New Zealand Censors Declare Christchurch Shooting Footage Illegal; Start Rounding Up Violators

from the this-will-end-badly dept

Following the recent mass shooting in New Zealand, the county’s government swiftly declared the live footage of the attack, along with the shooter’s manifesto, “objectionable.” This classification is more than a condemnation: it made both illegal to possess or distribute. Thanks to this response, New Zealand law enforcement is now rounding up and charging anyone who violates this post-tragedy decision to make newsworthy content the legal equivalent of child porn.

The first reported arrest occurred March 17th, two days after the shooter livestreamed his attack on local mosques.

A teenager has appeared in a New Zealand court charged with distributing the livestream video of a deadly mass shooting at Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque.

The 18-year-old, whose name was suppressed by the judge, was also charged with publishing a photograph of the mosque with the message “target acquired”, and for inciting violence.

He faces a maximum of 14 years in prison for each charge, prosecutors said.

On top of the stiff potential penalties, the judge also apparently believed the 18-year-old posed enough of a threat (for further violence or just simply disappearing) to deny him bail.

The arrests resulting from New Zealand’s media censorship office’s declaration continue.

A Christchurch businessman has appeared in court on charges of distributing footage of one of the mosque shootings.

Philip Neville Arps, 44, had his application for bail declined when he appeared in the Christchurch District Court today.

He was remanded in custody until his next appearance on April 15.

Another arrest for distributing “obscene” footage and another denial of bail.

In both cases, those arrested appear to be sympathetic (if that’s the right word — it seems so wrong) with the shooter’s hatred of Muslims and preference for a whiter tomorrow. The 18-year-old’s “target acquired” comment suggested, at minimum, they saw nothing wrong with targeting members of certain religions.

Philip Arps appears to be a long-time proponent of white nationalism — even going so far as to use a symbol appropriated by neo-Nazis as the logo for his business. Arps apparently spent the days after the shooting praising the shooter and refusing to apologize for his views. A review of Arps’ business by Stuff Magazine shows Arp hasn’t exactly kept his personal beliefs and his company’s public presence from intermingling.

Beneficial Insulation also charges $14.88 per metre for insulation – 14.88 is a hate symbol popular with white extremists.

The company’s website www.BIIG.co.nz, is an acronym for the company’s full name Beneficial Insulation Installs Guaranteed. BIIg was the name of a barracks at Auschwitz concentration camp, operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust.

While it may seem like it’s a good idea to take these people out of circulation, the fact that they’re facing a possible 14 years for sharing content arbitrarily declared “obscene” is… well… obscene. These may appear to be clear-cut interpretations of the law, given the sympathies of the people arrested, but future arrests may not be so unambiguous. The footage declared illegal is still newsworthy and the media censorship board hasn’t exactly made it clear it won’t be sending cops after people who use the footage for journalism, research, or criticism.

The ban of the complete video does not automatically mean that any image or short extract from it is also banned. However any edited clips, screenshots or still images taken from the full video depicting scenes of violence, injury or death, or that promote terrorism, may also be illegal.

Violations will be in the eye of the government beholder. Some violators won’t even know they’ve violated the law until they’re being rung up on charges and denied bail. This is an overreaction to a pretty much unprecedented development: the livestreaming of a mass murder. The potential for misjudgment and abuse is huge, given the natural tendency of people to share and comment on newsworthy incidents.

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Comments on “New Zealand Censors Declare Christchurch Shooting Footage Illegal; Start Rounding Up Violators”

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141 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Hopefully the US will eventually outlaw "saying mean things" (which go way beyond mean), to promote a more civilized society.

Free speech has been abused to the point where the maximalist approach no longer works. A great start would be to eliminate truth as a defense in libel actions, after Section 230 is gutted.

We as a species need to grow the **** up.

Sneeje (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I genuinely can’t tell if you are kidding or not.

If not, this is just the biggest blind spot in people. For some reason they cannot comprehend that establishing thoughtcrime for ostensibly good outcomes is not only likely to be applied for bad outcomes, it has been proven to be over and over.

Give an establishment subjective power over people and it will be abused and abused and abused.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

British law does not allow truth as a defense for libel.

Free speech is another one of those socipathic, social-Darwinist policies which are on the way out. It’s why single-payer, basic income, and other "socialist" policies are taking over.

Privileges which are abused can and should be taken away. We don’t need TOTAL free speech, just fairness, and we do not have that at present.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

British law does not allow truth as a defense for libel.

…which is how they managed to put the truth of the Holocaust on trial.

Privileges which are abused can and should be taken away. We don’t need TOTAL free speech, just fairness, and we do not have that at present.

Objectively define “fairness” such that it applies evenly across all speech instead of only to speech you do not like.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

We don’t have fairness now, even WITH our liberal free speech laws.

We do have people radicalizing and inciting terrorists with it though. That’s got to stop.

Fairness would mean no revenge-porn, no defamation stuck in search engines in perpetuity, no public bullying, etc.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

We don’t have fairness now, even WITH our liberal free speech laws.

So what? I despise the Westboro Baptist Church, but so long as they do not incite people to violence or defame someone, they should have as much right to spew their anti-gay propaganda as I should to call them homophobes.

We do have people radicalizing and inciting terrorists with it though. That’s got to stop.

Short of policing everyone’s speech — off- and online — in Orwellian fashion, how exactly do you plan to do that?

Fairness would mean no revenge-porn

Good luck identifying revenge porn before it is uploaded.

no defamation stuck in search engines in perpetuity

Search engines are content aggregators; that they scrape what could be defamatory content is the fault of the website that posted such content, not the search engine.

no public bullying

Only so long as we can start with Donald Trump.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Actually that the search engines scrape AND REPUBLISH what they find on the net, without regard to takedown notices (thanks to Section 230), is their own doing, not that of the original website, though often stuff is posted specifically to weaponize the search engine, which causes damage wholly separate from what the original site and poster (who may be impossible to sue) has done.

This is why distributor liability still applies everywhere in the world except the American internet. Pretending it doesn’t exist or asserting that search engines don’t cause damage doesn’t make it so, though it does lose points in a properly scored formal debate.

Unfairness such as this versus unfairness due to censorship is still unfairness. Inciting violence and terrorism is NOT free speech, and it’s clear that what we used to think was harmless "mean" speech is far more insidious. Governments are moving in my direction, not yours, so maybe take it up with them.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

the search engines scrape AND REPUBLISH what they find on the net

Good luck getting that argument over in court. Search engines do not “republish” content in the sense you are thinking.

without regard to takedown notices (thanks to Section 230)

If Google does not publish defamatory content, it is under no legal obligation to remove links to defamatory content. That it may do so if presented with a court order saying the content is defamatory is irrelevant.

stuff is posted specifically to weaponize the search engine

Then go after the people who “weaponize” search engines to promote defamatory content — or, better yet, figure out how defamatory content rises to the top of search engine results through artificial means and write a search engine algorithm that takes such “weaponizing” into account when presenting search results.

it’s clear that what we used to think was harmless "mean" speech is far more insidious

And yet, the Westboro Baptist Church and the Ku Klux Klan can still express their horrendous opinions while enjoying the protections of the First Amendment. How do you plan to do something about them while still allowing, say, GLAAD and Black Lives Matter groups to share opinions that anti-gay bigots and White supremacists would consider “mean” and “unfair”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Disgust is not phobia.

Women call straight men "creepy" and far worse for preying on them under pretext of friendship. Now add a lie about the predator’s sexual orientation to slip "under the radar" and you have something bordering on rape, or at least highly intrusive. Gays do this all the time to unsuspecting straights who are then vilified for actually recognizing the red flags for what they are.

Assuming homosexuals and heterosexuals are "equal," they are also equally predatory, except straight men can’t cloak the way gay men can. Lesbian women can do the same under guise of "sisterhood," particularly when coaching high school sports, etc.

If Miss America becomes a teacher and has sex with a fifteen year-old boy, is that really a sex-crime? Let’s have a divorced male therapist who sends all his money to his ex treat him for his "damage." That’d be hysterical.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I’ll make you a deal. You can have my free speech when you agree that I get to ban speech I dislike too, and everyone else does as well. For instance, we’ll start with the bible for promoting incest, move onto the koran for promoting violence against women, gays, heretics, apostates, children, goats, and dhimmi, then the communist manifesto for promoting violence against its own people, maybe the little red book for the same reasons.

Oh, and lets not forget the more fictional side of things, we’ll have to ban The Giving Tree for promoting violence against trees, most scifi for promoting transhumanism, Harry Potter for promoting segregation, Ayn Rand for bloviating, anything with a bad guy for having a bad guy who’s a meany poopy meany head…

Or, and here’s a different alternative: You can keep your hands off our free speech, and we’ll keep ours off yours.

Rule #1 for having a happy future is to never give government a power that can be used against you, because it eventually will be, every single time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Funny, because the Bible is the cause of many cases of each of those. Plus I’ve hit someone on the head with a bible, and it does directly harm individuals. Quite a bit if you’ve got the right bible.

Also, since the bible causes people to act in harmful ways, it is causing them harm by making them suffer the consequences of those ways.

Lastly, the number of things the bible proscribes means anyone in those categories is directly harmed by the namecalling, threats of hell, hate speech, and bullying contained within.

It seems like you’re wrong on basically every level, so we’re gonna have to ban your bible now. Please surrender any copies to your nearest fascist government or provide notarized evidence of their destruction in triplicate.

TDR says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

It is not the Bible itself, but people’s misinterpretation of it that sometimes causes harm. How much of it have you actually read, and if so, without any preconceptions or bias? Have you ever thought to ever look at what was written from a perspective other than your own, from the perspective of the culture in which it was written? And has it ever occurred to you that it wasn’t written in English? How much do you actually know about it? How much have you actually studied it?

I would gather that your opposition comes from willful ignorance and your own preconceptions and biases about what you think it says. You seem to base those perceptions upon misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the text and have not actually made any honest attempt to understand it yourself without letting your biases get in the way and with allowing the possibility that you and your biases and perceptions could be wrong.

People unfortunately sometimes pick and take bits of the Bible out of context to use as a bludgeon against others, stripping it of the actual meaning those words were meant to have and leading people such as yourself to blame the book rather than those who misread and misused it. If you misunderstand the instructions in a manual, do you blame the manual or yourself?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

When you assume you make an ass out of you. Not you and me. Just you.

I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic schools. I’ve not only read the bible multiple multiple times, but I’ve been educated in the philosophies and various differing denominations that sprang from it.

I’ve also read chunks of it in Latin, and various alternate translations.

Everything I said was true.

kyle ducon says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

W habe no democracy or free speech anywhere, especially in the UK.

2 examples:

See how a remainer was made prime minister to sabotage BREXIT and the people’s vote.

See as well how Tommy Robinson is harassed by corrupted police and justice to dare saying the truth about muslim rapist gangs in the UK.

free speech: my arse

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Even taking away your socialist leanings, your mindset is frightening. How can you have a complete lack of being able to grasp a simple truth. There are no degrees of free speech, you either have it or you don’t. At least have the guts to speak your truth instead of a silly statement like ‘We don’t need TOTAL free speech", as if capitalizing the word total implies everyone agrees with your definition of objectionable speech.

In the case of NZ, just because you ban free speech doesn’t mean you ban hatred. At least when there is free speech you have a better chance to know who your enemies are.

In the case of your post, I find it offensive and unfair due to the fact that it defies a fundamental truth. Under your version of free speech, you wouldn’t be able to post such babble. Under actual free speech, the world gets to see who you are and then can subsequently ignore you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

There is no free speech if someone can anonymously defame another, know that the 230-immune search engines will spread it, and use that speech to retaliate against someone they don’t like, or worse, a whistleblower.

We might as well just abolish all libel laws so that everyone has access to the same verbal weaponry, and can respond in kind when lied about.

Bullying need not be protected speech either. Here’s another good idea: impute mental illness on someone, and a hearing is immediately held to determine its truth. If true, the target immediately qualifies for disability, and if false, the speaker must pay court costs and damages. The First Amendment remains intact.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

There is no free speech if someone can anonymously defame another, know that the 230-immune search engines will spread it, and use that speech to retaliate against someone they don’t like, or worse, a whistleblower.

Anonymity is generally protected by the First Amendment, but it can be revoked if a court says so. If’n you wanna sue someone for defamation and they are hiding behind anonymity, you should ask the courts to help unmask that person’s identity — not to destroy the concept of anonymity as a whole.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

First, your suggestion goes directly against the First Amendment, as in most cases where someone “impute[s] mental illness”, that’s classically protected opinion (unless it’s based on undisclosed facts). It’s often hyperbole.

Second, we already have laws against harassment and defamation. You may not like their limitations, but those exist because any more restrictive and they’d be unconstitutional.

Third, the Supreme Court has made it extremely clear that they will not tolerate any additional exceptions to the First Amendment. What we already have is all the exceptions we’ll get.

Fourth, the search engines are 230-immune for good reason: they’re as responsible for the contents of the results as a person who manages the card catalog of a library they don’t control the contents of or a journalist is responsible for what someone they’re reporting on says.

Finally, it’s worth noting your proposal does literally nothing to address the “issues” you claim exist. It still has the exact same issues with anonymity and §230 that existing libel laws already have. You don’t even attempt to address those things.

Anon says:

Re: Re: Re: Options

Canada also does not have freedom of speech, unlike the USA. However, it does have a right to jury trial if the maximum sentence is greater than 5 years, so there’s always the possibility of Jury Nullification. What about New Zealand?

(Of course the gotcha is that the jury is not allowed to be told about potential or even minimum sentences for crimes, so there will be a lot of jurors who think "we’ll find him guilty and he’ll get a well deserved $200 fine…")

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Privileges which are abused can and should be taken away."

Let’s start at the top rather than at the bottom of the class hierarchy.

I suggest starting with Wall Street. Their privileges have been abused to the point of causing a global economic recession and yet not one of them has been chastised, hand slapped or any of the other typical punishments doled out to the riche and influential.

K`Tetch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

A tip you might want to bear in mind.
If you don’t know what you’re talking about, DON’T TALK!

"British law does not allow truth as a defense for libel."
Defamation Act 2013 chapter 26, Defences Section 2
Truth
(1)It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that the imputation conveyed by the statement complained of is substantially true.
(2)Subsection (3) applies in an action for defamation if the statement complained of conveys two or more distinct imputations.
(3)If one or more of the imputations is not shown to be substantially true, the defence under this section does not fail if, having regard to the imputations which are shown to be substantially true, the imputations which are not shown to be substantially true do not seriously harm the claimant’s reputation.
(4)The common law defence of justification is abolished and, accordingly, section 5 of the Defamation Act 1952 (justification) is repealed.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/26/section/2

Oh, and that section 5 that was repealed said "Justification
In an action for libel or slander in respect of words containing two or more distinct charges against the plaintiff, a defence of justification shall not fail by reason only that the truth of every charge is not proved if the words not proved to be true do not materially injure the plaintiff’s reputation having regard to the truth of the remaining charges."
In other words, even under hte 52 act, if it was true, it wasn’t defamation.

See, I know this, because I literally fought a Government department who claimed libel in a consultation submission. They had a bunch of lawyers (both in house, and at the collecting societies) to consult with, I had just myself. They admitted they overreached.
And that was under the 1952 rules.

So, stop repeating any old crap you once heard someone say, eh? Because odds are, it’s not true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Of course we’d like to track what weapons criminals use. The problem is that the price for that is tracking what weapons I use, and I consider that price far too high.

And then there’s the part where people can build their own weapons that won’t show up in any database anyway. An SMG is shockingly easy to build. Under $200 and a trip to the hardware store gives enough materials to build a Luty, and there are examples significantly cheaper than that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Would you rather NOT have a way to track which weapons most criminals use?

I’m advocating for abolishing private ownership of weapons altogether – or better yet, having the community apply standards for banning private ownership of weapons.

If we’re going to advocate for stronger control of words because your precious feelings might get hurt, then what exactly is wrong with stronger control of guns because weapons might end up getting someone hurt?

PaulT (profile) says:

"charging anyone who violates this post-tragedy decision to make newsworthy content the legal equivalent of child porn"

Erm, playing devil’s advocate here, but isn’t that the correct classification? Child porn is illegal because it by definition involves a child being abused.

Don’t you think that footage of children being outright murdered should count for the same protections?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

When police in the United States release body camera footage of themselves shooting and killing people, we tend to call that “evidence”, and we do not make it illegal to distribute or view. The Christchurch shooter’s video is evidence of his crimes; while it may be difficult for anyone with even an ounce of empathy to watch the video, it should not be illegal to do so.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s difficult to work out where the line would be. In your example, the two aren’t really comparable. Firstly, because the former is the record of a public servant performing his public duty, while the latter is purely criminal activity. Also, while I’m sure it happens are there any examples where the cop’s entire video was released, or just the parts relevant to evidence? I was under the impression that they were always edited before release. It appears to be the full stream that’s being targeted here, not the edited versions.

The other is of intent. Child porn is intended to titilate its targeted audience. ISIS beheading videos are intended to shock and help recruit terrorists. The intention of the Christchurch video appears to have been both. The cop videos are valuable, but they’re not created with the intention of capturing a specific act beforehand

While we should certainly be wary of where we draw the lines, if we’re banning child porn and ISIS videos, why not mass shooters? Remembering, of course, that NZ might already be drawing the lines somewhere different to where an American would draw them…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And don’t forget war videos and pics. Famous Time cover comes to mind.

Intent. More than 1 party to look at for intent. eg. Baby bath pics. Are you sharing a cute pic of your child or are you scouting a prospective buyer? Does the viewer see a cute pic of your child in the bath or porn?

If I were to share the video in question, am I sharing a news story or recruiting?

I think the only reason it is being banned is because of the long police response time. They don’t want people to see how long this was carried out with zero interference from the police.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Child porn is illegal because it by definition involves a child being abused.

Commonwealth countries like New Zealand typically ban cartoons and text depicting/describing totally fictional characters.

99.95 percent of the reason child porn is banned anywhere, including the US, is that it’s icky. All the other "reasons" people give are post hoc rationalizations. Yes, knowing that it’s being viewed can cause ongoing distress to the victims, and that might be a good enough reason to ban it, but it’s not the actual reason.

I do agree with you that the shooting video is ickier. It’s probably not actually any more "newsworthy", either. From the shooting video you’d maybe find out something about how a particular shooter acted, which might generalize somehow, and from child porn you’d maybe find out something about how some pedophiles acted, which might also generalize somehow. For whatever either one is worth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nice defense of child porn.

Is that meant to make some point?

Many who adopt foreign children do so because they are molesting the kids, btw.

I doubt that’s true for any sane interpretation of the word "many", and I doubt even more that you can provide any evidence for it beyond tabloid articles… but, more importantly, what does it have to do with anything?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nice defense of child porn.
Not that I favor child porn per se, but I think you’re missing the point is that the laws against it were put in place for reasons (e.g. it’s “icky”) that differ from the official, given-after-the-fact reasons (e.g. it causes ongoing distress to the victim and their parent(s)). The latter may be sufficient justification for banning child porn (the AC doesn’t appear to take an official stance on that), but the former isn’t, and the latter is just ad hoc justification for the laws already put in place for the former reasons. I don’t think that that is defending child porn. At worst, it’s attacking child porn laws and/or their advocates, and even that is a bit of a stretch.

Many who adopt foreign children do so because they are molesting the kids, btw.
Now that is completely uncalled for. What evidence do you have that even suggests that? I’m almost as certain as I can ever be that that’s false, and I’m even more sure that there’s no clear and convincing evidence that that’s true.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Commonwealth countries like New Zealand typically ban cartoons and text depicting/describing totally fictional characters."

That is certainly wrong, and past the line. Unless it can be proven that it is related to real abuse (e.g. the depiction is of a real event), then it’s over the line to ban it as there’s no real victim, just as it would be wrong to ban a videogame because of the shooting.

"99.95 percent of the reason child porn is banned anywhere, including the US, is that it’s icky"

Yes, child rape is icky.

"From the shooting video you’d maybe find out something about how a particular shooter acted"

Which would be great training material for the next shooter?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Which would be great training material for the next shooter?

Or perhaps for the person setting up security measures against the next shooter. Or for the person voting on whether to fund those measures, or on what changes to make to how this or that related public facility or service was administered.

Or for the person who just believes that understanding how things happen in the world is of value in and of itself.

But, anyway, fundamentally I’m agreeing with you that there’s not an obvious bright line between the shooting video and the child porn. Or at least I’m saying that and I thought you were too.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"Or perhaps for the person setting up security measures against the next shooter. Or for the person voting on whether to fund those measures, or on what changes to make to how this or that related public facility or service was administered."

The things you mention don’t require the full video to be freely available to the general public.

"Or at least I’m saying that and I thought you were too"

I think we do agree to an extent, but possibly disagree on where the real boundaries should be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That is certainly wrong, and past the line. Unless it can be proven that it is related to real abuse (e.g. the depiction is of a real event), then it’s over the line to ban it

Should photographs of one type of crime be special? The footage discussed in this article is of real abuse too. I’ve seen video of robberies on the news and we could ban those by the same logic.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You’re missing the fundamental point. In the case of those robberies, the crime was being committed anyway, it just happened to be caught on video. With child porn, the crime is the entire reason why the video is created. Robbery footage is created and released in order to find the perpetrators. Child porn footage is created in order to victimise a child. They are not the same thing.

Matthew Cline (profile) says:

I’ve read that the manifesto both names explicit targets (individual people) that he exhorts people to murder and contains explicit details on how to go about murdering people. I can understand wanting to prevent those things from being circulated, but the government could have narrowly stated that just those things couldn’t be shared, with a redacted version of the manifesto being okay for sharing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Unlike those poor fucks in New Zealand I’m actually able to read the manifesto, and have a copy I’m looking at now. What you read about it is incorrect. He spends a couple sentences mentioning, not explaining, nor giving explicit details, other methods to murder than guns. The only people he mentions killing by name are Angela Merkel, Erdogan, and Sadiq Khan. Not exactly a revelatory hit-list, considering they’re already infamous to white nationalists.

He spends the vast majority of 74 pages explaining why he chose to do what he did and explaining his political views in the hopes that you’ll agree.

If you want to read for yourself and not be misinformed by others there’s a copy on the wayback machine.

NEW ZEALANDER WARNING, DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK https://web.archive.org/web/20190315225154/https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/5770516/The-Great-Replacement-New-Zealand-Shooter.pdf DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK IF YOUR COUNTRY MADE THE MANIFESTO ILLEGAL TO POSSESS

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

"Nutjob" is a bigoted slur that has no more place in a debate than racial or gender slurs. If anything, the person hurling the slur is more likely the "nutjob."

At some point in the future people who use slurs like that will be imprisoned, or at least ostracized. We’re just not there yet. My other idea that if you call someone a "nutjob" there is a hearing to determine if you are right: if you are right, the person you insulted qualifies for lifetime disability, while if you are wrong, you pay court costs, attorney fees (the target’s is appointed free of charge to the target), and damages.

Not that anyone would dare piss off a genuine "nutjob," so the insult is almost always self-refuting.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Setting aside the real issues with that (Stephen T. Stone addresses one of the main ones), one thing you said offhand struck me:

Not that anyone would dare piss off a genuine "nutjob," so the insult is almost always self-refuting.
I, for one, have learned never to underestimate human stupidity or overestimate the human instinct of self-preservation. Besides, most of the time, when the word “nutjob” is being used to refer to someone specifically (which isn’t all the time; many times it’s used more generally, as in, “Only a nutjob would do that!”), they aren’t calling someone a “nutjob” to their face.

Back to the main issue, IANAL, but in the U.S., the government and government officials cannot make a law against content-based speech (including artwork, verbal or written speech, games, movies, music, etc.) except for (rarely) obscenity (specifically sexual obscenity; offensive words don’t count), “true” threats/advocacy for violence (which has a very high bar to reach), and defamation (which is limited to provably false statements of fact or opinion based on undisclosed facts, and in the case of public figures it’s further limited by the “actual malice” standard). Even non-content-based restrictions are limited, requiring a compelling government interest and that is the least restrictive means for accomplishing the stated goal. Not that that matters, as a ban against “bigoted slur[s]” would clearly be a content-based restriction, so it would have to reach a very high bar to be constitutional.

Even if such a ban was put in place (constitutional or not), it’s highly unlikely that there would be a fee-shifting provision Re:attorney’s fees that a) doesn’t go both ways and b) doesn’t favor the defendant in a case about the defendant’s speech. It would almost certainly follow the American rule except in extreme cases, like if the case was frivolous. It would also be unlikely to include jail time as a consequence.

On top of that, unless maybe if you’re a licensed psychiatrist or something (and even then it’s a stretch), calling someone a “nutjob” is an opinion, not a statement of fact. It is no longer limited to saying someone is literally mentally ill from a medical perspective. As a result, I don’t think it’s possible to prove it true or false.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

My other idea that if you call someone a "nutjob" there is a hearing to determine if you are right: if you are right, the person you insulted qualifies for lifetime disability, while if you are wrong, you pay court costs, attorney fees (the target’s is appointed free of charge to the target), and damages.

So in the case of the Westboro baptist church assholes saying that "God hates fags" – how do you make that hearing go? Ask god if it really hates LGBTQ people?

And in the off chance that you can make some kind of god show up, and he does hate LGBTQ people, does that make the Westboro people right, or does it make both them and god assholes?

Just trying to understand how this is supposed to work with the "god" people and their justification for being some of the biggest dickheads walking the planet.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t seem like TechDirt commenters would be responsible for the censorship as TheLizard suggests. But yeah, I’d say that that was probably just the spam filter. I can still see TechDirt moderators (or whoever reviews potential spam) deciding not to have the link in the comments for potentially legitimate reasons, but I don’t think it should be in this case, and it would be ironic if they did. (Not hypocritical; TechDirt isn’t a government agency, so they can censor whatever they like.)

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

(Not hypocritical; TechDirt isn’t a government agency, so they can censor whatever they like.)

It would still be hypocritical because they just wrote an entire article arguing against censorship of this material, so if they did indeed censor a link to the manifesto, that would be hypocrisy.

Just like Politico’s article last week arguing against the New Zealand censorship policy. They even titled their article "Don’t Censor the Video or Manifesto", then declined to publish or even link to either one.

TheLizard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Thanks for providing an obvious example of what I’m talking about.

"Oh, there’s no censorship, but [whatever corporate entity] isn’t government, so they can censor whatever they like."

And when these big multinational corporations (FB, Google, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, etc.) collude on stuff they want to censor (like they have multiple times) they actually have MORE power than government to silence voices and people and promote the narrative they want.

I’m not saying governments should step in to regulate that behavior, I’m saying we shouldn’t be giving them a free pass and just waving our hands with "well it’s their platform so whatever they want" either. We should be calling them out and admonishing them that such behavior is NOT okay. They have Section 230 protections, after all, but the more they act like publishers and not platforms for OTHER publishers to use, the less it makes sense for them to have those protections.

And the crowd here commenting on TechDirt, bhull242 as the instance example, seem very quick to dismiss censorious behavior of these tech companies as perfectly ok.

It’s NOT.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"And when these big multinational corporations (FB, Google, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, etc.) collude on stuff they want to censor"

That’s when regulators should step in to stop them from illegally colluding. But, unfortunately the same people who insist that the companies running websites should have no control over who can post what there are also the ones who insist that any government regulation should also be stopped.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

They have Section 230 protections, after all, but the more they act like publishers and not platforms for OTHER publishers to use, the less it makes sense for them to have those protections.

Moderating (or censoring if you prefer that term) is not acting like a publisher. I mean, allowing platforms to moderate the content published on them without facing liability as publishers is the reason section 230 exists. If you favor stripping that protection, then in effect you are proposing a completely unmoderated internet, because platforms could not afford the liability risk that would come with moderating. Say goodbye to useful stuff and hello to trolls and spam.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: The Censorious crowd

It’s weird how you always present a false dichotomy and ignore the simple truth that you’re just being told you’re an asshole. Free speech doesn’t protect you from people expressing their true opinions about you.

I know it’s easier to invent a conspiracy than to accept the harsh truth, but there it is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The Censorious crowd

The "private companies should be allowed to censor" that we see here would seem consistent with that sentiment.

The question is whether or not big tech rises to the level of a free-speech state actor has been asked, and the courts have said it does not. I agree with the courts. Heck, USENET is still active and that has free speech.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re: The Censorious crowd

The "private companies should be allowed to censor" that we see here would seem consistent with that sentiment.

Does everyone say that? If not, then it’s not consistent.

Also, since you are a proponent of abolishing section 230, the amount of content private companies will remove will increase by several magnitudes if repealed.

So, are you for or against free speech? You can’t have it both ways.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: The Censorious crowd

What the f**k are you talking about? Those are two completely different issues. The First Amendment only guarantees that speech is protected from government interference. It has nothing to do with private corporations censoring speech, which is their prerogative and, should it happen, there are alternative ways to speak out online without fear of fines or jail time.

Saying that Techdirt commenters “consistently praise” Silicon Valley corporations for exercising that prerogative is a bit of a stretch, especially given the criticisms made regarding how well they execute their policies. But even if we set aside their criticisms, recognizing that X has the right to do Y, or even praising the right itself, is a far cry from praising X for doing Y.

I recognize that people in America have the right to, say, fly the Confederate flag in public view. I praise the fact that we have the roght to fly whatever flag we want for the public to see as an important part of free speech. However, I absolutely don’t praise the people who fly the Confederate flag for doing so; on the contrary, I think they’re generally ignorant and/or racist assholes for doing so. I also recognize that, say, a homeowners’ association has the right to have that flag, or any flag, taken down, as they’re a private organization.

Also, in this very thread, as of the time I’m typing this reply, no comments have been hidden, and with one exception, no one has seriously advocated censorship by anyone here.

I seriously have no idea where in the world you got the idea that “Techdirt commenters seem especially censorious,” that “they just go along with corporate censorship from Silicon Valley billionaires,” or that such censorship is “the one thing those multinational corporations are consistently praised [for] doing around here.” I see no evidence to suggest any of that, particularly in the thread.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The Censorious crowd

A private company that is influential enough can be found a state actor for 1A purposes.

Do you have a citation for that?

"In United States law, a state actor is a person who is acting on behalf of a governmental body, and is therefore subject to regulation under the United States Bill of Rights, including the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which prohibit the federal and state governments from violating certain rights and freedoms. "

Note "on behalf of a governmental body" not "influential".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_actor

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re:

According to Google Translate, what you said was

I find the whole issue to download tutuapp pc I think that new zealand would have to leave this legal application

Obviously, this is not terribly good and doesn’t make much sense. I hate to say “speak English”, but given that this is an English-language publication that, as far as I know, isn’t translated to other languages, please keep comments in English. I do appreciate the apparent interest from people for whom English may not be their first language. (I assume that you can read English given that you can apparently read the article.)

SJE says:

if anyone thought posting a video of a gunman going around killing people like a POV shooter wasn’t obscene, then something has gone drastically wrong in their upbringing.

Defining a real life snuff film as obscene isnt in any way controversial, in the same way child pornography being obscene isnt controversial.

Techdirt may need to check it’s data-libertarian impulses with some common sense and basic morality here.

Rocky says:

Re: Re:

There will always be people who have a sick fascination of watching stuff like that. It’s the same impulse some people have when they come upon an accident and the first thing they can think of is pulling out their phone so they can film it and post it on FB or whatever…

What TD is questioning is the legal ramifications of declaring said video illegal because of "objectionable" content and arresting people for sharing it. Saying that the video is obscene isn’t true from all viewpoints. A crime scene analyst may not find the video obscene if he or she disregard the emotional aspect, instead he or she could find it factual since it will help them analyze the crime.

My personal opinion is that I can’t see any valid reason for making it available publicly but at the same time I question the wisdom of making the video illegal to possess or distribute.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There will always be people who have a sick fascination of watching stuff like that.

It’s also not some newborn child of the internet age. I remember back when I was a yout, there was a series of VHS videos called "Faces of Death" that were nothing but an amalgamation of video clips of fatal accidents and executions. I don’t remember there being any serious talk of locking people up for possessing a copy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The thing is obscenity as a definition is obscene im itself. It is special pleading writ large. Why is that an illegal snuff film and not war crime footage? Why is obscenity grounds for censorship in the first place except means of control and the most dangerous sentence in the English language – "We havecalways done it that way."

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I messed up punctuation a bit so my meaning was less than clear. I didn’t mean the shooting would qualify as a war crime but why would similarly horrific war crimes not count as obscene? ISIS even publicized their own war crimes (murdering captives) to spread a message.

Why does that suddenly not count as an obscene snuff film? It is still real horrific violence by terrible people – for a terrible ideology no less.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Why is that an illegal snuff film and not war crime footage? "

a) because the film was showing real death being committed in order to be recorded (a.k.a. a snuff file) – possibly not 100% but the livestream was clearly intended upfront

b) because it was showing actions committed by a civilian in peace time and not military personnel during wartime.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Techdirt may need to check it’s data-libertarian impulses with some common sense and basic morality here.

From the article: "These may appear to be clear-cut interpretations of the law, given the sympathies of the people arrested, but future arrests may not be so unambiguous." That’s the real concern as far as I can tell: how will this law be used (or abused) in the future?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "Muller Proved trump was't a Russian puppet"

Mueller failed to prove President Trump was a Russian puppet — According to Barr (who is not an independent agent).

Assuming A is always true if B is true, then B is false if we know A is false. But if we only know B is false, we don’t know A is false.

What is the matter with the logic skills of people these days?

Incidentally, Trump’s behavior around Putin and regarding Putin and Russia (including policy he’s pushed) has still yet to be explained, even if Mueller didn’t find any connections.

Anonymous Coward says:

as unsavoury as this is, what an over-reaction by the NZ govt! and the sentences for doing this are almost the same as those who perpetrate such crimes (given time off, maybe, if not put to death! as bad as being put inside for sharing a video, way exaggerated! talk about a govt that wants to make a statement, albeit one that is, i think, way OTT! the damning thing about what this lad did though was put such an inflaming comment to it!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Free Speech, Free Guns, Free power

The argument for all these things comes down to the same:

Either we trust the public to behave like responsible adults and use their rights with discretion (with rare exception)…

Or we do not trust the public to behave like responsible adults and use their rights with discretion.

The problem with the former is that people really are stupid and irresponsible. We might argue that this is especially if they’re incensed or inebriated but regardless, right now, the levels of stupid, inappropriate behavior regarding obscene speech and reckless gun use is commonly regarded as too much,and thus A Problem, even when there are criminal repercussions.

The problem with the latter is we can’t trust anyone else to oversee the rest of us Law enforcement in the US has turned into an ad hoc aristocracy, where they kill whoever they want, and seize whatever they want with scant consequences. Even our President who is obviously a diminished-capacity case, and whose crimes are obvious is protected by a Gordian knot of a legal system that plods along with investigations but never actually sets things right.

In the UK (some examples were cited) we have prime ministers sending thugs to news media companies to physically destroy speech they don’t like and threaten people who might speak critically of their overlord masters. So there we are seeing examples of the kind of oppression that leads societies to want free speech.

So currently, we have no working system to control speech and guns (or, generally, power) that doesn’t lead to the enforcers behaving like mobsters or arrogant aristocrats above their own laws.

Right now, freedom vs. responsibility is for us naked apes, an unsolvable paradox.

We hypothesize we can teach our kids to cherish their rights, but that assumes they aren’t going to be driven to desperation and hatred, which they are.

Or we imagine that we can create a system of laws that encapsulates everyone, but it never does.

So, until someone gets clever and finds a working solution and gets it implemented, we are, regarding speech, regarding guns and regarding power, kinda fucked.

R.H. (profile) says:

A Dilemma

I have a bit of a dilemma here. I don’t really want to see this video. I’ve been on the internet for my entire adult life, if I’d wanted to see it, I would have found it by now. However, when people make (or threaten to make) speech like this literally illegal it goes against a core set of my personal beliefs and makes me want to acquire the data "just in case". Just in case what? I don’t know, I just don’t like the idea of information not being allowed to be spread to those who want it.

For example, I have a torrented copy of all those 3D printable firearms that were taken down a few months back because I couldn’t get past the idea that the government was trying to make data illegal to transmit. I don’t even own a 3D printer myself (although I did check out the files in CAD software).

I’m generally going to land hard in favor of free speech as long as that speech is either true or clearly expressed opinion and not an incitement to violence.

kylelismallcock says:

Re: A Dilemma

NZ shooting is an obvious setup.

The good old "Lee Harvey oswald" op again and again, still works with zombies (and kiwis are particularly ignorant zombies).

They did exactly the same setup as they did in Montreal Canada (same state sponsored act of "terror" against muslims) to impose sharia laws to Canadians under the guise of "anti hate speech" (the new censorship).

Both Trudeau and NZ PM are liberal/socialists and pro-islamists.

The globalists and their islamists friends just have now to send hundred of thousands of "inoccent always victim muslims’ into New Zealand to start the colonization process underway in Europe or the USA…

In the mean time, 55 Christians were mudred by islamists in Nigeria: Not a word in the msms media…

They really take us for idiots. And it works!

Canuck says:

Re: A Dilemma

Oh FFS, stop being a pussy. Go to the Pirate Bay and search for "Christchurch". It’s a grainy 64 MB video and it’s worth watching just to see how pointless it is to do nothing but cower in a corner when a mass shooter shows up. If everyone had rushed the guy, he’d have only taken out a fraction of them instead of every last one of them.

Either rush the guy or throw your kids out a window and follow them. Do something!

BTW, it also shows how long you can expect to be waiting for the coppers to show up. Another reason to step up…

P.S. If this in any way sounds like victim blaming, it’s not my intention. I realize that those poor souls were panicking and desperate and not making the best decisions, but it doesn’t mean you, your friends or family have to react the same way. Knowledge is power.

kyleo says:

Re: Re: Re: A Dilemma

This week, 5 muslims "migrants" (aka illegal aliens) gang raped a 12 year old girl for hours (annally and vaginally). In full daylight!

The harshest punsihment for one of them was 18 months of jail!

While the town mayor has covered up this crime and the local residents are furious at him.

The msm media of course stay silent.

The reality is that in Europe, all the jails have 60 to 70% of their populations being muslim criminals and most crimes are committed by them.

But, let’s focus on the one in a decade shooting that means nothing and surrender even more of our freedom to the fascist religion that is islam.

While talking for hours about video censorship and ignoring the real problme: the organized islamic invasion of the Western world..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A Dilemma

"The msm media of course stay silent."

Then, surely you wouldn’t mind sharing the source you got it from so that everybody else can see it and spread the truth?

Strange how people making these sorts of claims never actually tell anybody else where they know this information from, they just announce that they have superior knowledge that;’s more trustworthy than established sources for… reasons they won’t share.

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