Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Show trial in British Columbia

Ok, it's not really a trial (if only!) It's the second day of the British Human Rights tribunal's hearing into whether a prominent Canadian magazine (Maclean's) violated the B.C. Human Rights Act, exposing Muslims to hatred and contempt.

What did Maclean's do? It published an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book, America Alone. Steyn argues that a) increasing Muslim birthrates and immigration from the Middle East, combined with b) the West's own unwillingness to assert its values, and c) the flaws of the expansive welfare state, are going to lead to increasingly "Islamified" societies in Europe (and Canada, presumably.) As societies become more Islamic, they will become less liberal. So goes the argument, anyway.

I'm not as sure about Steyn's thesis as I once was. His thesis seems to depend on the idea that, at its core, liberalism is hollow -- that it could not be defended, even if liberals wanted to defend it. Either that, or he assumes that arguments are impotent to change belief, so that no one can be argued into becoming more liberal.

Either way, I have qualms. And I'm telling you about them right now, on this blog. But a few law students in Toronto decided they didn't want argue with Steyn's claims. Instead, they went to Canada's peculiar institution of human rights commissions/tribunals and made multiple complaints against Maclean's for publishing the excerpts from Steyn's book.

The gist of the complaint is that by publishing those excerpts, Maclean's unlawfully exposed Muslims to hatred and contempt. You can see the relevant portion of the B.C. Human Rights Act here.

The Human Rights Tribunal (HRT) in British Columbia started hearings yesterday. The whole thing is an absolute, incredible farce. There are no clear standards of evidence in the B.C. HRT. The three person panel overseeing the hearing (and no, they're not judges, none of 'em) is admitting blog posts and blog comments as evidence of the harmful impact of the Maclean's piece.

In other words: if some evil cretins used this blog post as inspiration for a series of hateful posts about Muslims (on Stormfront, perhaps), I could be held responsible for that.

Truth is not a defense against a hate speech complaint in Canada. Nor, apparently, is intent. All that matters is if a panel of bureaucrats ascertains that the speech in question is likely to expose someone else to hatred or contempt in virtue of their membership in a protected group.

Khuruum Awan, one of the law students who brought the complaint, seems to be making things up as he goes along. Maclean's lawyer is grilling him, fortunately, but it's not clear to me any of this will matter much in the long run. If the HRT can't find a way to dismiss the complaint on technical grounds, how can Maclean's not be found guilty, under the wording of the B.C. Human Rights Act?

Ezra Levant, facing a human rights complaint of his own, is in B.C. live blogging the show trial here.

Mainstream media is hardly giving the matter any coverage at all. Canadians don't care. They're worried that if they stand up for free speech they will be labeled as racists or American-lovers or something like that. Cowards.

1 comment:

Jeremy Maddock said...

It's been a difficult road for free speech in Canada, but we're gradually making progress.

Canadians are gradually realizing what unjust institutions Human Rights Commissions really are, particularly when it comes to policing speech and thought.

I managed to attend a day of the hearing... you can read my thoughts on it here.