06/11/2008 (10:48 am)
That’s a provocative title, I know, but I’m afraid it’s accurate.
The Volokh Conspiracy, my favorite legal geeks, reported this morning on an Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission ruling in Lund v Boissoin that a Christian ministry organization, Concerned Christian Coalition, must refrain from saying anything at all derogatory about gays. They were also restrained from saying derogatory things about the plaintiff, were ordered to purge all offensive material from their web site, apologize in writing, post the decision in their newsletter, and pay a stiff fine.
From the decision:
That Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals. Further, they shall not and are prohibited from making disparaging remarks in the future about Dr. Lund or Dr. Lund’s witnesses relating to their involvement in this complaint. Further, all disparaging remarks versus homosexuals are directed to be removed from current web sites and publications of Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc.
The decision prohibits disparaging speech. Not false speech, not damaging speech: disparaging speech. Presumably, this includes comments like “homosexuality is sin.” This is a disturbingly broad interpretation of a Canadian statute that was already pretty disturbing. Professor Volokh points out that the Canadian Supreme Court had upheld the statute in question because its applicability was very narrow, and not likely to be used in the way the Alberta Commission is using it here:
[T]he phrase ‘hatred or contempt’, are sufficiently precise and narrow to limit its impact to those expressive activities which are repugnant to Parliament’s objective. The phrase ‘hatred or contempt’ in the context of s. 13(1) refers only to unusually strong and deep‑felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification and, as long as human rights tribunals continue to be well aware of the purpose of s. 13(1) and pay heed to the ardent and extreme nature of feeling described in that phrase, there is little danger that subjective opinion as to offensiveness will supplant the proper meaning of the section.
It seems that the Canadian Supreme Court was wrong, and that yet another Slippery Slope argument against social progressivism has been vindicated.
This comes on the heels of another disturbing scene in Canada, the Kangaroo Court prosecution of columnist Mark Steyn for his accurate reporting about radical Islam. Rich Lowery writes about it in yesterday’s New York Post, and Sister Toldjah has a decent collection of links to background material. Pajamas Media also has a pretty good spread about Steyn’s “trial” today. Social progressives are bringing free speech to an end in Canada, and they will continue to attempt to do the same here in the US.
Even more frightening to me as a layman than the clear free speech restrictions, is the portion of the decision announcing that this is not a criminal case, and the goal of the Human Rights and Citizenship Commission is not punishment, per se, but rather an attempt…
“…to ameliorate the effects of the discrimination insofar as is possible and to denunciate the actions which were the subject of the complaint with a view to educate and hopefully prevent actions of this nature in future.” (Decision, section 9)
They then proceeded to publicly humiliate Mr. Boissoin, requiring him to publish their decision in his newspaper and to publicly apologize to Lund, and to fine him $5,000 and make him pay $2,000 of expenses for one of the witnesses.
Some attorney with more detailed knowledge of jurisprudence and the Canadian system should correct me here, but it seems to me that the Human Rights Commission has carved out for itself a parental function somewhere between torts and criminal law. This is not a tort, so the plaintiff does not have to demonstrate actual harm. This is not a crime, so the defendant does not have any specific rights. No… this is “an attempt to educate.” With a stiff fine.
I would have assumed that I don’t understand Canadian law and left it alone, except we’ve seen something similar here in the States regarding parental rights. State-run Child Protective Services organizations all over the country are ruling regarding the rights of parents to even see their children, let alone raise them as they see fit, in a para-court setting in which parents have no specific rights.
Is Canada doing the same here? and if so, are we all entering a Soviet-Union-like era of state-endorsed “medical care” in which enemies of the state get treated for mental illness, pumped full of psychotropic drugs, and kept in state hospitals as drug-numbed zombies? I ask, because when the Court says “This isn’t a crime, and we’re not punishing,” but then proscribes behavior as though it were a crime and punishes it as though it were a crime, that’s the slippery slope onto which I see us strolling.
Stephen Boissoin’s letter to the editor that prompted Lund’s complaint to Alberta’s Human Rights Commission can be found here. It’s rabid. It’s agitated. However, it’s free of any call to violence, and it’s clearly aimed at political advocacy and action. In America, it would be protected speech — so far. Canada apparently does not have a Free Speech protection in its Constitution.
Take a lesson, folks. “Hate speech” legislation leads to restrictions on free speech, no matter how loudly its proponents say it will not.
1 Comment »
Comment by sodbuster
I suppose we could send the Montana and North Dakota national guards in to liberate Canada and give Obama his extra seven States.
The reality is, that even if McCain is elected, but certainly if Obama is, and probably within the 100 days, we will have a chance to suffer for Christ here in America.
Thought Crimes legislation is before Congress already, and New Mexico already has a “Human Rights Commission” which has already quasi-legally persecuted a Christian for not taking a free-lance job that was against her religious beliefs and First Amendment rights.
I think it highly likely that the first move would be to shut down non-compliant home schooling and then private Christian schools. Then any Pastor who teaches the -whole- counsel of God, including regarding that abomination which causes desolation. We will find out just who is for Christ and who fears Caesar more than God.
I wouldn’t give good odds on being allowed to organize politically to over-turn such actions, because that, too, would be ‘hate’.
Our Declaration of Independence details the correct sequence of response, but they are not likely to be feasible.