Definition of the term peaceful: tranquil and free from disturbance.

From trumpets at the sound of Jericho to pop sounds as torture in the Iraq war.  Those who organized the rally against Free Speech for women knew what they were doing.  At every angle, I turned there was sound - from drums to pots and whistles.  They were loud, they were piercing, and they were continuous.  This was clearly planned, to drown out the speeches of the women attending, and as an assault on our senses.  Some of those who attended complained of ringing in their ears days later.  We will not forget.  And as the world watches on in disgust many in our government sing sounds of praise. 

First, we all have a legal right to protest, however, the right to gather and protest with others falls under 'Freedom of peaceful assembly '

Is playing mocking, threatening messages on loudspeakers to cause anxiety and fear "peaceful assembly"?  They came with everything from the more low-level but still piercing whistles and pots and pans to the more menacing sirens, horns, and megaphones.  This was not the peaceful protest described in the Spinoff as "joyful, life-affirming, and full of love".  It was a plan to use any and every means to disrupt and destroy women’s rights to speak. 

Second, the Let Women Speak attendees had a right to speak out and say 'whatever' they think.  This is freedom of expression, and so long as there is no one breaking the law the police must allow protests to occur.  When do the actions of a protest become a criminal offence?  I'll tell you when - when your right to a peaceful protest infringes on another person's freedom of expression and freedom of movement.  It was clear that the women attending the event were silenced by the counter-protesters, and they were restricted from movement, having to use security to barge through the crowd to keep from being harmed. 

Military and law enforcement have used noise as a tactic to disperse crowds and force people into surrendering - we saw an attempt at this from the Speaker of parliament during the parliament grounds protest.

How powerful does sound have to be before it is classified as a weapon?  Surrounded by abusive, threatening protesters, those of us women left on the rotunda were unable to talk to each other about how to get from the stage to safety - we couldn't even hear when we shouted in each other's ears.  It was communication by body language only.  The sound emitted by the counter-protesters was truly deafening.

Did those who organized the protest against the event use sound as a weapon?  If so, part 2 of the crimes Act 1961 states it is an offence to conspire to commit an offence, so the question is - was the planned attack on Saturday an offence?


Helen Houghton