Thuggery in Auckland

March 11th, 2012 at 1:26 pm by David Farrar

Brogan Powlesland blogs:

“Our most valuable asset is the right to protest.” – Matt McCarten

Yesterday, I found out what this actually means in the eyes of some unionist protesters. I have always believed in the right to protest, despite not always agree with what is being protested. Heck, most of the time I strongly disagree with the protest message, but so long as the protesters don’t directly harm anyone, I tend to be fine with it. At the March 10 Save Our Ports protest, organised by the Council of Trade Unions, I found that this feeling is not always mutual. 

I am reminded that there is no virtue in wanting to protect popular speech. The virtue is in defending the rights of free speech for people whose message you totally disagree with. Hence I have supported the right of holocaust denier David Irving to come to NZ, and speak.

So David (former AoC Auckland President) and I decided to take to the streets with placards, joining the march from the opposite side of the road that they were on. My placard read “Union Strikes, Efficiency up 25%” and David’s read “Who still has their jobs? Helen Kelly and Garry Parsloe”. I had made a decision from the start that this would be a silent protest, as I knew we would be shouted at and thought that we would have been just as bad as them if we shouted profanities back. 

As predicted, during the march we were screamed at, being called things such as “Fascist pigs”, “f**ken scumbags”, and “NAZIs”. Although I was expecting people to shout at us, I was not expecting that extreme verbal abuse. Those are names I would never use to describe anyone, simply because they are extremist and are offensive to both the person you’re shouting at, and the people who were victims to the NAZIs. I would think that the people who like to think they fight most for so called freedom would understand that.*Sigh* I guess not.

While distasteful, free speech even extends to the marchers screaming Nazi names at Brogan and David.

Into about fifteen minutes of marching, we were rushed by a bunch of protesters. One of the protesters knocked my arm and stole my placard, one punched David in the back of his head and stole his placard. They both ripped the placards and chucked the pieces onto the road, receiving cheers from many of the marchers. One of the protesters had been filming it, and came up to us, narrating his ‘film’ by continuously calling us “f**king fascists” and “fascist pigs”, telling us that we were going to be famous on Facebook. Within about 30 seconds, one of the police officers that had been on duty came running and that seemed to be the cue for the protesters to run back into the mob.

The irony is that it was the protesters who were being fascists, with their violent suppression of messages they disagreed with.

The police officer, instead of pursuing the people who had offended, came to ask us to leave. He had seen everything, but told us that there were too many protesters for them to protect our right to protest. At the time, I was quite shaken. I was in no mood or state of mind to argue with the officer, and so we left peacefully. Although David and I have protested and counter-protested before, this was the first time things had become physical, which is something we thought New Zealand was above. It seems we were wrong there too.

The Police Commissioner should instruct the Auckland Police that the next time this happens, the appropriate response is to call for more police officers to protect the rights of peaceful protest.

After the march on that part of the street was finished, David and I returned to pick up the remains of the placards. Although we knew we were not the cause of the litter, we still thought that we shouldn’t leave it lying around the road and footpath. During this time, thankfully, drivers were actually relatively friendly and respectful of what we were doing. A few protesters coming back from the Vector Arena were not though. We again were verbally abused with the same extremist labels. One protester in particular encouraged cars to run us over, and said if they didn’t, he would do it himself.

What a pity Brogan and David didn’t have a friend along with a video recorder. It would be very interesting to identify those who resort to violence to suppress speech they disagree with.

I recall an anti-EFA march in Wellington. A handful of (mainly) Young Labour activists did a counter-protest. When we got to Parliament we actually offered them a chance to speak to have their view heard. A stark contrast.

Hat Tip: Whale Oil

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Steyn on free speech

September 15th, 2011 at 10:06 am by David Farrar

A great op ed in the Australian by Mark Steyn:

TO be honest, I didn’t really think much about “freedom of speech” until I found myself the subject of three “hate speech” complaints in Canada in 2007.

I mean I was philosophically in favour of it, and I’d been consistently opposed to the Dominion’s ghastly “human rights” commissions and their equivalents elsewhere my entire adult life, and from time to time when an especially choice example of politically correct enforcement came up I’d whack it around for a column or two.

But I don’t think I really understood how advanced the Left’s assault on this core Western liberty actually was. In 2008, shortly before my writing was put on trial for “flagrant Islamophobia” in British Columbia, several National Review readers e-mailed from the US to query what the big deal was. C’mon, lighten up, what could some “human rights” pseudo-court do? And I replied that the statutory penalty under the British Columbia “Human Rights” Code was that Maclean’s, Canada’s biggest-selling news weekly, and by extension any other publication, would be forbidden henceforth to publish anything by me about Islam, Europe, terrorism, demography, welfare, multiculturalism, and various related subjects. And that this prohibition would last forever, and was deemed to have the force of a supreme-court decision. I would in effect be rendered unpublishable in the land of my birth.

This is why we must resist any so called hate speech laws in New Zealand. The threshold for intervention against speech should and must be very high – such as directly advocating violence.

Fourteen-year-old Codie Stott asked her teacher at Harrop Fold High School whether she could sit with another group to do her science project as in hers the other five pupils spoke Urdu and she didn’t understand what they were saying. The teacher called the police, who took her to the station, photographed her, fingerprinted her, took DNA samples, removed her jewelry and shoelaces, put her in a cell for three and a half hours, and questioned her on suspicion of committing a Section Five “racial public-order offence.” “An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark,” declared the headmaster, Antony Edkins. The school would “not stand for racism in any form.” In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said they took “hate crime” very seriously, and their treatment of Miss Stott was in line with “normal procedure.”

I thought this must be made up. But sadly it is true.

The head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal was interviewed on the BBC and expressed the view that homosexuality was “immoral,” was “not acceptable,” “spreads disease,” and “damaged the very foundations of society.” A gay group complained and Sir Iqbal was investigated by Scotland Yard’s “community safety unit” for “hate crimes” and “homophobia.”

Independently but simultaneously, the magazine of GALHA (the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association) called Islam a “barmy doctrine” growing “like a canker” and deeply “homophobic.” In return, the London Race Hate Crime Forum asked Scotland Yard to investigate GALHA for “Islamophobia.”

Got that? If a Muslim says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for homophobia; but if a gay says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for Islamophobia.

Two men say exactly the same thing and they’re investigated for different hate crimes.

I encourage people to ask candidates and parties where they stand on introducing hate crimes legislation in New Zealand. Don’t think there are not groups lobbying for them, because there are.

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Dom Post on free speech

September 5th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

But the new administration should think hard about another part of the convention. One protocol therein requires signatories to make the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material via computer systems a crime. It might also outlaw Holocaust denial and what some groups, deeming themselves to be persecuted, call “hate speech” online. The United States, the UK and Ireland have refused to sign that protocol. New Zealand should, too.

When states consciously choose to ban the traffic in ideas, they take a giant stride toward control of their populace. Freedom of speech – one of the pillars that buttress democracy – is its most potent when its practitioners advocate the unpopular, the unconventional, even the downright nasty.

Informed public debate, which of necessity includes ridicule and derision, is always the most effective antidote to racism, sexism, xenophobia … Banning criticism – as this protocol would do, at least in cyberspace – merely drives racists, sexists, xenophobes underground and gives them cause to claim martyrdom.

I blogged on this issue a couple of weeks ago. The answer to offensive speech is not to ban it, but to counter it.

It is timely to repeat a quote from Noam Chomsky:

If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.

One of the few Chomsky quotes I love.

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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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The right to protest

May 12th, 2011 at 4:13 pm by David Farrar

Marika Hill at Stuff reports:

Hone Harawira says “redneck” racism is to blame for the last-minute cancellation of a lecture he was to give in Auckland today.

The Mana Party leader was due to speak about the foreshore and seabed at  Auckland University Law School.

“All of the rednecks at the university decided to create such a ruckus that the Law School cancelled it. In 2011 we’re still being pushed around,” Harawira said. …

Asked why this was an example of racism, Harawira said there were only Pakeha involved in the protest planned at Auckland University.

“A lot of people think that racism is dead and buried but clearly it’s not. I’m a Maori MP and I should have the right to talk to Maori law students.” …

Law student Charlotte Summers said the Faculty of Law cancelled the lecture on the basis of “there may be a breach of the peace”.  

She said the Young Nationals organisation  was behind the protest.

“How is it fair that the Young Nats decide to be disruptive, threaten to be disruptive, and then an entire event is cancelled because of their choices and what they threaten to do?”

“There is a time and a place for protest – an academic lecture is not that time nor place.”

However, the Young Nationals denied any involvement in the protest.

President Daniel Fielding said although some Young National members were planning to attend the protest, it was a cross section of students involved.

Oh poor little Hone. Who knew he had such a thin skin. The man who had led dozens of protests, whose family have often assaulted people at protests, can’t handle a few students protesting against him.

And of course it is racism, if one protests against Hone. What else could it be. Couldn’t possible be related to him comparing people to Hitler, and highlighting how Osma’a family saw him as a freedom fighter.

But don’t you love the reaction of the law school, and the quoted law student. They cancelled the lecture because people may have protested.

This is in the same week that the Supreme Court upheld the right of someone to burn the NZ flag on ANZAC Day (a decision which I actually agree with). So it is okay to burn the NZ flag on ANZAC day, but it is wrong and racist to protest against Hone Harawira.

The Facebook page about the protest is here. Having had a brief look I don’t see any suggestion they were going to go into the lecture and shout Hone down. They were going to protest outside, and they specifically said that if any go inside, “we will give Hone a chance to speak, we will listen and we will ask constructive questions while expressing our displeaure in his racial hatred and gutter politics”.

Isn’t there anything more hypocritical that a veteran protester who whines about how awful it is when people protest against him.

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Gisborne Police venerate George Orwell

July 30th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police Minister Judith Collins has urged Gisborne police and media to sit down and work out a solution to a dispute in over local law enforcement’s decision to stop giving reporters details of crimes in the area.

Media groups have criticised a move to restrict information on crime available to journalists and the public in Gisborne,

But police boss Inspector Sam Aberahama says the move is intended to make the community feel safer.

So Inspector Plod think his job is to make the community feel safer by concealing news on crime from the news media and the public.

Can I make the radical suggestion that the community would feel safer if the Police prevented crime from occurring, rather than merely preventing the reporting of said crime.

UPDATE: I am informed the original story didn’t cover the salient fact of exactly what change the Police have made. They are still releasing news to the media, they just no longer have a journalist attend their daily staff briefing – a practice that was unique to Gisborne. While I still think the comments of the Inspector are stupid and deserve clobbering, I do think it is reasonable to not have media present at staff meetings.

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Editorials 30 June 2010

June 30th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald focuses on Fiji:

The second was the introduction of a grandly titled Media Industry Development Decree. It means, among other things, that the Fiji Times, the country’s oldest and largest newspaper, has three months to remove Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd as its owner or face closure.

If the first development borders on farce, the second should remove any lingering illusions about the regime’s view of democratic niceties. The decree effectively eliminates freedom of expression in Fiji.

Aside from the restriction on foreign ownership, a tribunal has been established to ensure nothing is printed or broadcast against the “national interest or public order”.

In essence, Fijians will no longer know what their rulers are up to. Special attention is being paid to the Fiji Times because, according to the Attorney-General, it has been “the purveyor of negativity, at least for the past three years”.

The move against the media is part of an ongoing removal of Fijians’ rights. This has included the abrogation of the constitution, the squashing of dissent and the dishonouring of pledges for a return to democracy.

There is sadly no evidence that there will be a return to democracy. I can’t see a scenario where the Commodore will give up power and let Fijians actually decide on their Government.

This step should also occasion a rethink by New Zealanders who spend their holidays in Fiji. Tim Pankhurst, of the New Zealand Media Freedom Committee has suggested a boycott.

He has a point. Tourists might like to say that Fijian businesses and jobs should not be penalised for the sins of the regime. But they are undermining their own country’s diplomatic efforts.

Fiji’s tourism-driven economy attracts 60 per cent of its patronage from New Zealand and Australia. No official boycott can be imposed, nor should it be.

But a rethink by would-be tourists would apply further pressure. And if, ultimately, it is up to the Fijian people to send Commodore Bainimarama back to the barracks, tourists temporarily moving away from Fiji for other Pacific destinations would hammer home a message about the pariah status of their rulers.

Rather than out all the onus on consumers, the media could play their part. Rather than just write editorials, APN and Fairfax could refuse to accept advertising for Fiji tourism. That would be a sign of solidarity with their colleagues in Fiji, and show real commitment rather than just words.

The Press lashes FIFA:

Football prides itself on being the “beautiful game”, but the current World Cup in South Africa has been marred by too many ugly refereeing decisions.

One of the most egregious occurred this week when England’s Frank Lampard was not awarded a goal against Germany despite the ball clearly crossing the goal line after hitting the crossbar.

This must serve as a wake-up call for Fifa boss Sepp Blatter and his top officials to get their heads out of the sand and harness the electronic technology successfully used by so many other sports.

It is a no brainer.

The Dom Post looks at smoking in prisons:

But surely an outright ban goes too far? How about halfway measures first, such as a prison smoking-room, or a ban on smoking in cells? If she is wedded to a total ban, what are known as “cessation assistance” programmes – already available to anyone, including the incarcerated, who want to quit – must be funded appropriately. …

As usual with any broadbrush proposal, the devil will be in the detail. But that detail should acknowledge union unease. The minister has already attended the funeral of one prison guard this year – a political show that bore an uncanny resemblance to former prime minister Helen Clark’s infamous appearance at the Folole Muliaga funeral in 2007. Ms Collins does not want the option of attending another.

What an incredibly stupid comparison, in terms of funerals. Jason Palmer was employed by the Government and died doing his job, and as a result of his job. I don’t know anyone who thinks a Minister should not attend the funeral of law & order professionals who get killed by criminals. In fact it is almost disrespectful not to go.

What that has in common with the circus generated around the Muliaga’s I don’t know.

The ODT also looks at smoking:

With this background, it may have surprised some readers to learn that the inmates of our prisons are permitted to smoke, including in their cells, unlike in Canada, some British prisons, and those in some Australian states, where the practice is banned.

The intention of the Minister of Corrections to ban smoking in our jails from July next year is certainly easily justified on health grounds alone, and the overseas precedent suggests the fears being raised here by vested interests are largely groundless. …

Objectors have raised two main issues: the right of prisoners to smoke in what is effectively their “own home”; and the potential for violent reaction from prisoners required to cease smoking.

The first claim is groundless.

Prisoners are, in effect, tenants.

The State, as landlord, can and does impose conditions of use.

Additionally, prisoners who do not smoke – and prison guards – are entitled to not be confined in conditions where their own health may be damaged by second-hand smoke.

The department has anticipated prisoner reaction by giving a year’s notice of the measure, and by its intention to offer a cessation programme, including nicotine replacements, for those who seek such help.

That approach is not unreasonable.

Meanwhile 65% of people in Labour’s poll say they back the ban, so I expect we will see them come out backing it shortly.

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Sense from Goff

June 22nd, 2010 at 2:59 pm by David Farrar

Some common sense from Phil Goff on the China protest issue:

Labour leader Phil Goff said there mistakes on both sides.

“The Chinese security guard had no right to seize the flag from Russel Norman. There is an absolute right of peaceful protest in this country that we must uphold.”

And I agree. They had a right to stop Norman from advancing any closer, but they had no right to try and hide his flag. They were clearly wrong to do so.

But Mr Goff said Dr Norman could have acted with more restraint.

“Did Russel Norman behave with the dignity you might have expected of an MP? I think he might have learned from (former Greens leader) Rod Donald’s lesson of standing back, giving a bit of space, making the point, but not being confrontational.”

Exactly. He was advancing on the Vice-President and got very very close to him. If he had done what Rod Donald did, then the fracas would never have happened. The suspicion is that maybe he did it deliberately.

Mr Goff said there needed to be a clear protocol allowing peaceful protest but at the same time giving space and dignity to visitors.

Yep. If MPs wish to protest on the forecourt they have every right to. But they don’t have the right to impede the right of overseas leaders from entering buildings, or to be so close to them they represent a threat to their dignity (such as having a flag thrown over them) – NZ in fact has an obligation under Article 29 of the Vienna Convention:

The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.

This is why John Key apologised – not for the protest by Norman, but the failure in security that allowed him to get within spitting or throwing distance.

He said there was some confusion which could have been avoided on Friday.

“A quiet word beforehand between Russel Norman and the diplomatic police could have set a situation where a protest could have been made without the incident occurring.”

Exactly. Bravo to Phil Goff for taking a fair approach on this.

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Editorials 22 June 2010

June 22nd, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald hails the All Whites:

Hats off to Ryan Nelsen, the captain of the New Zealand soccer team.

Not only for the way he marshalled his side as the All Whites claimed a hugely significant 1-1 World Cup draw against Italy, the reigning world champion, but for his straight talking after the match.

Sport is replete with players who utter only polite noises. Nelsen told it like it was. Guatemalan referee Carlos Batres, who awarded the softest of penalties to the Italians, had had “stars in his eyes” and his partiality had ruined the game.

“If he’s the best that Fifa offer up then, gee whizz, I would hate to see the worst,” Nelsen said. …

Paraguay appears to be the best team in the All Whites’ pool. While many other countries have struggled, it had confirmed its standing as the second-best qualifier from South America.

If New Zealand is to advance to the knockout stage, probably nothing less than a victory will suffice. The odds will, once again, strongly favour its opponent. But who would now bet against the All Whites?

I’ll be in Australia for that game, and making sure there is no doubt the All Whites are not an Australasian team!

The Press defends the right to protest:

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman’s decision to protest at Parliament during the visit of Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping was eminently predictable.

His party has long supported the free Tibet movement and highlighted China’s shocking human rights record. Just as his predecessor as the Greens’ male co-leader, the late Rod Donald, did in 2005 during the visit of another Chinese dignitary, Norman waved a Tibetan flag as Xi’s delegation arrived at Parliament. Norman did go further than Donald, who mounted a silent protest, by also calling out for democracy. But the attitude of New Zealand authorities in these two cases was quite different.

That is because Rod Donald did not advance on the VIP.

In 2005, police and security staff respected the right of Donald to protest and rejected calls from Chinese security guards to remove him. But no action was taken last Friday by New Zealand authorities when Norman had his flag taken from him by Chinese security personnel and a scuffle broke out. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully later lambasted Norman, saying the Green MP had abused Parliamentary privilege and his actions were calculated to give offence.

McCully was half right. Norman’s protest was a stunt aimed at provoking the Chinese and to attract publicity for the Greens and the Tibetan cause, about which China is hugely sensitive. But McCully is totally wrong to accuse Norman of abusing his position. Unlike members of the public, whose protests at Parliament are carefully controlled, Norman is an MP who has the freedom of the building and its grounds.

Not total freedom. An MP can’t enter the offices of other parties without permission for example.

He was perfectly entitled to exercise his right to freedom of speech where he did. And if his position was perceived as a threat to the personal security, rather than just the sensitivities of the visitors, it is up to New Zealand authorities to take action.

I agree. The NZ authorities should have kept Norman from getting so close to the Vice-President. If he had remained at the foot of the steps of Parliament, I would have expected him to be protected. But he rushed up to the Beehive entrance, right up against the Chinese security guards.

The Chinese security guards were wrong to try and interfere with his flag, but he was also wrong to advance so close. He should have negotiated a position to stand at where he could be clearly seen and heard (if desired) but not within spitting distance of the Vice-President.

The Chinese officials who took the flag and scuffled with Norman probably had limited understanding of Norman’s rights as an MP. New Zealand security personnel still should have stepped in to protect him.

They did.

New Zealand does have a close and valued relationship with China. This has been shown by the recent free-trade deal with it and by the emphasis placed by New Zealand on its participation in the Shanghai Expo.

But these economic ties must not obscure the fact that there are differences between us and one of these is New Zealand’s strong commitment to human rights, including freedom of speech and the right to protest peacefully.

Instead of berating those who, like Norman, exercise these rights, New Zealand ministers should have firmly reminded the Chinese that in this country, unlike their own nation, these rights are sacrosanct and must be respected by foreign guests.

As John Key has pointed out there was a continual protest outside the hotel where the VP was staying, and no one interfered with their right to do so. It’s because those protesters stayed at a distance where they could not be considered a danger.

The Dom Post talks money and morality:

Yesterday The Dominion Post reported that a Napier church had taken at least $20,000 in donations from Whetu Abraham, a rest home resident. Those caring for him had tried to stop the donations, and rest home manager Lucy Dever believes what the Oasis Elim Church has done is unethical, immoral and un-Christian.

Mr Abraham says he gave the money because of his faith, and because of his simple understanding that “you help them, they help you”.

Church pastor Bruce Collingwood says the money was given willingly by Mr Abraham “out of his own heart”, and he was comfortable about taking it after he and Mr Abraham had talked about Mr Abraham’s financial and medical situation.

Others, including the church’s national body, are not.

The relationship between churches and money has been fraught ever since Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple. …

There is no doubt the money Mr Abraham gave will help the Oasis Elim Church, but churches depend on their moral authority as much as their bank balances. For many, accepting large sums from a sick man who had little to begin with diminishes that authority to near bankruptcy.

And the ODT also praises the All Whites:

Yesterday, much of the nation discovered the round ball belongs to a sport that delivers heroes every bit as outsized as the oval one.

A good portion of the labour force turned up for work emotionally drained, sleep-deprived and running on adrenalin, having just witnessed the best performance – and result – from a New Zealand football side.

The heroics and hyperbole of the 1-1 draw with Slovakia were cast aside as the All Whites took on the might of Italy and held those fancied, fleet-footed, blue-shirted millionaires to a 1-1 draw. …

There is no bigger tournament in world sport than the Fifa World Cup.

To qualify is a mission in itself, full of its own pulsating dramas – witness the fateful decider with Bahrain at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium earlier this year, the Rory Fallon header for goal, the Paston penalty save.

The eyes of the world are upon this tournament as they are no other, even arguably, the Olympics, and in their spectacular form-upending results to date, the All Whites will have had those eyes turning in this direction …

In the lead-up to the tournament, website sbnation.com predicted the All Whites had “as much chance of advancing out of group stage as a paraplegic pig thrown into a tiger pit has of walking out of there unscathed”.

That quote should be read out to the team just before the Paraguay match.

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More on China incident

June 21st, 2010 at 11:10 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key telephoned the most senior minister in the visiting Chinese delegation to apologise for the scuffle during the arrival of Vice-President Xi Jingping at Parliament.

I can understand why the PM felt it was necessary – because the screaming yelling protester was not just a member of the public, but a leader of a parliamentary party.

But having said that, I don’t think it was appropriate for the PM to apologise. He is not responsible for Norman, and by doing so may confuse the difference between the Government and the Parliament.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has also called for a full report on the incident from his ministry and he would like to see a protocol developed between the Speaker and protesting MPs for future visits.

This I think is a very good idea. The right to protest must be protected, but this doesn’t mean you allow protesters to get within a couple of metres of visiting VIPs – even if an MP.

If Norman had not been advancing on the Vice-President, this incident probably would not have happened. As a contrast Chris Trotter remembers Rod Donald:

My abiding memory of this remarkable man – my friend – Rod Donald, will be of him standing alone at the foot of the parliamentary steps, his face a mixture of sadness and defiance, holding up the forbidden Tibetan flag. It was a noble protest – and all the more effective for being conducted not by some raggle-taggle band of New Age anarchists, but by a senior Member of Parliament and party leader, dressed proudly and patriotically in his best, New Zealand-made, suit.

No advancing on the Vice-President, no shouting, no scruffling. That is the way to do it if you want to be an MP making a protest.

I am no fan of China’s repression. I think there should be protests when their VIPs visit. If the Greens had organised a Free Tibet protest outside Parliament, I might have even gone along to it.

Now having said that, it is clear that engagement with China is the only sane course of action. Refusing to trade or talk to them would be stupid. The trick is getting the balance of engagement and protest right.  And broadly you expect the Government to engage and civil society to protest. There is a time when Governments also protest – but that tends to be in response to specific events.

UPDATE: Colin Espiner blogs:

I know it’s fashionable to hate the Chinese, and everyone wants a free Tibet.

So much so you’d think they were handing them out in Weetbix packets.

But while I’ll probably get into trouble with the Left for saying this, I’m sorry, but Green Party co-leader Russel Norman was an embarrassment to himself, Parliament, and New Zealand with his protest against the Chinese vice-president’s visit last week. …

When I heard that Norman’s flag had been “trampled” I thought that was a bit on the nose, too, so I took a look at the video.

Strange how none of the many cameras there – both still and TV – managed to capture the so-called attack, or the flag trampling.

What they did capture, though, was an MP behaving in a way that no self-respecting member of Parliament with any dignity should behave.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully support Russel Norman’s right to have his say. This is a free country, unlike China.

But sometimes, I think the RIGHT to free speech and EXERCISING it are confused.

For example, I can walk down the street and tell someone I don’t know that they’re fat. I have that right. But to do so would be impolite and irresponsible.

One of the deals of having freedom is the responsibility that comes with it over how you use it.

A point well made.

If Russel Norman was a private citizen he’d be banned from the steps of Parliament as a protester. He’d be behind the gates further down, where he could yell and scream to his heart’s content.

But he’s not a private citizen. He’s a member of Parliament. An employee and a representative of the people.

That meant Norman got to go right up to the Chinese VP, yell in his face, and wave a flag at him.

Unless the video I saw has been doctored, I saw Norman lunging at the VP and then yelling “give me my flag back” after one of his security guards grabbed it.

Colin makes the same point I have made – it was a long way removed from what Rod Donald did.

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Editorials 26 April 2010

April 26th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald looks at Pharmac:

The drawing up of free-trade agreements is always an exercise in compromise. Sometimes, unpalatable concessions have to be made with an eye on the bigger picture. …

At the forefront of American concerns will be two issues – the strength of our dairying industry and the role played by Pharmac, the Government’s drug-buying agency.

The US farming lobby will want little conceded, while American pharmaceutical companies want Pharmac’s role drastically reduced.

The drug companies say an end to New Zealand’s anti-competitive drug-funding system would give its people quicker access to new and expensive medicines.

US drug companies can introduce these new and expensive medicines at any time. Whether or not they gain a subsidy from the state is another issue.

Trade Minister Tim Groser has described Pharmac as “an outstandingly successful public institution”, which has saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The estimated savings in a five-year period are enough to have built the Starship hospital.

Mr Groser has also said that, as the principal economic adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, he had negotiated with the US on Pharmac 10 years ago and had seen no need to make concessions.

That is reassuring. But the issue will doubtless be raised again, as New Zealand covets a free-trade agreement with the US. Hard choices will have to be made.

The Government has already bowed to pressure and allowed some slippage in Pharmac’s integrity. With the taxpayer uppermost in its mind, it should hesitate before venturing further down that path.

I agree Pharmac is of great value to New Zealand. The gains from a free trade deal would have to be significant for us to agree to changes to Pharmac.

The Press remembers ANZAC Day:

The history of Anzac Day remembrance has been shaped by memory and ideals – memories and ideals that have changed over the decades since the landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.

The commemoration therefore has reflected the great alterations that New Zealand has undergone in those 95 years.

Yesterday’s services saw the men and women of World War II and will continue to see many of them in future years. But their number is dwindling and thoughts thus turn to the Anzac Days of the future. …

Voices last week were raised, predicting a decline in turnout over the coming decades, but that is unlikely to eventuate. The respect for what our fighting men and women achieved and the honour they brought us is now deeply and uncontroversially embedded in the nation’s psyche.

The Press pages on New Zealand’s military history, which we printed in the lead-up to Anzac Day, are but one example of this. They were prized by readers, and schools have taken them in large numbers. A hunger exists for hearing again the old tales of valour and service.

The men and women who performed those deeds will not be forgotten and Anzac Day will live on in their honour.

While on TV, once again I found Maori TV did best.

The Dominion Post looks at Fiji’s proposed media restrictions:

The primary function of Fiji’s proposed new media regulator is “to encourage, promote and facilitate the development of media organisations and services”. It sounds reasonable.

There is just one problem. In order to perform its duties the Media Industry Development Authority is being given the power to fine and lock up journalists, editors and publishers, censor news reports, search premises, seize documents, and shut down news organisations.

Coating a dictator’s iron fist with a veneer of legality does not soften the blow.

The commodore is labouring under a misapprehension. The misapprehension is that he is the big man in the Pacific.

He is not. He is a tinpot dictator who has gained power at the point of a gun and is destroying his country’s economy and prospects and the institutions, already weakened by three previous coups, that underpin good government.

The news media is one of them. Journalists, editors and publishers will bear the immediate brunt of the latest restrictions, but the real losers are the Fijian people, who have already lost the right to learn what is happening because of “emergency” regulations put in place last year.

Free speech is a fundamental pillar of democracy. “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter,” said Thomas Jefferson, the author of the American Declaration of Independence.

Another great Jefferson quote.

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Southpark Censorship

April 25th, 2010 at 2:42 pm by David Farrar

Once again Comedy Central has censored Southpark. Four years ago they banned the show from being able to show from showing a harmless depiction of Muhammad (was just him giving someone a fish) in their Cartoon Wars episodes.

The episodes were about appeasing people who threaten violence is wrong, but it didn’t work. This time in episode 201 Comedy Central have even refused to allow the name of Muhammad, after the Southpark creators cunningly discussed him onside a bear costume.

This has nothing to do with religious tolerance. Comedy Central have allowed the show to show Jesus Christ defecating on an American flag. Their decisions are purely appeasement in the face of threatened violence from extremists. The sad thing is they don’t realise that what they do, encourages the extremists. It shows threatening violence wins.

In similar news, Reuters reports:

A Dutch court has acquitted a Muslim group of inciting hatred with a cartoon that questions the Holocaust, in the latest case to provoke debate about freedom of speech in the Netherlands.

The Arab European League (AEL), which published the cartoon on its website, was cleared of insulting Jews because it was not aiming to dispute the Holocaust but to highlight perceived double standards in free speech.

And that is the right ruling,

The AEL cartoon shows two men, beneath an ‘Auschwitz’ sign and beside several bodies, saying the victims might not have been Jewish but the target was six million – the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The AEL said the cartoon was part of a campaign it launched in 2006 to show “the double morals of the West during the Danish cartoon affair.” The image came with a disclaimer on the website saying the AEL did not support the views of the cartoon.

Except the AEL have been proven wrong about the double morals. No one has been killed, or even threatened over their Holocaust cartoon. There have been no burning of flags or storming of embassies.

The mad President of Iran tried to make a similar claim a few years ago by hosting a Holocaust cartoon competition. To his great dismay dozens of Jewish cartoonists submitted entries, rather than protest against it.

The best response to censorship is this:

After Comedy Central cut a portion of a South Park episode following a death threat from a radical Muslim group, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris wanted to counter the fear. She has declared May 20th “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.”

“As a cartoonist I just felt so much passion about what had happened I wanted to kind of counter Comedy Central’s message they sent about feeling afraid,” Norris said.

Norris has asked other artists to submit drawings of any religious figure to be posted as part of Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor (CACAH) on May 20th.

On her website Norris explains this is not meant to disrespect any religion, but rather meant to protect people’s right to express themselves.

The best way to stop the Islamic extremists threatening violence unless you censor, is if the response to their threats is to triple and quadruple the number of outlets who show the cartoon.

It should be a point of principle for every media outlet in the free world, to show such images, to show that threats will not work.

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Editorials 19 April 2010

April 19th, 2010 at 11:14 am by David Farrar

The Herald focuses on media freedom in Fiji:

Two developments in Suva provide renewed evidence of the regime’s distaste for democracy in any real meaning of the word. They must surely have dismissed any thoughts among transtasman officials and politicians of achieving change by appeasement.

This is the unfortunate thing, with the timing. I think NZ, and Australia, were edging towards a more constructive relationship. But this draft decreee pushes them in the other direction.

First, Fiji’s just-published draft of a Media Industry Development Decree would virtually eliminate freedom of expression in the country. It is a remarkable document, one which would make Zimbabwe proud and Singapore blush.

I am one of those who believe taking away a voice is worse than taking away a vote.

The decree protecting the regime from prosecution is a more abstract threat to democracy – a coup leader’s fantasy that surely, once this sorry interregnum is over, will be declared null and void by a legitimate court – with the case against him then reported by a free press. That time can come, though, only if New Zealand and Australia continue to hold hard to democratic principle and the regime is subjected to the greatest sanction, the decision of the Fijian people to call time on their dictator.

This is why I don’t think the Commodore will even surrender power. He has no exit plan which guarantees him immunity from prosecution.

The Dom Post looks at trade with the US:

The US has much to gain from improved access to Asian markets for its goods but it is an unsentimental dealmaker, which swaps its free trade principles for self-interest when it sits down at the negotiating table.

The new ambassador to Washington, Mike Moore, has work to do. So does Mr Key, who is hoping for a formal invitation to the White House later this year and the heft that will give him with US business and farming organisations.

And the ODT talks apples:

The Australian apple market is not huge and estimates for New Zealand exports range around $15 million to $20 million per annum, small but significant.

On the other hand Australian apple consumption is much lower than New Zealand’s and better prices and more competition could be what is needed to stimulate demand.

It can be a win-win,

Australia is in this instance, however, a blatant hypocrite.

It battles for free trade in agriculture while putting up several specific agricultural barriers to protect its own, including against New Zealand apples.

Yes, and if they refuse to act on this issue, will risk undermining their credibility as the WTO can then approve trade sanctions against them.

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Fiji set to clamp down on a free media

April 9th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Most people are familiar with the saying two steps forward and one step back to describe a situation of slow progress.

That has been my hope for Fiji, that with a set date for elections in 2014, there would be some progress. But alas, the situation is looking more like one step forward and two steps back.

The Fijian Government has released a draft decree of proposed media censorship. It would make Fiji even more repressive in terms of media freedom.

NZPA report:

The regime of self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama yesterday issued a new media decree which Newspaper Publishers’ Association chief executive and New Zealand Media Freedom Committee secretary Tim Pankhurst described as “highly oppressive”. …

“It not only targets editors and their journalists. Any members of the public brave enough to express dissenting views are also in line for crippling fines, ill treatment and jail.”

Media outlets could be fined up to F$500,000 (about NZ$344,000) and individual journalists up to F$100,000 (NZ$69,000) and be jailed for up to five years if they failed to comply with the decree’s dictates.

Offences included such “crimes” as criticising the government and even failing to run bylines, Mr Pankhurst said. Foreign media ownership was also restricted.

The foreign media restrictions are an attempt to close down the Fiji Times. The Commodore hates them especially as they refuse to describe him as the Prime Minister, unless he actually wins an election to that post.

Some aspects from the media decree:

  • The Minister of Information personally appoints, and can sack at any time, the Director of the Media Industry Development Authority
  • One of the tasks of the MIDA is to ban any material which creates “communal discord”
  • MIDA will require all media organisations to be registered with them
  • Breaches of MIDA rules will carry a potential penalty of $500,000 for an organisation and $100,000 plus five years in jail for individuals.
  • MIDA has police like powers to search and seize documents from media organisations
  • Bans foreign ownership of over 10% in a media organisation, which will close down the Fiji Times.
  • Sets up a Tribunal with the Chair appointed by the Attorney-General to hear complaints, and which must act within “guidelines’ given by the Minister
  • The Minister can by order prohibit any broadcast or publication that may give rise to disorder, and can demand copies in advance
  • The decree explicitly forbids any Court hearing a challenge to not just the legality of this decree, but any decisions made by the Authority, Tribunal or Minister under this decree
  • The media code bans “hypnotism” and “demonstrating exorcism”!

Cafe Pacific has a good analysis of the decree.

Coup 4,5 report:

This is very broad so it will be interesting to see what kind of stories come under this criteria. Censors are already stopping the publication of stories which make the interim government look bad; eg water and power cuts and bad road conditions leading to pot holes.

This clause really means any stories which the interim regime doesn’t like because it exposes them or shows that they’re not doing a good job, is not in their interest and offends them as it creates communal discord.

The communal disorder clause is what will allow the Government to ban anything which criticises the Government, or if it gets published to imprison the journalist for up to five years.

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Australia to block Wikipedia parody

March 18th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The SMH reports:

The Australian Human Rights Commission has threatened legal action against a widely read but controversial US-based website over an article that it says encourages racial hatred against Aborigines.

But online rights group Electronic Frontiers Australia said trying to stamp out the deplorable content would only create the “Streisand” effect, whereby an attempt to censor online content only brings more attention to it.

In a letter to Joseph Evers, the owner of Encyclopedia Dramatica (ED) – a more shocking version of Wikipedia that contains racist and other offensive articles dubbed as “satire” – the Commission said it had received 20 complaints from Aborigines over the “Aboriginal” page on the site. …

On the Australian Communication and Media Authority’s blacklist of “refused classification” websites, which was leaked in March last year, encyclopediadramatica.com was included. This means the entire site will likely be blocked under the government’s forthcoming internet filtering plan.

This is why I don’t like filters.  It is outrageous that the Australian Government will block such a site.

Don’t get me wrong – the site is highly highly offensive to many people. It is a rather puerile site (rather than a smart satire site) that just abuses everybody and everyone in the most insulting way it can. But being offensive is not a reason to be banned or blocked.

I cite again the words of Noam Chomsky, who said there is little virtue in defending popular speech – it is defending unpopular and even offensive speech that is courageous.

When we allow the state to start deciding what parts of the Internet we are allowed to see, that is a bad thing.

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The Atheist Bus Campaign

March 2nd, 2010 at 10:39 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A New Zealand minister has given his support to an atheist campaign asking people to question the existence of God.

Archdeacon Glynn Cardy, vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, says NZ Bus’s decision last month to stop the display of paid adverts showing atheistic slogans is regrettable.

“Many in the Christian community welcome a debate about issues of the existence of God and, also, I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of in that debate,” he said.

The NZ Atheist Bus Campaign has raised nearly $23,000 from public donations for the ads that read: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Rev Richard Randerson has also said NZ Bus should not have censored the signs.

“Free speech should be the norm, censorship the exception. I don’t see it as a negative thing at all. I think it brings God into public debate.”

He said bus advertising was used to promote a whole range of products from clothing to alcohol.

“How refreshing it is to see advertising that is not asking us to buy anything, aspire to be slim, or sell us a lifestyle we can’t afford.

A good point.

My view is in two parts. The first is that NZ Bus has the absolute right to decline adverts they do not want to display on their property.

The second is that I think they have made the wrong call, and incidentally deprived their shareholders of some revenue for no gain.

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Two sorts of public broadcasters

February 22nd, 2010 at 5:33 pm by David Farrar

I’m still not clear whether or not Iran is paying for the Radio NZ staff to attend, or the Asia-Pacific Broadcasters Union is. But the issue of paying, is for me, the lesser issue.

Radio NZ is a public broadcaster. While at times I may have issues over the diversity of views on Radio NZ, they are one of the “good guys” in that their role is to speak truth to power, as the old saying goes. They act as a critic and check on Government.

The Iran state broadcaster is almost the polar opposite of Radio NZ. It does not speak truth to power. It speaks lies on behalf of the power. Rather than be a critic and check on the Government, they are a propaganda arm of the regime.

Having Radio NZ staff at a broadcasting conference hosted by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Alliance, lends legitimacy to the IRIBA.

I’d like to see Radio NZ staff attend conferences dedicated to media freedom, and the need for a free press. Not give legitimacy to a broadcaster which stands opposed to everything good about Radio NZ.

The Chief Executive of Radio NZ must have approved the attendance of the staff, under RNZ’s conflict of interests policy. Does he not think supporting a broadcaster whose practices reflect everything Radio NZ professes to be against, is a conflict?

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OUSA attempts censorship

February 20th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports on the compulsory membership OUSA:

The Otago University Students Association wants broadcast media to sign a censorship contract before attending Ori10 concerts.

The annual orientation event starts tomorrow and upon requesting media passes to cover it, Dunedin’s Channel 9 production manager Luke Chapman received a media release form.

The contract contained clauses banning broadcast of footage “showing severe intoxication . . . including, but not limited to vomiting, concussion, fighting, individuals receiving medical attention, and sexually explicit material”.

Oh how wonderful. Instead of having events with no vomiting, fighting or injuries, OUSA just wants to ban the media from showing such activities.

TV3 reporter Dave Goosselink compared OUSA’s attempts at controlling the media to the Fijian Government.

He had never signed a contract to attend orientation events before and said the station never intentionally chased drunk people.

TV3 had never seen a contract like it and he believed one had never existed in New Zealand.

TVNZ One News editor Paul Patrick said he would not sign a contract.

“If they don’t want us to cover orientation, we won’t,” he said.

When he first saw the contract, he “thought it was a joke”.

And universities are meant to be bastions of free speech!

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An offer to Australians

February 3rd, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

South Australia goes to the polls on 20 March, and for 25 to 55 days before the election it will (arguably – see comments in previous thread) be illegal to comment on their elections without disclosing your name and postcode.

Even worse, blogs and media sites have to collect names and postcodes from all their commenters or risk being be fined.

Hopefully the law will be repealed or clarified before the election. If it is not though, I am happy to offer Kiwiblog as a temporary forum for discussion of the South Australian election if any Australian sites are worried about the new law. I can set up a general debate every day, or even give some Australian bloggers posting rights.

I have no intention of forcing commenters to give me their name and address/postcode.

As a non resident of Australia, they can not enforce their law on me.

As I said hopefully the law will be repealed. If it is not repealed, I suspect many Australians will ignore it anyway. But if it does result in people feeling they are unable to blog and comment on the state elections, I am happy to help host such discussions here. In fact I am sure many NZ blogs would be happy to adopt an Australian blog for a month. It could be a great trans-tasman initiative!

UPDATE: Heh I wrote this post last night and timed it for 9 am. In the interval, the South Australian Government has backed down and promised to repeal the law, as reported by No Right Turn. Excellent. The Government must have worked out how deeply unpopular it was going to be.

Interestingly the law can not be amended before the election, so the Government has said it will not be enforced and will be retrospectively repealed after the election.

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South Australia Electoral Finance Act

February 2nd, 2010 at 5:04 pm by David Farrar

South Australia Labor have copied what NZ Labour tried:

SOUTH Australia has become one of the few states in the world to censor the internet.

The new law, which came into force on January 6, requires anyone making an online comment about next month’s state election to publish their real name and postcode.

The law will affect anyone posting a comment on an election story on The Advertiser’s AdelaideNow website, as well as other Australian news sites.

It could also apply to election comment made on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Even worse the Libs voted for it:

The law, which was pushed through last year as part of a raft of amendments to the Electoral Act and supported by the Liberal Party, also requires media organisations to keep a person’s real name and full address on file for six months, and they face fines of $5000 if they do not hand over this information to the Electoral Commissioner. …

The law will apply as soon as the writs for the March 20 election are issued. The writs for the election can be issued any time between now and 25 days before the election. The law will then lapse at 6pm on polling day.

At least it is not for all year, like the EFA was. And the EFA did have a blog (but not a general Internet) exemption.

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US Supreme Court strikes down electoral spending restrictions

January 22nd, 2010 at 5:00 pm by David Farrar

The US Supreme Court has struck down part of the law which restricts private organisations from spending their money on election campaigns.

Cnet explains why:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s sweeping ruling on Thursday that invalidated large chunks of campaign finance law arose in part from an unlikely source: the emergence of Facebook, YouTube, and blogs, and the decline of traditional media outlets.

A 5-4 majority concluded that technological changes have chipped away at the justification for a law that allows individuals to create a blog with opinions about a political candidate–but threatens the ACLU, the National Rifle Association, a labor union, or a corporation with felony charges if they do the same.

The now-invalidated law “would seem to ban a blog post expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate if that blog were created with corporate funds,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion (PDF). “The First Amendment does not permit Congress to make these categorical distinctions based on the corporate identity of the speaker and the content of the political speech.”

In NZ we don’t have a court that can strike down laws that breach the Bill of Rights. To get rid of the Electoral Finance Act, we had to sack the Government.

The court pointed out that the now-invalidated laws are more sweeping than the term “campaign finance” might imply–and amount to simple censorship. It listed these acts of political speech that previously would have been criminalized: the Sierra Club running an ad (close to the time of an election) disapproving of a congressman who favors logging in national forests; the NRA publishing a book urging a vote against an incumbent U.S. senator who supports a handgun ban; and the American Civil Liberties Union creating a Web site telling the public to vote for a presidential candidate because of that candidate’s defense of free speech.

This law was even worse than the EFA!

Joel Gora, a professor at Brooklyn Law School and ACLU lawyer who argued a landmark 1976 Supreme Court case, wrote at The New York Times’ Web site today that the justices “dismantled the First Amendment ‘caste system’ in election speech. Before today, the right to speak depended on who was doing the speaking: business corporations, no, unless they were media corporations; nonprofit corporations, maybe, depending on where they got their funding; labor unions, no.”

What happened of course was these groups formed PACs instead, and just donated to the PACs.

The left in the US are calling this an awful decision. This is ironic as the Obama campaign was the highest spending of all time – the first oen to turn down federal funding and an associated cap. They are not against big money in politics – just against other people’s big money!

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US on Internet freedom

January 21st, 2010 at 12:29 pm by David Farrar

The US Embassy has e-mailed:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver a major policy address on Internet freedom live from the Newseum in Washington, D.C. January 21, 2010, 9.30am EST, Friday 3.30AM NZ time.  Secretary Clinton will lay-out the Administration’s strategy for protecting freedom in the networked age of the 21st Century.

Following her speech, there will be a panel discussion on this issue. To participate, either by watching a high quality video stream of the speech and panel discussion or by submitting questions and comments while viewing go to: http://netfreedom.state.gov. From here, you may choose the high quality video option or the interactive CO.NX room. As always, no password is necessary. Enter as a guest and type the username of your choice.

For further information please visit http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/01/135379.htm

Information is also available at America.gov’s feature page on Internet Freedom. You can also follow the speech on Twitter: http://twitter.com/us_mission_nz

When released, a transcript of Secretary Clinton’s remarks will be available at http://newzealand.usembassy.gov/

I will be very very interested to watch this. Not quite enough, to be up at 3.30 am, but once I get up.

Hat Tip: Clare Curran

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Well done Google

January 15th, 2010 at 10:33 am by David Farrar

I was hugely disappointed in Google when they started censoring google.cn. It was the first time they really broke their motto of do no evil.

So I am equally pleased to see this story:

Google, the internet search engine, has set itself at odds with the authorities in China by declaring that it will stop censoring search results on its Chinese website.

This is going to be a fascinating battle between two giants.

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Robertson on Megaphones

January 15th, 2010 at 9:58 am by David Farrar

Labour MP Grant Robertson blogs:

I probably disagree with John Minto about as much as I agree with him in terms of the various statements he makes.  I know that he irritates some New Zealanders, but he is someone who stands up staunchly for what he believes, and has played a real part in raising issues that  are important to New Zealand and New Zealanders.

If  it is true as reported on Stuff that the police are seeking an order to destroy the megaphone he used as part of his protest at the tennis in Auckland last week, then this is shocking.  We have to defend the right to protest in this country.  I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to protests and they are a critical part of a functioning democracy.

Now I agree with Grant the Police should not be seeking an order to destory the megaphone. If Minto broke the law, then he will have his day in court, but destroying megaphones is a bad act symbolically.

Labour’s love of megaphones though seems only to extend to when they are in Opposition. What did they do when they were Government. This is what Labour, NZ First and the Greens voted for in reporting back the from select committee the Electoral Finance Bill:

Other types of broadcasting, such as the use of loudspeakers and megaphones, would be captured by the new provision in paragraph (i).

Paragraph (i) was expanding the definition of publish to include:

(i) bring to the notice of the public in any other manner

So Labour, the Greens and NZ First wanted to make it illegal to use megaphones to advocate against a party or candidate, unless one spoke your name and home address out loud to authorise the message.

So while supporting Grant on John Minto’s megaphone, I do wonder where was Grant’s voice when his own party was trying to regulate megaphone use in election year?

Incidentally the outcry from myself and some others over this odious clause, saw the then Government backdown on it just a few days later.

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Attempted assassination of Danish cartoonist

January 4th, 2010 at 11:54 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Danish police said yesterday that a Somalian caught breaking into the home of a cartoonist whose work sparked riots across the Muslim world five years ago was a would-be assassin with links to al Qaeda.

The 28-year-old had an axe and a knife when he was shot and wounded by police on Saturday after cartoonist Kurt Westergaard heard windows being broken and pressed a panic alarm at his house in Aarhus.

News of the attack on Westergaard, 74, who was with his 5-year-old granddaughter at the time, shocked many in Denmark who had believed the country’s brush with Islamist extremism was consigned to the past.

I’ve been planning to blog on this for a couple of days. What is significant is that it no longer looks like some madman acting alone, but that the cartoonist was marked for death by al Qaeda or an associated group.

Hopefully this will wake up some of the appeasers. Some on the left (not all) think that the extreme Islamists will be happy if the US leaves Iraq and Afghanistan and a Palestinian State is formed. Others advocate Israel should be destroyed/moved, as no peace is possible with it there.

This attempted assassination is a good reminder that there are a significant number of extreme Islamists who want nothing less than their religion enforced on the entire world, and they will kill any who refuse to submit.

The extremists are a small sub-set of all Islamists, and an even smaller sub-set of all Muslims. But they do exist, they will (sadly) never go away, and there is no appeasing of them.

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