Franks v Ghahraman, free speech v hate speech

Lawyers Golriz Ghahraman and Stephen Franks debated free speech versus hate speech on Newshub Nation yesterday.

Ghahraman wants laws to address hate speech (there are dangers with this if it is poorly defined or speech is restricted too much. She as asked “how do you determine that, when these things are actually often in the eye of the beholder”?

So the definition of hate speech is a little bit like definitions of other limitations of free speech that already apply in our law to protect individuals. Defamation exists for example, and it’s about harm. So you can’t lie about a person to damage their reputation, make them unsafe, make them unemployable for example, those are very real harms that can come from speech and we have legislated against that for individuals.

Those laws haven’t protected Ghahraman from hate tweets, or hateful comments on Facebook, Whale Oil and Kiwiblog.

What we’re saying is the same type of thing should apply to groups. In France they actually define hate speech as very similar to defamation as they do in other parts of Europe.

So it’s about whether a third party would be moved, and this is the standard in New Zealand in terms of our jurisprudence, whether a third party would find this speech to be such that they would become hostile toward that group.

It’s not about how the group feels.

Inciting hostility in a third party.

Franks:

It’s an objective view of how they would feel. It’s putting yourself into their shoes.

The essence of what’s missing is that truth is no defence.

In defamation truth is an absolute defence, and that’s because of the view that we all ought to be able to challenge and be offensive, and call out beliefs and views that are bad.

There’s absolutely no doubt that for many Catholics, exposing priest pederasty has been offensive, under all the tests of hate speech, it’s hate speech, because it makes them feel bad and it ought to make them feel  bad.

He believes that all speech should be allowed, including hate speech which should be combated by ridiculing it (I think there are flaws to this).

The power of bad religion has only been defeated by satire, by ridicule, by exposure.

A major problem though is when all members of a religion are ridiculed due to the bad application of that religion by a small minority.

72 Comments

  1. Trevors_elbow

     /  7th April 2019

    Ahhhhhh… the Small minority myth….the Pew research indicates it’s not a small minority….1/5 of a population is not a small minority

    We dont need hate speech legislation. It’s a political tool to silence opposing views.

    We need politicians to stay away from core freedoms of long standing and to protect western traditions. Golriz comes from a culture with no tradition of freedom or democracy… in fact Persia/Irans history is the very opposite – its autocratic and dictatorial. She is the wrong person to front free speech discussions

    • “the Pew research indicates it’s not a small minority….1/5 of a population is not a small minority”

      No indication of what the 1/5 refers to.

      • Trevors_Elbow

         /  7th April 2019

        Quite right Pete. I was referring to a survey in the UK re sharia law – which I cant find a link to but….

        Here is a link to a some research among the Muslim umma worldwide revealing their views on some subjects westerners are much more liberal on. https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2015/02/how_widespread_is_extreme_islam.html

        Islam needs reform. And we know that won’t happen, given the resurgence of fundamentalism in Islam (Salafist/Wahabbist theology among Sunni Muslims).

        So why would we in NZ want substantial immigration from Muslim countries when our values are so divergent and the Western tradition of separation of Church and State is not a concept that is accepted in Islam?

        We need to be able to freely discuss these matters, freely critique and satirise Islam as we do to Christianity and every other religion or political movement – with out the threat of someone getting offended and screaming hate speech, racism, etc etc.

    • Blazer

       /  7th April 2019

      ‘We dont need hate speech legislation. It’s a political tool to silence opposing views.’-agree.


      ‘in fact Persia/Irans history is the very opposite ‘- disagree….the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’.

      • Gezza

         /  7th April 2019

        Ancient – very ancient, Mesopotamia. Significantly different from later or current Mesopotamia. One could also argue the cradle of civilisation was Africa or wherever homonids with bone & stone tools & apparent villages that had been crafted have been found. From memory the cradle of civilisation label hangs on earliest known instances of agriculture & settled communities as opposed to hunter gatherer cultures.

      • Trevors_Elbow

         /  7th April 2019

        sigh.. willful misleading statement from Blazer again…. no one is arguing the Middle East was a very early centre of civilisation. My statement was about freedom of speech and democracy which are not products of the ancient civilisations of the Tigris and Euphrates river civilisations or those further East on the Iranian plateau.

        Xeres and Cyrus were not known for tolerating criticism and free speech, and they certainly were Autocrats of the first order.

        All I can say is you are deliberating trying to misdirect with this statement: ‘in fact Persia/Irans history is the very opposite ‘- disagree….the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’…

        Which I assume is your feeble attempt to rebut this statement in my original post “Golriz comes from a culture with no tradition of freedom or democracy… in fact Persia/Irans history is the very opposite – its autocratic and dictatorial. ”

        Try harder…

      • Gezza

         /  7th April 2019

        Cradle of Civilization
        The cradle of civilization is a location where civilization is understood to have emerged. Current thinking is that there was no single “cradle”, but several civilizations that developed independently, with the Fertile Crescent (Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia), Ancient India and Ancient China understood to be the earliest. The extent to which there was significant influence between the early civilizations of the Near East and those of East Asia is disputed. Scholars accept that the civilizations of Mesoamerica, mainly in modern Mexico, and Norte Chico, in the north-central coastal region of Peru, emerged independently from those in Eurasia.

        Scholars have defined civilization using various criteria such as the use of writing, cities, a class-based society, agriculture, animal husbandry, public buildings, metallurgy, and monumental architecture. The term cradle of civilization has frequently been applied to a variety of cultures and areas, in particular the Ancient Near Eastern Chalcolithic (Ubaid period) and Fertile Crescent, Ancient India and Ancient China. It has also been applied to ancient Anatolia, the Levant and Iranian plateau, and used to refer to culture predecessors—such as Ancient Greece as the predecessor of Western civilization[7]—even when such sites are not understood as an independent development of civilization, as well as within national rhetoric. – Wikipedia
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cradle_of_civilization

        Just for an update on the current thinking & use of this phrase. But this is a squirrel or red herring to the overall post topic.

  2. alloytoo

     /  7th April 2019

    “A major problem though is when all members of a religion are ridiculed due to the bad application of that religion by a small minority.”

    If the majority of the religion are also mocking the small minority of wackjobs, they would be unlikely to take offense.

    Seems to work for Christianity.

    If the sane majority of the religion don’t “self regulate” the small minority of Wackjobs how are the the rest of society to know the difference?

    • I’m not sure that it always works for Christianity How much responsibility should the majority of Catholics have for the sexual offences of some priests?

      • artcroft

         /  7th April 2019

        What if your overarching religious doctrines are problematic? For instance no muslim allows criticism of Muhammad, yet he and his book lie at the very heart of what is wrong with Islam. But should you criticise him in public you will hurt and offend the vast majority of muslims. So is he off limits.

        • artcroft

           /  7th April 2019

          I think you’ll find the introduction of hate speech laws really means the introduction of blasphemy laws. Very ironic in a secular country.

        • “For instance no muslim allows criticism of Muhammad”

          Really? Can you say that no Muslim has allowed the questioning or criticising of Muhammad?

          Obviously devout Muslims will tend not to, as devout Christians tend not to criticise Jesus. But it’s a big call to speak for every Muslim.

          • artcroft

             /  7th April 2019

            The muslim I know personally take their religion and Muhammad seriously. The muslims know of that have criticised Muhammad publicly are apostates who have security issues (think Ayaan Hirsi Ali).

            Perhaps a test for this could be whether the any of the Islamic Associations of NZ or indeed anywhere in the world, puts out a statement condemning Brunei’s recent decision to execute homosexuals.

            If none do, then liberal muslims are pretty thin on the ground.

            • artcroft

               /  7th April 2019

              My search came up with one muslim human rights activist in Bangladesh who was critical. The Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ has said nothing that can find.

            • Duker

               /  7th April 2019

              ” any of the Islamic Associations of NZ or indeed anywhere in the world, puts out a statement condemning Brunei’s recent decision to execute homosexuals.”

              So are all Muslims responsible for one small countrys rulers actions if they dont condemn it.

            • Corky

               /  7th April 2019

              ”So are all Muslims responsible for one small country’s rulers actions if they don’t condemn it.”

              No, but it shows their reluctance to rock the boat.

              If the Catholic Church decided to implement capital punishment for sexual abuse, you can bet Christendom would be in an uproar even though it would be a contentious issue.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  7th April 2019

        How much responsibility should the majority of Catholics have for the sexual offences of some priests?

        In my view, a lot because they as a community were fully engaged in suppressing evidence and correction of the problem. That should be the test.

        • Gezza

           /  7th April 2019

          Ludicrous. Most Catholic parishes were blithely & completely unaware it was happening. The clerical hierarchy was to blame in suppressing all mention.

          • Gezza

             /  7th April 2019

            However, if you can produce a link to credible research that proves your view to be correct I would be happy to reconsider mine.

          • Gezza

             /  7th April 2019

            And if you can’t I think we can happily file your view under unsupported prejudicial assertion.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  7th April 2019

            For every abuse there was a family that knew something or didn’t allow itself to know.

          • Gezza

             /  7th April 2019

            Christ, that’s absolutely bloody pathetic. Have you any idea how many practising Catholics there are in the world? None of whose families would have ever envountered instances of abuse from their parish priests.

            How much responsibility should the majority of Catholics have for the sexual offences of some priests?
            In my view, a lot because they as a community were fully engaged in suppressing evidence and correction of the problem.

            Do you see the massive gulf of difference between what you’ve just said & what you said first?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  7th April 2019

              No. How on earth is saying guilt should be commensurate with the offence and defining the offence a massive gulf of difference?

              The sexual misbehaviour of priests has been an open secret for centuries if not millennia. Those who chose to follow those religions despite that don’t get a free pass from me.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              But it has not.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  7th April 2019
            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              And I’m still waiting for your link to credible research that supports your unfounded & unsupportable allegation that the majority of Catholics knew of and were engaged in the supression of evidence of sexual offences by priests.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              And that is not credible research that backs up the specific allegation you have made.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  7th April 2019

              Just one state example:
              https://news.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/zmd7b9/catholic-church-in-illinois-knew-about-sex-abuse-allegations-against-500-priests-but-didnt-tell-anyone

              A lot of people knew stuff and didn’t share allowing the abuse to continue.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              Not even reading that. Statistical study please backing up your specific allegation that the majority of Catholics have known of and been fully engaged in suppressing the evidence of abuse by priests.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              Actually I did just have a quick look at that & even that doesn’t back up your prejucided attempt to imply the majority of parisioners in Illinois knew about & suppressed it. It speaks of the diocese in terms of the clergy. I think you have little idea of how parishes operate. And I have finished with this conversation because you have failed to make your case & are clearly engaged in searching for & then misrepresenting anything you can find to support your prefuduce.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              *prejudice.

              And I say that as a critic of the Catholic church & a frequent, rational, debunker of all 3 of the multi-problematic Abrahamic deity myths.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  7th April 2019

              Even your family covered it up if I recall right.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              Possibly. But what action they were told would be taken I don’t know, & exactly what the “abuse” wasn’t disclosed. It may have been that he was excessively & regularly punished by a harsh disciplinarian, for example.

              I regard one of my 2nd form teachers – a Brother in a Cathokic fraternal teaching Order, the maths teacher – who would strap boys for not being able to get, say, 8/10 of their homework sums not only correct, but set out in the exact same way as the example several different types of problem he wrote out on the board the day before – & immediately erased before those of us who found it harder could work it through & memorise it.

              You would be strapped if caught copying it down, & he constantly scanned for those who did it.

              The strap was as hard as a board. You couldn’t even hold a pen for 30 minutes afterwards & your hands would glow red & swell up before slowly subsiding.

              Because corporal punishment was normal in those days nothing was ever done about his savagery. It wasn’t even seen as abnormal. My state school friends had similar tales of particular apparent psychopaths or sadists. He was a big man, already quite old, & probably retired with accolades.

              That was child abuse. Pure & simple. It certainly helped speed me on my way out of the faith.

              Your allegation, however, remains unsupported & prejudicial.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  7th April 2019

              Call it a working hypothesis.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              I call it drivel.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  7th April 2019

              So would the perpetrators. I’ve heard enough survivor stories over many years to know that sexual issues were uniquely endemic and destructive in that Church. If adherents didn’t know that it was because they didn’t want to.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              I was in that Church & know plenty of people who still are believers & parishioners. They have never encountered it or even heard of it happening in their parishes where in by far the majority of cases it never has.

              They are among the most vocal & harshest critics of those few priests who have come to light as sexual predators because it challenges everything they have ever been taught & believe in & because given the spread & numbers of adherents of that particular faith who have had no direct experience or knowledge of in their parish they see themselves as fully justified in criticising & piling in on these detestable individuals as aberrant human beings who should be dealt to severely with the full force of the state law for breaching the very basic principles of their faith.

              The fact that many minimise or excuse the role of the Church hierarchy in covering up these crimes is driven, in my experience, by their absurd belief in the ability of priests to absolve offenders of sin, forgive them, & accept their promises to never offend again. And latterly by Pope Francis as their shining example of how the Church has fronted up & always had good intentions.

              I had a very heated argument on this very subject with a Catholic woman who has been especially good in doing things for ma, a niece of her best friend, who has never encountered any such offending in her entire life & will never resile from her beliefs.

              Btw, the reason that brutal teacher I referred to above was never censured, charged, or removed from his role was that corporal punishment was routinely used to punish offenders for bullying, persistent disruption of others in class, fighting at school, & disrespecting or threatening teachers in class. And it worked at minimising or preventing such “misbehaviours”, so those who overused to rule by terror it got a free pass because too many parents had had similar experiences & considered discipline a matter for the school, in a way they would never tolerate now.

      • alloytoo

         /  7th April 2019

        @PG “I’m not sure that it always works for Christianity How much responsibility should the majority of Catholics have for the sexual offences of some priests?”

        A very false equivalence, priests who abuse their positions are criminals in society.

  3. artcroft

     /  7th April 2019

    “So are all Muslims responsible for one small countries rulers actions if they don’t condemn it.”

    Qui tacet consentit. (or is that just hate speech on my part?)

    • Gezza

       /  7th April 2019

      Hard to say. It appears to be a foreign language.

      • artcroft

         /  7th April 2019

        That’s cos I’m too scared to say it in English.

        • Gezza

           /  7th April 2019

          Who is silent consents.

          Applicable to the majority of US citizens who don’t want to know of or acknowledge the war crimes of their own military & leaders – if true. And to many others. It’s a well-known & oft-used quotable quote but of course it’s not true often enough to be considered anything but a pithy most frequently cited saying to tar whole groups of others.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  7th April 2019

            Actually it is true very often but denied by those complicit in believing and doing what they are told.

            • artcroft

               /  7th April 2019

              Agreed.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              You’ve both probably got Trump uppermost in your mind, like me, I imagine. The guy who publicly stated that believes that the US should continue waterboarding “and worse” to obtain information from prisoners renditioned by the CIA.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  7th April 2019

              If anyone doesn’t believe and do what he is told it’s probably hard to beat Trumpy.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  7th April 2019

            It was interesting to see the news item about an IRA massacre; many people must have known about something on that scale. I wonder if the man who told the police who it was still has his kneecaps (or is still alive and in the UK)

          • artcroft

             /  7th April 2019

            But also to the majority of those who practice Islam.

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              Well that depends arty. Doesn’t apply to those those who suddenly found themselves abandoned by Iraqi or Syrian forces & overrun, overnight, before they could pack up get away – to where?

              Who were forced to live under ISIS rule and who all report being terrorised, forbidden to leave & witnessed executions of those caught trying, brutalised & punished for minor infractions against their harsh version of Shariah Law, & forced to watch their children, even the very young primary aged ones, subjected to having to watch savage punishments & executions & be hardened up & attend indoctrinations in madrassas run by armed, threatening thugs they regarded as completely mispresenting Islam.

              Saw plenty of these people streaming into refugee camps as ateas were liberated. They & their children are completely traumatised. And what’s worse is it widely believed ISIS fighters & sympathisers slipped out among them, so even the innocent were treated with harshness & suspicion.

  4. Tom Hunter

     /  7th April 2019

    Changing the Rules of Engagement

    The news cycle is so unnaturally shrill, as if the status quo itself is screaming. From unenacted policies to the automatic assignment of blame to Western civilization, the news cycle has become one continuous rant. Referring to the root causes of the Christchurch mosque massacre, a Slate article argued: “we are a nation born of shame. A white-majority Australia exists only as the result of a genocidal invasion.”

    Speech has never been more dangerous nor points of view more opposed.

    I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen that view expressed in Left wing circles. Chris Trotter and a few other Lefties have complained about it, but they’ve been dismissed as Old White Male Reactionaries; not Woke.

    If one were to predict between comity and authoritarianism in the coming years the odds would favor authoritarianism. Never has so much naked ambition disguised itself as virtue, and the more loudly political factions proclaim they’re out to save the world, the more ruthless they are likely to be. Liberty will come under assault from the banner of tolerance; fascism will advance in the guise of grievance.

    • sorethumb

       /  7th April 2019

      Salem Bigot trials all over again – an inquisition: Impure impure!

  5. sorethumb

     /  7th April 2019

    Golriz says the police stopped the Islamic prayer because of threats.

    How many people who blow a fuse on line are serious? The police took names (8?). Even if true Golriz sees the cure as suppression? She seemed to think the expressions of love were a legitimate representation of how New zealanders feel and justification for [her] proscribed action. She butted in/snapped and talked like a rocket. Stephen Franks was slow and measured.

    • sorethumb

       /  7th April 2019

      All in all very annoying to not see a measured and controlled discussion.

  6. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  7th April 2019
    • Gezza

       /  7th April 2019

      That’s disconcerting. I can’t get tv3 on demand to load on my iPad2, it’s only ever done so once. I’ll crank up my laptop & see if the version on tv3 on demand site has that segment missing too.

      • Gezza

         /  7th April 2019

        Chris2
        I am intrigued by the absence of comment here or in the media about Stephen Franks raising Golriz Gaharaman’s deceptive CV on TV3’s “The Nation” on Saturday morning, and her faux response of outrage to it. Boy did she squirm. Will it be edited out of the repeat screening of the Nation today?

        kowtow
        She looked stunned , then he told her to sue him.
        Such fun.

        The comment at Maggie’s link. If this is truly what happened on the first broadcast there is absolutely nothing of this exchange in ThreeNow’s version of this episode.

        I had no idea this segment was so short & with Golriz talking over & interrupting Franks so often & completely avoiding answering his challenges to give examples I regard the whole segment as a complete bloody waste of time, like a lot of NewsHub Nation’s offerings.

        • Gezza

           /  7th April 2019

          And one obvious strict application of hate speech laws intended to prevent or justify any expressions hatred or violence towards other groups would see all the Holy Books & scriptures banned & removed from bookshelves, & those found in possession of them charged & prosecuted. This is an extremely problematic area, the religious books of all 3 religions do this.

          • Gezza

             /  7th April 2019

            Sorry I’ll have another go at that one. This is what it should have said:

            And one obvious strict application of hate speech laws intended to prevent the incitement oor justification of any expressions of hatred or violence towards other groups would see all the Holy Books & scriptures banned & removed from bookshelves, & those found in possession of them charged & prosecuted. This is an extremely problematic area – the religious books of all 3 religions do this.

        • sorethumb

           /  7th April 2019

          So why would they not include it?

          • Gezza

             /  7th April 2019

            Well, firstly I didn’t see it & don’t know who those two commenters are so I have no knowledge of whether the claim is true – though it looks like it was.

            Secondly, I don’t know, but I would imagine the channels’s lawyers were concerned about getting embroiled in expensive defamation litigation if the offended party threatened to bring them against the channel & the utterer.

            Both are lawyers. May have been an abundance of caution about a specific personal defamation claim & I think most likely was.

            • sorethumb

               /  7th April 2019

              Notice Franks says: “would you want your past buried by the chief censor”? The Interviewer says; “don’t get personal?”. Maybe they cut a section out of that?

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2019

              Yes.If there was a cut, that’s where it is & it’s made to look completely invisible & seamless because the camera angle suddenly changes right there but the flow of conversation appears to continue.

              Even the most basic video editing programs I use for my nature video movies I have the capacity to do exactly the same thing, just as seamlessly, if I can be bothered putting a bit of time into it, & sometimes have done.

              For a professinal they do it effortlessly every day.

  7. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  8th April 2019

    Pete George posted the edited version of the Transcript.

    The Whaleoil site reports this

    This transcript is of the edited version of the full interview. In the full interview (which we do not have access to) Stephen pointed out that Tarrant described himself as a Greenie and an eco-fascist.

    Then includes a tweet from GG where she states that Lawyers are editing the tape.

    https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2019/04/whaleoil-transcript-golriz-ghahraman-stephen-franks-on-free-speech/

    • Gezza

       /  8th April 2019

      She’s surprisingly teenage foul-mouthed on twitter. Mind you, that’s not unusual these days for anyone. Still, one wonders how much of that might sort of language might be being edited out of telly interview items. I found that whole interview as shown completely unenlightening.

      • Gezza

         /  8th April 2019

        I can’t find that actual tweet of GG’s. the image of which is posted in WO. Can anyone else?

        • Gezza

           /  8th April 2019

          Oh never mind. I’ve found various tweets on Marama Davidson’s twitter feed relating to it. I hate Twitter – it confuses the hell out me as to were some of these brain farts are on the orginator’s page.

  8. Gezza

     /  8th April 2019

    The discussions underneath these tweets are fascinating but not very edifying 🙄

    Except that clearly quite a bit of editing out was done & most of us have no idea what was actually going on.

  9. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  8th April 2019

    Yep, the whole “debate” seems meaningless when viewed on this edited tape.
    Did Pete George know that he had put up a doctored version?