Oct 06 2009

Speech Warriors

Published by at 9:38 pm under canadian politics

Step aside, Batman and Robin. Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn are the real dynamic duo.

Their defense of freedom of speech at Parliament’s Justice and Human Rights Committee, in support of their investigations into the Canadian Human Rights Commission, ought to be in the curriculum of every first year political science course, philosophy seminar series and law program in the country.

As our heroes pointed out, Canada already had a law on the books that protects citizens from speech likely to expose an individual or group to violence — it’s called “uttering threats”. In example after example, Levant and Steyn showed how the HRC has been corrupted into becoming a vehicle for a few individuals (well, mostly one individual) to abuse the system, going after people who pose no real threat, at great taxpayer expense, while undermining our civil rights.

Catch the whole show here or skip to the bottom of this post for the full playlist.

It’s the beginning of the end for the embattled Canadian HRC. Good riddance. As a member of an ethnic minority group, let me state clearly that I do not want or need it’s protection from anonymous neo-Nazis hiding in their parents’ basements while posting racist slurs on blogs and Youtube. As a free Canadian, I want the HRC gone, yesterday.

Let’s not wait for this to slowly wind it’s way through the highest courts. Politicians, do your duty.

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Speech Warriors”

  1. Prairie Topiaryon 07 Oct 2009 at 3:29 pm

    For reasons that Warren Kinsella’s nicely laid out, you’ll never see me refer to Mark Steyn as a hero (see http://www.warrenkinsella.com/index.php?entry=entry080302-221852). That said, there’s no question we need to always be vigilant in defending free speech.

    A few reasonable limits are worth supporting, such as hate propaganda, violent pornography or any other forms used solely or deliberately to incite violence or cause harm. Yelling “fire” in a movie theatre is an oft-used example of the latter category I remember from my own poli sci classes.

    I don’t know if those exceptions are adequately captured under “uttering threats”, but we certainly need to better define what limits are reasonable and then come to terms with how to enforce such limits in a transparent and appropriate fashion. The new ways in which information is distributed in this digital age certainly makes that debate overdue.

  2. Prairie Topiaryon 07 Oct 2009 at 3:38 pm

    That link doesn’t work – it should read

  3. jnarveyon 07 Oct 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Hey Richard. Glad to have you back on the show. It’s been too long.

    The example of Kinsella taking a picture of the swastika in the public washroom, talking to his son about what the symbol meant, and then getting the owner of the rink to wash the graffiti off is a terrific example of how ordinary hatred can be easily dealt with by individuals without the intervention of the state. Kinsella turned the incident into a “teaching moment” for his son and alerted the owner to the problem, all without outsourcing his civic duty.

    As for the HRC, as I understand it, this institution was originally intended to provide a kind of extra-judicial response to incidents like, say, ethnically-diverse employees at a company being discriminated against because of their race. Instead, the HRC appears to have been used as a tool for a privileged white lawyer named Richard Warman to collect substantial financial judgments and to disseminate hate speech (indeed, as Ezra and Mark point out, it seems there would be far less hate speech out there if you stopped paying HRC employees to write the stuff on neo-Nazi websites). The chilling effect the HRC has already had on publishing in this country is a whole other ball of bile.

    We’re better off without the HRC, and I’m very glad Ezra and Mark got the chance to tell our politicians what’s what.

  4. Today’s Lynch List « The Lynch Mobon 10 Oct 2009 at 11:39 pm

    […] on Justice and Human Rights from Baithak, the University of Alberta Faculty of Law Blog, AOL.ca,¬†Jonathan Narvey,¬†Macleans, and Dan Cook. Rebekah from the Miss Parprelate Tracts has a blow by blow account of the […]

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