Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ezra's Crappy Argument

According to The Freedom Party's Paul McKeever:

"Ezra says censorship is wrong for this reason: we have (he submits) a long history of laws that disallow it. In other words: our laws (allegedly) against censorship are just because they are old. Yet the argument that 'old law is just law' implies that we should still have laws that facilitate slavery in Canada, that give only propertied men the vote, and that make it illegal to open your store on Sunday."

This thought occured to me as well; to argue that something, a set of laws or otherwise, is "800 years old" is not necessarily to recommend it. (Nor is to refer to it as "English", which Ezra also does. Remember, these people gave us The Spice Girls and mushy peas)

As to the rest of the McKeever piece, its early and I haven't absorbed alot of caffeine yet but it sounds to me he's arguing that HRCs shouldn't be allowed to regulate anything:

Ezra condemns the addition of speech to the original list of things regulated by human rights commissions. He thereby implies that he has no objection to human rights laws concerning employment and housing. Our human rights laws typically cannot prevent someone from denying a person a job or an apartment so long as the reason for the denial is not known to be one prohibited by human rights legislation. Thus, in effect, Ezra's position is this: nobody should prevent Ezra from saying that another man's religious beliefs are dangerous but, if Ezra utters such an opinion, he should lose the freedom to deny that man a job or an apartment. In short: shut up, or put up. That is clearly a self-defeating defence of "free speech."

An argument that I don't agree with, but which raises an interesting point. If I was, for example, renting a room and did not want to rent to a Black, the safest course would be to simply not rent them the room and keep my mouth shut over the reasons.

10 comments:

Gayle said...

Ezra also deliberately ignores the fact that historically, there was no way to enforce freedom of speech. That changed with the Charter, and is the reason why s. 13(1) was not challenged in the Courts on the basis of a Common Law right to freedom of expression.

Ezra has been deliberately misleading his followers on this entire issue. He complains about the fact he has to have a lawyer and the complainant does not. In fact, the complainant is not a party to these proceedings - he is a witness. This is similiar to criminal and quasi criminal prosecutions where the accused has to hire a lawyer. The complainant is a witness and a crown prosecutor prosecutes on behalf of the state.

Of course, as a lawyer Ezra knows this but it is a bit hard to rally the troops by being honest with them.

Ti-Guy said...

There's a lot of sloppy thinking going on here. HRC's don't regulate anything. They arbitrate. And censorship is not the same thing as being required to address the consequences of one's actions.

If the people are concerned about "self-censorship," libel laws and gag orders do that far more effectively and frequently than HRC's.

just another anon said...

It's Paul, not Peter, McKeever

The Rat said...

God, I hate having to post here, but someone's got to correct Gayle (again):

Ezra also deliberately ignores the fact that historically, there was no way to enforce freedom of speech.

An yet somehow, we did:


Read this, Gayle

Gayle said...

You know what would be really cool rat - if you could please explain to me why a piece of legislation that was enacted in the 1970's, was not tested as violating our freedom of expression until after the Charter was enacted.

I have never said we did not have freedom of expression before the Charter. What the Charter did, though, was provide a mechanism by which all legislation could be tested, and if found to be in violation of our rights, be shut down.

So it is really, really neat that in the 1930's, a piece of legislation was found so offensive by the Supreme Court that it was deemed unconstitutional. Since the Charter came into effect, literally hundreds of legislative provisions were struck down.

If you cannot understand that the Charter was a monumental achievement in our history, it is because you refuse to acknowledge the truth. Given the number of times you have done that on this and other boards, it is pretty clear to me you want to ignore anything that contradicts your opinion.

I meamn, I guess we could remove the freedom to express ourselves from the Charter if you think that will not make any difference, but something tells me that any move to do so would be met with howls or protest from your camp.

But I must congratulate you on FINALLY looking for something to back your statements up. It is still weak, but better.

Gayle said...

I am not sure if you read your link very well rat, as the case you refer to addresses the issue of freedom of the press as it pertains to reporting on government. That is a pretty narrow definition.

I was just flipping through a summary of cases where the Court addresses this freedom under the Charter. I counted at least 6 where the legislation was struck as violating that freedom.

Hmmm, pre-Charter=1 case. Post Charter=at least 6 (I stopped reading them after that).

Paul McKeever said...

BCL: I saw your post and noted your last paragraph. Your insight is sound on this. Racists, sexists, and others who are landlords or employers can and do deny accommodation/jobs to people all of the time, with impunity, by keeping their views to themselves (or, at least, by trying not to let the would-be tenant/employee know the reason for the refusal of accommodation/employment).

This is why, in effect, human rights legislation is not really legislation that effectively forces racists/sexists (etc) to rent/hire those they dislike/hate. The actual effect of the legislation is that it censors the expression of racist/sexist or other irrational views.

I would not go so far as to suggest that those who drafted the legislation intended it to censor speech. Rather, I would argue that the effect (not the intention, but the effect) has been censorship.

Having worked as a human rights lawyer for almost 11 years now, I can tell you this: the act is largely ineffective for most instances of racism/sexism. However, its ineffectiveness is not due to the subject matter (i.e., irrational discrimination). Rather its ineffectiveness is due to the fact that force cannot effectively change a person's beliefs/thoughts. Physical force/coercion can govern action, but it cannot govern thought (i.e., it is physically, hence philosophically, impossible).

At the end of the day, human rights legislation has functioned - more than anything else - as an official state rejection of the ideologies that prevail in racist, sexist, anti-homosexual (etc.) jurisdictions.

The money would be better spent, in my view, on doing a much better job teaching children that a person's genetic make-up has nothing to do with the value of the person; that the irrational person - including racists, sexists, and other such tribalist - are morally inferior to those who judge each individual's value rationally (hence, without regard to race, sex, etc.).

Cheers,

PM

The Rat said...

", there was no way to enforce freedom of speech."

Gayle, you are suuuch a Liberal. Lose an argument, move the goalpost. I'm sorry you can't wrap you mind around the basic argument that rights DO NOT derive from the Charter. Sure, the Charter makes it easier to enforce some rights, but it also explicitly says that some rights may be abrogated if the government sees fit. It also explicitly allows any province or the feds to override any right with the notwithstanding clause. That's why an abomination like Quebec's language laws stand today. So once again, you may think the Charter is better but considering how much rights suppression is allowed under it, it doesn't seem to be worth much. And it certainly isn't the source of our rights.

Ti-Guy said...

Rat, you're too disturbed and burdened by your personality disorder to discuss anything rationally.

Please, I beg you...start taking the medication again and see the therapist like they told you.

This is why, in effect, human rights legislation is not really legislation that effectively forces racists/sexists (etc) to rent/hire those they dislike/hate. The actual effect of the legislation is that it censors the expression of racist/sexist or other irrational views.

I do not agree with this at all. The decision to take any action (and expression is one) is an exercise of free will, and if there is no imposed restriction that prevents that expression, there is no censorship.

The human rights legislation deals with the consequences of actions; the mechanism for settling disputes is engaged after the deed is done.

Now, that such laws promote "self censorship" is something I agree with. But we all self-censor all the time, in so many different ways.

Freedom of thought and conscience should be inviolable (and that's something our media should be taken to task on, by the way, to challenge its ability to mold our understanding of the world around us), but when thought carries over to behaviour and action, that's when its consequences have meaning for the rest of us.

Gayle said...

"I'm sorry you can't wrap you mind around the basic argument that rights DO NOT derive from the Charter. Sure, the Charter makes it easier to enforce some rights, but it also explicitly says that some rights may be abrogated if the government sees fit."

Never made the first argument. Have consistently made the second. Talk about moving goal posts...

Glad to see you have finally seen the light. Now all you have to do is reconcile the fact that since the Charter hundreds of legislative provisions have been struck down or modified in order to comply with our constitution with your argument that "you may think the Charter is better but considering how much rights suppression is allowed under it, it doesn't seem to be worth much."

In other words, if the Charter was not necessary to recognize our rights, why is it these legislative provisions were able to exist, unmolested, until we entrenched the Charter?