Over the last few days two human rights commissioners (HRC) have resigned, primarily because the HRC has been found systematically bullying and harassing their staff. One of the commissioners wrote this in the Spinoff, a blog sponsored by the HRC. These people can make your lives hell. They want to regulate our speech.
And they cannot provide a safe workplace within their organisation.
The first is the stunning work they do. These are human rights champions who are the people behind our unforgettable, hard-hitting anti-racism campaigns. The advocates who put their own lives out there in the public eye to campaign for their right to live with dignity no matter who we are or what our ability is.
They are the ones who relentlessly called for justice on behalf of thousands of children and vulnerable people tortured and abused in government homes. People who have seen a government announce a Royal Commission of Inquiry and the Rugby Union look at its own culture and start to change it. Staff who have taken on politicians from almost every political party, including the prime minister. People who have literally stood alongside our most marginalised New Zealanders and let them know: you’re not alone and what’s more, we will fight for you.
They are also the people whose courage led to this month’s Ministerial Report into the Human Rights Commission, their place of work. Justice Minister Andrew Little’s leadership on this issue has been outstanding.
I can only speak on my own behalf to say that I am devastated and deeply sorry that we failed to protect, support and nurture the commission’s most important asset: our people.
The things our people endured should never have happened in any organisation, let alone ours.
Susan Devoy, Spinoff
I must admit to Schadenfreude. Seeing the SJW being shoved under the bus because the #MeToo movement has burned them was almost as good as the (female) president of the law society apologizing because a third of new female legal graduates have to deal with harassment.
I want to be left alone. And when those who would regulate me are caught doing the very things they campaign against, I hope they suffer.
The HRC is now toast. When a left wing pundit says your time has gone, it is time to abolish it. The current attempts to politicize and regulate will fail. Many argue that it needs to be replaced. I suggest instead that the Human Rights Commission should be abolished. For most Kiwis hold them in contempt.
Maybe the HRC is simply too tarnished and broken to be reformed, and needs to be scrapped. That’s the view of Damien Grant, who draws a parallel with Britain’s News of World publication being shut down: “One the best things Rupert Murdoch did was shut the News of the World. As his son, James, explained at the time: ‘The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself’… The Commission, like News of the World, preaches one thing and practices another”. Damning the organisation, Grant quotes a staff member saying “There’s a culture of victimisation and secrecy, no one feels that they can speak the truth or be heard”, and he points to the ministerial report stating that “78 per cent of its staff did not believe their employer treated everyone fairly”.
Grant believes the HRC to be generally redundant, suggests that trade unions are better at dealing with harassment and discrimination: “The best organisation to challenge bullying and harassment in the workplace isn’t a dysfunctional government agency but unions. Asserting the rights of workers is exactly the sort of role a successful union would aspire to and, if effective, will gain new recruits as a result.”
Has the Commission also become victim of “mission creep”? According to John Drinnan, it has become increasingly activist, which is a problem for a state agency . Drinnan reports that AUT academic Paul Moon “sees as evidence of an ‘ideology’ developing at the Commission”, and criticises its lack of transparency.
Drinnan says the HRC continues to promote restrictions on free speech, and he points to a recent forum about online hate speech, in which there was a complete lack of ideological diversity: “None of the speakers are promoters for free speech.” Drinnan also reports Andrew Little as saying a review of human rights laws is coming up, and “It may well be that is the time to consider whether there has to be a beefing up over the coverage of hate speech”.
Bryce Edwards, NZ Herald (archived)
The trouble with the Human Rights Act is that it is a creature of the UN, and the UN is a corrupt organisation that shields fascists, paedophiles and the sex trade. It is better to not be involved. If you are damned by the UN, you are probably doing well.
The best solution for our government is to abolish all our commissioners. Their offices are full of petty fascists, enjoying their ability to make ordinary people’s life hell. The only prayers we have for such is that they leave us alone, or better, repent, and leave the neoliberal political office.
For no zampolit will ever inherit the kingdom of God.