Escalating ‘hate speech’ and fake speech concerns

Claimed hate speech continues to feature in political news in New Zealand, while in the US the growing threat of fake speech – or more accurately, falsifying the appearance of speech, raises concerns about what can be believed from video.

It was always contentious trying to define ‘hate speech’, and differentiate it from acceptable speech someone might hate to hear.  It becomes a real problem when people claim that criticism is some form of hate speech to distract from the criticism and try to turn it into a counter attack.

Stuff: ‘Hate speech’ politics row in Rotorua referred to police

A Mayoral candidate has been accused of age, gender and race-based “hate speech”, prompting a confidential council committee to recommended police involvement.

The political race hate stoush is brewing in Rotorua, with councillor Tania Tapsell branding online comments made by Mayoral candidate Reynold​ Macpherson as “totally unacceptable”.

The row centres on an online post made by Macpherson on the Facebook page of the Rotorua District Residents & Ratepayers’ (RDRR) lobby group on May 14.

The post, a response to a video in which Tapsell encourages more young people to stand for council, is entitled “Beware the charismatic pitch of the Pied Piper”.

“He has referenced me as a Pied Piper who lures away vermin and children and this level of hate speech is totally unacceptable,” Tapsell said.

She said the decision to refer the post to police was made by a confidential council committee, and while not at her request, she believes that “given the risk of harm to myself and others that was the right decision”.

“Charismatic pitch of the Pied Piper” doesn’t sound anywhere near close to hate speech to me. It could even be seen as a compliment. ‘Charismatic’ is a positive term.

I’m surprised Tapsell has belayed it as hate speech.

I’m astounded ‘a confidential council committee’ has referred it to the police, unless there is more to this that I am not seeing.

Tapsell, of Te Arawa and Tainui ancestry, also cited “verbal and physical threats” from members of the RDRR, and their opposition to Māori participation in council decision making through the now established Te Tatau o Te Arawa board.

“This post was just one example of his many age,gender and race-based attacks on council members,” she said.

“His rants have gone too far so I’m standing up for all the people who have been offended by his hate speech.”

A Rotorua Lakes Council spokesperson confirmed to Stuff that a complaint had been forwarded to police, “and it is now in their hands”

I don”t see anything age, gender or race-based in the Pied Piper comment. If this comes to anything with the police then our democracy is at risk.

Fake speech

A real concern for the present and future is fake speech – concocted video or audio misrepresenting what was said or how something was said. An example has flared up in the US.

Here yesterday David showed that people have been successfully fooled:

Listen to Pelosi live she literally sounds like she has had a brain injury at worst but certainly well past her use by date. Just as well she is a Democrat so the media dont say anything.

Donald Trump had given authenticity (to those who believe anything he promotes) to a video clip of Nancy Pelosi.

But this is dirty politics. Fox News: Manipulated videos of Nancy Pelosi edited to falsely depict her as drunk spread on social media

Numerous doctored video clips of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, are spreading on social media, deceptively portraying her as if she were intoxicated.

A three-minute clip of Pelosi speaking event with the Center for American Progress from Wednesday was uploaded on Facebook by a group called “Politics WatchDog” was viewed over 1.8 million times with nearly 40,000 shares. The video shows her frequently slurring her words and her voice sounding garbled. Copies of the clip had also been found on Twitter and YouTube, which the latter had removed.

According to a report from The Washington Post, experts believed the original video was slowed down to 75 percent from the original speed and that her pitch was also manipulated in order to present her under the influence.

Computer science and digital forensics expert Berkeley Hany Farid said there was “no question” the video had been tampered with.

“It is striking that such a simple manipulation can be so effective and believable to some,” he told the Washington Post.

Both Speaker Pelosi and President Trump have exchanged brutal insults at each other on Thursday. Pelosi expressed that she was “concerned” about the president’s “well-being.” Trump shot back, calling her a “mess” and claimed she was “disintegrating.”

Was the video created to attack Pelosi specifically in this stoush?

These days a deceit travels around the world very rapidly, and while it can eventually be debunked the damage can’t easily be undone. Snopes:

On 24 May 2019, a manipulated video that supposedly showed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drunkenly slurring her speech was widely shared on social media. One version of the post that the Facebook page “Politics Watchdog” shared was viewed millions of times.

It will still be circulating, and is likely to still be promoted even though it has been proven to be fake video.

This doctored video was shared by thousands of users on social media, including by Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s counsel, with the caption: “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre.” (Giuliani’s tweet has since been deleted.)

Actually Trump’s tweet referred to a second doctored video.

This second video was not doctored in the same overt manner as the slurred-speech footage. Rather, this clip was created by selectively picking a few brief moments in which Pelosi paused or stumbled (totaling about 30 seconds) while answering questions from reporters, and then cobbled them together to give the impression that Pelosi was “stammering” through her news conference.

And Trump’s tweet has not been deleted.

Misrepresenting opponents via doctored video is not new, it has been happening for a long time. But improved video and animation technology, and the speed with which fake speech can be circulated, raises the risks of dirty politics of this type being used more.

So we have contrasting situations where some relatively benign speech is claimed to be far worse than it is. The ‘hate speech’ label has become a form of counter attack, and is itself a threat to free speech when it is used to try to discredit or deter free and open speech communications.

On the other hand there are real risks from doctored speech being used more as it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate it from the authentic and real speech.

That this thing has been done before is no excuse for it being done on an increasingly sophisticated and rapid manner.

Leave a comment


  1. Hate speech slurs used to restrict free speech. Shock and horror but not surprised. It’s just so predictable.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  26th May 2019

      (pip, pip, pip. ring ring, ring ring)

      ‘You have reached emergency services, do you want police, fire or ambulance ?’


      ‘Hello, NZ Police.’

      ‘oh, oh, come quickly, please, something terrible’s happened…..’

      ‘Can you tell me what’s happening ?’

      ‘Someone called me a Pied Piper.’

      (sirens blaring, lights flashing as the police converge on the street)

  2. Pink David

     /  26th May 2019


    I wonder why. The least surprising thing is this hate speech bs being weaponised to scilene one’s political opponents. The fact you find it astounded shows how blind you are.

    • I’m not astounded by an escalation in trying to weaponise ‘hate speech’, I’m astounded that ‘a confidential council committee’ has referred it to the police. I don’t think there is any chanced the police will do much about it, this move is more likely to backfire on the council.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  26th May 2019

        Seems obvious there are political scores being settled here. Hopefully the voters will sort it out though Rotorua may be too tribal to do so.

      • Pink David

         /  26th May 2019

        But of course that is what is going to happen. It astounds me you don’t realise this.

        • I don’t think it’s a natural progression. The current case in Rotorua is isolated. There is strong pushback against this sort of thing. That may slow the progression down, or it may virtually put an end to it as it becomes clear that it is gross overstepping and overegging of opposition to or exploitation of ‘hate speech’.

          I don’t think free speech as we know it is doomed, but it is being tested in a variety of ways. I’m hopeful that the stronger speech against attempts to excessively restrict speech will prevail in the main.

          • david in aus

             /  26th May 2019

            If you define Hate Speech as finding offense or is very subjective, it is human nature that these type of cases will emerge. In my opinion, it is a natural progression. Whether the debate progresses depends on political leadership. If there are consideration of Hate Speech laws, these type of cases will continue.

            Each political leader should have a position on Hate Speech. I know the views of the Greens, Labour MPs are sympathetic and ACT opposing; but the rest seem to dodge the issue.

            • I haven’t yet seen any attempt to define ‘hate speech’. It has quickly become a meaningless term, undefined by the many uses and abuses of the term.

            • david in aus

               /  26th May 2019

              The inability to define Hate Speech is giving it legs. Those that believe in a Free Society should be against such a loose concept. If there is blow-back to accusors then things may change; until then I will hold my breath.

  3. NOEL

     /  26th May 2019

    I don’t see the need for any change to current laws on “hate” speech.
    Plenty of avenues for those who perceive they have been slighted.

    On “take news” at another time it would be labelled propoganda.

  4. David

     /  26th May 2019

    I havent see the video clip of Pelosi but have seen her many many times on CNN and Fox and she sounds ridiculous, fails to answer questions and often looks confused. The reporters all tip toe around her not wanting to be the one that exposes it especially in crowded non scripted circumstances.
    Joe Biden is not a lot better, some people age well others slow down and should probably stand aside and retire gracefully, put AOC in charge.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  26th May 2019

      The video is so obviously doctored that it looks amateurish; they even have her saying ‘the three things’ over and over with an obvious pause where the film stops for a second. Nobody stands still like that. It sounds like a stuck record. Pathetic.

  5. David

     /  26th May 2019

    The quality of fake video and speech,s now will soon render us unable to pick what is real and what is fake on the internet, some very clever stuff out there.
    Here is something someone on his PC cooked up using the great Joey Diaz, its a total fake.

  6. duperez

     /  26th May 2019

    Village idiots will doctor videos for propaganda purposes as long as there are enough other village idiots ready to accept and promote not just the crap they put out but the tactic itself.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  26th May 2019

      The Nancy Pelosi is so badly done that anyone can see it’s a fake. She freezes at one point and it’s obvious that the film has been paused !


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