The Herald's Brian Rudman responds to the sentencing of Tim Selwyn with a call for people to speak up and scrap the old sedition law:
The jailing of Tim Selwyn for sedition should send a shiver up the spine of anyone whose business is words and ideas. And in a free and open democracy, that's every one of us.
That the police, off their own bat, can prosecute a pamphleteer for sedition, persuading a jury that the Government was in danger of being overthrown unlawfully as a result of his scribblings, drags us into the same class as "guided" democracies such as Singapore.
Rudman points out that statements as seditious as Selwyn's were made on an almost daily basis during recent periods of civil protest (the 60's, the Maori sovereignty movement, the Springbok Tour, nuclear-ship visits, gay rights, women's rights) - and yet none resulted in prosecution, much less the unalwful overthrow of the government. Reviving the law then seems both totally unjustified, and a threat to the greatly enhanced freedom of speech we have won since the 60's. If they could manage without it during the height of the Springbok Tour ("the closest [modern] New Zealand has come to civil war"), then surely we can manage without it now.
Compared with the sixties, we now live in a golden age of free speech and free expression. Who of us would want to go back? The conviction and jailing of someone for exercising this new openness are chilling reminders of those bad old days. The quicker the sedition law is repealed the better.
Obviously, I agree.