A response to failed surveillance systems and the curbing of online hate

In response to the failures of our surveillance agencies to protect the victims of Christchurch’s terrorism attack, my sister Debbie and I would like to add the following statement:

The government has finally directed surveillance services to focus their attention on racists and white supremacists.  That’s great – and long overdue. However, we believe the police, security agencies, and the government must not only focus on appropriate targets and apologise to Muslim communities who have been unfairly targeted, but also apologise to environmental and Māori organisations, and human rights and peace activists such as our brother, for years of spying, harassment and inappropriate accusations of terrorism, while failing to investigate the people and organisations who are truly a risk to the ordinary people of New Zealand and to national security.

Over the past ten years Nicky’s house has been illegally raided and information has been illegally gathered about him – a person who works tirelessly to promote peace and uphold human rights.  Organisations working to protect the environment such as Greenpeace and those attempting to stop the Denniston coal mining have been spied on and investigated by security forces in an effort to protect the industries that want to exploit and degrade the environment.  Māori have been targets of spying and state mandated terrorism – particularly the raid in 2007 in Ruatoki, where women, children and men were held at gun point for hours without food, water or access to toilets, for no reason other than state-condoned racism.

It is not Māori, environmentalists, peace or human rights proponents such as our brother who amass guns and propose murdering entire communities because of their ethnicity (non-white) or religion.

As a result of the horrendous tragedy in Christchurch, the Police, surveillance services and the government must apologise for this mining industry/anti-Māori/anti human rights-focused anti-terrorism activities, and reassure the public that the focus of all the services will now be on those people and organisations that preach hatred and division.

***

I’d also like to note and applaud the action of media outlet Stuff for responding to concerns about toxic comments online with new guidelines. To my mind there is no doubt the division and polarisation of different groups in this country has been enabled by media organisations not only publishing the odious ‘reckons’ of bitter old men, but enabling further toxicity through the poor moderation of comments on their Facebook pages and websites.

The Monday before the unimaginably ghastly attack on Christchurch’s Muslim community, I was tipped off to a comment about my brother that Newstalk ZB had allowed on their public Facebook page for 13 hours by the time I saw it. It read:

newstalk zb

Despite myself and many others demanding that they remove it immediately, there was no response. In fact, they doubled-down, allowing the following to posted as a response:

newstalk zb 2

Only when I made it clear I was contacting Netsafe to report them under the Harmful Digital Communications Act did they finally take it down. No apology. No comment that this kind of incitement is illegal and objectionable.

Unless this kind of hate-speech is called out, we will only see more division and danger within our society. People such as Trevor Taylor and Dave Oakley need to be warned that they are engaging in an illegal activity and charged with threatening to kill, and the news sites that allow this should be fined and censured.

To Trevor Taylor and Dave Oakley, I’d like to ask how you would feel if you saw this kind of comment written about one of your own family members? Not so hilarious then, eh? Not only are you responding in ignorance – I’d put good money on you never having read anything Nicky has actually written from beginning to end – but your comments reveal you as odious human beings who obviously feel so entitled and caught up in your hate that you feel safe to threaten the life of someone who has worked tirelessly to defend your freedoms, democracy and safety. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame.

And to Newstalk ZB: I hold you equally responsible. You need to look deep into your hearts (if, in fact, you have any) and ask yourselves how you would feel if this was written about someone you loved. You are feeding the beast of hate in the service of making money. That is immoral and disgusting.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Mandy I am so sorry that you and Nicky and Debbie and Belinda have had to go through all of this. What you have written here is great and thankyou to you and Debbie for writing it. I am actually horrified by the total lack of interest that the New Zealand Police have in online hate and also false allegations. Just tonight I tried to ring them about the attached post (below) and they had no interest whatsoever, just kept reiterating that I should report it to Facebook, as if Facebook had any real sense of due care or morals. This is the post. I personally think that the police should look into such things. I ended up reporting it to Netsafe. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=403638353795543&id=100024481456467

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    1. Thanks Louise. That is a pretty scary link – made the mistake of looking at the comments section of it. It utterly terrifies me that there are people out there who think that way. I’ve sent the link to Matt Nippert, who is investigating them. Glad you reported to Netsafe. I’ll keep thinking about who else it could be reported to.

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  2. In contrast to Newstalks attitude and response, a while ago I was reading an article about Helen Kelly’s advocation of cannabis medication. In the comments section someone had entered “Soon one less union thug.” I found the e-mail address of the highest-up person in ‘Stuff’ I could find and messaged them that I had no idea what they paid their moderators for, and that the comment was irrelevant to the article and disgusting. I got an e-mail back in about ten minutes saying “Thanks, you’re right and the comment’s gone.” I checked, and it was.That’s the kind of response you should have got. I’m sad that people put up shit like this about your brother whose work I admire, but disgusting that a main-stream news organization give them a wider audience than their own little circle of bigots.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Alex – and well done on being so pro-active. I’m really hoping that maybe they’ll be a bit more circumspect from now on – but am not holding my breath!

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