June 28, 2010; Source: Dominion Post | Sometimes it is important to monitor charitable decisions in other nations to see if their values and standards might catch on elsewhere. The Charities Commission of New Zealand denied charitable status to Greenpeace. According to the Commission, Greenpeace’s promotion of “disarmament and peace” was political, not educational, and Greenpeace members had acted illegally in “non-violent direct action” such as boarding a boat to protest the importation of palm kernels for stock feed. Greenpeace’s counter-argument is that its political advocacy was incidental to its non-political environmental protection and education activities. The Commission says that for nations to achieve disarmament, they would have to enact laws, inherently political activities, as opposed to simply educating the public about disarmament and peace. Greenpeace’s debate with the Charities Commission is being appealed to the nation’s High Court. Can any of us imagine disarmament and peace advocacy being used as the rationale for denying charitable status? Amazing.—Rick Cohen
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