What Happened to Free Speech in New Zealand?

by Gavin

I read last night that the Whale Oil Moko cartoon by Boomslang has not only been complained about to the Human Rights Commission, but, that the HRC are wanting mediation, which appears to imply there is a case to answer. Perhaps they now have a chance to justify their taxpayer funding, and I suspect much higher than average salaries.

I find it curious that satire in the form of cartooning is now fair game to anyone who disagrees with it. I find this a bit of a double standard and denial of free speech when cartooning has been a valid form of expression for contentious ideas for centuries.

Firstly, cartoons have been around for hundreds of years as a form of political and societal comment. Often disparaging of the ruling elite and issues of the time, In England there was Hogarth in the 18th century making comments via cartoons. France in the 19th century had Daumier doing the same thing. During the last election cycle SonovaMin’s cartoons were the most accurate in predicting actual events and describing them.

Secondly, I wonder if the aggrieved people were upset and went to the HRC, were so, because it was too close to the truth for them to face. After all, if they looked past the messenger, they might have to address the message. I see the collective consciousness has already moved on the housing and the homeless as Moko is forgotten until next time.

So what is acceptable for cartoons? Obviously Mohamed is out, especially for our MSM. The Prime Minister, it appears is definitely in. I only had to go back to May 10, for one of Emmerson’s many depictions of the PM’s caricaturised with a large Jewish nose, as per the historical anti-Semitic depictions of the Jews. This of course is totally acceptable? It was easy to find to, as most of these depictions have the PM with the large Jewish nose, as seen in the MSM on a daily basis.


No minority, racist or racial stereotype generalisations to see here, move along.

Whilst on the Prime minister and double standards, I noted in the last election Laila Harre was quite happy with Kim Dotcom whipping up the youth crowd with chants of “fuck John Key”. When challenged, she rather sheepishly and without conviction stated they were just expressing themselves. Same with “At Peace” NZ on Air funded muso singing about kill the PM and rape his daughter. A few ruffled feathers and move along to the next hit on the PM.

I am disappointed more people weren’t upset by the Moko cartoon. I would like to have seen a nation upset enough to want to address the issues, not shoot the messenger. Freedom of speech is what separates a democracy from totalitarian regimes.


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  • Charley jones

    It is really scary the insidious way free speech is being shut down. I see people looking over their shoulder in fear before saying what they really think in public. Why is this happening? Could wealthy dictators and bullies be lobbying our governments to pass laws to close down freedom of speech? Are they using our own tax paying dollars to do this? After all how on earth did one of the worst abusers of human rights get to chair the Human Rights Comittee of the abysmally corrupt and dysfunctional UN?

    • Christie

      We do it all the time – “I shouldn’t say this, but…” or “I wouldn’t say this to anyone else, but…..”. I am not a fan of Donald Trump, but I do wonder if he will be the one to put an end to this farce. And if so, he will do the whole world a favour.

  • rua kenana

    Without free speech, and that includes cartoons, there’s no free society.
    Muslims (yes, even if not all of them), are very willing to use fear to suppress free speech in Europe. Witness the Danish Jyllands-Posten cartoons of Mohammed and the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in France.
    Now it seems the Human Rights(??) Commission is NZ is trying to achieve similar results in suppression in NZ, even if hopefully not using the same deadly methods.
    And we unfortunate taxpayers pay these numpties to allegedly safeguard our human rights.
    From (even) the Guardian:
    “The virus that first emerged in Denmark in 2005, after the newspaper Jyllands-Posten printed cartoons of Muhammad, is still working its toxic way through our lives, as yesterday’s deaths in Dallas demonstrate. Misguided and often violent protests over the Jyllands-Posten series of drawings led to attacks on embassies, the persecution of Christians, trade boycotts and a number of deaths in Muslim countries. Years later the cartoonists who were published at that time in the paper still need police protection. Many of the cartoonists who published similar cartoons in January this year in Charlie Hebdo, sadly, no longer need that kind of protection, because they are dead.”

  • Effluent

    I suggest that complaints to MPs are in order,since the so-called Human Rights commission is clearly using its powers to suppress free speech, at the behest of activist fanatics. This puts them well outside any reasonable interpretation of their remit, and they need to be reminded by our democratically elected representatives of the reason for their existence- to review and adjudicate on breaches of human rights, as defined in the UN charter reproduced in http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2016/05/no-list-right-not-offended/

  • Andy

    JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame recently made a speech in which she defended Donald Trump’s right to free speech to insult people, as she has the right to call him an ignorant blowhard.

    She completely gets it. In the US, this is enshrined in the First Amendmendment, but even there it is being shut down.

    If anyone ever tells me, “you can’t say that”, or “that is not PC”, then my hackles rise.

    Me need to defend free speech because it is the cornerstone of our civilisation

  • Effluent

    Another suggestion – respond with a question asking them to explain exactly what the subject of the mediation is to be – if they say that it is to mollify the offence taken by the delicate blossoms as the result of seeing Boomslang’s cartoon, you can then ask them to explain which human right has been infringed.

    • Brian Dingwall

      And only agree to participate only if it is an open, ie public, mediation, and WO gets to choose the mediator…anything else seems to be a bit kangaroo-ish.

      Freedom of speech is absolutely indispensable to a democracy and is more than worth defending…

  • Left Right Out

    Well written Gavin…….

  • LesleyNZ

    The HRC want mediation? Who with? What a waste of taxpayer money the HRC is. There is case to answer alright – but it is nothing to do with the cartoon or this blog.

  • Eddie

    Apparently showing our Jewish Prime Minister as a money hungry Nazi is also fair game https://twitter.com/0800Phantom/status/736043122551988229

  • Paul Marsden

    Picture for a moment if you will, that when Trump becomes the leader of the most powerful nation on earth (and mark my words, he will be), what his response might be to this type of absurdity from the HRC?? And when he does become US President, you will see a sea-change in the attitudes by society across the globe to the likes of Devoy and her ilk, who ironically live off the sweat and toil of the taxpayer, yet attempt to supress their rights of free speech. Go figure

  • Superman

    There are a lot of people with nothing better to do than go around looking for something to be offended about. Just tell them to bugger off.

  • Nermal

    I’m not so sure that the call for WO to join in mediation is an indication that the HRC has found against WO. It is just as likely that there is no case to answer, but they feel they should be seen to be doing something.

    • Rick H

      If none of the rules the HRC presides over have been broken, then it simply is outside of the HRC’s jurisdiction. They should do zero about it except tell the “offence-takers” to go away.