David Seymour wants Kiwis to have the right to be offensive without having to worry about getting arrested.
Instead, he hopes “contempt and ridicule” will stop racists from spreading their poisonous views.
The ACT Party leader is proposing a Freedom to Speak Bill, which would repeal parts of the Human Rights Act.
“You’ve always been able to be punished by the state on the basis of fact,” he told Newshub Nation on Saturday morning.
“The idea you could be potentially punished for saying something that was offensive or insulting, as they have in the UK, is something that worries a lot of Kiwis.”
There are two parts of the Human Rights Act Seymour wants gone.
The first is Section 61, which makes it unlawful to publish, distribute or broadcast “threatening, abusive or insulting” language “likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons in or who may be coming to New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that group of persons”. It’s also against the law to use such language in a public meeting, or at any time or place where it’s reasonable to expect the words might get picked up by the media.
“I’m trying to appeal to people who see that freedom of speech is the foundation of all freedoms,” said Seymour. “If you can’t express yourself, it’s very hard to stand up politically for important causes.”
The second is Part 6, which makes it a crime to incite racial disharmony with a potential punishment of a $7000 fine or three months behind bars.
Asked by host Tova O’Brien if that means he’d be happy with Nazis performing ‘seig heil’ salutes on the grounds of Parliament or walking down the street using the N-word, Seymour said no.
“That’s completely offensive and I think there would be a whole lot of sanctions form that form the wider society, but I don’t think the state should be there trying to punish people,” he explained.
“I think those people are complete idiots. It is freedom of expression, but it will get exactly what it deserves – which is total contempt and ridicule from all of New Zealand society.”