The mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand shocked the world a few days ago with approximately 50 killed by a white supremacist who, in brief, explained that he considered Muslim immigrants to be invaders. As part of his attack, he shared a livestream of the carnage, which has been re-posted around the Internet literally millions of times.
Because using tragedies to strengthen the government’s authority over its people is the thing to do in such situations, New Zealand has begun a crackdown not just on guns (already heavily regulated) but also free speech. According to local police, who arrested a 22 year old citizen for one of the millions of shares of the video, “[t]he live stream video of the shootings in Christchurch has been classified by the Chief Censor’s Office as objectionable.” The penalty for anyone who “knowingly makes or knowingly trades, distributes, or displays an objectionable publication via the Internet” is apparently up to 14 years in prison.
Chief Censor’s Office? Yes, they really have one.
As an American, I get upset whenever my countrymen call to ban “hate speech,” to limit access to Internet and financial infrastructure to Web sites that have extreme views, or to demand that social media companies decide what is and is not “fake news” and remove such content. Many of us do not know how privileged we are to not have a “chief censor” who can drag us out of our home for sharing something deemed to be too violent or otherwise “objectionable.”
“But why do we need to share such despicable acts?” Because to outlaw doing so would be to hide reality. To insulate us from the horrors of the world, as if it makes those horrors go away. I’ve not seen the video nor do I have any desire to see it, but for the millions who chose to watch, they have a right to see the world as it is, and in doing so have allowed us all to have more confidence that we’re not being spoon-fed bullshit propaganda by a government “censor.” Just as we should not allow China to hide the atrocities of Tiananmen Square, nor should we allow our own government to hide the gruesome photos of Vietnam, Waco, Abu Ghriab, etc., New Zealand is doing a service to no one by protecting its citizens from reality.