New Zealand has come under stinging criticism from the New Zealand Humanist Society (NZHS) for adopting the Harmful Digital Communications Act, which is believed to be one of the world’s strictest blasphemy laws.
The NZHS described the law that received Royal assent on July 2 as “an embarrassing step backwards and a severe blow to free speech.” The society said the new act seeking to put an end to cyber-bullying can land people in prison for up to two years for committing blasphemy.
The NZHS also believes the law was introduced “by the back door.”
“This legislation not only flies in the face of human rights, but the introduction of yet another law that gives special privileges to religions is unfair, unpopular and unrepresentative of our society, where over 40 percent of New Zealanders identify as not religious, making this our country’s largest single belief group,” said Mark Honeychurch, the NZHS president as cited by The New Zealand Herald.
“We want to increase social cohesion and understanding, and by awarding privileges and protecting groups from critique we are closing the door on free speech, free inquiry and public debate. New Zealand has to abolish its blasphemy laws before they are used to censor, suppress, and silence public debate,” he added.
But they’re liars; it isn’t that one can’t attack a particular religion or commit blasphemy; merely that one can’t denigrate someone online based on their religion:
The Harmful Digital Communications Act came into force on July 2. It introduces a number of communication principles. One of them states: “A digital communication should not denigrate an individual by reason of his or her colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.”
Violators of the law will have to pay a fine up to 50,000NZD (almost $33,200) or serve two years in prison. Corporate bodies will face even higher fines – up to 200,000NZD almost ($133,200).
Advocates of the law believe it will effectively help to fight against cyber-bullying and harmful online content.
Now, I think that overall, this law is misguided, and anti-free-speech, but apparently, the secularists wrongly equate being forbidden to put down people online based on their faith as being equivalent to banning blasphemy, which it isn’t; they can still do that to their heart’s content (far as I can tell from what is written there).
They fail to recognize that they have a religion, too. They are as firmly convinced by faith, not proof, that there is no God, just as much as any theist is convinced, by faith, that there is one. Meaning this law ought to also equally shield them, as individuals, from being attacked online on the basis of their own faith-based beliefs, too.