Arrested for debating abortion in NZ!

The FSU informs us:

That’s why I’m writing to tell you the story of a case we’ve just taken on, standing with a man called Paul Burns who I’m defending in court on behalf of the Free Speech Union.

You may ask why he is before the Court. Good question.

Well, (brace yourself, now) according to the police, Paul engaged in a debate in a public place. For that, the police arrested him and charged him with a crime of speaking with “an intent to offend”!

If he is convicted he will be fined $1,000 and acquire a criminal record. 

Paul Burns has a strong view on abortion – one that, personally, I don’t share. But far be it for me to let that get in the way of us defending his speech rights. 

Paul feels so strongly about abortion that he wants debate it in public, and he puts his own money on the line to do so. 

Taping $100 worth of cash to a sign, he offers this money to anyone who ‘proves that slavery is more evil than abortion.’ He stands on the street in Wellington with his sign and debates his opinion with anyone who chooses to stop and engage with him. He is forceful but polite and respectful, and only locks horns with people who are interested.  

Several weeks ago, he was speaking with a group of young people, when one of them claimed that abortion is not only not evil, it is a good thing, because there are too many people in the world.

Because of climate change, depopulation is needed, so fewer births are good. To this, Paul asked him, according to that logic, why don’t you kill yourself? That is it. That is what he said. 

It’s a provocative question, for sure, but one that follows in the context of the discussion. If the world is overpopulated, how do you justify your existence?

Apparently the police have not heard of irony. It is a standard debating tactic to turn a person’s own logic against them to try and show what is wrong with it. It is not meant to be taken literally.

Paul was not telling people to kill themselves. He was arguing exactly the opposite: killing is wrong. A child of ten understands how arguments like this work.

But Paul was arrested for it. His trial is scheduled for the 17th of May. 

This is appalling. Like Dr Mulgan, I have a very very different view on abortion to Paul Burns. But I am aghast that he has been arrested and charged for debating the issue in public.

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