David Thompson
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January 14, 2008

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Dr.Dawg

Perhaps, David, you should remind yourself what "ad hominem" means.

What has been going on is simply an investigation of a complaint--not a hearing. My bet is that the complaint will not proceed. Nor should it, as I've said before. Whoops, no martyrdom for Levant. He may feel vindicated after all this--but also a tad disappointed, I suspect.

David

Dr Dawg,

“Whoops, no martyrdom for Levant. He may feel vindicated after all this--but also a tad disappointed, I suspect.”

Perhaps, but that’s entirely beside the point. And as Levant has said, the inconvenience, expense and low-level harassment of the investigation may well be enough to chill the publication and debate of related subject matter. Not everyone will have the confidence, resources or sheer bloodymindedness that may be required. Some may – will – simply avoid publishing contentious material.

And, again, it doesn’t matter whether Levant is grandstanding, or whether he’s someone to avoid sharing a drink with. Yet a great deal of commentary has hinged on whether or not Levant is a nice guy or politically agreeable. The actual principle he outlines should operate irrespective of whether the individual concerned is charming or likeminded. Surely that’s what makes it a principle?

Even Glenn Greenwald, of whom I’m not exactly a fan, said,

“Here are the noxious fruits of hate speech laws: a citizen being forced to appear before the Government in order to be interrogated by an agent of the State -- a banal, clerical bureaucrat -- about what opinions he expressed and why he expressed them, upon pain of being punished under the law… Political life in Canada has seen numerous prosecutions for political opinions under that country’s oppressive hate speech laws. Government investigations for political opinions are thus an accepted part of their political culture… The mere existence of the “investigation,” interrogation, and proceeding itself is a grotesque affront to every basic liberty. For those unable to think past the (well-deserved) animosity one has for the specific targets in question here, all one needs to do instead is imagine these proceedings directed at opinions and groups that one likes.”

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/01/13/hate_speech_laws/index.html

Dr.Dawg

Greenwald got his facts ludicrously wrong. This was simply an investigation to see if there were grounds for proceeding with the complaint. Levant wasn't "forced to appear." He could have sent a letter, but as I said in a later piece, you can't put a letter up on YouTube. He has not run afoul of "hate speech laws," which are part of the Criminal Code and are dealt with by the regular court system. The legal bar for successful prosecution under them is set very high indeed. What we have here is a complaint under provincial human rights legislation, where the aim is primarily conciliation.

Any complaints-driven process will have unfounded complaints to deal with. Before everyone jumps up and down and shrieks about star chambers and what-not, they should wait for the outcome of what is, in fact, a screening process. My bet is that the complaint will not proceed.

If it's chill that concerns you, libel laws are a far greater threat to freedom of expression, in the UK, Canada and the US. Just ask any activist on the wrong side of a SLAPP suit, or check out the bullying that such notables as Conrad Black have engaged in--and, incidentally, this tactic is not foreign to one Ezra Levant.

David

Dr Dawg,

“Levant wasn't ‘forced to appear.’ He could have sent a letter, but as I said in a later piece, you can't put a letter up on YouTube.”

You seem determined to trivialise the inconvenience of the “investigation” and to belabour your suspicions regarding Levant’s sense of drama. The point is that being compelled to attend (or send letters to) a “screening process” of this kind is itself intimidating and objectionable, and, given the alleged grievance, faintly sinister. The fact that this particular complaint may not succeed doesn’t alter the fact that the risk of being compelled to expend time and effort doing this kind of bureaucratic dance may inhibit what gets published by others with less theatrical flair.

Dr.Dawg

If your argument is that, because this complaint appears unfounded, the legislation itself is invalid, then libel laws, which have proven considerably more prone to abuse, should be abolished as well. I didn't see any such frenzy on the Right when Conrad Black was suing his critics into silence, or when community activists have been bullied by corporate SLAPP suits.

I think the good outweighs the bad when it comes to laws against inciting hatred. In fairness, though, where a complaint is found to be trivial, reasonable expenses of the respondent should be covered.

Levant's "time and effort" could have been minuscule if he weren't such a political drama queen. But his politics, and his demeanor are, as you say, beside the point. Otherwise I'd be supporting the complaint against him.

David

Dr Dawg,

Sorry for the delay, was busy making lunch.

“I didn't see any such frenzy on the Right when Conrad Black was suing his critics into silence, or when community activists have been bullied by corporate SLAPP suits.”

You do throw up quite a bit of chaff, but, for what it’s worth, I wasn’t aware of the events you mention and I don’t presume to speak for “the Right”. I work for Xenu, as well you know.

“I think the good outweighs the bad when it comes to laws against inciting hatred.”

But in what sense could Levant’s publication of the cartoons, or the article they accompanied, be regarded as “inciting hatred”? The complainants, Syed Soharwardy of the ISCC and the Edmonton Muslim Council, claimed, ludicrously, that publication of the “hateful” cartoons “incited hatred” of Muslims, and that Levant was “insulting the prophet Muhammad” and “advocating hatemongering cartoons in the media.” That such loaded and unsupported nonsense should occupy the time and attention of the AHRC is surely absurd, even perverse, and way beyond its remit?

Dr.Dawg

"But in what sense could Levant’s publication of the cartoons, or the article they accompanied, be regarded as 'inciting hatred'?"

Well, they can't be. I expect, therefore, that the complaint will be dismissed. I do think we're all on the same side here on that.

David

Xenu (pbuh) be praised.

rightwingprof

In a free country, there are no grounds for complaint. Our troll is dancing around that, which of course, is the only issue.

Trimegistus

Dawg:

In the past, you have occasionally written things which offend me. Since you think preventing hate speech is more important than free speech, I hereby order you to burn your computer and never post anything again.

Dr.Dawg

A dancing troll? What a charming thought.

In his version of a free country, rightwingprof would no doubt oppose laws against inciting riots, libel and slander, and so on. And I shall give him the benefit of the doubt with respect to Black, SLAPP suits and so on--I'm sure he is consistent.

But my vision of freedom includes those who, without legislation, would be fair game for bullies and bigots of every stripe, and have no comeback. Bullies and bigots should be free to say anything they want unless it is deliberately causing harm to people because (for example) of their race or ethnic origin. "I think Muhammed is an idiot" is OK. "Kill all the Muslims in your neighbourhood" is not (that would be considered bona fide hate speech). And "Hiring Muslims means hiring terrorists" on a picket sign outside a taxi company (in Canada, many cab drivers are Muslim) might *conceivably* fall afoul of provincial human rights legislation, although not necessarily.

As for that legislation, which is what is under discussion here, the salient passage of the Alberta Human Rights Act is this:

***************
3(1) No person shall publish, issue or display or cause to be published, issued or displayed before the public any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that

(a) indicates discrimination or an intention to discriminate against a person or a class of persons, or

(b) is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt

because of the race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income or family status of that person or class of persons.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to interfere with the free expression of opinion on any subject.
***************

There is nothing in Levant's actions that "expose[s] a person or class of persons to hatred or contempt." But I, for one, think it is entirely appropriate to legislate against stirring up hatred against minorities, just as it is appropriate to legislate against inciting riots. There is a distinction to be made, in my view, between simply expressing an opinion and setting out to cause harm to others.

Dr.Dawg

Trimegistus:

I might well have offended you in this forum, and I am perversely pleased at the thought. But I have never expressed hatred for anyone, here or anywhere else. I think the distinction is an important one. No law can guarantee a "right" not to be offended, so take your lumps like a man. :)

Trimegistus

I'm sorry, Dawg, that's not acceptable. As with the Muslims using the Canadian HRC to silence critics, all that matters is that I say I'm offended. It doesn't matter what you actually said. And I'm afraid you're wrong that "no law can guarantee a right not to be offended" -- that's EXACTLY what the Canadian HRCs undertake to do. Please mail David the charred fragments of your laptop so we can be sure you never offend us again.

Starting to understand now? It's not about Ezra Levant, it's about all of us.

Dr.Dawg

Trimegistus:

You're starting to offend me. :)

The HRCs do *not* undertake to prevent people from being offended. I quoted the relevant passage from the Alberta HRA above. It talks about hatred and contempt and discrimination. I don't see the phrase "give offence" anywhere in the Act.

The reason I raised the "chaff" that David complains about is to illustrate the fact that "freedom of speech" is as much a political as a moral concept. Depending on the politics of the person invoking this sacred phrase, sometimes it will come into play and other times it won't. I don't have difficulty proscribing certain types of speech, but then, nobody else here does either, right? Freedom of speech is relative, although we all like to be consistent.

So perhaps we should look at what speech we can agree should be proscribed, and why; see if there are any general principles that underlie such proscriptions; determine if those principles can be extended into other areas; and try to come to some agreement. Then we can talk about regulatory mechanisms and how to prevent abuses of process. If we're still awake.

Education Guy

"There is a distinction to be made, in my view, between simply expressing an opinion and setting out to cause harm to others."

Sure, and it is always the wise and good charged with ferreting out the difference, knowing as the egotistically arrogant often do, that there opinion is needed to help the "less fortunate". I find it sad that you are willing to give up the right to free expression for the foolish hope that it will stop the spread of so called hate, which is in Canada, apparently a problem so insidious that it needs its own court system.

Dom

If a woman accuses me of rape, then that complaint should be investigated. If she accuses me of wearing a red-sweater, she should be told that this is not a violation of her rights to begin with, even if her faith prompts her to hold red as the devil's color.

Freedom of the press is finished law. We know how important it is. For centuries, in both the US and Canada, immigrants have decided that freedom of speech is more important to them than any customs that they have brought with them. Christians did not bring John Cleese into court just because of "The Life of Brian", and even Catholics, who lean towards authoritarianism anyway, never demanded that "Piss Christ" should be banned, even though, as Federally funded art, it clearly violates the separation of church and state. They knew that any act of censorship is horrifying.

You are dealing with people who clearly believe that Islam and Sharia will triumph in other countries as it has in the past, through terror. The sight of a government agency kowtowing to their demands, even though it goes against age-old traditions and common sense, even though it would never be brought to bear for other groups -- to them, this confirms their belief. Canada is on dangerous ground here.

Trimegistus

Dawg:

You are not agreeing with me. Therefore you don't respect my opinions. Therefore you are exposing me to contempt. Therefore you are violating my human rights. Therefore you must be silenced.

This is how it works. And it's no good saying "that would never happen" because we can see it happening RIGHT NOW in the Ezra Levant case.

Brendan

Education Guy,

In Canada, we are so far ahead of Great Britain in managing multiculturalism that the subtleties of how we keep everyone happy might be eluding you in this instance. No one is required to give up an inch of free expression in this process and, as has been pointed out, the complaint will be dismissed. In fact, Ezra will be in far more difficulty for his boisterous defence where he makes false statements about Soharwardy that may expose him to genuine discrimination or contempt from fellow citizens. Stupid Ezra.

As has been pointed out by Dr. Dawg, Levant needn't have appeared and could have sent his opening statement in the form of a letter which would have been sufficient, in my view, to shut down any pursuit the complaint by the AHRC. The fact is someone - wrongly - has lodged a complaint and the AHRC would be negligent if they did not at least inquire further. As to the "chilling" effect this may have, that is debatable. The rejection of such a complaint could be a huge re-affirmation of free speech in Canada, and for that I thank the scoundrel in question.

georges

"is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt" - cold that "class of persons" include politicians? Aren't fascist dictators a class of persons? Members of death squads? Guantanamo interrogators? Terrorists? White House incumbents? Tories? Heads of Multinational Corporations? Wingnuts? Moonbats?

steveaz

Dr. Dawg,
Your department Head hereby notifies you, that, based on a formal, complaint, you are under investigation for beating your wife.

Answer the following question very carefully. "When did you stop beating your wife? Give exact dates."

Dawg, if you're a cog in a patronage-machine (like, say, a credential-ist meritocracy, or an opaque religious sect) then you are operating with a compromised autonomy, and you MUST answer your superior's inquiry. But if, like Levant, you are a practicing, free citizen, you can freely critique the state's interrogation, ridicule the questioner and still maintain your freedom of action.

From the tone of your rebuttals, I'm sensing that you are accustomed to operating with a constrained realm of autonomy, and that, like an aging burro accustomed to its pinching halter, you may have completely forgotten what real Freedom is.

David

Cue random music interlude.

http://fp.ignatz.plus.com/feets.mp3

Education Guy

"No one is required to give up an inch of free expression in this process and, as has been pointed out, the complaint will be dismissed."

This is not true, and if you have been paying attention to this system, you know this is not true. People have been forced to give up their right to free expression, and even worse, have been forced to explain themselves for a crime no more horrible than expressing an opinion. Whether this particular act of this maddening play will end up dismissed is only part of the issue at hand.

"In fact, Ezra will be in far more difficulty for his boisterous defence where he makes false statements about Soharwardy that may expose him to genuine discrimination or contempt from fellow citizens. Stupid Ezra."

So, a man who has committed no crime is made to answer the charges before him, and in so doing possibly opens himself up to other charges. I really cannot for the life of me understand how anyone could not see a problem with that.

You smile gladly at this tyranny, not understanding that it will be brought to bear against you in time. Man will never have a right to not be offended, and those currently pretending that it could be so will help to usher in a new age the same as the old, where your betters get to determine what you can opine on.

David

“Whether this particular act of this maddening play will end up dismissed is only part of the issue at hand.”

Indeed. Irrespective of whether Levant faces no further action and basks triumphantly, a precedent for intrusion has effectively been set. Others may well face similar “screening” by the AHRC and, indirectly, by ideologues, whingers and people with axes to grind. It’s important to remember that the plaintiff, even a nuisance plaintiff, faces no financial cost (unlike the taxpayer), while those accused have to pay their own legal expenses. All other issues aside, this is simply unfair and serves as an open invitation to grievance pantomime.

Brendan

Common law gentlemen. This complaint is likely the first of it's kind to be addressed by the AHRC. Clearly they should have dismissed it out of hand, but as part of their process required more information. This is not a hearing he is speaking at, so be careful about what Levant is selling here - himself.

"So, a man who has committed no crime is made to answer the charges before him, and in so doing possibly opens himself up to other charges. I really cannot for the life of me understand how anyone could not see a problem with that."

No problem. Remember, Levant wants action taken against him. This is an opportunity for him to grandstand and potentially bring down the AHRC itself. Something he would be more than proud to do. Also, he is answering to a complaint to a body charged with arbitration of complaints, rather less serious than a legal charge of hate mongering or something. I thought it quite ironic that in his enthusiasm he went far overboard in maligning the complainant. Who is a) not educated in Saudi Arabia b) does not propose that sharia law stand in Canada c) not an extremist, radical cleric or anti-semite, in fact he organizes an annual shared holiday festival with the local Jewish community. He now has a case that due to Levants ranting he has cause to fear for his life. These untruths, broadcast to the world via Youtube, actually do open him up for slander charges. As I said, Stupid Ezra.

DaninVan

Canada: the future...http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/019553.php

Horace Dunn

Dr Dawg and Brendan

You mention that Ezra Levant need not have attended the hearing. Well, perhaps not, but consider this: had he not appeared then far fewer people in Canada and beyond would have been aware of what was happening. In a democracy the state has no business interfering with a free press, and certainly not at the behest of Islamist bigots. At least Levant's appearance has ensured that the sly activity of the HRC has been widely exposed.

And don't start on again about how this isn't really a trial, and probably no action would be pursued etc. For heaven's sake, how would you feel if you were asked to answer to a state body for something you had written? For me, I would feel very afraid. This is state-sanctioned bullying. It seems as though Levant is a tough character, who won't be intimidated. But what happens the next time some religious bigot fancies taking a pop at someone? And the next time? Well, let's just hope that we get more grandstanding.

Dom

"He now has a case that due to Levants ranting he has cause to fear for his life."

You're kidding, right? Who has threatened his life? Other muslims, who want him to stop sharing holidays with Jews?

Education Guy

“No problem. Remember, Levant wants action taken against him.”

She was asking for it, did you see what she was wearing?

“Also, he is answering to a complaint to a body charged with arbitration of complaints, rather less serious than a legal charge of hate mongering or something.”

First, the "body charged with arbitration of complaints" has the weight of the Canadian government behind it, so your claim that is less serious is laughable. Second, the taxpayer is footing the bill for the complainant, but not so for the accused, which just adds another insult to the whole proceeding. Lastly, if this man is worthy of condemnation over his conduct then he should be brought up on charges and tried before his peers, or sued. This HRC system is a farce that bypasses individual rights to due process in the hopes of securing group level protections to not be offended.

You still don't seem to understand why it is an abhorant wrong that the investigation itself (rather than the charges the investigation is attempting to sort out) has created potential legal problems for Levant. You can try to lessen the impact, but you cannot hide the truth, this is the new version of the star chamber and it must be killed off now before it does more harm.

You seem to think that some people have a right to tell others what they can legally think or say, and what's worse, you seem to think that certain lines of discussion which are very relevant to the world we live in and to decisions our society must face, are beyond the pale of acceptable conduct. As such, you shut down even our right to question the status quo or to dissent against that which we disagree with. You are allowing the government to once again act the tyrant, and history should inform you what the likely outcome of that will be.

Education Guy

Oops, the first and third paragraphs in the last comment should have been in quotes (or italicized), as they are what I was responding to. I guess html is not enabled in the comments here.

David

Corrected for clarity.

[ wheels phonomogram into middle of room. ]

http://fp.ignatz.plus.com/porkchops.mp3

Andy

David

I think you've upset the drink soaked trots:

http://drinksoakedtrotsforwar.com/2008/01/14/ezra-levant-is-not-being-persecuted-by-the-state/

'D-List conservative libertarian' surely not?

David

Andy,

Thanks for that, but I doubt I can take credit. And the author seems to make much the same error as seen above, i.e. of confusing the man and his argument. It’s possible to support the argument being presented, and do so quite emphatically, without in any way endorsing other things Levant may have said or done.

A few further thoughts.

While Soharwardy claims that the cartoons have incited “violence, hate and discrimination” against him and his family, his complaint largely hinges on religious indignation. As I understand it, the central thrust of Soharwardy’s complaint, and that of the Edmonton Muslim Council, concerns the cartoons allegedly “defaming” Muhammad and making “false accusations” about Islam’s founder - of whom Soharwardy claims to be a direct descendant - and thereby doing “serious damage to the reputation of all Canadian Muslims” – supposedly by associating Muhammad with violence.

http://ezralevant.com/Soharwardy_complaint.pdf

If this is indeed the crux of Soharwardy’s complaint, it’s an absurd and dishonest position given Muhammad’s fondness for piracy, beheadings, abduction and brutality, as documented in the Qur’an and Sunnah and noted by centuries of Islamic jurisprudence. One might bear in mind the dissonance between Soharwardy’s assertion of Muhammad as “kind and merciful” and the realities of history – or indeed the contents of Islam’s sacred texts, with which Soharwardy must surely be familiar.

(Incidentally, Muhammad is mentioned endlessly in the complaint, with the ridiculous “pbuh” added every time, like some nervous tick or OCD. Again, dissonance springs to mind as a matter of some importance.)

Dr.Dawg

Gorges,

"is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt"

The "classes" are defined in the legislation: "race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income or family status."

David:

When an institution is complaint-driven, that doesn't guarantee that every complaint will be of the same quality. Complaints darned well should be examined before a hearing is decided upon. There is nothing invidious in that--indeed, it's part of due process. If simply having a complaint investigated for validity is "sly" (Horace Dunn) or oppressive (Greenwald), and hence the entire system should be dismantled (I don't know if the latter is your argument, but it is the main argument of the Levant-supporters), then what do you do about the regular court system? Is a preliminary hearing (or whatever the UK equivalent is) a dreadful intrusion into the life of a citizen unfairly or improperly accused of a crime? Or is it a protection of that self-same citizen, allowing matters to end before a trial commences?

People here seem to be confusing the process with the complaint. The present law does not sustain the complaint. It's not a speech law, although it's being constructed that way. Everyone is rightly concerned about the complaint. But that's precisely what the process is for.

David

Dr Dawg,

The comparison of the AHRC’s actions with the regular court system is somehow less than convincing, and, further to my post above, I see no basis for a hearing or “screening” of any kind.

Dr.Dawg

David:

The AHRC is a quasi-judicial tribunal. Would you prefer that all complaints go to trial, or are you calling for the dismantling of the HRCs altogether? My apologies if I missed something obvious in the post or the thread.

Why the investigator is getting the lumps here, I cannot fathom. I think my comparison with the regular court system is entirely apt. One shouldn't be subjected to the ordeal of a trial without passing through filters. The HRC investigator is just such a filter. She's not the enemy; right now, she's likely to be, effectively, an ally--if, as I strongly suspect she will, she stops the complaint in its tracks.

mgl

If I wanted to engage in ad hominem arguments, I could point out that that the Dawgs and Brendans are clearly basing their judgements on the "who" of the issue, rather than the "what". That is, since they don't like Levant's politics, they are quite happy to trivialize the fact that he is under investigation by the government for his thoughts. In the highly unlikely event that, say, Heather Mallick or Rick Salutin--two leftist Canadian pundits--were facing the same investigation, I'd venture the Dawgs and Brendans would be far less flippant about it.

But I don't want to engage in ad hom, so...

Brendan: "In Canada, we are so far ahead of Great Britain in managing multiculturalism that the subtleties of how we keep everyone happy might be eluding you in this instance."

Oh, barf. Is there no limit to Canadian sanctimony? I have lived in the country 16-plus years, and never cease to be staggered at the Canadian propensity for preening and self-aggrandizement.

Brendan: "The fact is someone - wrongly - has lodged a complaint and the AHRC would be negligent if they did not at least inquire further. As to the 'chilling' effect this may have, that is debatable."

Debatable, sure, but not in the least implausible. As for the negligence argument: nonsense. The AHRC could and should have replied, "Canada's tradition of press freedom does not leave us room to impose penalties for your hurt feelings. If you believe that the publication of the cartoons has exposed you to hatred and contempt, please provide evidence supporting your claim."

You can find a link to the original complaint here:

http://ezralevant.com/2008/01/monday-morning-update.html

The complainants attach e-mails that they claim expose them to hatred and contempt. As far as I can tell, every "hateful" message (most of the attached messages are certainly imbecilic and offensive) was received AFTER they began the complaints process, and are in response to that process. They offer no evidence that I can see from a quick perusal that the original publication of the cartoons caused them to experience hatred and contempt. If I'm correct, that should be adequate grounds for a dismissal out of hand.

Of course, I believe that the entire section 3(1) cited by Dawg should be struck from the books, which may itself be a violation of section 3(1), since my position could (in a stretch, admittedly) itself be taken as advocacy of discrimination. And on it goes.

Education Guy

The process is the problem, and this complaint is merely a symptom of it. Canada has a criminal justice system, and if someone runs afoul of it, that and not this HRC is the proper mechanism for making complaints and seeking justice. Otherwise, as I have said before, it is merely an attempt to get around your due process rights.

Dr.Dawg

"If I wanted to engage in ad hominem arguments, I could point out that that the Dawgs and Brendans are clearly basing their judgements on the "who" of the issue, rather than the "what"."

This is simply not so.

David

Dr Dawg,

“Would you prefer that all complaints go to trial, or are you calling for the dismantling of the HRCs altogether?”

Are those the only options? Is it not possible to have a human rights body that concerns itself with, erm, actual human rights issues? Egregious and unlawful discrimination in housing or employment, say, rather than the incoherent metaphysical grumblings of Mr Soharwardy. Again, I see no credible basis for AHRC action of any kind. Were I a Canadian taxpayer, I’d probably be complaining about what appears to be an inexcusable waste of public money.

rightwingprof

Publishing cartoons is not "stirring up hatred," and perhaps the troll should review the distinctions between American libel and slander law, and the other nations of the Anglosphere. Nor is publishing cartoons incitement to rioting, since no reasonable person would riot over a cartoon.

Trimegistus

Dawg sez: "People here seem to be confusing the process with the complaint. The present law does not sustain the complaint. It's not a speech law, although it's being constructed that way. Everyone is rightly concerned about the complaint. But that's precisely what the process is for."

No, Dawg, we're not confused. We're saying that the _entire process_ is wrong. There _should not be_ such a process. People should not be able to bring complaints against publishers simply for things which offend them.

Your "don't worry, the government will reach the proper conclusion" attitude isn't supported by events: the Canadian HRCs _don't_ acquit people. All complaints are upheld.

Try this thought experiment: would you be as blase if it was Alberto Gonzales questioning Michael Moore?

Brendan

"First, the "body charged with arbitration of complaints" has the weight of the Canadian government behind it..."

No, it doesn't. It is a low-level, Provincial, quasi judicial body that arbitrates discrimination such as "they won't rent me an apartment because I'm gay." If they can't settle things then legal action follows.

"You seem to think that some people have a right to tell others what they can legally think or say, and what's worse, you seem to think that certain lines of discussion which are very relevant to the world we live in and to decisions our society must face, are beyond the pale of acceptable conduct. "

I think nothing of the kind. I think anything can and should be discussed and I believe wholeheartedly in free speech without limitations. Where you are confusing matters is in believing Mr. Levants spiel. He has presented you with high drama (as he always does by the way) and you are cheering him on hook line and sinker. Beware the obvious I am telling you. I do not agree with the complaint that has be lodged against him one bit and would fight on his behalf, while holding my nose, to assure he suffers no ill consequences. The idea that he already has suffered consequences is debatable. Or at least not very clear from the information we have now. You may scorn at the government for "inconveniencing" him, by I find that laughable as he is determined to ALWAYS be inconvenienced.

Brendan

"I could point out that that the Dawgs and Brendans are clearly basing their judgements on the "who" of the issue, rather than the "what". That is, since they don't like Levant's politics, they are quite happy to trivialize the fact that he is under investigation by the government for his thoughts. "

I think I've been quite clear on this and you have made an inaccurate assessment of what I or Dawg have been saying.

georges

Dr Dawg

If the legislation defines the classes in this way then it is very bad legislation.

You cannot help your race, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry or place of origin. These are brute facts of nature about who you are. Short of freakish Michael Jackson -type surgery you can't change any of them. If someone attacks you for your DNA or your chromosomes they are being not just rude and offensive but also absurd. But if they attack your opinions - such as your implausible belief, unsupported by any evidence, that when Muhammad claimed to hear voices he was definitely in contact with an angel - surely that's fair game?

Dr.Dawg

Trimegistus:

"the Canadian HRCs _don't_ acquit people. All complaints are upheld."

Wrong. Where on earth did you get that idea?

I ask that because, unlike, say, "rightwingprof," you can clearly read. So have a look (and these are complaints that actually got heard--records are not kept of the ones screened out by investigators or intake officers): http://www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca/legislation/panel_decis_2007.asp (The latter thinks I want the cartoon-publishing prosecuted, which indicates that he is far past his academic best-before date.)

Brendan:

"cheering him on hook line and sinker"

Careful, now. :)

Dr.Dawg

georges:

"...fair game?"

Of course it is. We're talking discimination, here, and hate, not simply mocking a religion. I think it's generally uncivil to do the latter in front of believers, but it shouldn't be illegal, and that's not what the AHR Act calls for.

Dr.Dawg

Trimegistus:

"records are not kept of the ones screened out by investigators or intake officers"

Sorry, that has to be incorrect. Numbers (not details) will almost certainly be kept. I could plumb for them, but I think I've made my point with what I posted. And remember, this is just one of ten provincial, one federal, and three territorial commissions.

J. Peden

Dr. Dawg correctly opines:

There is a distinction to be made, in my view, between simply expressing an opinion and setting out to cause harm to others.

So Dr.D. concludes that Levant will not be tried.

But the Canadian law - 3(1,a,b-2) - defines "setting out to cause harm to others" to occur when a free expression of opinion about others involving a negative value judgment is simply made public. The opinion could even be true.

So simply by publishing the Cartoons and admitting it, Levant is guilty of "setting out to cause harm to others", because either the Cartoons do express a sad truth about Islam, or they don't.

Therefore, my money's on The Queen ruling that Levant will not be tried, because a trial is not even necessary. Only Levant's punishment will be at issue.

irwin daisy

David,

This letter was sent to the AHRC, by ET (who has posted here before). I think it gets right to the point and should muzzle a certain commentor on this thread:

Dear Sirs:

As a taxpayer, I am asking that the federal and provincial governments examine the Human Rights Act (HRA) and the activities of the Human Rights Commissions (HRC) with a view to disbanding the HRC.

The HRC began, to my understanding, as a forum to review alleged cases of discrimination in the workplace and housing. I am assuming a paucity of such cases that has led to the self-generated new role for the HRC, which can only be defined as State Censorship.

Section 13.1 of the HRA can only be described as a degenerate section. Incredibly, it bases its grounds for prosecution on pure speculation rather than facticity. I quote it below:

1)" It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. "

Please note the basic axioms of analysis in this section:

a) The allegations referred to as 'hate messages' are 'likely to expose'. This removes the focus from any requirement for empirical evidence that the message actually did have an observable result that some members of the population were moved to a feeling of being hated and viewed with contempt by virtue of that message. Instead, this section refers only to the supposition that, in the future, the message 'might' expose... Not did expose, but 'might expose'.

Speculation has absolutely no validity in any legal procedure. Speculation is a subjective, irrational and non-factual process. To condemn a Canadian citizen on the basis of speculation about a future and purely hypothetical result is a violation of our rights.

b) Furthermore, basing a judgment on a future event, and attempting to directly link that future event (feeling of being hated or view with contempt) to one specific message betrays a profound ignorance of the cognitive process.

There is no way that we can directly connect a subjective and personal perception to one and only one cause. Such a direct and singular link can only be found in mechanical systems. Human cognition is not mechanical and instead operates as a complex network of a lifetime of embedded experiences and memories.

c)The emotions of 'hatred or contempt' are entirely subjective. What may be viewed as an act of hatred or contempt by one person may be dismissed by another. No legal process should be based on randomness, that is, on the subjective perceptions of any one person.

In addition, three other factors must be emphasized.

The first is that there is no inherent 'right to be not offended'. The basic infrastructure of a democracy is its capacity to question, examine, explore, and debate its basic systems of belief and behaviour. This is the method - and it is the only method - by which a people can advance in their civilization. Certainly, those who hold one set of beliefs may be offended when an alternate set is offered; the only way to deal with this is the ancient rational method of dialectical debate and discussion. Such debate and discussion may offend, but our beliefs and behaviour cannot be removed from such ongoing rational examination. If we remove them, they rapidly become dogma. And we become trapped in that dogma.

Second, and vitally, this section of the HRC is in direct violation of the Charter of Rights, Section 2b, which guarantees us freedom of expression as a fundamental right. Not as a peripheral right but a fundamental right. I would like to question the governments, both federal and provincial, how they can permit a legal procedure to operate that directly contradicts a fundamental right.

Third, the unfairness of the financial aspect of the system is yet another violation of Charter rights, guaranteeing equality of treatment in the legal system. Under the HRA, the complainant bears no costs of the proceedings; the defendant, however, bears all the costs. This unequal financial burden sets up a situation where the defendant is, fiscally, immediately guilty. The complainant's costs are born by the taxpayer; the defendant's costs are born privately, which inserts a supposition of immediately being judged as guilty. This is a violation of our fundamental rights of innocence unless proven guilty.

The HRC has degenerated into what can only be called 'kangaroo courts' , operating against the basic principles of a free and open democracy, in violation of our rights, in violation of the necessary infrastructure of a rational and progressive people.

They should be disbanded immediately.

Dr.Dawg

I shall cover your bet, JP. Perhaps David would be kind enough to keep the book.

Publishing the cartoons is not promoting hatred of any ethnic or religious group. Offensive, yes. Deliberately so, yes. But against the law? Not on your nelly. Otherwise we'd have every backwoods pastor submitting complaints about, well, people like me who are not kind about the excesses of organized religion, including Christianity, and have published in that vein.

David

“Perhaps David would be kind enough to keep the book.”

There will, of course, be my handling fee to consider.

All Ten Amendments

"because of the race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, PLACE OF ORIGIN, marital status, source of income or family status of that person or class of persons."

Has anyone ever been hauled before the Star Chamber ...er... Committee of Public Safety ...er... NKVD ...er... AHRC for the gratuitous US-bashing that seems to be Canada's national sport?

I'm thinking not.

mgl

Publishing the cartoons is not promoting hatred of any ethnic or religious group.

True. The irony of this situation is that, by the complainants' own proffered evidence, the "hatred and contempt" they were subjected to resulted directly from their bringing the complaint! In order to maintain consistency, the complainants should now bring a complaint against themselves for exposing themselves to hatred and contempt.

Lori

Where this will end up, unless more people like Levant take up the task, is here:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,528549,00.html

Note that I endorse neither calling Mohammed a pedophile (which is done deliberately to offend and incite and polarize), nor the pressing of charges against this politician. She is not being stupid. She is deliberately setting out to appeal to a significant minority of Austrians who feel like they have lost control of their country. In the same way that the BNP is growing in England.

This type of situation arises when apparati of political correctness, like HRC tribunals, muzzle open debate, so anger is forced to simmer and grow, until it overflows.

As Ezra Levant puts it so perfectly in one of his videos, you can't order people to agree with you. At most you can hope that through civil discussion and debate a mutual respect can emerge.

Shutting down the right to criticize an ideology or a religion will in the short term muzzle or hide discontent, but in the long run create a simmering brew of hate that will spill over and destroy a society.

J. Peden

Well, Dawg, I did trust you to quote the Law, which you now say is not the Law - I guess you must know The Queen! So my position is unfairly compromised. What we need is a Duel.

All Ten Amendments

Hmm... if there's no charge to file a complaint, and the complainant doesn't have to appear or even make a case, perhaps we should all start filing one every time some leftoid Canadian says something uncomplimentary about the United States.

If nothing else, that might keep these button-down Stalinists out of everyone else's hair, since they obviously have far too much free time on their hands.

David

“What we need is a Duel.”

Again, there’s the small matter of my handling fee. I can rent you pistols or swords. For a little extra I could probably dig out some army surplus flamethrowers.

Lori

And it ends up here too.

http://tundratabloid.blogspot.com/2008/01/finnish-blogger-gets-fined-and-shut.html

and here

http://lionheartuk.blogspot.com/


Watch out bloggers.... first they came for the publishers

Dr.Dawg

David:

If you are renting out pistols and swords, please supply me with a pistol forthwith. And I am prepared, out of pure generosity, to spring for JP's sword.

David

You’ll be needing tights, tabards and powdered wigs, too. Got to do things properly. Oh, and if you want extra authenticity, I can sell you a set of wooden teeth.

The Thin Man

Whatever the nature of Levant’s character, and the validity of the claims by the complainant, there is one fact of this mess which is more chilling than the rest and that is the lack of fitness of any such "amateur" body as an HRC to consider questions more suited to constitutional jurisdictions.

What we have here are questions of freedom of expression and individual rights to freedom from religious persecution being decided upon by bodies which have not the legal competence nor the moral authority, let alone the evidentiary rules and established precedent of court procedure and judicial and parliamentary oversight, to make them fit venues for the consideration of such questions.

It strikes me that the Canadians are putting matters of vital constitutional weight in the hands of a bureaucracy barely qualified to adjudicate parking offenses.

We have groups in the UK, such the Christian Voice (successors to the unloved National Viewers and Listeners Association, run by Mary Whitehouse – and I am sure that Canada will have it’s own such groups) which has sought to prevent "Jerry Springer: The Opera" being staged, amongst other things, and I dread to think what havoc such groups could wreak upon our cultural, artistic and other freedoms if empowered by such bad legislation cast in such immoderate language - which this legislation is - to seek redress for injury to feelings.

For surely if this law were not so wrongly formed for the purpose it is now being used, we would not be able to argue up hill and down dale about the nature of the case.

If it were a law fit for the purpose for which it is being used, there could not be so many interpretations of either the law or the process.

I find it similarly disgraceful that the process itself is so one sided. We offer common thieves the benefit of due process and clear rules of evidence, the removal of the cost of defence against definitive charges and established tariffs of sanctions if such charges are proven, and the separation of legal process from the consideration of guilt or innocence. Any failure to follow a clearly prescribed process leads to a mistrial. Levant and others taken to task by this process have no such guarantees.

I believe Elizabeth I said “I have no desire to open windows into men’s souls”. This is very good advice, since it addresses one of the fundamental limits on the ability of legal process to reach useful and therefore *just* outcomes. But this advice is being explicitly ignored here. The idea that the intentions of the publisher, rather than the published material, are being adjudicated is clearly an attempt to use legislation and punitive state procedure to address matters of taste, morality and opinion – matters to which legal processes are totally unsuited.

georges

Dr Dawg

I don't want to force you to write anything against your conscience. But, for my benefit, could you post an example of something which you think constitutes hate speech against a religious opinion, as distinct from racism. Because I can't imagine anything that one could write which wouldn't already be covered by anti-racist considerations. For instance, if someone started referring to certain groups as (forgive me) "towel-heads", or "camel f***ers" - disgusting language which I of course condemn unreservedly - they're really just using racist slurs. On the other hand, when the Reverend Ian Paisley refers to the Pope as "the Whore of Rome" - even though I think he's being a stupid and ignorant w***er - I think he should be completely free to say that.

It's pretty obvious that Ezra Levant is both ethnically and religiously Jewish. Again, for me, attacks on his religion are fair game in a way that attacks on his ethnicity aren't. I think it's awful that Jews, Christians and Muslims admire Abraham because he heard voices telling him to murder his son and he very nearly acted on them. Disgusting. I also think Moses comes across as a terrible and disgusting role model - just read Numbers 31! But if someone attacks Jews in Eric Cartman style, for being mean with money or something, that's different. It's wrong.

Dr.Dawg

"But, for my benefit, could you post an example of something which you think constitutes hate speech against a religious opinion, as distinct from racism."

I'm having a hard time being understood. I don't think there is such a thing as hate speech against a religious opinion. Otherwise I'd be doing twenty-to-life. :)

The Act prohibits hate speech against individuals and groups of people, not against thoughts. I can say anything I want against Islam, Christianity, you name it. But if I say, "Mr. Smith is a Catholic, so keep your kids away from him, they're all pedophiles" on, say, a (very large) picket sign outside his house, I might fall afoul of the Act.

Brendan

"It strikes me that the Canadians are putting matters of vital constitutional weight in the hands of a bureaucracy barely qualified to adjudicate parking offenses."

The bureaucracy, as it is currently established, probably cannot simply reject trivial complaints. Trivial complaints are their raison d'être. Likely they are required to investigate, to some degree, anything that is brought to their attention. This is a definite flaw that will be brought to light by Mr. Levant and as a taxpayer I would hope this situation is never repeated. The higher courts of this country wouldn't hear such a complaint in a million years.

I will be bringing my own pistol to this 'duel,' just in case things escalate. (I don't trust David's damp English powder)

georges

Dr Dawg

So what's your take on this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Hot_Catholic_Love

ET

Dr. Dawg wrote:

"I'm having a hard time being understood. I don't think there is such a thing as hate speech against a religious opinion. Otherwise I'd be doing twenty-to-life. :)

The Act prohibits hate speech against individuals and groups of people, not against thoughts. I can say anything I want against Islam, Christianity, you name it. But if I say, "Mr. Smith is a Catholic, so keep your kids away from him, they're all pedophiles" on, say, a (very large) picket sign outside his house, I might fall afoul of the Act."

The above, to me, doesn't make any sense. The Human Rights Act, under Section 13.1 Hate Messages, states that it is a 'discriminatory act' to express:

"any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. "

The above Section, to me, clearly includes 'hate speech (message) against a religious opinion'.

Section 3.1, Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination, states: "For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted."

Therefore, according to this HRAct, there most certainly is such a thing as 'hate speech against a religious opinion'.

Dr. Dawg states that the Act 'prohibits hate speech against individuals and groups of individuals, not against thoughts'. But I don't see the distinction. Presumably, the speech is an expression of a thought.

And the whole point of this 'trial' is that, according to the HRAct, Canadians CANNOT say anything they want against Islam, Christianity..." After all, those political cartoons were saying something critical against Islam. And Mr. Levant has been called up by the HRC to 'explain' his 'hate message' that 'might expose Muslims to hatred or contempt'.

If Dr. Dawg or anyone were to post a sign on his neighbour's lawn, that would more readily be dealt with by actual laws against defamation and trespassing.


Dr.Dawg

ET's reading makes little sense, at least to me.

In everything he quotes, it is *people* who are protected--not ideas.

This is precisely why the complaint against Levant will go nowhere.

Happy New Year, ET, by the way.

Vitruvius

Dawg and his fellow travelers are not upset because they have a valid complaint about Mr. Levant or his behaviour, they are angry because Mr. Levant is doing such an excellent job of getting his message out to Canadians and the world at large.

Some of Dawg's fellow travelers have resorted to calling Mr. Levant a "drama queen". They do this because they are angry that they have spent their whole lives trying to become drama queens, only to be danmingly upstaged by Mr. Levant's natural ability as a Drama King. Thus they feel sexually inadequate.

Even if the complaint against Mr. Levant is now dismissed, which will have to be done under the consideration of his appearance at the inquisition, he will have succeeded in letting all of us know how to approach these kangaroo courts in the future.

For these services rendered for all Canadian citizens,
Mr. Levant should be invested into the Order of Canada.

ET

Dr. Dawg, you cannot separate, unless you are, alas, a Platonist, people and ideas. There is no such thing as an idea existing on its own, without someone articulating that idea.

Therefore, the issue is that the Human Rights Act in Canada works against the freedom of individuals to express ideas. People's right to express ideas, is what ought to be protected. Not 'people' per se - that's dealt with under criminal laws against physical harm to the person.

This is the right of the individual to think, and to express those thoughts. The HRA expressly rejects this right. It states that it is unacceptable to 'express any matter' (that's an idea) that is likely to expose someone to 'hatred or contempt' because of the content (idea) of that which is expressed.

I've commented in the invalid nature of this Section, with its focus on a future-oriented speculated result of that 'expression'.

My point here is that the Act is not protecting individuals. It is harming one's individual right to freedom of speech, the right to dissent, discuss, debate, reject, examine..ideas. And since ideas are expressed by individuals, the Act represses the individual right to freedom of speech.

irwin daisy

"And I am prepared, out of pure generosity, to spring for JP's sword."- Dawg

On the public dime, to be sure.

Dawg (@00:39), it's a cartoon. If Elmer Fudd gets shot by Bugs Bunny, is that a hate crime against white people? You have never, and I suspect, won't ever make sense.

-------------------------

Here's excerpts from the bill of Islamic rights enshrined in Cairo, which competes with the UN's declaration of Human Rights:

"The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam"

Adopted and Issued at the Nineteenth Islamic Conference
of Foreign Ministers in Cairo
on 5 August 1990.

The Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference,

Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization in which harmony is established between this life and the hereafter and knowledge is combined with faith; and the role that this Ummah should play to guide a humanity confused by competing trends and ideologies and to provide solutions to the chronic problems of this materialistic civilization.

Wishing to contribute to the efforts of mankind to assert human rights, to protect man from exploitation and persecution, and to affirm his freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah.

Freedom of speech, thought, press?

Article 22
(a) Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari’ah.
(b) Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari’ah.
(c) Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.

All the 'reasonable' articles preceding the final two (below) are abrogated (just like the Quran):

Article 24
All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari'ah.

Article 25
The Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification to any of the articles of this Declaration.

---------------------

All one can surmise from this is that certain unnamed Saudi born Imams (Soharwardy) who call for shariah law in Canada are manipulating the rights we give them in order to install their own.

And Dawg should add 'lap' to his chosen moniker.

Dr.Dawg

"My point here is that the Act is not protecting individuals. It is harming one's individual right to freedom of speech"

Well, not quite. It's harming one's individual right to discriminate against other people on a number of grounds with which you are familiar. And it's harming a person's right to defame people on those same grounds. In the case of religion, it's not forbidden to defame the Prophet Muhammad, or Jesus Christ, or the Buddha, and the ideas associated with same--it is forbidden to defame or otherwise discriminate against the *people* who believe in and follow the precepts of such figures.

Let's be quite clear. This isn't about "freedom of speech" grosso modo. It's about a small subset of same--the freedom to defame, the freedom to spread hatred against minorities. We're talking people here, not ideas. It's been a salutary experience to note the ferocity with which people on the Right are prepared to fight, not for the wider principle, not by a long shot, but for the "right" to spread hate and to defame. Most were quite absent from public discussion, for example, when Conrad Black was suing ordinary people for saying things that the now-jailbird disapproved of. All of ET's casuistry will not change that fact.

Dr.Dawg

And in case I forgot to mention it, for the third or fourth time, and for the benefit of the trolls arriving here from SDA, I think Levant has broken no law and the complaint against him should not go forward.

irwin daisy

So, it appears Dawg, you would agree with this double standard in Canadian law?

CTV.ca News Staff

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for former aboriginal leader David Ahenakew, who had a hate-crimes conviction quashed by a lower court.

The Crown will have to decide whether to proceed with a new trial, stay the charges or appeal this latest decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In its 3-0 decision released Monday, the appeal court said while Ahenakew's 2002 remarks about Jews were "shocking, brutal and hurtful," the trial judge didn't consider all the relevant evidence as to whether he wilfully promote hatred against them.

Ahenakew, the now-74-year-old former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called Jews "a disease" in a December 2002 interview with a newspaper reporter.

irwin daisy

Trolls? And to think you were the one chased back under the bridge.

Dr.Dawg

What double standard? You are making no sense, as usual.

ET

No, Dr. Dawg - you are quite incorrect. Section 13.1 of the Human Rights Act is quite clear. It is talking about the possible, not actual, but the possible 'effects' of your speech. Its concern is that the effect might, just might, mean that someone who is a member of X-group might be viewed with hatred or contempt as such a member.

The derogative meaning of 'discriminate' (as opposed to its meaning of 'differentiation')is actually a process of evaluation. That is, if I reject the axioms of Islam and Sharia Law, that's an evaluation. If I express my rejection of such an ideology, and examine it as unsuitable for a modern industrial society, this analysis might well, according to the esteemed HRC, expose some members of this group to being viewed 'with contempt'.

I am NOT defaming any one individual; I am evaluating and rejecting an ideology that is held by these individuals. That, in the view of the HRC, is a 'hate message'. I am, in that sense, defaming the Islamic ideology, because I am rejecting it as primitive and dysfunctional in the modern world. According to you, this shouldn't be allowed. Why not?

Why are you removing religious axioms from evaluation?

You are also absolutely wrong when you state that it's not 'forbidden to defame the Prophet Mohammed'..etc. It most certainly is, according to the Islamists. They were urged to riot and kill, because they felt that the political cartoons 'defamed Mohammed'. In Sharia Law, it is most certainly forbidden to 'insult the prophet'.

These cartoons, according to the HRC, are 'hate messages' because they express....READ THE ACT:

"any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. "

The point is, the these political cartoons were making very pointed observations about the fault lines in Islam. Muslims could indeed be offended...and state that Other People will 'view us with contempt'. Well, on the basis of analyzing the axioms of their beliefs, maybe we should. That's up to us. NO RELIGION or ideology ought to be immune to critical analysis.

And No-One has any 'rights' not to be offended.

It is absolutely not about the 'freedom to defame or spread hatred'. You simply don't get it, Dawg. And don't get into the weeping zone of 'minorities'. The issue is not about demographics.

It's about the freedom to think, evaluate and judge. And judging something includes rejecting it. And declaring why you reject it.

And don't slither into the diversionary area of 'the right to spread hate'. Heck, if you were genuinely concerned about that, Dawg, you'd be calling for a censorship of the Islamic Koran, with its specific statements about the necessity for killing Christians and Jews as infidels. How about those texts and their defamation? Are you calling for them to be censored? hmmm?

The issue is about the right to speak one's opinions. To make judgments. To evaluate. These conclusions may indeed offend someone. So what?
Maybe anyone who holds those views I'm judging needs to re-examine them and think..heck.."Viewing me with contempt is 'right on'..because my views are contemptible".

In your relativist world, Dr. Dawg, there's no such thing as analysis and judgment. Just 'smoothies' because..if Someone Holds That Opinion (eg, that stoning women is OK), it's OK, because that's them and they are a Minority'.

No, Dr. Dawg. I reject your opinion.

Brendan

This is a simple event: AHRC has no business questioning publishers about what they choose to publish unless it is clearly intended to provoke hatred. Nothing in the motoons could ever be construed this way. The contortions of the complainant in trying to construe defamation of Mohammed as an act of hatred toward all muslims are clearly frivolous and ridiculous. Mr Levant, rather than simply point this out, has taken umbrage with the (likely) required actions AHRC to request information of him instead of simply dismissing the complaint itself in a letter. Who cares? Both outcomes are the same, except, perhaps, for the value of publicity to Mr. Levant. So, can someone explain to me why all the wingnuts here are wearing their war panties on their heads?

Dr.Dawg

ET:

Please give me a ride in your time machine.

"I am NOT defaming any one individual; I am evaluating and rejecting an ideology that is held by these individuals. That, in the view of the HRC, is a 'hate message'."

Wrong. The HRC has made no ruling. It hasn't even had a hearing. It likely won't.

"I am, in that sense, defaming the Islamic ideology, because I am rejecting it as primitive and dysfunctional in the modern world. According to you, this shouldn't be allowed. Why not?"

According to me? You're just making stuff up as you go along, aren't you?

"Why are you removing religious axioms from evaluation?"

It wuzn't me.

"You are also absolutely wrong when you state that it's not 'forbidden to defame the Prophet Mohammed'..etc. It most certainly is, according to the Islamists."

But not according to the AHRC, which I thought we were discussing.

As for your other strawmen, it's proving to be a cold winter. I propose that you set fire to them and go toast marshmallows.

irwin daisy

Multiculturalism is surrender. Canada will have to live with Trudeau, the inventor of multicularism, with shame. On the other hand, Islam may well have to live with Mohammad, the inventor of "Submit!"

Brendan

"Multiculturalism is surrender. Canada will have to live with Trudeau, the inventor of multicularism, with shame. On the other hand, Islam may well have to live with Mohammad, the inventor of "Submit!"

More thinly veiled bigotry. Are all the non-muslim cultures who form part of the mosaic equally detestable in your view daisy?

Vitruvius

Alas, Brendan, while I know nothing about war panties, the value of the publicity achieved by Mr. Levant goes well beyond that accrued to Mr. Levant, it accrues to all humans who are interested in the problem of state sanctions against political speech and freedom of the press. This may not matter to you, as a closet fascist in the first place, but it does matter to honest thinking humans everywhere. It is because of Mr. Levant's effectiveness that the state's minions like you and Dawg are so worried about Mr. Levant's expose of your fraudulent pandering.

Brendan

"This may not matter to you, as a closet fascist in the first place, but it does matter to honest thinking humans everywhere. It is because of Mr. Levant's effectiveness that the state's minions like you and Dawg are so worried about Mr. Levant's expose of your fraudulent pandering."

Heh, this from a "charter member" of the Western Standard no less. If you believe what you just wrote I expect you value my freedom to discuss the nuances of this situation, with you no less, without being labeled a "fascist." Unless you are making reference to Johan's comedic attempts to link fascism with any type of progressive thought, in which case, I'd tell you I don't read fiction.

ET

By the way, Dr. Dawg, what's your agenda in calling those of us (Irwin Daisy and myself) who post at SDA - 'trolls'? Why the ad hominem?

Brendan - no, the AHRC could have, right from the start, refused to hear the case. Instead, it chose to hear it. That's already an action of the AHRC against freedom of expression.

Dr. Dawg - the AHRC has already held a 'hearing' with its official representative.
And you are ignoringn the HRACT, which is very specific in its view that IF you express an opinion that may move others to view others with 'hatred' or 'contempt', then, your opinion is indictable as a 'hate message'.

Dr. Dawg, your wrote: "In the case of religion, it's not forbidden to defame the Prophet Muhammad, or Jesus Christ, or the Buddha, and the ideas associated with same--it is forbidden to defame or otherwise discriminate against the *people* who believe in and follow the precepts of such figures."

Now - where do you get the data that allows you to come to this conclusion that you can indeed 'defame the religious icons and the religious ideas'? The HRAct is quite specific; it says that a hate message is defined as one that might make someone view someone else with 'hatred or contempt'. Well, if I explain how the religious ideas and icons of Islam are primitive and intolerant, then, this 'might' lead others to view Islamists with 'hatred or contempt'. Your error, Dr. Dawg, is that you separate the idea from the individual. Impossible. An individual who follows Islam is going to feel 'hated' if you view his religion with disdain.
Sheesh...it doesn't take a rocket scientist to follow simple logic!

YES-IT IS an axiom of the AHRC -- IF,IF, IF, IF someone complains that because YOU DEFAMED the 'prophet'. then, I, an Islamist, am exposed to people 'hating me and viewing me with contempt'....

No, my other points aren't strawmen, Dr. Dawg. The fact that you don't want to deal with them, is your problem.


Brendan

At fist viewing I thought Mr. Levant was making a valuable case on behalf of free speech, and indeed he may be. Once the context of the situation was provided, I had second thoughts knowing too well Ezra's propensity for grandstanding. As I have stated frequently here and elsewhere, I would do anything to assure not only that Mr. Levant suffered no consequences from the AHRC, but also do anything I could to assure that it should never occur again to any other. And I don't need to like the scoundrel to take that position.

Vitruvius

Charter subscriber, Brendan, not member. I value your freedom to say what you want without interference from the state. Whether or not you label me as panty-wearing is not relevant. Whether or not I label you as a fascist is not relevant. Whether or not David kicks me or you off his private property blog is not relevant. Who Conrad Black sues is not relevant.

Mr. Levant's expose of statist oppression is relevant. In fact, it's re-Levant.

Brendan

"no, the AHRC could have, right from the start, refused to hear the case. Instead, it chose to hear it. That's already an action of the AHRC against freedom of expression."

I am only familiar with the processes of other like ombudsman type organizations, so my knowledge of the AHRC is not specific, but to dismiss a complaint brought requires the bureaucrats to check certain boxes on certain forms as required before rejecting a complaint. If you have information that the AHRC has the discretion to reject complaints then please post it. To me this is a process, nothing more, and Levant will come out off it just fine. If not, then we can talk --about signatures for ET's letter.

Vitruvius

Mr. Lorne Gunter has an essay on this matter in today's National Post:

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=235985

Brendan

Well Vitruvius, are you still a subscriber would be my question? It now has a track record with which you can happily associate yourself or not. This is also irrelevant of course, but it speaks to your sympathies for Ezra on this issue. Liking or disliking the man is not germane to criticizing the actions of the AHRC but if you have deep affection for the man, perhaps you too easily overlook other, more cynical motives on his part.

Brendan

Vitruvius,

Don't misunderstand me here. I was happy at the publishing of the cartoons. It was a bit of a jonny-come-lately event by the WS, but more should have done it.

Vitruvius

The Western Standard magazine has folded due to market pressures, ergo I am no longer a subscriber. To the degree that I am a fan of Mr. Levant it is because of his skills as a conscientious public gadfly. I do not consider his other motives (and I am aware of them) relevant to the matter at hand.

For the first couple years of the Western Standard's blog, The Shotgun, I was a frequent commenter. I left because Mr. Levant's commitment to freedom of speech, even for aszholes, meant that eventually only aszholes commented there. Yet Mr. Levant kept his commitment to freedom of speech, even for aszholes, even if it cost him Shotgun readership.

We are watching a man who has dedicated himself the to ancient tradition of freedom of speech, even when others would rather not hear what is said, and worse, prosecute for what is said.

We owe him our greatest thanks.

PS: Mr. Levant's closing remarks video is now available here:

http://ezralevant.com/2008/01/my-closing-argument.html

PPS: For the record, and as you might imagine now that the Western Standard has shut down, the Shotgun blog is no longer associated with the Western Standard (and it is in the process of being re-engineered).

ET

Brendan - the Commission could have refused to hear the complaint. That's in Section 41.1 of the HRAct:

(1) Subject to section 40, the Commission shall deal with any complaint filed with it unless in respect of that complaint it appears to the Commission that

(a) the alleged victim of the discriminatory practice to which the complaint relates ought to exhaust grievance or review procedures otherwise reasonably available;

(b) the complaint is one that could more appropriately be dealt with, initially or completely, according to a procedure provided for under an Act of Parliament other than this Act;

(c) the complaint is beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission;

(d) the complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith; or

(e) the complaint is based on acts or omissions the last of which occurred more than one year, or such longer period of time as the Commission considers appropriate in the circumstances, before receipt of the complaint.

I would call it under 'd', because it is in violation of the Charter, Section 2b. And, of course, there cannot be any relationship shown between publishing the political cartoons and any feelings of 'hatred' or 'contempt' against Muslims - if, even if, one accepts (which I don't) that it is illegal to evaluate an ideology/religion.

Brendan

I suppose the subject boils down to a) it was important for Mr. Levant to use his opportunity to expose the AHRC (and all HRCs for that matter) to proper scrutiny. It is also, in my view, important to determine exactly how coercive the AHRC is in regards to Mr. Levants rights to free speech. With that added context it does seem to be, as I read somewhere, "like yelling at the call centre receptionist." Had that opening statement been made a the supreme court I'm sure we'd be minting coins of the man by 2012.

If he manages to better define the role of, or even eliminate these commissions then he has been successful, as I'm not convinced a duplicate system is cheaper than a more robust legal system. If that happens to be his contribution, then great, it's certainly a step up from everything he has contributed to date.

Vitruvius

I'll be happy if he can get the HRCs to wear red robes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uprjmoSMJ-o

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any
more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh."
-- George Bernard Shaw

Vitruvius

As I review my thoughts on the great many discussions on this matter that I have perused over the last few days, I find that there are a lot of people who agree with Mr. Levant's dialectic argument, yet who are unhappy with his rhetorical style and the way he is droll.

But is this not the point? Given that we agree with his dialectic position, does it not behoove us to appreciate the success that his style and wit have brought to this cause, even if does not meet one's standard of propriety?

Look, I'm the high-functioning autistic engineer around here, I'm not supposed to be the one who is pointing out Mr. Levant's dramatic success, but we can't just leave that aside. We would not be having this discussion in favour of freedom of speech if it were not for his performance.

Shakespeare said that all the world's a stage and yada yada. Mr. Levant's public presence takes that into account. So do I, in each blog comment I write. So, I think, should others, but that's not for me to decide.

Now that Mr. Levant's videos have had time to be carefully viewed multiple times, can we not see that in terms of dramatic classics, Mr. Levant is performing at the level of the role of Howard Roark in his defense in The Fountainhead:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq9udFmsNO0

David

Morning all.

[ Scratches head, blinks, surveys floor strewn with beer bottles. ]

Gosh. How busy we’ve been. I’m still reeling from the idea of Brendan’s “war panties.” Er, by which I mean the “war panties” to which Brendan referred. Not whatever garments may be fastened about his person. I feel I should make that clear.

Hm. More coffee.

Cafe Alpha

I would like you consider a hypothetical situation.

Imagine that someone much more modest and timid than Ezra, call her Judith, had decided to print the cartoon, entirely for the sake of news reporting - figuring that in Alberta, there was no possibility of any unpleasant reaction.

Now imagine that the complaints had been lodged, and this Judith was told to apologize to the Muslim community for "insulting the Prophet Mohammad", as the complaint says, and told, on pain of some much more serious punishment that she must never publish anything that insults Mohammad or Muslims again. (This, by the way is precisely what the commission will do to Ezra).

Now imagine that in the Alberta's Muslim community is a girl facing being killed by her family for renouncing Islam - that DOES happen, by the way. Now after reading that the government her government just censored a man for "insulting the Prophet Mohammad" (which is Islamic terminology for a kind of heresy, punished by death), do you think she's going to know that she can go to the Alberta authorities and trust her life to them?

Andy

A different view from the drink soaked trots

http://drinksoakedtrotsforwar.com/2008/01/15/the-real-issue/

EBD

Dawg: I'm confused -- good morning.

ET wrote that the Act is "harming one's individual right to freedom of speech, the right to dissent, discuss, debate, reject, examine...ideas. And since ideas are expressed by individuals, the Act represses the individual right to freedom of speech."

You replied that the Act only harms one's individual right to discriminate against other people, and that "in the case of religion, it's *not* forbidden to defame the Prophet Muhammad, or Jesus Christ, or the Buddha, and the ideas associated with same"; all that's forbidden is "to defame or otherwise discriminate against the *people* who believe in and follow the precepts of such figures."

So in other words, it's NOT forbidden to defame the prophet Muhammad, and it IS forbidden to defame the prophet Muhammad because in doing so you would "defame or discriminate against the people who believe it is forbidden to defame the prophet Muhammad."

Er, let's just cut to the chase: is it forbidden, or not forbidden, to defame the prophet Muhammad?

I guess that would depend, to a certain extent, on whether it's forbidden or not. When Soharwardy, who says "Islam is a service to humanity as well as a civilizing force for humanity wherever it is introduced and established", first heard about the cartoons he went to the Calgary Police and asked them to *arrest* Ezra Levant. When told that the police don't generally arrest people for printing cartoons, he went to the AHRCC, where Ezra Levant is now appearing under duress before their commission.

In Sowarhardy's letter to the AHRCC, on "Islamic Supreme Council of Canada" letterhead, he wrote:

"Thanks for meeting with me today. Although in our meeting, I provided you the detailed reasons of my complaint and the explanation of the offensive nature of the cartoons, however, you asked me to provide you the explanation in writing as well. Here is my explanation:

"The holy book of Islam, Qur'an describes the deepest love and the highest respect for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as an essential requirement of faith. There are hundreds of verses in Qur'an but I am just quoting few of them:

1. The Prophet is closer (dearer) to the believers than their own selves (chapter 33, verse 6)

2. Allah (God) and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him and salute him with utmost respect (chapter 33, verse 56)

3. Ye have indeed in Messenger of Allah (God) a beautiful pattern of conduct. (chapter 33, verse 21)

4. By the Lord, They can have No Faith Until they make thee (the Prophet Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them. And find in their souls No resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction (chapter 4, verse 65)"

You wrote, Dawg (on your own blog) that "The truth of the matter is that nothing more is occurring than what is supposed to occur when one Canadian citizen has a complaint about the actions of another Canadian citizen...The Alberta HRC informed Ezra Levant on this complaint against him. They then attempted to arbitrate a resolution to this dispute. This attempt failed as Levant refused to accept the resolution offered by Mr. Soharwardy."

Mr. Soharwardy's "offer" consisted of a series of *demands* -- that the Western Standard "apologize in the newspaper", that "the publishers condemn their actions", and "they have to come to our centre and apologize to our congregation, too."

irwin daisy

Brendan,

Thinly vieled bigotry? Islam means submission (USC archive). It is the ideology, regardless of what some, many, or most Muslims do. Unless you'd like to believe the shoveled, "Islam means peace" meme.

Typical lefty. Feelings trump facts and ad hominem attacks trump all.

Dr.Dawg

EBD:

I guess I'm confused, too. I didn't write what you just attributed to me. At least, it doesn't sound like me, and I've never been able to spell "Soharwardy." But if I'm having a senior's moment, please give me the reference.

Here, in any case, is my take on the process:

First, I don't think mediation would have been successful in this case. What I'd really like to do is to put Levant and Soharwardy in a bottle and shake it. But that's just me.

Second, the AHRC had the option of simply dismissing the complaint at the outset. I think (or speculate) that it is very wise that they did not. They will dismiss this complaint without a hearing, but after an investigation. Any similar kinds of complaints will be dismissible at the outset based upon this procedural precedent.

Third, since you have come to the party late, I personally think that the complaint should be dismissed, for many of the reasons people have already expressed.

But to your meatier point: I cannot see in the legislation, which I have now read and re-read several times, that it is a human rights violation to defame the prophet Muhammad. And I fail to see why my earlier words have you tied up in knots. I even provided what I thought was a non-emotive example, referring to Catholics. But once again:

An attack upon a person's beliefs, no matter how dearly-held, is quite permissible, and should not be subject to any legislation whatsoever. An attack on a person, however, is not. We have libel and slander and defamation laws in place, and no one is calling for them to be repealed. We have an extension of that principle in hate speech laws (Criminal Code), and we have HRAs in 14 jurisdictions that make it an offence to expose people to hatred or contempt. Note, and this is important, that the wording does not refer to hating or showing contempt oneself, but, rather, engaging in communications of a public nature likely to sow such hatred or contempt in the community.

Attacking the notion that God wanted us all to learn 7th-century Arabic is hardly spreading hatred or contempt for people who actually believe such a thing. Publishing cartoons of the Prophet, which violates various Islamic injunctions against idolatry, besides being gratuitously insulting in themselves, is an offensive act, but, in my view (and I suspect the AHRC investigator's), is perfectly legal. It might offend believers, but it doesn't expose them to hatred or contempt on the part of others in the community.

Best for 2008, by the way.

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