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.
Well we already are doing this to some extent with so called “child porn”. Homeland Security actually runs child porn sites and when they are hit on they notify the local police who can then go in and confiscate all the computers and drives. EACH objectionable picture is a sperate felony, so 100 pictures will get you 500 years in prison. So, you can get life in prison for a photos while a killer can get off with much less. A lot of these photos have also been around for decades by the way. Also, sometimes they are put on the computer by someone other than the owner. I know about a year ago I stumbled on a number of such items on my own computer that apparently had been put there by malware. I had to carefully erase them all and then take the computer to the shop for a deep cleansing. But just think how easy it would be to send your favorite enemy to prison for life just by downloading objectionable pictures on his computer?
I’m with you, and kudos to you for having the guts to say it. Apparently we need some new young strength to carry forward and protect the first amendment. When free speech is squelched, government-led carnage is never far behind. This is a warning sign. And this person should be given asylum in a free nation if he can escape the New Zealand government’s grasp. It used to be a beautiful place. Now they are vying with us for status as a prison state. They should be subject to the same sanctions as North Korea. I’d go so far as to propose that all freedom-loving people need to start an organization that carries out these sanctions ourselves. Like boycotting an entire nation. “Oh that fruit came from New Zealand? Let it rot! They won’t get a dime from me!” for example. Because we all know that our government won’t bother sanctioning them unless there is oil or rare earth minerals to be had.
‘Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.’ I’ll never forget that saying. People should be free to talk about bad things. It’s just like slavery and people wanting to remove everything that shows it happened and keeps it from being talked about, one day people will forget and then here it comes again. People must be able to remember and talk about bad things if for no other reason, to make sure they never happen again.
I’m 51 years old. 35 years or so ago, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the world. As time goes on, I see just how awful the world really is, Govt generally tops the list. What the New Zealand Govt is doing will only make matters worse.
Great article. I had no idea New Zealand was like that.
Removing statues of people who owned slaves is NOT “removing something that shows slavery happened.” It’s removing depictions of men who were racist bigots.
In response to Roland (my first comment was to Johnathan) you wouldn’t BELIEVE the shit that can be found on a completely innocent person’s hard drive. You get one tiny little virus and all of a sudden your computer has nightmares floating around in the temp files and hidden files. I’ve seen so many public figures go to jail for supposedly having such images when the timing was so convenient, politically, that it was a blatantly obvious set up. It’s meant to instill abject fear of the government because everyone’s worst nightmare is being branded a rapist or pedo. The accusation is flung around so often now that it stretches credulity to the breaking point and puts children at even greater risk of harm. We have heard so many politically motivated sexist/misogynsist/ serial rapist accusations that genuinely harmful acts that really did happen end up going unprosecuted. Accusations of sexual perversions have become a weapon of control and vengeance. The justice system has been weaponised.
That is why I don’t like possession being a crime in certain circumstances. As a example, a person goes and buys something that is stolen but they have no idea it is stolen. If they have no idea it is stolen then it shouldn’t be a crime. Now if they know it is stolen, then they should be held accountable. I saw a show once where a dealership was selling stolen cars. The people buying them had no idea they were stolen and since they bought it and went through a dealer, why would they think about it. As far as I know, they lost the vehicle but was not charged with a crime. If I were on a jury in a case like that, I certainly wouldn’t vote guilty.
As in the case of what is on a persons computer. If the person downloaded something and knows it is against the law, then they should be investigated as to whether it is criminal or not. However, if they can’t prove the person downloaded it, then it should not be a crime, except maybe for the person who actually put it there. I never did like the frame up jobs.
This is why I sometimes support prosecutors having discretion in who gets charged with a crime. Sometimes even tho technically a crime was committed, a person just shouldn’t be charged with the crime for a good reason. Sometimes the law just shouldn’t apply in certain cases.
What I find puzzling in this case, people are trying to show the truth about what happened but it is against the law to do so in New Zealand. If they do this about someone telling the truth, what do they do to the ones who lie about it? Anything? Nothing?
If you take the 1st amendment of your US constitution, it puts a limit on speech. That against the government.
The streamed video does not meet that limitation. It deserves not to be propagated. Two areas to think about: (a) the victims and their families & (b) to avoid copycats doing the same. This can be similar to yelling fire in a movie theater.
Fun fact! The “fire in a crowded theater” case resulted in punishing someone for opposing the draft. It has been subsequently overruled, but yet authoritarians love to quote it.
The families’ interest in privacy is far outweighed by the public’s interest in both news and free speech. I feel for them, but they have no right to demand criminalization of those who watch the video (nor are they so demanding, as far as I’m aware).
I think you need to read the 1st again. It says Congress shall pass no law . . . which means the Congress is limited not free speech. I’m not sure where you get the idea that speech the Govt doesn’t like can be limited. The 1st is as much about freedom to discuss the Govt as anything else. Keep in mind, the Founders just threw a Govt out of the newly formed country. They didn’t trust Govt back then and for good reason. I feel the same way today but likely trust it even less than they did.
Fire in the theater. People get this wrong all the time. A guy yelled fire in a crowded theater. Thing is, there was no fire and from my understanding, the resulting evacuation lead to people being injured. That’s my recollection from many decades ago. People wanted the person that yelled fire held accountable because of the injuries. He claimed he could say whatever he wanted due to the 1st Amendment. What the court ruled is this. If he had yelled fire and there was a fire, in other words it was a true statement, he would be protected. However, since there was no fire, he is not protected.
If it helps to make better sense. If you are in a theater and you see a fire, you have the right to yell fire to alert others to evacuate. However, if you yell fire just to be a idiot, the 1st does not protect you. That’s also why we have liable and slander laws. If you say something that is true and can prove it, you have the freedom to say it. If you say something that is not true, you in trouble. I simplified all this but that is the basics from what I recall.
Its evidence of a crime, already copied and in the wild, because it was already shared before the case it must be maintained in public access because of the lies and dishonesty of all parties at all levels. This is why free speech exists to prevent the use of false information to sway the public, and allow TRUTH to have a chance. This censorship attacks the TRUTH and sets the grounds for future genocide by any global government to be hidden by the same means. If this were the NAZI regime they would demand footage of the camps be removed was an isolated incident by criminals and clearly objectionable material. Just think China is a master of human rights violations do you think videos escape their censorship very often?