Freedom of Speech
Tim Selwyn’s prosecution for sedition once again highlights this
government’s contempt for freedom of expression, said Libertarianz leader
Bernard Darnton today.
Selwyn’s act of vandalism has already been dealt with under a separate
charge, to which he’s pleaded guilty. The sedition charge is simply an
attempt to punish criticism of the government.
The law against sedition is a medieval hangover that should be removed from our law books immediately. Sedition law is an assault on free speech – it
only criminalises political expression. Speech that really incites violence
can be dealt with under existing laws against public disorder, as pointed
out by Sir Geoffrey Palmer during a review of Crimes Act Reform: ‘Sedition
should not be a crime in a democratic society committed to free speech.
Libelling the government must be permitted in a free society.’
Using this archaic law to try and silence its critics is typical of both
this government’s high-handedness and its disrespect for freedom of
Freedom of expression is the most important pillar of a free society and
yet this government has a terrible record in defending it. They have
investigated regulating hate speech; they have kept holocaust-deniers from
visiting the country because of their objectionable opinions; they have told
newspaper editors to sacrifice their freedom to print satirical cartoons
because it might cost us a few trade dollars; and now they are pursuing a
protester with an outdated law because he dared to question their
confiscation of the foreshore and seabed.
Sedition law makes it illegal to bring into ‘hatred or contempt [...] the
Government of New Zealand’. Yet with its lack of concern for freedom of
expression this government is worthy only of hatred and contempt.
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Libertarianz: More Freedom – Less Government