New Zealand Man Gets 21 Months In Prison For Sharing Footage Of The Christchurch Shooting

from the criminalizing-being-a-jerk dept

Shortly after the Christchurch mosque shooting, the New Zealand government's censorship board decided to categorize almost everything related to the shooting (the shooter's manifesto, his livestream of the shooting, his social media posts) as "objectionable." This wasn't a case of reaching an obvious conclusion. Officially terming it "objectionable" made it a criminal act to distribute any of this content via social media or other services.

Having done that, the government wasted no time bringing criminal charges against violators. The first arrest happened only two days after the shooting, netting the government an 18-year-old defendant. The more interesting arrest was the second one, which landed Phillip Arps, a local businessman with some not-so-latent white nationalist leanings.

Arps spent the hours after the shooting refusing to condemn the violent act and -- the event triggering the criminal charges -- passing around footage of the shooting. Not all that surprising for a man whose company is named after a German prison camp and who charges $14.88 a foot for insulation installation.

Since each count against Arps could have netted him a max 14 years in prison, the final sentence seems comparatively light.

A businessman in New Zealand has been sentenced to nearly two years in prison for sharing footage of the Christchurch mosque attacks, which saw a lone gunman livestream the massacre of 51 Muslims during Friday prayers on March 15.

Philip Arps, 44, was sentenced during a court hearing in Christchurch on Tuesday after having earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of distributing objectionable material.

Arps will spend 21 months in prison for sharing footage of the shooting with 30 people. This sentence only seems reasonable in comparison to the 28 years he could have been hit with. What's not reasonable is putting someone in prison for sharing footage of a crime committed by someone else, no matter how objectionable their personal beliefs are.

The government's immediate reaction to this tragedy has been emotionally-charged. This may make for speedy legislating, but first reactions are rarely the most thoughtful reactions. The government has criminalized the sharing of content the general public is going to naturally find interesting. They will seek it out and share it -- some out of curiosity and some to continue spreading their hate as thinly as possible.

This behavior shouldn't be encouraged but it also shouldn't be criminalized. But legislators and the state censorship board saw an opportunity to make a statement -- one that came with prison sentences attached -- few in the nation would openly object to. This opportunism is going to result in some sketchy prosecutions in the future -- one far less clear-cut than the punishment of a New Zealand citizen for being an asshole.

Filed Under: christchurch shooting, free speech, new zealand, objectionable material, philip arps, sharing, video


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I no longer agree with y

    I mean if clan members aren't allowed to publicly burn crosses, that's one less easy way to identiy the human shapped trash.

    I don't get the argument. Klansmen tend to wear hooded white robes. On the one hand, that makes "identifying" the people burning crosses without removing the robe problematic. On the other, if you remove a hooded white KKK robe from someone so that you can identify them, it's pretty clear that the person you've identified is human-shaped trash, regardless of whether they have recently burned crosses or not.

    If we intemidate them from publically sharing their possitions, that both chills their speech, and makes it so that we have less visiblity into their existance.

    Alternate take: It both protects the people they would otherwise target and makes it more difficult for them to spread their bigotry.

    And it also sends the message to other minority groups (who might be much less inclined to act violently) that if we are offended by their beliefs, they may be oppresssed.

    Not if we make it clear that it's the violence (and the threat of such) that offends us. It's hard to see how a minority group would see us take action against oppression, and conclude it's likely that they will end up being oppressed as a result.

    Also, "other" minority groups? What do you mean? What minority group were you previously discussing?

    BTW: I think chocolate covered ants are a disgusting thing. Maybe we should jail anyone who post a YouTube video of eating them and enjoying it.

    ...And there you go, losing the plot again. We're talking about violent extremists posting threatening content with the intent to intimidate. How the Hell is "chocolate covered ants" relevant to any part of that?


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