Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bankrupting pastors = A teachable moment

Yeah, teachable all right....

Anyway, getting back to business, please see my event blog post yesterday if you need context for this post.
Moon actually did a very good job, more or less, all things considering. Hiring him was Jennifer Lynch's biggest mistake, almost as big as the Alberta HRC deciding to investigate Ezra Levant. Not quite, but almost.
His point was that getting involved in hate speech under the level of violence would involve extraordinary government power and would compromise freedom of speech. At present there is far too great a danger of speech chill. You'd almost think he was listening to Ezra. Watch out Prof. Moon, the habit might grow on you.
He talked about the fact that the commission should always be the one prosecuting hate speech cases (If they don't repeal the hate speech act presumably). Frankly the significance of the whole point somewhat eluded me. The phrase polishing brass on a sinking ship springs to mind.
Moon did get in a sly hit at Warman for his Neo-Nazi postings, I hope Warman heard and benefited. Not holding my breath though. To even things out Moon did take a few shots at the media darlings who spout off with personal attacks like some people whose names we will not mention. You do realize, Moon, that your very presence there (not to mention $50,000) is due to those intemperate and unprofitable attacks? Just checking, just checking.
Bernie Farber talks about how they speak for the widest cross section of Jews, needless to say setting off Ezra Levant's short fuse who called him "appalling" on his blog.

Mark Freiman was up next. His case boiled down to this, you need to censor "dehumanizing" and "demonizing" speech because by the time it gets to advocating violence it is too late. Hate speech propaganda is used to anesthetize a population so that when it actually gets to violence people will look the other way.

I think there are some practical problems with Freiman's arguments. The way I see it is this. Any real attempt to bring matters to a genocidal level would not start with dehumanizing speech. They would start with "critical" speech (Like maybe anti-Israel hysteria) Then it would gradually increase in intensity, at the level that society would bear, until it finally reached the dehumanizing level. However this would be done "frog in boiling water" style. So gradually that by the time "dehumanizing" and "demonizing" speech became widespread enough and socially acceptable enough that it could anaesthetize an entire population, it would already be too late.

We already know that the commissions won't deal with politically correct hate speech. Consider the Imam who called for the murder of homosexuals. Or the music group that wanted to kill all the Christians and would enjoy watching them die. Or even just the new atheists. Any effective attempt at marginalizing and demonizing a group would likely move at the level that society could tolerate and thus would not be prosecuted for hate speech.

Frieman even admitted that Section 13 or equivalent would not stop genocide if there were other factors in play.

The problem with government censorship is that whatever you intend to protect one group can be turned around against them. I read a line recently that in England it is now more rude to accuse someone of anti-Semitism than to be an anti-Semite. Why should it not be considered demonizing in the future to refer to someone as a racist or anti-Semite even if they are? Could it not have potentially been considered demonizing for someone to call Hitler evil and genocidal before he got into power?

Besides which if you have censorship, what prevents a genocidally inclined government from censoring opposition in the name of security and doing their own anesthetizing?

Section 13 is not going to stop a genocide. Unless you were to stop all critical speech (which would incidentally necessitate a genocide) you cannot prevent by legislation a gradual increase in hate speech to the point of violence.
Anyway, if we are talking about extreme, evil, dehumanizing speech, why do we want to focus on words not on punishing people? If it is so dangerous wouldn't we want to focus on those people?
Moves on to talking about how naive Ezra is because he thinks genocides could never happen in Canada again. Ezra does want to know "Does he really have such a low opinion of his fellow Canadians? Does he really think that, were it not for the CHRC, his neighbours would throw him into the ovens?" but I don't think Levant is naive. I think he just doesn't believe that censorship laws would help anymore than they did in pre-Hitler Germany. He also doesn't trust the left (small wonder) and is of the opinion that as a Jew the people he would prefer guarding his back are evangelical Christians, who happen to be very high up on the HRC enemy list. Nothing like silencing your allies to advance your cause.

Bernie Farber passed around pictures of racist defamations on Jewish tombs. The points were appropriately brought up that such vandalism is already a crime and that Section 13 has no jurisdiction over such acts anyway. The excuse? Well section 13 acts as an official denouncement of the acts and such civil cases can help young people understand that acts of this type are not acceptable. That is so spectacularly weak it is stunning. If our young people don't understand that racist graffiti is not acceptable in Canada then we have a problem which a few obscure little cases before an administrative tribunal that almost no one pays attention to are not going to fix it. Also note my title, Bankrupting pastors = A teachable moment.

A little disagreement here. The CJC think that Section 13 is quite alright but if anyone wants to amend it for clarity they won't object. Moon wants it repealed.

Moon also thinks there should be an intent provision which Freiman considers dangerous. Might want to rethink that when you realize that your friend Warman there is about to be investigated for intent-less hate speech. (Or at least we assume it was intent-less) By the way, any bets that the Warman case is going to be anything more than a rerun of today, nothing to see here folks, you can go home, everything was completely ethical thank you very much?

Question of whether demonization is subjective, for the record people, it is. Christians for example cannot be demonized. See above.

Moon ends on an interesting point that the HRC is not competent to handle Section 13 cases because they have a very broad definition of discrimination. That is probably as good an argument as any for why the HRC shouldn't have jurisdiction over a toothpick (although Moon considers it appropriate in non-speech cases).

So end the fun, games, and highjinks at your friendly Parliamentary Committee.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I am from Australia.

    Of course once upon a time and very recently in Western countries including Australia and the UK, there were so called blasphemy laws whereby anyone who criticized the religious and ecclesiastical establishment could be put in jail or persecuted in all kinds of ways.

    And not so long ago even executed. Indeed many people WERE thus executed.

    So too with so called apostates. That is those who chose to change their religion or even their denomination.

    Some conservative religionists would like to see those blasphemy laws re-established.