When Helen Clark’s Electoral Finance Act came into effect, many of us pointed out it represented censorship at worst, and a stifling of free expression at best.
When John Key amended the Act, many of us pointed out the biggest change was the name but the effect was still the same: a stifling of political protest.
Enter bluesman Darren Watson, whose innocuous song Planet Key will be rubbed out this afternoon by the Electoral Commission. Their job is interpreting and enforcing the ill-worded law that now permanently confines political expression, and in the opinion of these grey ones the law bans Darren from releasing this song to the net, on radio, or in any electronic form unless he attaches his name and address to it.
Because to release any political commentary in this form over the election period is, in the view of the grey ones, a political advertisement.
The Electoral Commission is also threatening that the sale of the song through iTunes without a promoter statement is "an apparent breach of section 204F of the Electoral Act", punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.
Said Watson: "I object to the suggestion that I am some sort of political promoter. I am a musician and I feel very strongly about this kind of censorship. I believe in artistic freedom."
The boys and girls at the Electoral Commission do not.
The manner of their threat is pure bureaucratese:
Watson tweeted on Tuesday that he would be removing it from sale "by order of the Electoral Commission" - but the commission says it has made no such order.
"We haven't ordered anything to be taken down, or removed," a spokesperson told 3 News. "The commission does not have any power to prosecute."
Instead, the commission says it has advised the duo to add a promoter statement. The advice isn't legally binding, but if they don't comply, the Electoral Commission will have to consider whether to refer the matter to the police.
This is not an order. No. But if you don’t do it, we’ll “refer the matter to the police” – and with our warmest recommendation.
So, by this afternoon, this video will be a dead link: