As I see it, there are two problems in the otherwise excellent article below by Peter Worthington about the hopefully-impending demise of Canada’s notorious “Section 13” censorship law.
Firstly, I quote: “Initially it was Jewish groups that supported Section 13, probably because they felt they were the favoured targets of hate. What wasn’t anticipated was that the legislation would be used to limit free speech– and in a draconian way that can’t be justified in a court of law.”
Jewish people and their organisations are anything but stupid, and I don’t believe for one second that they were unaware of the potential abuses to which this Orwellian piece of legislation could be put.
And in any event, as it became clear that Section 13 was being used as a ‘no-defence-allowed’ expedient to close down ‘politically incorrect’ free speech, and long before Section 13’s serial plaintiff Richard Warman received the Saul Hayes Human Rights Award from the Canadian Jewish Congress in June 2007 for “distinguished service to the cause of human rights”, one would think that horrified Jewish organisations would have acknowledged their mistake and petitioned the government to change or eliminate this travesty of justice.
But they did not do that.
There is no doubt in my mind that Jewish organisations fought for the passing and retention of Section 13 as a foolproof method of silencing those who would in any way criticize Jewish interests, specifically including the ‘Jewish State’ of Israel and its brutal military occupation of Palestine.
Equally annoying is Peter Worthington’s praise of Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn: “By fighting back, both these guys gutted the Human Rights zealots.”
Section 13 has been opposed for decades by Paul Fromm, who together with lawyer Doug Christie, fought on behalf of a variety of individuals who found themselves caught up in the Section 13 snare, often at the instigation of the afore-mentioned Richard Warman. And, the hopefully-fatal blow to Section 13 was delivered in 2009 by Canadian Human Rights Tribunal member Athanasios Hadjis, who found Section 13 of the Canada Human Rights Act to be unconstitutional in the case of ‘Warman v. Lemire’.
Lemire was being assisted by both Paul Fromm and Doug Christie in this landmark case. And while Athanasios Hadjis’ decision is not binding, the Tribunal has largely suspended its actions in prosecuting those charged under Section 13 ever since.
The difference between Paul Fromm and Doug Christie on the one hand, and Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn on the other, is that the latter are both ‘mainstream’. Thus they get the praise, and Paul Fromm’s decades of service to fighting the fundamental injustice of Section 13 and the ‘human rights’ tribunals that enforce it, are not considered worthy of mention.
I used to know Paul Fromm when we were both prominent in Toronto’s anti-Communist, street-fighting Edmund Burke Society, and he was still a student at the University of Toronto. Since those days, some forty-odd years ago, we have drifted apart, and we each have our own separate viewpoints and our own ways of doing things.
On occasion, I have literally cringed at the language and demeanour of many of the people he has represented, but he never allowed such things to interfere with his pursuit of justice and the preservation of free speech.
And while I acknowledge the personal sacrifices, stress, and substantial expense that Levant and Steyn have been put through, I think it is disgraceful that Fromm’s decades of dedicated effort have been completely ignored in favour of the mainstream’s Johnny-come-lately human rights ‘heroes’.
The right to be obnoxious
Peter Worthington: Nov. 23rd, 2011
A virtue of minority governments is that the ruling party has got to pay attention to its Parliamentary opposition, and must negotiate compromises. A negative is that legislation can get mired in debate and nothing happens.
A virtue of majority governments is that worthwhile legislation that couldn’t be passed in minority days, can get whistled through with neither fuss not fanfare.
A case in appoint is the ending of long gun registration (rifles and shotguns) which has been a costly boondoggle with few positive effects, but which got tangled in politics during minority days, and made criminals out off farmers who ignored it.
More significant, is the present government’s apparent determination to scrap or revise Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act which was intended to punish manifestations of “hate” in Canada, but has been misused to effectively curb free speech.
Alberta MP Brian Storseth has a private member’s bill to scrap Section 13 and leave the Criminal Code as the means to counter hate propaganda.
Enacted in 1977 (by the Trudeau government, of course), the guts of Section 13 says: “It is a discriminatory practice (by an individual or a group) … to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that person or those persons are identifiable…”
At the time, Justice Minister Ron Basford said Section 13 applied mostly to Toronto where extreme groups used recorded telephone messages to attack others. Basford said the key was that the same messages were used repeatedly: “I underline the word ‘repeatedly’ that it has to be part of a pattern … (which) serve no social purpose.”
Hate propaganda is one thing, crushing free speech is another.
Initially it was Jewish groups that supported Section 13, probably because they felt they were the favoured targets of hate. What wasn’t anticipated was that the legislation would be used to limit free speech– and in a draconian way that can’t be justified in a court of law.
If (when) Section 13 is put to rest, much credit must go to Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, who stood tall and fought back when Human Rights Commissars went after them.
When Levant ran the magazine Western Standard (now deceased) he published the Danish cartoons that were a spoof on political aspects of Mohammed, but which every publication in North America shied from, for fear of Islamic violence that left people dead in other areas of the world.
By no stretch of any imagination was Levant indulging in “hate.” It was news and comment which other publications avoided by pretending their cowardice was acting on “principle.”
Steyn wrote a book that basically said their high birthrate indicated that Muslims would eventually be majorities in European countries. He thinks multiculturalism is a fraud – combining then worst of Muslim culture with the worst of Western culture.
By fighting back, both these guys gutted the Human Rights zealots.
The Criminal Code is quite adequate to deal with “hate,” and extends beyond free speech– our most precious democratic “right.”
Free speech is the right to be obnoxious; on occasion to be offensive; often to be wrong and to say rude or unkind things, but not necessarily untruthful things. Unlike Human Rights tribunals, those who go to court must prove they’ve been damaged by free speech.
Peter Worthington is the founding editor of the Toronto Sun and a regular contributor to FrumForum.com, where this originally appeared.
See original here.
See Paul Fromm’s commentary on this post here.