Act leader David Seymour, champion of voluntary euthanasia, seems determined to lead by example and commit political hari-kari. Having made a total twit of himself on Dancing with the Stars yet again, he's now come out in defence of hate speech and a call for the abolition of the Human Rights Commission.
This, while the memory of the Christchurch mosque massacres is still raw for the vast majority of civilised New Zealanders.
His pledge, at Saturday's Act conference, to introduce a bill to "protect freedom of expression" came just days after Destiny Church's Bishop Brian Tamaki launched another of his attacks on Muslims in New Zealand, declaring: "We can not accept the proliferation of Islam in our country." Claiming to be speaking "biblical truths" he predicted that if we continued being "tolerant, accepting and inclusive" we'd end up like "Britain, South East Asia and most of Europe, with violence, loss of the host country's identity, their values and culture destroyed and Sharia law enacted".
Islam was a "destructive power" and Muslim migrants a "fast creeping social invasion on our Kiwi way of life".
Perhaps the scariest comment of all was his claim that "I may not be as PC as Mike Hosking"! Scary for Hosking – the self-appointed hammer of the politically correct - in particular.
Meanwhile, good old Israel Folau popped up in his preacher dad's church in Sydney, targeting transgender children and gays. No doubt with lots of Christian love in his heart.
Seymour argues that "freedom of expression is the basis of all freedoms". But coming in the wake of the gunning down of 51 innocent worshippers, Seymour's esoteric belief that in the contest of ideas, the best one will win out, is, at best, naive.
Truth is, reading Act's small print, you see that Seymour does not, in fact, believe in open slather where it comes to free speech after all.
"Act's Freedom to Speak Bill will repeal parts of the Human Rights Act and the Summary Offences Act which make insulting and offensive speech unlawful." Then comes the retreat. "Act believes that, while it should be a crime to incite or threaten violence, nobody should ever be punished for insulting or offensive speech."
Brian Rudman: Goff's pre-election war drums a stuck record
The dilemma, of course, is deciding when and if, the insulting and offensive comments trigger subsequent violence.
The 1990 Bill of Rights provides the fundamental freedom to "impart information and opinions of any kind in any form". But this right is restricted by such restraints as the Defamation Act and our obligations under the 1993 Human Rights Act.
Section 61 of the latter makes it unlawful to publish, distribute, broadcast or speak in public "words which are threatening, abusive or insulting" ... "being matters or words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons ... on the ground of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins ..."
Far be it from me to quote the Bible to Bishop Tamaki, but Section 61 is, in effect, Parliament's "Love thy Neighbour" clause.
Even before the Christchurch massacre, human rights advocates were pointing to the need to extend Section 21 to include religious identity, disability, gender and sexuality as potential victims of hate speech. Last year the Government created a human rights taskforce to consider adding these hate crimes, but it was later disbanded. But following the Christchurch terror, Justice Minister Andrew Little launched a new review, calling existing legislation "woefully inadequate ... we need to do better".
He said he would not rule out establishing "hate crime" as a separate offence as it is in Britain. In New Zealand, apart from the seldom employed Section 61 clause of the HRA – a civil offence, there is also, since 2002, a provision for a harsher sentence for someone convicted for a crime motivated by hatred of a victim of a "common characteristic" such as race, sexual orientation, religion and so on. But no records are kept of how often this is used.
Meanwhile, Seymour is riddling away with the offer of free speech as long as it doesn't incite or threaten violence. So which side of the ledger does he place Brian Tamaki's Wednesday's Facebook post, attacking the "spread of this Destructive Power" of Islam, a "fast creeping social invasion on our Kiwi way of life".