Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blogger Fears Getting Kicked Out Of The Sandbox Of Eden

Hogwash. That is my one word response response to the panicked and childish reactions by Stageleft and other bloggers to Joseph Brean's piece on Marc Lemire's constitutional challenge to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The passage that seems to have set everyone off is:

Anyone who runs an online message board, from the lowliest vanity blogger to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, can be charged under federal human rights law if visitors to their site post hateful comments, according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Cue the outrage! Bloggers might actually have to pay attention to their comments section! Well, presumably they are already doing that, aren't they? To make sure any honest to god defamation doesn't occur? No? For them the act of maintaining a blog is, then, the intellectual equivalent of masturbating in public, where one just spews pointlessly and flees?

But lets just see how difficult it would be to spot the kind of material Section 13 is designed to regulate:

...the material for which Mr. Lemire is accused, including 50 to 100 separate messages on his freedomsite.org and another site with which he is associated, is "voluminous," "vile" and "more than offensive."

Boy, that kind of stuff would be sooo difficult to distinguish from the insults and casual racism that can pervade a typical blog's comment section. And, if pointed out to the blog owner, would be sooooo difficult to remove.

I'll tell you what, Stageleft (and Kate, and others) most of the material that appears on your blog is frankly too lame to approach actual hate speech. I, on the other hand, know all eight words for "fuck-head" in !Kung. If I'm not worried about running afoul with the CHRC, why should a bunch of bed-wetters, leaf-eaters, and thumb-suckers be afraid?

...well, I suppose to some extent we all fear taking responsibility, don't we?

30 comments:

Narrow Back said...

BCL wrote: For them the act of maintaining a blog is, then, the intellectual equivalent of masturbating in public, where one just spews pointlessly and moves on?

You mean like this blog? Too funny. Try looking in a mirror sometime.

Ti-Guy said...

I don't think you understood the post, NB.

sue930 said...

I have found that this blogger continues to post on issues in an intersting manner. I don't always agree with him but on his latest posting he seems to have got the drift of Section 13. Thought I'd share

http://chapelviews.blogspot.com/2008/09/supreme-court-has-spoken.html

Dal_3L said...

With respect, you oversimplify the process of detecting and removing comments that may come within the purview of section 13.

In one sense, you are correct that it is easy to detect and remove the most vile and egregious examples of racism. The problem is that section 13 captures much more than that. As many have quoted, the law as it sits will grant relief for any comment "likely to expose others" to hatred".

As anyone can see in the headlines from time to time, Human Rights law is nothing if not unpredictable, controversial (to some), and contentious. It is also a common fact that those who administer its application are not s. 96 judges trained in the nuances of witholding the power of the state.

All of these are valid arguments and all leave aside the circular "responsibility" debate you appear to advocate. That is to say, just as you suggest one should be responsible for their own blog, one could just as easily say that one should be equally if not moreso responsible for what they actually say - irrespective of the venue in which they say it.

I say this as a card-carrying liberal.

bigcitylib said...

"In one sense, you are correct that it is easy to detect and remove the most vile and egregious examples of racism. The problem is that section 13 captures much more than that. As many have quoted, the law as it sits will grant relief for any comment "likely to expose others" to hatred"."
----
As I understand it, it is only the most extreme forms of speech that are "likely to expose" etc. Even a crack like "Black people are stupid and lazy." wouldn't make the cut, unless this was part of a longer diatribe which was itself one in a series.

Dal_3L said...

The section is here: http://tinyurl.com/5r699p

The wording I am concerened about is: "any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt".

Again - I think you are correct in a sense. Your example doesn't seem to add up to hatred as I read the case law. However, "contempt" is something else. I'm not sure what that is and I'm not sure others do either.

In any event, when dealing with the HRC you aren't dealing with a Court. You are dealing with an administrative body. As such, it doesn't matter what the law is - it matters to what trouble the Human Rights Commission wants to put you to. If the Investigator wishes to refer your borderline comment to a tribunal, you will be put to the cost of making submissions before the tribunal.

The argument is that this process is too open to interpretation and abuse by s. 13 complainants.

This is why you see so many dragging Richard Warman's name through the mud - because in their view, he has made it his misssion to seek out or provoke "hatred", file s. 13 complaints, and collect awards based on affronts to "his" dignity.

I'm as small an "l" as they come and I endorse prohibitions on criminal hate speech. But in my opinion, section 13 is overbroad.

Ti-Guy said...

If people are not supportive of "dispute resolution" with regard to speech issues, we're going to end up in the less-than-satisfactory position the Americans are in; mass media co-opted by "agents of intolerance" (hate radio, FoxNews, etc.) authoritarian "speech codes" that try to regulate language and a general public discourse that is coarse, divisive, unenlightening and worst of all, one that distracts Americans from real substantive statist assaults on their civil liberties, such as the unlawful police raids, illegal surveillance and ridiculous "free speech" zones, to name a few.

muscocamoca said...

dal_31 suggests that Richard Warman's complaints do not meet the hatred test. Could he be more specific and tell us which ones exactly.

I googled Warman and the cases he has brought forward are all neo-Nazi hatesights. So which of these sites are OK in dal's view

sue930 thatnks for the link to chapelviews. He is an interesting dude with some preety keen observations.

sue930 said...

You are very welcome Muscocamoca...Dal it was my understanding that the HRCs, though not a Court, still have to operate under civil procedure much the same way as labour tribunals and mental health act tribunals. Hence it must adhere to a strict set of legal obligations

Dal_3L said...

muscocamoca: You misquote me. I did not suggest anything of the sort. I raised some of the reasons why others complain about Mr. Warman as they stem from the Human Rights complaint process. I think you will agree he is a convenient example in this context for the simple reason that he has raised more s. 13 complaints than anyone else.


Sue: the issue of administrative deference and procedure is a complicated one. The Supreme Court very recently just added more jurisprudence to the heap in an effort to clarify things (if you can stomach it, the case is Dunsmuir). Suffice it to say, it is not as simple as just implementing procedure and arriving at a just result.

Yes, the HRCs do need to respect some modicum of procedure. No, it is not the same high standard as Superior Courts. However, no amount of procedure can save a law that is poorly drafted, ill-conceived or overly broad.


The fact remains - the quote that leads this post is how the Canadian Human Rights Commission intends to interpret and apply s. 13. In my view, this isn't something the legislature contemplated when instituting laws combating hate speech. At the very least, it isn't something the House of Commons has accounted for politically.

Paul S said...

"If people are not supportive of "dispute resolution" with regard to speech issues . . ."

"Speecn issues"? Good gawd. Is this how the left talks about freedom of speech now?

The left wants to relegate unrestricted speech to the importance of a minor workplace issue.

But leave Section 13 in. HRC's have already shown they are not competent to handle that section reasonably.

Keeping the section ensures that the ludicrous "logic" behind much of HRC's thinking will increasingly come to the public's attention.

ohara8667 said...

"Yes, the HRCs do need to respect some modicum of procedure. No, it is not the same high standard as Superior Courts. However, no amount of procedure can save a law that is poorly drafted, ill-conceived or overly broad."

But it is the same high standard as is expected in any civil procedure.

Secondly the SCC has found section 13(1) to be constitutional and this was reasserted in the Zundel adjudication in 2002.

I believe the law works. I also believe the administration of the act needs to be re-worked. Sometimes bad cases or cases that ought not be brougfht forward find themselves before tribunal. It is no reason to scrap the section altogether.

Hells bells and sad to say from time to time even with the highest of Court procedures in place people are wrongly convicted, even of murder. Just ask Steven Truscott or Hurricane Carter. Does that mean we ought to scrap the law against murder?

Ti-Guy said...

Good gawd. Is this how the left talks about freedom of speech now?

No.

The left wants to relegate unrestricted speech to the importance of a minor workplace issue.

This is a probably a lie, but I'm not sure. It's barely comprehensible.

But leave Section 13 in. HRC's have already shown they are not competent to handle that section reasonably.

Lie.

Keeping the section ensures that the ludicrous "logic" behind much of HRC's thinking will increasingly come to the public's attention.

What's coming to the public's attention is how venal and hate-filled the "free speech warriors" really are. Everyone I know now loathes Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, whereas before, they just considered them irritating.

Dal_3L said...

ohara8667: The rules of civil procedure are designed to resolve disputes in the most efficient, just and least expensive manner. I sense that folks here are conflating procedure and the rules of evidence. To be clear, I will just say that the rules of procedure and evidence are much more relaxed in Administrative settings than in Superior Courts.

The problem we have here is that speech is the most fundamental right in our Charter of Rights. It is the right from which all others stem (or so says John Stuart Mill and I think perhaps the Supreme Court in Irwin Toy).

Accordingly, it seems natural that any limit on that right be considered with the sharpest of legal precision. This is the first problem I have with s. 13.

While I am aware that the section has been found constitutional, that doesn't also mean that it will always be applied in a constitutional manner. This is the second problem I have with s. 13.

Lastly, I have a philosophical problem with limits on speech. To put it glibly, vulgarity and hate speech have their place society; the corollary is that citizens have the responsibility to ensure that it gets put in its place.

In my opinion, the only justification for limiting speech is to prevent physical harm. This is what we have the Criminal Code for.

One other thing, you say you believe the law is working.

My question is simple: How could you possibly know?


"Hells bells and sad to say from time to time even with the highest of Court procedures in place people are wrongly convicted, even of murder. Just ask Steven Truscott or Hurricane Carter. Does that mean we ought to scrap the law against murder?"

The answer is, of course, No. Yet the government, the Courts and the legislature still try (and still trying!) to get it right. That's all I'm asking.

Narrow Back said...

This country is becoming a joke.


From: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

bigcitylib said...

Yeah, Narrowback, your guy sucked before the commission today. Is that what you're pissed about?

Narrow Back said...

Yeah, Narrowback, your guy sucked before the commission today. Is that what you're pissed about?

Ah, my emotional state… I was indifferent when I posted that.

So, any thoughts on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Do you believe it is relevant or irrelevant to this circumstance?

Ti-Guy said...

Narrow back, if most Canadians weren't located within spitting distance of a people who, until quite recently, hanged black people from trees, the situation would be decidedly different.

Narrow Back said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Narrow Back said...

ti guy: Narrow back, if most Canadians weren't located within spitting distance of a people who, until quite recently, hanged black people from trees, the situation would be decidedly different.


I have given up too much of my life fighting such people. I know them all too well. This is not the way.

Paul S said...

"What's coming to the public's attention is how venal and hate-filled the "free speech warriors" really are." - ti-guy

Really? You don't say.

That explains the public collapse of the HRCs cases against both Ezra and Steyn.

"Everyone I know now loathes Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, whereas before, they just considered them irritating."

You loathe Ezra and Steyn because they beat you and others who wanted to use HRCs to silence them for purely political reasons.

ohara8667 said...

Yes and even ith the UN declaration it is true to say that virtually every democracy with the interesting exception of that country to the south of us which till recently still lynched people of colour has criminal and'or civil sanctions against hate speech...every single one!!!!!!

Paul S said...

" . . . if most Canadians weren't located within spitting distance of a people who, until quite recently, hanged black people from trees, the situation would be decidedly different." -ti-guy

Stop it, you're bringing tears to my eyes. Yes, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Canada's HRC's only exist because of the odious history of lynching in the US. (?) That's news to Canadians.

What a fool.

Here I thought that the over 100 million people who died under repulsive ideologies like communisum had some effect on the development of modern human rights.
Silly me.

Saskboy said...

Your Stageleft link is busted.
http://www.stageleft.info/2008/09/15/and-they-didnt-even-notice/

A bigger threat to blogging, which I would appreciate more bloggers talk about until the media makes it another campaign issue, is the threat of copyright reform by either the Conservatives or Liberals.

Ti-Guy said...

Wow, Paul S. sure does have a lot invested in preserving the right of hate speech.

I mean, we all know he's stupid, but is he murderous as well?

BCL: Better post his IP address so the RCMP can look into it before he shoots up a school, or something.

Paul S said...

"Wow, Paul S. sure does have a lot invested in preserving the right of hate speech."

Next lefty evasive tactic: free speech = hate speech.

The complaints against Ezra and Steyn collapsed because they couldn't even meet the absurdly low legal standards of the HRCs.

"I mean, we all know he's stupid, but is he murderous as well?"

LOL. The kindheartedness and tolerance of the left is always a source of wonder. Hugs for everybody.

Ti-Guy said...

Next lefty evasive tactic: free speech = hate speech.

*sigh*...Lie.

The complaints against Ezra and Steyn collapsed because they couldn't even meet the absurdly low legal standards of the HRCs.

They didn't "collapse" you liar.

LOL. The kindheartedness and tolerance of the left is always a source of wonder. Hugs for everybody.

You're still allowed to comment here, you little lying asshole. How much more tolerance do you think you deserve?

Paul S said...

"They didn't "collapse" you liar."

Collapsed, toppled, failed, imploded, flopped, crashed, crumbled, self-destructed.

Take your pick.

Ti-Guy said...

I pick "Paul S. is a liar."

RobertNichols said...

ti-guy

"What's coming to the public's attention is how venal and hate-filled the "free speech warriors" really are. Everyone I know now loathes Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, whereas before, they just considered them irritating."

You seriously have to be one of the biggest funking assholes out there. I would love to take a clown like you for for an airborne swim.

The whole process is one sided and needs desperately to be overhauled.

Much of what you say would not pass a sec13.1

I don't loathe people like you - as it's hard to despise the bottom of the barrel.