Alleged offences far more serious than downloading massacre footage

It isn’t surprising to see that one of the people charged with downloading footage of the Christchurch massacres is alleged to have committed more serious offences than just that.

Stuff: Teen on footage charge allegedly planned mass shooting at school

A high school student who allegedly downloaded footage of the Christchurch massacre also allegedly discussed plans of how best to conduct a mass shooting at his school with fellow students.

The 17-year-old appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Tuesday afternoon on a charge of possession of objectionable material, where he was granted interim name suppression.

The charge against the teenager reads that on April 8 at a location in the Waikato he, “without lawful authority or excuse, had in his possession an objectionable publication, namely camera footage of the Christchurch mosque shootings, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the publication is objectionable”.

The portion of the police summary that can be reported reveals that police allege they were called to the boy’s high school by the principal on Monday, after he was found to be in possession of a USB stick containing footage of the mass killings in Christchurch on March 15.

According to the police summary, he had allegedly been talking to other students about how easy it would be for a mass killing to take place at the school.

His alleged plan involved activating a fire alarm, which would prompt the students and staff to evacuate and congregate on the school fields, where they would be an easy target for a shooter.

The portions of the summary Bourke divulged in court also revealed the teenager had allegedly searched for footage of the Christchurch shooting using the Google search engine. However Google prevented this, so it is claimed he found “alternative ways” of accessing several files of the footage.

He allegedly showed the footage to other male students and the USB stick was passed around, however the teenager did not know whether any of those other students had made copies of the files.

So based on this there seems to be good cause for the police to have arrested and charged him.

Thousands of people will have accessed the video and the manifesto, and most of them won’t be investigated or charged. Only those who appear to pose more serious risks will (or should) attract the attention of the police.

Police re-investigating home invasion assault after complaint by Blomfield

Police are re-investigating a 2014 home invasion in which Matthew Blomfield was seriously assaulted, including being shot at in front of his family. The assailant was caught through  a DNA match, convicted and imprisoned, but the motive was never disclosed. Blomfield has complained to the police that others may have been involved, but until recently they have not done much to investigate.

This is detailed in David Fisher’s latest Big Read:  The blogger and the businessman – how the police failed, and new inquiries into a vicious home invasion

I’m familiar with a lot of the history covered in this. I have posted here about the attacks against Blomfield on Whale Oil, the long defamation case that resulted in Cameron Slater being found in October 2018 by a judge to have no defence (Slater recently withdrew an appeal), the illegal use of private data when a hard drive was supplied to Blomfield, and a number of other related things.

I have also posted about the assault on Blomfield. What is new are the claims of police inaction in investigating, and the current re-investigating.

Remember how quickly the police investigated Nicky Hager after a complaint by Slater that he had been hacked? The police overstepped in their raid on Hager’s home and obtaining bank information, for which they have since apologised for and paid compensation.

Remember how the police investigated and prosecuted Ben Rachinger after a complaint by Slater? And how, when Slater was prosecuted for trying procure a hack of The Standard, the police gave him diversion after Slater accepted guilt (but soon after posted that his contrition was not genuine).

Blomfield seems to have had a lot more difficulty getting the police to investigate for him, on complicity in the assault, and in how Slater got thehard drive. This has ended up resulting in a complaint to Independent Police Conduct Authority, and the re-opening of an investigation.

Blomfield’s complaints to police began in April 2012 when he told police Slater had obtained a hard drive with his personal and business information. Slater used the material as the basis of a series of blog posts over the next six months which led to the seven-year defamation action.

Blomfield’s interaction with police over the next four years included complaints about the hard drive, being interviewed as the victim of a home invasion which took place in April 2014 and a further complaint after his computer was hacked – possibly on more than one occasion.

Blomfield complained to the Independent Police Conduct Authority over police handling of complaints, leading to a review of police files identified areas that “warrant further police investigation”.

Detective Inspector Hayden Mander followed with a letter in December 2017 in which he said there had been multiple failures by police investigating a range of complaints.

On the hard drive:

He said there was “little comprehension” the first complaint about the hard drive could be seen as a possible crime involving the use of the data.

“Having reviewed the file, I believe there was a failure from the outset in comprehending the complexity of this investigation; in that it might be something other than a theft or burglary.

“Once computer crime was considered, there are gaps in the investigation and there was a lack of comprehensive assessment of the criminal culpability of the persons of interest that were identified during the inquiry.”

Mander, who has since left the police, said a specific complaint of “computer crime” had been made by Blomfield at the time. He said there was no evidence it had been investigated and no victim statement had been taken.

He said there needed to be a new investigation into the use of the hard drive and whether it was a “computer crime”.

There is an irony over Slater using the hard drive data to post a series of attacks on Blomfield on Whale Oil – Slater has long claimed bitterly about being hacked and data obtained being used to discredit him.

Mander also said police had not properly investigated a complaint by Blomfield made in 2014 after emails of his post-dating the hard drive were published online. The emails were from a password-protected cloud service, leading Blomfield to complain his information had been hacked.

On the assault:

Mander’s letter said there were further failures by police, including around a terrifying assault on Blomfield at his Greenhithe home in April 2014.

The incident saw Ned Tehuru Paraha, now 41, enter the home where Blomfield and his family live, face covered with a Spiderman mask and carrying a shotgun.

During the assault which followed, Paraha fired a shotgun at Blomfield on at least two occasions. One of Blomfield’s young daughters hid inside while the other saw her father – and for a period, her mother – fight back against the invader until he was forced to flee.

Blomfield was left seriously injured as a result of the assault, and has since testified as to the lasting damage the attack had on his and his family’s feeling of safety and security in their own home.

Paraha was caught a month later and pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to injure, aggravated burglary and assault with intent to injure. He was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison.

Mander said the “front end” of the investigation – Paraha’s identification through DNA and conviction – was carried out properly.

No reason or motive was disclosed.

“However, it was acknowledged from those conducting the police investigation and from yourself that others were likely responsible for the planning of this offending.

“To date, no-one else has been held to account for this offending.

“Despite you advising police of your suspicions that specific people were involved in the planning of this offending, these avenues of inquiry have never been followed up. Further, you have provided police with other lines of inquiry that remain on the file but have not been completed.”

Mander said there was a “clear need” to investigate parts of the incident.

He states that the police did obtain phone records that at least indicated others had prior knowledge of the home invasion, but didn’t act on this information.

In the recording, Mander said a production order had been used during the earlier investigation to access an individual’s phone records.

He told Blomfield police “didn’t really do a very good job of examining the data it produced”.

Mander said he had examined the phone traffic and seen contact the days before, the day of and the day after the assault which needed further investigation.

Blomfield claims that Slater knew about the attack and thinks the police should have south information from him (he doesn’t allege that Slater was directly involved).

Blomfield said he believed there was reason for police to speak with Slater in relation to the attack and had previously provided information which should have been acted on.

He said a comment made by Slater in the High Court precinct at Auckland, prior to a June 2016 judicial settlement conference, suggested Slater had knowledge as to where Paraha had obtained the shotgun used in the attack.

Blomfield said it was confirmation Slater had received information about the attack and the email was passed to police. He received a response saying: “Your email is noted and has been added to the file.”

A file that seems to have had more cobwebs than police attention.

Blomfield said he since received information anonymously from someone describing themselves as the hacker Rawshark, the identity used by the person who hacked Slater’s computer in 2014 then passed the contents to journalist Nicky Hager. The hacked material was used as the basis for the book Dirty Politics.

He said the information provided to him – which matches information supplied to and printed by the Herald in 2014 – gave him cause for concern over Slater’s attitude towards him.

The Rawshark files included social media correspondence between Slater and contacts developed through the blog. Some of the content from late 2013 reflected the defamation action was placing Slater under increased pressure.

In other messages in November 2013, Slater told the contact he believed gang members were looking for Blomfield in relation to money owed on behalf of a family member. It is unknown if there was any basis for this belief.

In the message, Slater says: “they are now looking for him … I know where he is and where he works if they want to find him … name is Matthew Blomfield”.

In another message, previously unreported, Slater tells the same contact: “Can you find out who wants to bash blomfield … I can help them find him.”

Slater has testified since he embellished claims made in conversations obtained by Rawshark. There is no evidence in the Rawshark material Slater’s conversation turned into actions in the real world.

The month after the messages, on December 14 2013, Slater posted to his blog a copy of a district court decision from the defamation case which included a cover letter with Blomfield’s home address.

In a blog post which has since been deleted, the blog’s administrator wrote: “I wouldn’t want to be Mr Blomfield for the next 10 years. The other side of Karma is coming.”

It seems that Karma has been catching up on Slater, with a series of losses in defamation proceedings, bankruptcy and a stroke (a common cause being stress).

Blomfield has said he believed the attack was somehow connected to the Whaleoil blog posts, although is definite in saying there is no evidence directly linking it to Slater.

On the Whaleoil blog, Slater has rejected any connection between his website and the attack. In a post, since deleted, he pointed to Paraha’s gang connections and said he doubted any of his readers mixed in such circles.

It was claimed in a comment here on Your NZ last October that gang members were present outside the court on the day of a hearing  on the Blomfield v Slater defamation. A name other than Slater’s (but in his circle) was associated with this.

Blomfield told the Herald there were lines of inquiry police should have pursue in relation to most complaints, yet did not.

He said the home invasion in 2014, during which he was shot at least two times, was never properly investigated.

“Someone sent this guy to do this.” Blomfield said the delay in the investigation meant evidence would have decayed. “It now seems that (information) is going to be lost.”

He said there was no sensible reason for a Tribesman-affiliated gang member from Manukau, to whom he had no links or connection, to come to his Greenhithe home firing a loaded shotgun.

“It would be totally reasonable to ask the Police why it is taking so long and when that investigation will be completed.”

But Blomfield and his lawyer claims that the police have continued to do little to investigate.

Barrister Felix Geiringer, who was Blomfield’s lawyer in the defamation case, said the lack of action by police was shocking yet even more so given the police review appeared to show an officer had acted in a way which prevented a proper investigation taking place.

He said the home invasion offending was criminal behaviour at the most serious end of the scale and it was “terrifying” police could “so easily decide not to take basic investigative steps”.

Geiringer said there was a clear lack of urgency which included delays with the fresh investigation.

“Six months after informing Matt that they had never properly investigated the attempt on his life, a newly appointed investigator informed Matt that he had not yet read the file.

“Over 18 months later, and the Police have still not decided what further action, if any, they intend to take.

“Matt and his family have never felt safe since the attack. They don’t feel that the New Zealand police have any interest in protecting them. Who could blame them?”

I for one can’t blame them. I was dragged into this long running feud and attacks via blog posts and the courts.

I have had what could be construed as implied death threats. I have had my address and photo of my home posted on a website that ran a series of attacks on me, and incorrectly linked me with Blomfield. I believe that people in Slater’s circle of associates were involved (they and Slater were definitely involved in vexatious legal actions against me).

Emails on the court file show the meeting, with former business associates of Blomfield, saw discussion focused on targeting Blomfield in a scheme called “Operation Bumslide”.

In the chain of emails between the conspirators, there was a joke about Blomfield being raped and one in which an associate of Slater’s made disparaging sexual remarks about Blomfield’s wife.

So far Slater has borne the brunt of Blomfield’s fight back via the defamation, and he is the only one named in Fisher’s article.

The impression I get from this latest ‘big read’ from Fisher is that Slater may be able to help the police with their inquiries, if they ever make proper inquiries. Perhaps ‘an associate of Slater’s’ (or more) could also warrant some investigation. So far they have managed to leave Slater to cop most of the fallout. It looks to me like Slater may have been used as a ‘useful idiot’ in what started as a business feud against Blomfield.

Things can hardly get much worse for Slater, but others who have so far escaped being held to account may find things getting awkward for them if the police start doing their job properly.

Justice Minister says hate speech laws ‘very narrow’ with gaps

Minister of Justice Andrew Little has said that New Zealand hate speech laws are too narrow and there were gaps in the law, but also said that any changes needed to be robustly debated.

RNZ:  Current hate speech law ‘very narrow’ – Justice Minister Andrew Little

Justice Minister Andrew Little says gaps exist in current laws around hate speech and what should be considered an offence.

Mr Little announced on Saturday that he was fast-tracking the review, which could see hate crimes made a new legal offence.

Mr Little told Morning Report today the current law specific to hate speech offences was “very narrow”.

“It applies to inciting racial disharmony, it doesn’t relate to expressions that incite discrimination on religious grounds or identity or a range of other grounds.”

“If you look at the Harmful Digital Communications Act, which is the other law we have dealing with what we might describe as hate speech, it’s very thorough but the question is whether the processes that are available under that legislation are as accessible and as good as they might be, so there’s grounds to review both those areas,” he said.

On who is covered under current law, Mr Little said: “If your hateful expressions and hateful actions are directed at somebody’s religion, or other prohibited grounds of discrimination other than race then actually it doesn’t cover that, there’s no offence at that point.”

He said you could potentially lay a complaint for mediation with the Human Rights Commission, but that the most gross type of expression seen around the Christchurch terror attacks wouldn’t be covered by it and that looked like there was a gap in the law.

He said the review would make clear whether the law does fit. He’s not convinced it does, but said he’ll leave it up to the experts doing the review.

Mr Little said the issue about where the line was drawn was the most difficult part of any law that constrains expression and speech.

“The reality is we know that there are forms of expression on social media and elsewhere that you can see at face value are totally unacceptable and not worthy of defence but then there are opinions and views that we might disagree with or might even find offensive but are legitimate contributions to debate.”

Mr Little said any change to the law would need to be robustly debated.

I’m sure any suggested changes will be robustly debated.

Gordon Campbell (Werewolf) on the legal crackdown on hate crimes

Obviously, deterring hate speech and outlawing hate crime has the aim of providing better protections to vulnerable persons and communities, but without unduly restricting the public’s rights to free expression. It isn’t an easy balance to strike.

Hate crimes have a broader effect than most other kinds of violent crime. A hate crime victimizes not only the immediate target but also impacts every member of the group that the direct victim represents. Hate crimes affect families, communities, and sometimes the entire nation.

With hate speech, it is maybe worth keeping in mind that this is not purely a hate crime vs free speech issue. Speech has never been entirely free, under the law. Some language (obscenity) some speech in some contexts (eg yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre) and some types of threat have always been illegal.

Theoretically, the online expression of hate speech should fall under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, but given (a) the superheated and extravagant nature of much “normal” online debate and (b) the extent to which hate content online originates from offshore, the New Zealand law doesn’t currently offer much in the way of a defensive shield.

Moreover, regulating speech online to the point where hate speech and/or the perception of it was entirely eliminated would require a surveillance apparatus and enforcement powers like those more commonly found in totalitarian states than in social democracies. Online, the cure may be almost as mad as the disease.

It could easily be worse if allowed to go too far in restricting speech.

To me hate is a very strong term, but many people say they ‘hate’ many trivial things.

With hate crime, and hate speech then, there may well be some scope for adjusting the boundaries of what counts as “intimidation” – where co-ercion is involved or implied – and “menacing”, where the intention is to engender fear and subservience in the victim. Unfortunately though, when Parliament has tried to deal with this sort of thing in the recent past, ordinary civil liberties have gone out the window in favour of rank political posturing.

Political posturing is a problem in any serious debate.

As Andrew Little has said, we have until December to find viable ways to criminalise expressions that (currently) do not meet the traditional tests of criminality – but which nevertheless have left vulnerable communities or persons feeling less safe. (Arguably, the repeated expression of hostile sentiments can serve to make an actual attack more likely.)

Any pre-emptive law however, which tries to restrict expression in areas where strong social disagreement exists will still need to be even-handed.

Putting that in context of recent discussions, that means restrictions on derogatory expressions related to religion would have to be ‘even handed’ – so should apply equally to ‘hate speech’ against Muslims and Islam, Christians and Christianity, and also agnostics and atheists.

This requirement may not suit groups that feel they have historical grievances, or socio-economic inequality etc on their side.

As the late US justice Antonin Scalia once famously wrote, the state has no authority to license one side of a debate to fight freestyle, while requiring the other to follow Marquis of Queensbury Rules. That’s one of the ironies.

The pressure for change may have to do with expressions of hostile content, but the solutions – if they are to be enforceable – will probably need to be formulated in ways that are content neutral. There will be few easy political points to be scored from such formulations.

The free speech versus hate speech debate is more than political – it is about the fundamentals of democracy as well as the fundamentals of a (relatively) free and open society.

Tarrant mad or bad?

Christchurch mass murderer obviously did a very bad, despicable thing. But can his badness be explained by madness?

The only viable starting point for opposing such people is to understand them as neither mad nor bad, but wrong.

In response to Understanding the ideology of the Christchurch killer barrieseargant posted this comment:


“Mad or Bad?

Is Tarrant a psychopath? He may be. The vast majority of ordinary people could not kill in cold blood as he has done.

Tarrant’s manifesto and actions are bad, not mad. Driven, cold and calculating, and fully responsible for his actions, he had been captured by an evil ideology, which made him a hero in his own eyes”

Why is it such people are often framed within a false dichotomy of mad/bad? Its true people have difficulty killing in cold blood, hence the millions of dollars governments spend on taking 18-year-olds, putting them in the army and indoctrinating them to kill people they otherwise wouldn’t say boo to if left to think for themselves.

I doubt the Christchurch terrorist is mad. That would be too easy to dismiss him as “not one of us” if he was just crazy. He could be safely dismissed as the ‘other’, we could locate his decision using some kind of pop-psychology…he was neglected as a child or bullied or didn’t get enough vitamins or his mum was an alcoholic or etc.

I suspect he had a normal childhood, went to the same schools as the rest of us, probably didn’t litter, watched the same TV programmes, and did all the other things the rest of us did. We don’t like the idea, but he is as sane as anyone else.

As for the ‘bad’ part. I don’t find the use of such moralistic categories useful analytically. Sure, his actions may have had repugnant consequences in moral terms but it fails to appreciate the political motivation. Having read his manifesto, it is undoubtedly an eclectic hodge podge of ideas that have been circulating on the far Right for decades, along with personal experiences. Isn’t that how everyone forms the basis of their political views ie reading stuff and experiencing things?

Again, the implicit assumption in a lot of discourse around such people is that if we hugged them enough and they had a better sense of morality, they would choose to repent and become good liberals/social democrats or conservatives like the rest of ‘us’. Few people can handle the idea that the terrorist, in this case, took an internally consistent (once he accepted his initial working premise, which could externally be viewed as faulty) and in that sense ‘rational’ decision as part of a political ideology.

The only viable starting point for opposing such people is to understand them as neither mad nor bad, but wrong. Then the challenge comes in offering a more attractive political alternative. That’s hard work but its the only starting point that has any real hope of working. Locating his actions in personal psychology or moral failure won’t do that.


See Mark Durie’s The Christchurch Killer’s Anti-Humanist Ideology

Failures and success of ‘hate speech’ law in the UK

With a review of hate speech laws under ‘urgent review’ in New Zealand (not that urgent, expected to report back to Parliament late this year or early next year after consultation) there has been interested in how similar laws have worked in the United Kingdom.

Of course examples of seemingly ridiculous applications of the UK laws have been publicised.

David Farrar (Kiwiblog) Government looking to introduce hate speech laws

The UK is a great example of how well intentioned laws end up criminalising many different types of speech. Some examples:

  • An evangelist, was convicted because he had displayed to people in Bournemoutha large sign bearing the words “Jesus Gives Peace, Jesus is Alive, Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism, Jesus is Lord”.
  • A man was arrested in Cardiff for distributing pamphlets which called sexual activity between members of the same sex a sin
  • Harry Taylor sentenced to six months prison (suspended) because he left anti-religious cartoons in the prayer-room of Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport on three occasions and the Chaplain complained
  • A 19-year-old woman was convicted of sending a “grossly offensive” message after she posted rap lyrics that included the N-word on her Instagram page
  • An Irish TV writer was visited by the Police because he used the pronoun “he” on Twitter to refer to a transgender woman.

Lowering the bar from exciting hostility will lead to court cases like the ones cited above. If the Government proceeds, it will be buying a huge battle.

There is already a battle brewing – for good reason. I have serious doubt that a clear and fair law can be written to protect people against potentially damaging speech, and also protect people against frivolous legal jeopardy.

But there is one example of how the law seems to have worked reasonably well in the UK.

BBC News – Jayda Fransen: Ex-Britain First deputy leader convicted over hate speech

A former deputy leader of far-right group Britain First has been convicted of stirring up hatred during a speech about Islam in Belfast.

Jayda Fransen, 33, was found guilty over a speech at a rally in August 2017.

Britain First leader Paul Golding, 37, and two other Englishmen, John Banks and Paul Rimmer, were acquitted on similar charges.

All four defendants were on trial over speeches given during the ‘Northern Ireland Against Terrorism’ event two years ago.

They were accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear.

The court heard that Fransen told those gathered at the rally that there was no moderate version of Islam and that: “These people are baying for our blood.”

She added: “Islam says every single one of you wonderful people here today deserves to be killed.”

Those attending the rally were then told it was time for the world to come together against “the one common enemy”.

The judge told the court: “I’m satisfied these words were intended to stir up hatred and arouse fear.”

That sounds like a fair call from the judge to me.

He also found her guilty over a separate, filmed incident at a Belfast peace wall in December 2017.

On that occasion, the court heard that Fransen declared the “Islamification” of Britain will lead to similar walls to separate the two sides.

She claimed the country was “descending into civil war” and said it was time to “rise up against the biggest threat against the entire world”.

Confirming a conviction for that episode, the judge said: “I’m satisfied the words were menacing in nature.”

It sounds like Fransen is pretty much trying to incite civil war. I think legal consequences for that are a reasonable response.

(I have heard similar speech to this on New Zealand blogs).

Golding, of Beeches Close in Anerley, London, allegedly referred to a mosque in Newtownards as part of claims about Islam’s colonisation.

In his speech, he said: “We have got a problem with one religion and one religion only, that is Islam.”

Rimmer, of Modred Street in Liverpool, allegedly told the crowd Muslims were colonising and taking over British cities.

The 56-year-old was said to have warned about “a wolf coming down the track”.

He claimed, however, that he spoke about love and friendship.

The judge dismissed the case against Golding, Rimmer and Banks, 61, of Acacia Road, in Doncaster, England.

He said some of their speeches were “ugly” but had not crossed the line into being illegal.

And this seems like a reasonable differentiation – ugly speech that falls short of justifying a conviction.

New laws, like the ‘hate speech’ laws, need differentiations like these decisions to be made to establish a reasonable idea of what is legal and what is illegal.

There is always a risk of some prosecutors and some judges going too far, but the UK legal system, which ours is modelled on, has to work with what legislators (politicians) give them.

Hopefully our politicians can learn from the missteps and oversteps in the UK and avoid them here.

Minister of Justice fast tracking ‘hate speech’ legislation review

Minister of Justice Andrew Little says he is fast-tracking a review of legislation to look at ‘hate crime’ and ‘hate speech’. This could possibly lead to more specific laws to cover them.

However ‘fast-tracking’ does not necessarily mean a sudden knee-jerk lurch to draconian laws as some are saying is already happening. Little hopes to have aa proposal by the end of the year, and that would then have to go through Cabinet for approval and then through Parliament, so any changes look like being at least a year away – in election year,

1 News: Andrew Little plans fast-track review of hate speech laws

Justice Minister Andew Little says he’s fast-tracking a law review which could see hate crimes made a new legal offence.

He said the current law on hate speech was not thorough and strong enough and needed to change.

Mr Little said the Christchurch shootings highlighted the need for a better mechanism to deal with incidents of hate speech and other hateful deeds.

It isn’t unusual for an unprecedented crime to prompt a rethink of things that could be contributory factors (it happened after the Aramoana massacre). Firearm regulation and law changes are actually being fast-tracked, not just a review of them – and order in Council has already reclassified many types of semi-automatic weapons, and it is expected the legislation will go before Parliament next week.

He has asked justice officials to look at the laws and he was also fast-tracking a scheduled Human Rights Act review. “The conclusion I’ve drawn as the minister is that the laws are inadequate and I think we need to do better,” Mr Little said.

Mr Little said the current laws dealing with hate speech and complaints about hate speech and discriminatory action that relate to hateful expression were lacking.

The law in the Human Rights Act related to racial disharmony, but it didn’t deal with various other grounds of discrimination, he said.

The Harmful Digital Communications Act was put in place to deal with online bullying and other unpleasantness, but it didn’t tackle the “evil and hateful things that we’re seeing online”, Mr Little said.

He said the government and the Human Rights Commission will work together, and a document or proposal will be produced for the public to debate.

Note “a document or proposal will be produced for the public to debate”. It will be important to have a decent public debate about whatever is proposed.

“There will be important issues to debate. There will be issues about what limit should be put on freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

“We should reflect on where the lines need to be drawn and therefore, whether the laws should be struck so that they’re effective and provide some protection to people who’re otherwise vulnerable.”

I think it is going to be quite difficult trying to define hate speech and hate crime in legislation. And also to get a reasonable balance between protection from hate speech and free speech.

Stuff: Hate crime law review fast-tracked following Christchurch mosque shootings

Currently, hate-motivated hostility can be considered an “aggravating factor” in sentencing, and staff can note when a crime was motivated by a “common characteristic” such as race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion.

Overall, there is no way of knowing how many offences are hate crimes and police do not even routinely record the ethnicity of victims.

Little said he had asked the Justice Ministry to look at relevant aspects of the Human Rights Act, the Harmful Digital Communications Act, and sections of the Crimes Act to see what laws needed to be changed or added.

“I certainly think that the laws dealing with what we call ‘hate speech’, and human rights law, are woefully inadequate,” Little said.

The tolerance for what had been considered acceptable had been too high, he said. Ethnic minorities needed to not only be accepted, but embraced and welcomed.

“It’s timely to make sure that for those who would want to hurt others – even through words – that we can curtail that.”

Somehow a legal line has to be drawn between fair reporting and debate, and speech aimed at hurting, intimidating, alienating.

The Human Rights Commission collects “race-related complaints” but says it has an incomplete picture of the problem. It has been calling for a national recording system to be set up.

The commission’s chief legal advisor Janet Anderson Bidois said there were “grave anomalies” in the current law.

“For example, the Human Rights Act prohibits the ‘incitement of disharmony’ on the basis of race, ethnicity, colour or national origins, but it does not cover incitement for reasons of religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation,” she said.

“We maintain that a discussion about our current hate speech laws is overdue, and that urgent action is required in relation to the recording of hate crimes.”

This will be a challenge for all of us.

Especially as the review has been prompted by the Christchurch mosque attacks, a lot of discussion will focus on Islam and Muslims, who have been ostracised and targeted in generalised attacks that go further than criticism.

Some attacks on Muslims have become quite sophisticated, trying to couch attacks in reasonable terms. One common tactic is to cherry pick pieces out of old religious texts and imply this is representative of  all Muslims, including by implication Muslims in New Zealand.

Claims of justification because ‘it is just facts’ don’t wash – it is easy to group selected ‘facts’ (often actually quotes from historic texts, which aren’t facts) in a derogatory or fear-mongering manner.

The same tactic can be used by cherry picking bits out of the Old Testament to smear modern Christians, but it is done far more to blanket smear modern Muslims who have a wide variety of practices and cultures.

It will be hard to stop hate and fear and intolerance of other cultures, races and religions – this can be ingrained in some people.

It will also be hard to prevent this hate and fear and intolerance being used to attack groups of people, while still allowing for relatively free speech and open discussion about things that are pertinent to life in New Zealand.

This is also a challenge for social media and blog moderators.

I will do what I can to encourage debate proposals to change hate speech and hate crime laws, but preventing these discussions from becoming hateful or from mass targeting where it is not warranted by circumstances.

Another person in custody for “making or copying objectionable material” after Christchurch attacks

There has been a third arrest (that I’m aware of) for “knowingly making or copying objectionable material”, with a Christchurch schoolboy being remanded in custody.

NZ Herald:  Christchurch teen arrested for objectionable material after mosque terror attacks

A Christchurch schoolboy has been arrested for objectionable material after the mosque terror attacks.

The teenager cannot be named because of legal reasons. His school is also protected from being made public.

The boy appeared in the Youth Court in Christchurch yesterday. He faces one charge of knowingly making or copying objectionable material.

He was refused bail and was remanded in custody.

He is due back in court next month.

The Herald understands police were alerted after concerns about the boy’s behaviour.

All three reported as arrested have been remanded in custody, which seems harsh given the charges, but all of them seem to have been involved in more than just copying or distributing the mosque shootings video or the killer’s manifesto (in the latest case it isn’t clear what material was involved but the presumption is it is related to the mosque shootings).

There have been other unrelated cases appear before the courts since the Christchurch terror attacks.

An 18-year-old Christchurch student, who has interim name suppression, has also been charged with distributing a livestream and of showing a photograph of the Deans Ave mosque where 42 Muslims were shot dead with the message “target acquired” and further online messaging allegedly inciting extreme violence.

Christchurch businessman Philip Neville Arps, 44, appeared in court appeared in court last week on charges of distributing footage of one of the mosque shootings.

Arps, who runs an insulation business, faces two charges of distributing the livestream “of the multiple murder victims at the Deans Ave Mosque”.

The alleged offending occurred on March 16, the day after the shootings at two Christchurch mosques, in which 50 people died and dozens were injured.

More on Arps:  Nazi-themed company owner charged with possessing objectionable material

Beneficial Insulation, which Arps owns, features a number of Nazi-related themes in its name and branding.

The company’s white extremist branding and Arps’ racist views, which he promotes online, sparked a public outcry in the wake of the mass shooting in Christchurch that left 50 people dead with another 30 still in hospital.

Stuff has also sighted an angry email from Beneficial Insulation owner Phil Arps sent to a customer which was signed off with a false Adolf Hitler quote and featured right wing extremist views.

Beneficial Insulation’s company logo is a sunwheel, or black sun, which was appropriated by Nazis.

Beneficial Insulation also charges $14.88 per metre for insulation – 14.88 is a hate symbol popular with white extremists.

The company’s website www.BIIG.co.nz, is an acronym for the company’s full name Beneficial Insulation Installs Guaranteed. BIIg was the name of a barracks at Auschwitz concentration camp, operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust.

The company’s staff wear camouflage print uniform.

Being remanded in custody means that the police, the prosecutor and judges all considered it appropriate in the circumstances. Without knowing all the details it is not possible to know whether this is concerning or not.

There have been other arrests following the shootings – Police arrest several people for ‘inciting fear’ after Christchurch terror attacks

In the days since, police have arrested several people, including a 25-year-old Auckland man who is accused of threatening members of the public.

The man allegedly addressed people on Stoddard Rd in Mt Roskill and said: “I’m going to kill someone … F*ck New Zealand.”

He appeared in the Auckland District Court on Tuesday and has been charged with offensive behaviour or language. He was remanded in custody and will appear in court again next month.

Another remanded in custody.

A Wairarapa woman was also was arrested on suspicion of inciting racial disharmony after a message was posted to her Facebook page.

Police said on Wednesday a decision was still to be made about whether the woman, believed to be in her late 20s, will be charged.

Senior Sergeant Jennifer Hansen said social media post “upset a number of people because it referred to the events in Christchurch”.

The policewoman said the post was brought down relatively quickly, but not before “a number of people had already seen it and raised concerns”.

A charge of inciting racial disharmony under the Human Rights Act can be laid against a person who “publishes or distributes written matter which is threatening, abusive, or insulting” to other people, on the grounds of colour, race, ethnicity or national origins.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment or a $7000 fine.

It may be that the police and the courts are taking a hard line approach to any behaviour related to the Christchurch shootings to try to deter any escalation in violence or threats of violence.

Slater: “Bankruptcy is just a joke…pretty much meaningless”

A few years ago Cameron Slater posted on Whale Oil “Bankruptcy is like a toothless tiger that benefits the bankrupt more than the victims” and claimed “the process of being in bankruptcy pretty much meaningless”.

He even suggested how easy it was to continue to operate companies and hide assets and that it wasn’t common to be prosecuted for it.

Bankruptcy is just a joke, really

by Cameron Slater on May 6, 2014 at 1:00pm

Bankruptcy is like a toothless tiger that benefits the bankrupt more than the victims

The number of times bankrupts hide assets and continue to operate companies by using a puppet on the paperwork is so frequent as to make the process of being in bankruptcy pretty much meaningless.

Use of trusts, partners or girlfriends to “own” things and plain hiding of assets from the Official Assignee are very common.

What isn’t common is for bankrupts to be prosecuted for this behaviour.

He probably didn’t think he would end up being bankrupt, but now he is, and appears to have rearranged companies and assets, he may be hoping that Official Assignees really are easy to hide things from, and are unlikely to hold miscreants to account.

See (Stuff):  Whale Oil company previously owned by Cameron Slater goes into liquidation

And: Whale Oil company put into liquidation after rearrangements

 

ISP web blocks and online censorship debate

The Christchurch mosque attacks prompted unprecedented action from New Zealand Internet Service Providers, who tried to block access to the video of the attack.  This has just been extended.

We are heading into some important debate about censorship and free speech.

Newsroom:  ISP keeps Chch web blocks after Govt intervention

New Zealand’s largest internet provider has reversed plans to stop blocking websites which hosted videos of the Christchurch terror attack, after a last-minute intervention by the Government.

In the wake of the mosque shootings, a number of New Zealand’s biggest ISPs took what they themselves acknowledged was an “unprecedented step” – blocking websites which were hosting a video of the attack live-streamed by the alleged murderer, as well as his manifesto.

In an open letter explaining the move and calling for action from larger tech companies, the chief executives of Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees said the decision was the right one in “such extreme and tragic circumstances”.

On Tuesday evening, both Spark and Vodafone told Newsroom they would start to remove the remaining website blocks overnight.

“We believe we have now reached the point where we need to cease our extreme temporary measures to block these websites and revert to usual operating procedures,” a Spark spokeswoman said.

However, less than two hours after its initial response, Spark said the websites would continue to be blocked for several more days “following specific requests from Government”.

Newsroom understands the U-turn came after Government officials held discussions with the company, asking it to keep the blocks in place until after the official memorial service for the victims of the attack took place on Friday.

No indication of how much persuasion was required to prompt a rethink.

The ISPs’ original actions have raised issues of censorship, with the companies acknowledging that in some circumstances access to legitimate content may have been prevented.

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said website blocking had been “a really useful short-term tool” to stop the spread of the content.

“They’ve [the ISPs] been really clear with everybody that they took on the filtering responsibility because they wanted to play their part in reducing the obvious harm occurring in the aftermath of the attacks, and they did that.”

But this leads to an important discussion on censorship. There is already online material that is ‘censored’, as it should be (child porn, snuff movies, terrorism related material), but there will always be pushes for more limits and also less limits.

Thomas Beagle, chairman of the NZ Council for Civil Liberties, said he had sympathy for the approach taken by ISPs following the “ghastly” attack, but the public needed to ask questions about whether similar blocking would occur in future.

“That was an exceptional situation and people took exceptional action – of course, the worry is now that it’s been done once, are people then going to start thinking, we can do it for other things as well?”

While there was an argument that the companies were simply exercising their contractual rights, Beagle said their near-monopoly in the telecommunications market meant there was a significant censorship issue.

“Civil liberties are traditionally concerned with government interference, but I think that when you’re talking about the dominant players who have 99 percent of the mobile market or more…that’s also an effective form of censorship as well.”

However, more traditional censorship by the Government could “extend and grow in an undesirable manner”, and would require a significant public conversation, he said.

There needs to be a lot of meaningful public discussion on the degree of censorship – as there has been over the Chief Censor recently ruling the terrorist’s manifesto harmful and there for illegal to possess or distribute in New Zealand (the easy availability internationally renders this a weak means of protection).

Censorship debate begins

What is clear is that the debate how to censor offensive material online is just beginning.

There has long been debate over censorship, but major events and actions in response will always draw more prominence to the arguments for and against.

Cocker said he supported the development of a formal, government-led process for blocking objectionable content when necessary, which would allow greater specificity in how content was blocked and set up oversight measures to avoid abuse.

“Those are the kind of things that come back to a government agency being empowered to take that responsibility, then all the telcos have got to do is just add the URL to the list and block it.”

However, Beagle said there was a question of whether ad-hoc arrangements would be preferable to a formalised process, given the rarity of an event like the Christchurch attack.

“Is it better to say hey, this is so out of the realm of normal day-to-day business we shouldn’t actually try and cater for it?

“I think it’s safe to say that we shouldn’t be rejigging our entire security infrastructure, internet filtering and censorship based on a one-off event which is utterly exceptional in New Zealand history.”

That’s an important point. A repeat of what happened in Christchurch seems very unlikely. Security measures should be reconsidered to look at how to minimise the risks, but public freedoms and free speech should not be over-restricted due to an abnormal one off situation.

An attempt to excuse and defend the Christchurch terrorist

Tipene commented on “Attempts so far to mitigate the possibility of retaliation that are doomed to fail:”

* A feminist PM adopting a headscarf within the context of a religion that holds women to be second-class citizens, closely followed by an invitation this Friday for NZ women, descendants of the suffragettes no less, to do the same.

Petty outrage at the scarf wearing. It is common to dress as per what people think is appropriate for occasions. Ardern didn’t cover herself anywhere near completely.

Her gesture has been widely praised, and I know women who wouldn’t have done the same thing and won’t do it on Friday, which is their choice.

I think trying to shame Ardern for what she wore is as bad as trying to force someone to wear something they don’t want to wear, if that is what actually happens (from what I’ve seen Muslim women in New Zealand choose what they wear).

* The Speaker of the House inviting a prayer in Arabic in Parliament to Allah, which is the same speaker who eliminated a Christian prayer from Parliament.

Petty again. It was a one off, followed by the parliamentary prayer in Te Reo, and then repeated in English. The new standard prayer still mentions ‘Almighty God’ and INCLUDES ‘we pray for guidance’. I think it is appropriate not to be religion specific, given that many religions are followed freely in New Zealand, and many people (close to most) are not religious.

* Police arresting people for exercising their sovereign right to watch an online video.

There is no ‘sovereign right’ to watch whatever you like – and they didn’t just watch the video, they shared an offensive video illegally (allegedly). I think it’s fair to question the degree of the police response. See Philip Arps charged with sharing live stream of Christchurch mosque massacre – “two charges of distributing a livestream on March 16 of the murder of multiple victims at the Deans Ave mosque, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the publication is objectionable”.

“Police would like to remind people that it may be an offence to distribute or possess an objectionable publication under the Films Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993.”

I note you don’t condemn a horrible video, but claim some right to watch it. I think that is reprehensible given the content and the intent of the video.

* People being fired from their jobs for watching an online video, when there is no legal precedent in employment law for companies to do so.

I call bullshit on that. I’m sure people have been in trouble for watching illegal or inappropriate material at work, like porn.

If I did anything illegal at work, like watch an illegal video (and aa video that most people find highly objectionable), I would breach my terms of employment.

* NZ media organisations scrubbing their online content of any article deemed offensive to Islam.

I call bullshit on that.

Some content deemed inappropriate has been removed, which is not surprising given the circumstances, and should be generally applauded.

* Radio commentators apologizing and tugging their forelocks for writing a critique on Islamic practices in NZ as they apply to the use of ratepayer funded facilities.

A hundred people being shot and fifty people being murdered has prompted many people to reconsider past actions and attitudes. As they should have.

A small number of people instead choose to, in effect, support the killer and the killings, at least tacitly. As Tipene appears to me to be doing.

* Passing laws designed to significantly disarm a law abiding, gun owning population.

Bullshit again. It has long been widely agreed that our firearms are not fit for purpose. There has been no indication that laws will ‘significantly disarm’  anyone.

From what I have seen the Christchurch killer used illegal weapons. Most people will support making more difficult to posses illegal weapons (not Tipene apparently).

Banning military style semi automatic weapons will harm no one, and will reduce the chances that such weapons of cause major harm.

* Shutting down and suppressing free speech and open discourse on the events that have unfolded, and censoring discussion (including a variety of viewpoints) on same.

There are always limitations to ‘free speech’. Any publisher has the right to limit what there platform is used for.

Leading up to 2017, Canada adopted a number of the above measures, eventually adopting M103 in the Canadian House of Commons (look it up if interested).

I suspect that is where we are heading as well.

Not that it will make one blind bit of difference to the outcome, in my opinion.

You have made no attempt to condemn the killing of fifty people.

Instead, you have supported (with false and outlandish claims) what the killer did. You are in effect defending this act of terrorism, or at least defending things that made it possible.

I think this was a disgraceful defence of a horrible act from you Tipene. You appear to be supporting one of the most terrible things to happen in New Zealand, and appear to me to be willing more if not worse to happen as a result.

I have chosen to publish your comment in full to show how misguided, irresponsible and reprehensible it is.