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NZ MPs Outlaw Satire of Parliament 282

Posted by kdawson
from the head-and-shoulders-only dept.
mernil writes "New Zealand's Parliament has voted itself far-reaching powers to control satire and ridicule of MPs in Parliament, attracting a storm of media and academic criticism. The new standing orders, voted in last month, concern the use of images of Parliamentary debates, and make it a contempt of Parliament for broadcasters or anyone else to use footage of the chamber for 'satire, ridicule or denigration.' The new rules are actually more liberal than the previous ones, but the threat of felony contempt is new."
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NZ MPs Outlaw Satire of Parliament

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  • Daily Show (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cleatsupkeep (1132585)
    This means that Jon Stewart would get pretty low ratings in NZ - wouldn't he?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Don_dumb (927108)
      Well his show last Wednesday/Thursday certainly wouldn't as it attacked this very policy by insulting the New Zealand government using their footage.
    • What New Zealanders say about themselves is often much stronger than anything Jon Stewart says. Stories about New Zealand on Slashdot all seem to give the impression that N.Z. is a country like the United States. Actually, only 4 million people live there, so it is more like a city in the U.S. than the U.S. itself.

      Anyhow, apparently some New Zealanders think that N.Z. has an exaggerated self-importance. So they joke about their country. For example: Adult Sheep Finder [adultsheepfinder.com] "New Zealand's #1 Internet Dating Site". (The site is partly a reference to the fact that raising sheep is the main agricultural activity in New Zealand; although there are only 4 million people, there are 60 million sheep.)

      I doubt the N.Z. parliament will stop "satire, ridicule or denigration". In fact, the idea is absurd. Remember, the story Alice in wonderland [wikipedia.org] was partly a parody [victorianweb.org] of the English king and queen, when saying negative things about the monarchy was illegal. That was in England, and it is sometimes said that New Zealanders are "more English than the English".
      • I forgot to say that the linked web site is NSFW -- if your co-workers are sheep.

        Also, the result of the N.Z. parliament making criticism illegal will be that the criticism becomes much, much worse. Tthe old rules were not followed, either. Quote from the article: "However, the old rules were frequently breached, as the media often used wider-angled shots or published photographs of MPs napping, reading comics, eating lollies, and in one notable case, giving another MP the finger."
      • by benhocking (724439)
        Has no one considered the possibility that Parliament themselves are merely engaging in self-satire? That's the only way I can make sense of this...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Catchwa (1017396)
      He actually covered it yesterday
      http://www.ifilm.com/video/2878949/show/17676 [ifilm.com]
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by WED Fan (911325)

        Damn, I'm glad I live in the U.S.A., where we hold our Government in the highest contempt on a daily basis, and have people like Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, and the folks at SNL and Fox to entertain us with it.

        Between Skippy the Boy President, Darth Shooter, Pinched Face Nancy "No Really, I'm not a Communist" Pelosi, Hillary "I'm going to ignore the fact that I've been cuckholded so I can win the Grand Chancellorship...er...Presidency" Clinton, we have lots to ridicule and show contempt for.

        I thought New Ze

        • Between Skippy the Boy President, Darth Shooter, Pinched Face Nancy "No Really, I'm not a Communist" Pelosi, Hillary "I'm going to ignore the fact that I've been cuckholded so I can win the Grand Chancellorship...er...Presidency" Clinton, we have lots to ridicule and show contempt for.

          I'm certainly no fan of Hillary but I'm trying to figure out why she is singled out for contempt and ridicule here- for being cheated on by a spouse and then having the gall not to retire from politics because of it? No idea W
    • Hmmmm. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @09:10AM (#20031431) Journal
      I wonder if USA would allow a reporter or somebody to be extradited from here to NZ over this? It goes against the very grain that we use to stand for. But with us asking for other countries to send us those who have committed IP issues, would we hand stewart over if he continues to lampoon NZ?
      • With a smile on their face. Heck, we'd put him in a Syrian prison if he was a little browner.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by RealGrouchy (943109)

        I wonder if USA would allow a reporter or somebody to be extradited from here to NZ over this?
        Considering the USA (or the *AA) got Sweden to enforce a law that doesn't exist there, I wouldn't be surprised if the USA extradited someone to New Zealand for a law that isn't enforced there.

        - RG>
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sumdumass (711423)
        If that person isn't a citizen of NZ or claims to be a political prisoner, I doubt they would extradite.

        That being said, We should note that there is a difference between stealing IP and general theft or some violent act and politically motivated crimes that are both non violent and don't rise above issues of speech. It is in international law that the US agreed to where they are supposed to offer safe harbor from people like this. Typically, it has been done with countries who are hostile to the US or our
      • Re:Hmmmm. (Score:5, Informative)

        by UncleTogie (1004853) * on Sunday July 29, 2007 @01:15PM (#20032893) Homepage Journal
        Here, from the US-NZ extradition treaty:

        Extradition shall be granted, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, in respect of the following offenses:
        1. Murder; attempted murder, comprehending the crime designated under law in the United States as assault with intent to commit murder.
        2. Manslaughter.
        3. Aggravated wounding, injuring or assault; wounding or injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
        4. Unlawful throwing or application of any corrosive or injurious substances.
        5. Rape; indecent assault; sodomy.
        6. Abortion.
        7. Unlawful sexual acts with or upon children under the age specified by the laws of both the requesting
        and requested parties.
        8. Procuring sexual intercourse.
        9. Willful abandonment of a minor under the age of six years when the life of that minor is or is likely to be injured or endangered.
        10. Bigamy.
        11. Kidnapping; child stealing; abduction.
        12. Robbery; assault with intent to rob.
        13. Burglary; housebreaking or shopbreaking.
        14. Larceny.
        15. Embezzlement.
        16. Obtaining property, money or valuable securities by false pretenses or by conspiracy to defraud the
        public or any person by deceit or falsehood or other fraudulent [*3] means, whether such deceit or false-
        hood or any fraudulent means would or would not amount to a false pretense.
        17. Bribery, including soliciting, offering and accepting.
        18. Extortion.
        19. Receiving and transporting any money, valuable securities or other property knowing the same to
        have been unlawfully obtained.
        20. Fraud by promoter, director, manager or officer of any company, existing or not.
        21. Forgery, comprehending the crimes designated under law in the United States as the forgery or false
        making of private or public obligations and official documents or public records of the government or
        public authority or the uttering or fraudulent use of the same; uttering what is forged.
        22. The making or the utterance, circulation or fraudulent use of of counterfeit money or counterfeit seals
        and stamps of the government or public authority.
        23. Knowingly and without lawful authority, making or having in possession any instrument, tool, or
        machine adopted and intended for the counterfeiting of money, whether coin or paper.
        24. Perjury; subornation of perjury.
        25. False swearing.
        26. Arson and damage to property, utilities, or means of transportation or communication by fire or ex-
        plosive.
        27. Any malicious act done with intent to cause danger to property or endanger the safety of any
        person in connection with any means of transportation.
        28. Piracy, by statute or by law of nations; mutiny or revolt on board an aircraft or vessel against the au-
        thority of the captain or commander of such aircraft or vessel; any seizure or exercise of control, by force
        or violence or threat of force or violence, of an aircraft or vessel.
        29. Malicious injury to property, comprehending willful damage to property under New Zealand law.
        30. Offenses against the bankruptcy laws which are punishable by more than three months' imprisonment.
        31. Offenses against the laws relating to the importation, exportation, supply, or possession of narcotics
        including dangerous drugs; abetting offense against corresponding law in another country.
        32. Unlawful obstruction of justice through bribery of judicial officers; corruption and bribery of heads
        of government departments or members of the Congress in the United States, or Ministers of the Crown
        or members of Parliament in New Zealand; corruption and bribery of law enforcement officers or government
        officials; fabrication of evidence; conspiracy to bring false accusation; corrupting juries
        and witnesses by threats, bribes, or other corrupt means.

        Unless they REALLY try to stretch number 32 here, my guess would be "no", although IANAL.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @04:58AM (#20030425) Homepage Journal
    ``make it a contempt of Parliament for broadcasters or anyone else to use footage of the chamber for 'satire, ridicule or denigration.''

    Huh? I thought the whole point of Parliament was to be ridiculed and denigrated?
  • Old News (Score:5, Informative)

    by Snad (719864) <mspace@@@bigfoot...com> on Sunday July 29, 2007 @04:58AM (#20030427)

    Good lord, this is very old news.

    The local TV stations have already said they'll ignore it [tv3.co.nz] and certain politicians have already been backing down from their high horse.

    It is unlikely this "law" will have any actual effect on the satirisation, ridicule, or other general highlighting of how usless our MPs actually are.

    • Its still legal (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bazar (778572)
      Just to clarify something
      Its still legal to make satire, and ridicule politician. You just can't use footage taken from inside the Beehive (The New Zealand parliament)

      So making fun of them, while using footage of them outside is perfectly legal, and i belive thats how the Australians have adapted the most part.

      I am however greatly bothered by the fact that this is what i consider abuse of power, and rather nasty form of censorship of the actions of our goverment.
    • I suspect that laws like this aren't aimed at TV stations, who really have never been able to afford to antagonize or expose politicians too much. I suspect laws like this are aimed at people publishing things on YouTube: viral videos and all that. It may be designed to make people think twice about making fun of their politicians.
    • While the New Zealand law doesn't extend to Australia, Australian media pretty much extends to New Zealand. It'd be nice to see some New Zealand content on the Australian shows, don't you think?
  • The media will just have to do something like they did during the Michael Jackson trial - get a bunch of political lookalikes, build a parliament set, and then re-enact the day's proceedings. And then they can start having real fun with the politicians...

    Or build a CGI parliament. Then they could release a FPS version of the parliament and you could run round and blast your MPs to death with a BFG.
    • I'm sure that creating a game where you can assassinate the members of Parliament and whose map is based on the actual layout of the Parliament building won't attract ANY attention from the authorities. There's no chance that they would investigate you on suspicion of planning such an activity in the real Parliament building. It would be inconceivable (and yes, I know what that word means) that they'd treat you as though you were a terrorist. Never happen. Politicians and governments don't ever overreac
  • Ultra Vires (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jerry Rivers (881171) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @05:05AM (#20030465)
    Attempts to muzzle the press or media have been tried before in Commonwealth countries (such as in Alberta in 1934) but those types of laws are usually refused royal assent because they are ultra vires, or beyond the powers of the government to enact such laws. In this case however, there is no legislation involved, only House rules which expire at end of the present session. So it appears they have effectively found, a way, however temporary, to do an end-run around the Bill of Rights. It will be interesting to see if other parliamentary democracies try - and get away with - the same tactic.
    • Attempts to muzzle the press or media have been tried before in Commonwealth countries (such as in Alberta in 1934) but those types of laws are usually refused royal assent because they are ultra vires, or beyond the powers of the government to enact such laws.

      Actually Alberta is not a Commonwealth country, it is a province within one and I believe it was 1935 and the legislation only required papers to print government rebuttals to stories which they ran (so it was bad but not incredibly so). It might h
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How is it that a person can grow up in a society of people, enter government, and then vote to enact a law that so evidently goes against the freedoms of that society?

    I understand that people in government feel some shame about their corruption and dishonesty, and would like to keep as much of their activities secret as possible, but have they lost all conscience and connection with the people? Also, do they not imagine how making certain laws might make it easier to expand the laws to the point of oppress
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Remusti (1131423)
      Please don't get your facts wrong regarding our government. I don't like them very much, but fair is fair after all.

      Seeing one issue and lumping us together with other governments which have extremely repressive laws is uncalled for.

      There is no forbidding of criticism in the law. What is being banned is images taken within parliament being used for satire. Criticism of goverment policies and actions is very different. If you lived here, you would have seen the hours of satire (MP's napping, pulling finger

  • by marcovje (205102) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @05:17AM (#20030519)
    (obligatory 1984 reference)

    Who is going to police it? The newly set up Ministry of Truth?
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @05:18AM (#20030525)
    By coincidence, there was a programme on TV yesterday about the origins of democracy (in Athens, 400BC). One point that came across strongly was that when democracy is strong, states are willing to put up with more criticism.

    As democracy weakens, states clamp down on their critics and introduce more extreme punishments for transgressors.

    This sounds like a good example of this kind of action - sadly it seems to be getting more common across the world, not just in NZ.

  • Those New Zealand MPs really have a sense of humour. This is self-parody.

  • by jesterzog (189797) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @05:42AM (#20030615) Homepage Journal

    As a New Zealander I've found this very disappointing. Normally I associate New Zealand as having a very open and non-corrupt national government with an open information policy (written into law through New Zealand's Official Information Act), and without too many layers of bureaucracy. I'd much rather have an environment where the media is free to take what pictures they like. To put it in context though, the main section of New Zealand's television media, which is most directly affected by this, really is hopeless. Personally I think the un-professionalism of many of the journalists has really encouraged parliament to add some limitations, appropriate or not.

    There are only two major providers of television news in New Zealand -- one state-owned (TV1) and another private (TV3, owned by CanWest). Neither actually invests in quality journalism any more. They invest in news that can double as entertainment to sell commercials in a prime-time entertainment slot. The way they advertise their own news programmes makes this obvious, and on television there's no alternative. TV3, in particular, spends a lot of time trying to stress how much better it is than TV1. Any story that has anything to do with that is promoted to the front of its bulletin.

    Most reporters are young and inexperienced, with the experienced journalists having either lost their jobs, retired or moved overseas for better opportunities. A lot of reports seem to be more about making sure people know who the reporter is and adding superlatives, annoying clichés, metaphors, and background music that just distract from the actual information. The only reason I bother to watch locally produced television news programmes in New Zealand these days (with a few exceptions) is to get some pictures, but I cringe at the commentary that comes with them. Many of those who are left have an attitude where they like to claim they're hugely important, but in general they're not actually providing quality journalism to back it up. I've found it quite sickening watching this whole thing play out, because the media that's kicking up such a storm isn't actually demonstrating that it's worthy of the right it's wanting.

    I'm quite amazed when I flick over to BBC and see something like Hard Talk [bbc.co.uk], which is just amazing in comparison to what we have locally produced. I really wish we could have that kind of quality in a local production, but I suspect the country just isn't large enough to have the resources for a reliable media.

    If you are in New Zealand, try listening to MediaWatch [radionz.co.nz] on National Radio (or stream it if you prefer). Personally I think it's one of the most insightful commentaries on the New Zealand media available. (The show on 1st July actually covered this issue.)

    • by nickgrieve (87668) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @06:16AM (#20030717) Journal
      Hear hear!

      I have had to stop watching the 6pm news. All it does is make me angry, I end up exasperated near yelling at the screen "This is not news!!, of all thats going on in the world today,.. you give us fluff!"

      • by michaelnz (701047) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @08:30AM (#20031261) Homepage
        I'm an American who has been living in New Zealand nearly 4 years now. I watch a fair bit of television here and I can say have lived in both the states and here that New Zealand television news is many times better than American TV. There's a bit of fluff and the a few annoying personality driven pieces but compared to American local and national news it's amazingly well done. Both TVNZ and TV3 compete to have news that's informative and entertaining and generally they do well. Stories aren't limited to national concerns and international news is featured prominently, something that never happens in the states.

        Things aren't as bad as they could be, trust me, we've got it good here compared to the states.
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      There are only two major providers of television news in New Zealand -- one state-owned (TV1) and another private (TV3, owned by CanWest). Neither actually invests in quality journalism any more. They invest in news that can double as entertainment to sell commercials in a prime-time entertainment slot. The way they advertise their own news programmes makes this obvious, and on television there's no alternative. TV3, in particular, spends a lot of time trying to stress how much better it is than TV1. Any st
  • It sounds rather satirical itself. The mere mention of it could get you locked up.
  • News? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411)
    This is news? Handy rule of thumb: If you're three days behind the Daily Show in covering a news item, you've probably lost the right to describe that story as "news".
    • by deniable (76198)
      Yeah, but we don't get Thursday's Daily Show until Monday in Oz, so they're ahead for us.
  • by dickko (610386) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @06:21AM (#20030731)
    Here's the actual link to the order in question:
    http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Debates/Debates/ b/2/0/48HansD_20070628_00000893-Standing-Orders-Se ssional.htm [parliament.nz]

    Basically, this is a sessional order, and will be reviewed after the next election, if not sooner. Based on current popular opinion, it won't last...

    Methinks this was introduced because, as others have pointed out, it's much easier for New Zealand's TV stations to fill the 10 minutes between ad breaks with name-calling and napping politicians than it is to actually do some proper journalism. Seriously, the journalism here is so pathetic; with this order in place, TV3's "political editor", Duncan Garner, is screwed.

    Also, what Jon Stewart did on the Daily show, as far as I can tell, isn't in breach of the order. Satire of the politician is fine, however showing images of them picking their nose isn't...
    • Satire of the politician is fine, however showing images of them picking their nose isn't...

      I don't understand your statement in this context:
      2.Coverage of proceedings must not be used in any medium for--

      satire, ridicule or denigration
       


      Satire looks to be a no-go, and the farting would appear to fall under this as well.
  • by Hannah E. Davis (870669) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @06:21AM (#20030735) Journal
    I'm presently in the middle of reading an English translation of Mein Kampf. Earlier tonight, I got to the part where Hitler talks about the dangers of "freedom of the press" -- he rants at length about the need to control it completely, and to stop it from poisoning the state with lies and digging up dirt on even the most noble politicians.

    Needless to say, while I am well aware that NZ can hardly be compared to Nazi Germany, I found this news quite disturbing.
    • It's true that a free press _is_ dangerous. He was right about that much. It causes all kinds of trouble.

      However, a free press is nonetheless less dangerous than a government that controls the press -- as he himself proved to anyone who was paying any attention whatever.
  • WTF?^^ mates
  • This is all pretty meaningless as the vast majority of New Zealanders have nothing but contempt for parliament. The TV news organizations, including the state broadcaster, have indicated that they will ignore the legislation.
  • If you outlaw ridicule of parliament, then only outlaws will ridicule parliament!
  • If so, this law would put them right out of business!

    Laws like this are SO wrong.
  • after this charade i dont know what to think or say
    • by Rupert (28001)
      Then I'll tell you. You should say nothing, and you should think that you're not going to change your opinions of a country based on an obscurely-sourced, month-old story on Slashdot.
  • YouTube law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oohshiny (998054) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @08:14AM (#20031187)
    This sounds like a YouTube law. These politicians are scared of appearing in public with "macaca" and "tubes":

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=r90z0PMnKwI [youtube.com]

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=f99PcP0aFNE [youtube.com]

    and the remixes...

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=EtOoQFa5ug8 [youtube.com]

    Well, one might say that sound bites are not a fair way of characterizing the entire work of a politician. I think they are right: with Stevens and Allen, the rotten attitudes seem to go far deeper.

    Laws like this aren't going to be very effective, but these people are running scared.
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @08:44AM (#20031329)
    Over here in the UK we have been finding out just how much our national broadcaster has been lying to us. In particular, how during the miners' strike in the 1980s the order of footage was reversed to suggest that miners had attacked police, when the exact opposite was the case (the police baton charged a picket line.) We are also finding out just how broadcasters and newspapers have been lying by association - deliberately waiting for a politician to, say, yawn and then using the picture to suggest that he was asleep during a debate. I am no fan of Bush but it is obvious that the US press does exactly the same, trying to get photos of him looking like a chimpanzee.

    This is we the people being manipulated by professional liars. It seems to me that the NZ parliament has every right to demand that footage of its debates not be manipulated to suggest things that are not true.

    Interestingly, a recent opinion poll in the UK suggested that younger people are less worried about media distortion of public events and people. I suggest this is a mistake. They should be. They have the least political power, the least share of the national wealth. Allowing people who are mostly rich, overentitled middle aged white males to foist lies on them by distorting apparent photographic footage suggests that, at the very least, compulsory reading of _1984_, the history of the 1920s in Russia and history of the 1930s in Germany should be considered.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by itsdapead (734413)

      Over here in the UK we have been finding out just how much our national broadcaster has been lying to us. In particular, how during the miners' strike in the 1980s the order of footage was reversed to suggest that miners had attacked police, when the exact opposite was the case (the police baton charged a picket line.)

      Not sure where the miners strike comes in to the current kerfuffle: there has been a recent storm-in-a-teacup about a slightly misleading trailer for a documentary that purported to show the

      • This post so exactly matches other stuff heard from BBC people that I guess you may well work for the Corporation.

        I am not silly enough to believe the BBC is a conspiracy, but I do know it is manipulated by its staff to support their own agendas. One example was the way that a Dimbleby appeared to be able to affect BBC coverage of the Bath bypass so that the interests of the families who were being affected by the traffic on the A4 (in the days of leaded petrol) got little hearing, simply because Dimbleby's

        • by itsdapead (734413)

          If BBC staff were held to the same interest declaring standards as MPs, that couldn't have happened.

          [narrowly avoids tea/keyboard accident]
          I don't work for the BBC. Are you an MP by any chance? If so, what's the going rate for a Peerage nowadays?

          The trouble is we're so seduced by images. The phrase "the camera never lies" must be the most inaccurate aphorism in history and should be expunged from the language - the camera always lies and always has done. It is in the nature of photographers, cameramen

  • So where can I get some footage from NZ? I have a sudden need to create some satire.
  • A person hears a lot of good things about New Zealand but also that it sways perhaps a little paternally authoritarian in being too politically correct and "protective". All debatable within the range of democratic practice but when the elected leaders put themselves above scorn that's a bit sinister.

    More work for cartoonists and comedians? There's a radio show in the U.S. with skits by "Drunky McPukeShoes" which everyone understands is former Senate Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The MPs might be getting mo
  • This is an excellent example of why extreme left (Australia, in modern times) or extreme right (Germany, in history) politics are very, very bad things.

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @12:17PM (#20032519)
    This is just another attempt to medicate the symptom (dissent) instead of addressing the disease (apathy, corruption, disillusionment) which is a MUCH bigger issue. I'll forgo the soap box but we as a world are heading for a Roman Empire type meltdown on a global scale if we don't start appreciating what we do have instead of whining about what we don't. The world will never be perfect but it's still pretty dang amazing.
  • That sounds similar to law enforcement agencies in the US claiming that citizens videotaping uniformed cops making routine traffic stops in highly public areas is a violation of homeland defense security laws.
  • by PPH (736903)
    Perhaps they can't stand the competition.

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