T Nation

Free Speech In The 51st State

http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Alberta/2006/05/06/1567232-sun.html

I know nothing about Canada, so I have a few questions:

Why is this law needed?

Why is it controversial?

Do you really have hate speech laws?

[quote]doogie wrote:
I know nothing about Canada, so I have a few questions:

Why is this law needed?

Why is it controversial?

Do you really have hate speech laws?[/quote]

Canadians believe in free speech; they’re just not “fanatics” about it like the Americans.

True story.

[quote]nephorm wrote:

Canadians believe in free speech; they’re just not “fanatics” about it like the Americans.

True story.[/quote]

They probably have laws against ‘fanatical free speech’ speech. :slight_smile:

Yes, we do have “hate speech” laws. It’s not legal to go around fomenting racial prejudice and hatred, for example.

I’m not trying to defend it, but I think the concept is that it is too easy for people to create propaganda and lies to spread racism and hatred. With the advent of the Internet and how people like to believe whacko theories, I can see both sides of the issue.

I suspect that “hate speech” laws can easily be avoided by taking care to discuss things in a rational way, but some folks can’t be bothered to put in that kind of thought and effort…

[quote]vroom wrote:
I suspect that “hate speech” laws can easily be avoided by taking care to discuss things in a rational way, but some folks can’t be bothered to put in that kind of thought and effort…[/quote]

Unfortunately Vroom, you suspect wrong. You need only look at the case of Bishop Henry. What he says is not irrational, he has not created propaganda or lies.

He has, however, been vocal with an opinion that many people don’t agree with and that should NOT be a crime.

This is the slippery slope of “hate speech”. Laws need clearly defined definitions, and as time goes on the boundaries of those definitions are expanded. This is why hate speech laws are wrong, even if they have the best intentions. What is dissent today, becomes “hate” tomorrow.

Rant aside…

Doogie:

  • I think the intent of the law in Alberta is pretty clearly stated in the link you provided.

  • It’s controversial because in some regions of Canada (cough Ontario cough) they can’t believe that some people may have different opinions than they do. So wanting to protect the “right to disagree, vocally” is controversial.

(ok, I’m kidding about Ontario…kind of)

  • Yes, we have hate laws. I don’t like them, for the above stated reasons…but we have them now. Over ten years of liberal rule will do that.

Towner,

Is this the guy you are referring to?

Calgary bishop wants government to act against gays
http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/01/16/calgary-bishop050116.html
[i]
CALGARY - The government must suppress homosexuality and other behaviour deemed to hurt the family, Calgary’s Catholic bishop says.

“Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the state must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good,” Bishop Frederick Henry said in a pastoral letter.

In the next paragraph, he suggested such acts are evil and rejected the idea that private acts are nobody else’s business. “An evil act remains an evil act whether it is performed in public or in private.”

The letter was read to Catholics in southern Alberta on Sunday.

Lobby MPs against gay marriage, letter says

Henry’s letter also called on Catholics to fight same-sex marriage. The Vatican rejects same-sex marriage, saying homosexual acts contravene natural moral law.

FROM JULY 31, 2003: Vatican campaigns against same-sex marriage

Henry’s letter ask Catholics to tell their MP they don’t support proposed federal legislation that would legalize same-sex marriages.

“The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to same-sex couples is not discrimination. It is not something opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires such an opposition,” the letter said.
A statement on the website of Canadians for Equal Marriage rejects the bishop’s letter. “It’s a sad day for gay and lesbian Catholics when a Canadian Catholic bishop describes our relationships as evil,” said Helen Kennedy, spokesperson for Challenge the Church, a Catholic dissident group.
[/i]

Towner, did anything happen yet with the Bishop Henry issue… I didn’t see anything mentioned with a quick Google.

However, it might be arguable about whether calling a minority group that is not breaking any laws “evil” qualifies as hate.

Again, I’m not trying to defend it, but I’m not sure how the laws are worded. I am certain however that it’s possible to craft an anti-gay message without branding gay people evil.

Vroom:

I’ll have to take back the “he has not created propaganda” bit. A Catholic newsletter that was subsequently read to followers could certainly be taken as propaganda.

Now, to respond to your post:

I do not find this to be over-the-top. This is what he believes, and far as I’m concerned he should have the right to shout it from the top of the mountains. I also maintain the right to not believe it to be true.

The trouble begins when some people take offense to a statement, and this is the problem with “hate” laws…where do you draw the line?

Which brings me directly to the following:

This is a miss-representation of what was written (take not of the term “suggested”). What was written was:

“It is sometimes argued that what we do in the privacy of our home is nobody’s business. While the privacy of the home is undoubtedly sacred, it is not absolute. Furthermore, an evil act remains an evil act whether it is performed in public or in private”

The author of the article you cited interpreted this to mean Bishop Henry was saying homosexual acts are evil. Personally, I don’t interpret what he wrote that way, I interpret it as saying “what goes on behind closed doors does matter”.

Again, my whole point is that “hate laws” lead to the slippery slope, where people can get into trouble for having vocal, unpopular opinions. What you may consider as a “rational discussion” I may take offense to and charge you. Or the other way around.

Just to be clear, I do not believe, or follow Bishop Henry. I do not support “hate speech”, however, I support laws on “hate speech” even less.

[quote]towner24 wrote:
Just to be clear, I do not believe, or follow Bishop Henry. I do not support “hate speech”, however, I support laws on “hate speech” even less.[/quote]

Well, so far I’ve said I’m not trying to defend it at least twice.

Somehow I get the impression you are trying to argue with me on this. I’m trying to point out where the law seems to stem from or the issues around it.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Well, so far I’ve said I’m not trying to defend it at least twice.

Somehow I get the impression you are trying to argue with me on this. I’m trying to point out where the law seems to stem from or the issues around it.[/quote]

This is quite interesting, and I’ll use what you just wrote as an example.

Vroom,

This statement was meant to clarify my position of being against “hate speech” laws, it would be easy for someone to equate that with being FOR “hate speech”. Which I am not.

Now, what is interesting is that you INTERPRETED this as some kind of attack on you. That was not my intention, but now just imagine…someone miss-interprets what you write and then they can charge you for a “hate speech crime”.

Bishop Henry is in the news, and happens to be an example of this. Have you ever met a Catholic Bishop that hates people? That would want to purposely hurt another person? I did not read what he wrote as being hateful, or wanting to cause direct harm to the gay community. However, someone else DID and he was charged with a “hate crime”.

Point is, this whole thing is debatable - and two rational people can disagree.

And to be clear, Vroom I am debating a point with you. You stated:

Avoiding hate speech laws is not straight forward. You seem to believe it is, and I’m saying you are wrong.

Avoiding a speeding ticket is easy, you have a speedometer telling you how fast you are going, and a clearly posted speed limit. Avoiding a vague and subjective term like “hate speech” and showing that it “causes harm” is not. What the heck does that even mean???

Anyway, this is not a personal vendetta. I will not debate a point that I agree with you on, so you will only hear of the times I disagree.

Summary:
Hate speech laws are bad. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking they are easy to avoid.

Towner,

Dude, the fact I quoted a piece and replied to it doesn’t mean that it bears the weight of my entire comment… or that you can attribute my interpretation of your post on that one phrase (this part is not an attack).

Let’s get real (this part is an ‘attack’).

Notice I quoted nothing… OMG, what am I basing my comments on? Oh, the confusion, the horror, it could be anything!

[quote]towner24 wrote:
Summary:
Hate speech laws are bad. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking they are easy to avoid.[/quote]

I don’t have any problem with your opinion on hate speech laws. However, 99.999% of the population will never run afoul of these laws.

Wow, they must really be pretty hard to avoid running afoul of!

[quote]nephorm wrote:
doogie wrote:
I know nothing about Canada, so I have a few questions:

Why is this law needed?

Why is it controversial?

Do you really have hate speech laws?

Canadians believe in free speech; they’re just not “fanatics” about it like the Americans.

True story.[/quote]

Riiight! As long as the “free speech” is in French!

[quote]towner24 wrote:
Unfortunately Vroom, you suspect wrong. You need only look at the case of Bishop Henry. What he says is not irrational, he has not created propaganda or lies.

He has, however, been vocal with an opinion that many people don’t agree with and that should NOT be a crime.

This is the slippery slope of “hate speech”. Laws need clearly defined definitions, and as time goes on the boundaries of those definitions are expanded. This is why hate speech laws are wrong, even if they have the best intentions. What is dissent today, becomes “hate” tomorrow.
[/quote]

Excellent points!

How would the good bishop feel if I stated my opnion that all catholic priests are perverts, child molesters and rapist.

And that the churh is in fact a peadophile organisation that protects them.

In fact, they would put in much more effort to protect a caught child molester than a controversial priest.

This is not hate. These are observed facts.

Any chance my letter would be read out loud in churches across the country?

I like hate speech laws. They weed out the trash.

[quote]Lorisco wrote:
Excellent points!
[/quote]

Lorisco,

I suspect towner is long on opinion but short on facts.

Honestly, I don’t know enough about the law to know whether I’d be for it or against it, but I do know that there are processes in place to deal with issues.

We’d have to define those processes, and the steps taken to address an infringement, and how an infringement is determined, and the penalties which might be applied, in order to say whether or not these things are well defined.

Towner might be right, but he’s given no information to back up his stance… maybe he will?

[quote]vroom wrote:

Honestly, I don’t know enough about the law to know whether I’d be for it or against it, but I do know that there are processes in place to deal with issues.

We’d have to define those processes, and the steps taken to address an infringement, and how an infringement is determined, and the penalties which might be applied, in order to say whether or not these things are well defined.

[/quote]

  1. If you don’t know enough about a law law limiting civil liberties in your own country to even form an opinion on it, why do you feel qualified to chime in on every U.S. issue?

  2. Do you see the inconsistency in your trust in government processes to handle infringements of civil liberties in this case as opposed to your total lack of trust in U.S. processes to handle infringements by things like the NSA program we’ve been arguing about?

[quote]vroom wrote:
I don’t have any problem with your opinion on hate speech laws. However, 99.999% of the population will never run afoul of these laws.

Wow, they must really be pretty hard to avoid running afoul of![/quote]

Vroom, you still don’t get it. So if 99.999% of people don’t run afoul of a law then that law is ok? Really?

In the thread on phone tapping you said this:

[quote]
Congratulations, you’ve won a one way ticket to GITMO you fucking terrorist you!!!

What? What’s going on?

We’ve assessed your phone records and we see that you dialed a pizza company that was really a front for Al Queda (and you vote democrat) so, we KNOW you are in fact lying bastard scum terrorist, goodbye.

It was a wrong number… aaaaaauuugh.

Phew, thank god, America is a safer place every day!!! [/quote]

So I ask you, if 99.999% of Americans have nothing to fear from phone tapping, is that ok? You post otherwise.

How can you be against phone tapping based on the invasion of privacy, then for hate crime laws limiting your freedom? Freedom not as important as privacy?

I say even if 99.999% of Canadians can steer clear of hate crime laws, they’re still wrong.

Or are you of no opinion at all on hate crime laws and you want to pick a fight?

Next point:

Which facts would you like? Please be specific.

Here are a few to tide you over.

Fact: A Catholic Bishop was charged with a “hate crime” in Calgary for expressing his opinions on gay marriage. To date I believe his case is still under review at the human rights commision.

Fact: I dislike the “hate crime” laws, for reasons I’ve stated, if you want to see them again scroll up.

Fact: This is the politics forum, everyone is long on opinion and short on facts.

In case the federal gov really wants to go against gays, theyre going to have problems with the legal gaymarriagesin Quebec. If memory serves me well, its been 2 years since it was legally accepted. We even had tourists come here to officialize their union.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Yes, we do have “hate speech” laws. It’s not legal to go around fomenting racial prejudice and hatred, for example.

I’m not trying to defend it, but I think the concept is that it is too easy for people to create propaganda and lies to spread racism and hatred. With the advent of the Internet and how people like to believe whacko theories, I can see both sides of the issue.

I suspect that “hate speech” laws can easily be avoided by taking care to discuss things in a rational way, but some folks can’t be bothered to put in that kind of thought and effort…[/quote]

So God’s Word when it condems sodomy as grevious sin would be hate speech?

So, one can’t preach and teach those parts of the Bible in Canada?

I am asking since if this were true, then you have something more in common with the old Soviet Union than you do America…