The fossils on the Supreme Court of Canada are a disgrace to all Canadians!
Rex Murphy: Choosing self-esteem over freedom of speech
Welcome to Canada, land of never-speaking-ill-of-a-marginalized-group free-ish speech. You can say what you like in Canada — to yourself, in a low voice. According to our Supreme Court, free speech is secondary to the right not to feel offended.
I join with Andrew Coyne (see his column from Thursday) in expressing bewilderment at one particular statement from this week’s decision in the case of Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v. Whatcott — the one where the Justices write: “truth may be used for widely disparate ends.” What an eerie caution.
The court wants to make sure that disreputable forms of truth can’t serve to get Canadians off the hook for hate speech.
After all, truth is such a wily, insidious, sly concept. Allowing Canadians to use it any way they please … why, that way lies anarchy and uncomfortable dinner tables.
Four hundred years ago, the great Francis Bacon described this relativist attitude: “‘What is Truth?’ said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.” His contemporary, Montaigne, wrote: “Truth for us nowadays is not what is, but what others can be brought to accept.”
Truth is either the centre of law and life, or law and life both are the worse for its not being so.
The term “self-esteem” might have been foreign to Montaigne and Bacon. But they would have lamented how self-esteem — or its group equivalent — now gets more play than truth. There’s a fair dollop of therapeutic chatter in the Whatcott ruling, a resort to vague nostrums, such as the idea that “hate speech” might “oppose the targeted group’s ability to find self- fulfillment?”
So might bad weather, or bunions. What, really, is that phrase supposed to encompass?
Moreover, how can group “self-fulfillment” be measured? Is self-fulfillment a legal right?
There have been, in recent decades, any number of commentators pointing out the follies and failings of our human rights commissions and tribunals. In rendering their judgment on Whatcott — which arose from the machinations of this same human-rights industry — could not the Justices have offered some view on the often outrageous manner by which this industry operates?
The Court was silent on the manner by which human rights tribunals stack the deck in favour of the offendee against the alleged offendor. The victim-complainant is given all manner of succor and support from bureaucrats. The “offending” party, on the other hand, is left to bear the time and burdens of hearings and rulings. Often, he must go out and get a lawyer, at his own expense.
Nor did the Court offer any real guidance on why our tradition-tested and tradition-hallowed rights — such as freedom of speech and religion — now must be displaced or diluted in favour of new more politically correct axioms.
Moreover, why does the overbearing modern notion of tolerance seem to involve so much … intolerance?
And why do some Canadian citizens — the “designated groups” we hear so much about in human-rights jurisprudence— now effectively enjoy more rights and more protection than other Canadian citizens? Lady Justice is not blind. She’s now winking at subsets of the population, while pretending to be fair to all.