Monday, May 15, 2006

Reviving lese majeste

So, the Finance and Expenditure Committee looks likely to drag former TVNZ chairman Craig Boyce over the coals over his emails. This is deeply disturbing, to say the least. It is one thing to take a strong position on the accountability of chief executives to Parliament, and to crack down on attempts to manipulate evidence to Select Committees and evade Parliamentary oversight. But according to this morning's Herald, the committee is going to apply a blowtorch because Boyce called them names. Such an "investigation", even of government employees, simply has no place in a free and democratic society.

Back in the pre-Enlightenment days, before our governments learned to fear us, Kings would throw people in jail for disrespecting them or offending against their dignity. The "crime" was called lese majeste, and in Britain at least one of the mechanisms for punishing such "crimes" was the Star Chamber. The fact that it is an elected Parliament doing it, rather than an inbred git with pretentions of grandeur doesn't make it any more acceptable. This "crime" is bullshit, and if the Bill of Rights' affirmation of freedom of expression means anything, surely it means the right to call MP's "bastards".

The Committee is treading on dangerous ground here, and it needs to pull back before it revives lese majeste. It is inappropriate in this day and age to punish people for their attitude towards politicians. It is inappropriate even to inquire into it. And any politician who thinks differently isn't just a bastard - they are a danger to every single one of us.


Mmm, the Star Chamber. You know, one of the things I was disturbed to know about my ancestry, apart from apparently being distant cousin of Prince Charles, was that I am also a descendant of Hanging Judge Jeffries of the Bloody Assizes, of Star Chamber fame.

Posted by Weekend_Viking : 5/15/2006 03:46:00 PM