Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sedition by Example X: Tim Selwyn

(An ongoing attempt to procure the alteration of our archaic law of sedition)

Text of a pamphlet left near the scene of the axe-attack on the Prime Minister's electorate office:

Confiscation Day

This morning concerned Pakeha vented their anger and disgust at the Government’s attempts to steal, by confiscation, Maori land in the form of the Seabed and Foreshore Bill that is currently being disgracefully rammed through Parliament as part of a desperate back-room deal.

By attacking the electorate office of the chief instigator, the Prime Minister - who is due to abandon the mess she created by fleeing the country today - we signal that a threshold has been crossed.

The broken glass symbolises the broken faith, broken trust and shattered justice, our axe symbolises the steadfastness of our determination.

The ruthless Prime Minister will leave behind a vindictive law that will haunt this nation should the M.Ps be mad enough to pass it. Maori M.Ps complicit in this farce will never live down their betrayal.

If this is destined to be Confiscation Day, then we have marked it.

We call upon all like-minded New Zealanders to take similar action of their own to send a clear message that such a gross, blatantly racist injustice to the Maori people will never be accepted.

Ake! Ake! Ake!

The alleged author of this document, Tim Selwyn, has been charged with seditious conspiracy and making a seditious statement for inciting "violence, lawlessness, or disorder". These charges rest not on his alleged involvement in the attack itself - that is covered by a seperate charge of conspiracy to commit criminal damage - but on the above words alone. He will appear in court today for a pre-depositions hearing - 83 years to the day of Bishop Liston's infamous speech.


It’s fairly clear. The sentence “We call upon all like-minded New Zealanders to take similar action [similar to putting an axe through the window of the PM’s electorate office] of their own” is an incitement to violence. Committing willful damage is one thing, calling on others to do the same is additional, and there should (properly) be a charge to reflect that. (Whether sedition, as it’s defined, is the appropriate charge is up for debate.) It’s not a curb on free speech; there would be nothing objectionable about that pamphlet had that sentence had been left out. However, free speech doesn’t extend to the right to call for violence, yell fire in crowded theater, etc.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/17/2005 12:56:00 PM

Yes, it's a call for violence - but an abstract one. There's no immediacy, and thus an insuffcient likelihood of actual harm to justify punishment.

Our other laws against incitement - s66(1)(d) and s311(2) of the Crimes Act 1961 - require both a specific offence, an audiance, and (most importantly), an element of persuasion. The police must be able to prove that those who were the subject of such an incitement were reasonably likely to act upon it. The police could have charged Selwyn under these; the fact that they didn't suggested they realised that these elements were lacking, and thatthe charge was essentially a crock.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/17/2005 04:08:00 PM

I am concerned that the Prime Minister, or somebody acting on her behalf, is misusing her power of authority.

The instance of a painting being signed and then bought under the impression of being painted by the PM. The speeding 'motorcade' where an innocent driver was prosecuted.

It appeaers that the District Court judge failed to properly direct the jury in this matter. And I am tempted to consider whether the judge was acting under direct orders by a Member of Parliament. I am surprised that the defence lawyer apparently failed to argue the case properly, and explain to the jury the proper legal interpretation of 'sedition'.

I do not accept that the pamphlet is a call for violence as such. I take the view that it is a call for New Zealanders to awake to the dangers of the 'Big Brother" syndrome. I do not understand the Seabed Bill. Nor do I understand the danger it allegedly has for Maori. To me it is just another example of stupid legislation, drafted by incompetent individuals at the request of incompetent politicians.

This Labour government has demonstrated remarkable skill in passing legislation just to be seen to be "doing something".

I hope Selwyn wins on appeal.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/13/2006 03:27:00 PM