Do we really want laws that we hope will only be enforced sometimes?
Most laws are only enforced sometimes, it's kinda the whole point of prosecutorial discretion.
Do we really want laws that we hope will only be enforced sometimes?
I do. And my understanding is that is actually how the legal system currently works. It is designed in the knowledge that there will be some times when it is inappropriate to apply the letter of the law.
Judges are expected to use, well, their judgement.
It's also expected that they will sometime make the wrong judgement.
I think most laws are actually matters serious enough that if they come to the attention of the authorities, enforcement action is fairly mandatory (especially when a complaint is made). Laws which are usually left unenforced are in the minority.
Feel free to spend your weekend categorising the statutes of NZ to prove me wrong.
Not to mention the fact that enforcement tends to depend on the enforcers prejudice. Wealthy white people don't get busted for weed much, poor brown people do. See also "driving while black", etc.
Anyway, this proposed framework removes the discretion to refuse prosecution, because there's no prosecutor. If someone has a beef with a tweet, post or blog comment, they can mail the tribunal/mediator with a complaint. The recipient then has to respond or lose by default.
(I'm not sure how the 'mediation' is supposed to work. If the complainant digs their heels in and asserts the material is offensive/obscene/untruthful or whatever, then either the defendant gives up and withdraws, or the matter has to go to the tribunal. As others have pointed out, it's not like complaining about an iffy plumbing job).
People have to be able to express “wrong” opinions. Even stupid, racist, homophobic, misogynist, anti-semitic, anti-religious, anti-whatever opinions.
And website moderators have to be able to say, not on my lawn you don’t . Blogs are not public spaces any more than shopping malls are.
Yes it does.
I'd suggest Rep. Akin is entitled to display his dangerous belief that the wombs of virtuous women can magically repel rapist semen to the same extent as any other moronic fuckwit, but I remain unconvinced it deserves some higher degree of protection simply because he's mouth-farting in the context of a Senate campaign.
Where would history re-writing attempts like Holocaust denial - ie, David Irving - fit into the scheme of things? Or the TXT-driven calls for violence towards anyone Arab-looking during Cronulla '05?
More in this hoary old chestnut from the Listener.
from the Listener
Great reminder of what Ansell, Brash and chums achieved at the time in NZ. I agree with this guy quoted in the story, but am no clearer about how to make it actually work without tipping the balance towards the ridiculous:
Clearly the discussion isn’t about whether we should have free speech. It’s about where that line between freedom of speech and the right to freedom from discrimination and hateful opinion should be drawn. Underpinning one side of this debate is the notion that acts of violence against racial groups can be traced back to social attitudes and the kind of speech that promotes negative stereotypes and attitudes.
“Speech does make things happen,” says Derek Wallace, writing and rhetoric lecturer at Victoria University. “Speech has actual effects, like humiliation, harassment, intimidation and social alienation. You can significantly subordinate people by speech. Therefore it is logical that you need to control that, just as you control offending physical acts.”
However I also agree with this from the Listener article:
Yet, Cheer is adamant: unfettered speech leads to debate. From many voices, she says, a kind of rational middle ground will emerge that will expose extremist views for what they are.
And giving voice to all points of view, no matter how abhorrent, does at least allow for rebuttal.
Which sounds fine in theory, says Zwartz, “but it’s pretty hard to carry out in practice because your platform for rebuttal is not guaranteed.
I'd like some mechanism for more speech, not less. To amplify the voices of socially disadvantaged groups who have less access to debate channels.
I've seen the harm that stereotypes about disability can do (without evil intent), and how hard it is to get different ideas into the broader conversation. Needs an investment in all the components, including community building, media training and ongoing discussion within those social groups who don't have their own well-resourced avenues like some do.
This morning's Media3 show is available on demand here.
I think that's not really true. If you go and look at the Summary Offences Act or the lower reaches of the Crimes Act, which make up the bulk of criminal work in NZ, most of the offences there are only prosecuted when the offending is towards the serious end of the scale within the offence.
A good example is assault. I can assault you by tapping you on the shoulder if I know you don't want me to. But very rarely does anyone end up in court over that, even if it is brought to the attention of the authorities.
(Of course, those are criminal things, and this is more or less civil.)
But I am quite rule-skeptical anyway: I don't think that rules make anywhere near as much difference as they are credited with.
I definitely agree that there's massive problems with discretionary enforcement of the law within a racist, sexist, generally discriminatory society.
Further to my link on the Listener article on hate speech, this exposé on the neo-Crusaderist American Freedom Defense Initiative, among others of its type, is something to think about. One obvious tenet of hate speech is making historical shit up. Another is an obsession with a 'plot'.
I’d suggest Rep. Akin is entitled to display his dangerous belief that the wombs of virtuous women can magically repel rapist semen to the same extent as any other moronic fuckwit, but I remain unconvinced it deserves some higher degree of protection simply because he’s mouth-farting in the context of a Senate campaign.
Yep. And I also wonder exactly what is meant by 'political speech'. If it basically means something like speech criticising established politicians then I guess I could see a case for it being given some greater degree of protection. But that wouldn't cover Akin's comments.
That said, I'm happy for people like Akin to be free to demonstrate what fools they are.
Oh, and for anyone who hasn't read this yet, read it now...
Stephen Price and Thomas Beagle, 6th September, University of Otago.
The Guardian and The Independent: The decline in popularity of Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedon (PVV) in the Netherlands can be traced back to two months ago when a 63 year old Turkish man was attacked, and later died from his injuries. The couple who inflicted the injuries were named Henk and Ingrid, which are the names of the typical Dutch couple that Wilders had championed in public speeches. The PVV are also competing with the Socialist Party (SP) for their own voters. Despite opposing ideologies, the parties have similar economic policies, and are both popular in the South.