Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tennis protest

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Shakespeare, Hamlet.
From The Standard, via NRT:
Idiot Savant at No Right Turn points out that the police (once again1) are violating the law surrounding protest and dissent. The post is reproduced with permission.
The basic problem with LPrent and Idiot/Savant is that they apply Brooker as absolute authority without considering that each case turns on its facts. Brooker is not authority that noisy civil protest is not unlawful. From the judgment of Chief Justice Sian Elias:
It is consistent with the right of freedom of expression that restrictions on that right may be imposed where necessary to protect interests such as privacy or residential quiet, as art 19 of the International Covenant permits.
And:
The victimisation or bullying inherent in a sustained or intrusive targeted protest against a particular home is likely to disrupt public order in the sense of causing alarm or perception of threat.
If it disrupts public order so as to cause alarm, and that is a judgment call only the Police can make, (unless I/S or LPrent would like some other body to make it?) then there is good cause to suspect an offence has been committed and an arrest is justified.

And, critically, from the judgment of Blanchard J:
Where, as here, the behaviour concerned involves a genuine exercise of the right to freedom of expression, the reasonable member of the public may well be expected to bear a somewhat higher level of anxiety or disturbance than would otherwise be the case. This may be necessary to prevent an unjustified limitation of the freedom and is consistent with the purpose of s 6 of the Bill of Rights.

There must, however, come a point at which the manner or some other facet of the exercise of the freedom will create such a level of anxiety or disturbance that the behaviour involved becomes disorderly under s 4(1)(a) and, correspondingly, the limit thereby imposed on the freedom becomes justified under s 5. No abstract guidance can be given as to when that level will be reached. That decision is a matter of judgment according to all the relevant circumstances of the individual case.

This approach was endorsed by the majority in Hansen v R [2007] NZSC 7.
I wasn't at Stanley Street and do not know what behaviour transpired so cannot comment on that. But I can safely say that simply because some guy played a guitar outside the house of a cop and woke her up, and was acquitted, doesn't mean that Minto et al can scream, shout, abuse and carry on like cut cats without demur.

That would be, as NRT announces, absolutely outrageous.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Riiight. But unfortunately for your argument, the High Court of Auckland HAS set down some minimum thresholds for disorderly behaviour & breach of peace.
"Loud protests through a megaphone are not uncommon in New Zealand streets. It is a method of protest that is often used. It is not a breach of our criminal law in itself to use such a method of protest. It is not a breach of our criminal law to annoy others while doing so." [HC AK Rees v Police 2006]

And yes, the courts recognise limits on the right to protest:
"There is a line beyond which protestors cannot cross without offending the criminal law, and that line involves annoyance beyond that which is normal and acceptable to New Zealanders." [HC AK Rees v Police 2006] (my emphasis)

So, explicit ruling that use of megaphones is okay, so long as it is not in some other way a breach of the law. And the context was a protester using a megaphone to chant messages outside a hotel - identical situation to being chanting outside a tennis stadium...

Wriggle out of that one. Better yet, ponder the future of NZ freedoms if you and your chums have the cops grabbing anyone who speaks above a hushed whisper.

pdm said...

Is that you on another tangent Property Zealot?

Supporting Palestinian terrorist sympathisers this time I see.

Psycho Milt said...

Supporting Palestinian terrorist sympathisers this time I see.

Yes, that's what the law should be about - making sure people you personally don't like have to shut up.

Gooner, I don't see any error in I/S's contention that the Police are simply taking away these protestors' legitimate right to protest. What you're suggesting is that cops have carte blanche to decide what protests will be allowed to happen - I doubt the court appearances following these arrests are going to back that up.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noted that 'Gooner' is an ex cop? Let's have proper disclosure. His sycophancy is stomach turning.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Anon, you have a hole in your arse. Some sort of cop hater are you? What a wanker - talking about 'disclosure' from behind not even a pseudonym. Just another 'anon' shit head.

Milt, I suggest you conveniently conflate a right to peaceful protest with an illegitimate and deliberate disturbance of other people's ability to go about their lawful business.

The Veteran said...

My understanding is that Minto is the holder of a current Teacher Pacticing Certificate.

Given his penchant for harrassing females one has to wonder if this is appropriate.

pdm said...

anon 713am are you the same as anon 2.11am.

If you are I conclude not only are you Property Zealot but also an insomniac terrorist supporter.

Adolf - well put - twice.

sales said...

I loved this over at The Standard this morning.

"she is not as innocent as many are making out. From wikipedia:

As a 19-year-old, Pe’er joined the Israeli military, as military service is mandatory in Israel, where she excelled in rifle marksmanship during her elementary combat training.[4] When not abroad participating in tennis tournaments, she spends her mornings working as an administrative secretary for the Israeli military, and her afternoons practicing tennis.

Scary stuff!

Gooner said...

Wriggle out of that one.

As I said, I wasn't at Stanley Street so do not know why the protestors were arrested. Maybe, just maybe, the arbiters of the threshold - the Police - decided it had been crossed. That's what we pay them to do - make judgments based on the situation that is present at the time.

Who knows, maybe in a couple of years time the Court will rule no offence had been committed, as in Brooker. But that doesn't mean the arrests were unlawful.

democracymum said...

While anyone has a right to protest peacefully - they do not have a right to disrupt the tennis.

Shahar Peer is a guest in our country. She has been targeted purely on the basis of her race.

Inventory2 said...

Has anyone else reflected on the irony of Idiot/Savant defending free speech when he refuses to allow free speech on No Right Turn by way of comments?

What's that word again? Starts with "h" - oh, it's on the tip of my tongue ...

Bok said...

I love it when people talk shit.
The problem with the argument for peaceful protest in this case is that it directly interferes with a person legally going about making their living.

Disrupting the player through noise has the same effect as running across the court during the game. It disrupts it. Milt I think you would agree that I can stand outside your library with a sign that I don't want free books for the masses, however if I stood there with a mirror reflecting the sun into the librarians eyes so they cannot check books out for clients....

I know it is a silly analogy but you get what i mean. (hopefully)

alex Masterley said...

Gooner,

Having just looked at the ("Rockie") Rees (appropos nothing she's now a co-opted member of the Eden Albert Community Board, god help us)decision there is a level of protest which is acceptable and a level which is not.
As you say where the boundaries between the two levels is, is a judgment call for the police on the scene to make and is not one that armchair critics can make.
I'm quite happy for the decision to be left to a district court judge in due course.

Psycho Milt said...

...you conveniently conflate a right to peaceful protest with an illegitimate and deliberate disturbance of other people's ability to go about their lawful business.

All protests disturb other people's ability to go about their lawful business, Adolf. If I'd wanted to drive down the road that the EFA or S59 protestors were marching on I'd have found it difficult. Such disturbances are inherent in the right to peaceful protest and the cops really should have a very good reason for citing them as reason for arresting protestors. "We hate John Minto" isn't a Very Good Reason - it hardly even makes it to the status of Pretty Crap Reason.

Inventory2 said...

There's one fault to your argument PM - the roads that the EFA and S59 protests travelled down would have been closed by the local authorities under the conditions of the permit issued to march organisers. Accordingly, you wouldn't have been able to use those roads in any event.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Only one flaw, IV2? What about the many protests I have seen which DO NOT prevent others from going about their lawful business?

Inventory2 said...

I was feeling charitable Adolf ...

Psycho Milt said...

...the roads that the EFA and S59 protests travelled down would have been closed by the local authorities under the conditions of the permit issued to march organisers. Accordingly, you wouldn't have been able to use those roads in any event.

Circular reasoning, Inventory 2: the protest didn't stop me using the road because it was the council that closed it. Why did the council close it? Because of the protest. In other words, yes the protest does stop me using the road.

I suspect that if this was a matter of anti-EFA protestors being arrested for "disturbing the peace" of a Labour Party meeting back in 2008, you and others would be a little less enthusiastic about it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:11 here - not the same as Anon 7:31.

@ democracymum - clearly you are not in favour of democracy. Peer is targeted for her Israeli nationality, not race or ethnicity, and her proud service in a military that has repeatedly slaughtered civilians.

@ Gooner - all 8 people arrested at the Shahar Peer demos were arrested for using a loudhailer or whistle. Disorderly behaviour.

Police have very limited discretion, and NO DISCRETION to ignore existing court rulings. The only excuse for police would be ignorance of those rulings, but they were informed prior to the arrests. So no excuse.

So the only question is - what is the 'line' of what is disorderly? But police must be guided by the court rulings, which state use of loudhailers is okay. So the police actions are unlawful.

@ The Veteran - your implicit threat cheapens you. Teacher registration can only be cancelled for serious criminality, not just because you don't like a teacher's political views.

@ Alex Masterley - yes, you just leave all those troubling legal decisions to your police state enforcers. Let them pass all the laws too, huh? Democracy is wasted on you, but don't worry, we're generous - you can still have it, even if you don't appreciate it.

Gooner said...

Anon, so the protestors who were not arrested, can I take it none of them ever used a megaphone? Is that the sole reason for the non-arrest of those protestors?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:11 again:

@ Gooner - yes, basically. Protesters who did not use a loudhailer or whistle were not arrested.

Of course, I cannot testify as to why police arrested people, because I am not inside their minds, nor privy to their decision making. But police were informed of the relevant court rulings that specified that use of loudhailers is NOT disorderly.

Interesting aside - those with strong voices could technically have been arrested for chanting slogans that could be heard inside the tennis stadium. At what point do you think a free society allows people to express a dissenting view? Or must these dissenting views be whispered in the bush?

And yes, tennis, like cricket or chess, normally has a hush st start of play. But if you say disturbing this is disorderly, what then do you say when someone intterupts or heckles a politician making a speech? Political speeches are normally listened to in silence, with Q&A at the end.

Would you arrest hecklers at a Mugabe speech - he certainly is used to a respectful silence while he talks!

It is notable that the solitary Israeli counter-protester yesterday was left alone by the main demo, and not even heckled. Hmmm - looks like Minto et al respect freedom of speech.