The Department of Internal Affairs has released a consultation document containing proposed changes to censorship procedures.
Read a sobering commentary by the Free Speech Union here.
The proposals include the appointment of a chief regulator who will be empowered to decide whether online content (including social media posts) is ‘harmful’. To do so, he will be empowered to make up his own ‘guidelines’ without the input of parliament. The proposals will also allow fines exceeding $200,000 to be levied on those who don’t comply with his ideas.
So what exactly will the regulator’s draconian powers replace?
- Well of course free speech—the right to speak your mind—will be off the table. In other words, the ordinary process of discourse will be muted by the fear of arbitrary punishment.
- This will supercede the NZ Bill of Rights, which was designed to guarantee our freedom of thought, conscience, expression, and religion.
- The proposals will compromise the right to remain innocent until proven guilty. In other words, a person we have never met in a remote bureaucratic office can pronounce us guilty and silence us, regardless of circumstances and truth. It will be the rule of little minds.
- It will replace the process of science and the gathering of evidence with the vagaries of uninformed opinion.
- It will remove our right to cross examine any accusers.
- It will replace the rule of specific laws passed by an elected parliament after due discussion, which set out the limits to behaviour in writing, with the capricious decisions of an individual subject to all the usual individual failings including vulnerability to influence, money, power, and mistaken ideas.
These are all principles which have underpinned our way of life for centuries. The proposed censorship threatens to take us back to the Middle Ages when you could find out whether the wise woman village herbalist was a witch or not by asking your local misogynist wizard.
This proposed legislation has all the hallmarks of a parliament intent on extending its powers, preserving its majority, protecting itself from criticism, and isolating itself from ordinary people. A parliament who have miserably failed to keep up with Covid science publishing, instead persisting with slogan politics, under a leader who struggles to define a biological woman.
So where did this madness originate?
For the last hundred years it has not escaped insightful social commentators that at some point humankind would become subject to ruthless power and nameless technology. Visionaries include film director Fritz Lang, writers Franz Kafka, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and many others since. Frank Herbert writing in 1965 wrote in Dune:
“Men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted the men with machines to enslave them”
In the prehistory of Dune’s fictional world, a war driven by technology led to a revolution and the creation of a new generation of schools which trained human minds to fully develop. This is not without very real lessons for us today. The widespread use of computers in schools and business has trained the whole population to accept the word of computers controlled by invisible hands with suspect motives.
Even the most sophisticated computers cannot sort right from wrong
We all laughed readily at the TV parody in Little Britain “the computer says no”, little realising how deep the authority of computers was establishing itself in our daily lives.
Education has historically been fundamentally a person-to-person process with opportunities to ask questions. We all remember that one teacher who resonated more than the others. The replacement of many functions of teachers with computers has impoverished education. It has trained us to accept and learn a rote answer. It has taught us that if we disagree with the official answer, we are always wrong.
Fundamentally, the educational process has diverged from the ordinary process of thinking. Computers have important limitations. They are based on binary architecture—Yes or No, Right or Wrong. Human thinking allows for a nuanced middle way, computers struggle to do so.
In fact, real physical processes evolve in a virtual abstract Hilbert space of all possible paths. Physical law is constantly calculating a path of least action and it is capable of entertaining multiple possibilities and postponing any decision affecting an impending event until the last possible moment. Nature thinks like we actually do—it explores before deciding, it remembers the past, it entertains immutable truths, and it can create. No computer can think originally like that, it is controlled by inputs and limited by its binary construction.
In fact computers can be trained to lie and it is happening all around us today. A lawyer at a NY law firm has admitted using ChatGPT to source relevant prior court decisions which bolstered his case. The court discovered they were bogus, just imaginative creations of a form of Artificial Intelligence programmed to try to please.
Regulation is already in the hands of manipulated computers
Any regulator, empowered to decide what is right or wrong in the modern era, will ultimately rely on the advice of computers programmed, as Frank Herbert suggested, by people who wish to enslave the world. Government offices are plumbed into international networks and databases providing ready-made content, opinions, and decisions. Networks funded by mega corporations or political power bases with suspect motivations guided by profit and foreign ideology.
The spectacle of Kiri Allan, Minister of Justice, reading the wrong speech to a nodding Parliament this week says it all. She was supposed to be speaking in support of the third reading of the Freedom Camping Bill, instead she read from a speech in support of the second reading of the Self-Contained Motor Vehicles bill. Only two opposition MPs noticed the error. Minister Allan was oblivious. Her eventual excuse given to the NZ Herald: “I was handed the wrong speech”.
It is not too far a stretch to realise that the NZ Parliament has been handed Covid policy to enact without question, sleepwalking the country to economic ruin, social polarisation, and record levels of hospitalisation and excess deaths.
Last week, the World Health Organisation released a scientific paper warning that Covid vaccines could play a role in the development of multiple sclerosis (watch a detailed report here). So this is from WHO, one of the world’s most pro-vaccine organisations, but still the computerised fact checkers immediately screamed ‘false’—they had been pre-programmed to negate any doubts about Covid vaccine safety.
This is the kind of programmable world in which politicians feel comfortable. A world in which opinion is regulated and inconvenient truth cancelled at will. Timothy Snyder’s book ‘On Tyranny’ expresses it very well:
“To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticise power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights”
The dangers are not minor, Heinrich Heine writing exactly 200 years ago in his book ‘In Der Fremde’—in a foreign land, presciently wrote:
“Where they have burned books, they will end up burning human beings”
Parliament now wishes to legislate for the control of NZ’s voice, our voice. They are pressing the mute button. Where that ultimately leads and where we are all eventually left will doubtless be an inhospitable landscape.
Contact the Free Speech Union and join your voice to theirs in opposition to the proposed legislation to impose a straightjacket on our right to think for ourselves.