Monday, February 23, 2015
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Growing Awareness of Freedom of Speech
by Keltie Zubko
“We don’t absolutely make it illegal to talk about certain subjects, we just make it so dangerous, with so many obscure and complex rules that no one dares to go there. Somewhat like gun laws. We don’t overtly ban all fire arms. No, we would find too much resistance and rational criticism. The hypocritical Canadian way is simply to regulate them out of existence, gradually, just like controversial speech. Hate laws mean whatever we say they mean. We will only tell you after you say something if you have offended. This is the process of gradual Marxism. The state gradually disarms the citizen of their weapons and their free speech by slow degrees so that absolute control both physical and mental will be with the state.”
~ Free Speech Lawyer Doug Christie speaking at the University of Ottawa, April 8th, 2010
There could hardly have been a more dramatic or heart-breaking way to start 2015 with a spot light on the essential underpinning of free societies, than with the murders of the satirists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris this month where it appears that the writers and artists and body-guards were assassinated for their views.
The extreme censorship of killing those who express opinions in opposition to one’s own cannot fail to engage the whole world’s attention upon the issue of freedom of expression.
Those who have been paying attention and noticed the growing unwillingness of even the so-called “democracies” to uphold the principles of free speech will not be surprised.
Censorship by killing the messenger is only the extreme form of what goes on, and is continuing to go on, even today, in Canada, the United States, and other so-called “free” countries of the world where censors seem to be growing in power. You would be hard-pressed to find any country that is not increasing laws, regulations and unspoken strictures against certain speech. There’s a growing convention that holds a certain kind of “tolerance” to be a greater value than freedom of expression.
This is true from our public lives to our private sectors, from our kindergartens to our supposed bastions of free intellectual enquiry, the universities.
Jokes seem to be drawing heat and censured more than ever, but watch out if you dare touch those certain forbidden topics.
It was quite remarkable to see all the journalists and politicians and everyone with a Twitter or Facebook account adopt the identity of Charlie Hebdo, with the ubiquitous signs that suddenly popped up everywhere. How sad to realize what it would take for most of these people to notice the issue of free speech, much less take a stand for it.
Only the visceral shock of the most absolute form of censorship finally motivated some action, albeit the token action of changing profile pictures on social media accounts. When it got to the degree of republishing Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, there was much more reluctance. At least the issue became a cause celebre for a period of time, debated and argued along with all the political, religious, social, philosophical problems that co-exist with the issue of free speech.
These are highlighted by such events as the arrest of over 70 people in France for alleged hate crimes, within days of the Paris march. Their crimes are supposedly defending or glorifying terrorism, and the most famous of these is by a comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, charged over a Facebook post saying “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.” This is a combination of the names of magazine Charlie Hebdo and Amedy Coulibaly, the attacker who killed four hostages at the supermarket. Dieudonne also has repeatedly been prosecuted for anti-Semitism. He explained the post in an open letter to the French Interior Minister Bernard Caseneuve, saying he was being silenced by free-speech hypocrisy. “You consider me like Amedy Coulibaly when I am no different from Charlie.” It appears that only approved people are allowed to say “Je Suis Charlie.”
Meanwhile, there is a contest in Iran, seeking entries of cartoons about the holocaust. We shall see how many “Charlies” enter that!
The big question, of course, is when it comes to defending a few individuals whose freedom of speech is still at risk, today, here and now. We’ll see if any of the brave journalists or marchers will put their money where their Facebook status is!
Who will donate, just for example, to the defence fund of Arthur Topham, charged under section 319(2) of the Canadian Criminal Code, so he can hire a lawyer and maybe get a fair trial, when the long process of a criminal trial (after first being put through the human rights act’s wringer) finally takes place this coming October in Northern B.C. for his website RadicalPress.com? He and his family have been fighting for freedom of speech for years now, but of course the “Charlies” may not find his ideas palatable.
When I heard about the deaths at Charlie Hebdo, the first image that came into my mind was the smashed and bleeding face of Robert Faurisson, from Lyons, France, beaten by some young men for his opinions about historical revisionism that he had and still has put forth for decades. That beating, in September 1989, was hardly noticed except by fellow revisionists, and certainly no media would dare to actually defend Dr. Faurisson’s right to speak his opinions, unmolested.
Then I thought about the fire-bombing of Ernst Zundel’s house in downtown Toronto that resulted in the partial destruction of his house and his many precious possessions, like his library of rare books. No one died, it’s true. The rationalization was that he deserved it. I don’t recall the media stepping in to condemn this kind of violent censorship. No one would ever want to say “I am Zundel”; his opinions were too far beyond the pale.
I also remembered years of living with death threats when my husband Doug Christie dared defend people charged with word and opinion crimes. Our office was vandalized, we were attacked on the way to court, threatened with horrific consequences, and very seldom did Doug get any credit for defending principles fundamental to a free and democratic society, i.e. freedom of speech. No, he was reviled for sympathizing too closely with his clients. He lived and died with the tagline “lawyer to holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis and hate mongers.”
If the journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo have made one thing clear with their courage to express themselves and in their tragic deaths, it is to bring the debate out where it belongs, where we all must come to terms with what we value, what we will fight for, what the limits might be, what we are prepared to accept or not accept.
What is freedom? What does it really mean? How much do you care about freedom? What values do you place above freedom? Many people believe we need a society where no one offends anyone else, where we maintain a patina of niceness from kindergarten to university, the workplace and government and on to the grave. This seems to be the trend right now. Ask the Dentistry Students at Dalhousie or the potential law students who want to go to their Christian Trinity Western University and then practice law in BC.
I contend that no matter how unpleasant the free expression of ideas may be, it is necessary to help us understand what precisely we do believe and think. Freedom of expression is necessary to create the great pool of invention and creativity responsible for enhancing our lives as human beings in every field imaginable, even religion.
After seeing years of the creeping advances of thought police throughout the world under whatever guise they take and which has culminated in this most extreme and terrible attempt to kill ideas, I think that the consequences of censorship are far worse.
Keltie Zubko is the editor and publisher of Friends of Freedom a private newsletter for the supporters of the Canadian Free Speech League, dealing in cases of censorship and persecution of political, religious, and historical opinion. She is also the wife of former “Battling Barrister” Douglas Christie who tragically passed away in March of 2013.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Quebec "Human Rights" Commission wants to regulate Internet "hate speech" now
As if (the now repealed and disgraced) Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act wasn’t bad enough, now the Quebec “Human Rights” Commission wants the power to regulate internet content and silence website operators and bloggers. The proposed new powers of the HRC may include financial “damages” for those “offended”! I smell a new cottage industry for the perpetually offended!
Here is an interview with the President of the Quebec “Human Rights” Commission on French CBC from December 2014. A translation of interview was posted on Vlad Tepes YouTube channel.
"We've had complaints filed against anti-muslim websites and we couldn't accept them.
... If we have this new provision, we could proceed and take action."
And on what criteria will the Quebec “Human Rights” Commission accept these new complaints? According to the HRC: "It's when we have comments that are generally hateful..."
What kind of definition would encompass "Generally hateful"? If I lived in Quebec and wanted to post (perhaps controversial) opinions on the recent terrorist attack in Ottawa and decided to mention that the perpetrator was a Muslim who committed this terrorism in the name of Islam, would that be considered "generally hateful" towards Muslims? Would anyone need to put in the usual media-party inspired slogans such as "Islam is a religion of peace" or that terrorism in the name of Islam is simple "lone-wolf radical" act and does not represent all Muslims to avoid costly litigation via yet another Canadian Kangaroo court?
Mission Creep? Has all “hate” been eradicated in Quebec that the ‘Human Rights’ Commission needs to branch out and censor speech on the Internet now?
The best George Orwell Doublespeak line of the interview with HRC’s Jacques Fremont was: "And for the HRC, freedom of expression is very important". Sure, freedom of expression is very important, as long as you say what I want you to say.
Comments from around the web
Barenakedislam.com: Quebec Human Rights Commission proposes a new provision that would criminalize online criticism of Muslims
Essentially, this means it would allow ‘victims’ of hateful online comments to register complaints and eventually receive compensation. When a website rails and rants with comments that expose the ugly truth about certain groups such as the muslim community, the government would have recourse to take action against such websites.
Apparently, Quebec wants to equate telling the truth about Islam with incitement of hatred. Let’s hope the people of Quebec can defeat this idiotic idea.
NeoConservative Christian Right: Human Rights Denied in the Name of Human Rights
This week, there’s the threat of another attack on freedom of speech in Canada. It’s from the “commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse” – the commission of human rights and youth rights. A nice name. But the head of the commission is proposing legislation to further curb freedom of speech. There’s already lots of legislation in place. The additional legislation would go further: one could make a complaint even if one isn’t any particular victim and can’t show that any particular person has been hurt. (In French, “on n’a pas besoin d’être une victime particularisée et de le démontrer.”)
For those of you who speak French, here’s a link, including to an interview with the head of the commission:
Vlad Tepes: 1. This is an interview with the President of the Quebec Human Rights Commission. In it, he appears to be saying that Quebec, or Canada, is going to be implementing something which looks a whole lot like the criminalization of criticism of Islam.
I would like to remind every man, woman, child and bureaucrat that freedom of speech was implemented for one thing in the West. To criticize religious and political authority. That once you limit that freedom even one little bit, all other freedoms of speech will diminish exponentially, because all things can be seen as functions of islamic observance.
Thank you Poste De Veille for the interview video and Sassy for the Translation.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Seriously, what the heck has happened to defamation law in Ontario?
When the blogosphere went to battle over the now repealed Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, (Canada’s internet censorship legislation) one of the strongest arguments the side supporting freedom of speech had, was that with the “Human Rights” Act was rigged and that the Process was the Punishment. With Section 13 and its lengthy Tribunal process and rules made up as they went along; the system itself ground little people into the dirt all the while using the unlimited power and resources of the state. The best example is the “human rights” case against me which took over TEN years of my life! After seeing a defamation case in person, I can surely say that the process is the punishment here too, the only real exception is that in a defamation hearing, the process is a punishment – potentially – for both sides. (And by “potentially”, let me quote “Dr Dawg” from his testimony today, “a company like McDonalds could use defamation law via a SLAPP suit to harass critics of their food/company”. In the case of rich companies or individuals, the process being a punishment via civil suits is the whole point!)
The blogosphere rallied together to get rid of Section 13, now it’s time to rally together to amend, or repeal all together, defamation law and its applicability to the Internet. The best disinfectant to horrible laws is to shine a light on them. The light of truth and honestly was shone on Section 13, and within a few years, it was repealed. I urge all bloggers, writers, free thinkers and freedom lovers to take a serious look at Ontario’s ridiculous defamation laws and throw off this easily abusable yok of speech restriction.
To quote John Gilmore of the EFF, “The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” Let’s put that into law, so that writers can express themselves on matters of public interest, without the fear of having to spend tens of thousands of dollars defending themselves. The CCLA has some good ideas on how to reform the law, and it is really worth a read: Supporting Anti-SLAPP legislation.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
More information on ruling:
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Sunday, September 28, 2014
The criminal prohibitions on speech in Canada are shameful. Section 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code [so called “hate speech” law] is a ridiculous law, which is used to silence and stifle a SINGLE viewpoint in Canada. The “hate law” has little to do with stopping “hate” … and all to do with censoring and harassing a marginalized group of Canadians who dare to speak out on controversial topics.
Like the disgraced Section 13 “hate speech” law; now repealed and repudiated; the criminal prohibitions on speech have been used and abused by vocal special interest groups to target their political enemies – all risk free of course; since the Canadian state picks up the tab and uses the power of the police and judiciary to crush anyone who dares fight back.
The petition which the Ontario Civil Liberties Association has put forward is well worth reading and signing.
WTF! Is this Canada or Absurdastan? No Canadian should ever be charged under this fake law for holding NON-VIOLENT “CONTROVERSIAL” opinions which may hurt the feelings of the privileged few.
From: "Joseph Hickey - OCLA" <email@example.com>
Dear OCLA Supporter,
Please take a moment to read and consider signing OCLA's petition in defence of the civil rights of Arthur Topham, a BC man who is currently being prosecuted under a "Hate Propaganda" section of Canada's Criminal Code. The petition is online at the following link: http://www.change.org/p/hon-suzanne-anton-attorney-general-of-bc-jag-minister-gov-bc-ca-hon-suzanne-anton-retract-your-consent-for-the-criminal-proceedings-against-mr-arthur-topham?utm_source=guides&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_created
OCLA has the position that sections 318 to 320 of the Criminal Code should be repealed. These sections allow egregious violations of the civil rights of liberty, just process, and freedom of expression. Under these provisions, a person can be jailed without the Crown being required to prove any actual harm to a single identified individual.
Mr. Topham was arrested in front of his spouse, detained, subjected to a home-invasive seizure, and faces jail time if convicted, for expressing his highly unpopular views.
OCLA’s public statement on this matter is available at: http://ocla.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/OCLA-statement-re-Arthur-Topham.pdf
Please read OCLA’s letter to the BC Attorney General asking her to withdraw her consent for this prosecution, which is available at: http://ocla.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/2014-09-24-Letter-OCLA-to-AG-of-BC.pdf
Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) http://ocla.ca
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire
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