Ice cream does make me happy

November 8, 2019

Does ice cream make you happy?

The Free Speech Coalition says it is crazy overreach by the Advertising Standards Authority to order a take down of an ice cream sign that includes the apparently irresponsible claim that “ice cream makes you happy”. 

Free Speech Coalition spokesman Stephen Franks says, “Talk about creaming it. These clipboard zealots are surely whipping up work if this is what they need to focus on. The Advertising Standards Authority is supposed to be about protecting consumers about misleading claims – not moral pontification about issues such as ice cream waist lines and Kiwi summer quenchers.”

“These people’s head will explode when they read the byline on Red Bull ads. But with today’s nutty decision, most Kiwis would probably cheer at that.”

Rights of free speech should be no less assured just because it is ‘commercial speech’. It is reassuring that the Advertising Standards Board is presently not a government authority. But its moralising is still adding to threats to traditional freedoms.”

Streets which makes the ice cream the sign advertises said:

. . .the statement “ice cream makes you happy” was a “puffery” statement — an “exaggerated, fanciful or vague statement that no reasonable person could possibly treat seriously or find misleading”. . .

I beg to differ, it isn’t fanciful.

Ice cream was a constant of my childhood Sundays.

My mother beat the unsweetened condensed milk until it was thick and creamy, added sugar then slowly beat in gelatine before pouring the mixture into two trays and put them into the freezer before we went to church.

Bought ice cream for dessert was a very occasional treat.

Cone ice creams were almost as infrequent – bought at half time when we went to the pictures or when we stopped at Evensdale for petrol on the way to visit family in Dunedin.

My favourite was hokey pokey and I perfected licking it slowly enough to last the half hour or so to the city.

When we were children we were sometimes offered ice cream or sweets, but not both.

I suspect that is why I now favour goody gumdrops, which is ice cream with sweets.

But whatever the flavour, a cold one on a hot day; a scoop or two accompanying berries or stone fruit for summer dessert or cooling winter puddings like apple crumble and chocolate sinker; or just when I feel like a treat, ice cream hits my happy spot.

I’m not suggesting that it could treat a mental illness, nor do I agree with the complainant who said that “ice cream makes you happy” promoted an unhealthy relationship with food.

A little of what I fancy now and then does make me happy and at times what I fancy is ice cream.

So too do most others who reacted to the Stuff survey:

The grinch who complained needs to take a chill pill, or better still a a scoop or two of ice cream, preferably in a cone because it really does taste better when licked than spooned.


Let’s not panic

April 2, 2019

Andrew Little plans to fast track a law review which could make hate speech illegal:

. . .He said the current law on hate speech was not thorough and strong enough and needed to change. . . 

Isn’t it thorough enough and does it need to change?

The Free Speech Coalition disagrees:

The Free Speech Coalition will campaign against new laws to suppress traditional freedom of speech signalled by Justice Minister Andrew Little.

Constitutional lawyer, and Free Speech Coalition spokesperson, Stephen Franks says, “New Zealand already has clear laws against incitement of violence. We have a very new, uncertain, and far reaching law against digital harassment.”

“We have seen little or no effort by the government to enforce the existing law in the internet era, or even to explain it. Few New Zealanders know how our existing law works to criminalise genuinely hateful attempts to incite violence and contempt. We have seen instead repeated efforts to justify the granting of fresh powers like those used overseas to allow authorities to criminalise arguments and the expression of concern about issues where they want only one view to be expressed or heard.”

“The Government and the Human Rights Commission should focus on explaining and enforcing the existing law, not disgracefully seizing on the wave of sympathy from all decent New Zealanders, to rush through new restrictions on the opinions we may debate, express and research.”

“The term ‘hate speech’ is deliberately extreme. It has been designed to prejudice discussion. It exploits the decency of ordinary people. How could anyone not oppose ‘hate’? But as defined legally it generally means something that could upset someone. Overseas examples often just gives authorities the ability to say it means what they want it to mean from time to time. Recently, in Britain, their version of the law was used to bring criminal charges against an elderly woman who refused to use a transgender man’s preferred designation as a woman and insisted on referring to him as a man who wanted to use women’s toilets.”

David Farrar lists a few more of the perverse outcomes from hate speech laws in the UK which includes:

  • A student was arrested for saying to a mounted police officer “Excuse me do you know your horse is gay”
  • A teenager was arrested for barking at two labradors, as the owner was non-white
  • A teenager was prosecuted for holding up a placard that described the Church of Scientology as a cult
  • A man was charged with racially aggravated criminal damage for writing “Don’t forget the 1945 war” on a UKIP poster
  • An Essex baker Daryl Barke was ordered to take down a poster promoting English bread with the slogan “none of that French rubbish”, because the police believed it would stir up racial hatred. . . 

Emotions are understandably high after the Christchurch terror attack but that’s no reason to panic and rush.

Freedom of expression is a basic plank of democracy which must be protected from the borer of emotive and ill-defined constraints.


Free Speech Coalition has funds to take ACC to court

July 12, 2018

The Free Speech Coalition has succeeded in its first goal – raising enough funds to take the Auckland City Council to court.

In less than 24 hours, the Free Speech Coalition has reached its $50,000 fundraising goal and will be engaging lawyers to bring judicial proceedings against Auckland Council for its ban on Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux at Council-owned venues.

Chris Trotter, who is supporting the Coalition, says, “Thank you to every New Zealander who has dug deep to support such an important cause.”

“We had hoped to raise this money by 5pm Friday. However, within the first day of this campaign we have been completely swamped by people pledging money to the cause – from $5 to $5,000.”

Melissa Derby, another supporter of the Coalition, says, “We look forward to setting a strong legal precedent that shows the use of publicly-owned venue cannot be dictated by the political whims of those in power.”

“For us this is not about helping these particular speakers, but in defending the rights of all New Zealanders to express and hear controversial views.” 

Stephen Franks calls Goff’s actions in denying the speakers the right to use council-owned venues a partisan abuse of political power:

He has claimed the power to decide which political views can be discussed in Auckland public halls.

If the Mayor of Auckland has that power it is no local matter. With it he could deny nearly half the population of New Zealand a practical chance to see and to assess for themselves any speaker the Mayor decided they should not be free to judge. He may claim he has that power to ban things he sees as inimical to the “social” or “cultural” health of his subjects.

The law deliberately gave the Auckland Mayor presidential authority plus a Council with limited power to control him. But even if the Councillors had normal council powers over Council officers and the Mayor, a Council should not have the power to stop people from meeting in public halls to hear and judge unpopular speakers.

The long established legal boundaries on freedom of expression are all the “protection” Councillors should be allowed to assert. Public authorities at both central and local government level should now be scrupulously secular and politically neutral in their stewardship of public assets.

The bitter struggle to win freedom of religion, thought and expression was marked by majority tyranny. . .

Freedom of assembly and speech may be even more important now, in the era of social media echo-chambers and bubbles. Most political and religious discourse is now in soundbite abbreviations. Many political debates never reach the public, except as a species of comedy, lampooned by ignorant scoffers in media programmes that specialise in mockery. There is little chance for people to get the kind of sustained sequential argument and discussion that happens at public meetings.

Mr Goff, somewhat ludicrously, said he will not allow divisive speech. He wants speech for unity. What about diversity Mr Goff. Have you turned your back on that? What do you seek from it? All thinking and speaking in unison? If our society has become so fragile it can’t handle awkward or unsettling speech or challenge, then it may be because young people have had too little practice.

STEFAN MOLYNEUX AND LAUREN SOUTHERN gave New Zealanders an opportunity to test their values – most especially their tolerance. Controversialists, almost by profession, these two Canadians espouse ideas which most Kiwis find extremely jarring. We have come to accept human equality and religious tolerance as the unequivocal markers of all decent and rational societies. For a great many people it is deeply offensive to hear these concepts challenged openly.

Over the past few days Molyneux and Southern have very skilfully tested our tolerance – and we have failed. They’ve also tested our ability to re-state, re-affirm and justify our commitment to freedom of expression. We failed that test too. . .

Truth is not afraid of trigger-words. Truth does not need a safe space. Truth is not a snowflake. Truth can take the heat and most certainly should not be forced to vacate the kitchen in the face of a couple of Alt-Right provocateurs and a politically-correct Mayor.

When people across the political spectrum unite to protest, as they have over this, it pays to listen.

Few if any of them will support the speakers and their views. They are not fighting for them or their beliefs but for their right to express them.

Now that it has enough to take the council to the court, any further funds will be used to fight the case. You can donate to the FSC here. I have already.


No means . . .

October 28, 2008

The Tauranage Special from the Free Speech Coalition.

Hat Tip: John Ansell


Don’t let them lie together

October 22, 2008

The Free Speech Coalition has launched its first billboard:

The authorisation statement starts: Authorised as demanded by LabourFirst’s and the Green’s outrageous assault on free speech . . .

Hat Tip: John Ansell


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