New Zealand has banned possession of the Christchurch mosque shooter’s manifesto, and ordered citizens to destroy any copies they may possess. The Country’s “Chief Censor” says the manifesto “promotes murder and terrorism.”
According to Business Insider, New Zealand’s Office of Film and Literature Classification “made the decision to ban the document” written by Brenton Tarrant, who killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, this month, and “told people in possession of the publication to destroy their copies and remove hyperlinks to them online.”
“Anyone found possessing and distributing the manifesto could face up to 10 years and 14 years in prison respectively,” Business Insider reported, adding that New Zealand’s “censorship office” also “made the possession and sharing of the livestream illegal.”
In a statement, New Zealand’s Chief Censor, David Shanks, claimed the manifesto “promotes murder and terrorism.”
“We have dealt with terrorist promotional material before which was deliberately designed to inspire, encourage and instruct other like-minded individuals to carry out further attacks,” Shanks explained. “For example we have found a number of ISIS publications to be objectionable in previous decisions… This publication falls in the same category.”
“There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech,’ which may be rejected by many right-thinking people but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism,” he continued.
New Zealand Free Speech Coalition spokesman Stephen Franks, however, warned against outlawing the manifesto.
“This is a completely improper use of the censorship powers,” Franks declared. “Most New Zealanders will have no interest in reading the rants of an evil person. But there is a major debate going on right now on the causes of extremism. Kiwis should not be wrapped in cotton wool with their news and information censored.”
“New Zealanders need to be able to understand the nature of evil and how it expresses itself,” he expressed. “Our society has surmounted many more terrible threats than this by allowing each citizen to engage, hear, read, and reject evil for themselves. It is completely alien to our history and our strength of a self-ruling citizenry to be told that only those in power may know and tell us what they want us to think an evil person has written.”
“For the same reason we don’t ban Mein Kampf, the manifesto should not be driven underground,” Franks concluded.
Following the shooting, New Zealand announced a ban on semiautomatic rifles and “high-capacity” magazines, while most major internet service providers in the country started to ban websites which hosted the video of the massacre.
One 22-year-old man is already facing up to ten years in prison for allegedly sharing the video of the shooting online, while in England, at least four people have also been arrested over comments they made about the shooting.