Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Section 13 Is Doomed

I'd never even heard of Section 13 until last week when, mercifully, Canadian Tories killed the provision allowing single complainants to criminalize ostensibly offensive speech (let's be honest - those with fringe or politically incorrect views were most likely of all to be caught up in 13's tuna net). Here's Jonathan Kay, eulogizing the speech-stifling subsection of the Canadian Human Rights Act:
Five years ago, during testimony in the case of Warman v. Lemire, Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) investigator Dean Steacy was asked “What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?” His response: “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”
Those words produced outrage. But there was a grain of truth to what Mr. Steacy said: For decades, Canadians had meekly submitted to a system of administrative law that potentially made de facto criminals out of anyone with politically incorrect views about women, gays, or racial and religious minority groups. All that was required was a complainant (often someone with professional ties to the CHRC itself) willing to sign his name to a piece of paper, claim he was offended, and then collect his cash winnings at the end of the process. The system was bogus and corrupt. But very few Canadians wanted to be seen as posturing against policies that were branded under the aegis of “human rights.”
That was then. Now, Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the enabling legislation that permits federal human-rights complaints regarding “the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet,” is doomed.
Good fucking riddance.

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