Monday, April 04, 2005

Sedition by Example: A correction

I have a correction to make relating to my most recent post in the "Sedition by Example" series. On checking the court judgement in the case (Kelman v Browne, [1940] NZLR 941), I have discovered that he was not prosecuted for sedition, but subversion under the Public Safety Emergency Regulations of 1940. While there is some overlap - statements "intended or likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty" are considered subversive, just as "exciting disaffection" is considered seditious, Kelman was not charged under this section. Instead he was prosecuted as calling government Ministers cannibals and murderers was "intended or likely to cause undue alarm to the public", and because the final line - "Mothers! Would you entrust your son's life to these people?" - was "intended... to cause unlawful resistance... to military training or service". The Supreme Court found for Kelman on the first argument, ruling that defamation was not per se subversive, but against him on the second. So, still a crock, but a different one.

I've avoided using the great WWII conscientious objectors (such as Ormond Burton and A C Barrington) as examples for precisely this reason. But despite my efforts, it seems I was caught out by the sloppy language used in my source. Obviously, I will be more careful in the future.