Thursday, June 05, 2008

Truth is not a defense . . .

before a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Background: McLean's magazine, based in Toronto, printed an excerpt from America Alone, a book by Mark Steyn, which avers that the West's (particularly Europe and Canada) declining birthrate has set the stage for immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants, to take over and potentially radicalize the West (I haven't read the book -- I'm plagiarizing what I understand to be among the central themes). Now, think what you may of his premise -- it is supported greatly by things Muslim leaders have said.

Certain Muslims in Canada took offense at this, and filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Commission, even though none of the parties to the complaint reside or have any real connection to British Columbia, as I understand the jurisdictional prerequisites of the tribunal. No matter -- there apparently aren't any rules.

The HRC has the authority, even if the printed speech is entirely true or entirely opinion, to sanction the offender with fines, injunctions, etc., if the speech has the potential of subjecting a person or group to "hate," whatever the hell that means. There are no rules of evidence, and the proceedings are apparently a farce.

They certainly are in McLean's case.
"Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.” —Canadian “Human Rights” Investigator Dean Steacy, responding to the question “What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?”

This is the way free speech ends, not with a bang but as the result of an administrative hearing in a windowless basement in Vancouver, Canada.

At least that’s where a “Human Rights Tribunal” is taking place this week that will further solidify the Canadian legal position that the right not to be offended by something you read is more sacred than the freedom of the press.

Oh yeah--the "judges" on the tribunals? Not judges at all, but employees of the Human Rights Commission, who have a vested interest in keeping the commissions going so they can save their jobs!

Read all about the show trial here or here or here (with much more material about the HRCs).

To some extent, Mr. Stacey is right: freedom of speech is an American concept (although it didn't really start with us), insofar as protecting the worst kind of speech from government intervention is a necessary evil to preserve a greater freedom--that of the free flow of ideas. One does not need to venture very far to understand what life can be like where there is no freedom of speech -- Cuba imprisons journalist and others for writing bad things about the government. Even if the things they write were wrong (and they aren't), would any of us tolerate living in a society where saying "I can't stand George Bush" or "I think Obama's a crook" would get you locked up?

What the hell is going on in lovely Canada?