Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Supreme Court of Canada rules that politically incorrect speech is a criminal offense

Political map of Canada

Political map of Canada

Canada is hostile to free speech, as shown in the recent Supreme Court decision.

Excerpt:

Canada’s top court has released a unanimous decision today that critics say has struck a monumental blow against freedom of speech, opinion, and religion across the country. The court ordered the defendant, a Christian pro-family activist with a reputation for intense activism, not only to pay a fine, but also to pay court costs which could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

[...]In Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott, the Supreme Court decided that born-again Christian William Whatcott was guilty of hate speech for distributing flyers to neighborhoods in Saskatoon and Regina in 2001 and 2002. While the flyers used vehement language against homosexual practices and the homosexual agenda, they did not directly attack homosexual persons.

[...]The Court focused on Whatcott’s main argument, namely that he loves homosexuals with a brotherly Christian love, and it is only their sexual activity that he denounces.

But the Supreme Court found that with regards to hate speech, the distinction between ‘sin and sinner’ no longer applies.

“I agree that sexual orientation and sexual behaviour can be differentiated for certain purposes,” the Court stated. “However, in instances where hate speech is directed toward behaviour in an effort to mask the true target, the vulnerable group, this distinction should not serve to avoid s. 14(1)(b) [the hate-crime clause of the Code].”

“Courts have recognized a strong connection between sexual orientation and sexual conduct and where the conduct targeted by speech is a crucial aspect of the identity of a vulnerable group, attacks on this conduct stand as proxy for attacks on the group itself,” the Court stated.

The Court ordered Whatcott to pay the Human Rights Commission’s legal fees and to pay $7,500 in compensation to two homosexuals who were offended by his flyers.

Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada, called the ruling “very depressing” and “bad news”.

[...]“On the one hand they’re saying, ‘Oh, no, no, no, we’re not really infringing on freedom of religion and freedom of speech and freedom of opinion’, but in fact, what they say is not what they’ve done,” she said in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com.

Next time we have an election, can we vote in favor of free speech? I don’t agree with anything Whatcott did – form or content. The man is a fool. But I can easily see how this ruling could be used to silence reasonable speech that disagrees with homosexuality and gay marriage on secular grounds. The motivation of these judges is to silence speech critical of the gay agenda, and we should all be concerned about that. They pick these kooks like Whatcott to attack because they won’t get any opposition from normal people. But later you’ll find out that these legal precedents will furnish the foundation for eliminating free speech altogether. It’s happened before.

Apparently, there is some effort to repeal section 13 in Canada, which is the part that criminalizes speech deemed offensive by the political left. That might affect future rulings of the Supreme Court if it is made clear that the right to free speech is absolute.

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Democrats push for school quotas and speech codes in defense bill amendment

Washington D.C. lawyer Hans Bader explains at College Insurrection blog.

Excerpt:

Suing schools and colleges has nothing to do with supporting our troops.

But that didn’t stop Senators from seeking to add an amendment, SA 3215, to the 2013 Defense Authorization bill on Thursday, containing provisions that would overturn two Supreme Court rulings in order to promote such lawsuits. The amendment, proposed by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), would dramatically expand the reach of two federal statutes, Title VI and Title IX, to allow colleges, schools, and recipients of federal funds to be sued for “disparate impact.”

Disparate impact is what people call school policies that have no motive to discriminate, but end up affecting some groups more than others. For example, standardized tests for mathematics have nothing to do with race, but some racial groups perform better than others. The Democrats think that this is grounds for a lawsuit, apparently.

More:

The amendment, backed by trial lawyers, would also allow colleges, schools, and other institutions to be sued for unlimited punitive damages.

[...]The specter of liability for disparate impact could make schools get rid of standardized tests designed to ensure that students are really learning, and detect failing schools, since all but the easiest standardized tests arguably have a racially “disparate impact.”

It could also result in racial quotas in school discipline. The Obama Administration has alreadypressured some school districts to adopt de facto racial quotas in school discipline (school districts are reluctant to defy the Administration’s legally-dubious demands lest it cut off their federal funds), requiring even liberal school districts that already bend over backwards not to suspend disruptive black students to cut their suspension rates, and spend millions of dollars to comply with bureaucratic dictates imposed by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work.

[...]Expanding Title VI liability and punitive damages could also lead to more campus speech codes, as colleges, terrified of racial harassment liability under Title VI, clamp down on any speech that might conceivably contribute to what is perceived as a racially hostile learning environment.

Hans explains why these laws cause schools and universities to create “speech codes”:

But schools persist in imposing overbroad harassment policies, both because they would rather be sued for First Amendment violations than for racial or sexual harassment… and because private colleges are not directly subject to the First Amendment at all, but can be sued for racial and sexual harassment.

[...][T]o avoid liability, private colleges in particular may clamp down on campus speech about racial and sexual issues like affirmative action and feminism, lest such speech provide potential “building blocks” of a hostile environment claim under the “totality of circumstances” test.

Trial lawyers are one of the groups that donate a lot of money to Democrats, so naturally they will be happy with any law that makes more business for them.

 

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Lesbian complains about Muslim barber to Human Rights Commission

This story from the Calgary Sun is from free speech warrior Ezra Levant. He’s talking about the Canadian Human Rights Commissions, which exist to censor offensive thoughts and offensive speech.

Excerpt:

Faith McGregor is the lesbian who doesn’t like the girly cuts that they do at a salon. She wants the boy’s hairdo.

Omar Mahrouk is the owner of the Terminal Barber Shop in Toronto. He follows Shariah law, so he thinks women have cooties. As Mahrouk and the other barbers there say, they don’t believe in touching women other than their own wives.

But that’s what multiculturalism and unlimited immigration from illiberal countries means. A central pillar of many immigrant cultures is the second-class citizenship of women and gays.

So if we now believe in multiculturalism, and that our Canadian culture of tolerance isn’t any better than the Shariah culture of sex crimes and gender apartheid, who are we to complain when Omar Mahrouk takes us up on our promise that he can continue to practise his culture — lesbian haircuts be damned?

He’s not the one who passed the Multiculturalism Act, and invited in hundreds of thousands of immigrants with medieval attitudes towards women and gays and Jews, etc. We did.

Mahrouk’s view is illiberal. But in Canada we believe in property rights and freedom of association — and in this case, freedom of religion, too.

But McGregor ran to the Human Rights Tribunal and demanded that Mahrouk give her a haircut.

In the past, human rights commissions have been a great ally to gay activists. Because, traditionally, gay activists have complained against Christians. And white Christians are the one ethnic identity group that human rights commissions don’t value, and that multiculturalism doesn’t include.

In recent years, Canadian human rights commissions have weighed a complaint about a women’s-only health club that refused a pre-operative transsexual male who wanted to change in the locker rooms.

They’ve ordered bed and breakfasts owned by Christian families to take in gay couples. They’ve censored pastors and priests who have criticized gay marriage. Gays win, because it’s a test of who is most outraged and offended.

But in the case of the Muslim barbers, the gay activists have met their match. If the test is who can be the most offended or most politically correct, a lesbian’s just not going to cut it.

Oh, McGregor is politically correct. But just not politically correct enough. It’s like poker.

A white, Christian male has the lowest hand — it’s like he’s got just one high card, maybe an ace. So almost everyone trumps him.

A white woman is just a bit higher — like a pair of twos. Enough to beat a white man, but not much more.

A gay man is like having two pairs in poker.

A gay woman — a lesbian like McGregor — is like having three of a kind.

A black lesbian is a full house — pretty tough to beat.

Unless she’s also in a wheelchair, which means she’s pretty much a straight flush.

The only person who could trump that would be a royal flush. If the late Sammy Davis Jr. — who was black, Jewish and half-blind — were to convert to Islam and discover he was 1/64th Aboriginal.

So which is a better hand: A lesbian who wants a haircut or a Muslim who doesn’t want to give it to her?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support all the speech and thoughts that the Human Rights Commission finds offensive. But I wouldn’t use the power of the government to suppress ideas and speech that I disagree with. I’m not a fascist. I don’t like forcing other people to do things that they don’t want to do with the force of government.

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Free speech hero Mark Steyn reflects on the demise of Section 13 fascism

Canada 2011 Federal Election Seats

Canada 2011 Federal Election Seats

Kathy Shaidle at Five Feet of Fury linked to this editorial which explains how the battle for free speech was won up in the frozen North.

Excerpt:

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson had voiced support for the legislation. So had the Prime Minister. The result, then, was never in doubt: at 9:35 p.m. on June 6, by a vote of 153-136,  Parliament got Canada’s human rights bureaucrats out of the business of policing speech on the Internet. There was a scattering of applause, and handshakes for Storseth (the bill requires the rubber stamp of Senate approval). “To be honest, it’s all a blur,” says the three-term MP, laughing. But if the passage of Bill C-304 represents a fundamental shift in Canadian culture, you’d never have known it that night. Members dealt with a few housekeeping matters, then waded through a supply bill. Finally, one by one, they trickled out into the cool Ottawa night.

The effect of killing Section 13 will be debated for years among anti-racist groups and civil libertarians. But it is undoubtedly a turning point. Since 1999, Canadians who felt aggrieved by material transmitted online have been encouraged to seek redress under federal human rights law, which targeted material “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” based on grounds of discrimination like race, religion or sexual orientation. Storseth’s bill repeals the provision outright, leaving the Criminal Code as the primary bulwark against the dissemination of hate propaganda by electronic means.

With it will go one of the most divisive disputes to grip the country since the introduction of the Charter of Rights itself—a contest of values that over the past five years has pitted Canadians’ desire to protect minorities from discrimination against the bedrock principle of free speech. Mainstream media outlets, most notably Maclean’s, have been hauled before commissions to answer for their published content. The commissions themselves have come under fire for allowing their processes to be used as a bludgeon against legitimate expression, tailored as they are to encourage complainants to come forward. Meantime, a Saskatchewan law similar to Section 13 has become the subject of a Supreme Court challenge that could invalidate hate-speech provisions in most provincial human rights codes. By year’s end, it is conceivable that no human rights commission in the country will be in the business of adjudicating published material.

And here’s a must-read cri-de-coeur from free speech hero Mark Steyn in Maclean’s magazine. (H/T Binks the Web Elf)

Excerpt:

Operationally, Section 13 was stinkingly corrupt. There are some 34 million Canadians, yet just one individual citizen had his name on almost every Section 13 prosecution of the last decade. Just as Matthew Hopkins appointed himself England’s Witchfinder General in 1645 and went around the country turning in raven-tressed crones for the bounty of a pound per witch, so Richard Warman appointed himself Canada’s Hatefinder General and went around turning in shaven-headed tattooed losers in their mums’ basements for far more lucrative bounties of tens of thousands of dollars. He filed his complaints as a supposedly “offended” and “damaged” private citizen while an employee of Her Majesty’s Government. And, in fairness to Matthew Hopkins, he didn’t personally put on a pointy black hat and ride around on a broomstick. Whereas Mr. Warman joined Stormfront and other “white supremacist” websites and posted copious amounts of hate speech of his own, describing, for example, Jewish members of cabinet as “scum” and gays as a “cancer.” That’s how “hateful” Canada is: there’s so little “hate” out there that the country’s most famous Internet Nazi is a taxpayer-funded civil servant.

For Warman, there was little risk: you paid his costs, and the dice were loaded. After Hosni Mubarak was “re-elected” with 97.1 per cent of the vote, he was said to be furious with his officials for stealing too much of the election and making him look like one of those crude ham-fisted dictator-for-life types like Saddam and Kim Il-Sung. So next time round his officials arranged for him to “win” with a mere 96.3 per cent of the vote. Canada’s “human rights” commissars had no such squeamishness: until the tenacious Marc Lemire won his landmark victory in 2009, Section 13 prosecutions had a three-decade 100 per cent conviction rate even the Soviets might envy.

That wasn’t even the most basic affront. Until Maclean’s intervened in 2008, Lemire’s Section 13 trial was scheduled to be held in secret. I couldn’t quite believe this when I chanced to happen upon the “judge’s” rationale, and I suggested en passant that we should get Maclean’s estimable QC Julian Porter to file a whatchamacallit, a brief or motion or whatever, referencing precedents and other jurisprudential-type stuff, and put a rocket up these totalitarian buggers by treating their dank outhouse of pseudo-justice as a real courtroom subject to real law. Secret trials are for Beijing and Tehran, yet in the name of “human rights” they were introduced to Ottawa.

The line that sums up my objection to the racket was formulated by the Toronto blogger Kathy Shaidle: “You’re too stupid to tell me what to think.” In recent days, the last lonely defenders of the Canadian thought police have all volunteered to demonstrate Miss Shaidle’s proposition. The Opposition [NDP] critic for “public safety,” Randall Garrison, bemoaned the demise of the commissars’ “power to educate Canadians.” “We do have a serious problem,” said Garrison. “If you take away the power to take [websites] down, it’s not clear they have any mandate to even talk to people about it and educate them about it.”

The Conservatives held up their end of the deal once they got their majority, didn’t they? Everyone who said they were not going to do anything with their majority should hang their heads in shame, now. They can’t do everything, but they can certainly do some things.

This is a lesson for us down here. If you love your country, then get out and vote in November! And make sure your friends vote, too – you should be convincing them to vote by giving them the facts about Obama’s catastrophic failures even now.

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Canadian conservatives pass bill to repeal Section 13 speech code

Canada 2011 Federal Election Seats

Canada 2011 Federal Election Seats

It’s the end of the Canadian speech code. (H/T Andrew)

Excerpt:

The federal Conservatives voted late Wednesday to repeal controversial sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act banning hate speech on the Internet, backing a bill they say promotes freedom of expression and would have the courts play a larger role in handling hate-crime cases.

In a free vote of 153 to 136, the Tory caucus supported a private member’s bill from Alberta Conservative MP Brian Storseth that would scrap Section 13 of the human rights code, which deals with complaints regarding “the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet.”

Storseth argues the current human rights code fails to protect freedom of speech, which is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and believes Canadians are better off if the government repeals sections 13 and 54 — the latter section dealing with associated penalties.

“It’s a really important step for freedom of expression in our country,” Storseth said Thursday, the morning after the bill passed third and final reading in the House of Commons.

“There hasn’t been a tremendous pushback as you would have seen seven or eight years ago when this issue first really arose, and I think it’s because there has been a fruitful debate in our country.”

Senior cabinet ministers supported the bill and the results generated loud applause from Conservative MPs. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is overseas and wasn’t present for the vote. Most opposition politicians voted against the bill, although Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal MP Scott Simms supported it.

Storseth, a backbencher, said the current human rights code allows too many frivolous cases to proceed against citizens, when the Criminal Code already covers hate speech that could generate harm against an individual or group.

Acts of hate speech are serious crimes that should be investigated by police officers, not civil servants, he said, adding that the cases should be handled by “real judges and real lawyers,” instead of a quasi-judicial body such as the human rights commission.

The bill would effectively strip the human rights commission of its ability to rule on cases of hate speech over the phone and Internet, he said, and instead hand many of the powers to the courts.

Storseth said he has also been speaking with colleagues in the Conservative-dominated Senate in hopes the bill will pass through the upper chamber and receive royal assent by the end of the year. The bill contains a one-year implementation period.

For those who need a refresher course on how bad these secular leftist fascism panels really were, you can read this article about the punishment received by a Christian pastor who wrote an editorial critical of gay activism in the schools. He was put on trial for 5 years and had to pay over $100,000 in legal fees, including the legal fees of his accuser. His crime? Making his accuser feel offended.

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