Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: These things we must now change

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  • Dennis Frank,

    I was responding to the suggestion that a bipartisan consensus in parliament to oppose racism would be a good idea. It probably would, but viability would hinge on the definition used.

    I agree that hatred is a bad thing - have felt that way since I was a child. I recall making a conscious decision to reject it when adolescent in the early sixties. I've noticed, however, that leftists who oppose hate speech tend to use it themselves, when criticising rightists who use it. As a centrist, I find both groups contemptible. Fortunately many leftists do not descend to that level!

    We have a law against hate speech. However it has never been tested via prosecution, as far as I'm aware, so we don't have case-law to establish precedent yet. I'm also unaware of any consensual definition that could be applied, so I remain a sceptic as regards the practicality of the notion.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to flabra,

    I empathise & will try to respond suitably. Speech matters, indeed, and I agree it is part of behaviour. Intent and motive are usually discernible, but it is human nature to disagree and diagnosis therefore varies. Interpretation is a subjective mental process.

    To articulate an objective view, folks usually form an interim verbal agreement, then formalise it via consensus on the written description if necessary. In politics, it is necessary. I led such a process for the Greens, to get the rules for decision-making and constitution adopted, so I'm clear on how to do that stuff successfully.

    As regards racism diagnosis, I can report that it was done via dictionary definition originally. Anyone who asserted that one race was superior to others was deemed racist. Supporters of ideologies and governments that promoted the notion were then also deemed racist. I marched against apartheid on that basis in 1970.

    Nowadays things have morphed, so we routinely get racist applied as a term of abuse regardless of the definition being inappropriate to the circumstance. Bigotry rules, in consequence. I blame postmodernism for this outcome.

    I'm aware that this explanation may not fully answer the question you began with, but I'm not sure I can add anything more helpful...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Katita, in reply to Russell Brown,

    the case of National's disappearing petition about the UN Global Migration Compact ...


    One can only imagine the 'emotional junior staff member' is code for human being

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 67 posts Report

  • Moz, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    There's been an evident trend in recent years to disregard the standard definition of the term

    That to some extent comes back to prescriptive vs descriptive linguistics, plus the usual rejection of a certain type of argument from authority by young people. Equally, old man yells at cloud is a longstanding tradition.

    It's worth noting that race is a social construct without biological meaning, and that racial categorisation changes over time. Are "the Irish" a race? If not when did that change?

    two judges in a NSW court recently decided that a prosecution failed because islam is not a race

    Would you like to argue that the attacks weren't racist because Islam isn't a race? Passionate racists are quite willing to hate Muslims for not being of the "white race" regardless of the pedantry of online commentators or the arguments of lawyers.

    The judges may be correct as a matter of law, but that merely points to the difference between justice and law.

    I would also be incredibly reluctant to look to Australia for guidance on matters of bigotry and hatred, especially when it comes to racism and Islamophobia. Australia has a very poor record on this and one simple example is their reluctance to describe first nations people as human. That didn't stop with the referendum and it hasn't stopped now. Look at the controversy over the gargoyles on the war memorial for example.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report

  • Moz,

    Also: legal terms change meaning over time too. If you look at the Australian "Section 44 crisis" that is all about the exact meaning of "foreign allegiance". At the time that was written it's very likely that Catholics would have failed because they were ruled by Rome, and it very definitely applied to Africans, Pacific Islanders, Southern Europeans etc (and we don't use the same terms to describe those people today... they weren't racist then, but they are now... weird, huh).

    Today the same argument that keeps Kiwis out could equally apply to British people and indeed anyone who swears allegiance to the Queen of New Zealand (and sundry other territories). Luckily the formal Oath used in Australia is to the Queen of Australia (and sundry other territories)... whew! And they require people whose countries don't allow renunciation of citizenship to make a declaration in Australia instead, but they don't impose a similar requirement on people from birthright citizenship countries (like Australia and Aotearoa). Kiwis can just renounce, serve in parliament, then resume their proper (unAustralian) citizenship.

    It's a bit of a maze of twisty passages once you start digging.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report

  • Craig Young,

    As no-one has raised the subject of the large kangaroo thumping around next door, let's. The Aussies really need to clean their Augean* media and poltitical stables out. Unfortunately, it's too much to expect the Murdoch press chain to suddenly go financially (as opposed to ethically and professionally) bankrupt, but they do have an election over there two months from now.

    *One nice LGBT Australian FB poster said what an apt metaphor that was when I used it :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell,

    I've been thinking about gun laws, it seems to me we should:

    - ban semi-autos (with a buy back)
    - license guns as well as people, so we can detect people who are stockpiling

    But here's my idea for today, let's call it the "Good Keen Man" provision, to maintain your firearms license you have to turn in 2 deer tails to the police every year

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • andin, in reply to Katita,

    100’s of comments about how the name change was a disgrace, PC gone mad, they have 28 years proud history,

    28 years isnt a particularly long time. Sure people can have their say but its up to the club in the end, and maybe they are capable of exhibiting more sensitivity towards the larger issues than some of their obvious kneejerk supporters. And PC gone mad is getting to be a catch-all phrase, empty words signifying nothing more that the idle irritation of the speaker. To them I say 'Grow a pair you couch potatoes!'

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • nzlemming, in reply to steve black,

    Shortly after the event I was disturbed to receive this from somebody in the USA on a forum I moderate.

    I had this on FB last night. I wish I'd realised it was a Breitbart narrative at the time.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He's such a piece of shit, he really is.

    Yes. He is.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report

  • Katita,


    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 67 posts Report

  • Moz, in reply to Craig Young,

    The Aussies really need to clean their Augean* media and poltitical stables out.

    Oh, people over here have mentioned it all right. Vigorously, and in public. But... yeah. We need to climb down from 90% not willing to change their vote on issues like "is torturing children bad?", "should the secret police be able to detain you indefinitely without trial or lawyer?" and other issues on which naive fools like me might think there was only one answer. Australia thinks, generally vehemently, that there is indeed only one answer and that answer is "fuck off we're full"... perhaps that's where the stable contents you mentioned go?

    Mehreen Faruqi (Greens NSW Senator, also Muslim and an engineer) has been quite visible in those media that feel comfortable letting Islamic voices through. Walid Ali has also spoken on his show. But overall there's not a lot, definitely nothing like the Spinoff's coverage or Anjum's article which is far more direct than anything I've seen published here. For that you have to go to the people who spoke at the Bond St vigil in Sydney or similar smaller gatherings and I can't find links. Funny that.

    We do get stuff like this though...




    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    you have to turn in 2 deer tails to the police every year

    The Devil is always in the deer tails!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to andin,

    28 years isn't a particularly long time

    That's as long as it takes to grow an Australian psychopath from birth to multiple homicides...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • flabra, in reply to Dennis Frank,


    You posted: “I’m not convinced that the cause and effect relation between hate speech and violence has been established”.

    My question was a real question and a rhetorical one at the same time. You did answer the rhetorical engagement but not the question.

    Again, what kind of evidence will be for you an acceptable proof of the relation between speech and behaviour?

    Speech not only organize behaviour, it organize our thinking, the way that we make inferences and establish meanings. I see danger in dismissing this fundamental relationship. I believe it is important from now on to acknowledge the subtleties in the language we use when we create and express our thoughts.

    In my view, New Zealand has been shattered not only in his flesh but also in his symbolic realm. We have to ponder what we said, what we listen and what we do. If the "unnamed" was able to understand that we must “utter true words”.

    Nelson • Since Mar 2019 • 2 posts Report

  • andin, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Thats an eerie coincidence...

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    the standard definition

    Conversations like these will invariably fail to delight you.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Farmer Green,

    But, but . . is it still O.K. , P.C., nay, de rigeur , to call for violence against " climate deniers"? Extermination even? For "bold action"?

    Because, you know . . . nutters can get the wrong idea, right?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to flabra,

    Acceptable proof of a causal relation is established by example. I suspect the reason our hate speech law has not yet been tested in court is because nobody has yet discovered an example suitable for prosecution.

    In that respect my opinion is typical of everyone else’s. I await a valid example. None of the hate speech accusations that one routinely encounters on political blogs has yet sufficed to meet the legal standard.

    I do agree that we ought not to dismiss the relation between speech and behaviour, and I accept the principle that the hate-speech law was based on: harm minimisation. Inciting folks to violence produces a toxic culture, enhancing the likelihood that someone may act on the basis of the speech. Yet leftist blogs contribute to the toxicity due to commentators using hate speech – albeit not to the same extent as rightist blogs.

    I also agree that symbolism is extremely influential. Hitler & Goebbels deployed it effectively. Our PM, for instance, seems currently to be functioning extremely well as a symbol of hope and I bet that is having a big effect on our younger generations.

    In the USA, the gun functions as a symbol of freedom. I’ve always seen it as a symbol of violence (I became non-violent in 1964). Breivik & Tarrant both promoted themselves as symbols of resistance: they used that symbolism as a means of empowering their ideology. Leading by example, in the hope of replication. Which points to the relevance of mimetic theory, and the role of complex memes in the formation of belief systems via viral contagion. I recommend Mind Wars (McFadyen, 2000) to any reader with a propensity for gnosis around the deeper dimensions of human nature.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Hilton Wells, in reply to Russell Brown,

    'But I saw too many people on social media blaming Christchurch and apparently forgetting in their rage that it was Christchurch that was attacked'

    In response to your post above,
    I also grew up in Christchurch, still have family there and know it well.

    A few quick points, your friend's opinion that intolerance seems to have improved post-earthquake does not discount that Christchurch still has much work to do to address the systemic racism and intolerance that still exists there.

    Let's not be defensive about it, Christchurch does not 'have these issues to itself', I agree, but that sounds a bit like what-aboutism, rather than addressing how it is in Christchurch.

    Also, clearly it was not Christchurch that was attacked Russell. Muslims were attacked and bystanders that didn't fit the target profile of the killer were not targeted.

    For a journalist of your experience I think it's a reasonable expectation that you would choose your words more wisely, especially in regard to subjects as sensitive as this.

    Since Mar 2019 • 3 posts Report

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Hilton Wells,

    I rather think that it is " peaceful co- existence" that is being targeted by those who seek to divide and rule.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report

  • simon g, in reply to Farmer Green,

    FG, I don't want to get into a slanging match on this thread, on this subject, at this time. So I would respectfully ask you to think about the comparison that you have made in that comment, reconsider its merit, and edit accordingly. Thanks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • Farmer Green, in reply to simon g,

    Of course I will if you could explain a bit.
    I am unclear why you think the comparison is inappropriate.
    I assume we agree that all violent threats to enforce silence are equally unacceptable because of the risk of misinterpretation by the challenged amongst us. The current censorship and self- censorship appears to be based on similar reasoning.
    So no form of hate speech is acceptable.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    leftist blogs contribute to the toxicity due to commentators using hate speech

    Naturally you have some examples of this leftist hate speech to offer us.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Farmer Green,

    all violent threats to enforce silence are equally unacceptable

    Ah, the level paying field fallacy.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

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