One of the search tags I have set up in WordPress is “New Zealand”. I like to keep abreast of what fellow bloggers write about this country. I have found most of the Kiwi bloggers I now follow this way.
Most blog posts about new Zealand fall into the “travelogue” realm where in almost diary form the authors write about their experiences andf encounters as they make there way around this island nation of ours. Generally I ignore these, but sometimes there’s an interesting article about our traits as a people or nation, and these can be rather revealing in highlighting our flaws as well as our good points. Sometimes these observations are quite accurate, while others are perceived through the lenses of their own cultural bias.
As can be expected, in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks, that has been the major subject in posts related to Aotearoa New Zealand. Few, if any, NZ based bloggers are playing the “blame game”. They are more concerned with helping the victims and families or acknowledging that there are prejudices here that lie somewhat hidden in this country, unless you happen to be a member of a minority, in which case they are more obvious.
On most Kiwi blogs there’s a lot of grief and soul searching, but it’s the character of many of many overseas blogs that concerns me, including one or two that I follow. In some cases bloggers comment on the assumption that social conditions prevailing in their own country also exist here. In many cases, those assumptions are just plain wrong. In contrast to Kiwi blogs, there’s often an attempt to lay blame.
One example is gun control. Some have blamed the shootings on too liberal gun laws, allowing anyone (with a firearms licence) to legally accumulate semiautomatic weapons and those weapons don’t require registration. Others say NZ laws are too restrictive because so few NZers hold a firearms licence. These people say that if more people carried guns, there’d be less violence, ignoring the fact that the carrying of any weapon for self-protection is illegal in this country. Mentioning that you’d feel safer if you had a gun is a guaranteed means of having a firearms licence application declined
For most Kiwis, guns are a device used for recreational hunting, or for pest control/management/eradication. The simple fact is that most of us don’t feel that we need to carry any form of protective weaponry, and hopefully the mosque attacks won’t change that.
While I understand some level of misunderstanding, the amount of false information and wild supposition and that is circulating beggars belief. A common falsehood is that the government has clamped down on our supposedly limited freedoms (why do so many Americans believe the myth that they enjoy more freedom than anywhere else?) If we ignore the fact that by every freedom index available, New Zealand is typically at or near the top of the list, while the USA seldom gets into the top 10 or 20, what freedoms have we lost since the attack?
I’m not going to call out specific blogs, but many, including one with a post titled “Censorship And Arrests In Wake Of Christchurch Attack” claim the government has used the attack as an excuse to restrict our freedom, and in particular, free speech. They claim the government has clamped down on what can be viewed online, and that there have been mass arrests for watching the video of the attack. Some have provided a list of websites they claim the New Zealand government has blocked. I’ve got news for them: not one of those sites is blocked. How do I know? Some of the listed sites included a link, so it was a simple matter to click on the link to verify he was wrong. For others, I had to Google for the link, and for all those I tested, the websites came up in all their nasty “glory”.
Some ISPs may have chosen to block some domains, but if my ISP has, they didn’t include the ones listed by the bloggers. No, I didn’t attempt to locate the video, I have no desire to watch it. To knowingly possess or distribute it in any form is illegal, as is it with all objectionable material. That has been the case for decades.
What constitutes objectionable material in NZ? It is objectionable if it involves exploiting children or young people for sexual purposes, the use of violence or coercion to force people into sex, sexual conduct with a dead person, the use of urine or excrement in association with dehumanising conduct or sexual conduct, bestiality and acts of torture or extreme violence or extreme cruelty. To suggest that these limitations restrict free speech is, in my view, utter nonsense.
They argue that everyone has the right to view anything “in the public domain”, and that any move by authorities to block either the viewing or distribution of such material is criminal and a sign of an authoritarian state. I wonder if they believe they have a right to view and distribute videos depicting child sexual exploitation? If they don’t, they’re being hypocritical. If they do, they really are sick.
There has been no clamp down. The statement by the police was simply to advise anyone who was ignorant of the law that it was illegal, and to remind those who wish to exploit the situation, of the likely consequences.
As to there being mass arrests, one person has been charged with possessing and distributing objectionable material. From what I have read, this particular video wasn’t the only objectionable material in his possession, nor the only one he’s distributed.
I for one feel no less free and no more afraid than a week ago, but for some Kiwis, the freedom to live without fear has been eroded. For that, I am really pissed off. How dare anyone brutally end the lives of of so many innocent men, women and children and damage the lives of so many more.
If you believe that some groups of people shouldn’t be in NZ, you’re still free to do so and express it (although in all likelihood you’ll have fewer supporters than before last Friday). If you think guns should be more freely available, then you are free to advocate for more liberal gun laws (although you’ll have fewer supporters than you did before last Friday). If you wish to distribute objectionable material, go ahead arsehole, it’s no more difficult than last week. But don’t be surprised when you get a visit from law enforcement agencies (and that’s no different from before last Friday).