We’re going to have to start a file called Awkward Friday Politics.
Because we’ve got another one today: an awkward announcement wheeled out on a Friday in the hope it gets lost in the fog of beers, hangovers and weekend sports.
This one is the hate speech law.
And the fact that it's wheeled out on a Friday seems an admission that the government knows it's going to be awkward to sell to punters on a bunch of levels.
The proposed law would take hate speech out of the Human Rights Act and put it in the crimes act to signal how serious the offence is.
It’ll make it a crime to not only incite violence but also incite hatred against a bunch of protected groups.
It will expand these protected groups from currently basically only being ethnicity or nationality… to include sex, gender, martial status, religious belief, employment status or political opinion
And it will boost the penalties from three months in jail to three years in jail.
Three years in jail for a start is disproportionate.
It’s three times longer than you get for common assault, for example for punching someone in the face: that’s a year.
It’s longer than the punishment for assaulting a child, or a man bashing a woman: that’s two years.
So they’re going to have to tell us how nasty words deserve a greater punishment than actual an physical attack.
The second tough sell is the protected groups.
Political opinion? So now if you go around saying you hate Green Party voters or National Party voters and you want to convince other people to hate them all too because they’re entitled or selfish or whatever, you now run the risk of ending up in jail?
I think there’ll be a fair people who baulk at that. That feels a helluva lot like its crossing a line into stifling debate.
In any case, what is it they’re trying to fix?
They say they need to pass this law so another attack like march 15 doesn’t happen again.
March 15 wasn’t the result of nasty words in new Zealand.
That man came here radicalized already.
No wonder this is being slipped out as another entry for the Awkward Friday Politics file.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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