Custom Search

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Boissoin freed from "human rights" kangaroo court by real court - but doubtful victory, insiders say

Seven years into his "lifetime speech ban" and - basically falling down a black hole as far as his life was concerned - Stephen Boissoin has been acquitted. His Alberta "human rights" Commission conviction has been overturned. Civil rights lawyer Ezra Levant explains:
Late last week, the Court of Queen's Bench overturned the Alberta Human Rights Commission's "hate speech" conviction of Rev. Stephen Boissoin for writing a letter published in an Alberta newspaper, opposing the gay lifestyle.

Long-time readers of this blog, and readers of my book, will know the case of Rev. Boissoin well. He was a youth pastor who wrote a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate in 2002 that was critical of the "gay agenda". You can read that letter in full here. He was sentenced to a lifetime speech ban, barring him from ever saying anything negative about gays again, in public or private, for the rest of his life. Oh -- and he had to write a false letter of apology, renouncing his faith on the matter.

So here we are, more than seven years later, and Rev. Boissoin has finally been acquitted. And that's if his tormentor, the anti-Christian bigot Darren Lund, doesn't choose to appeal this new ruling.

So lesson number one here is that the process is the punishment.

Rev. Boissoin had seven years of his life wasted -- seven years in which he bore the stigma of being called, by the state, an illegal "hater".
Levant goes on to explain how the Alberta "human rights" inquisition is in fact being rewarded for its misdeeds by an increase in tax funding. So, nice sortie, guys, but back to the trenches.

He adds,
Yes, yes, I agree with my friend Mark Steyn (who is quoted by the judge on pp. 33-34, if I recall) and Colby Cosh when they point out that the real courts have rebuked the fake courts. But how does that help the 90% of the HRCs' victims who succumb and accept a plea bargain without even a hearing, and the 98% of the rest who are convicted but lack the funds to appeal?
Well, dear reader, can you spell ROAD KILL?

Here's Mark Steyn: Lifetime speech ban lifted.
The Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta has now struck down this outrageous decision. Mr. Justice Wilson's ruling could not be plainer. He rejects all the Tribunal's punishments as "illegal," not least the speech ban:

[ ... ]

The cravenness of the politicians is depressing, but Ezra and I and a few others have helped to change the climate — and, for the moment, rendered these disgusting laws unenforceable.
For the rest, go here.

Cravenness of politicians? Well, it is easy to explain, and I have said it before: They do not dread perpetrating or maintaining injustices nearly as much as they dread the image that also haunts me:
... smug, stupid, upper middle class mothers displaying their toddlers in adorable little tees, featuring the logo: “I [heart] my Human Rights Commission”, on the front page of the Toronto Star, accompanied by earnest editorials and misleading columns, casting aspersions on those who defend civil liberties.

The horrible truth is that Ms. Smug and Ms. Stupid don’t need civil liberties. They never think anything they don’t read in Chatelaine or Canadian Living, or hear on earnestly fatuous legacy TV. Unless they are cashing in that stuff for a newer fatuity.
Welcome to my nightmare.

Here are some other views, to which I will add, as I get notice:

From Boissoin's lawyer:
The decision of Justice Earl Wilson of the Court of Queen's Bench in Boissoin v Lund will have a significant long term positive impact on religious freedom in Canada:

1. The decision established a very high threshold for the conclusion that a publication is in violation of the "hate" provisions of Alberta's human rights laws. The prosecutor, Dr. Lund, told the Canadian Press that "If the language contained in the letter does not meet the threshold of hateful, I am not certain what possibly would." If Dr. Lund is right, then there will be no further prosecutions. The decision of the Alberta Human Rights Commission to withdraw from the case suggests that the Commission learned from Dr. Lund's mistake. There is no place for thought control in a free and democratic society.

2. Dr. Lund told the Calgary Herald that the decision of Justice Wilson "takes away the tools at our disposal". He is correct. The tools of censorship should not be available to prohibit freedom of expression in Canada. There is no circumstance in a free society where limitations on political or religious debate can be justified.

3. While the decision did not strike down Alberta's "hate speech" laws, it significantly limited the application of such laws. Justice Wilson properly pointed out that a province may not duplicate the federal Criminal Code rules outlawing hate crime. Furthermore, Justice Wilson interpreted the provision in question as only prohibiting hateful words that lead to discriminatory activity under the provincial human rights legislation. Justice Wilson found that Stephen Boissoin's letter to the editor was not hateful and did not cause discriminatory behaviour. It is difficult to conceive of a political or religious debate that would meet the two part test established in the legislation. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that in the future no religious or political debate will be found to be in breach of the current text of Alberta's human rights laws.

Gerald Chipeur, QC
Meanwhile, here's the gay lifestyle view, supporting free speech, and the anti-gay lifestyle view, also supporting free speech.

What? They both do? Yes, because Canada was born a free country and will remain so, and the people who should be packing their bags are the sneaks, snoops, spies, spooks, and social engineers. Youse guys, the Taliban needs you. We will pay your way.

Here's CTV.

Here's Steve Paikin on The Agenda, on Censorship and Forbidden Reading. Also, Lorne Gunter, in Edmonton Journal, "Commission gets judicial thrashing (December 06, 2009).

Here's a big union weighing in on the side of snoops, sneaks, and tinpot Torquemadas:
More recently, there has been a concerted campaign by right-wing pundits and media to entirely discredit the role and the need for human rights commissions in Canada, including the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Act under the guise of defending free speech. Their attacks picked on certain decisions by the Commission and Tribunal around section 13, the hate messages clause, of the Act. However their often malicious criticisms expand beyond these specific cases and have the intent of turning public opinion against the human rights commissions, which they have variously labeled as the “thought police” or compared to violent dictatorial regimes. Attacks against the commissions have not been isolated to the federal level but have also been directed towards the Ontario Human Rights Commission and other commissions all across the country.
Sorry, guys, this won't work any more. The "human rights" commissions have made the classic thug mistake of scaring everyone in town, not just a few identified victims. Finally, people decide that just getting rid of them is the answer.

Labels: ,

Interview with me: What makes O'Leary tic - but those Word Guild people have ways of making me toc

Here is an interview with me at Hot Apple Cider, an anthology of writing in various genres by Canadians who are devout Christians. I have an article in there.

If you think HAC is mostly devotionals, sermons, jeremiads, and hellfire tracts, you will be very surprised.

Also, for whatever reason (a desire to take a year end loss for some complex corporate tax reason?), Amazon is selling Hot Apple Cider for US$5.71. A good gift for literature students and essential for any American whose pursuit of Canadian Studies comprises a bit more than the usual 20 minutes in Grade Seven. Or whatever small amount of time is allotted.

Human evolution: Now "the Hobbit" may revise "major tenets of human evolution"?

In "Rethinking 'Hobbits': What they mean for human evolution", we are advised by Scientific American (November 2009),
New analyses reveal the mini human species to be even stranger than previously thought and hint that major tenets of human evolution need revision.
Not only was H. floresiensis being held up as the first example of a human following the so-called island rule, but it also seemed to reverse a trend toward ever larger brain size over the course of human evolution. Furthermore, the same deposits in which the small-bodied, small-brained individuals were found also yielded stone tools for hunting and butchering animals, as well as remainders of fires for cooking them—rather advanced behaviors for a creature with a brain the size of a chimpanzee’s. And astonishingly, LB1 lived just 18,000 years ago—thousands of years after our other late-surviving relatives, the Neandertals and H. erectus, disappeared
More about the Hobbit (Flores man or homo Floriensis) controversy here.

It's never been clear to me that Flores man is a separate species. I think some people just need them to have been one, and they seize on anything that advances their case. Fortunately for them, no Florensians are alive today, so we can't answer the fundamental question of whether they could produce live, eventually fertile children with other humans.

Anyway, a friend writes to remind me that agnostic Australian philosopher David Stove, author of Darwinian Fairytales, pointed out some while ago:
If you discovered tomorrow a new and most un-Darwinian-looking species of animals, in which every adult pair produced on average a hundred offspring, but the father always killed all of them very young, except one which was chosen by some random process, it would take an armor-plated neo-Darwinian no more than two minutes to “prove” that this reproductive strategy, despite its superficially inadvisability, is actually the optimum one for that species. And what is more impressive still, he will be able to do the same thing again later, if it turns out that the species had been misdescribed at first, and that in fact the father always lets three of his hundred offspring live. In neo-Darwinianism's house there are many mansions: so many, indeed, that if a certain awkward fact will not fit into one mansion, there is sure to be another one into which it will fit to admiration.

—David Stove, collected essaysAgainst the Idols of the Age, p. 244,
It would be wisest to believe nothing and nobody about any of these speculations. All we know is, some intriguing skeletons were found, and the people they once belonged to lived pretty much as other humans did at the time, despite very small brains. Thus, human brain size is not well correlated with performance of basic hunter gatherer tasks. That in itself is not surprising. Check the brain absent stories here, for example. The human brain is very plastic.

Here's more on the Hobbit (Flores man).

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

Labels: ,

Intellectual freedom in Canada: How hard it is to face real problems in an intellectual climate of "diversity," "multiculturalism," etc.

At the Covenant Zone blog, Jonathan Trupeers reports on a recent meeting of Jewish Canadians at a Reform synagogue in Vancouver, to discuss resurgent anti-Semitism. Naturally, Barbara Kay's recent National Post column on the hounding of a Jewish schoolteacher ("Toxic classrooms," November 30, 2009), with no useful action by the authorities, was an item of discussion.

While some people were quite impressed by the panel, I was disappointed by what I learned from Trupeers's account. I explained,
As a free speech blogger and journalist, I, for one, was deeply disappointed in what I read.

I don't think a single one of those people gets it.

For example, Barbara Kay's column was not about incidental insults to Jewish children, but a great and growing level of anti-Semitism among new immigrant families from Muslim countries - that is tolerated by a cowardly school board administration. Do you imagine that the HRCs will be going after the administrations any time soon? Crickets chirp.

- The "human rights" Commissions are increasingly widely perceived as a shakedown racket, and for good reason. Of course, such rackets are vulnerable to getting taken over by, say, Islamists, who may then use them to go after Jews or anyone else whose words or existence "blasphemes" Islam.

- As I see it, there are three stages in the "human rights" metastasis:

1. The Chill - Catholic priests and traditional Protestant pastors are hounded and fined and spend money they don't really have defending themselves against lone gay activists who don't like traditional Christian teachings on the gay lifestyle. As if they have any choice but to teach the Church's views. Newspapers daren't permit themselves any frank discussion of obvious and sometimes coercive agendas of identified "victim" groups.

2. The Shakedown - frightened people often pay up when the "human rights" busybody demands it, or in advance of his call. Maybe it is a gay bed and breakfast owner who is allergic to dogs and doesn't want one in his home, maybe it is a restauranteur who gets it in the neck for asking a pot smoker to move out of his doorway, but that guy had a "medical pot" licence, so he is the "disabled", and therefore, the "victim". Never mind that the restauranteur is supposed to enforce a no smoking ban anyway.

It's the perfect setup for shakedown, with many civil servants getting well-paid jobs in the bargain, to hound and help shake down their fellow citizens.

3. The Takeover - The Islamist sees the opportunity to move in on such a sweet racket. He can readily work with the leftist because neither of them believes in traditional civil rights and liberties. That's what happened to Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. It was terrible for them, but their experience galvanized the media against infamous Section 13 and "human rights" Commissions in general. The almost unanimous vote of the Conservative Party against Section 13 should tell you something too. Plus the fact that the first MP to speak out, Keith Martin, is a Liberal and belongs to a visible minority. And so forth.

Note that I only mentioned one Jew as a "human rights" target, Ezra Levant. And he is leading the charge against the racket, thank G-d.

What none of the speakers seemed to get is that most people don't even think about Jews when they think about "human rights" Commissions. They think about Chill, Shakedown, and Takeover, and more and more people are thinking about that, too.

In Toronto, where I live, the police protect Islamist-directed "death to the Jews" marches, and warn civil rights activists who protest them. That's part of the Takeover stage, of course.

One outcome of the fact that the metastasis has proceeded this far is that a government conference on anti-Semitism may not do much good. Most attendees will probably refuse to acknowledge the Islamist strain of anti-Semitism, currently by far the most virulent, as many recent events attest, and as Barbara Kay valiantly reports.

Much like holding a conference on sexually transmitted diseases that pointedly avoids discussion of AIDS.

The sad thing is, you do have heroes in the Jewish community, like Kay and Levant . Why not get behind them while there is time?
As I later wrote to a sympathetic Jewish friend,

One speaker, for example, compared the administration tolerating abuse of a teacher to name-calling among kids playing hockey, as if they were equivalent. Unless the administration consists entirely of people under 16 years of age ... they are not equivalent!

I didn't get a chance to mention that a following post suggested that the story about the schoolteacher might not be true because he couldn't find it on the Internet. Yet Kay - who must protect her sources - pointed out that the teacher had chosen not to sue, for fear of repercussions for her family.

Maybe she was wise. Have you seen the images Ezra Levant provides of the cut wounds inflicted on the woman who complained about irregularities at Soharwardy's mosque?

Happens at my church all the time.

Oops, I meant the complaints, not the violent attacks.

An intelligent elderly Jewish person I know called this sort of response "denial." I was saddened that a journalist of Kay's calibre would be subjected to this kind of thing when she is trying to act in her community's interests, but ... them's the breaks.

As far as I am concerned, there is no diversity with respect to civil rights. No multi culti to discuss with respect to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Labels: ,

Who links to me?