Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why do our courts of justice enforce pure politics?

There is an interesting story in today’s National Post about the efforts of Jennifer Lynch, the head of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, to “re-normalize” (to paraphrase a conceit of Ezra Levant) the mandate of the CHRC, and by extension that of all the other HRCs in Canada, in the matter of the pursuit of hate speech. Lynch has been all over the media in the last week or so after the tabling of a report to the Parliament of Canada, delivering very much the same message.

This is what she had to say:

“Canadians are uninformed and deliberately misinformed about the hate speech provisions of human rights law, and are engaged in a debate that is "completely unbalanced."

To people like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant this utterance would be open season for snorting down their noses. They think they have the upper hand and have this woman on the run. I think they are misreading the situation and are in danger of being outflanked by a wily fox. I think she is getting some pretty good PR advice that, no doubt, we are paying for.

When Ezra Levant published his book, Shakedown, I had an occasion to speak about it at an annual meeting in Toronto of a volunteer association made up of some very knowledgeable, well-educated and socially active people, about 40 in number. These are the kind of people one would normally expect to be up on news and current affairs and they represented a broad section of the community in ethnicity, gender and age.

I was making a proposal regarding Levant’s book and was met by blank stares, followed by a moment of silence. Then a U of T professor of science, with Phds up the ying-yang, put up her hand and asked, “Who is Ezra Levant?” There were only two people in that room who knew the Levant story and I was one of them.

So, when Lynch says that Canadians are uninformed, don’t be dismissive. I think she is right about that. And the other woman who would agree is Christine Elliott, a Whitby lawyer, a member of the Ontario provincial legislature, and current contender for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

She has poo-poohed a couple of her rivals who want to dismantle the Ontario Human Rights Commission, claiming that this would be a no-win policy platform, much like the ill-fated campaign of former leader, John Tory, to fund faith-based schooling. It would only be a no-win if the electorate are not up to speed on the whole hate speech debacle. She senses they are not.

One thing that might be informing this opinion is accusations that increasingly appear by leftie supporters of HRCs, like lawyer, Mary Cornish, who frames the discussion this way: “The conservatives are against human rights.” That mud could stick in an election campaign.

Of course, the second part of Lynch’s comment contradicts the first assertion. If Canadians are uninformed, then how can they be engaged in a debate? But, leaving aside the logic, it is the accusations she continues to make that her enemies are engaged in a misinformation campaign that is most troublesome.

How does she handle this misinformation problem? She sends the issue to Parliament, where she says,

"We welcome this debate. We want it to be an informed debate in the right forum, a place where people can have an informed dialogue. [That place is] Parliament, and parliamentary committees. This why we did a special report to Parliament [last week]. That's the appropriate forum."

Many people would agree with that. So, it isn’t necessary for her to appear opposite Ezra Levant on a split screen to debate point by point every little unsettling matter concerning the CHRC, because the real debate, as far CHRC is concerned, will be held by parliamentarians.

Levant can splutter and fulminate all he likes, but she has finessed the public debate and need only appear in the media to spread her propaganda.

Clearly, she has staked out the victim territory and intends to defend it. We all know that being able to portray yourself as a bigger victim than the next guy plays well in Canada. So far Steyn and Levant have come as far as they have by pointing to their victimhood and telling Canadians “this too could be you.”

Now Lynch is saying that the whole defense of human rights will be sacrificed by these media bully types; in code, “conservatives want to get rid of human rights”. The valiant human rights defenders are the real victims, and she is biggest victim of all.

“We have experienced 16 months of invective hurled at us, and at any time when anybody has tried to speak up and correct misinformation, gross distortions, characterizations, then the very next day there's been some full-frontal assault through the blogs, through mainstream media. I have a file. I'm sure I have 1,200, certainly several hundred of these things," she said.
"There is an agenda out there, and I’m a public servant responsible for giving effect to the principle that 'individuals should have the right equal to others to make for themselves a life they are able and wish to have,' and I'm going to do it. I'm not going to sit by. Others are afraid to speak out because they know they're going to be attacked. If you Google my name today you'll see how I've been attacked."
She could win this with this strategy.

My suggestion to Levant and Steyn is to cool the sophomoric name-calling you regularly employ. No more “Commissar Lynch” or “Queen of the censors.” This only plays to her position that you folks are unreasonable and “unbalanced”, and that she is the real victim.

And stop attacking her about her spending habits and making her out to be a ninny. She has both inertia and an uninformed parliament on her side, and even if they are informed, there are enough of the bleeding-heart liberals to tip the balance to keep CHRC exactly as it is, or, worse make it bigger and more powerful. It happened in the bastion of conservatism, Alberta, and it could happen in Ottawa.

You keep up the personal attacks and you may be, as they say, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Keep you arguments focused on the evil; i.e. the suppression of free expression.

The thing she said that really did make me laugh out loud, however, was this gem:

"The Criminal Code plays a very valid role. However, when we look at the statistics, we find that there aren't a lot of specialized [police] hate teams across the country. To cede, to remove our jurisdiction, would leave a gap that might persist for years or a lifetime because it would require numerous jurisdictions to step into a gap, and they may or may not be willing to resource that, etcetera, etcetera. So [the hate speech provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act] is an important section. It does serve a purpose."

So the reason why you don’t see many prosecutions under the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code is because the police forces don’t have hate speech specialists?

I don’t suppose the requirements of the criminal justice system that the prosecutor prove “beyond reasonable doubt” the elements of the crime, the presumption of innocence of the accused, the onus on the prosecutor to prove the case, including the intention of the accused, proof of harm rather than “likely to cause offense” standard, the defenses available to the accused of truth and the honest belief in the truth of the statements made, have anything to do with the paucity of hate crime prosecutions.

Of course, like the MO of the HRCs, if you reverse all of that and make the accused responsible for proving their innocence, eliminating intention as an element of the offense, and removing truth and the honest belief in truth as defenses, you very likely will get a larger number of prosecutions

But you won’t get justice. And that is the precious commodity in a liberal democracy you don’t get from the HRCs.

A few weeks ago on the TV Ontario current affairs program, The Agenda, a panel of lawyers, all of whom, in one way or another feed at the trough of the human rights industry, vigorously defended the role of the Ontario HRC.

Hmmm. I wonder why?

Some of them made the point that the HRC should be viewed as a specialist agency like the Ontario Labour Relations Board or the Ontario Workmens’ Insurance Board, where the staff is specialists. Specialists in what? Well, in discrimination, for one thing, and in Jennifer Lynch’s world it would be in hate speech.

Consider the following assertions:

• Homosexuality is a "perversion"
• Homosexuals "spread disorder on earth"
• Homosexuals and lesbians should be "exterminated in this life"
• "Homosexuals caught performing sodomy are beheaded"
• Most Infidels “live like animals”
• "they are evil people, they love perversity", and "they are our enemies"
• "sending our sons and daughters to the schools of the Infidels has devastating effects on their beliefs, their behavior and their character. For the children of Infidels are the most pervert children. At a very early age, they adopt the behavior of their parents "
• "Moreover, attending schools with Infidels may lead to friendship in their heart for Infidel children, which contradicts the foundations of Islam. Because Islam prohibits befriending even the closest relatives if they are Infidels"
• "there is no doubt that it is not permissible for a Muslim to love or to take as friend whoever follows a religion other than Islam"
• "Infidels say they are open-minded, but in reality they have opened their mind to garbage and filth, and closed it to all that is pure and right !"
Men are superior to women
• "men are superior to women and better than them". In general, "men have a more complete intellect and memory than women"
• "Infidels acknowledge this reality, but they do not want to accept the truth because they are blinded by their passions"
Muslim women are superior to Infidel women
• "The veiled Muslim woman is a light in the darkness of the 20th century, she carries the torch of modesty, of chastity and of Islamic values"
• "She brings the liberating message of "LA ILAHA ILLALLAH" to the poor western woman who has lost her femininity, her dignity and her honor and who is now crying for her savior"
• The consequences of immodesty are "rape, venereal diseases, AIDS, herpes, single-parent families, crime, poverty, ignorance and many others"
• "Infidels will never admit that these social problems are the result of their refusal to submit to Allah, because they are consumed with pride"
• "... male Infidels wanted to liberate women only for economic reasons (cheap labor) and to sexually exploit them"
• “male Infidels will not be happy with us until our women are in their beds, in their magazines and in their dancing clubs !”
• "If a Muslim woman marries a non-Muslim man ... their marriage is invalid, in fact it is adultery"
Ethnic groups are not equal• "Can we doubt the superiority of Islamic principles over the corrupt principles of Eastern and Western cultures ? Culture is based on the beliefs of a nation. The superior culture is the one closest to the revelation of Allah !"
• "This is the reason why ethnic groups are not equal"
Muslims are superior to Infidels
• "... a Muslim must never put his brother in Islam at the same level as an Infidel. In fact, to place Infidels at equality with Muslims is one of the greatest form of ignorance and injustice"
• "The rule is that the most disobedient among Muslims is better than the most virtuous, the most polite, the most honest and the most loyal among the Infidels"
• "The Muslim nation is actually the most balanced and the most righteous"
• "It is because of this religion of lies, which goes against human nature, that the West is now full of perversity, corruption and adultery"
• Jews "spread corruption and chaos on earth"
• Most Jews "seek only material goods and money, apart from that, they have nothing"
• Jews "unjustly occupy" Palestine for the sole purpose of "filling this land with corruption and transgress the laws of Allah in the name of secularism"
• "owning slaves is not prohibited"
• "Allah has allowed men to marry two, three or four women, but one who fears he will not be fair can marry only one or have slaves."
Democracy is contrary to Islam. Jihad is a duty of sedition• "Democracy is a system in total contradiction with Islam"
• "... freedom is unknown in Islam, it contradicts Islam, therefore it is a false concept"
• "[freedom] serves to justify corruption" and "stooping to the lowest levels of bestiality"
• "Freedom of conscience is actually freedom to leave Islam !"
• “Anyone who leaves Islam, cut his neck”
• "no matter how it is understood and applied ... secularism is a pure negation of Islam"
• "If Muslims are strong and they have the ability to fight the Infidel ruler, to overthrow him from power and replace him with a Muslim ruler, it is mandatory for them to do so. This is part of Jihad in the path of Allah"
• "injustice will never disappear from the face of the earth before Islam and Sharia are properly applied throughout the world"
• "Islam commands us to destroy all idols", i.e. "democracy, human rights, secularism, freedom, equality, and modernity"
• in an Islamic state, Christians and Jews can keep their religion but they must pay a sum of money, the Jizyah. "The purpose of the Jizyah is to humiliate and punish Infidels to encourage them to accept Islam." The other Infidels (Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, etc.) have no options but to accept Islam or “be killed"

If I published a book in Canada with those kinds of statements would you not think they would be viewed as expressions “likely” to cause some people to be held in contempt or to stir feelings of hatred towards them? Do you not think the Canadian Human Rights Commission, with its specialists in hate speech, would be all over this?

Well, you would be wrong on all counts. Such a book was published by a Saudi-trained Montreal imam, and a formal complaint was lodged with the CHRC, and was summarily rejected as being without merit. See this website for fuller details.

Just how much expertise in hate speech does one need to be employed on the public dime?

The problem this Montreal decision highlights is that what HRCs adjudicate is politics, not justice. HRC orders are filed in real courts and are enforceable under our justice system.

So the big policy question: why do we permit the justice system to enforce politics?

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