Monday, 10 December 2007

MEMO: To Greens' co-leader Russel Norman

The Greens are  right behind Labour's Electoral Finance Bill.

The Greens say if it was in any way an attack on free speech, they  wouldn't be supporting it.

Sadly, with this press release complaining about the Herald's deletion of a paragraph of misspelled childish whinging, you demonstrate that you don't know free speech from a hole in the ground.

In calling a simple editorial decision "censorship," you are either disingenuous or deluded.  Either way, you fully deserve derision.

MEMO:  Censorship is interference by the state in the expression of ideas.  It is not censorship if a free agent, eg., a newspaper, decides to edit or reject your copy.  There is nothing in the principle of free speech requiring that I provide you with a megaphone, or the Herald provide you with a platform   A private network refusing to publish your views is not censorship - it is their choice.  A private newspaper editing your ill-thought maunderings is not censorship, it is good judgement.

However, it is censorship if a government uses legal force to ban speech, especially political speech.  It is censorship if a government places a limit on the amount of political speech one is allowed one year in three.   It is censorship to require registration with a government agency before exercising political speech.  It is censorship if politicians can slag off private citizens one year in three with all the power of parliamentary privilege at their disposal, whereas to defend themselves those citizens will be required to file declarations about who their supporters and donors are and to keep an account of expenses to ensure they don't exceed some arbitrary amount (see here for example). 

It is disgusting that some people under the Electoral Finance Bill will be barred from fully exercising free speech one year in three while being forced to fund the megaphones of their opponents.  And it is enlightening, Russel, that you are right behind that.

As a former Green voter said to me at the most recent Anti-Electoral Finance Bill march, "I didn't vote Green for this!"

Just to help you out, Russel, here are some propositions on free speech on which you could do with some brushing up.  Why not print them out and hang them up on your wall, and then hang your head in shame at what you're about to help ram through.

Perhaps the most important principle for you to get your head around is this: Without the freedom to offend, it doesn't exist.  If you're offended by people donating to other parties who support their views, then get over it, and get some better ideas yourself.  Don't try to screw the scrum to enforce your own views on us at our expense, especially not while supporting the censoring views of that offend you.

UPDATE 1: By the way, readers can send your own memo to the semi-literate deluded whinger here at the Green's Frog Blog, where' he's reproduced his press release --  complete with spelling errors...

UPDATE 2: An anonymous commenter makes the perfect point about Russel's whinging: "

So Russel complains about having his rebuttal capped at 200 words (the same as everyone else)?
Welcome to your level playing field, Russel.


  1. /Tin-foil-hat-on
    Greens are only supporting the EFB as pay back for Labour support of Bradford's anti-smacking bill. No appeal to reason, values or principles could get them to change their mind. Auntie Helen had made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

  2. The Greens have got a king maker role with the EFB. If they pull their support the bill would be killed.

    But the greens have not been using this power.

    If they were they could have changed it enormously. Just by threatning to pull their support.

    But since they haven't it just shows that they want this bill in any form.

    The greens are like watermelon, green on the outside and red on the inside.

  3. I've noticed that the leftist greens exhort the Charter more than the more centrist Greens. The reason is that the charter is broad and obtuse enough to provide cover for a keith Locke and Sue Bradford.

  4. After how many pages of a months long campaign against the bill in its previous form and misstatements about its current form, the Herald sweetly asks if we'd care to provide a rebuttal in 200 words? Sorry mate, it may be "legal" but it isn't right, and it represents quite EXACTLY the advantage given to big money by having no rules.

    As for censorship, there are two parts to that. They altered the text of what they advertised would be "our own words", they did so without OUR consent... and as little as I am pleased with Russel's response, they removed their honesty as a news outlet with that "simple editorial decision".

    The second part is that in the election period limits on funded election advertising need to be in place. I do not think this is censorship.

    Whether you attach that label to it or not, it is not "free" speech to give people a right, based on how much money they can spend, to spew their opinions into every lounge in NZ during a campaign. If they care to come to my door and lie to me directly, so that I can give them an earful in return, THAT is free speech.

    I know how the unlimited use of money (soft money in the USA) distorts the electoral process. I suggest you study that hell before you invite us all to descend into it based on some un-thought-through application of the principles of your personal ideology. It doesn't apply to elections. It CANNOT apply to elections if they are to be fair and democratic. The noise to signal level becomes so invidious that no actual policy or truth of ANY party's position is capable of getting through to the voters.

    We have two choices as I see it. Take away ALL the money and redistribute it so everyone has exactly the same amount... which seems rather extreme (to put it mildly), or we can restrict the use of money to buy election advertising. If you have a third way of preventing this distortion I am sure we will all be happy to hear of it and did you make YOUR submission relating to this bill?

    That's as much "contribution" as I will make here. If you wish to debate us on this or other points frogblog is open for business...


  5. Good lord, BJ. You whinge that the privately-run Herald altered your text without YOUR consent - but the essence of your post shows that you see nothing wrong with the state using MY money, (taken by force), to tell me who to vote for without MY consent.

    What is it with you Greens? You're hellbent on either forbidding things, or making them compulsory. Ban or compel! Do as we say, jawohl!

    Get cracking & raise your own damn funds if you truly believe your views are worth airing. But don't you dare help yourself to my money.

    That Clark constantly bleats about the importance of 'not buying elections', while wanting to help herself to public funding to do just that, defies logic.

  6. BJ, your nick "Redshift" is appropriate to the direction activists like yourself have dragged the Greens. Or "us," as you called them.

    Your self-serving defence of the indefensible can be judged by you arguing that "in the election period limits on funded election advertising need to be in place," without even noting that the "election period" in this Bill is arbitrarily deemed to be nearly one year long.

    In a country with a three-year electoral period, that means for one year in three -- one third of our lives -- you wish to impose "limits" on political speech.

    That is utterly indefensible. That you avoid mentioning it shows you know that.

    But we can't have people saying things you disagree with, you say.

    That's the point at issue, isn't it. That's the point on which Russel agrees with you: that for one year in three, people shouldn't be allowed to promote things you he disagrees with. That they should be muzzled.

    But the very point of free speech, BJ/Redshift, is that it gives the freedom for people to promote views that you might disagree with. That Russel disagrees with. That Helen Clark and Heather Simpson might disagree with. It protects that freedom, it doesn't restrict it.

    The principle of free speech is precisely that people have a right to promote their views in whatever forum they can afford.

    That you oppose that demonstrates you either don't know free speech from a hole in the ground, or you don't care.

    Either tells us all we need to know.

    As Bryce Edwards, a former colleague of yours points out, supporters of the EFB like yourself "repeat ad nauseam that state restrictions are needed on political activity to stop the wealthy from dominating politics through spending on advertising." But as he points out, there's no basis whatsoever for that claim either. See his posts ''Political finance and inequality in New Zealand'' and 'Jane Clifton: Money does not ‘buy elections’ in NZ,' which between them thoroughly dismiss the myth.

    Ironic isn't it in order to enact your clampdown on free speech that you need to tell lies. Ironic too that in constantly harping on the bogey men of the Exclusive Brethren and the Business Roundtable, that it's you lot using the dog whistle politics.

    Red shift indeed.

  7. BJ, my 5 year old boy understands property rights really well better than you deluded greenies. I've always observed my boy when he plays with his cousin, he throws a tantrum when his cousin touches his toys. It means that he knows that his cousin has no right to his toys (properties) unless he approves. You , Russel Brown or anyone else has no right to demand that the Herald oblige with your demand. Do you get that? If you don't, then perhaps I can ask my boy to lecture you greenies about property rights.

  8. So redshift complains about having his rebuttal capped at 200 words (the same as everyone else)?
    Welcome to your level playing field, redshift.


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