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Archive for June 1st, 2008

In my last post I linked to a video of the Human Rights Commision of Canada getting its ass kicked by Ezra Levant. At that time I’d forgotten that Dean Steacy, of the remarkable exchange below, is one of the investigators of the same commission.

MS KULASZKA: Mr. Steacy, you were talking before about context and how important it is when you do your investigation. What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate one of these complaints?

MR. STEACY: Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.

MS KULASZKA: Okay. That was a clear answer.

MR. STEACY: It’s not my job to give value to an American concept.

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OMG, this is so awesome!

But a little bit of background first. Ezra Levant is the publisher of Western Standard, a right-wing Canadian magazine. I quote from Glenn Greenwald’s post on Salon, where I first came across the video that appears next.

In February, 2006, he published the Danish Mohammed cartoons, which prompted an Islamic group’s imam to file a complaint against Levant with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, charging Levant with “advocating hatemongering cartoons in the media,” and the imam specifically accused Levant of “defaming me and my family because we follow and are related to Prophet Mohammed.”

Rather than dismiss the complaint as a blatant attempt to punish free thought and free speech, the Alberta Human Rights Commission announced that it would investigate. To do so, they compelled Levant to appear before a government agent and be interrogated about the cartoons he published, his thoughts and intent in publishing them, and the other circumstances surrounding his “behavior.” Under the law, the Commission has the power to impose substantial fines and other penalties on Levant.

Well, Levant insisted on recording the proceedings and was directed by the Commission not to publish the video, but he did so anyway. Just watch it! I would have replied in exactly the same words as Levant if I were in his situation, but it’s still f***ing awesome! Here’s the video.

Any restrictions on free speech by the government, yes even hateful and bigoted speech (except perhaps, speech that is part of a direct criminal conspiracy to incite violence) is fundamentally wrong. After all, it is only offensive speech that needs protection; thus the only kind of freedom of speech that is meaningful is the kind that has no caveats whatsoever. Hate-speech laws, ‘do-not-ridicule’ laws and holocaust denial laws have no place in a truly liberal society and they eventually come back to bite even their proponents, as many leftist intellectuals in Europe are discovering now.

Here are some previous posts by me on this theme.

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