Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gay Man takes on "Human Rights" Commissions in Xtra! Magazine: "Speaking Freely"

 

The author makes some good points about where censorship leads.  The censor is never happy with just silencing one person, it always balloons and morphs into an out of control state bureaucracy.  While censorship often starts with good intentions the end result is always the same!  As the saying goes: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

 

 

 

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Speaking freely

GUEST COLUMN / The case of the vulgar comedian

Kevin Dale McKeown / Vancouver / Thursday, July 26, 2012

 

 

 

Geiger-Adams’s interpretation of the BC Human Rights Code turns a useful legal instrument into a dangerous piece of legislation that empowers a bureaucrat to extinguish a citizen’s freedom of expression and run roughshod over lives and livelihoods. Tribunal members play at being judge and jury, without the procedural constraints imposed on real-life judges and juries, and all at the expense of the taxpayer, operating, in short, a kangaroo court.

As Ezra Levant commented on the case, “Does Commissar Geiger-Adams, the chief kangaroo, have some special, official sense of humour? So if he laughs, it’s legal, but if he doesn’t, it’s not?”

Yes, rightwing windbag Ezra. In standing with others who value freedom of expression above all else, one finds oneself in some pretty dubious company. But that’s the whole point of freedom of expression. Rightwing windbags, leftwing activists, authors of pedophile literary fantasies and third-rate comedians all have protection under the Charter to say, write, draw and publish whatever they wish, or none of us does. Unless, of course, approved by Mr Geiger-Adams.

Geiger-Adams seems to stand with Canadian Human Rights Commission “hate speech investigator” Dean Steacy, who is on record as saying that “freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”

Remembering clearly a day that Vancouver police raided the offices of the
Georgia Straight to cart off boxes of comic books as evidence in an obscenity trial, I have a keen sense of where this sort of thing can lead.

To my mind, one of the most chilling turns of phrase, which appears often in writings on these topics, is “legitimate free speech.” The implication is that there is an authority that can be turned to to arbitrate on the legitimacy of someone’s expression of opinion.

Apparently in BC that authority is Geiger-Adams.

There is a school of thought, in which I am enrolled, that isn’t at all convinced that we should be giving unelected citizens with no judiciary experience the authority to rule on “legitimate” free speech. In fact, some members of that school go so far as to hold that all forms of speech should be arbitrated only by public opinion, as expressed in ticket sales and critical acclaim or disdain.

Reasonable people can disagree, and Simon Fraser University associate professor Özlem Sensoy outlined the prevailing orthodoxy in an opinion piece entitled “Ann Coulter and Free Speech? Hardly,” first published in the Vancouver Sun on March 25. It is all about power, who has it, who doesn’t, and how those who have it silence and oppress those who don’t.

Sensoy closes her polemic by stating, “You can’t say whatever the hell you want.”

I beg to differ. I will think and write and say “whatever the hell” I want, whenever and wherever the hell I want. Only publication editors, broadcast producers and theatre directors can determine whether I can say it in their particular forum. And nobody, certainly not Murray Geiger-Adams, gets to rule on the “legitimacy” of my free speech.

 

Kevin Dale McKeown, Vancouver's first gay columnist, writes Xtra's Still QQ column, a monthly homage to the seedier details of gay life in Vancouver during the 1970s. Still QQ will return to its regular slot next month.

 

 

The full article is available on Xtra’s website at: http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Speaking_freely-12350.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

[RoadKill Radio News] Interview with Marc Lemire: Canada Attacks Free Speech with Entrapment and Intimidation and the fall of Section 13

RoadKill Radio News: Canada Attacks Free Speech with Entrapment and Intimidation

 

Interview with Marc Lemire

The only Canadian to ever win at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

 

 

Join Kari Simpson and Ron Gray as they speak to free speech champion Marc Lemire, the leading force in the campaign to remove the oppressive Section 13 from Canada's Human Rights Code. Is the tide finally turning in favour of free speech in Canada?

 

Watch the interview:

 

http://roadkillradio.com/2012/07/10/roadkill-radio-news-canada-attacks-free-speech-with-entrapment-and-intimidation/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Senator Findley Speaks in the Senate on the Abuses of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

 

Here is an except from the Senate debate over Bill C-304, which will strip the censorship powers from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and repeal Section 13 – Canada’s shameful Internet censorship law.

 

Canada’s House of Commons recently passed Bill C-304, and now the bill is before the Senate on its way to receive Royal Assent.

 

The complete speech by Senator Findley can be found at: http://parl.gc.ca/Content/Sen/Chamber/411/Debates/098db_2012-06-27-e.htm?Language=E

 

 

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Canadian Human Rights Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Doug Finley moved second reading of Bill C-304, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting freedom).

He said: Honourable senators, I rise today once again to bring your attention to the critical issue of freedom of speech. I first raised this issue in 2010 when I called for an inquiry into the state of free speech in Canada and a debate of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Today I raise it with regard to a bill presented by MP Brian Storseth to repeal section 13. I applaud Brian Storseth for putting this much-needed bill forward, and it is a great honour to be the sponsor of this bill in the Senate.

Freedom of speech is a right we cannot and must not take for granted. It is a fundamental foundation of a democratic society. All of our other rights and freedoms depend upon our ability to express ourselves freely without reprisals from the state. It is, as Alan Borovoy refers to it, a "strategic freedom."

Speech is the freedom that we must jealously guard. We must protect its integrity and contributions to public debate, because if we were to be stripped of every other right, we could earn them back with this one.

It is with this in mind that the House of Commons has passed this bill to repeal section 13. It received support from Liberal MP Scott Simms and, in past Parliaments, had received support from former Liberal MP Keith Martin.

It is a response to the decrepit state of free speech in Canada that is a consequence in large part of the malpractices and censorship of human rights commissions.

Freedom of speech has been jeopardized by section 13. The broad scope of this section and the wide investigative powers and quasi-judicial independence granted to human rights commissions places too much power in the hands of unelected officials. These commissions have, in the last decade at least, run roughshod over the civil liberties of Canadians. Political correctness has run amok.

The abuses of both provincial and federal human rights commissions cannot be allowed to continue unabated. The censorship of politically incorrect statements in publications is not only wrong but also contrary to our democratic principles.

Comedian Tommy Smothers, for those of you old enough to remember, once remarked that "the only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen" to them.

If you find an idea stupid, it is your right to ignore it. If you find a joke offensive, it is your right to disregard it. Even statements one might find intolerable or heinously out of line with reality deserve the opportunity to be heard and ignored.

According to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Dickson, "hatred or contempt" refers to only "unusually strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification."

Words that are vehemently hate-filled and full of contempt can be dealt with under the existing provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada. Controversial speech has the ability to generate wider public discourse on varying issues that range from religion, to censorship, to tolerance, for instance.

Mandated political correctness has the unfortunate side effect of limiting the scope of possible debate.

Our principles are those of Westminster's traditions, which include tolerance of a wide array of viewpoints, however nonsensical or critical they may be. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says that the "proper response to speech that is offensive, distasteful, or upsetting is counter-speech."

We do not censor people in Canada based on religion, and we certainly do not censor people based on their hurt feelings. There is a clear difference between being harmed or threatened and being offended. Physical harm, calling for genocide, hate crimes or inciting others to commit violence against identifiable groups clearly are handled within the justice system by existing provisions in the Criminal Code.

Hurt feelings and what one considers to be blasphemy fall under that latter category of being offended. We have no right not to be offended in Canada.

The purpose of human rights commissions and their legislation is not to protect people's feelings or impose their religious beliefs on others; rather, their apparently noble purpose is to prevent the discrimination of Canadians in employment, residential accommodation and wage situations.

Section 13 and its provincial counterparts are well out of line when it comes to meeting the original purpose of these ordinances. Shimon Fogel of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs wrote:

Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act was created as a shield to protect the most vulnerable members of society from heinous messages of hatred. Historically, it provided an effective tool for Canadians, particularly in the fight against Holocaust denial. Unfortunately, Section 13 and its provincial counterparts have increasingly been used as a sword, brandished to stifle valid criticism and chill legitimate expression.

The opportunity for exploitation is too great for these flawed acts to stand without reparation. Anyone can instigate a human rights commission investigation at no cost to their person. They stand to gain in awarded damages of up to $10,000.

Defendants too poor to afford legal advice or unwilling to spend years in a quasi-legal fight are more likely to roll over and acquiesce to a bureaucrat-mandated penalty. Even if they buck the trend of a 96 per cent conviction rate and win, they do not have their costs covered by the complainant or the government. This no-risk, high-reward system promotes its own exploitation.

I urge all senators and provincial representatives across this nation to stand up for freedom of speech, to stand up for Canadians. We live in the greatest nation on earth, the true north strong and free. Let us live up to that mantra of freedom and lead by example by repealing section 13.

 

 

 

 

 

The complete speech by Senator Findley can be found at: http://parl.gc.ca/Content/Sen/Chamber/411/Debates/098db_2012-06-27-e.htm?Language=E