Who stole the Craccums?

A very disturbing about the theft of 800 copies of Craccum, which featured on TVNZ last night.

One could argue about whether one can steal a free newspaper, but the clear intent of the thieves was to stop people being able to read it, because they objected to some content.

So what was the content objected to? Was it how to kill yourself? Was it about drug rape? Was it how to wip WINZ off? No it was about Falun Gong.

The thieves say they stole the copies because of an advertisement in the magazine promoting people to buy tickets for a dance group that has links to the Falun Gong, the spiritual movement that is outlawed by China’s government.

They say they had asked Craccum to withdraw the advert because they believed it was too political.

“We don’t want to see these advertisements…it does not represent the Chinese people (the dance group) at all,” said Jim Sun, on of the advertisement’s opponent’s.

I think it is incredibly disturbing that a group of (presumably) students would conclude that they have the right to remove content they disapprove of.

of speech is a fundamental right and if people are not willing to respect the rights of others to advertise a message they do not like, then they should face serious consequences for it.

Threats to of speech are growing. The threats over cartoons, the pressure on Councils to censor, the diplomatic and trade pressure on certain issues have all combined to undermine what is almost the most fundamental right. I value my right to free speech far far more than my right to vote – I only vote once every three years.

One of the ideas I might push at some stage, is whether NZ should have a Free Speech Commissioner.  Yes I know it is part of the Human Rights Commission (and they were admirably strong on the Electoral Finance Bill) but just as you have a dedicated Commissioner sticking up for our rights to privacy, what about a dedicated Commissioner whose job it is to highlight and resist all encroachments on our rights to free speech and rights to access information?

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