Hate Speech Plans Recall Firearm Law Faults

Opinion: – Hugh Devereux-Mack, COLFO

My father taught me that the key to success on the rifle range was to clearly identify your target, take time to breathe, and act consciously. This is true of life as well. The outcome of every task is affected by the steps we take, and how we take them.
I recognise the steps we are taking toward hate-speech legislation. I saw them two years ago when the Government introduced new firearm legislation following the Christchurch terror attack. Those hasty steps were poorly thought through. The result was expensive and ineffective changes to laws which had previously kept our nation safe. I fear it is about to happen again.
Following the terror attack on Christchurch, our nation was in shock. During our mourning, Prime Minister Ardern declared that “our gun laws will change”. The new laws were passed within a month.
The rush was opposed. Many people said it was wiser to wait until the Royal Commission Report was complete. More than 90% of the 4,210 public submissions were partially or fully against, and only 5.8% supported the proposals.
How could we know any law changes would be effective, if we hadn’t clearly identified our target? In response to debate around proper process the Ardern stated “My view is that an argument about process is an argument to do nothing“. My view is that an argument against proper process, is an argument against the democratic process and a fair justice system.
Ardern dismissed valid concerns to push through law changes without critical evidence from the Royal Commission’s report. The Commission found that the event had nothing to do with anything changed by Ardern’s firearm law change. What it found was a failure of police to correctly administer the Arms Act when it gave the March 15 terrorist a firearms licence.
The law changes have only made it harder for the more than 250,000 regular kiwis to use their firearms safely for sport, food gathering and work. In passing the laws the Government unfairly scapegoated these people.
The confiscation of firearms from legal owners might have made the Government feel good, but it did not make one New Zealanders safer. Criminals and their caches of contraband firearms continue to put the lives of front-line officers and members of the public in danger.
That is what happens when you prepare poorly. The proposed hate-speech laws have even wider consequences which will impact every New Zealand citizen.
This time Ardern has been happy to claim we have evidence from the Royal Commission. Its report found the Christchurch terrorist was influenced by content found on far-right message boards and digital communities. It said research showed correlations between hate speech and hate crime, and recommended that our hate-speech laws be updated. It didn’t say what hate speech is, or how to change the law to prevent future violence.
As with the firearm laws, I think the Government has not identified its target, and it did not take a breath before drafting these hate-speech plans.
Like the law-abiding firearm owners, it will only be normal kiwis who fall foul of rules that outlaw speech someone finds offensive. The real haters – those with violence in their hearts as well as their words – will be unstoppable.
For example, the speech on the parts of the Internet where the terrorist hung out would be unaffected by the proposed law changes. These message boards exist in the “dark net”. They are unfiltered and untouchable spaces where users can express their hatred within an echo chamber of like-minded people.
Banning speech will not stop the ideologies which fuel hateful speech, it will force them underground where they will fester unchallenged and unreported. It would not have stopped the terrorist, The Commission concluded that he did not speak openly about his views. He kept to himself and acted as a lone wolf to avoid discovery prior to the attack. Hate speech laws are not going to identify or dissuade people that share the values of the terrorist.
The freedom of speech and to express unpopular opinions is a cornerstone of our democracy. It is the way we test orthodoxy and extremism alike. To rush a deep cut into this principle places all New Zealanders in danger, particularly those with less of a voice, like Maori, Pasifika, Muslim, and LGBTQI. We cannot afford to rush to a conclusion again. To ban hate-speech is a cowardly approach that will deny our nation of the exceptional orators of the future that I believe are the solution to defeating hatred where it should arise at home and abroad.
So on hate speech laws, as we should have with firearms, I urge New Zealanders to clearly identify the target, breathe, and consult meaningfully. Once the process and desired outcome is clear, act decisively, even if it means no new hate-speech law at all.

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6 Responses to Hate Speech Plans Recall Firearm Law Faults

  1. Chaz Forsyth says:

    The hate speech laws are attracting opposition from across the entire political spectrum. That near-omniscience tells me something, especially when someone like Chris Trotter doubts its worth or even its value.

    And if they’d asked, we could have told them that the sort of firearm control laws passed in such haste, targeting the chattel and not the behaviour (basic school class-control stuff), would not be viable either.

    Some people have a touching faith in the passing of laws achieving their objective. Not always – oops, I meant, not often, maybe not at all!

  2. Dave says:

    The hate speech is just part of the overall control and also just part of Agenda 21/30 so anyway the lawmakers can grab to make us look like the villain they will. We all now know that there were four people involved in the shooting and we all now know that John Progestra came to NZ five days before the shooting and he had all the signs that he knew it was going to happen. So did the Prime Minister. Why would she hold back from the public part of the Royal Commission Report if it was not to hide something?
    Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of our great nation. To remove one of the foundation stones is just another way to get at the law-abiding public and will be very detrimental

  3. Joe says:

    Gun crime has increased since fire arms were taken off LFOs

  4. Alan+Rennie says:

    When growing up in a country town with a local cop who would tell your parents if you played up broke the law, that was deterent enough, neighbours that we knew in the community all shared in the community and thats where we have to get back to, kiwis looking after kiwis, baking scones, talking to neighbours, not arming cops, that has not worked anywhere in the world, lets get back to conversing with each other, share your woes . Build a community

  5. Dr. Charlie Baycroft says:

    The people in this government have “identified their target” very well.

    Their target and agenda is the imposition of their authority and control on everyone else.

    The small minority of influential people in our political parties tend to be omnipotent moral busybodies who feel the need to impose their values, opinions and prejudices on everyone else.

    The majority of the politically active people are strongly PREJOICED AGAINST GUNS AND ANYONE THAT HAS GUNS.

    The Mosque tragedy provideo an opportunity for them to discriminate and impose their prejudice on the rest of us.

    There was no desire to understand what had happened and act responsiby when the opportunity to impose more control on those “awful gun people” arose.

    The urgency was to exploit the tragedy as quicklybas possible while people were still upset and confused and would not question the dishonesty, unfairness and irrationality of blaming and confiscating property from people who had done nothing wrong.

    The real lessons we should learn from the tragic murder of these people are.

    1. None of us are safe from being harmed by a violent psycho and with the increase in mental health problems life is probably more dangerous.
    2. The police and “system” do not protect us or our property from theft. Assault, injury, molestation and murder. It ia more about generating more revenue than protecting us.
    3. The authorities in government have security and bodyguards to protect them. The rest of us do not.
    4. The only problem with the firearms system was the incompetent administration. That’s pretty common in allnour our government enterprises.
    5. Guns Do Not Kill. They are just one of many types of objects that violent people can use to harm others.
    6. The casualties from Tarrants crime would have been less of people had permission and the means to defend themselves and their lives.

    The Mosque tragedy showed us that any person or group of people is very vulnerable to and defenseless against violence and that instead of enabling us to protect and defend ourselves and one another the people in our government would prefer us to be more defenseless and vulnerable.

    A more rational conclusion would be that it is sensible to have firearms for personal safety and protection from violent criminals.

    The fact is that the people in control of our political parties and government are irrationally prejudiced toward firearms and people who hunt and fish.

    The only way to confront and oppose this prejudice and discrimination is to join and participate in the affairs of the political parties that choose the representatives who make the decisions in our government.

  6. Suzie Eastland says:

    Great article. Well put Hugh.

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