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Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I don't think I've mentioned this before, but Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine have just recently finished up a trial in which they were taken before the Canadian Human Rights Commission (a misnomer if there ever was one) on charges that the excerpt of Steyn's book America Alone, printed in Maclean's, was hate speech and worthy of sanctions. Having read the book (and enjoyed it immensely), I can say quite confidently that Steyn is anything but hateful in it. The complainants argued that one is not allowed to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater and not expect to be arrested on disturbing the peace. But, as the defense pointed out, one is allowed (and in fact morally obligated) to yell "Fire!" if they indeed believe and see evidence that the theater is actually ablaze.

However, this is beside the point. What is really at stake here is not a better definition of hate (though that would be nice). What matters most in this case is the idea of freedom of speech and thought. Can a media outlet like Maclean's have the right to publish whatever they choose without the danger of being hauled before a tribunal? Can a writer like Mark Steyn (one of the most brilliant columnists of today) think and say what he wants without the threat of legal injunctions? Or, more closer to home for Christians, can a follower of Jesus quote a Bible verse without fear of prosecution? In Canada, the answer is "no" on all three counts. As John Leo writes this week,
[t]he human-rights tribunals are a censor’s dream. Under Canada’s human-rights act, commissioners can convict if they believe any published material is “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.” Since they are “remedial” institutions and not real courts, they need not follow strict legal procedures or grant traditional rights of the accused. No one goes to prison, but the panels can fine and silence people at will — and run up the lawyer bills for years. Truth is no defense, and commissioners are authorized to confiscate a computer without a warrant. Evidence can be woefully flimsy.
One such case of tribunal persecution for nearly six years is the Rev. Stephen Bossoin.
In 2002, the Rev. Stephen Bossoin, a Canadian pastor and youth worker, ran afoul of one of these kangaroo courts. He wrote a testy letter about homosexuals to his local newspaper, the Red Deer (Alberta) Advocate, complaining bitterly that Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and other groups were using taxpayer money to propagandize young children in public schools.

Darren Lund, a professor at the University of Calgary, hauled Boissoin before the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which investigated him for holding homosexuals up to hatred and contempt. After nearly six years of hearings, delays, and argument about the letter, the tribunal convicted him and his group, the Concerned Christian Coalition. As punishment, Boissoin was ordered to pay a hefty fine, apologize in writing and never again make any negative remarks about homosexuality in speeches, on the Internet, or anywhere else.
Christians and conservatives are on the defensive because gays are quick to file charges. After running an ad listing Biblical references to homosexuality, a Saskatoon newspaper and man who placed the ad each had to pay $1,500 to three aggrieved gay complaintants. Another Saskatchewan man, convicted for spreading hatred against gays, had complained about an ad in a gay newspaper seeking boys for activities and specifically mentioning that their age was “not so relevant.” Catholic Insight magazine is also under investigation for commentary protested by gays.
It's a mad, mad world.


Sarah Jo said...

wow - that's the scariest thing I've read in a long time. Its like communism regimes and banned books that don't tow the party propaganda.

ryc: i think the dangerous thing is that poeple don't know they've stopped believing in God. Since they've redefined Him - 96% of the population think they believe in Him. How convenient eh? If brocolli was redefined as a potato chip it would makes sense that alot more poeple would suddenly start eating brocolli.

Blazing Cat Fur said...

The Canadian Human Rights Commission dismissal of the case against Fr. de Valk is being appealed by the Complainant.

Catholic Insight also faces attack on yet another front. You will be interested to know Catholic Insight has been put on a Heritage Canada watch list for communicating Church doctrine it deems denigrating to homosexuals, Catholic Insight may lose it's postal subsidy as a result. Heritage Canada has no difficulty funding a Gay Pornography magazine receiving the same subsidy however.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »