Canada

Violating Human Rights to Defend Them

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At a time when the U.S. government is often (and often justly) criticized for compromising civil liberties in pursuit of terrorists, New York Times legal writer Adam Liptak reminds us of one respect in which Americans are indisputably freer than other Westerners: They can speak their minds without fear of being prosecuted for offending people. In countries such as Canada, France, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, by contrast, freedom of speech can be overriden in the name of equality and multiculturalism. Mark Steyn, the Canadian writer accused of violating British Columbia's hate speech law by saying unnice things about Islam in Maclean's, tells Liptak:

What we're learning here is really the bedrock difference between the United States and the countries that are in a broad sense its legal cousins. Western governments are becoming increasingly comfortable with the regulation of opinion. The First Amendment really does distinguish the U.S., not just from Canada but from the rest of the Western world.

In hearings before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, the lawyer representing Maclean's noted that the province's law gives writers accused of hurting people's feelings little recourse:

Innocent intent is not a defense. Nor is truth. Nor is fair comment on true facts. Publication in the public interest and for the public benefit is not a defense. Opinion expressed in good faith is not a defense. Responsible journalism is not a defense.

An attorney with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Union (which is siding with Maclean's) explains the Canadian attitude this way:

Canadians do not have a cast-iron stomach for offensive speech. We don't subscribe to a marketplace of ideas. Americans as a whole are more tough-minded and more prepared for verbal combat.

In the face of Canada's enforced niceness, it is refreshing to hear someone defend the principle that people should not have to justify their opinions to the government, period. Ezra Levant, another Canadian journalist who faced a human rights complaint (since retracted) for offending Muslims, put it this way during an encounter with an inquisitor from the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission:

I reserve maximum freedom to be maximally offensive, to hurt feelings as I like….The only thing I have to say to the government about why I published [the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons] is because it's my bloody right to do so.

That's from my February column about Canada's human rights tribunals. Last week I noted that the French government, which is so keen to defend the country's secular and feminist values that it's prepared to violate Muslims' rights to freedom of religion and freedom of contract, nevertheless defends their "right" not to be offended. I should have mentioned a recent example cited by Liptak (and noted by our own Michael Moynihan): "Earlier this month, the actress Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist, was fined $23,000 in France for provoking racial hatred by criticizing a Muslim ceremony involving the slaughter of sheep."

Addendum: As Robert notes in the comments, the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission continues to investigate Levant for reprinting the Muhammad cartoons in The Western Standard. Although Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, withdrew his complaint last winter, Levant reports that the commission is still considering a similar complaint from Yasmeen Nizam of of the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities. You can keep up with the case at Levant's blog. Information about Mark Steyn's speech-related legal troubles is available here.

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  1. I love freedom of speech. I wish it was even stronger than it is.

  2. re: comments in link: “emo-cutter leftism”. I like that, whatever it means.

  3. Speech codes in Western Europe (and remember, Canada was British during WW2) came out of the wartime and post-war laws suppressing the Nazis. In cases like occupied Germany, we wrote those laws. And, in the context of the 1940s, suppressing the Nazi Party and its wanna-be successors made sense.

    The extension of those laws to other groups was done as a matter of fairness, as in “if you can’t preach hate against the Jews, then why can you preach hate against…”

    This would suggest a different strategy for turning public opinion against them than just denouncing “political correctness.”

    The perceived need to suppress the neo-Nazis is the foundation here. If that’s knocked down, the rest will follow.

  4. Canadians do not have a cast-iron stomach for offensive speech. We don’t subscribe to a marketplace of ideas. Americans as a whole are more tough-minded and more prepared for verbal combat.

    I don’t know about that.

    This guy http://www.climateaudit.org/ is Canadian and can kick ass and take names after with ease.

    Of course his opponents are a group of bumbling, incompetent, idiots so…..

  5. Don’t worry, the leftists here are all fired to do this to us too.

  6. In countries such as Canada, france, England, Germany, and the Netherlands,

    Fixed.

  7. You can’t have free speech AND socialized mediciine. Your words could cause serious mental anguish and cause some people to require psychiatric counseling and prescription medication.

  8. Josh,

    Well, global warming isn’t an official religion.

  9. re: comments in link: “emo-cutter leftism”. I like that, whatever it means.

    You are in the wrong article…and please for the love of god let us not discuss “emo”.

  10. Well, global warming isn’t an official religion.

    I was speaking to his talent…which i thought was being questioned by this:

    Canadians do not have a cast-iron stomach for offensive speech. We don’t subscribe to a marketplace of ideas. Americans as a whole are more tough-minded and more prepared for verbal combat.

    But perhaps i read it wrong and it was in regard to legal ability rather then ability.

  11. Yeah, yeah. I have no idea how I got in the wrong article. Brand New, My Chemical Romance and Say Anything R0X0R though!!!!!1

  12. Can’t you just turn these laws back on themselves like a snake biting its own tail? MY feelings were hurt when you criticized my article which you claims hurt YOUR feelings, so you dare not criticize me because I have the right to never be offended or criticized.

  13. Canadians do not have a cast-iron stomach for offensive speech. We don’t subscribe to a marketplace of ideas. Americans as a whole are more tough-minded and more prepared for verbal combat.

    I’m consistently amazed that the first amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and press isn’t universal in western democracies.

    If an atheist can be said to worship, I worship our freedom of speech and the press. To me it seems so obvious and fundamental that meaningful freedom must include the freedom to offend. I’ve heard the arguments from our maple sucking, puck slapping neighbors and the wimpy, effeminate, degenerate Eurotrash and find them disingenuous at best.

    I just don’t get it.

  14. Sorry, joe, Canada was no more British during THE BIG ONE than it is now. It is now and was then a free and self-governing Dominion within the British Commonwealth.

    Furthermore, Britain has generally had a much more robust tradition of free speech than the continent. However it (and Canada) has since the sixties tended more and more away from it.

    That tendency, like the one in Canada has next to nothing to do with WWII atrocities.

  15. Is it a coincidence that all your examples involve Islam/Muslims as the target of free speech? I don’t think the only cases with respect to such laws involve Islam/Muslims but I guess you have an Axe to grind.

    Let us know when you and the other defenders of free speech march to defend Irving.

  16. A human rights tribunal violating human rights.

    Somewell, Orwell is tapping a foot in time with the music.

  17. Let us know when you and the other defenders of free speech march to defend Irving.

    A lot of us have condemned what happened to Irving.

  18. Is it a coincidence that all your examples involve Islam/Muslims as the target of free speech? I don’t think the only cases with respect to such laws involve Islam/Muslims but I guess you have an Axe to grind.

    Certainly not the only cases. Are they enough cases involving Islam/Muslims to make them noteworthy?

    Considering mainstream Muslim attitudes in the Middle East concerning free speech (blasphemy, prophet portraits) I’m not surprised free Western societies find themselves clashing with Muslim communities in this arena.

    If Jacob has an axe to grind and you can prove it please show us the data.

  19. MY feelings were hurt when you criticized my article which you claims hurt YOUR feelings, so you dare not criticize me because I have the right to never be offended or criticized.

    Yes, but unfortunately then you’re sinking to their level, leaving you both worse off.

  20. Odd. A tribunal for “hate” speech? That’ll teach people that spew . . . opinions?

    *shrugs*


  21. Yes, but unfortunately then you’re sinking to their level, leaving you both worse off.

    True, but I’m thinking in terms of strategy. If everyone who becomes a plaintiff in these Human “Rights” Tribunals immediately finds himself turned into a defendant for the same case, how long could this last?

  22. anon, the Muslims are the ones using “Human Rights” Commission as a club against all critcism. All of the commissions should be scrapped, of course, but when Jewish groups file complaints, they’re content to go after a few toothless skinheads. The Muslim groups are taking on everyone in sight.

    Jennifer, you’ve got the right idea, but unfortunately it only works if you’re a member of a certified victim group. The real fun in in getting gays and Muslims to file cross-complaints against each other: Islam condemns homosexuality, but if an imam says that he’s committing a hate crime, while a homosexual who complains about an imam’s preaching is guilty of Islamophobia.

  23. I’m consistently amazed that the first amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and press isn’t universal in western democracies.

    AFAIK the U.S. is the only western democracy whose founding philosophy explicitly states that government is formed by individuals to protect individual rights, draws power only by consent of the governed, and can be overthrown if it gets uppity.

    It’s a whole different model from the sovereign/subject philosophy.

    Hence the Second Amendment, also unique in western democracies.

  24. Isaac,

    I guess you haven’t heard of the British North America Act of 1949, or the Canada Act of 1982.

    Canadian independenct didn’t happen overnight like ours, it was a process that wasn’t complete until the early 80s. We can argue about how self-governing it needed to be to be “really” self-governing, but suffice it to say for our purposes here, Canada was a lot more British in the 1940s than it is today, and it more-or-less followed Britain’s lead legally and politically.

  25. “Ezra Levant, another Canadian journalist who faced a human rights complaint (since retracted)”

    It hasn’t been retracted:

    http://ezralevant.com/

  26. Let us know when you and the other defenders of free speech march to defend Irving.

    Or Jim Weathers of Bondage Cafe fame.

  27. The extension of those laws to other groups was done as a matter of fairness, as in “if you can’t preach hate against the Jews, then why can you preach hate against…”

    kings, nobles, and elected officials?

  28. Ezra Levant, another Canadian journalist who faced a human rights complaint (since retracted) for offending Muslims[…]

    I might point out that Ezra Levant still faces a complaint against him, in the Alberta HRC, which is that same as the one retracted:

    http://ezralevant.com/2008/05/fifteen-government-of-alberta.html

    The complaintents file the complaints in multiple HRC jurisdictions, shopping for a sympathetic venue.

    Since they encounter no expenses making a complaint, but the respondent must pay for their own defense, without possibility of recompense, this has, shall we say, a chilling effect on free speech.

    Think of it – anyone who is upset by something you write or say, (or perhaps even just think) can cost you thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, with a one page, handwritten complaint to your local HRC (and all the HRCs in the other provinces, plus the CHRC).

    Whither Canada?

    Kirk

  29. Odd. A tribunal for “hate” speech? That’ll teach people that spew . . . opinions?

    Why not?

    After all, we can’t have people criticize politicians, can we?

  30. Since they encounter no expenses making a complaint, but the respondent must pay for their own defense, without possibility of recompense, this has, shall we say, a chilling effect on free speech.

    I would be very much surprised if Canadian politicians were not using this to suppress criticism and dissent.

  31. I’m consistently amazed that the first amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and press isn’t universal in western democracies.

    It was pretty shaky even here in the early days.

    AFAIK the U.S. is the only western democracy whose founding philosophy explicitly states that government is formed by individuals to protect individual rights,

    Yep. God I love this country.

  32. Anyone who’s really interested in the kangaroo proceeding in British Columbia must read Andrew Coyne’s liveblog.

    Well, it’s a liveblog until the end, when someone decided that liveblogging was “broadcasting” and through him out. The whole thing is both hysterical and chilling.

  33. For those interested here’s video of Mark Steyn debating his “accusers.”
    http://blog.macleans.ca/2008/05/08/video-mark-steyn-on-the-agenda/

    Some commentary:
    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/mark-steyn-vs-the-sock-puppets/

    And the controversial section of of Canada’s Human Rights Act:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Human_Rights_Commission#Section_13.1_of_the_Human_Rights_Act

    The greatest controversy regarding the HRC’s practices comes from its enforcement of Section 13.1 of Canada’s Human Rights Act, which states that it is discriminatory to communicate by phone or Internet any material “that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.”

    Bold added by me.

  34. Speech codes in Western Europe (and remember, Canada was British during WW2) came out of the wartime and post-war laws suppressing the Nazis.

    True enough, but the prosecutions and the tribunal in Canada don’t date from that period. They were created in 1977, and are very much a creation of modern-day lefty/multiculturalism.

    The perceived need to suppress the neo-Nazis is the foundation here. If that’s knocked down, the rest will follow.

    You don’t seriously believe that, at least as far as Canada goes, do you, joe?

  35. “Violating Human Rights to Defend Them”

    That makes a lot of sense. Like: “Standing in the rain to keep dry”.

    This article sounds like more spin from the filthy Republicans: “Be greatful for the freedoms that you have and don’t try to change what our country is currently doing”

  36. Bob figured out your filthy spin you filthy Republicans. bwaahahahahaha.

    I should note that these human rights commisions have also been used against fundementalist christians who preach against homosexuality.

  37. LarryA,

    Isn’t it the case that the more robust speech rights in the U.S. are a post-WWII phenomenon? I know that prior to the Civil War that speech and the press were often highly regulated by many state governments, particularly when it came to controversial issues like abolitionism.

  38. Some foreigners attack the US for feeling superior to the rest of the world. You know what-sometimes, it actually is. This is one of those cases.

  39. Bob, you have the reasoning ability of a cherrystone clam. A SPED cherrystone clam.

    For those who think that the “only reason” people are complaining about the Canadian HRC is because the complainants are Muslims, and that those people are “filthy Republicans”:

    the Canadian Muslim Council of Ontario OPPOSED the HRC proceedings against Macleans, saying they were against those seeking to impose sharia in Canada by stifling opinion and free discussion of the issues.

    If Muslims are objecting to other Muslims gaming the system, that kinda knocks out the “only reason” argument, doesn’t it…

  40. True enough, but the prosecutions and the tribunal in Canada don’t date from that period. They were created in 1977, and are very much a creation of modern-day lefty/multiculturalism.

    As I said, the situation grew from the anti-Nazi seed, and was later expanded. Anti-Nazi-hate-speech laws + a growing hostility to other sorts of racism and discrimination = this.

    You don’t seriously believe that, at least as far as Canada goes, do you, joe? I don’t know about Canada. Europe itself, yes, but Canada has certainly gone off in a different direction in a lot of ways.

  41. Do you think Canada realizes that this whole thing makes them look like giant pussies and a laughing stock to everyone to their south?

  42. You may want to check the Federal and State laws governing diversity and the right to not be offended in the work place. These are part of the Federal/State Labor laws and on the books.

  43. “””They can speak their minds without fear of being prosecuted for offending people. “””

    Unless you print it on a T-shirt, or say it on a plane.

  44. Jennifer, you’ve got the right idea, but unfortunately it only works if you’re a member of a certified victim group. The real fun in in getting gays and Muslims to file cross-complaints against each other: Islam condemns homosexuality, but if an imam says that he’s committing a hate crime, while a homosexual who complains about an imam’s preaching is guilty of Islamophobia.

    So how about it Jennifer? How about some girl-girl action this weekend to you become a member of a ‘certified victim group’??

  45. *so you become…

  46. As I said, the situation grew from the anti-Nazi seed, and was later expanded. Anti-Nazi-hate-speech laws + a growing hostility to other sorts of racism and discrimination = this.

    I’m willing to go along with that in Europe, but not so fast in Canada. I just find the chronology suspect. Did Canada have an anti-Nazi hate speech law? Ever? And is it really just a coincidence that their current hate speech law and associated tribunal came about during Trudeaupia, when leftist/multiculturalists roamed the land?

  47. I knew it was any day now before the Times looked disparagingly on our last remaining “generally respected” civil liberty. The whole point of needing freedom of speech is the fact that some people might be defended by it (otherwise it wouldn’t need to be a “right”). This and the Fairness Docrtine make me very nervous. It wouldn’t be an exxageration to say that the day they are invoked is the day we become a fascist country. All fascism starts out with the idea of helping the public good and fostering carmraderie. This would be no different.

  48. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors, but I think that laws against “denying the Holocaust” are stupid and pathetic, and only give everyday idiots a forum in court. People should say what they want, it doesn’t matter if it’s dead wrong. Their own idiocy is an intrinsic punishment. As well as a lack of respect from civil society.

  49. You did not criticize that NYT article enough. It actually reads as if the writer is in favor of curtailing first amendment rights. Coming from a journalist, that is a really scary thought.

  50. Considering mainstream Muslim attitudes in the Middle East concerning free speech (blasphemy, prophet portraits) I’m not surprised free Western societies find themselves clashing with Muslim communities in this arena.

    Muslim minorities only exploited laws in the books that have been used by other groups. But, It seems that a lot of people started to have problems with these laws only when the unsavory minority started exploiting them.

  51. Muslim minorities only exploited laws in the books that have been used by other groups. But, It seems that a lot of people started to have problems with these laws only when the unsavory minority started exploiting them.

    I’ve noticed for decades now that laws intended to promote “fairness,” “compassion” and “equality” have always been exploited by the scrupulous and the nasty among us. It’s as if the legislators of such laws were deliberately designing these laws to be used in a perverse manner.

  52. Colin Clout:

    “Isn’t it the case that the more robust speech rights in the U.S. are a post-WWII phenomenon? I know that prior to the Civil War that speech and the press were often highly regulated by many state governments, particularly when it came to controversial issues like abolitionism.”

    It might be relevant to note that the Fourteenth Amendment, applying the Bill of Rights to state and local governments, was passed in 1868.

  53. 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

    a) freedom of conscience and religion;
    b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
    c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
    d) freedom of association.

  54. That is from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  55. About 10 years ago, two ex-prime ministers of Quebec (Canada) sued someone who compared them to Nazis. They won. (See http://www.arts.mcgill.ca/history/faculty/TROYWEB/Libelsuitinfringesonlibertiesofusall.htm)

    No comment. I don’t want to see the Police at my door tomorrow morning.

    As to those who ask if Canadians are aware they look like idiots when such things happens, the answer is no. In fact, they think it very normal. Some people I know were very fond of the movie “Farenheit 911”, and the criticism it does of the US government, without realising that such a movie is impossible to do in Canada.

    And that reminds me of an old Soviet joke. The American tells the Russian I live in a free country: I can criticize Nixon any way I want. The Russian answers: I’m free too, last week I demonstrated before the Kremlin and shouted out loud my hatred of Nixon!

  56. I should note that these human rights commisions have also been used against fundementalist christians who preach against homosexuality.

    That could create a backlash against homosexuals.

  57. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors, but I think that laws against “denying the Holocaust” are stupid and pathetic, and only give everyday idiots a forum in court. People should say what they want, it doesn’t matter if it’s dead wrong. Their own idiocy is an intrinsic punishment. As well as a lack of respect from civil society.

    As a regular reader and poster on Usenet newsgroups like alt.revisionism, soc.culture.israel, and talk.politics.misc, I can attest that the Holocaust deniers are indeed stupid.

    Invincible ignorance is an essential component of Holocaust denial.

  58. A few other tidbits about the human rights commissions:

    – Although they have the power to fine you and compel you to do certain things, they are not run by judges or necessarily even people with a law degree. Therefore, the rules are whatever they make them out to be, often making them up on the spot to make sure they get the result they want.

    – As a result the above, they have a 100% conviction rate. NO ONE has ever been found innocent after being hauled up in front of one of these commissions.

    – They are selective in what they consider ‘hate’. It might not surprise you to find out that if someone on the left calls you a right-wing homophobic redneck scumbag, you’ll have no luck at all getting the human rights commissions to look at your case, even if you have videotape of the act and a sworn affidavit from the Prime Minister himself that this happened. On the other hand, if you’re a Homosexual or a Muslim or a member one of the other politically correct groups, all it takes is a poorly-written screed saying that you’ve been offended and these commissions will fall over themselves to find in your favor.

    – They make wild judgements that would never stand up in a court of law – last week they convicted an Albertan of Homophobia, and their penalty was to forbid him from EVER saying anything ‘disparaging’ about homosexuals again, for the rest of his life. He’s not even allowed to read passages from the Bible critical of homosexuality in his own church.

    Truly, the more you learn about these commissions the more stunned you will be.

    BTW, Obama supports enhanced ‘hate crimes’ laws in the U.S. Just sayin’.

  59. It might be relevant to note that the Fourteenth Amendment, applying the Bill of Rights to state and local governments, was passed in 1868.

    But it wasn’t held to extend the First Amendment to the states until Gitlow v. New York was decided in 1925.

  60. roger rainey wrote:

    You did not criticize that NYT article enough. It actually reads as if the writer is in favor of curtailing first amendment rights. Coming from a journalist, that is a really scary thought.

    All in all, mainstream media journal ists really don’t seem to be all that concerned. The media are agitating for “shield” laws to make Legitimate Journalists a privileged class — among other things, they would have the right to withhold the names of their sources even under subpoena. Jour nalists would be Officially Certified by the government as “legitimate” (as opposed to you nasty bloggers and commenters — we can’t give these additional rights to just anybody, you know), so it isn’t much of a stretch to assume that Legitimate Journalists would be granted exemptions to hate
    speech laws.

    O joy …

  61. The order in the Boisson case is especially interesting by virtue of being a stark example of heckler’s veto. Groups (Jews & gays, in that order, according to their data) which are statistically more prone to being victims of hate crimes are deemed to be vulnerable to rabble-rousing caused by opinion against those groups being disseminated. So fag bashers effectively get to silence opinion against homosexuality.

  62. This is worse than you guys think.

    Today in Europe there are laws as bad as anything George Orwell could have imagined. In some countries courts have ruled that the facts are irrelevant, and that certain things must not be said whether they are true or false. In others, a defendant in court who tries to explain or defend a forbidden view will be charged on the spot with a fresh offense. Even his lawyer can be fined or go to jail for trying to mount a defense. In one case a judge ordered that a bookseller’s entire stock-innocent as well as offending titles-be burned!…

    One German defendant who did not flee the country was the elderly historian Udo Walendy, publisher of the “Historical Facts” series of booklets. In May, 1996, the district court of Bielefeld sent him to prison for 15 months, and a year later a court in Herford added 14 more months to his sentence. He was also fined 20,000 marks ($12,000) when 12 copies of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf were found in his possession. Judge Helmut Kn?ner of the Herford court took the curious position that Mr. Walendy was guilty not of a sin of commission but of omission:

    “This [case] is not about what was written-that is not for this court to determine-but rather about what was not written. If you had devoted just a fraction of the same exactitude to highlighting the other side [of the Holocaust question], you would not have been sentenced.”

    Here we find the tortured reasoning to which censorship laws invariably give rise. To have failed to write about a particular historical event in a balanced manner is a crime that can send a historian to jail. In the court’s view, this one-sided writing was “meant to disturb the public peace,” not withstanding the “exactitude” of Mr. Walendy’s work. Moreover, although Mr. Walendy has been a model prisoner he was denied the usual grant of release after serving two-thirds of his sentence. Authorities explained that this was because he was unlikely to change his views…

    Some British anti-racism measures approach outright insanity. As reported in the July 2000 issue of AR, a recently-passed law forbidding “racially threatening or abusive words” was recently invoked against a Cambridge man who got into a whispered argument in a library. A woman overheard Robert Birchall tell Kenyan-born Mugai Mbaya to “go back to your own country,” and reported him to police. Mr. Birchall was fined 100 pounds. In the city of Gloucester police officers are reported to have been sent to eat in ethnic restaurants and listen in on the conversations of other patrons so they can charge them with crimes if they say rude things about other races.

    http://www.amren.com/ar/2001/03/index.html#cover

  63. This is really a tragedy. In Nazi Germany, they first came for the Jews, then the Protestants, and then the Catholics. No one raised a protest simply because they thought it couldn’t happen to them. Be careful Canandians, the politically correct Nazis are coming for you all. God bless the USA and our founding fathers’ wisdom in constructing the best form of government the world has ever seen.

  64. I small but important correction: the name of the civil liberties organization in British Columbia is the BC Civil Liberties Association, not the BC Civil Liberties Union. I’ve always felt that the name “civil liberties union” used in the U.S. reflects a political bias that compromises the organization. That is not the case with the BC association.

  65. RC Dean, I do not know. I tend to think of these “speech laws” in terms of Europe, and may well just be making a trans-Atlantic connection that doesn’t exist.

  66. It actually reads as if the writer is in favor of curtailing first amendment rights. Coming from a journalist, that is a really scary thought.

    My wife is a journalist and we’re both members of a national press organization. (NFPW) I’ve noticed that for a lot of journalists “First Amendment Right” = “Freedom of the Press. Period.” In that, they are not unlike a lot of such groups.

    Quick Quiz: What are the other four First Amendment Rights?

    It’s as if the legislators of such laws were deliberately designing these laws to be used in a perverse manner.

    That would be redundant. Enabling perversion is a fundamental characteristic of laws.

  67. It should be emphasized that the primary problem with hate speech laws is in practice, not principle. In an ideal world, it would be perfectly nice to prevent people from saying hateful things. The problem in the real world is that the government must decide what “hateful” means.

    Unfortunately, many people are too short-sighted to see the problems that arise from this fact. Leftists see the BCHRT and think it is performing a public service when it attacks conservatives who are critical of Islam. But would they feel the same if a conservative government used a similar tribune to supress criticism of Evangelical Christianity, or censor evolution as “offensive to Christians” in the way cartoons of Muhammed were censored as offense to Muslims? Certainly not. But such scenario is inevitable once the power to regulate speech is turned over to the government.

    The problem with any sort of infringement on speech is that it can never be confined to its original purpose. And for that reason we all must tolerate some speech offensive to us in the knowledge that doing so ensures that our own words will be protected as well.

  68. – They make wild judgements that would never stand up in a court of law – last week they convicted an Albertan of Homophobia, and their penalty was to forbid him from EVER saying anything ‘disparaging’ about homosexuals again, for the rest of his life. He’s not even allowed to read passages from the Bible critical of homosexuality in his own church.

    Has anyone ever thought of the possibility that these actions could reduce deterrents from violence against homosexuals.

    Most people opposed to homosexuality would not do violence to homosexuals for other reasons. But if speaking out against homosexuals is treated the same as beating or murdering homosexuals, then what is the deterrent from beating or murdering homosexuals?

  69. Heh, I I’ve always liked Woody Allen’s stance on freedom of speech:
    “I think you should defend to the death their right to march, and then go down and meet them with baseball bats.”
    That was him speaking about the KKK.

  70. “Earlier this month, the actress Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist, was fined $23,000 in France for provoking racial hatred by criticizing a Muslim ceremony involving the slaughter of sheep.”

    No. She has been convicted for claiming that Muslims are ruling France and destroying its culture.

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