Noam Chomsky on Free Speech

“Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”

-Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, 1992

Christchurch Terrorist’s Manifesto and Video Banned By New Zealand’s Chief Censor

Radio New Zealand reports that the “mainfesto” written by the Christchurch terrorist has been banned in that country.

Chief Censor David Shanks said others have referred to the publication as a “manifesto”, but he considers it a “crude booklet” which promotes murder and terrorism.

Mr Shanks said this publication crosses the line to make it objectionable under New Zealand law.

“There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech’, which may be rejected by many right-thinking people but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism,” he said.

. . .

Those who have the publication for legitimate purposes, such as reporters, researchers and academics to analyse and educate can apply for an exception.

Anyone who sees the material online is being asked to report it immediately.

According to the Department of Internal Affairs, “knowingly” possessing or sharing objectionable material carries up to a 14 year jail term.

It is bizarre that there are democracies in which “Chief Censor” is an unironic title. If I watched a movie about a closed society that included a “Chief Censor” character, I’d consider that heavy handed and over the top, and yet that’s a real thing in New Zealand.

Over at Ars Technica, Timothy B. Lee notes that recordings of the terrorist’s livestreamed video have also been deemed objectionable, and a number of people have already been arrested for sharing it,

Distributing objectionable materials online comes with stiff legal penalties. One man—the 44-year-old owner of an insulation company with alleged neo-Nazi sympathies—has been arrested and charged with two counts of distributing objectionable materials in violation of New Zealand’s Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. He is being held without bail and could be sentenced to as much as 14 years in prison for each offense.

Another man, an 18-year-old, is also facing charges for sharing the video.

And these two may not be the only ones in New Zealand facing charges for sharing the video. Authorities have asked Facebook for the names of others who have shared it.

This would be unimaginable in the United States which, as Lee notes in his article “is unusual in offering near-absolute protection for free speech under the First Amendment.”

Freedom of speech is too precious a right to let terrorists and bureaucrats take it away.