Hate Speech

Wednesday, October 12, 2005
When I was kindly invited to YARGB, i considered blogging under my real name. One of the reasons I have so far resisted is a perhaps an irrational fear that I will say something that will lead me into the Kafkaesque darkness this man suffers.

You see, in Canada we have laws against hate speech. And while I try to discipline myself against hate, and would like to be upbraided by readers when I fail, we are all prone to venting on the internet, and with PC sensibilities being what they are...

Canada's hate speech laws emerged in response to the Holocaust. And while I find it understandable that we should seek to protect people against the emergence of Nazi-like movements, the very fact that we are seeing much antisemitism today on the politically-correct left and positions that seem to be encouraging the destruction of Israel, it only suggests that when the righteous come for the Jews, they will be controlling the laws and it won't matter what's on the books.

Having said that, hate speech laws might have some effect in protecting other groups from hate; after all racism is not a generic thing: Judeophobia and Islamophobia and Sinophobia are all quite different phenomena.

Nonetheless, I think I'm against hate speech laws. If we can't shout down, intellectually pull apart, and ostracize those who engage in hate, and we have instead to rely on lawyers making potential martyrs of haters, and fuelling the fire of all kinds of mad conspiracy thinking, then what good are we to anyone anyway? We're not a society in which minorities should indulge in a false sense of security. Ultimately, it's learned morality not laws on which the minority has to count.

Hate speech and its cousin un-PC speech are increasingly the target of those whose PC nihilism, or moral relativism, makes them uncomfortable with any strong assertion of belief or faith. They favor a "diversity" talk in which no one can be offended because no one can say anything much; this leads to all kinds of dangerous denials of reality. Liberals think they are smart when calling, for example, for religious tolerance and claiming all religions are equally true. But this just demonstates their nihilism. There is no true believer in any faith who doesn't believe that his faith is truer than the alternative faiths he does not follow. If you allow people their religion, you have to allow this and it will inevitably impinge on the public sphere where the best beliefs, wherever they come from, should be allowed to win in free and open competition. While this will provide an opening for scapegoating, since the pragmatic truth of the scapegoaters has often won out over the ontological truth that takes scapegoating into account, I hope and believe we are now at a time in history where the majority are able to see scapegoating for what it is and reverse the historical win-loss record between the two kinds of truth. I admit, however, I may well be wrong about this.

Anyway, while I'm against both hate speech and hate speech laws, I take some small ironic pleasure, as an Infidel pig or monkey or whatever it is the Koran says about Jews and Christians, in the latest news via Fjordman that a group in Britain may try to have the Koran banned as hate speech.

The political correctness that was once meant to protect the Jews, but that has now turned against the Jews in favor of defending Muslims against Israelis and other patriarchal western oppressors, is now being attacked by Christians who have often been one of PC's biggest enemies. It's all human folly at its finest, and a reminder that we should stop feeling guilty for what we have not done, or for being successful or powerful or intellectually aggressive and disconcerting to others, and continue in our struggle to know and speak truth, howevermuch that may offend those with other truths. I'll defend your right to believe and speak about the Koran, if you defend my right to argue that the Koran may encourage violence to Jews and Christians. I will because I believe the truth will out, and that the most important measure of human progress is progress in our thinking about religion. Such progress is discomfiting, but we should not be protected against it by those who think the state and not a moral citizenry is the answer to hate.

9 comments:

terrye said...

The Koran called hate speech? Hoisted on your own petard.

Sometimes I think these laws are like a dog chasing its tail.

I don't agree with them for the very reason that the definitions are too subjective.

Slander and libel laws should be enough.

I have noticed that people are prepared to say things in public they would not have dreamed of saying 30 years ago in a less enlightened era.

Rick Ballard said...

Truepeers,

When were the hate speech laws passed in Canada? You mention the use of the Holocaust as a strawman to effect the passage and the irony of that nearly floors me. I sometimes write things that are somewhat unkind - perhaps they might even be construed as hateful concerning Sen. John McCain (J)ackass AZ. The reason for my holding him in such contempt has to do with the infamous legislation bearing his dismal appellation. The ease with which he was rolled by the Soros financed Feingold crowd speaks volumes about his intelligence as well as his dedication to conservative principles.

Attempts to control speech are always attempts to control thought and they always come from the quarter whose thought will not withstand the fire of debate. That is why the speech "codes" now imposed at many of our colleges and universities are so heavily favored by factions holding forth ideas unsupported by any experential data. Sloppy theorists really do need protection from reality in order to maintain their illusions.

If you value freedom of speech then remember that John McCain is a much more dangerous man than Russ Feingold. Feingold is honest about his desire to be rid of pesky freedoms while McCain will smile and proclaim that he is protecting the Bill of Rights as he tears it to shreds.

And yes, I know the President signed the act. I believe it to be the most serious error that he has made as President.

truepeers said...

I have noticed that people are prepared to say things in public they would not have dreamed of saying 30 years ago in a less enlightened era.

Terrye, yes, I'm sure this is true and an important qualification to what I said about what we can't say in the age of diversity. There's always been some kind of PC, some things you can't or don't want to have to say.

What bothers me about today is that many of our academic elites don't believe in truths that transcend politics and that people who speak such truths can just be ignored, or professionally ostracized.

What do you think of this from Melanie Phillips' The lethal consequences of the trahison des clercs:


One of the factors that has created the current climate of lies about Israel and the Jews is the respect afforded to academics who, despite the fact that they tell blatant lies and thus rewrite history, are regarded as authoritative simply by virtue of the fact that they are university professors. Since the academy is the custodian of knowledge, it is assumed that its representatives are disinterested seekers after truth. Thus what they say mutates into the normative truths of a culture. The problem is that this fundamental premise is no longer true. Great swathes of the academy are no longer disinterested at all. For a variety of separate but sometimes related reasons, including the development of the grievance or victim culture, the rise of interest groups with money to spend promoting that culture, the dependence of academics on such groups for funding and the post-modern deconstruction of the very concept of truth, academia has become a prime site for propaganda. If one reads social science research, for example, one has to pick one’s way through a minefield of error and distortion in piece after piece of special interest pleading masquerading as objective research. Some of this finds its way into government policy – much ‘research’ upon which the British government bases its policy on domestic violence, for example, offers a disgracefully distorted picture based on the vilification of men, startlingly at odds with the overwhelming amount of truly authoritative research which shares responsibility for such violence equally between the sexes.

truepeers said...

Rick, the main part of the hate speech law was passed in Canada in 1970. Here is a relevant passage from a Canadian Supreme COurt ruling on the law:
While the history of attempts to prosecute criminally the libel of groups is lengthy, the Criminal Code provisions discussed so far do not focus specifically upon expression propagated with the intent of causing hatred against racial, ethnic or religious groups. Even before the Second World War, however, fears began to surface concerning the inadequacy of Canadian criminal law in this regard. In the 1930s, for example, Manitoba passed a statute combatting a perceived rise in the dissemination of Nazi propaganda (The Libel Act, R.S.M. 1913, c. 113, s. 13A (added S.M. 1934, c. 23, s. 1), now The Defamation Act, R.S.M. 1987, c. D20, s. 19(1)). Following the Second World War and revelation of the Holocaust, in Canada and throughout the world a desire grew to protect human rights, and especially to guard against discrimination. Internationally, this desire led to the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and, with reference to hate propaganda, was eventually manifested in two international human rights instruments. In Canada, the post-war mood saw an attempt to include anti-hate propaganda provisions in the 1953 revision of the Criminal Code, but most influential in changing the criminal law in order to prohibit hate propaganda was the appointment by Justice Minister Guy Favreau of a special committee to study problems associated with the spread of hate propaganda in Canada.

The Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada, usually referred to as the Cohen Committee, was composed of the following members: Dean Maxwell Cohen, Q.C., Dean of the Faculty of Law, McGill University, chair; Dr. J.A. Corry, Principal, Queen's University; L'Abbé Gérard Dion, Faculty of Social Sciences, Laval University; Mr. Saul Hayes, Q.C., Executive Vice-President, Canadian Jewish Congress; Professor Mark R. MacGuigan, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto; Mr. Shane MacKay, Executive Editor, Winnipeg Free Press; and Professor Pierre-E. Trudeau, Associate Professor of Law, University of Montreal. This was a particularly strong Committee, and in 1966 it released the unanimous Report of the Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada.

The tenor of the Report is reflected in the opening paragraph of its Preface, which reads:

This Report is a study in the power of words to maim, and what it is that a civilized society can do about it. Not every abuse of human communication can or should be controlled by law or custom. But every society from time to time draws lines at the point where the intolerable and the impermissible coincide. In a free society such as our own, where the privilege of speech can induce ideas that may change the very order itself, there is a bias weighted heavily in favour of the maximum of rhetoric whatever the cost and consequences. But that bias stops this side of injury to the community itself and to individual members or identifiable groups innocently caught in verbal cross-fire that goes beyond legitimate debate.


Here is the law itself, though I can't find the recently updated version. link to criminal code, 2003

It was recently amended to make it a crime to promote hate against homosexuals. This has led some Christian groups to argue that Bible will eventually be banned as hate speech in Canada. But so far, you can't be prosecuted for hating McCain. He is not an identifiable group. So only the old libel law applies there.

chuck said...

The ease with which he was rolled by the Soros financed Feingold crowd...

I thought is was mostly foundations: Pew, Ford, and Schumann. Some links Pew,others.

Rick Ballard said...

Chuck,

Your second link names Soros' Open Society Institute (a foundation) as one of the players. Byron York's book lays out the Bing/Lewis/Soros consortiums influence as well. Pew, Ford and Schuman are certainly major players but the consortium is right in the thick of it - as is Teresa Heinze's Tides Foundation.

McCain keeps some very funny company for a self-proclaimed 'conservative'.

Truepeers,

Thanks for the link. Makes me wonder what in the world is liberal about Canada's Liberal Party.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

After the changes of the Sixties, it was Power which became the new God for many. Political Action = Social Salvation = Holy of Holies.

I don't for a minute take the hate speech people at their word. It's all about power. And it's about power obtained by manipulating the sacred symbols of our society. Everyone believes in free speech, but.... Not for that other jerk if we can help it. The question was how to get around the sacrality of free speech so as to prevent it for their political opponents. They have found a way.

Thank goodness I live in the Republic and am still allowed to say that.

terrye said...

truepeers:

There was a time when one could say that someone else was a pompous ass, no more.

The pompous ass can call for the destruction of the state of Israel and apparently the human beings who live there by claiming political not social justifications.

David Thomson said...

“One of the reasons I have so far resisted is a perhaps an irrational fear...”

You do not have an irrational fear of persecution. I am convinced that you run a real risk of going to jail. Canada is a cesspool of political corruption. We Americans must make sure that our own situation doesn’t worsen.