Editorial: Odd future indeed

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014
Odd Future
Reuters
CONTROVERSIAL: Odd Future collective members Earl Sweatshirt (L), Taco Bennett (2nd L), Tyler, The Creator (R) and singer-songwriter M.I.A.

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OPINION: The banning of rap music group Odd Future from New Zealand is a big deal.

A big deal because it's never been done like this before.

Not with a music group anyway.

Immigration New Zealand has denied access because it believed there was, or was likely to be, a threat or risk to public order or the public interest.

And the threat isn't posed by the nasty, disgusting lyrics in some of the band's material, and have no doubt, they are nasty and disgusting.

And it's got nothing to do with free speech either, because that would be a much clearer debate. (The conclusion to that being, we might not like the lyrics, but we like freedom of expression more).

No, Immigration NZ has denied the band entry on a rather hard-to-prove risk to public order.

It relies on two specific incidents to do so. One, in Boston in 2011 when Odd Future apparently incited fans to attack police, which the fans did, and a cop was injured.

And two, in Australia last year, when a protester was singled out for retribution by the lead singer and received threatening Twitter messages from fans.

Is this enough to keep a group out of the country?

On the provisions available, maybe. Maybe because there is some dispute around the facts of those two events, and maybe because of the precedent now set.

To whom else might this be applied?

The Rolling Stones, Ozzy Osbourne, Justin Bieber?

The Australian cricket team, the Queen, the Pope?

All potential risks to public order. And it wouldn't be hard to come up with some examples.

OK, OK, but you get the point.

Get a group of people who don't like someone and who can dig up a bit of dirt on how their target has misbehaved in the past, and suddenly, because of this decision, they have a case.

Surely there has to be some onus on the host country to maintain order. Surely this decision stretches the intention of the law.

Immigration NZ says it is not setting itself up as the country's morals police. So how come it feels like it?

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- The Timaru Herald

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