US Upset That New Zealand Government Has Too Much Respect For Free Speech

from the can't-have-that dept

Following the leaked cables that showed how the US offered to help write New Zealand's new copyright laws, Chargone points us to the news that the US was equally (if not more) interested in rewriting New Zealand's anti-terrorism laws, which it believed were inadequate.

Particularly galling to the US State Department? The idea that New Zealanders have a healthy respect for free speech (how dare they!):
In the post-9/11 world, one would expect that New Zealand would have an adequate law to deal with foreign as well as domestic terrorism - it does not. Critics of the TSA [Terrorism Suppression Act] say that the law was never envisaged to apply to domestic terrorism, but one wonders if it would have applied to foreign terrorists plotting much the same activities as those leaked by the press. The inherent weaknesses of the TSA underscore that the Labour Party and its minor party partners in government (many of whom are veterans of Vietnam War-era street protests) are not comfortable with legislation that in any way would undermine legitimate political expression. We hope the Law Commission, which will review the law...
Yeah. We come from the country in which we're told that the government "shall make no law," that infringes on our right to free speech... and here that same government is whining that another country has too much respect for free speech. The US ambassador seems upset that New Zealand would dare consider free speech rights to be important. It's stories like these that make the State Department's claims of supporting freedom around the globe ring pretty hollow...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2011 @ 9:31am

    I honestly believe that all these politicians have no concept of what this country [the Untied States] is supposed to be about. To them being in government service is not about service to one's country, but about service to one's wallet. Its just a job and they care not one quantum about anything other than appeasing their wallet and getting more of what fills it.

    Its really unfortunate that we don't have more people in government service that aren't there for altruistic reasons. For almost all of them its about money and power and woe-betide anyone whose rights get in the way of that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    CommonSense (profile), May 6th, 2011 @ 9:59am

    Not "The U.S."

    It's "The U.S. GOVERNMENT."

    As a citizen, I personally LOVE the fact that New Zealand's government has respect for free speech, and I think there's no such thing as too much of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Greg G (profile), May 6th, 2011 @ 11:07am

      Re: Not "The U.S."

      Ditto

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Chargone (profile), May 7th, 2011 @ 3:32am

      Re: Not "The U.S."

      of course, we currently have a National government, not a Labour government. The Labour government was the one that didn't change the terrorism laws. the National government is the one that changed the copyright laws. (and looks set to sell off the Christchurch City Council's assets, including utility companies, under cover of rebuilding from the earthquake. almost inevitably to US interests who gut it for all it's worth, wreck it, then either con the government into buying it back to keep it functional or sell it to Other forigen interests who do the same. that's what's happened to everything ELSE they've done that to,, anyway.)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2011 @ 7:20am

      Re: Not "The U.S."

      I think there's no such thing as too much of it.

      Whether they admit it or not, everyone believes that... until they wake up one day only to find it's working against them.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2011 @ 10:11am

    "We come from the country in which we're told that the government "shall make no law," that infringes on our right to free speech... and here that same government is whining that another country has too much respect for free speech..."


    Do as I say......

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Christopher (profile), May 6th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    So...

    ... is it time yet to lay some blame on the Obama administration for this, or are they still being held above this sort of thing, i.e "It's part of the established culture"?

    When can we expect this to stop, reasonably, with Super Obama in office? Conversely, when do we stop making excuses for him?

    -C

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Alex hagen, May 6th, 2011 @ 11:53am

      Re: So...

      Well, considering the cable was from 2007, before Obama took office and the person who wrote it was appointed by Bush in 2005...I would love to see how you can try and pin this on Obama.

      Of course, proof and facts have never stopped the anti-Obama crowd before.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Chargone (profile), May 7th, 2011 @ 3:34am

        Re: Re: So...

        personally, i'm of the opinion that the whole issue is but a symptom of the entrenched culture, which Obama is a product of. so, frankly, the idiots need to shut up about 'wah, it's all Obama's fault, evil communist' *stifles laughter at the idea that ANY american politician could be considered left wing and actually get anywhere* and 'no, no, Obama can do no wrong because it's all bush/the system's fault'.

        fact is, the system is broken, and Obama, so far as i can tell, is not making it better, and is infact perpetuating the downward spiral. so... both half right, all stupid for arguing over it rather than realising the problem and looking into viable solutions.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Alex Hagen, May 6th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Misrepresent much Mike

    I have seen some poor reporting by you over the years Mike, but this one takes the cake. I love how you quote one part of the article (that doesn't mean anything like you intend it to mean) and then completely skip the VERY NEXT LINE of the article that destroys the entire point of your analysis:

    "The cable expressed hope that the Law Commission's now-stalled review of the terror laws would strike a balance that would "find a way to preserve peaceful political dissent and civil liberties without leaving the country vulnerable to those - foreign or domestic - who would do it harm"."

    Shame shame Mike. That is just pathetic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Donnicton, May 6th, 2011 @ 11:29am

      Re: Misrepresent much Mike

      They're not at all clear exactly how much would be preserved, or how much they would declare to be necessary to sacrifice to prevent "leaving the country vulnerable"(Look at the massive overreaches of the TSA and ICE that are hiding behind the same logic). They also don't seem to be particularly clear from that wording exactly what their definition of "vulnerable" is.

      I instead see that quote as a "the ends would justify the means" push.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2011 @ 11:30am

      Re: Misrepresent much Mike

      Huh? That line says the exact same thing as the rest of the paragraph. No matter what "balance" is struck, the bottom line is that the US wants some liberties removed to fight "terrorism".

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Alex Hagen, May 6th, 2011 @ 11:43am

        Re: Re: Misrepresent much Mike

        "That line says the exact same thing[...]"

        Uh...yes, exactly the same thing, if by that you mean complete opposite:

        "US wants some liberties removed to fight "terrorism"

        is exactly the opposite of:

        "find a way to preserve peaceful political dissent and civil liberties"

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: Misrepresent much Mike

          Nope - it's not the opposite. The ambassador is OK with 'peaceful' talk. Talk about kittens and rainbows all you want.

          It's a certain type of speech they want curtailed. In this case, they overheard phone calls discussing possible destruction of public buildings. The so called 'terrorists' talked about it but never actually carried out any violence. That's the sort of thing that these terrorist acts are made for - to put people in jail who may be a 'credible threat' regardless of whether any violent act occurs.

          Were they really going to kill somebody, or were they just vocalizing some ugly fantasies? The TSA blurs that distinction.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Alex Hagen, May 6th, 2011 @ 11:40am

    The reality of this story

    So, for those who want to actually learn something real instead of immersing yourselves in Mike's fantasy version of the story, here are the actual facts of this case.

    New Zealand passed the Terrorism Suppression Act, which creates a few new laws relating to terrorism. In 2007, the police raided an alleged paramilitary training camp deep in the Urewera mountain range. The police intended for them to be charge using the Terrorism Suppression Act, but the prosecutor decided not to because the the TSA was too complex:

    "Dr Collins said there was insufficient evidence to establish "to the very high standard required that a group or entity was planning or preparing to commit a terrorist act as that term is defined in the legislation".

    The legislation was "extremely complex, very, very tortuous in the way in which it is put together and almost impossible to apply in a coherent manner".

    He said it was not his job to criticise the piecing together of the Act, but recommended it be referred to the Law Commission for it to determine whether it not it should be completely reviewed."

    So the law is broken, and pretty much everyone knows it. So ambassador William McCormick was giving his private analysis of why the law is broken in the leaked cable. Note he is not the "US", nor even the "US government", but a single individual offering an opinion on why the law is what it is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

      Re: The reality of this story

      "So, for those who want to actually learn something real instead of immersing yourselves in Mike's fantasy version of the story, here are the actual facts of this case."

      And we should pay attention to your unsourced version of the story because...?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 6th, 2011 @ 6:30pm

      Re: Urewera “Terrorism” Raids

      The legislation was "extremely complex, very, very tortuous in the way in which it is put together and almost impossible to apply in a coherent manner".

      What a load of bullshit. Like he couldn’t have said as a submission at the time the law was being passed? It was just a lame, face-saving excuse for some totally over-the-top police action. After the initial nationwide publicity over the raids, they had to backtrack and backtrack from their initial claims over the seriousness of the issue, until nothing was left but a few firearms-possession charges. “Terrorism” it was not.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    “Go back to bed, America, your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed America, your government is in control. Here, here's American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up, go back to bed America, here is American Gladiators, here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on the living in the land of freedom. Here you go America - you are free to do what well tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!”

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Steve Ballantyne, May 6th, 2011 @ 3:41pm

    More reality

    For extra detail, the people arrested in the Urewera raid were Maori nationalists from the Tuhoe tribe, which was not a signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi, generally regarded as New Zealand's founding document. Most Maori tribes signed up to receive British 'protection' in return for submitting to rule by Westminster-style democracy. How well this has worked out is still subject to debate and sometimes litigation.

    Tuhoe have been pretty grumpy about various things but so far they haven't killed anyone or shown any real sign that they want to.

    And In case you're wondering, they aren't Muslims.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Kei (profile), May 6th, 2011 @ 3:53pm

    Speaking as a kiwi

    IMO, it doesn't matter whether the following sentence backed up the one previously or tempered it. There have been numerous revelations about the US government and corporations using threats, bribery and bullying tactics to affect change in laws in New Zealand. The slate is not blank here - in 1984, our Prime Minister enacted a Nuclear Free legislation that barred nuclear warships from entering New Zealand ports. Because the US would not reveal which ships had nuclear capabilities, this meant they could not dock here. In response, the US backed out of the ANZUS treaty (though they're still in it with Australia, as are we) and started changing international trade agreements to make it harder for us to export goods there - they used this same tactic more recently, threatening to block our largest dairy company from selling goods in the US if we didn't send troops to Afghanistan. Dairy is a huge part of our economy, so this would have had an enormous impact on our citizens. Even a few years ago we were told that we could not negotiate free trade agreements with the US (which are almost never beneficial for the non-US partner anyway, but that's a different issue) unless we revoked the nuclear free legislation.

    One of the areas they're currently interfering in is the drug industry. Medication is actually up to 40% cheaper here than in the US because Pharmac, the agency that imports about 70% of it, negotiates with the suppliers for a decent price. However now the government is being told that if we don't enact legislation regarding drug sales favourable to US drug companies, the price of that medication will go up. Way up. It will become unaffordable to an awful lot of people - potentially killing. The US has even issued a report blaming Pharmac for our relatively low OECD rating for preventable deaths (related to health care), despite the fact that the US is even lower on the list (22nd out of 27) and in regards to *improvements* in preventable deaths we're 13th and they're 26th (from 1996 to 2006).

    What this is is simply another example of the US trying to meddle with another country's laws. It doesn't matter exactly what they want curtailed. Our laws are ours, not theirs. They are made with the welfare of New Zealand people in mind, and the situations in the two different countries are very different. Unfortunately, we currently have a right wing government that seems to be quite happy to pander to at least some of the US government's demands, but our government being spineless or corrupt or whatever it happens to be does not excuse the behaviour of the US here. The US government describes us as "a friend, not an ally" but it seems what they really want us to be is a watered down puppet-country who'll do whatever they want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Chargone (profile), May 7th, 2011 @ 3:43am

      Re: Speaking as a kiwi

      Kei has more details than me it seems.

      yeeeeeeah, there's a reason why most New Zealanders i talk to hold an opinion reguardin the US something to the effect of 'well, i don't Hate them... don't realy care on the whole. But i wish they'd just go away and leave us alone'. ... the degree of vehemence varies.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Mike Kevitt, May 6th, 2011 @ 6:21pm

    free speech, concerning New Zealand

    Free speech means you can intellectually express your ideas without being thrown in jail for it. That doesn't mean you can leak, or publish leaked classified data, or cause physical disruption in order to express your ideas, like hippies always did during the '60's.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Jay (profile), May 7th, 2011 @ 10:23am

      Re: free speech, concerning New Zealand

      Even "classified" data that shouldn't be classified in the first place?

      The US Watergate scandal says otherwise.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This