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Of the clueless, by the clueless and for the clueless
Posted by: McQ on Monday, June 23, 2008

Our old buddy Haroon Sidiqqui is back with another op-ed in the Toronto Star trying to make the case that hate-crime laws are a "reasonable limit" on free speech.

You may remember Mr. Sadiqqui from his last feeble attempt to sell this load of malarkey.

His new approach? Well, it's not about the concept of "rights" this time - it's about the process. Canada, you see, marches to the sound of a different drummer:
Canada has followed a different path on free speech than the United States, where there are no anti-hate laws because the U.S. Bill of Rights says "Congress shall make no laws ... abridging freedom of speech or of the press."

The Canadian Charter of Rights, too, guarantees "freedom of the press," but it places "reasonable limits" on it. That's why the Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the anti-hate provisions of both the Criminal Code and human rights statutes.
Canada, you see, has decided that "legality" is much more important that a concept of inalienable rights which limits government's action. Or said another way, it is government which has to last say, not the people.

How else do you explain this:
What constitutes hate is up to the commissions and, ultimately, the courts to decide. But this being Canada, different jurisdictions tackle the issue differently.
So, if the commission in Ontario decides what someone from Alberta says in Alberta constitutes a hate-crime (even if the Alberta commission finds nothing hateful at all about the speech), Ontario can take the Albertan to court.

After all, instead of a matter of rights, this is all a matter of arbitrary opinion. And in Mr. Sadiqqui's world, arbitrary opinion that agrees with him is much more important than establishing a right which limits government.

Nope, he'd much rather see government limit a right.

He produces a whole list of "anomalies" which should make you cringe, but seems to find nothing fundamentally wrong with their arbitrariness since they serve his purpose of seeing hate speech laws supported.

Defense number two.
The federal commission gets up to 15,000 inquiries a year, says Jennifer Lynch, chair. "We take up only about 700 and refer only about 70 or 80 to the tribunal.

"Hate cases are only 2 per cent of that stream. The tribunal has dealt with only about 15 hate cases, so far. And not a single one of them has been overturned by the courts." So, why the hue and cry?
If you have to ask, it is clear you don't get it at all.

But still - the old "its only 2% of whatever" defense? What's next? The old "if you don't say anything hateful, you have nothing to worry about" line?

And why would the courts overturn anything - we've just been schooled in the fact that the commissions get to decide what constitutes hate - they make it up on the fly and the courts have little room to dispute their decisions, do they?

Sadiqqui then lets out the big dog:
Karim Karim, chair of Carleton University's School of Journalism, says journalists are "fixated on their own right and privileges.

"What about the rights of people to be free of discriminatory and hateful speech? Journalists talk about one principle, and not the other."
One of the premises of the right of free speech has to do with that right being so important that a society must allow its free exercise at all times, with very few exceptions (and the US outlined its exception as the incitement to violence not being a part of free speech). And as I pointed out previously, acts of violence are factual evidence of such incitement.

When you further limit speech through arbitrarily defined means such as "discriminatory or hateful speech" you put a very real chill on free speech, to the point that you kill the debate that is necessary to the maintenance of liberty and freedom.

You don't talk about race, because such a discussion could be construed by some as "discriminatory or hate speech". You don't talk about religion, because such a discussion could be construed by some as "discriminatory or hate speech." You don't talk about gender because such a discussion could be considered by "discriminatory or hate speech."

In fact, you don't debate much of anything when you really have no idea who might take it wrong and haul you up in front of some commission on hate-speech charges do you?

Vague and arbitrary hate-speech laws have then triumphed over the concept of free speech.

in his conclusion, Saddiqqui seems to retreat a bit from his defense of hate-speech laws but if you read it carefully, you'll see he's still all for hate-speech laws and not at all for free speech:
Anti-hate laws could be made consistent across Canada by exempting the media, as in Ontario, or axing the anti-hate provisions altogether. We may even adopt the American system and remove the anti-hate section from the Criminal Code as well.

Many disagree, including the Canadian Jewish Congress. Its head, Bernie Farber, says the anti-hate laws have helped make Canada "the warm, tolerant and accepting nation that it has become."

Beyond the law, there's self-restraint. Most media exercise it, every day. We do not publish racist cartoons and anti-Semitic rants. That Maclean's published a series of virulent articles about Muslims itself speaks volumes.
Note his first line - who is he pandering too? You bet - the media. Get them on board and this is a done deal. More importantly, though, notice who is left out his pandering altogether - the rest of Canada.

As for Mr. Farber's claim as echoed by Saddiqqui - a nation which puts its own people's speech on trial based in arbitrary definitions of "hate" is neither warm, friendly or accepting as I see it.

Nor is it free.
 
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This is all nonsense anyway. Saddiqqui is merely standing up for hate-speech laws directed at hate towards Islam. The Koran says God hates non-muslims for crying out loud!
 
Written By: James D
URL: http://
Funny how Canada’s hate crimes are similar to our porn, drug and other laws.

Congress shall make no law...

Funny how that pesky constitution says nothing about "fighting words" or "clear and present danger" or "drugs" or "child porn" or all the other things which have been declared by the SCOTUS as not enjoying 1st amendment protection.

I read "no law" to mean that, NO LAW.

 
Written By: tim stevens
URL: http://
Funny how that pesky constitution says nothing about "fighting words" or "clear and present danger" or "drugs" or "child porn" or all the other things which have been declared by the SCOTUS as not enjoying 1st amendment protection.

Fighting words: there is no law prohibiting fighting words. There are, however, laws against starting a fight. And even if we didn’t have laws against starting fights, you still wouldn’t have the freedom to say whatever you wanted about some stranger’s mother because said stranger is liable to kick your ass.

Regarding child porn: if you’re going to throw down the "this is how I read it in plain English" card, then you have to acknowledge that the 1A says "speech" and photos and video (which include child porn) aren’t speech and thus aren’t protected. I’m not saying that the constitution should only protect speech, just that, by a straightforward reading, that’s what it does.

And I’m completely lost as to what drugs or "clear and present danger" have to do with 1A.
 
Written By: ben
URL: http://
Funny how Canada’s hate crimes are similar to our porn, drug and other laws.

Congress shall make no law...

Funny how that pesky constitution says nothing about "fighting words" or "clear and present danger" or "drugs" or "child porn" or all the other things which have been declared by the SCOTUS as not enjoying 1st amendment protection.

I read "no law" to mean that, NO LAW.
Let me know when you’re going to see Iron Man, so I can wander into the back of the auditorium and yell "FIRE" in that case
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://

 
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