Thursday, September 18, 2008

Canada's human rights act outlaws history, tribunal hears

Canada's human rights hate speech laws can, and eventually will, prohibit discussion of any historical conflict in which religion or race played a role, according to a leading defender of Canada's most notorious far-right figures. Doug Christie, addressing the hate speech hearing of Web master Marc Lemire on behalf of the Canadian Free Speech League, said Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, which prohibits messages "likely to expose" identifiable groups to hatred, has created "a political elite who alone can communicate their views and decide who else can communicate."

Originally formulated for telephone hate lines, Section 13 now applies to the Internet, and by extension, a wide array of published material. "We believe what is at stake is control of the media, because now the Internet is the home for Maclean's magazine, the National Post, and not just what used to be called the lunatic fringe," Mr. Christie said.

Mr. Christie is best known as a defence advocate in high profile cases such as those against anti-Semitic teachers James Keegstra and Malcolm Ross and the Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel. His failed defence of neo-Nazi John Ross Taylor at the Supreme Court in 1990 now stands as the leading precedent on hate speech in Canada, which guides Section 13 cases.

Mr. Lemire is accused under this law over messages posted by other people on the long-defunct chat forum of his Web site; for a satirical poem about immigrants he posted on a U.S. white supremacist Web site; and for his alleged involvement with, a clearing-house for historical articles on white supremacist or anti-Semitic themes, such as Henry Ford's The International Jew. Although Mr. Lemire's name was once listed as an administrative contact, he says he set the site up for an unidentified American.

Mr. Christie said that the Taylor precedent did not envision an Internet in which people can engage in a dialogue, as opposed to passively listen to recorded messages. "True belief is intolerant and conflict is inevitable where people believe different things," he said.

In a rhetorical flourish, he cited various historical issues that, if discussed truthfully, could conceivably expose certain groups to hatred: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, the battles of Waterloo and Tours, the Charge of the Light Brigade and the War of the Roses.

Mr. Christie compared Richard Warman, a former CHRC employee and serial Section 13 complainant who brought the case against Mr. Lemire, to Tomas de Torquemada, the leader of the Spanish Inquisition, as someone who is "creating heresy where he wants to find it, then becoming a hero for prosecuting it."

He said the Canadian Human Rights Commission's recent rejection of a prominent complaint of Islamophobia against Maclean's magazine, under Section 13, was a "convenient afterthought," rather than a principled application of law. "I think what they thought about was the political implication of prosecuting Maclean's magazine, and the media's reaction," he said.

Final submissions in Mr. Lemire's case are expected to conclude Wednesday, nearly five years after the complaint was initially filed.


Canadian tribunal member thinks that hate speech rules are too harsh

Act now captures mainstream press, bloggers, tribunal member says

Canada's top legal precedent on hate speech may now be unworkable because of the Internet's transformation of public discourse, according to Athanasios Hadjis, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal member hearing the case against far-right propagandist Marc Lemire.

In an exchange yesterday with a government lawyer, Mr. Hadjis said Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act, which was written to target the operators of racist telephone hotlines, and extended to the Internet after the 9/11 terror attacks, now captures "anyone who puts the written word down in digital form," including countless bloggers and the entirety of the mainstream press. "It has an effect on the citizens of Canada who may be near that line [of hate speech] but not crossing it," Mr. Hadjis said. These people can nevertheless find themselves "dragged through the process" of a human rights complaint, he said.

As an example, he questioned whether the CHRC is fair to hold the operators of online message boards accountable for hateful messages posted by other people. He said the Internet has expanded the "grey zone" of hate speech such that "maybe the scale is tipping the other way." Mr. Hadjis' comments, while not legally binding, suggest he is sympathetic to the arguments of Mr. Lemire, who has brought a constitutional challenge of human rights hate speech law as part of his defence against a hate speech complaint brought in 2003 by activist lawyer Richard Warman.

They also come as Richard Moon, a University of Windsor law professor, is in the final stages of an independent review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission's hate speech mandate, which the CHRC itself initiated in response to a growing controversy over freedom of expression.

Several groups, from hard-right free speech activists to liberal Jewish organizations, have expressed concern over the CHRC's application of Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act, and its potential abuse by complainants as a political platform.

By far the most determined critics, however, have been Mr. Lemire and his legal team, who once represented Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel. Among Mr. Lemire's supporters yesterday was Tomasz Winnicki, a prominent white supremacist and convicted hatemonger. Section 13 applies to messages "likely to expose" an identifiable group to hatred or contempt.

The foremost legal precedent for deciding these cases is the 1990 Supreme Court of Canada decision about the neo-Nazi activist John Ross Taylor, in which Section 13 was held to be a justifiable violation of the Charter right to free expression. It defined hate messages as those expressing "unusually strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification."

Simon Fothergill, a lawyer for the Attorney-General of Canada, said Mr. Lemire's challenge of Section 13 is "re-litigation" of settled law, and amounts to "harassment" of the government, which won the Taylor case by a 4-3 decision. A decade later, in 2001, it amended Section 13 to include the Internet.

More here

Anti-abortion protesters sue Harford County, state police

Three young women who were arrested and strip-searched last month while rallying against abortion have filed a federal lawsuit against Harford County, Bel Air and state police, charging their First Amendment rights were violated. Angela Swagler, 18; Elizabeth Walsh, 20; and her sister, Joan Walsh, 18, are seeking unspecified damages in their lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Swagler, of Erie, Pa., flew to Maryland to participate in demonstrations for "Face the Truth," a Chicago-based anti-abortion group; the Walsh sisters, both of Baltimore County, were leading the rallies. "The nature of the [police's] actions were unbelievably egregious," said Daniel Cox, an attorney for the women. The women clearly posed no threat, but police "tormented" and "heckled" them because they did not agree with the protesters' message, he said. "Anything more would be to the level of the KGB, if we're not already there."

The three woman and about 20 others were protesting Aug. 1 at Route 924 and Route 24 near Bel Air, holding signs with anti-abortion pictures and messages, and offering pamphlets to drivers. The demonstrators moved into Bel Air at about 5 p.m. after three state troopers threatened to arrest them, according to the lawsuit. About 45 minutes later, a dozen troopers, county deputies and Bel Air police officers arrested 18 rally members without giving a reason, according to the lawsuit.

The protesters claim they were not impeding traffic.

Police took them to a police station, where a female officer searched the three women as they stood in a parking lot next to male protesters, reaching her hand down their shirts and pants, causing humiliation and embarrassment, the lawsuit alleges. The protesters were held in a jail cell overnight and were charged with loitering, disorderly conduct and failure to obey a lawful order. But, 10 days later, the charges were dropped.

Harford County State's Attorney Joe Cassilly said that he did not pursue the charges - although he believes the arrests were justified - because "what the demonstrators had already been through" was worse than any sentence they could have received. "You had some college kids, a number of folks from out of state, and I recognized that these people had already been through a lot," Cassilly said.

Greg Shipley, a spokesman for state police, defended trooopers. "Maryland state troopers acted in the interest of public safety and in accordance with guidance from the county state's attorney's office," Shipley said. "We will be prepared to justify those actions in court."

Harford had not yet been served with court summons, so officials on Thursday declined to comment.

Source. (H/T Strange Justice)

Rare Jewish Republicans

I have Jewish friends who believe in free markets, are deeply suspicious of big government, view the general bag of leftist ideas as callow if not dangerous, yet would sooner tuck into a large plate of pigs' feet than vote for a Republican for president. They just can't bring themselves to do it.

Like most Jews, I grew up in a house that was Democratic and devoted to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The reason for this devotion is that, in opposition to the isolationists then known as American Firsters, FDR, an internationalist, saw the need to go to war to stop the Nazis, who were systematically murdering the Jews of Europe. Only much later was it learned that Roosevelt could have saved many more European Jews by enlarging immigration quotas, but his policy was instead the mistaken one of trying to save the Jews by winning the war as quickly as possible. As we now know, the war wasn't won quickly enough.

Owing to the overwhelming Jewish support for Roosevelt, few were the Jews who openly declared themselves Republican. As a boy, in the early 1950s, I knew only one: a man named Hyman Skolnick, the father of a friend, who was an executive for a Jewish-owned scrap-metal company in Chicago. An immigrant, Mr. Skolnick had an inborn gravity that derived from what I took to be his high competence and mastery of facts. I sensed that he was a man who, if you woke him at four in the morning, could tell you, within $20, the exact amount of the gross national product as of the hour.

I did not meet another Jewish Republican until the early 1960s, when I met Irving Kristol -- who, after a career as a Trotskyist lasting for roughly 27 minutes while he was a student at the City College of New York, did not impede his philosophical and temperamental conservatism from steering him toward the GOP. For this Irving Kristol was considered, stupidly, by Irving Howe and other Irvings and not a few Seymours, a great heresiarch, nothing less than a traitor to his people.

The Democrats' record on things Jewish is finally not all that strong. Joe Kennedy, the so-called founding father of the Kennedy clan, was pro-Hitler and famously anti-Semitic. Jimmy Carter, in his sentimental idealism, has called Israel an apartheid state, comparable with South Africa. I always thought that Bill Clinton, in his vanity, would have done his best to convince the Israelis to give up the West Bank and the East Bank, and toss in Katz's Delicatessen on Houston Street at no extra charge, in his eagerness to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Despite all this, Jews cling to the Democratic Party. The Democrats, they claim, remain the party most interested in social justice, and it is incumbent upon Jews, who have known so much injustice in their own history, to be on the side of social justice.

The only Democratic administration in the past 50 years that may be said to have made good on a program of social justice was that of Lyndon Johnson, himself today much less admired, by Jews and others, for his efforts in this line -- the civil rights voting acts, the war against poverty -- than despised for his policy in Vietnam. As for social justice, who is responsible for more of it, on a world-wide scale, than Ronald Reagan, in his helping to bring an end to tyrannous communism?

I only voted for my first Republican candidate for president in 1980, when I voted for Reagan. Even then I did not so much vote for Reagan as against Jimmy Carter. What made me vote against Mr. Carter was his vapidity and weakness. I remember a photograph, on the front page of the New York Times of Mr. Carter, in jogging gear, after having fainted during a run on the White House lawn, being held up by two Secret Service men. My God, I thought, this pathetic man, with his hot-combed hair, cannot be the leader of my country. I have voted for Republicans for president ever since, with the exception of 1996, when I found I could not vote for either Bob Dole or Bill Clinton, and took the high (if somewhat lumpy) ground of not voting at all.

I shall probably vote for John McCain in this year's presidential election. But I am not locked in on my vote, and if the McCain-Palin campaign gets dramatically stupid, I could go the other way. I make no claim to be an original political thinker, but, unlike so many of my co-religionists, I feel a nice sense of freedom, knowing that I am able to think, so to say, outside the lox. [For those who don't know Jews well, "lox" ("Lachs" in German) is salmon, usually smoked salmon. "Bagels and lox" is a popular Jewish snack]



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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