Wednesday, 31 March 2021

What's objectionable is shutting down free speech


"Injurious to the public good"? "Objectionable content"? Do you want to give the grey ones power to declare what is isn't "objectionable"? To determine which of your internet contributions are "injurious to the public good"? Then you're almost too late to object to a proposed Bill cementing in this attack on free speech: submissions close tomorrow on the grey ones's Bill to censor the internet.
    “This Bill is part of a wider government programme to address violent extremism,” said the moron Minister who introduced the Bill. “This is about protecting New Zealanders from harmful content they can be exposed to on their everyday social media feeds,” she lied. 
    Feel free to crib from this guest post by Terry Verhoeven to make your own submission telling her and her cronies about the importance of free speech ...

Below is my submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill. Tomorrow is the last day for submissions.
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To whom it may concern,
    I write in dismay about and in opposition to the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill, which if enacted is going to violate countless individuals’ right to freedom of expression and property rights. It is going to violate those rights by instituting privilege: the privilege of being able to force others not to say things that might possibly offend.
    Many of us are offended by this assault on rights.
    Authentic rights are not a Western idea, but an Enlightenment one; rights result from us reasoning about our nature, and may be arrived at and enjoyed by any human being who makes the mental effort to grasp and uphold them.
    Why are rights so important? Because they are our only means to freedom. New Zealand’s national anthem proudly calls this country a “free land.” It won’t stay a free land for long if rights are forgotten about and replaced by privileges.
    Let us turn to some basics about rights, because this submission is taking a principled stand.
    What is an authentic right, as opposed to a privilege or a printing-press “right”? A right is a principle which defines and sanctions individual action in a social context. More specifically, a right is what the facts of reality determine reasoning minds need to function and flourish in a social context. The principle “right” is arrived at by making a proper identification of that need. Rights begin with, end with, and serve to protect the reasoning mind, our defining characteristic as an enlightened species.
    What does a reasoning mind need to function and flourish in society? Is it not being offended? No! A reasoning mind can still function perfectly well even when it is offended. What a reasoning mind needs is freedom, which can only be achieved by the absence of coercion, the initiation of physical force. The existential requirement of any reasoning mind is the freedom to think, speak and act, limited only by the obligation not to infringe on another’s right to the same.
    The proposed bill is itself an infringing act. Its purpose is to force people to stop speaking and acting in an offensive manner, according to some subjective standard. There is no such thing as a right not to be offended. Any such claim constitutes a privilege, not a right.
    Property rights are perhaps the most important right missing in all this. Property rights implement the right to liberty, which in turn implements the right to live as a reasoning being, commonly called the right to life. In a free and just society, if you do not like what someone says on or with their legitimately acquired property, you are free to go about your way and avoid them and what they say. Conversely, if you want to say something on or with your own legitimately acquired property, no one has the right to stop you. Property rights enable people to live and let live by resolving conflicting claims to freedom of action in a compossible way. Upholding property rights does not lead to a utopia by any means, because people are free to do dumb things with or on their property, but it is nonetheless the best and most just system of rights-implementation there is.
    It is down the path of upholding property rights that legitimate governments must go for authentic rights to be upheld. Enacting laws that aim to protect people’s feelings at the price of doing away with authentic rights is to travel down a civilisation off-ramp and onto a motorway of injustice against a large “WRONG WAY” sign.
    If people abuse the freedoms given them by rights, for example by saying things that are irrational (including being unwarrantedly offensive), the disgruntled or disaffected may then exercise their right to freely boycott, protest, condemn, mock, retort, and/or take any other action within their rights to affect change. That is how a society remains free while progressing towards better outcomes. Without property rights as the arbiter of what can or cannot be said with or on one’s own property (such as on a website), a chaos of clashing claims ensues, whereby a culture of political pull and ultimately corruption becomes the arbiter. The latter is the direction this bill will take us if passed into law as presently worded.
    I urge you to speak out against this misguided bill, both for the sake of our future as a free nation, and to honour all who have died to keep this country a free nation.
    I have only one suggestion if this bill must pass, and that is to insert a provision to make it subject to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, and specifically sections 13 and 14, which should override it.  
          Terry Verhoeven

 

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