Monday, December 20, 2004

Sedition by example

For those of you wondering why I am outraged that an Auckland man has been charged with "seditious conspiracy", perhaps a few concrete examples would help. The Crimes Act 1961 defines a seditious conspiracy as

an agreement between 2 or more persons to carry into execution any seditious intention

and a seditious intention as an intention:

(a)To bring into hatred or contempt, or to excite disaffection against, Her Majesty, or the Government of New Zealand, or the administration of justice; or

(b)To incite the public or any persons or any class of persons to attempt to procure otherwise than by lawful means the alteration of any matter affecting the Constitution, laws, or Government of New Zealand; or

(c)To incite, procure, or encourage violence, lawlessness, or disorder; or

(d)To incite, procure, or encourage the commission of any offence that is prejudicial to the public safety or to the maintenance of public order; or

(e)To excite such hostility or ill will between different classes of persons as may endanger the public safety.

So, for example, saying that the royal family were inbred imbeciles who were intellectually outmatched by their incontinent corgis would be seditious, as would Ian Wishart's lurid fantasies about Helen Clark and Judith Tizard (shades of lese majeste, anyone?). Saying that the present government is not the lawful sovereign of New Zealand almost certainly falls foul of this as well - so the entire tino rangitiratanga movement and an entire generation of New Zealand historians are technically criminals. Saying that we should practice civil disobediance or simply ignore laws that are stupid, unjust, or a gross violation of human rights is a no-no as well. And being a Communist or a unionist and stirring up the lower classes against their "betters" is obviously right out.

Note that this is about intentions - you don't even have to say any of the above, you only have to think it. In other words, we have ThoughtCrime in New Zealand.

Not that that means you can spread these dangerous memes without penalty. Making or publishing any statement which expresses a seditious intention - saying any of those things - can see you jailed for up to two years, as can distributing or selling it or simply allowing your printing press or any "electrical apparatus" (which means photocopiers - and computers) to be used to produce it or to "facilitate" its publication. I guess all those bookshops currently stocking that pretty new edition of The Communist Manifesto are in deep shit, then.

I can think of no better example of a stupid and unjust law - and like other stupid and unjust laws, it deserves to be broken. Until it is repealed, we should make a point of violating it, gratuitiously and wantonly, simply to show how stupid it is.

Of course, saying that is a crime...