Friday, April 12, 2019

Guess what? Hate speech can be punished using existing laws

The moron who shouted abuse at Muslim worshippers outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch on Wednesday now faces a possible prison sentence, and so he should.

Why the police officers stationed outside the mosque didn’t arrest this odious exhibitionist hoodlum immediately is a question only they can answer, but at least someone higher up later thought better of it.

Anyway, Daniel Nicholas Tuapawa has now pleaded guilty to a charge of behaving in an insulting manner likely to cause violence and has been remanded on bail for a pre-sentencing report. He says he has no recollection of the incident.

There’s scope for endless argument about the definition of hate speech, but even a free-speech advocate like me has no trouble deciding that someone who allegedly kicked photos of murdered Muslim worshippers while shouting “Fucking Muslims, they all need to get the fuck out of New Zealand” and “All Muslims are terrorists” – and this outside the mosque where more than 40 people were killed – has crossed the line.

The police who let him get away with it were just plain wrong to decide that he was simply exercising his right to free speech. They should have detained him straight away for a breach of the peace and left it to a court to decide.

But here’s the thing: the charge belatedly brought today shows that the police were able to deal with the offence using existing laws. The lesson is that notwithstanding all the squawking from the opportunistic neo-Marxist Left who insist we need special hate speech laws, there’s ample scope already for deterring people who behave in a threatening way toward minorities.


Tinman said...

Mr Tuapawa made some noise when he was drunk and, apparently, attempted to vandalise some dead flowers.

Does this really deserve police action, arrest and trial?

Had Mr Tuapawa wandered through ChCh cemetery and done something similar to a christian/buddhist/wiccan burial site would the police and media have become so incensed?

Or would Mr Tuapawa just been sent away to sober up?

Karl, while I wholeheartedly agree with your main premis I suspect those policemen outside the mosque in Deans Ave acted exactly as they should have after recognising the pathetic act for what it was.

Having said that you appear to be the only journalist standing up for freedom of thought and expression in New Zealand right now.

For that I thank you.

Arbuthnot said...

Tuapawa has stated that he has no recollection of the alleged incident. He has also stated that he suffers from blackouts. This could possibly mean he's on SSRIs for known health issues (Like almost every USian mass shooter).

That requires investigation before jumping on the hate train.

But thanks for your knee jerk reaction. Golly thinks you're a stand up Guy.

Karl du Fresne said...

Actually, I agree that it was a kneejerk reaction, based on what I knew at the time. Given what we now know about Tuapawa, I would have put things differently. He's a man who obviously needs help. But I don't resile from my main points: 1. That the police should have intervened immediately, even if only to gently escort him away; 2. That there is scope in existing law to deal with situations like this, and thus no need to be panicked into introducing so-called hate speech laws that would threaten legitimate freedom of expression..

David said...

What concerned me on the day was the media hysteria demanding that the police arrest the miscreant, and punish the officer who let him go.

That escalated during Checkpoint that evening with the regional commander coming on air to assure the media the officer had been "removed from the district," the officer's actions would be investigated, and the miscreant would be found and charged with disorderly behaviour.

It seemed obvious to me on first hearing about this incident that the miscreant had mental health issues and that the police had used their discretion not to arrest him. Police often use that discretion.

Even the blindest sane drunk doesn't start abusing the congregation at their place of worship in front of two police officers holding machine guns to their chests. The man must be seriously mentally ill. I have seen many such people in my career and the police in recent decades have treated them with compassion.

That the officer now faces disciplinary action due to the media hounding raises my concern that no officer henceforth will use their discretion again, for fear of disciplinary action if the media disapproves.

That the miscreant has been charged with an offence far graver than disorderly behaviour and is being threatened with jail by the judge also gives me cause for concern.

Since March 15, the media have been loudly leading the demands to suppress freedom of speech and for punishing those whose speech causes offence to the journalists leading this campaign.

I wonder what they will say when inevitably they are the ones caught by the anti-freedom changes they are demanding? Or even when the first journalist is charged with disorderly behaviour for interviewing someone on a public footpath....

"Reap what you sow" comes to mind.

Trev1 said...

It's likely that the Police were allowing this member of the Tangata Whenua to exercise his customary right of gratuitous abuse against other groups. They are no doubt required to undergoing training courses on this.

Hilary Taylor said...

On first report I believe most of paused and reacted along the lines of 'that cop used discretion and refused to overreact, thereby giving 'oxygen' to this small-scale matter, as we're constantly lectured to avoid. Yes, he could've been 'moved on'. I am pleased the Policeman acted as he did,as he does every working day, judiciously and showing restraint, even if his boss isn't.

Unknown said...

A fruitcake being abusive, the police let him wander off. And now it's a big issue...
Actually I wonder that nobody is asking what the hell the police are doing waving machine guns around in public for!!! There was no armed incident requiring weapons of any sort, and some poor sap with a machine gun is required to deal with a fruitcake in an appropriate manner. Having a weapon is no advantage in dealing with unarmed people...