Monday, September 15, 2008

MORNING SESSION: "No Free Pass for Jokes," Internet Censors? Spokesman Insists

“No Free Pass for Jokes,” Internet Censors’ Spokesman Insists

OAKVILLE. (September 15, 2008) The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, adept at gagging and fining Canadians, had trouble getting the hearing room set up on time. This morning’s hearing started 15 minutes late and kicked off a three day hearing to hear final submissions in the Marc Lemire Internet case. Last minute labours produced the loud farting sound of duct tape being unwound to secure wires to the carpet.

The elaborate phalanx of taxpayer-hired security guards to protect Richard Warman and Commission counsel was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps, the dire threat to their lives had vanished like an Autumn mist in the September warm sun. Perhaps, the fact that the Complainant was a no show today meant that the risks had disappeared. Perhaps, the Prozac of common sense had calmed the “security” hysteria which had reduced another Commission counsel to near tears telling people how dangerous human rights work is; that is, trying to strip Canadians of their right to express their views freely on the Internet.

A large crowd of supporters filled the hearing room. People had come from as far as British Columbia, Germany and Halifax to support free speech. Also present

Two active bloggers from freedominion.ca, a conservative website now being sued for slander by the absent complainant Richard Warman, are actively reporting the proceedings.

The press was represented by Kirk Makin of the Globe and Mail who has covered many previous free speech hearings.

“If a message board owner cannot run the message board in a manner that complies with Canadian law, then they should not be running the message board,” Margot Blight for the Commission stated.

Member Hadjis queried the responsibility of message board owners. In this case, all but one of the postings complained of by Richard Warman were posted by persons other than Mr. Lemire. How could a message board operator. He mused about the problems even for being message board operators like the CBC of monitoring a message board. Hadjis himself referred to previous evidence of Commission employees or complainants like Richard Warman acting as agents provocateurs.

Speaking on behalf of the Commission and acting as prosecutor, Toronto lawyer Margot Blight stated that there is a high threshhold for language to breach Sec. 13: that is, to communications that are “likely to expose” privileged minorities to “hatred or contempt.” In fact, as the defence and pro free speech intervener will argue that virtually any criticism of a privileged minority may be seen as possibly holding them up to contempt, if not hatred.

“There is no free pass for a message board owner and operator. Its content must comply with Canadian law,” said Miss Blight.

Miss Blight defended Dean Steacy and his use of – and she kept stumbling over the pronunciation of this word – “pseudononymous” postings in his investigation. How else might he lean who is behind a posting?” she asked. Yet, in the Lemire case, Steacy tried to engage him in converation, although there was never any question that he was the owner of the Freedomsite.

Miss Blight asked the Tribunal to disregard the testimony of Mr. Monfet of Bell Canada. He testified that the “jadewarr” posting by Dean Steacy was done, not through the Commission’s Internet access, but through the unsecured wireless connection of one Nellie Hechmie whose condominium was located about a block away from the Commission’s Ottawa offices.

“The Tribunal does not have the power to create an exception for jokes,” as proposed by the defendant, Miss Blight argued. “The Commission’s position is that there is no free pass for jokes either,” she added.

Hadjis challenged Miss Blight’s denunciation of an article on the freedomsite on homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic. Mr. Lemire’s response was that the statistics showed higher Black and homosexuals had higher AIDS rates. “But does this cross the Taylor threshhold?” he asked. “People get their facts wrong all the time,” he added.

“It’s further submitted that there is no free pass for historical materials, just because they were written several or many years ago. In fact, the Bahr case, the Tribunal considered The International Jew and found that it violated Sec. 13. Historical texts can violate Sec. 13,” she said.

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