Green MP Golriz Grahraman is a high profile advocate for controlled speech,
A ministerial report from retired Employment Court judge Coral Shaw was a damning indictment of the Human Rights Commission, which was described as “dysfunctional” and “toxic”. Justice Minister Andrew Little is working with the State Services Commission to resolve problems which he said had been apparent to him, before media reports about its errant handling of a sexual harassment complaint. “Problems at the Commission came to me previously from a number of sources,” Little says. ”I made the judgment that the failure with the sexual harassment complaint was a product of a dysfunction at the Commission,” he says.
There have been other examples of mission creep at the Commission – with a focus on development of its own profile and what AUT history professor Paul Moon sees as evidence of an “ideology” developing at the Commission. In my opinion the Commission human sometimes act like a state-sanctioned activist, a role that is even more problematical with Labour and the Greens in power. The activist tendency is playing out in a nascent debate over “hate speech” – or “disharmonious language” as the Commission calls it. Two meetings on the topic held in Wellington, tomorrow, Tuesday May 22. One – led by Internet NZ – is being streamed and includes Golriz Grahraman amongst speakers. None of the speakers are promoters for free speech. It is chaired by Dr Paul Spoonley, an academic tipped for the role of Race Relations Conciliator.
HERE IS THE FULL LIST OF SPEAKERS: https://internetnz.nz/event/hate-and-internet
The Internet NZ session is attached to a closed and private meeting of NGOs organised by the Human Rights Commission. a source familiar with the planning said that the streamed speakers was a public shop front while in the private meeting led by the Commission.
“ This is a fig leaf for what is going on at the HRC closed meeting,” the source says,
Internet NZ has acknowledged tomorrow’s session was linked to the controversial comments by Israel Folau, who responded to queries and said that under his religious views, homosexual people would “ burn in hell” if they did not repent.
Attempts to pin down expectations for the HRC- organised meeting were fraught. The Commission insisted it was not working toward new hate speech legislation. Internet New Zealand initially wouldn’t discuss the allied meeting,
The upshot is that renewed debate about hate speech – at a time when the world is obsessed with the notion of fake News – appears to be being led by a Commission that is organisationally dysfunction. In my opinion the is taking too little stock of the importance for freedom of speech.
Labour may be wary of the HRC currently. But Little indicated he is prepared to limit freedom of speech.
Paul Moon has long questioned the lack of transparency at the Commission and an unwillingness to discuss its position on hate speech.
A July 2017 Commisssion report referred to concern about a more nebulous concept, “disharmonious” speech.
Moon says the Commission refuses to spell out what that means. Disharmony is not necessarily a bad thing.
Moon detects a mood at the Commission to introduce more controls over speech. akin to greater state oversight like those in Canada and in the UK.
Israel Folau and his comments that homosexuals would “ Burn in hell. The notion of hell – let alone that of a fiery tempest – seems olde world. How many people take his views so seriously they should be banned,
Yet numerous celebrities -including All Black TJ Perenara – and Newshub political editor Tova O’Brien – exercised their outrage and said Folau’ comments were beyond the pair. “There is no room in my world for people who think gay people are going to hell” O’Brien said.
Freedom of speech does not exempt Folau is exempt from consequences and he got a sound whacking on mainstream and social media.
Views were expressed. People had an idea of the competing freedoms,
The HRC has been active in this space for a long time and regularly holds forth on perceived racism sexism, and transphobia
We have now come to expect interventions from the state agency with chiding of people who break unstated moral rules,
The Commissioners wax lyrical about Christchurch everything from utterances or the N word – which it had pre-arranged, a Chinese restaurant which used crass phrases on its menu and tweeting transexual former male who competed as a woman. Itmis not so much these views are advances, but that alternative opinions ar being shut out.
There is now an expectation that the Commission will make statement on any perceived example of what it calls disharmonious speech. What we know nowise that the state agency now comments on all incidents that involve race, gender or even tenancy problems.
Little defends its media activities, but suggests problems may be due to a lack interest by National over the past nine years.
Andrew Little points out that the Commisssion has a role to promote understanding of human rights.
He said that in two or three years there may be a review so that New Zealand Human Rights laws are consistent with those overseas.
“It may well be that is the time to consider whether there has to be a beefing up over the coverage of hate speech,” he said.
“I am acutely aware that is an area that has the potential to seriously infringe on freedom of speech.”We need to find a line that is beyond obnoxious butclearly harmful and damaging” the minister said.
The Internet NZ event is a shop front window with the real activity behind the scenes involving the Commission and lobby group. The most disturbing aspect is that the discussions are taking place in the name of diversity, where some opinions – on the importance of freedom of speech – does not have a champion.