Dane Giraud
Free Speech Coalition

At the Free Speech Coalition, we believe that nothing promotes the health of democracy more than when people with opposing views sit down together and have a conversation.

Last week, I sat down with Daphna Whitmore, editor for Redline blog, for a broad-ranging discussion on Marxism, the twitter mob, and the alarming proposed expansion of police powers under Level 2.

On the topic of police powers, the Free Speech Coalition has written to the New Zealand Police demanding clarification over a Facebook post on the Police’s official Facebook page suggesting that offences motivated by hostility against people on account of race, religion, gender and political beliefs (among others) are “hate crimes” and crimes of prejudice.

Here at the Free Speech Coalition, we condemn any and all violence against any member of society but would fear the takeaway from this post is that hostile speech towards someone for even political beliefs could warrant an investigation. That’s a slippery slope. Words are important, especially when communicating what constitutes legal vs. illegal activity and we ask for assurance the NZ Police aren’t suggesting citizens could be targeted for opinions they may hold, however detestable.

Of course, New Zealand doesn’t have hate crime on the books, though hate can be used as a factor in sentencing. There is an important distinction, again not made clear in the post. Abusing (assaulting) someone is already illegal, but the Police’s careless use of words here might suggest that verbal ‘abuse’ is a prosecutable ‘hate’ crime.

We’ll let you know what the Police come back with.

On this episode, Dane is joined by editor of Redline blog, Daphna Whitmore. Together they transcend the Left/Right divide and embark on an understanding of the free speech implications of issues like the Twitter mob, the Government’s proposed emergency police powers, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

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