supporting the ban on the speakers due to supposed ‘hate speech’ are the same people publically calling others ‘racist’ and ‘white supremacists’ for simply wanting to challenge Auckland Council’s decision as they are perfectly entitled to do.

  1. ‘Free speech’ versus ‘hate speech’ (or intolerance of the intolerant) — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition