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Canadian City Leaders Declare Anarchy Symbol to Be Hate Speech

When government has the power to censor, ultimately it will look for excuses to suppress opposition.

AnarchyMishkacz / Dreamstime.comThe City of Hamilton in Ontario, Canada, seems to have a problem with a small cadre of black-clad anarchist radicals vandalizing storefronts and cars in their community. A group of them caused about $100,000 in damage in a protest in March.

In addition to condemning the violence and trying to track down the direct perpetrators, efforts to fight further violence have taken a weird and troubling turn. The city has ordered a local anarchist group to take the familiar anarchy symbol off its headquarters, designating it as "hate material."

The Tower, a meeting space for anarchists in Hamilton, displayed the anarchist symbol—a capital A in a circle—alongside a paraphrase of a quote from Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durruti—"We are not in the least afraid of ruins for we carry a new world here in our hearts"—on several pieces of plywood covering smashed windows on the building's facade.

It was the symbol, not the quote, that drew city leaders' ire, which is itself a little odd: The quote is what appears to support the vandalism. The city ordered The Tower to remove the offending symbol as hate speech. Canada, unlike the United States, does have laws that censor hate speech. The laws specifically require that the offending speech advocate genocide or incites hatred against an "identifiable group." The groups that are recognized by Canada's hate speech law are bound by "color, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability."

You may be wondering which of these identifiable groups is targeted by the anarchy symbol. So are the police in Hamilton. City officials are pointing to the police as justification for their censorship demands, claiming it's on a list of hate symbols the police have provided. But the police say they do not classify the anarchy symbol as hate speech. According to Canadian media outlet CBC, the police do provide a list of hate symbols and images to the city, but they don't associate anarchists and displays of anarchism as "hate speech."

There is one "identifiable group" anarchists have antipathy for, and that might explain the city's odd behavior better. From the CBC's coverage:

Princewill Ogban, the head of Hamilton's new anti-racism centre, told CBC News he's never really heard of the anarchy symbol being classified as hate material. He did point to one instance in California where a specific anarchist group was linked to white nationalism, but said that group was essentially an outlier.

"Most anarchy groups in the past have been seen as anti-racist or anti-hate," he said. "They are pro-people and anti-government."

Ah, they're anti-government! Subsequently Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger defended classifying the anarchy symbol as hate speech Wednesday regardless of what Canada's law actually says. From the Hamilton Spectator:

"Certainly the anarchists that have locally presented themselves have done things that would be considered to be inappropriate, so if you tie the two of them together, I would say that's a symbol of destruction and mayhem and causing a crisis to a particular area," Eisenberger said Wednesday. "Is that hateful? I think it is."

And that quote is one of many reasons why laws against hate speech are so dangerous. The natural inclination of many government officials when given the power to decide what sort of speech and communication is out of the bounds of the law is to game the system to protect themselves from ideological opponents and critiques.

Photo Credit: Mishkacz / Dreamstime.com

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  • colorblindkid||

    I mean, this makes far more sense than the current American media's crusade against a cartoon frog meme.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    Or the "OK" hand gesture. Or milk.

  • Flinch||

    I think so. Anyway, the purpose of modern anarchists is to provide false contrast to make marxists appear centrist, when they arrive at the right inflection point to "restore law and order". They [whether they like it or not] get played as useful idiots time and again. This game has been running in Greece for a long time, as one example. In that light, dealing with anarchists is a way to push back against communism, but doing it with hate speech laws is weak and might even backfire.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Owner of the "Circle-A Ranch" hardest hit.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's all a scam, pushed by Tim Hortons, to ban all letters and shapes, there yet denying Circle K the ability to expand into British Columbia.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    If you get an A on an exam, and the teacher circles the grade and puts a smiley and writes "great job!", and you are a teenage boy and she is horny, you now have two things to hold over her head.

  • Rhywun||

    "Most anarchy groups in the past have been seen as anti-racist or anti-hate"

    Maybe if you weed out the fake anarchists like antifa and such.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    And the ones that just want to break shit.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    It's just one of those days.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Everything is fucked and everybody sucks.

  • TuIpa||

    Not everyone fucked up their lives like you did and work at a shitty job they are barely qualified for like you do.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    It really is a special treat knowing that you're taking the time to hunt through every post to respond to every comment I've made. Thank you.

  • gah87||

    The city has ordered a local anarchist group to take the familiar anarchy symbol off its headquarters....

    Right, like what legitimate anarchist group has a headquarters?!

  • Jumbie||

    Oh, I can't wait til some of the indigenous activists on a city council somewhere get ahold of this and claim that given the history of Canadian government policies designed to wipe out their identity and culture that the Maple Leaf flag is a hate symbol...

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    or the British flag ...

  • Jerryskids||

    "Certainly the anarchists that have locally presented themselves have done things that would be considered to be inappropriate, so if you tie the two of them together, I would say that's a symbol of destruction and mayhem and causing a crisis to a particular area," Eisenberger said Wednesday. "Is that hateful? I think it is."

    Certainly people wearing Fruit of the Loom underwear that have locally presented themselves have done things that would be considered to be inappropriate, so if you tie the two of them together, I would say the Fruit of the Loom logo is a symbol of destruction and mayhem and causing a crisis to a particular area. Is that hateful? I think it is.

  • Microaggressor||

    "Most anarchy groups in the past have been seen as anti-racist or anti-hate," he said. "They are pro-people and anti-government."
    Communists say the darnedest things.

  • DajjaI||

    game the system to protect themselves

    Absolutely, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Banning this symbol only radicalize the followers and confirms in their mind that they are righteous and attracts more followers. This always happens as a result of banning, as is occurring all across Europe as we speak. (Yes I know that Europe isn't a country.) Also you can't even use this symbol in satire and ridicule - which are by far the most effective tools to debunk these losers' ideologies. Basically banning a symbol is proof that you are unable to rationally argue against it. And if you can't then all hope is lost. Because basically it's saying that people are inherently irrational. In fact, people are rational even if they have quite incredibly elaborate justifications for things.

  • DajjaI||

    Also the Holocaust started because of the 'blood libel' bans - top Nazi propagandists were radicalized while sitting in prison convicted of them. And the Zionists (Jewish and Christian) are pushing BDS bans across Europe and these will have the same effect. (The ban campaigns have been less successful in the US.) Thus it is quite an irony that the Jewish mayor is pushing them, though I've been around long enough to not be surprised. Even Jewish groups in Germany are crowing about BDS bans - which of course will only be used against them (many Jews I know are proud supporters of BDS though I am not).

  • Pro Libertate||

    Say, there are anarchists here. Can this blog be read in Canada?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Not since Trump.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He killed off the anarchists? Bastard.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Not since Trump got elected. That is why cytotoxic disappeared after the election. Rufus is not a real Canadian. He hates poutine, flannel, and hockey, and doesn't enjoy apologizing.

  • lap83||

    I figured he disappeared because his mom stopped paying the internet bill

  • ||

    I'm making an Eisenberger. Can you guess what it is? Is it hate?

  • ||

    The hammer and the sickle remains totes okay though.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You are a stranger in a strange land.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    "Certainly the anarchists that have locally presented themselves have done things that would be considered to be inappropriate, so if you tie the two of them together, I would say that's a symbol of destruction and mayhem and causing a crisis to a particular area," Eisenberger said Wednesday. "Is that hateful? I think it is."

    Here Eisenberger demonstrates precisely why anarchists appreciate rules, and yet perceive that rulers screw things up.

    Think of life as a video game. Rules are best used to facilitate stable game play mechanics.Rulers step in, the rules become another toy for them to play with, and that breaks the game for everyone.

  • juris imprudent||

    But anarchists actually do hate govt!

  • Zeb||

    This is true. ANd another example of why the idea of "hate speech" is a terrible one. Sometimes hate is appropriate. And there is plenty of racism, etc. that isn't really hateful. Like the paternalistic racism of the left (or old time "white man's burden" crap).

  • Azathoth!!||

    It's okay--these aren't anarchists.

    They're communists who use 'anarchist' as a cloak.

    Burn them out and cauterize the wound. Just to be sure.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Freedom of speech doesn't extend to Commies after all, right?

  • Azathoth!!||

    Freedom of speech doesn't extend to Commies after all, right?

    This is an interesting problem.

    Does freedom of speech extend to people whose speech and actions are dedicated to removing that right from EVERYONE ELSE?

    I would suggest that since their first action is always a violation of the NAP--i.e, that no one, anywhere, is allowed to do anything that interferes with the imposition of communism-- anything one does to them is done in self defense.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    We could let the market sort it out. The way I figure, if the market is composed of a mass of individuals incapable of distinguishing between libertarians, anarchists, voluntaryists, and commie kids who chant workers rights, then we have bigger problems than label confusion.

  • lulz farmer||

    Ah yes I'm sure letting the market sort it out will work out wonderfully just like with tech giants.

    "Some people think the world work the way it does in the ivory tower, but it don't." -non-ideology man

  • Zeb||

    Does freedom of speech extend to people whose speech and actions are dedicated to removing that right from EVERYONE ELSE?

    Yes. That's how freedom works.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Well yes, they get to start at the same point as everyone--the right to free speech is absolute, obviously--but when they forcibly stop everyone else from speaking are we all still obligated to let them speak?

    And by 'force' I mean everything from shrieking andf making noise so others can't be heard to actual physical violence against people or property with the aim of shutting others up.

    How dedicated does one have to be to removing everyone elses rights before we can stop giving them rope to hang us with?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Don't try to argue with the mad idiot god.

  • Zeb||

    I thought it was "blind idiot god".

  • Azathoth!!||

    Why not both?

  • Azathoth!!||

    There's 'daemon sultan' too!

  • The_Hoser||

    Or worse, make them remain in Hamilton.

  • The_Hoser||

    Or worse, make them remain in Hamilton.

  • Microaggressor||

    The laws specifically require that the offending speech advocate genocide or incites hatred against an "identifiable group." The groups that are recognized by Canada's hate speech law are bound by "color, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability."

    They're in luck, because the bourgeoisie are not a protected class!

    "We are not in the least afraid of ruins for we carry a new world here in our hearts"

    Year Zero, here we come!

  • Citizen X - #6||

    The groups that are recognized by Canada's hate speech law are bound by "color, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability."

    You may be wondering which of these identifiable groups is targeted by the anarchy symbol.

    Anarchists aren't fans of people who'd choose to work for government, so obviously it's the mental disability one.

  • The_Hoser||

    Princewill Ogban, the head of Hamilton's new anti-racism centre

    Pretty sure that dude emailed me about helping Nigerian royalty out of a jam.

  • Rich||

    "We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!"

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Smeagle?

  • Arcxjo||

    One you've organized to the point that you start acquiring real estate, I'd venture to say you're no longer anarchy.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Anarchy isn't a lack of organization, it's a lack of coercion.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    There should be a "necessarily" in there somewhere.

  • ThomasD||

    Only in Utopia is anarchy organized.

  • KevinP||

    I for one find this symbol to be a public service.

    If I see it, it will remind me to carry two extra loaded magazines with me if I am in the vicinity.

  • Eidde||

    Not "Anarchy in the UK" - it's "anarchy in Canada, eh?"

  • Eidde||

    *She* pays *me.*

  • ThomasD||

    A government that is paternalistic enough to think it should provide health care is all but guaranteed to take actions like this.

  • lulz farmer||

    Maybe it has more to do with who controls the government and who benefits. A real analysis that isn't autistic about "the state" as if it were just some faceless entity that does things apparently for no reason whatsoever. An analysis that considers that the people who control "the state" have interests and what those interests may be.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Speaking as an actual anarchist, you can ban whatever symbols you want. Go ahead, enjoy yourself.

    Ban away.

    I don't obey your laws and rules anyway.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    The city rulers do seem to be overlooking a certain essential something here.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Hate speech isn't protected by the Canadian Constitution. Or ours.

  • Chipper Jonze||

    Actually it is protected by the US Constitution.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_v._Ohio

  • Finrod||

    The truth is hate speech to those that hate the truth.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Canada, unlike the United States, does have laws that censor hate speech.

    Yeah but they only censor nazis and stuff.

  • lulz farmer||

    They certainly don't go after BLM Canada members that talk about how all white people should be eradicated off the planet because that's what hate speech laws really are: One-sided, third worldist policies employed only against the enemies of those who currently hold power.

  • Ride 'Em||

    So, does this mean that no one can send or receive an email?

  • Don't look at me.||

    It's a lower case a, so it's alright.

  • Ride 'Em||

    Then the anarchists should use it instead and mess with the mayor.

  • Flinch||

    The abuse of the term "hate" has reached a point of... something very dangerous. Nowadays, government launches at will and even without a legitimate complainant as Canada lurches to fascist superstate [minus the military bill, as they enjoy/abuse the protections of the US]. Imagineering should be left for Disney, and government feigning offenses on someone elses behalf should by rights receive criminal prosecution for filing a false claim.

  • Don't look at me.||

    I know, don't you just hate it?

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