HRC says Racism is A OK | The Jackal

15 Mar 2011

HRC says Racism is A OK

Recently I made a formal complaint to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) concerning racist statements made by Michael Laws on RadioLive. Here is the HRC responce:

your complaint to the human rights commission
Thank you for your complaint received on 9 March 2011. You have complained that Michael Law’s comments, broadcasted on his show on RadioLive, were racist.
The Commission’s consideration of your complaint

The Commission has considered your complaint in relation to the section in the Human Rights Act 1993 that prohibits racial disharmony. This section, section 61, specifically applies (unlike most of the other provisions in the Human Rights Act) to statements that are published, broadcast, or otherwise publicly disseminated. There is no provision covering racist comment.

That last bit is obviously wrong. Here is the section we're concerned with:
61 Racial disharmony

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person:
(a) To publish or distribute written matter which is threatening, abusive, or insulting, or to broadcast by means of radio or television words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting or

(b) To use in any public place as defined in section 2(1) of the Summary Offences Act 1981, or within the hearing of persons in any such public place, or at any meeting to which the public are invited or have access, words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting or

(c) To use in any place words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting if the person using the words knew or ought to have known that the words were reasonably likely to be published in a newspaper, magazine, or periodical or broadcast by means of radio or television, being matter or words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons in or who may be coming to New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that group of persons.

(2) It shall not be a breach of subsection (1) of this section to publish in a newspaper, magazine, or periodical or broadcast by means of radio or television a report relating to the publication or distribution of matter by any person or the broadcast or use of words by any person, if the report of the matter or words accurately conveys the intention of the person who published or distributed the matter or broadcast or used the words.

(3) For the purposes of this section, Newspaper means a paper containing public news or observations on public news, or consisting wholly or mainly of advertisements, being a newspaper that is published periodically at intervals not exceeding 3 months Publishes or distributes means publishes or distributes to the public at large or to any member or members of the public Written matter includes any writing, sign, visible representation, or sound recording.

I purposely made my formal complaint to encompass all of the racist statements made by Michael Laws on RadioLive. The HRC has not defined what statements of his they have dismissed as not being racist. The HRC then carries on to say... 

Racial disharmony consists in comments that are “threatening, abusive, or insulting”, and are “likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons in or who may be coming to New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that group of persons”.

Although a race-related comment may be offensive to you and to others, that is not on its own sufficient to put it in breach of this provision in the Human Rights Act. It must also be a probable cause of ethnic hostility or contempt.

“Hostility” and “contempt” are not clear-cut terms, and the Commission’s interpretation of them must be consistent with the right to freedom of expression set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. 

Now wait on a second HRC. Michael Laws' statements are offensive and often bring into contempt one section of the population based on their race. Besides, Hostility and contempt are very well defined terms... Here's what the Oxford dictionary says:

Hostility: hostile behaviour; unfriendliness or opposition:their hostility to all outsiders

(hostilities) acts of warfare:he called for an immediate cessation of hostilities

Contempt: The feeling that a person or a thing is worthless or deserving scorn:Pam stared at the girl with total contempt, he wouldn't answer a woman he held in such contempt

disregard for something that should be considered:this action displays an arrogant contempt for the wishes of the majority

That certainly describes what Michael Laws says on a regular basis. The HRC then says:

The right to freedom of expression includes the ability to make highly controversial or unpopular comments. The Courts have held that, only in cases where the comments would cause a serious detriment to society, will the right to freedom of expression be restricted.  This requirement underpins how a Court or the Human Rights Review Tribunal would interpret section 61 of the HRA.

A serious detriment to society is not specifically what the Human Rights Act 1993 outlines in its terms of discrimination. Anyway... since when has inciting racism not caused detrimental effects on society?

I'm all for freedom of expression and making controversial or unpopular comments, as long as it does not include repeated blatant racism that creates further disharmony. The Human Rights Act does not require a serious detriment to be caused, it states To use in any place words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting, which Michael Laws' statements clearly are. The HRC is overriding the Human Rights Act, which they are meant to uphold with a claim that racism is a freedom of expression. WTF!

This suggests that the comments about which you complain will not meet what is a relatively high threshold given the need to balance it against freedom of expression. We will not, therefore, progress the matter through our dispute resolution process and will close your complaint within that process. 

That is a default response by HRC to a complaint btw.

Although your complaint will not be progressed through the disputes resolution process, bringing this matter to the Commission’s attention assists in carrying out the broader role and functions.

The Commission’s broader role is that of advocating for and promoting human rights and harmonious race relations. It is in this capacity that the Race Relations Commissioner, and the Commission’s External Relations Team carry out their work of education and promotion of diversity, racial understanding and harmony. 

Shouldn't this include upholding the Human Rights Act 1993?

The Commission has recently selected thirty priority areas of the most pressing human rights issues. One of the issues identified was the need for a review of section 61 to ensure it fulfils its legislative purpose. 

Section 61 can only fulfill its legislative purpose if the HRC upholds the Act. What they probably intend to do is to change the Act so that there is no way to make a claim in a court of law, thus entrenching the destructive racist mindset that pervades our culture.

Further options: If you do not agree with the Commission’s response to your complaints, you are entitled to take the matter to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, either directly or by seeking representation from the Director of Human Rights Proceedings.  (Information about these agencies is attached).   In making this referral, we are not implying that the Tribunal’s opinion about this matter is likely to be different from that of the Commission.

So let me just summarize: The HRC has dismissed my complaint concerning Michael Laws' racist statements because it does not understand the meaning of the words Hostility and Contempt and places Michael Laws' freedom of expression and right to make racist statements on RadioLive, which offends thousands of people and entrenches racism in New Zealand, above the rights of the indigenous people affected by racism. How fucked is that.