codeRambler Ramblings on code, the web, and technology

Don’t laugh at politicians in New Zealand
Tuesday July 31st 2007, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Ramblings

New Zealand reporter Anthony Hubbard recently wrote in the Sunday Star Times (a New Zealand newspaper) an article titled The last laugh: banning MP satire about the recent vote by MPs to:

…ban the satirical use of TV footage of parliamentary debates

To summarise the situation, Hubbard writes that “photos or TV footage of the House may not be used for ’satire, ridicule or denigration’. Those who disobey the new rule will be guilty of committing contempt of parliament”.

This is no different from the British and Australian paliaments who both ban use of parliamentary images and footage for satirical purposes, where breaches are “rare” and usually result in a letter being sent to the guilty party.

I think it’s a waste of time and public monies for MPs to be even discussing this issue, let alone debating it and passing a law change to bring it into force. If we can’t poke a bit of fun at each other from time to time, then we’re in a pretty sad state. I certainly think those driving the ship are doing a poor job of steering.

Predictably journalists are not happy with this change to the law and are vocal in their call that this new rule is a breach of the right of free speech and contravenes New Zealand’s Bill of Rights Act 1990. MPs seem to be worried that video clips on YouTube will show images “out of context” and ultimately mis-represent them to a wide audience.

Why can’t we all just get along and play nicely?

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