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Indefinite Imprisonment For Web Site Content 484

Posted by kdawson
from the throwing-away-the-key dept.
Suriken writes "In an unprecedented move, the New Zealand Solicitor General is seeking an indefinite prison sentence against American businessman Vince Siemer for alleged breach of an interim gag order now more than three years old. Siemer was jailed for six weeks last year for refusing to take down a Web site accusing the chairman of an energy company of suspect business practices. Because he still refuses to take down the site, NZ Solicitor-General David Collins QC wants to lock up Siemer indefinitely, merely for asserting his own free speech. From the article: 'Siemer's [defense] claims the Solicitor General's action is barred by double jeopardy. He also maintains he had long ago proven in Court that the injunction was incorrect in fact and law but that the judge simply ignored the law and evidence. He says the gag order violates his freedom of expression guarantees in these circumstances.' Here's more coverage from an NZ television station."
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Indefinite Imprisonment For Web Site Content

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  • Free speech. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoobixCube (1133473) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:15PM (#23834221) Journal
    I like the idea that I have free speech, but it's nothing but a nice sentiment. Free speech is a right, but I can't enforce it. Slander and defamation are crimes, even when they're true (or rather, especially when they're true), so speech is never free. As long as you can be sued for slander, you don't have free speech. I could go on with a rant about everything wrong with the world, specifically Australia, and our legal system, but I'll stop before I do that...
    • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by etymxris (121288) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:28PM (#23834315)
      Slander and defamation are not crimes when what is said is true.
      • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Informative)

        by aussie_a (778472) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:41PM (#23834429) Journal
        In Australia it is. It has to be not only true, but in the public's interest to know it.
        • Different in the USA (Score:5, Informative)

          by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@NOSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:08AM (#23834649) Homepage Journal
          In the USA, the burden is on the person supposedly being slandered to prove that they were actually slandered. Usually, this means that one has to show some sort of an actual economic loss caused by the speech AND, that the speech has to be untrue. Even with all of that, its still pretty hard to actually prevail in court and there's been some pretty famous cases where the media has won. That doesn't mean that we should drop our diligence against those who would claim liability as an excuse to censor, but it does mean that despite the admittedly awful example of domestic security legislation set by the USA, there are still some areas where we are doing ok.
          • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:39AM (#23836279) Journal

            Does harm have to be measured in "economic loss" ? That's a pretty grim inditement of US society in itself.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Let me get this straight, you think that a society which allows people to sue other people because the other person hurt their feelings would be better?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by NickHydroxide (870424)
          I don't know where you got your law degree from, but I suggest you return it along with the cereal box in which it came.

          (aside: slander/libel have been subsumed into the one tort of defamation. A criminal offence of defamation does exist, but is very, very rarely invoked or pursued)
        • Re:Free speech. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dcam (615646) <(david) (at) (uberconcept.com)> on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @01:35AM (#23835159) Homepage
          Minor clarification. Legally speaking it is libel/slander if it lowers the opinion of the other person.

          However it is not actionable unless it is both true and in the public interest.

          INANL.
          • Re:Free speech. (Score:4, Informative)

            by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @07:12AM (#23836683) Journal
            Your statement seems wrong.
            Specifically, you state

            "it is not actionable unless it is both true and in the public interest"
            That decodes to "If the offending statement is true and in the public interest, one can not file a case. One can not file a case if the statement is untrue and/or not in the public interest."

            Did you mean "It is not actionable if it is both true and in the public interest"?
      • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Zouden (232738) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:43PM (#23834439)
        Not in all jurisdictions.

        But in any case, that's not what he's being jailed for. He's in contempt for denying a court order.
        • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Walkingshark (711886) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:51PM (#23834509) Homepage
          It doesn't really matter which branch of the government is supressing his message, it still violates his right to free speech.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Rather the American understanding of it. The American concept of free speech is rather significantly more broad than most other cultures. More over there's a kind of obligation to defy whatever authority, obviously deserving of blood-letting, that would position itself as an obstacle to it. This could end up having economic consequences for NZ if it gets picked up on say the American evening news.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            Just out of curiosity, how far do you think someone's right to free speech goes? If someone convinced your boss that you were a member of al Qaeda, and you got fired as a result, would that still be free speech and perfectly OK by you?

            Speech can cause harm, and since most Governments don't allow you to defend yourself against harm of this sort, I'd argue that the Government has an obligation to defend you instead, i.e., defamation laws.

          • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by H0D_G (894033) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @02:06AM (#23835303)
            he's in new zealand, he doesn't have a right to free speech. he wouldn't have one in australia either. no bill of rights. means that what rights we have is a kind of grey area (though freedom of religion, from memory, is guaranteed in australia) but also means people can't be idiots then hide behind said bill.
            • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:29AM (#23836229) Homepage
              I presume they inherited their law from the UK, as a colony, and would recognise the 1689 Bill of Rights, guaranteeing free speech.

              • Re:Free speech. (Score:4, Informative)

                by ESarge (140214) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @06:05AM (#23836409)
                New Zealand does have a Bill of Rights and it is entrenched law (from memory) but still modifiable by Parliament. (First they repeal the clause that contains the entrenchment and then do what they need to.)

                Everything is always modifiable by Parliament.

                We have no written constitution in the sense the US does. In fact, our constitutional law is written but it is spread all over the place. There is no constitutional court and no need for lawyers (in general) to argue about the wording of the constitution. This works well because those in power have to do the right thing instead of what they think they can get away with.

                Parliament is responsible to the Governor-General as the Queen's representative. The G-G has supreme power on paper but is a figurehead for the vast majority of time. Occasionally the G-G has to act and do something like dissolve Parliament. This happened in Australia in the 1970's to Gough Whitlam's government.
                • Re:Free speech. (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by theophilosophilus (606876) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @08:13AM (#23836975) Homepage Journal

                  We have no written constitution in the sense the US does. In fact, our constitutional law is written but it is spread all over the place. There is no constitutional court and no need for lawyers (in general) to argue about the wording of the constitution. This works well because those in power have to do the right thing instead of what they think they can get away with.
                  I'm intrigued by this comment because I have just spent the last 2 years of upper level (American) constitutional law classes arguing that rights are better protected by an impartial judiciary rather than the majoritarian process. Can you elaborate?

                  My preference is a written (to tie the judiciary to something) constitution, that is counter-majoritarian (to protect individual rights against factions/ i.e. majoritarian abuse). How are individual rights protected by the legislative/majoritarian process? I am unfamiliar with the New Zealand system (though I have visited the beautiful country) and Wikipedia hasn't helped. England has the House of Lords which has served as its quasi-judicial branch (and is now, evidentally, converting to a supreme court system of judicial review). The House of Lords has life time tenure which ensures some degree of impartiality (in theory) - just like the American system. How does the NZ system protect individual rights?
        • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Petrushka (815171) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:43AM (#23834875)

          Indeed. I don't have a big problem with someone being penalised for violating a court order, as that's what courts are for -- to put their foot down w.r.t. interpreting the law; then if someone violates that interpretation, it's again the courts' job to tell them off.

          However, while violating court orders is ipso facto a crime, I also think (1) court gag orders should be a hell of a lot rarer than they are -- there have been an awful lot of them in NZ court cases in recent years; that's a fault with the courts, though, not with the law; (2) imprisonment seems excessive (without knowing the details of the case -- yet); and (3) indefinite imprisonment is simply ludicrous and kind of pathetic. What's wrong with simply confiscating the tools used to commit the crime, or whatever other recourse is usual in other countries? Maybe NZ law doesn't actually allow for that, which wouldn't surprise me (there seem to be lots of loopholes in NZ law).

          -- yours etc., an NZer

      • by Guppy06 (410832)
        "Slander and defamation are not crimes when what is said is true."

        True for most (if not all) US states (usually by way of their constitutions), but IIRC most commonwealth realms (at least) don't have such a protection.
      • by sunbird (96442) <sunbird@riseup.MOSCOWnet minus city> on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:19AM (#23834717)
        Slander and defamation, by definition, require a false statement of fact causing harm to the aggrieved party. Slander is for verbal statements, whereas libel refers to written statements. See slander - wikipedia [wikipedia.org].
        And, at least in the US, slander and defamation are not crimes. Rather, they are civil remedies (a tort [wikipedia.org]) enforceable not by the state through prosecution, but by the aggrieved individual bringing suit.
      • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by History's Coming To (1059484) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:35AM (#23834827) Journal
        This isn't free speech - it's a simple case of contempt of court. A court told him to do something. He refused. He's in contempt. Good grief Slashdot, where do I send my geek license, it's starting to embarrass me...
        • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by htnprm (176191) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:58AM (#23834949) Homepage
          If a court asks you to do something, doesn't it have to be legal, or have some basis of legality? A judge can't order you to go and kill someone. Nor I imagine, would a judge be able to tell you "to do something, because I told you so". Surely it would have to be "do something because of XYZ legal reason", which I think is the case there, and the legal reason XYZ in this case is in question.

          Knowing someone who has recently been in a full on, without a doubt, cut and dry case in their favour, it turns out the judge was a complete dick, took everything personally, and my friend, their solicitors and their expert witnesses are SHOCKED with a capital SHOCKED when not only did the verdict go in the complete oposite of what was expected, but they themselves were required to pay damages. Justice may be blind, but people involved with implementing justice are still human.
          • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Informative)

            by MrMickS (568778) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @02:46AM (#23835489) Homepage Journal
            If you ignore a core order, even if you believe that the order is incorrect, then you open yourself up to a charge of contempt of court. Ignoring court orders is a big deal.

            He's got his publicity now, the pragmatic approach would be to comply with the court order. He can continue to fight the original order through the legal system, but to ignore it in this manner is only going to end one way.

          • Re:Free speech. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by lysse (516445) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:39AM (#23835999)
            This is the worst kind of anecdote. It's impossible to determine anything about your friend's situation with any certainty: you imply that you weren't personally involved in the case, which makes it hearsay; your account of it presumably comes from your friend, and so is certainly prejudiced and possibly incomplete; you don't even mention under which jurisdiction the case was heard, let alone whether the case is a matter of public record or the name of the judge; you don't provide any details of the case, not even broad ones - the only thing we can glean from your anecdote is that your friend lost, badly, a case they were expecting to win...

            As far as I'm concerned, it would be better if this anecdote were stricken from the record.
          • Re:Free speech. (Score:4, Informative)

            by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @07:26AM (#23836769) Journal
            a) He wasn't asked, he was told.
            b) It is legal until a superior court says it is not legal.
            c) Your supposition is argument by absurdity. If a judge were to state "Go kill this person" in open court, he would be arrested, probably immediately by his own bailiff.
            d) Your little story is why one can ask the judge to recuse himself, why one can file an appeal, why judicial oversight committees exist, and why one can apply to a higher court for relief.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by msormune (808119)
        Oh so if someone calls you an asshole, and finds maybe 10 other people who can confirm this as true, it's ok? Because it's "proven"?

        What about if call a black man with the n-word? It's true, after all?
    • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by simcop2387 (703011) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:28PM (#23834321) Homepage Journal

      Slander and defamation are crimes, even when they're true (or rather, especially when they're true), so speech is never free.
      actually in the US (and i THINK many other countries) the truth is an absolute defense against defamation and slander, because both require that what was said be false in order to be either, the truth is not slander or defamation in the US (despite what many may want you to think)
      • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Informative)

        by adona1 (1078711) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:49PM (#23834491)
        Australia does not have constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech though. We have implied freedom of speech (High Court ruling) but that would probably fail against libel/slander laws passed by Parliament.

        However, NZ is not yet a state of Australia, so I'm not sure why it's come up :)
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by HJED (1304957)

          However, NZ is not yet a state of Australia, so I'm not sure why it's come up :)
          I belive the oprative work in that sentance in not yet
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by deniable (76198)
          The possibility of New Zealand joining is mentioned in the Australian constitution.
          • by Admiral Ag (829695) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:47AM (#23834897)
            The impossibility of New Zealand joining is mentioned by every New Zealander.
            • by Scannerman (1136265) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @02:06AM (#23835307)
              Not strictly true. I have met a few New Zealanders who are reasonably sympathetic to the the idea of the West Island(s) joining, as long as they are governed from Wellington
        • by stop bothering me (1221424) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @01:12AM (#23835033)
          It probably came up in the same way that we get confused between the US and Canada.
        • Re:Free speech. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @02:05AM (#23835301)
          It is ironic in NZ, that while we're a fairly liberal country, yet we also don't have our freedom of speech constitutionally protected to the same level as the United States, anyone with a big mouth could be silenced by someone who doesn't like it, that is exactly what has happened here - the whistle blower has been silenced by the big wig.

          However, in NZ we exercise the freedom of speech we imagine we have without restraint, and if you ask anyone on the street in NZ they'd be surprised to learn we don't have such protection legally. Yet there are so few issues like this there's a corresponding lack of public outcry and push for a law change.

          We're very quick to march on parliament (even riot as in 1981) over whatever political issue is the fancy of the week and to some extend our news media gets a kick out of cheer leading various issues almost to the point of sedition.

          So it's dangerous that we still have law that is unfitting to the way we actually do things here. It's worse that this kind of thing is still enforced. I say good bloody on him for standing out for what he believes.

          Oh yeah and f@@k the system etc etc...
    • Re:Free speech. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:35PM (#23834383)
      Well, I hope we can agree that slander isn't what free speech is for. Free speech means that you may say your opinion and nobody may keep you from stating your opinion, but you may not accuse someone of criminal actions or defame him.

      For example, I may (hopefully still, don't know to be honest) say that I think Bush is a threat to stability in this world. It could be considered slander if I said that he took bribes from corporations to start a war that killed thousands, US citizens and "others" alike, while lying to the US population to justify it. It certainly is slander when I say the US government sells laws to the highest bidder.

      See the difference? Whether it's true or false doesn't even matter, that I can't prove it is.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Narpak (961733)

      As long as you can be sued for slander, you don't have free speech.

      Free speech is, in my view, about being able to share political, social and economic ideas without being taken out back and shoot/arrested/tortured.

      Not being fired or arrested for your polical views or sexual orentation is about free speech; being fired for calling your boss an Asshole isn't. I feel that is appropriate that slander is a crime, even though such laws are rarely enforced since slander can in many cases be very hard to prove/disprove.

      However, in this particular case I feel that Vince Sieme

    • Re:Free speech. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by baboo_jackal (1021741) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @01:08AM (#23835013)

      I could go on with a rant about everything wrong with the world, specifically Australia, and our legal system

      I tell you what - as much as Americans and Australians have to complain about regarding our respective protections of free speech, at least we don't live in Canada. Apparently, the Canadian Human Rights Commission has the jurisdiction to try private citizens for expressing opinions that can be classified as "hatespeak": Show-Trial here. [pajamasmedia.com]

      The Canadian Court of Acceptable Thoughts has a historical 100% (no shit) "conviction" rate [blogspot.com]:

      1. A mayor of London, Ontario was fined by this court because she *didn't* mandate a taxpayer-funded celebration of Gay Pride Day, requested by an exceedingly small minority of citizens.

      2. The owner of a printing shop in Mississagua, ON lost around $100,000 in revenue and fines when he chose to not print gay and lesbian promotional material - he had business dealings with homosexual clients in the past, but in this particular instance, chose to decline their offer, which was based on his own personal opinions.

      3. In 2000, Kelowna, B.C. (the city) was dragged in front of the Canadian Kangaroo Court of "Human Rights" because they celebrated "Gay and Lesbian Day," in 1997 (yes, three years prior to the complaint). The complaint? They didn't include the word "pride" in the celebration. The Mayor of Kelowna was found guilty.

      4. A chapter of the Knights of Columbus (a privately-funded, *clearly* Catholic organization) was fined for choosing to not rent their convention hall to a same-sex couple for their marriage celebration.

      Yikes. So, I guess my point is, just be thankful you don't live in Canada. As numerous the faults American government has, at least they still let us think for ourselves and don't fine us for expressing our opinions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GayBliss (544986)
        In each of your "Yikes!" examples, you have an individual that has used their own personal opinion to deny a group of people equal access to something that is enjoyed by everyone else. This is precisely why we have Human Rights Commissions in the first place. To prevent narrow minded individuals from deciding what is "right" for the rest of society.

        It's clear from you language that you have a deep fear of homosexuals taking over the world, so I'm not going to bother arguing each of you examples, but #3
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:15PM (#23834227) Homepage Journal
    When the judge orders you to do something, you do it, or you go to jail until such time as you agree to do it.

    That's the only way the court system can work. The judge decides, not you. If you want to appeal, fine, do that, *after* you've followed the judge's orders. Otherwise, why would any other judge even listen to your appeal? It's obvious you don't respect the authority of the court.

    • by wizardforce (1005805) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:21PM (#23834277) Journal

      It's obvious you don't respect the authority of the court.
      A justice system that ignores basic inalienable rights by definition has no authority in that regard. Sadly we've allowed those in higher positions of power to abuse our liberties with little to no resistance.
      • by QuantumG (50515) *
        Do you believe everything you read or what? Every story has two sides.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        What's your basis for calling what is misrepresented in this case as free speech?

        Keep in mind this is in New Zealand, not America. Your constitution doesn't apply here and NZ has no freedom of speech laws.
      • by JakartaDean (834076) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:12AM (#23834675) Journal

        A justice system that ignores basic inalienable rights by definition has no authority in that regard. Sadly we've allowed those in higher positions of power to abuse our liberties with little to no resistance.
        Just as your right to swing your fist stops where it meets my nose, your right to free speech is not absolute. You don't have the right to shout "FIRE!" in a crowded is one oft-quoted example. Similarly, your right to continuously defame me in public is not an absolute right. If I ask a judge to tell you to stop, and perhaps seek damages through a libel suit, and he agrees, you stop. If he wants to consider the evidence further, but wants to avoid further damage to my reputation in the interim, he can and likely will ask you to stop for a while until the verdict is in. In other words, these are not 'inalienable' rights, if by that you mean they have no limits. Nowhere. Not in any jurisdiction you can think of, for many good reasons.

        Further, if you had checked the site in question, you would read text like:

        The catalyst for this site is a shady and morally bankrupt accountant named Michael Stiassny...
        which is clearly defamatory, and therefore reasonable grounds for a suit and/or requesting a cease-and-desist order.

        So... you can get off your high horse now. It doesn't fit here.

        • You don't have the right to shout "FIRE!" in a crowded is one oft-quoted example.

          Oft and stupidly quoted, considering that it was originally used [wikipedia.org] to justify upholding a prison sentence for distributing anti-draft pamphlets. It really isn't going to be helping your argument to quote sources like *that*.

    • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:22PM (#23834285) Homepage
      Indeed. The phrase in the summary:

      "In an unprecedented move...


      is a drastic oversimplification of the issue at hand.

      A judge's order bears the force of law unless and until it is later overturned by a higher court.

      You can't simply ignore it on the grounds that

      He also maintains he had long ago proven in Court that the injunction was incorrect in fact and law but that the judge simply ignored the law and evidence.


      The proper procedure is to ask for an interlocutory motion to allow the site to remain up, and if you don't get it, you take the site down.

      Respect the authority of the Court- or the Court will show you why the government's authority is backed by force of arms.

      • by jcgf (688310) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:35PM (#23834387)

        Respect the authority of the Court- or the Court will show you why the government's authority is backed by force of arms.

        No, they will just show you that it is backed up by force of arms. There won't be any why involved.

        The reason is of course that force is the only way to have authority.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Narpak (961733)

          The reason is of course that force is the only way to have authority.
          Unless you have (read: claim) divine authority; something of a force in its own right. Not to mention the fact that divine authority often comes from previous generations having used force to change the religous landscape of a region.

          So I guess I am agreeing, yes the ultimate source of all authority is force.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rcw-home (122017)

      Otherwise, why would any other judge even listen to your appeal? It's obvious you don't respect the authority of the court.

      Of course he doesn't. Laws, precedence, bungled defense be damned: the court is wrong.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by wolf12886 (1206182)
      That may be, but just because his court ruling makes authoritative sense, doesn't make it any more or less unjust.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:30PM (#23834339)
      Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world - "No, you move." -Captain America.
    • by j1mmy (43634) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:32PM (#23834353) Journal
      Great idea! Guys on death row should *definitely* wait until after being executed to appeal the sentence.
    • A justice system that ignores its own laws doesn't deserve the name and certainly not my honoring of its decisions.

      For fuck's sake, does anyone still have balls in this country or is everyone too used to being a "good citizen"? If Washington and his pals had been "good citizens", you'd probably still be singing God save the Queen.
    • by aralin (107264)
      Nice advice. Let's see how much Microsoft followed it. Or does it only work that way if an actually living breathing person does it?
  • Unfortunately (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nasajin (967925) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:18PM (#23834247)
    Freedom of speech is not a positively enforced inalienable right in New Zealand [teara.govt.nz]. If he thinks his right to freedom of expression has been breached, it's possbily correct, but there are other laws which supercede it. He'll be glad to know however, that the maximum period of imprisonment without parole in New Zealand is ten years. No matter what, he can still attempt parole in 2018...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      Freedom of speech is not a positively enforced inalienable right in New Zealand.

      That's what they get for having a monarchy and not revolting like the American Colonies did.

      What's interesting is that New Zealand and Australia (and Britain) are part of the few British Commonwealth Realms that do not have a Constitutional right to free speech. Canada, Jamaica and Papau New Guinea are the only other Realms with a population over a million and they've got it in their Constitution, along with the majority of the island Realms.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:40PM (#23834423)
    So this guy was told be a court of law to stop making false claims, but he thinks because he feels he is right and the court is wrong that's grounds to ignore the sourt order?

    and he is suprised they are coming after him why???? here's a news flash for him - if you've been shown to be wrong in a court room, there's a good chance you really ARE wrong and a little self examination is in order.

    although the indefinate jail term is pure nonesense he should still expect to go to jail for 6 months or so over it.

  • by IntelliTubbie (29947) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:46PM (#23834469)
    Geez, what's the matter with New Zealand? If they bothered to read the First, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, they'd know that this sort of thing is illegal. I thought this was America, but it's almost like these people live in some other country.

    Cheers,
    IT
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:05AM (#23834617) Journal
    From TFA, it looks like this is a fairly straightforward contempt of court case. Creepy; but hardly novel. It is, though, yet another demonstration of an interesting and important difference between American and Commonwealth approaches to defamation cases. In broad terms, truth of the defamatory statement is a much stronger defence in America than in Commonwealth nations.

    Obviously, there are loads of details, and the best-laws-money-can-buy/Golden Rule can be a factor; but this is an area where I think that the American model is decisively superior. The idea that you can be subject to punishment just for being impolite enough to speak the truth is pretty creepy.
  • by francisstp (1137345) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:06AM (#23834629) Homepage
    Seriously, his website has got to be one of the ugliest around, even by 1996 standards.
  • Stubborn... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ral315 (741081) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:13AM (#23834683)
    I agree that his imprisonment is a bit harsh, but he did violate a judge's order. Moreover, it's just stubbornness on his part; knowing there had been a trial in absentia, he should have just stayed out of New Zealand -- very few countries would extradite him for that charge.
  • Why on earth did this guy fly back to a country that was likely to imprison him?

    Before I read TFA I was reminded of US hostages in Iran; but they had an excuse. They were there and the revolution blew up on them. I can see that. Flying into Iran after the revolution and getting trapped? Your own stupid fault. This is not to suggest that NZ is like Iran; but flying into a country where you are likely to get stuck is just stupid. Did he have any discussion at all with US authorities before leaving? I

    • by jcgf (688310)
      Wow man, you ever read your sig...on weed?

      You are also correct about the guy flying into a hostile (to him at least) nation. I hope prisons in NZ aren't like Oz...

  • by ESarge (140214) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:37AM (#23834839)
    I'm a New Zealander and I'm actually quite angry about the tone the submitter took with this article. While you may feel that people should have the right to unrestricted free speech that is a completely irrelevant argument.

    A judge has order Vince Siemer to do something and he has not done it. This must have a serious consequence or there would be no reason for anyone to follow a court order.

    He has made his argument in court and lost. He can follow normal process to appeal that decision but refusing a court order is not a valid action.

    From what I understand Vince Siemer has been afforded more than ample opportunity to obey the court order and has failed to do so.

    The Solictor-General has also stated that Mr Siemer can be released as soon as he agrees to follow the court order. The most likely outcome is that Mr Siemer is imprisoned, he gets annoyed with it and follows the court order.

    Indefinite imprisonment is the ultimate punishment and is used rather rarely. These are special cases which deserve it.

    There was a case a year or two ago where the Family Court made a custody order which the mother didn't agree with. Some friends of the mother took the child and held him in secret against the court order. The court then imprisoned the mother indefinitely on the grounds that she knew where the child was. It took a few months but eventually the court order was followed and the child went to where the court had ordered.

    So, I ask all of you, what else do you expect us to do?
  • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:22AM (#23835925)
    It seems profoundly dishonest, the way this article tries wring out an issue about "free speech" of this case. We all know that free speech isn't an unlimited right anywhere in the world, and that this is the way it should be. Any freedom will always be limited by the laws that protect all the other rights of people in society; it is a manifestation of serious immaturity and lack of insight to rail against the rule of law, when it is actually the rule of law that gives you the right to freedom that you have.

    But back to the case - slandering people is not protected by freedom of speech, nor is it the right way to proceed. If you as a citizen have evidence about questionable activities, you have several legal avenues - if you know of a crime it is your duty to inform the police, so they can pursue the criminals. The only reason for slandering another person or company on a web-site is that one's evidence wasn't good enough to convince either the police, the court or any news-media; and in that case, perhaps you are simply wrong?

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