Hate Speech – who decides what is insulting or offensive?

hate speech

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern has told Newshub that her government won’t ban criticism of religious groups, but it is reviewing whether New Zealand laws go far enough in stopping violence against them.

Both ACT party leader David Seymour and Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki appear to agree that people should be allowed to express their opinions. But they appear to have travelled from opposite directions to arrive at the same conclusion.

Seymour says that what is insulting or offensive to one person may be seen by another person to be an honestly held and freely expressed belief.

He says freedom of speech is extremely important and politicians shouldn’t be introducing any legislation that means people could be criminalised on the basis of opinion rather than fact.

So presumably Seymour does not object to Tamaki’s tweeted opinion that, if anyone says any part of the Bible is hate speech, “This will be war”.

“How dare secular, liberal, left-leaning atheists openly attempt to legislate our founding faith, Christianity or the Bible as hate speech.”

Protecting religious groups
Seymour says the crimes act already makes it clear it is a crime to incite another person to commit a crime or threaten someone with violence.

But justice minister Andrew Little says the law that prohibits the incitement of racial disharmony does not apply to religious faith.

He has asked his ministry to work with the Human Rights Commission to look into whether New Zealand’s laws sufficiently balance issues of freedom of speech and hate speech.

Protecting people from religious groups
In the past, Ardern has also been reluctant to say criticism of others by religious groups should be controlled by law. In 2018, when Israel Folau first expressed an opinion about LGBTQ, she told Newshub “I disagree with him but I’m very careful about how I categorise someone’s speech.”


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

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