New Zealand’s chief government censor has banned a “manifesto” written and posted online by the white supremacist terrorist who attacked two mosques earlier this month in Christchurch, killing 50 people and injuring dozens of others.
In a statement on Saturday issued by New Zealand’s Office of Film and Literature Classification, chief censor David Shanks said, “Others have referred to this publication as a ‘manifesto’, but I consider it a crude booklet that promotes murder and terrorism. It is objectionable under New Zealand law.”
In deeming the 70-plus-page document objectionable, the government now prohibits its possession and distribution. Shanks called on the public to delete any copies or online posts to the document, CNN reported. The manifesto, Shanks said, “promotes, encourages and justifies acts of murder and terrorist violence against identified groups of people.”
“It identifies specific places for potential attack in New Zealand, and refers to the means by which other types of attack may be carried out. It contains justifications for acts of tremendous cruelty, such as the deliberate killing of children.”
“We have dealt with terrorist promotional material before which was deliberately designed to inspire, encourage and instruct other like-minded individuals to carry out further attacks. For example we have found a number of ISIS publications to be objectionable in previous decisions. This publication falls in the same category.”
Shanks drew a distinction between “hate speech,” which he said is legal, and the Christchurch terrorist’s manifesto, which he said is “deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism.”
The decision follows another effort by the government to quickly respond to the massacre by announcing legislation to ban semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles just six days after the attack. That effort has been led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose office received the manifesto in an email from the terrorist prior to the attack.
Following an amnesty period, owning banned semi-automatic weapons in New Zealand could result in a NZ$4,000 fine ($2,770 USD) and three years of jail, Splinter’s Sophie Weiner reported this week. The government plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on a nationwide buyback program to implement the new legislation.
The immediate response by New Zealand’s government to the Christchurch attack stands in stark contrast to reactions by the U.S. administration in the wake of mass shootings in that country. Even the Trump administration’s response to the New Zealand attack, which was carried out by a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist who mentioned U.S. President Donald Trump in the manifesto, is telling. Seeking to downplay that reference to Trump, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway earlier this week urged people to actually read the manifesto.
Speaking to Fox News, Conway said viewers should read the manifesto “in its entirety.”
No way, said New Zealand’s chief censor Shanks: “Most New Zealanders who have read this will simply find it repellent. But most New Zealanders are not the target audience. It is aimed at a small group who may be receptive to its hateful, racist and violent ideology, and who may be inspired to follow the example set by its apparent author.”
Conway and others in the Trump administration would be well served to pay attention to Shanks’ words—unless, of course, they don’t actually care about protecting the public from white supremacist attacks.