Holocaust denial should remain legal in NZ

August 24th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Posting racist or xenophobic messages on the internet and Holocaust denial could be illegal if New Zealand signs up to a international cyber-crime agreement.

Justice Minister Simon Power and Police Minister Judith Collins yesterday announced a three-year plan to crack down on international organised crime. One proposal involves the Government signing the Council of Europe Cyber Crime Convention, also known as the Budapest Convention.

A protocol of the convention requires nations to make “the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems” a crime. It also makes denial or justification of the Holocaust and other verified genocides illegal.

Almost 30 nations have ratified the convention. However, a number – including US, Ireland and Britain – have refused to sign the protocol.

And we should not sign either.

I detest Holocaust deniers. They are inevitably racists and liars. However the response to their lies should be the truth, not censorship.

I can understand that in countries like Austria and Germany, they have unique factors for why they need to criminalise holocaust denial. But in New Zealand, we should should not ban any speech unless it rises to the level of actually inciting violence.

And the same goes for the proposed requirement to make “the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems” a crime. As tempting as it would be to get the NZ First website banned, that is wrong. NZ First have the right to promote racist policies, and Labour have the right to promote xenophobic policies on foreign investment. Neither should have to worry about doing so being a crime.

I hope the Government makes clear that any signing of the convention, will not include agreeing to the additional protocol.

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108 Responses to “Holocaust denial should remain legal in NZ”

  1. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    Quite right. Give ‘em enough rope I say.

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  2. ben (2,280 comments) says:

    Can we have legislation that just targets Labour, and shuts them down? I figure they deserve it after inflicting the Electoral Finance Act on New Zealand democracy.

    I jest, of course. I think.

    When’s the last time we saw a proposal from either a National or Labour government that didn’t expand expand the area of government influence and control? There is a universal disrespect for the individual and for liberty in Parliament.

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  3. SHG (322 comments) says:

    A protocol of the convention requires nations to make “the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems” a crime.

    I think it’s great that NZ has a Maoris-only rugby team.

    Who goes to jail – me or DPF?

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  4. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    I concur.

    I think in some ways the internet is a 2-edged sword for zealots. It takes their claims out of their own protected habitat and exposes them to a far wider world. And that can be far less tolerant of such claims and more demanding of evidence to substantiate belief. I’ve encountered a lot of people over the last couple of years who have abandoned extreme religious positions because in the end, zealotry isn’t enough to survive constant challenge.

    Of course, I wish stalking would be treated more seriously as a cyber-crime. There are significant challenges to getting trans-national cooperation on this. The David Mabus (Dennis Markuze) harassment of skeptics, atheists and scientists went on for years despite numerous complaints until very recently. One issue there was the prolific death threats were issued across national borders.

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  5. rouppe (984 comments) says:

    I agree. While I also hate deniers, removing free speech is the thin edge of the wedge.

    This is precisely the behaviour that I was so upset at Labour for: Telling us what to think, what we can say, when we can say it…

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  6. Andrei (2,653 comments) says:

    Who defines rascist”, “xenophobic” and who decides what is a “verified genocide”?

    Whoever gets to do this has a very handy tool for shutting down a great deal of valid debate – no?

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  7. whoisthisguy02 (29 comments) says:

    no one is stopping them from not denying the holocaust….. ill make up my own mind thank you very trucking much

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  8. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    “I can understand that in countries like Austria and Germany, they have unique factors for why they need to criminalise holocaust denial.”

    I disagree. There are never any “unique factors” which justify restricting speech merely on the basis that the idea being advocated is disagreeable. If a lot of people believe in holocaust denial the problem isn’t that they have freedom of speech, the problem is that they’re idiots, and allowing the government to outlaw what types of ideas can be promoted will never stop people from being idiots and will only allow such people to portray a sense of persecution. And to be fair in such instances they ARE being persecuted for their beliefs.

    Defeating fascism only to institute a new type of fascism doesn’t make sense to me and just because it affects a small idiotic minority of people doesn’t make such laws any less fascist. Any law which seeks to criminalize the advocacy of an idea is fascist and as such the people that promote these laws are walking in the footsteps of the people they most despise.

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  9. David Farrar (1,437 comments) says:

    Weihana, equating a ban on holocaust denial as being fascist, and hence comparable to the genocide carried out by the Nazis is stupid. A holocaust denial law is not fascist and you denigrate those who died by the Nazis by calling it that. Austraia is not a fascist country. They have a law which is wrong and which restricts free speech, but again that is not fascist.

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  10. TimG_Oz (866 comments) says:

    I detest Holocaust deniers. They are inevitably racists and liars.

    Such as the ones that speak at the UN Human Rights Conference. Mr Ahmadinejad? Abu Mazen? Can’t argue with that.

    They are going to do it anyway, and FoS laws are hardly ever going to be used anyway. May as well make it illegal, in the same way we make smoking cannabis illegal.

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  11. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    More bullshit from the bureaucrats.

    Freedom of speech is in real danger in the over regulated west.

    After this it will be climate change “deniers” on the gallows.

    And it’s not just in Germany and Austria, some fashionista type is on charges in France for a drunken/drugged rant about Jews and Hitler, and he’s Jewish!

    http://www.canada.com/life/Galliano+blames+anti+Jewish+rant+drugs/4980121/story.html

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  12. Griff (8,419 comments) says:

    Scary stuff who decides what is racist?
    Better to have debate most can look at the facts and make up their own minds

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  13. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    Weihana says:

    “I disagree. There are never any “unique factors” which justify restricting speech merely on the basis that the idea being advocated is disagreeable.”

    You may find this reference to ‘Denazification’ enlightening:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denazification

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  14. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Weihana,

    I agree with DPF as to the need for holocaust denial to be criminalised in Germany and Austria. The small but passionate neo-Nazi movements there would have a field day if they were allowed to deny the Holocaust and promote National Socialism as being a viable movement.

    However, I am interested in why you call such a move ‘fascist’? The type of legislation considered here would limit free speech, but that wasn’t just unique to fascist countries- indeed, surely you would be more accurate to call it ‘communist’, as it was and is a form of control used communist Countries both past and present. I suspect anyone who calls this sort of action ‘fascist’ of being left-wing, because they consider National Socialism to be right wing and therefore calling it fascist is both a term of derision of both the concept and those on the right.

    So, why call it ‘fascist’?

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  15. MajorBloodnok (307 comments) says:

    NZ First have the right to promote racist policies, and Labour have the right to promote xenophobic policies on foreign investment.
    And the Maori Party, the Mana Party and the Greens have the freedom to advocate racist interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi that deny equality to all New Zealanders based on ethnicity.

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  16. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    David – The only difference I see is in the degree of persecution. Obviously it is not as bad as murdering countless people, but it is still wrong and it is consistent with fascism in that fascism seeks to regulate which ideas are allowed to be advocated in order to suppress undesirable political opposition.

    I don’t think it denigrates those who died at the hands of the Nazis to highlight the similarity between fascist ideas and a policy which prohibits free speech on the basis that the idea being advocated is highly disagreeable. It is the thin end of the wedge and if doesn’t stop here then we run the risk of not fixing it until we do get to the point where we have a truely fascist regime.

    The only reason people wouldn’t want to compare this law to fascism is because they do not care about the political beliefs which are being persecuted. If the law targetted other beliefs, such as religious belief, then I’m sure comparisons to fascism would be welcome. But because it targets morons who we all despise we like to think it’s not really fascism… wrong, but not fascism. That’s not good enough for me. If you want to suppress the political opinions of other people then I believe you are advocating fascism. It doesn’t make such people as bad as Adolf Hitler, but it does mean their ideas are wrong for the same reason he was wrong to suppress political opposition.

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  17. Chuck Bird (4,915 comments) says:

    “And the Maori Party, the Mana Party and the Greens have the freedom to advocate racist interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi that deny equality to all New Zealanders based on ethnicity.”

    You forgot the National Party. ACT is the only party concerned about the high rate of Maori youth unimplemented.

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  18. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    F E Smith – Communism, fascism.. different names for what is essentially the same thing.

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  19. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    I suppose in countries where you can drive for a couple of hours and see the sites of the key events of the holocaust, and where living memories of those events still remain, it’s probably a lot easier to justify holocaust denial as something that is just plain fraudulent, and hence unworthy of freedom-of-speech protection.

    Or maybe from that perspective it just seems like something more important than the attendant loss of free speech?
    In safe, stable old New Zealand I don’t think we appreciate peace and safety anything like as much as we should…

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  20. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    Scott Chris – I don’t agree prohibition of ideas is necessary, or particularly effective, at changing what people believe. Even immediately after WW2. Monopolizing mass media is a good idea I’m sure, but persecuting people merely for expressing a political opinion I don’t think is effective or justified.

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  21. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “Communism, fascism.. different names for what is essentially the same thing.”

    Oh, I agree, but most on the left wouldn’t, hence my interest in your use of the term. For myself, I prefer the word ‘authoritarianism’, which is, of course, what Simon Power would like to institute in NZ. That being the case, I would expect Minister Power’s enthusiastic approval of this proposal.

    But for the most part I agree with you and your argument, apart from exceptions as noted above.

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  22. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    Weihana, suppression of free speech does not amount to fascism. It is merely one facet. To qualify as fascist, one needs to fulfill the following criteria:

    “Fascism is a radical, authoritarian nationalist political ideology. It advocates the creation of a totalitarian single-party state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through indoctrination, physical education, and family policy (such as eugenics).
    Fascists seek to purge forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration, and to produce their nation’s rebirth based on commitment to the national community based on organic unity, in which individuals are bound together by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood.” (wikipedia)

    I suspect that it is illegal in this country to promote the idea of adult-child sex. This is moral censorship, not fascism.

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  23. big bruv (14,224 comments) says:

    If I say that I don’t want my daughter to date Maori’s am I being racist?

    If I say that I think that brown mother fuckers have been raping the tax payer of this country for years am I being racist?

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  24. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    “The small but passionate neo-Nazi movements there would have a field day if they were allowed to deny the Holocaust and promote National Socialism as being a viable movement.”

    A field day? Like what? What do you think would happen? Germany would suddenly turn into a Nazi regime? The only “field day” they would have is to expose themselves as the hateful people they are.

    Moreover, with the internet it is virtually impossible to stop what political ideas are advocated. Nazi’s from anywhere can go online and spread their hate to their hearts content, and they do. Indeed they are already having a “field day”.. and alas the world hasn’t come to an end because people have minds of their own and in a free society they are able to access a diverse range of information from which to form their judgments.

    People are led astray when the ideas they are permitted to be exposed to are limited, not when they are unlimited.

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  25. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    @Scott Chris at 5.30pm,

    we know, that is why it is called National Socialism, rather than Communism.

    EDIT: Bruv, yes and yes. But you are perfectly entitled to say so.

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  26. Daigotsu (472 comments) says:

    Big Bruv, yeah, I’d say that you are being racist. If you said that you didn’t want your daughter to date a dole bludger or a gang member and that most of them are Maori, that’s one thing. But all Maori? You wouldn’t want her to date a young Tau Henare or Simon Bridges? Seems a bit off.

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  27. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “You wouldn’t want her to date…Simon Bridges?”

    Having one’s daughter date a Crown Prosecutor would not be something that would gain one’s approval, so no, thank you.

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  28. Muzza M (294 comments) says:

    Griff @ 4.53pm who decides what is racist, Hone Harawira, who the fuck else?

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  29. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    Scott Chris – So advocating one facet of fascism is not advocating fascism? Well ok, but is that not at least good enough to draw a comparison?

    As an example, I would refer to the Electoral Finance Act as fascist, but that’s to say I think Helen Clark was a fascist or that the previous Labour government was fascist. It just means I think there is a similarity.

    I guess I can accept that use of the word fascist is inflammatory and might suggest a situation is worse than it currently is, but I suppose that simply reflects how strongly I feel about this issue. I accept freedom of speech is not absolute and can be legitimately regulated for a variety of reasons. But when it is regulated for no other reason than the fact that the idea is disagreeable then I think a line has been crossed and we have no consistent way of defending further restrictions on what types of ideas can be promoted.

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  30. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Weihana, like I said, it is authoritarianism, not fascism. The practice of suppressing free speech is not limited to, nor even a defining feature of, fascism. After all, nobody (sane) called New Labour fascist.

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  31. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    “I suspect that it is illegal in this country to promote the idea of adult-child sex. This is moral censorship, not fascism.”

    Can’t any restriction of ideas be classed as “moral censorship”? The idea that the idea being advocated is immoral would surely underpin any restriction of ideas since if the idea were deemed moral then it wouldn’t have been restricted in the first place.

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  32. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    Weihana – yes, it’s a question of semantics. If you were to say that the laws in Germany suppressing the right to deny the holocaust bear some ironic semblance to certain aspects of fascism, then I couldn’t fault your logic.

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  33. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    “Can’t any restriction of ideas be classed as “moral censorship”?”

    Basically, yes if the argument is framed that way.

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  34. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    F E Smith – Is authoritarianism not a defining feature of fascism?

    But I do concede the term authoritarian does seem more apt. However, I think it’s fair to draw parallels between Nazi fascism and prohibition of holocaust denial, not to say one is as bad as the other but simply to highlight the fact that they are both wrong for similar reasons, although Nazism was wrong for more reasons than simply the suppression of free speech.

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  35. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant for bodgy thinking of individuals or small groups. Any limit on free speech promotes rigidity and oppressive moral conditions. Most banned practices take root in uninformed neighborhoods. Encouraging the free flow of information gives life to a few weeds but encourages healthy gardens. with that mountain of cliches I’m off to enjoy some pub politics.

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  36. adze (2,130 comments) says:

    “A protocol of the convention requires nations to make “the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems” a crime”

    That’s an exceptionally problematic provision, if true. It’s one thing to prohibit hate speech (essentially advocating harm to a particular group identity), but quite another to prohibit beliefs about a particular group… irrational, wrong, or offensive as they may be. As others have noted defining many “-isms” has become difficult in itself – over on Dim Post there’s a side show of a few prominent posters arguing whether it’s sexist to call Clare Curran “a stupid woman”. Could the protocol be applied in that instance, using similar principles as for xenophobia or racism? Way too big a minefield, and too many political wheelbarrows.

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  37. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    Scott Chris – point taken. :)

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  38. mikenmild (12,460 comments) says:

    Weihana
    I shouldn’t have thought it was illegal to promote the concept of child-adult sex, incest, bestiality or other abhorrent behaviours. For example, I assume it would be perfectly legal to argue that the age of consent should be lowered.

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  39. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    adze – I don’t think prohibition of “hate speech” is necessarily justified either. Hate speech, according to Wikipedia, is:

    “hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group”

    That is too broad for me. If speech is harmful then it should be easily discernable and shouldn’t rely on some vague unquantifiable potential for future action by other parties. Indeed the above definition prohibits the mere disparaging of a certain group.

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  40. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    mikenmild – I imagine it’s probably a bit of a grey area. I think certain publications would be deemed objectionable material and censored by Internal Affairs but I doubt it would be illegal to come into an internet forum and advocate whatever political change one desired. I suspect writing a book to sell at Whitcoull’s is treated somewhat different to chatting on the internet.

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  41. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Weihana, no more than it is of communism. In fact, I would argue it is less a feature of fascism than it is of Communism. For the most part the fascists were willing to leave you alone. The promotion of, and institutionalisation of, anti-semitism was a feature of German fascism, more than Italian or Spanish (not to say that there wasn’t anti-semitism in those countries, just that it was inherent rather than government sponsored).

    Moreover, fascism lasted as a force in world politics between 1920 and 1945. After that time Spain was a political outcast and Portugal was insular. Communism, on the other hand, lasted from 1917 to today, and will continue for a while yet, so if you want to associate it with a political ideology then surely Communism has far more claim to be associated with authoritarianism that fascism. As I said previously, the use of fascism as a term of abuse stems from the use of it after WW2 by the Communists and Socialists (almost but not quite the same thing) to denigrate the right wing and conservatives (not always the same thing).

    Using authoritarianism also allows us to invoke it against governments like that of New Labour, which had definite authoritarianism tendencies.

    In summary, while both fascism and communism have strong authoritarianist tendencies, neither political philosophy has that as a central tenet, more as an outcrop of how they came to power. The Communists, however, employed it both more often and with more viciousness than the fascists, hence my view that you are using the wrong term.

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  42. Aredhel777 (292 comments) says:

    “Who defines rascist”, “xenophobic” and who decides what is a “verified genocide”?

    Whoever gets to do this has a very handy tool for shutting down a great deal of valid debate – no?”

    This exactly.

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  43. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Adze, I agree with Weihana, there is no more justification for the suppression of hate speech than there is of racism. As has been noted earlier in this thread, unless there is actual incitement to violence then you should be able to say what you want, subject to defamation laws.

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  44. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    On another note, I see people want to ban a book which advocates violence against children. My first reaction was that it wasn’t justified but I’m having some doubts. While the book doesn’t reference any particular child, the book is clearly intended for parents to use against their child and as such I think there is perhaps a legitimate argument that the potential for harm has sufficient proximity to the publication and as such it should be banned. It’s not as though the book is promoting the general idea that such practices are good for children, it is intended as something for parents to follow and actually do. Well at least that’s what I gather because I certainly haven’t read the book!

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  45. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    What’s the bet our government signs this? NZ seems to love being in these silly conventions.

    If it was up to me (and thankfully it isn’t) I’d say “Thanks Budapest, but no thanks. I don’t want to join your stupid group. You’re a bunch of European douchebags.”

    I think that a government should never give up its own sovereignty just to appease a free trade deal or to make a new ‘mate’. I’d rather have our government go without. We’ve already sold old over that stupid MP3 law, so I hope parliament isn’t as gutless about this one.

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  46. adze (2,130 comments) says:

    Weihana – I would agree insofar as inclusion of the term “disparages”; that just seems a reformulation of discriminatory beliefs. One would also wonder what a “protected group” was too – and definitions of hate speech probably differ between jurisdictions. But no speech is completely free (there was a debate here about that a while ago) – and I’d argue that incitement to riot is similar to publishing a pamphlet urging the extermination of Jews (as an example).

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  47. william blake (109 comments) says:

    and so should climate change denial.

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  48. big bruv (14,224 comments) says:

    Daigotsu

    Ok, so would I be a racist if my name was Hone and I said that I did not want my daughter to date a white boy?

    If my name was Hone and I said that white mother fuckers have been raping the land for generations would I be racist?

    I am interested to know if this stupid law will be applied evenly, or if there will be special dispensation for Maori.

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  49. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    It’s right to ban Holocaust denial. People who deny the Holocaust invariably aren’t just stupid, or racist, or stupid and racist, they’re also dangerous. If you allow them a loophole to slither through their view gains oxygen. The free market of ideas shouldn’t be open to ideas that are plainly and irrefutably false. That allows one to be skeptical of climate change, since the science is equivocal enough (just) to fail the irrefutably false test. It also allows one to suggest an intelligent design, as even though this is prima facie false it can’t be proven irrefutably false. However the Holocaust happened. Letting people say otherwise just allows the psychological effects of a repeated message to occur, that is it allows for irrational doubt. I say ban it. People stupid or mischievous enough to claim the holocaust didn’t happen should be put in jail or deported, it’s all to the good.

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  50. Chuck Bird (4,915 comments) says:

    “If I say that I don’t want my daughter to date Maori’s am I being racist?

    If I say that I think that brown mother fuckers have been raping the tax payer of this country for years am I being racist?”

    YES

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  51. mikenmild (12,460 comments) says:

    Up and Comer

    The difficulty with that approach is that it relies on someone in authority deciding on the ‘truth’. We have not had a problem with Holocaust denial, or all sorts of other loopy ideas, here. I would argue the reverse to you. Banning some types of speech could have a perverse incentives for some kinds of attention seekers who would want to the prosecuted to seek martyr status.

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  52. leftyliberal (651 comments) says:

    @FE Smith: It’s really a consequence of the assumptions that everything fits nicely along a single left/right dimension, whereas in reality it doesn’t, with governments existing that are “left” economically yet authoritarian and also those that are “right” economically while being authoritarian.

    http://politicalcompass.org

    This site is one way to disentangle these ideas, though still not perfect ofcourse. It’s interesting where they place the NZ parties at 2008 – my results from the test are nowhere near any of them! It’s an interesting test to take (though a little US-centric). On new labour/old labour, it’s interesting to see how the political leanings have changed over time in the UK with new labour being pretty much similar to pre-thatcher conservatives.

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  53. pappito (4 comments) says:

    Holocaust denial should remain legal in NZ – agreed.

    I’m from a country wich made this mistake (signed for criminalisation of holocaust denial) one and a half years ago. I tell you, nothing happened since then. The politicians could lie themselves think they’ve done something but we all know it is not true.

    No one can stop this, even above IQ60 denial is out of the question. The new rule would damage the basic principles of free speech without any benefit as increasing the control on the normal people and won’t stop the idiots.

    Free speech is important achievement, and it is a fragile one. We shouldn’t ruin this just for show off, and made the denials more important than free speech.

    Unfortunately I’ve lost most of my family in the Shoa, but criminalisation of denial is just pointless, we don’t have to waste time and effort for people who can’t cope with facts. I feel sorry for them, they never gonna learn.

    (and just for the side: all the countries have better chances to gain control over stupid groups, if they can share their stupid ideas on the net, right? Yes, the net is double-edged and it could be a benefit, not just a trap)

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  54. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    UpandComer. You serious? Or sarcastic?
    We could ban moon-landing denial. And the anti-vaccination lobby. And the belief that Muslims are the devil.

    There’s plenty of things that are completely refutable, but people still believe them. And it’s not hard to come up with some conspiracy theory: “The Holocaust never happened, all those people gassed were German soldiers and the Jews were not persecuted.” But where’s the harm? Only a fool would believe it.

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  55. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    UpandComer (22) Says:
    August 24th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I think you write convoluted poorly structured tripe, should that be banned ,I say yes, you should be deported, its all to the good because you and your ilk could render the wonderfully clear and concise prose that is a feature a Kiwiblog redundant .

    The very thought that some of my favourite commentators here could not write their tripe here is shocking and offensive, much more so than anything they write. Just because you disagree with something no matter how “stupid” it is- it should not be banned.

    Europe is fucked ,the EU is as daft as the UN, you could fill GB’s of hard drive with the ludicrous rules of the EU.

    I am a major fan of the National government but the sooner Simon Power fucks off the better, he’s been an interfering disaster

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  56. DeepScience (48 comments) says:

    “we should should not ban any speech unless it rises to the level of actually inciting violence.”

    a) you’re being completely arbitrary
    b) hard to think of anything else that would be more prone to inciting a big reaction than holo denial

    It’s not the stupidity of the belief, it’s that it is one of the biggest insults you can make. The fact that many people of the current generations do not understand the scope of that insult is the reason governments make it a law.

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  57. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    DeepScience (47) Says:
    August 24th, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    it’s that it is one of the biggest insults you can make……now thats a complely arbitary statement if I ever saw one written

    Where do you stop, e.g theres a general election coming up.. a law perhaps to stop me commenting everyday that labour are dead in the water.

    World Cup coming up.. is Big bruv being treasonous hoping the All Blacks fail? pass a law to stop him he’s upsetting some footy fans

    What about the deniers that say Stalin never killed anyone, or Mao was a lovely old man who enjoyed the odd swim , not the biggest killer of them all.

    I find holocaust deniers offensive and stupid but I will defend their right to say what they want becasue there may come a day when I want to say something and some group may want to silence me.

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  58. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    leftyliberal

    I use this subjective formula to measure the political spectrum:

    Pandering /Tolerant / Intolerant

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  59. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    Tristanb – Sarcastic fomenting’

    At PaulEastBay – I stand soberingly (non-clear-prose-word) corrected’ fair point regarding prose/view

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  60. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    UpandComer says:

    “People stupid or mischievous enough to claim the holocaust didn’t happen should be put in jail or deported, it’s all to the good.”

    How would you objectively define ‘the expression of ideas’ that are worthy of imprisonment or deportation and on what moral basis?

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  61. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    Make no mistake – this will be used to make any valid criticism of Islam illegal.

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  62. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    A very very sharp observation Fletch.

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  63. mikenmild (12,460 comments) says:

    There has been an ongoing push by Islamic nations to make ‘defamation of religion’ an internationally recognised crime.

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  64. chris (647 comments) says:

    Make no mistake – this will be used to make any valid criticism of Islam illegal.

    And Christianity too. And any other religion.

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  65. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    leftyliberal, for the most part I agree with your 6.45pm comment. I would class New Labour not with the pre-Thatcher conservatives, however, but with the Lloyd-George Liberal led coalition post WW1, policies continued, but not introduced, by the succeeding Conservative government.

    But I think that we can still broadly use the left/right paradigm. I think it has been hijacked a little by the media and the left, whereby what used to be centrist is now considered centre-right and what used to be centre-left is now considered centrist (by the media and the left, who have centre-left wing policies as the default preferred ‘normal’ position when labelling a political party.

    New Labour was left wing, for the most part, even with a lot of its economic position. Even the Tories are really slightly centre-left when it comes to economic issues. The real difference between the two was the way in which New Labour used a populist authoritarian position to justify implementing left wing social policies. Fabian socialism through and through. Sadly, the Tories don’t have the balls to fix it.

    @Deepscience: “a) you’re being completely arbitrary”

    No, that is the accepted position of a couple of hundreds of years of Court rulings on the matter. It is in no way arbitrary but instead a very considered and principled position. Or was that not what you were referring to?

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  66. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    Yep, the focus on the Holocaust is a smoke screen.
    If you ask most people they would probably agree with racist comments and Holocaust denial being illegal.
    It sounds like such a reasonable thing.

    But the real focus is on Islam. Next thing, the media won’t even be able to report on something like the Fort Hood massacre and mention that it had anything at all to do with a Muslim, because that would be “xenophobic” or hate speech.

    It’s a sleight-of-hand, disguising the real intent of the the law you want to put through by applying it to something else (almost the complete opposite) to shift focus away.

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  67. Alan Wilkinson (1,938 comments) says:

    Deep Science: “The fact that many people of the current generations do not understand the scope of that insult is the reason governments make it a law.”

    What evidence is there for that assertion? You cannot banish ignorance and stupidity by legislation. And it isn’t an insult at all, it’s a denial of historical fact. Or has the holocaust become a religious tenet? If so, do you believe it should be illegal to deny any and every religious tenet?

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  68. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    And Christianity too. And any other religion.

    Yes, they say that, but I can’t see it.
    Christians have been targets for derision and always will be.
    I can’t see the books of Dawkins or Sam Harris being banned here because of it.

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  69. chris (647 comments) says:
    And Christianity too. And any other religion.

    Yes, they say that, but I can’t see it.
    Christians have been targets for derision and always will be.
    I can’t see the books of Dawkins or Sam Harris being banned here because of it.

    But the problem with a law like this is that you quite possibly could be banned/fined/imprisoned for expressing those views / publishing those books / etc / etc.

    And in an open forum like this where anyone can comment, who gets the blame and the police investigation? The publisher (DPF in this instance) or the commenter? It would certainly change the way forums and blogs work when you start suppressing freedom of speech in this way.

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  70. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    and National has the right to promote racist and xenophobic policies against it own citizens.

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  71. big bruv (14,224 comments) says:

    “and National has the right to promote racist and xenophobic policies against it own citizens.”

    Can you point out one of those policies joana?

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  72. Bob R (1,422 comments) says:

    Unbelievable that 30 countries signed a protocol banning the dissemination of “xenophobic” messages. So on that basis, countries like Japan or South Korea, that are largely homogenous should have no right to promote restrictive immigration policies?

    What about the Dalai Lama & opposing large scale immigration from Han Chinese? Xenophobic? Yes, but then he also wants to maintain the unique culture of Tibetans.

    Do the citizens in the 30 countries that signed the protocol now have to silently accept whatever immigration policies their politicians decide on? Would that mean someone like Geert Wilders can’t point out the problems of large scale muslim immigration to the Netherlands? How incredibly totalitarian and anti-democratic.

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  73. chris (647 comments) says:

    @joana

    All parties currently in Parliament, other than Act, promote racist and xenophobic policies. Funnily enough, Act is the one that gets called racist.

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  74. Bob R (1,422 comments) says:

    Fletch is correct of course. There are moves to shutdown criticism of religion (particularly Islam) and this is a trojan horse to achieve that. I’d recommend emailing Collins & Power urging them not to restrict free speech in what is meant to be a liberal democracy. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis once said “Sunshine is the best disinfectant” and he’s right.

    J.Collins@ministers.govt.nz
    simon.power@national.org.nz

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  75. Bob R (1,422 comments) says:

    Fletch is correct of course. There are moves to shutdown criticism of religion (particularly Islam), or even to suggest restricting immigration, and this is a trojan horse to achieve that. I’d recommend emailing Collins & Power urging them not to restrict free speech in what is meant to be a liberal democracy. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis once said “Sunshine is the best disinfectant” and he’s right.

    J.Collins@ministers.govt.nz
    simon.power@national.org.nz

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  76. Griff (8,419 comments) says:

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines racism as the “belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” and the expression of such prejudice

    I would suggest that anti Maorifacation views would be called racist in this country and pro Maori views would be OK

    sighing this crap would just be a slippery slope to a fascist state ruled by an elite

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  77. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    I’m of the opinion that everyone in the world is racist. It’s a question of ‘to what degree’.

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  78. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Thanks Bob R.

    Just sent the following:

    Minister Judith Collins

    Any suggestion that the National Government will be signing the Budapest Convention will ensure you will not receive my two votes in the up incoming General Election.

    As someone who has voted National uninterrupted since 1977 this is not a decision that I take lightly but I believe that any signing will lead to the manipulation of free speech which is one of the greatest things about this country.

    I spent 25 years in the New Zealand Police and worked through and “endured ” several such plans to “crack down on ” this and that crime “. These plans very rarely, if ever produce a noteworthy result and all I can see from this Euro rubbish is a loss of sovereignty for our country.

    Minister Power has done enough interfering with the laws of New Zealand this term, I suggest that he retire quietly and you have the fortitude as a Government to stay with the countries who have had the sense and respect for their citizens to not sign this convention.

    Yours faithfully

    Paul R…….

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  79. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    Note: My previous comment is based on a definition of racism as being the instantaneous impression one forms upon seeing someone else unknown to them. One of the first things you will notice is whether or not that person is the same race as you.

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  80. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    UpandComer – “The free market of ideas shouldn’t be open to ideas that are plainly and irrefutably false.”

    As someone once said “There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation”.

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  81. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    “Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right”

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  82. Nick K (1,260 comments) says:

    Thank goodness Margaret Wilson is no longer around. She promoted the re-introduction of criminal libel as soon as Labour won the ’99 election, and Labour constantly pushed hate speech regulation in the later years of its last reign. Make no mistake, next time they’re in, this is on the agenda. Considering what Simon Power has done over the last three years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him push this.

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  83. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    “I’d argue that incitement to riot is similar to publishing a pamphlet urging the extermination of Jews (as an example).”

    The problem is that it depends on circumstance. The fundamental issue in all such cases is whether the speech causes harm and whether that can be demonstrated. If, for instance, I went up and down my street handing out pamphlet’s that urged the extermination of Jews I do not agree that any reasonable person could find that such actions would likely lead to harm or incite other people to commit genocide. In such a case the potential for harm is so vague and unquantifiable that I do not agree that such speech should be restricted. If anything I should be stopped from harassing my neighbours with stupid crazy pamphlets.

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  84. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    Weihana – a slightly different take on the notion of uncertainty by physicist Richard Feynman (in under a minute):

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  85. Bob R (1,422 comments) says:

    @ Paul R,

    Great message. I totally agree too that the intent appears to be to remove sovereignty from citizens. The chuztpah of the Soviet-style socialist bureaucrats who came up with this is something to behold.

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  86. adze (2,130 comments) says:

    “I do not agree that any reasonable person could find that such actions would likely lead to harm or incite other people to commit genocide.”

    The problem is that the issue doesn’t turn on the actions of reasonable people, or more correctly, people in a reasonable frame of mind. Riots are not incited in a group of “reasonable people”; fears, prejudices and passions are aroused first. I agree context is important, and perhaps that makes the stronger case for Germany banning Nazi symbols (there are a large number of nazi sympathisers particularly in the former Eastern Germany) and various other nations having less tolerance for certain types of hate speech where there is historical precedent for harmful effects.
    But I’m not seeing a fundamental disagreement here. It’s a question of where to draw the line. As I mentioned earlier we do not, nor are we likely to ever have, a completely free speech. That makes the task of knowing what will be injurious to people under which circumstances no less difficult.

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  87. dion (95 comments) says:

    I also detest holocaust deniers – but this kind of thing is a slippery slope that any free country should stay at least one step away from.

    Why am I not surprised to see FIGJAM Power in the thick of all this?

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  88. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    I would suggest that anti Maorifacation views would be called racist in this country

    Not only in this country, in most, if not all, and for the most obvious reason: they are racist.

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  89. Grendel (1,015 comments) says:

    ah of course, only in Lucs crazy little world is desiring a world where no one gets special treatment based on race considered racist.

    This is the left for you, if you advocate the world to be colour blind and to have race have no meaning or basis of treatement you are racist. however if you advocate for special treatment for one race (as long as its the PC acceptable race) you are somehow not racist.

    Luc is racist becuase he wants special treatment based on race. thats as clear as a definition of racism gets.

    me? i want no special treatment (positive or negative) for anyone based on their race, especially by govt. apparently that makes me racist in Lucs bizzaro world.

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  90. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    I got rightly criticised heavily on that post.

    You are all quite correct, my post was reflexive and ill thought out.

    I can’t give any substantial reasons why Holocaust denial should specially deserve criminal punishment. I certainly acknowledge the truth that banning this would create a precedent for ban other speech, like quite legitimate and necessary criticism of Islam and Christianity for instance.

    I also acknowledge the arguments I did make were poorly thought out and expressed, and have been soundly and roundly rebutted. All I have is a fuzzy idea that there has to be some kind of limit on ‘fighting words’, but obviously that is a nonsense.

    So I stand corrected. Thank-you for impressing me with the obvious respect in which you all hold this blog and the quality of prose and ideas being expressed.

    I will lift my game before I make any more comments.

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  91. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    While having this discussion, don’t forget that the genocides in Europe, both by the Nazis and the lesser attempt by the Serbs were based on long standing hatreds. The spectre of anti-semitism looms large over Europe and has for a millenium or more. Even in the Europe of the early 20th century it was the default position for many people, regardless of political creed.

    The genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge was the result of a left wing ideology that called for the subjugation of a group of people as well, so again something that was heavily indoctrinated into the murderers working for Pol Pot.

    It is unlikely that what is often described as ‘hate speech’ will have the same effect in a country like New Zealand, which, Luc’s weird views notwithstanding, does not have the history of race hatred, a longstanding history of pogroms or other racial attacks, and does not have a particular ‘bogey’ culture.

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  92. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    adze – “The problem is that the issue doesn’t turn on the actions of reasonable people, or more correctly, people in a reasonable frame of mind. Riots are not incited in a group of “reasonable people”; fears, prejudices and passions are aroused first.”

    adze – “I agree context is important, and perhaps that makes the stronger case for Germany banning Nazi symbols (there are a large number of nazi sympathisers particularly in the former Eastern Germany) and various other nations having less tolerance for certain types of hate speech where there is historical precedent for harmful effects.”

    Indeed the very notion of reasonableness precludes a person from being incited since if they were incited then they couldn’t have been reasonable. I was merely saying that a reasonable person would not consider that I had incited harm among *others*.

    However, there still has to be some standard of reasonableness. That is to say that there should at least be some logical connection between the meaning of the speech and the supposed harm that it causes. For instance, if I go up to a schizophrenic and say “blue butterflies” and for some reason that makes him murder a bunch of school children that doesn’t mean we should ban people saying “blue butterflies”. Therefore, I would say there is a difference between advocating things in a general, non-specific, and theoretical way, as opposed to advocating people take specific action that is harmful.

    Holocaust denial is not a statement which specifically advocates a harmful act. Considering the literal meaning of what is said, there is a big difference between saying “The Holocaust didn’t happen” and “Kill all the Jews”. The literal meaning of one statement pertains to an assessment of whether a historical event took place, the literal meaning of the other statement is directly advocating that people commit harm to others.

    The logical connection between advocacy of genocide and an actual instance of genocide is clear. But there is no real logical connection between denying a historical event and committing an act of genocide. The denying of a historical event does not imply advocacy for committing some other act. That is not to dismiss the very real association holocaust denial has with neo-Nazi’s, but the potential for harm from advocating holocaust denial is, in my opinion, too indirect, too vague and too unquantifiable that if we did restrict speech for that reason it would call into question a lot of other speech that forms a common part of political discourse (e.g. climate change “denial”).

    adze – “But I’m not seeing a fundamental disagreement here. It’s a question of where to draw the line. As I mentioned earlier we do not, nor are we likely to ever have, a completely free speech. That makes the task of knowing what will be injurious to people under which circumstances no less difficult.

    Indeed, but while the line might not be clear I think certain principles can be used to help draw that line in particular cases in a logically consistent way that balances freedom of speech against the right not to be harmed by speech. I think holocaust denial and Nazism constitutes core political speech and in most cases is promoted in a very general sense such that I do not agree that it should be restricted. I believe a liberal democracy must tolerate absolute freedom in respect of advocating for political change.

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  93. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    Scott Chris re Feynman – Good clip. I actually watched it recently as part of a biographical documentary on Feynman, but it’s good to have that bit contrasted and highlighted in the context of this discussion. I suppose the difference here is that we’re talking about a situation in which action must be taken. That is, someone might be harmed and we have to act to prevent it by restricting speech or whatever. In the context Feynman is talking about he’s thinking of things where our actions are inconsequential – such as the ultimate nature of the Universe. In the former case it is more important to try and minimize uncertainty in order to ensure proper action, in the latter case it is more important to embrace uncertainty in order to further our understanding of the true nature of things.

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  94. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    FES

    Luc’s weird views notwithstanding,

    Not very specific there, FES, but, assuming you are referring to NZ, I would just take this opportunity to note that my “weird views” on “maorification” are shared by every political party presently represented in parliament, except one, ACT.

    As regards the crime of anti-Semitism you make a good point: perpetrators, Europeans; sentenced, Palestinians.

    I guess that’s your kind of justice.

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  95. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    F E Smith – I wonder whether using history as a precedent for what might happen now might be a little flawed. We are in the midst of a significant evolution in human interaction and communication. In particular the internet has radically changed how people communicate with each other such that restrictions on speech are near impossible to enforce if people are determined to violate those restrictions. But I don’t think this should be seen as something bad because the internet has also changed how people receive information and people in modern democracies have access to such vast amounts of knowledge and differing viewpoints, compared with previous generations, that I consider it highly unlikely that many ridiculous and outdated ideas could win in the market place of ideas.

    I think even if we assume that Germany needed to prohibit Nazism directly after the war, I don’t think it is credible to argue that lifting the ban of Nazism today will lead to a resurrection of Nazi Germany.

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  96. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    By the way, FES, I have never espoused these views:

    does not have the history of race hatred, a longstanding history of pogroms or other racial attacks, and does not have a particular ‘bogey’ culture.

    In NZ, we have just quietly and systematically discriminated against our indigenous people simply because we didn’t know better. Now we do.

    Like I say above, this is a mainstream view shared by all but the extreme right wing party currently represented in parliament.

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  97. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    As regards Holocaust denial, I admit to a dilemma.

    I think that, generally, denial is linked to diminishing Jews as a people, and this is wrong. So Holocaust denial is in the same category as denial of the Nakba, for Palestinians. Sadly, Israel promotes denial of the Nakba in its schools, even in schools for Palestinian children.

    At the most simplistic level, both denials should be banned.

    But I am in favour of freedom of speech.

    So I think intent should come into play.

    If the intent is to challenge the conventional wisdom with counter-factuals, than that is OK.

    If the intent is to diminish a people, then that’s not OK.

    I guess that’s how judges earn their money.

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  98. gump (1,685 comments) says:

    To illustrate the madness of such laws, you only have to look at the situation in Turkey.

    In Turkey you can be prosecuted and jailed for publically discussing the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide

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  99. Daigotsu (472 comments) says:

    Yes bruv, Hone was and is and probably always will be a racist, especially when he said he didn’t want his daughter to date a whitey.

    Are you trying to catch me out? Coz i’ve always said this.

    Just coz I think it’s racist to say you don’t want your kids to date a Maori doesn’t mean I’m some sort of Hone-lover. If I had my way that fuck would be in jail.

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  100. Lee C (2,720 comments) says:

    I’d like to say thank you to Weihana and Smith for a very real, civilised and respectful discussion. I think that on balance Weihana has my vote – the ‘fascism’ parallel notwithstanding: and would like to ask – in Austria – would Weihana’s plea to allow debate about fascism be construed as an argument in favour of ‘hate-speech’? If so, by whom, and or what reasons, and if so, would we even be legally allowed to have the debate?
    Personally, I recited this from Niemoller about the EFA here and I think it relates to the issue at hand.

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    Speaking out is different to stopping dialogue. No, allowing people to have and express views It is not the same as endorsing paedophilia or – in fact the analogy is apt – as one of the very things that enables some paedophilia is the secrecy that shrouds it. Why turn a Nazi into a ‘freedom fighter’ by making his views ‘illegal’? We may as well start burning books too. How can a society have an informed debate about what standards it seeks to uphold, if it is insulated from the ideas it would reject? That is not the same as censorship – censorship would be that race-hate come with a ‘parental guidance’ sticker. So if we can accept Hate-Rap in every record store onsale to kids, why are we seeking to make Nazi expression ‘illegal’? It’s daft.

    The strength of western intellectual tradition is it’s ability to debate expose and examine arguments on their merits we are not Islamic fundamentalists, we don’t endorse Sharia law for example – To seek to make ‘hate speech’ illegal is a principle akin to what Hitler might have done when he sought to marginalise and victimise people. TO defend the principle of freedom of speech is really the best way to honour the victims of the holocaust. To endorse the suppression of it is to indicate that Hilter was rightin principle, and that their sacrifices were in vain.

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  101. Put it away (2,872 comments) says:

    deniers of communism’s holocausts seem to get a free pass

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  102. Scott Chris (6,178 comments) says:

    UpandComer

    On the contrary, your post sparked an interesting thread response. The more players, the better. Welcome.

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  103. Bob (445 comments) says:

    It is my opinion that holocaust deniers, people preaching race hatred etc. hang themselves by their own mouths. It is better to let them talk. However I would draw the line at incitement to harm others

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  104. wikiriwhis business (4,215 comments) says:

    NZ will sign up. Why do you think they spent a fortune on a computer spy building.

    Democratic speech is hanging by a thread as it is.

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  105. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    Luc Hansen –
    “At the most simplistic level, both denials should be banned.
    But I am in favour of freedom of speech.
    So I think intent should come into play.
    If the intent is to challenge the conventional wisdom with counter-factuals, than that is OK.
    If the intent is to diminish a people, then that’s not OK.”

    ———————————————

    But surely the notion that all people should be treated equally can also be considered “conventional wisdom” and to suggest otherwise would be an attempt to argue that the conventional wisdom is not consistent with the facts.

    Point is, a person should legally be entitled to argue that racial (or other) discrimination is justified and that racial superiority is a fact. Of course I don’t agree with it and consider the suggestion absurd, but as JSM correctly pointed out in “On Liberty”, a being with human faculties can only have a rational assurance of being right when they have absolute freedom to contradict any opinion. If I’m not allowed to consider whether or not one race is superior to another, how can I be sure that one isn’t? Confidence in our beliefs can only be obtained from examination and if we are prevented from examining certain issues then we lose confidence in our beliefs and our beliefs do not rest on critical examination but on blind faith.

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  106. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    “TO defend the principle of freedom of speech is really the best way to honour the victims of the holocaust. To endorse the suppression of it is to indicate that Hilter was rightin principle, and that their sacrifices were in vain.”

    Nicely put.

    Although I do concede that authoritarian is a better term to describe the prohibition of holocaust denial and other unjust restrictions on free speech.

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  107. adze (2,130 comments) says:

    Weihana

    I was merely saying that a reasonable person would not consider that I had incited harm among *others*.

    Well, doesn’t that depend on whether the mood or “climate” is conducive to lynch mob activity? It is like protesting that because being careless with naked flames in a rainforest is unlikely to cause a bush fire, it’s unlikely to cause a bush fire as a general principle. That’s why context is important – you could argue that if I tell a lie to someone, and they act on that information, it’s their fault for not checking the validity of what I told them; but my level of responsibility depends on context (compare someone deceiving a burglar to someone deceiving another from a trusted position).

    …Therefore, I would say there is a difference between advocating things in a general, non-specific, and theoretical way, as opposed to advocating people take specific action that is harmful.

    You seem to be suggesting that there is a qualitative difference between saying “group X should be exterminated”, and saying “Let’s kill Mr. Bloggs at 123 Rainforest Lane, because he belongs to group X”. Well, maybe. But I’m not sure it’s enough of a difference to avoid a charge of incitement. I’m pretty sure there are examples of exhortations to exterminate some group in the abstract that evolved into actual violence – see the movie “Hotel Rwanda”, there were regular radio broadcasts referring to the Tutsi citizens as “cockroaches” and using metaphorical eliminationist language before the machetes actually came out.

    The logical connection between advocacy of genocide and an actual instance of genocide is clear. But there is no real logical connection between denying a historical event and committing an act of genocide.

    Not by necessity; no (I haven’t contributed to the holocaust denier debate until now though). It all depends on the motivation of the denier. I can easily imagine one; undermine moral high ground of jews –> portray Nazi Germany as victim of historical bias –> it’s a conspiracy by the jewish-dominated media. *shrugs* It’s not my bag though.

    Cheers for the discussion.

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  108. Weihana (4,621 comments) says:

    “Well, doesn’t that depend on whether the mood or “climate” is conducive to lynch mob activity?”

    Yup I would agree with that. So walking around my neighbourhood saying “Kill the Jews” might be less of a problem than if I was with an angry mob in Gaza saying the same thing.

    “You seem to be suggesting that there is a qualitative difference between saying “group X should be exterminated”, and saying “Let’s kill Mr. Bloggs at 123 Rainforest Lane, because he belongs to group X”. Well, maybe. But I’m not sure it’s enough of a difference to avoid a charge of incitement. I’m pretty sure there are examples of exhortations to exterminate some group in the abstract that evolved into actual violence – see the movie “Hotel Rwanda”, there were regular radio broadcasts referring to the Tutsi citizens as “cockroaches” and using metaphorical eliminationist language before the machetes actually came out.”

    While I see your point that a literal distinction in speech may not change the underlying message, I think these types of examples (e.g. Rwanda) are not particularly useful because places like that have problems far beyond the fact that someone is making inflammatory speech. It seems to me that it is a weak argument to suggest that such genocide was a consequence of too much free speech. These are people with limited education, limited access to information and long standing prejudices and tribal conflict. Restricting speech would not have eliminated the root causes of that conflict.

    “Cheers for the discussion.”

    Same to you and everyone else. I think David fosters some pretty good debate on his blog.

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