The Society’s sixth object from section 2 of its Constitution deals with the principle of the human “right to freedom of expression” and it was approved as a “charitable purpose” by the New Zealand Charities Commission, when it was registered as a charity on 17 December 2007. (The Commission was disestablished on 1 July 2012 and “Charities” has now been absorbed into the Department of Internal Affairs).
The Society’s Rules (“objects”) state:
2. (f) “To support responsible freedom of expression which does not injure the public good by degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people”.
What is the Society’s rationale and basis for having such an object?
For an answer to this question one needs to look no further than sections 13 & 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 which states:
Section 13: Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief, including the right to adopt and to hold opinions without interference.
Section 14: Freedom of Expression
- Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form. [Emphasis added]
The principle of the human “right to freedom of expression” is found in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) signed by member states on 4 November 1950.
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprise.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
Article 10 (1) focuses on and specifically addresses the unlawful activities of any “public authority” (e.g. a Crown entity) that attempts (whether openly or by stealth) to stifle “free speech”, by means of – for example: limiting and prescribing robust debate, and harassing and victimizing individuals and groups that seek to express a viewpoint that authorities disagree with, or consider too controversial to be aired.
Pandering to the strident and relentless bleatings of certain narrow-minded interest groups, or driven by arguably defective ideologies that authorities consider “politically correct”; such campaigns of harassment by public authorities propel the spirits of these unjust instigators of corruption to their zenith; in the ‘sure knowledge’ that they are doing the work of ‘God’ or His ‘equivalent’ – the Crown Entity or some public authority to which they are dutifully behoven.
In attempting to pander to the relentless litany of complaints from opponents of “free speech”, these quisling operatives within what used to be honourably called “the public service departments”, deviate from the universally held principles set out in Article 10(1) of the ECHR and other equivalent laws and statutes (see below), committing unlawful acts that warrant full exposure before the Courts.
Common sense dictates the principles set out in Article 10(2).
In the New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 (“BORA”) which upholds the “right of freedom of expression”, limitations to such “freedom” are set out that are identical to those in 10(2).
- Section 5: Justified limitations
Subject to section 4, the rights and freedoms contained in this Bill of Rights may be subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
- Section 6. Interpretation consistent with Bill of Rights to be preferred.
- Wherever an enactment can be given a meaning that is consistent with the rights and freedoms contained in this Bill of Rights, that meaning shall be preferred to any other meaning.
The SPCS has included in its object 2(f) the following check to offensive and unlawful activities that some would seek to justify on the grounds of their “right to freedom of expression”: ….
“…. [that] which does not injure the public good by degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people.”
These words act as an effective couterbalance to the “right to freedom of expression” found in BORA. They summarise the responsibilities of citizens to uphold all other relevant enanctments so that in effect any one (and ALL) of their actions, as expressed by SPCS, is limited to one “which does not injure the public good by degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people”.
The SPCS draws its reference to the concept of “injury to the public good” and the effect of “degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people” from section 2 of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (“FVPCA”, in which “objectionable” content is clearly defined.
The so-called “deeming provisions” found in s. 2(2) of this Act set out the basis upon which content (depicted behaviour in films, books etc) is deemed “objectionable” by the Chief Censor’s Office, and consequently can be banned. Hardcore pornography that degrades, dehumanises and demeans the class of humanity we define as women (based on gender) is regularly banned by the censors. Some porn companies actively seek to import such material that pushes to the limits the boundaries set in law to control such content matter.
Section 6 of BORA in effect ‘trumps’ all other constraints that public authorities may dearly wish to impose on individuals and groups by their appealing to other enactments (e.g. Charity Law) to restrict “freedom of expression”.
Prior to about October 2000, Commissioners of the Charity Commission (England and Wales) were required to have regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which was not directly applicable until the Human Rights Act 1988 (HRA) was in force (about October 2000). (see Decision re Church of Scientology [England and Wales]).
It is somewhat ironic that so many charities championing “human rights” and engaging in blatant “political advocacy” in order to advance their messages in England and Wales, could well face the vicious tourniquet applied by Charity Commissioners, determined to muzzle them from speaking out against the harassment and discrimination of vulnerable minority classes such as Christians.
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights is embodied in section 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
There will always be those who cannot cope with others expressing sincerely held opinions that differ from their own.
International law is very clear about the rights of any person to declare such opinions or beliefs without interference from others including public authorities.
1. Council of Europe: The European Convention on Human Rights. Rome 4 November 1950
and its Five Protocols
2. New Zealand Bill of Rights 1980