Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ category

Free Speech in Canada

June 6, 2008

Canada is a democracy, with a proud long tradition of human rights, and free speech. Right?

Think again. One Canadian citizen, Mark Steyn, who is well known for his politically incorrect views on Islam, “Eurabia” and the threat Islamic fundamentalism poses to western civilization (I sometimes read the pieces he writes for the Investigate magazine, although I do not agree with everything he says), wrote the (in)famous book, America Alone: The End of the world as we know it, arguing that due to Islamic immigration and high birth rates, Muslims would take over Europe, turning it into “Eurabia” and leaving America alone as the only bastion of western civilization. A piece from the book was published in a well known Canadian magazine, Macleans Magazine, in an article avaliable here, entitled “the future belongs to islam”.

Not unsuprisingly, Muslims in Canada didn’t like what Steyn wrote. And not having learned about tolerance and free speech (to be fair to them, there is very little tolerance and free speech in the Muslim countries), one fundamentalist Muslim group, the Canadian Islamic Congress, took a complaint about the article to a “Human rights” commision in British Columbia. Unfortunately, the “human rights” protected by the human rights commision don’t include the right to free trial (there is a 100% conviction rate at the tribunals for complaints made, the comissars who run the trial have no legal training, there are no case law or precedents, no rules of evidence, and the fact the information may be truthfull and published with reasonable intent is absolutely no defence) or freedom of speech. Instead they are about the freedom from speech, and freedom from expression, for the left wing’s favoured minorities. Although the trial of Mark Steyn is still in progress, we have the results from other cases bought before these “Human rights” tribunals.

Mark Steyn isn’t the only Canadian to be bought before these Human Rights Tribunals for offending Muslims. Erza Levant, the author of the conservative magazine Western Standard was bought before the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commision for re-pubishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, which had been printed in Denmark earlier. He was investigated, which included long questioning sessions on his views towards Islam, and why he published the cartoons.

Criticism of Islamic fundamentalism, isn’t the only type of free speech punished by these “human rights” tribunals. In 1997 Hugh Owens published an advertisement in the Saskatoon newspaper, the StarPhoenix arguing that homosexuality was morally wrong, and refering to (but not quoting) several bible passages on homosexuality (including one, Leviticus 20:13, about stoning homosexuals to death) The Saskawatchen Human Rights Tribunal upheld a complaint that the advertisement exposed homosexuals to hate, ridicule and belittlement, and ordered both Owens and the paper to pay $2 000 in fines. The paper introduced a policy of not running “anti-gay” advertisements.

Also that year, in London, Ontario, mayor Dianne Haskett refused to proclaim “gay pride day” or fly the rainbow flag on city property. The city council was fined $10 000 for its homophobic actions. Another Canadian city, Kelwona, British Columbia, issued a proclamation for gay pride day, omitting the word “pride”. The provinces Human Rights Tribunal called his action a “mean spirited” “insult” to homosexuals.

The following year, in Missauga, Ontario, printer Scott Brockie refused to print material for a gay rights group on the grounds that doing so would go against his religous beliefs. Sadly, the Ontario Human Rights Commission didn’t care much about his human right to practice his religion, and he was ordered to publish the material, after being fined $5 000.

Four years latter in Saskatchewan, Bill Whatcourt, and his Christian Truth Activists organization was found guilty of distributing pamphlets claiming homosexuals were born gay. In response, he was fined $17 500, and given a court order not to distribute pamphlets criticising homosexuality.

In 2005, Pastor Stephen Boissoin wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper Red Deer Advocate calling homosexuality immoral, dangerous, and saying it should not be promoted in schools. Two weeks after the publication of the letter, in the town of Red Deer, a gay teenager was physically assualted, but there was no evidence that the letter had anything to do with the assualt other than the timing coincidence. That was enough for the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal to convict Boissoin of hate speech against homosexuals.

Fortunately, nobody has gone to prison for free speech in Canada yet. The same can not be said about Sweden, which has similar hate speech laws. In 2003, Pastor Ake Green was sentenced to one month in prison for a sermon in his church, calling homosexuality “abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society”, and calling homosexuals “perverts, whose sexual drive the devil has used as his strongest weapon against God”. Although I agree that homosexuality is immoral, I do not share the hate views of Ake Green, and instead hold the belief that it is their actions (of having sexual relations with a person of the same gender, and whom they are not married to (and I don’t believe in gay marriage)) that are morally wrong, not merely being attracted to a person of the same sex.

However, regardless of ones feelings towards homosexuality, or Islam, one basic principle of democracy and freedom is free speech. And that includes the right to say things that may offend some people (such as homosexuals and Muslims). While we may be glad that we do not have hate speech laws in New Zealand, it may not stay that way. The Labour Government went as far as launching an inquiry into the issue, before it was stopped as part of it’s confidence and supply agreement with United Future. Although Labour looks set to loose the next election, who knows if when they return to power their disdain for free speech, that they showed in the Electoral Finance Act, won’t be shown in new hate speech laws. For the meantime, enjoy free speech, and the fact we live in a free society (except in election year), where one is free to express almost any political opinions one wishes. And lets hope it stays that way.

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Sedition back

August 24, 2007

The Parlimentary select comittee has reported back on the Bill to remove the crime of Sedition, and it has recomended that the Bill proceed unamended. Good. it’s ironic that Labour is trying to ban people from advocating the otherthrow of the Government by democratic means, while at the same time legalising people from advocating its overthrow through non-democratic means.

Outrageous

August 15, 2007

Thats all you can say about the British Police’s descison to prosecute channel 4 for a documentary entitled “undocover mosque” which exposed a “moderate” Iman (priest) shouting “we hate the kuffar” (kuffar being a deroagatory term for non-Muslims). They are being prosecuted for for inciting hatred. If any-one is guilty of inciting hatred it is the iman. However, I feel that ‘we hate the kuffar’ should be allowed (in the same way “we hate socialists” should be) under free speech. “Death to the kuffar” shouldn’t be.

The Pinacle of Hypocrisy

July 27, 2007

The level of hypocrisy, corruption, and dishonesty we see from this Labour led government today is without precedent in our countries history, but in the Anti-Free Speech Bill it reaches new heights. In recent months Labour has criticised National heavily over its acceptance of large anonymous donations (never mind that Labour did the same thing, and the anonymopus donors paid for anonymous donations out of their own pocket, not the taxpayers pocket like Labour did for its pledge card).  Now the Anti-Free Speech Bill Electoral Finance Bill keeps these anonymous donations legal. David Farrar suggested that this was due to poor political management and failure to get the numbers required. I predicted (see comment 4 here that the real reason was Labour relised the impact banning anonymous donations would have on their own funding so decided to drop it. It turns out I was right. The hypocrisy is almost unbelievable. This presents National with a golden opportunity to attack Labour by proposing an ammendment in the committee stage banning anonymous donations channeled through trust funds, and watch Labour vote it down.

There is significent merit in banning anonymous donations above $10 000, by requiring money channeled through trusts to be be given to the electoral commision if the source of the trust money is not disclosed (as the Bill requires in the case of trust donations to third parties), namely that it allows the public to see who is funding parties and prevents corruption, but I oppose any limit to reduce the $10 000 limit on anonymous donations that aren’t channeled through trusts, largely because of a right to privacy, the fact that $10 000 does not buy any real influence in a party as its only a fraction of what parties spend in an election, and the fact that if you are a public servant you may loose your job if Labour wins and you are caught giving money to National. What is extremely hypocritical is the way the explanatory note of the Bill (see page 3) claims onr of the purposes of the Bill is to “prevent the undue influence of wealth” and “provide transperancy and accountability to minimise the perception of corruption”, both being aims that would be served by banning anonymous donations.

But the hypocrisy does not end there. The Bill contains a ban on anonymous donations over only $500 to third parties, including those channeled through trust funds. This means that if a person was to have $1 000 501 and wanted to spend thast money by putting it in a trust fund, with the trust to give $1 000 000 to the National Party to hand out pamphlets criticising Labour, and $501 to the exclusive brethren to hand out pamphlets criticising Labour, the $1 000 000 given to National could remain secret, but the $501 given to the exclusive brethren would be public for everyone to know about. Also, while third parties are banned from spending more than a paltry $60 000 in 11 months (enough for only 4 full page newspaper adds in major newspapers) criticising the government, the government can spend as much as it wants in working for families adds, and other “public information” campiagns to assisit in Labour’s re-election (which is the real purpose of the Bill).

Finally, amongst the other purposes of the Bill, according to its explanatory note are to “reflect our unique political culture and enviroment” (which it wil certainly do, we have a political culture that is very unique outside of Zimbabwe and North Korea, charactised by corruption, a ruling party that is above the law, and changes the law for its own partisan purposes, and now the suppression of free speech at election time, which will be well reflected in this bill), “prevent the undue influence of wealth” (while doing nothing to restrict the undue influemce of the governments vote Labour information campaigns on issues like Kiwisaver and working for families), “mantain public and political confidence … in elections” (by a partisan rewrite of election laws designed to benefit one political party (Labour) and muzzle criticism of the government) and most hypocritically “promote participation in parliamentary democracy” by banning people from spending more than $60 000 in an election year on free speech criticisng the government.

Free Speech and abortion

July 25, 2007

I have blogged before about hypocrisy from those who like to call themselves “pro-choice” but give no choice to anyone except the women. Now in Germany, there are acting like Helen Clark in trying to silence those who disagree with them. Apparantly a womens right to abortion is more important than her right to free speech.

The Pro-life Times (July 2007, issue 30, page 2) gives details on devolopments about free speech and abortion opponents in Germany. They mention the folowing distirbing cases: Gunter Adams being sentenced to 50 days in prison for saying “stop unjust abortions” on the grounds a layman might think “unjust” meant “illegal”. Secondly, a protestant religous minister, pastor Lerle, was given 8 months in prison for calling abortionists “professional killers” which was deemed to be slanderous on the grounds unborn children are not human beings (yeah right). Lerle was more recently, on June 14, was found guilty of holocaust denial. What he did was to compare the murder of innocent unborn children in abortion clinics today to the murder of innocent European Jews in gas chambers during the Nazi Holocaust. This, apparently, is denial of the holocaust. Wonder what legal technicalities they might find in future to prosecute people who oppose abortion?

Labour re-election strategy

July 19, 2007

Here are the details of Liarbour’s re-elecetion strtegy. It is to rewrite the 1993 Electoral Act in their favour, for partisan advantage. The legislation will be the most dangerous thing Labour will do, because it strikes at the very heart of our democratic system. It MUST be opposed by whatever means nessescary, as its passage will undermine our democratic system.

Mark Burton is right when he says we shouldn’t attack the bill until we know whats in it. We can attack the bill now because we already know whats in it- changes to Labour’s partisan political advantage (and probably involving restricting free speech around election time).