Hate Speech: MP wants media to have “duty of care”

hate speech

Labour backbencher Louisa Wall, is looking at the possibility of drafting legislation that would impose a “duty of care” on media organisations.

In June she told the Herald on Sunday she would like a “duty of care” clause added to the Bill of Rights Act, so people could be held accountable for their use of free speech.

Accountability would depend on their influence and status in society.

“A duty of care would place a legal obligation on a newspaper for example or an individual [such as] a professional sports star requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others.

The Listener spoke to several prominent academics who argue against new laws to regulate hateful speech.

Professor Ursula Cheer, dean of law at the University of Canterbury and author of the authoritative Burrows and Cheer Media Law in New Zealand, believes there are already appropriate remedies in the Human Rights Act, and she thinks it’s right that the threshold for legal action should be high.

Auckland University of Technology history professor and free-speech advocate Paul Moon is emphatically against tougher restrictions. on what we can concerned about the proliferation of extreme comment on the internet, but doesn’t believe the solution lies in stricter legislation.

Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley questions the need for tougher hate speech laws.

Comments that some people deem to be hateful, he says, may be seen by others as quite necessary and truthful.

In February last year, Human Rights Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy called for a review of hate speech law, while asking police this year to start recording hate crime statistics to combat racism.

In response, 27 high-profile New Zealanders, including Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Don Brash, Sir Bob Jones and Dame Tariana Turia, wrote an open letter warning politicians that freedom of speech was under threat at our universities.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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