Sunday, December 18, 2011

Farber And Kurz On Section 13

Opponents of Section 13 argue that it is an assault on free speech. They claim that it targets speech that may merely offend those with thin skins. If the target of the law were merely “offensive” statements, we would wholeheartedly agree. But this is not the case. The law aims at expression that causes members of our society to be treated as less worthy than their neighbours merely because of who they are, rather than what they have done. The small number of cases that have made it to the act’s tribunal stage have been among the worst of the worst: hateful, malicious propaganda.

Another argument against Section 13 is that, unlike libel law, truth is no defence. But can it ever be “true” that victims of hate speech deserve hatred and contempt? Should someone be entitled to use a tribunal hearing to “prove” that, say African Canadians are inferior, that Jews are rapacious, or that all gays are pedophiles?

Section 13 tells us that we must find civil ways to prevent bigotry. That is the Canadian way. But if Storseth’s bill is passed, the state will rely exclusively on criminal prosecution to deter those who wilfully engage in promoting hatred. By ridding ourselves of Section 13, we diminish the hope that we can change attitudes through education and dialogue. We may very well unleash the blunt force of the criminal law on those who are guilty of nothing but ignorance.

Just a comment on this last bit.  Folks in favour of Storseth's Bill often, perhaps typically, think that removing section 13 will solve their problems.  Journalists typically believe that with S13 gone their industry will be free of  a bothersome level of regulation, that all they will need to worry about is the possibility of defamation suits brought through the court system. 

Haters believe that they shall be able to hate at leisure.

But this is not really so.  For example, Frank Dimant, CEO of B'nai Brith Canada, has stated quite clearly that in a post 13 world his organization will shift its efforts to working against hate speech through whatever enhanced criminal code provisions are given to it.  Nobody is going to pack up their toys and go home in absence of the provision, in other words.  And, as I've said before, there's quite a difference between receiving a letter from a commission bureaucrat and getting a visit from a police officer.  I imagine the second is a bit more traumatic than the first.

10 comments:

Chapel said...

Finally a reasonable "other side of the story". Messrs. Kurz and Farber have given us much to consider.

I can hardly wait to see the fulminating rightwing bloggers who comb the blogosphere to attack those they disagree with. My guess is that these two will become the butt of their silly and bullying personal attacks, mark my words.

Jacob Peters said...

From what I have seen, the police is often ignorant willfully or otherwise about Hate Crime Legislation. Getting them to lay charges in such cases can almost be impossible, especially if you are a recent immigrant.

Meir Weinstein said...

It is not in the interest of the Jewish Community to support Section 13. Israel Apartheid Week and the many other hate programs directed at supporters of Israel are the concerns of the Jewish Community. Also, so called anti racism leaders turn a willing blind eye to pro Nazi speeches from radical Islamic leaders. The Jewish Community needs a new plan of action.

Nosferatu200 said...

"The Jewish Community needs a new plan of action."

Like when you allied yourself (the JDL) with Nazi sympathizers (the EDL)?

Thankfully, you and the JDL are fringe.

Meir Weinstein said...

Nosferatu200, your out of touch with the current pulse in the Jewish community. I was there when certain major Jewish leaders met with Geert Wilders.

thebanana said...

@Meir...so that's the new plan of action? Good grief.

brennerman said...

If I recall correctly the JDL also supports the neo-Nazi English Defence League so no surprise that they canonize Geert Wilders.

I think the Canadian Jewish community will rue the day it decided to dump the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Meir Weinstein said...

As Melanie Phillips reported in The Spectator of London, the key motif in the “new antisemitism” is “Holocaust inversion,” with the Israelis being demonized as Nazis and the Palestinians regarded as the new Jews. Israel and the Jews are being systematically delegitimised and dehumanized ­ a necessary prelude to their destruction ­ with both Islamists and Western media using anti-Zionism as a fig leaf for prejudices rooted in both medieval Christian and Nazi demonology. This has produced an Orwellian situation in which hatred for the Jews now marches behind the Left’s banner of anti-racism and human rights, giving rise not merely to distortions, fabrications and slander about Israel in the media but also to mainstream articles discussing the malign power of the Jews over American and world policy. The Portuguese Nobel prize-winning author Jose Saramago’s suggestion that Israel was guilty of recreating Auschwitz in Ramallah is symptomatic of the current mood. Indeed, comparing the actions of Israel to those of Nazi Germany has become almost de rigueur in Europe. Demonstrators marching through the streets of European capitals and North America today routinely carry placards that label Israeli Leaders as “the new Hitler”, and call the Israeli response to the terror inflicted on its citizens “genocide”.

Meir Weinstein said...

It is the position of the Jewish Defence League that Section 13 has become an aggressive tool for radical Islam which follows the dictates of the OIC (Organization of Islamic States). In effect, the article written by Bernie Farber does not help the Jewish community defend against the new anti Semitism but rather offers a tool to the OIC in its goal to rid the world of Israel.


The Jewish community needs strong leadership prepared to fight back with new tools against the new form of anti Semitism. This leadership must never placate those very groups that seek to promote the agenda of radical Islam.

brennerman said...

Mr. Weinstein, firstly your powers of observation need some sharpening; the article you reference was written by both Bernie Farber and Marvin Kurz. Mr. Kurz happens to be legal counsel to Bnai Brith Canada.

So now we have the former head of CJC, Bernie Farber (himself a recognized human rights activist), the Bnai brith, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre as well as such human rights legalists like Irwin Cotler all supporting section 13. And the new CJC, CIJA holding a Town hall to see what they want to further discuss the whole issue.

It seems the only group out of step here is the JDL.

I also cannot help but notice that you have steadfastly avoided answering why and how your group supports the neo-Nazi English Defence league.