Well meaning waffle on free speech v hate speech from two MPs

The opinions from National Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith and Labour list MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan from Stuff:  The delicate balance of free speech v hate speech

Stuart Smith

Finding a means to restrict free speech by legislating against “hate speech” – the modern version of blasphemy – is something that must be carefully considered.

Hate speech and harmful extremism, on any platform, should not be tolerated, and we are right to scrutinise the role of social media in the context of the Christchurch tragedy, and the wider issue of extremism and hate speech.

Our legal system has recourse for those seeking to incite violence.

If we legislated against hate speech, who would decide what constitutes hate speech?

I think that this is one of the primary concerns.

That is why I believe that some of the calls to regulate free speech through legislation may go too far. There is a risk that, as with many difficult and potentially harmful issues that society grapples with, attempts to regulate social media too heavily will drive groups underground to the “dark web”.

Or talk about it in private away from the Internet. That probably happens already.

This issue is not new. Professor Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Massey University, was to give a very timely public lecture called The Politics of Hate in the Age of the Internet on March 19, but this was postponed.

He states that research points to a significant spike in online hate speech since 2017.

I agree with his argument that we should not allow it to become normalised and that this is not simply about legislation, but public awareness and discussion.

It is up to all New Zealanders to keep this important conversation going.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan

Access to the internet along with social media platforms has undeniably changed the way we consume information.

While discrimination and hate may have always existed, they now have new, powerful distribution channels.

Social media platforms have served to amplify hate speech across the world. It can be difficult to get rid of harmful messages and hateful comments on social media. Even if the original comment or post is deleted, someone, somewhere, could have already copied and shared it.

It’s time for social media platforms to act to prevent the spread of hate.

Major social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have poor records at preventing ‘hate speech’. They are too concerned about making money.

In the wake of March 15, we have the opportunity to confront the racism, xenophobia and hate that is proliferated through these channels. As individuals, we are each responsible for what we put out there on the internet, and as a country, there is an appetite for change.

As individuals we also have a responsibility to challenge harmful crap speech, both online and in our offline lives.

The Government believes the best and most enduring way to ensure change is to act collaboratively with other governments and with social media companies. The problem is global so the solution needs to be too.

The Prime Minister has committed to New Zealand playing a leading role in this change and Kiwis can expect to see more details of our plans in this space in the coming weeks.

I doubt that relying on international companies and other governments is going to deal with this adequately.

We need to come up with local means of dealing with global problems.

I am disappointed with these contributions to the discussion by Radhakrishnan and Smith. They may help keep the discussion going but they haven’t added much if anything themselves.

Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  8th April 2019

    we are right to scrutinise the role of social media in the context of the Christchurch tragedy

    Except as far as I can see there is zero evidence it played any role beyond the live streaming of the atrocity.

    Assertions without evidence seem to be the norm.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  8th April 2019

      ‘there is zero evidence it played any role beyond the live streaming of the atrocity.’

      so live streaming mass murder to millions of eyeballs is just a minor role…in your world.!

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  8th April 2019

        So what are you going to do about it? Ban videoing and uploading to the internet? Get real in your world.

        Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th April 2019

      hello …it was said the masscre was ‘ by and for the internet’
      he was an avid user of hate chat rooms, emailed his manifesto to media and politicians just before he left for the mosques and then turned on the social media live stream…

      No evidence ?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  8th April 2019

        Are you calling the dark web chat rooms social media? Going to ban email? And videoing?

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  8th April 2019

          Live streaming is done by Facebook… a social media site .
          Chat rooms are social media…dark web is oxymoron, merely those sites that arent indexed by search engines but still easily accessible.

          What would you describe as social media then ?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  8th April 2019

            How are you going to ban live streaming? It’s happening all over the planet in all kinds of ways and certainly not just on FB and social media.

            The Dark Web is a term that refers specifically to a collection of websites that exist on an encrypted network and cannot be found by using traditional search engines or visited by using traditional browsers. Almost all sites on the so-called Dark Web hide their identity using the Tor encryption tool.

            I would describe social media as websites designed openly to attract and support users for legal social interaction and entertainment.

            Reply
  2. David

     /  8th April 2019

    The politicians are right, its not the place of a government to determine what you can and cant say or think. If the government get the power to do that you can guarantee they will over extend as has been seen in the UK where the coppers are locking people up and taking them to court for saying hurty things to trans people including a feminist professor debating some whack job.

    Reply
  3. Reply
  4. adamsmith1922

     /  8th April 2019

    The quote from Edwards reveals the dangerous path we are on

    Reply
  5. Gezza

     /  8th April 2019

    What concerns me is the possibility these laws will be used to try & shut down debate & discussion about religion – and culture – where there is a need for challenge & debate & more people to learn more about other viewpoints. Islam is notoriously sensitive about criticism of Muhammad & the Quran & just watching Al Jazeera, which gives greater coverage of such incidents, there is no shortage of modern day examples of followers of Islam exacting severe punishments, even killing, those who have, or who they deem to have, committed blasphemy in Islamic countries, or& where the rise of fundamentalism has seen multiple murderous attacks on Christian communities & other sects or religions.

    We have immigrants coming from these countries. These immigrants clearly don’t support or advocate such extremism – or at least they emphatically deny that they do. It is possible to practice a modern day form of Islam which is entirely peaceful & can link in brotherhood & sisterhood with Christian & even Jewish communities, because they all believe in their own version of the same deity (often it seems with little or no knowledge of the differences in those deities & their commands to their people, according to their own prophets & later apostles.

    The Christian religion’s top brass actively seek to downplay & ignore the differences because, in my view, it helps reinforce the belief in that deity, notwithstanding it’s significantly different from theirs, refutes the divinity of their Messiah, & holds the original Jewish scripture & prophets to have been seriously in error, Muhammad being the last prophet & whose word cannot be challenged.

    You can’t get people to see this & recognise that it’s all based on myths that arose to support wars & land grabs in the same way political philosophies & ultra-nationalist & racial superiority & notions of right to rule (Empires) have done & take them into the light if you end up being accused of or threatened for hate speech.

    There needs to be a damned sight more public debate on these religions & their flaws & histories, in the West & here, & everywhere, in my view.

    You can’t challenge the fundamental beliefs in the nonsense of “divine communication / inspiration”, “God’s favoured people” “the one true faith”, cruel & inhuman legal codes, etc as in Saudi Arabia, Iran, & now Brunei for example, that are among the beliefs & teachings in Islam & their Quran & other scriptures without getting also pointing out the obvious parallels & flaws & nonsensical claims of the might & beneficience of their non-existent God, who has been so successfully used to serve the expansionary or warlike purposes of their early leaders & apostles.

    It’s nonsense. That these beliefs continue today staggers me. It is a tribute to the power of indoctrination & psychological manipulation of billions of people throughout the centuries – and even today – whose fears & hopes for a better life than the one they endure now have been continually exploited, most often unknowingly, by genuinely good people who believe in their religion because buried in amongst them (or even arguably central to them) are a few articles of faith that are universally recognised as sensible rules for harmonious living in societies, & and the apparently overwhelming need, still, of billions of people the world over to believe there is a way that they will live forever, see their dead loved ones, and see evil people held to account & punished at or after death (depending on the sect).

    But to achieve this, they must prostrate themselves before their version of a mythical & often evil deity who doesn’t exist. There is zero evidence that this being ever existed, that it did the things ancient, ignorant people claimed, & plenty of evidence that if it did exist, it is jealous, murderous, & uncaring, foolish, & mountains of evidence that it simply does not concern itself with universal or earthly matters or the entreaties of human apes.

    The Abrahamic God in its various versions has served its adherents & their descendants well & one way or another been THE major influence in the development of their nations & civilisations & codes of ethics or laws. But it is time for peoples the world over to take a hard look at reality, take what they can from the best of what they have used to live by, & put away these foolish, non-existent Gods.

    They will be the death of us.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  8th April 2019

      great work G.

      Reply
    • Corky.

       /  8th April 2019

      You can’t be an astral traveller and believe what you have just written. That would be like: I entered my car and travelled from point A to B and saw nothing….not even the road.

      I think you need to confirm you were just jesting about being a traveller.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  8th April 2019

        You are making an incorrect assumption, I suspect. The Abrahamic creator God who mythically communicated with goat herders, shepherds, Kings, fisherpersons of the male persuasion & sundry of characters of their lore, & intervenes in human & earthly affairs, clearly does not exist. But that does not speak to many the other possibilities & energies which may lie behind the existence of this or other universes.

        Reply
  1. Well meaning waffle on free speech v hate speech from two MPs — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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