Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘canada’

I have written enough in the past about Canada’s (usually successful) attempts to muzzle free speech and monitor thought crimes and enforce some kind of bizarre right to not get your feelings hurt.

But this latest proposed law takes policing your head to an entirely different level. I understand that the proposal has been spurred by Natasha Richardson’s tragic death, but that’s what makes it all the more scary; that so many people’s natural reaction to a tragedy is to clamor for more government regulation.

Considering the fact that ski helmets are fairly useless at speeds higher than 20 mph (an impact leads to a fatal collision of the brain with the inside of the skull, something no helmet can prevent), I wonder if they will next make a rule that declares Newton’s laws of motion illegal.

(Also read: On motorcycle helmet laws and freedom)

Read Full Post »

I have criticized the Canadian government on free speech issues in the past — especially with regard to their disgraceful “Human Rights” tribunals. However, this post by Jennifer Abel deserves mention.

This is my third or fourth trip to our northern neighbor, where I like to play amateur sociologist between tourist-trap visits, and I’ve reached the following conclusion: the Canadian government trusts its people far more than the American government trusts theirs.

I’m not arguing that Canada’s some libertarian paradise. Far from it: even ignoring their high taxes and socialized medicine, there’s the fact that Canada, in lieu of a right to free speech, has an apparent “right to never have your feelings hurt” upheld by the kangaroo courts of its notorious Human Rights Commissions. (Are you a newspaper publisher who wants to reprint the notorious Danish Mohammed cartoons? Don’t do it if you’re Canadian.)

And yet, in day-to-day matters there seems far less assumption of criminal intent.

Read the whole thing.

Read Full Post »

One of the many good arguments libertarians and other advocates of complete free speech offer in support of their position is the slippery-slope argument. Basically, once you restrict certain types of speech, the bar is lowered and the censorship gets more and more oppressive with the passage of time. The result is a slow but steady decline into a society without any real freedom of speech.

Just how bad can this slippery slope be, sceptics may wonder? Surely those at the helm of affairs are sensible people and will know where to draw the line?

Well it can be really, really bad. For an example, look at this decision out of Canada, more specifically the Alberta Human Rights Commission. The heroic Ezra Levant, who faced the same commission a few months later in this video, calls it the most revolting order he has ever seen in Canada. Eugene Volokh calls it a “breathtakingly broad prohibition, which extends far beyond the terms of the (already troubling) statute.” So what does the ruling say?

Well, ladies and gentleman, it orders Stephen Boisson, the defendant, and an organization called “The Concerned Christian Coalition” to 

cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals.

That’s right. Because a certain letter that Boisson sent to the editor of a newspaper contained his opinion that homosexuality is immoral he can never again express any opinion of that nature in speech, writing or even email. This isn’t China or Iran or some ancient autocracy but 21st century Canada. A country that, unlike rigid US of A, was `progressive’ enough to write a hate-speech exception into its free-speech laws. The result was a hate-speech law which — unlike defamation — does not differentiate between factual claims and opinion nor allow truth as a defence. It was meant to be used in only the most extreme of circumstances. Canada’s Supreme Court dismissed fears of abuse in its upholding of the law, saying,

as long as human rights tribunals continue to be well aware of the purpose of [this law] and pay heed to the ardent and extreme nature of feeling described in that phrase, there is little danger that subjective opinion as to offensiveness will supplant the proper meaning of the section.

Welcome to reality, Sirs. 

(For more accounts of assaults on freedom by Canada’s human rights commissions, check out Ezra Levant’s excellent blog. Also, check out this article on the ongoing Maclean’s trial.)

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »