Truth as Hate Speech

AADCanada’s Supreme Court: Truth as ‘Hate Speech’

By Lee Duigon

 “I agree with the argument that the quest for truth is an essential component of the ‘marketplace of ideas’ which is, itself, central to a strong democracy … However, I do not think it is inconsistent with these views to find that not all truthful statements must be free from restriction. Truthful statements can be interlaced with harmful ones or otherwise presented in a manner that would meet the definition of hate speech.” [emphasis added]

-Justice Marshall Rothstein, Supreme Court of Canada, Saskatchewan v. Whatcott

 “You can’t handle the truth!” -Jack Nicholson, in A Few Good Men

“What is truth?” -Pontius Pilate

            As the United States Supreme Court ponders whether to set aside God’s law concerning marriage, and replace it with their own law-the decision is expected to be announced in June-the Supreme Court of Canada recently made a ruling that casts a shadow over not only Canada’s future, but our own.

            In the case of Saskatchewan v. Whatcott, which took nearly twelve years to work its way up to the highest level of Canada’s court system, the six justices ruled unanimously to uphold Canada’s “hate speech” regime. The court ruled that words and writings can still be classified as “hate speech,” and are thus illegal and punishable:

-Even if the speaker told the truth.

-Even if his words were not motivated by “hate.”

-And even if his words did no demonstrable harm to anyone.

The Case

The victim in this case is Bill Whatcott, a pro-family activist who was fined and censored by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for violating the province’s Human Rights Code by writing and handing out pamphlets deemed “hateful” to homosexuals. Whatcott opposed the “teaching” of homosexuality in Saskatchewan’s public schools and called attention to the health risks associated with homosexual behavior. The “human rights” machine punished him for four pamphlets deemed particularly offensive.

When the provincial court of Saskatchewan ruled the punishment out of order, and upheld Whatcott’s right to free speech, the provincial government appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada-who reversed the lower court’s decision and ordered Whatcott to pay the fines, totally $7,500, plus all the Human Rights Commission’s legal costs. These have not yet been calculated, but they will surely total more than Whatcott could ever hope to pay. Meanwhile, he has vowed not to pay, and not to stop writing pamphlets. There is a good chance he will go to prison for contempt of court.

“What it means,” he said, “is that my life is over, as I know it. It means that the Christian Church is going to be libel [sic] for speaking the truth.”[1]

firewaterA View Through Rose-Colored Glasses

It must be noted that some commentators had a favorable opinion of the ruling.

The Christian Legal Fellowship said [the];

Decision affirms freedom of religion and the right to equality must co-exist … While ruling that the hate speech section of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code is constitutional, the court struck the prohibition on speech that ‘ridicules, belittles, and otherwise affronts the dignity of’ individuals. This prohibition was found not to be constitutional in that it is not rationally connected to the legislation’s purpose of addressing systemic discrimination … We are pleased that the standard for hate speech is clarified to be relatively high … this is a significant improvement to the hate speech laws as we have known them.[2]

We cannot explain why the Christian Legal Fellowship would presuppose the state’s authority to restrict speech on the grounds of its perceived hatefulness.

Columnist Lorne Gunter, in a February 27 posting for the QMI Agency, also saw positive aspects to the ruling:

I think [the] Supreme Court decision will take away much of the vindictive power of provincial and federal human rights commissions,” Gunter wrote. “It is precisely because our rights tribunals have the ability to go after people because someone else (usually a crusading activist) finds their words ridiculing, belittling, or merely offensive that these modern inquisitions have built up so much oppressive power.

Basically what the justices did was take away human rights commissions’ power to enforce political correctness. Instead, it left them with only the ability to enforce the same standards of hate speech as the courts themselves must apply … [T]he Whatcott decision is a step in the right direction. It struck down Whatcott’s convictions based on hurt feelings, but upheld [those] the justices felt were actual expressions of hatefulness.[3]

We have added emphasis to highlight the doctrine in Canadian jurisprudence that “hate” or “hatefulness” is a crime-but only when directed at some groups of Canadians, not others.

What is the Crime?

What exactly is the crime Bill Whatcott committed, according to the Supreme Court?

“The question courts must ask,” wrote Justice Rothstein, “is whether a reasonable person, aware of the context and circumstances, would view the expression [words, written or spoken-ed.] as exposing the protected group to hatred.”[4]

If some groups are “protected,” then there must also be groups that are not protected-as we shall see. It is not a crime in Canada to “hate” just anyone. Only certain groups may not be hated.

Hate speech, said Rothstein, under the law, is speech that is “likely to expose a person to detestation and vilification on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”[5] He then went off the deep end: “Hate speech lays the groundwork for later, broad attacks on vulnerable groups, that can range from discrimination, to ostracism, segregation, deportation, violence, and, in the most extreme cases, to genocide.”[6]

Does the justice believe that the Canadian people are bloodthirsty savages who, if not restrained by hate speech laws, will plunge the country into a reign of terror-a devouring wildfire ignited by pamphlets like Bill Whatcott’s?

These Aren’t Applauding

By far, most of the reaction to the ruling was negative.

Robert Martin, Professor Emeritus of Law at Western University, had a simple explanation of what the decision means for Canada: “No heterosexual person may publicly disagree with or criticize or say anything that might, in any way, offend or annoy a homosexual person … Our judges have treated the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] as their license to socially engineer Canada.”[7]

 Columnist Rex Murphy: “You can say what you like in Canada-to yourself, in a low voice.”[8]

Journalist Ezra Levant, who was hounded by the “human rights” machine for publishing a “Muhammad cartoon” in his magazine to illustrate a news article about the cartoons: “[H]ate is a natural human emotion. It can no more be banned than love can be banned.”[9]

Toronto Sun columnist Brian Lilly (February 28): “See, in Canada we have rights as long as the government and courts say we can have them.”

We asked Kari Simpson, host of Roadkill Radio in British Columbia, and herself a veteran of a “human rights” inquisition, what she thought of the Supreme Court decision.

“I have launched numerous complaints to the B. C. Human Rights Commission on behalf of Christians,” she said, “and all of them have been rejected. Christians weren’t a protected group-never mind a provable pattern of anti-religious bigotry.

“How can they outlaw statements that might make someone hate someone else? It’s ridiculous. And what about homosexual health and disease statistics, issued by the government? Would that be hate speech by the government? Even news coverage of homosexuals could be construed as hate, if it was deemed unflattering.

“Canada is losing its freedom of speech. The court is out of control in its determination to aid and abet the sex activist community. And the only solution I can see is civil disobedience in the streets, by Christians.”

Is the “human rights” establishment in Canada really aggressively prejudiced against Christians?

Ezra Levant: “In the thirty-six years these censorship laws have been on the books, only Christians have ever been prosecuted.”[10] (Not literally true, of course: Levant was prosecuted, and he is Jewish. But the vast majority of the commissions’ victims have been Christians.)

What Does It Mean for Us?

“When religious liberty and sexual liberty conflict, I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” -Chai Feldblum[11]

Chai Feldblum, former Georgetown law professor, is a member of the Obama administration: since 2009, a commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She would not have been appointed to the post, nor would she still be occupying it today, if her views were out of line with the administration’s.

The Whatcott ruling, and all that led up to it, show where America is headed-especially if our Supreme Court finds in favor of homosexual “marriage.”

In striking down the Human Rights Code’s prohibitions of speech which merely “ridicules” or “belittles” homosexuals, the Supreme Court of Canada sacrificed these hard-to-defend peculiarities in the law in order to save and solidify Canada’s “hate speech” regime overall. “Human rights” bodies will continue to define as “hateful” any speech or writing that impresses them as such. Nor will their procedures change. Normal rules of evidence will not apply: hearsay, emotional outbursts, and the plaintiff’s personal opinions will continue to be accepted as evidence. The government will still pay the plaintiff’s entire legal costs, and the defendant will still be on the hook for his own.  We do not agree that the Supreme Court has now obliged these kangaroo courts to live up to any higher, stricter standard.

The “hate speech” laws by their very nature, in theory and in practice, are discriminatory against Christians. Only “protected” groups, like homosexuals, are to be protected from “hate.” It is a crime in Canada to hate homosexuals, but not a crime to hate Christians. How any group gains this superior protected status is a mystery to most Canadians.

Meanwhile, here in the USA, there are already straws in the wind for anyone to see. A Christian baker in Oregon, having refused to create a custom-made cake for a lesbian “wedding,” is being prosecuted by the state’s “human rights” commission. A mom-and-pop photography business in New Mexico, owned by Christians, was fined $6,600 for not filming a lesbian “wedding.” In New Jersey, a Methodist church was stripped of the tax exemption on its property when it refused to allow same-sex “weddings” to be performed on that property-despite the fact that New Jersey has never legalized such unions.

If the U. S. Supreme Court “legalizes”-without legislation-homosexual “marriages” this summer, what will happen to individual Christians and churches who refuse to recognize these as anything but a wicked parody of holy matrimony, and an act of rebellion against God’s law? Will the federal government, and the triumphant homosexuals, allow us to persist in our faithfulness?

We very much doubt it.

*****


[1] Peter Baklinski, “Supreme Court Muzzles Free Speech in Canada, Lifesite News, Feb. 27, 2013. See:http://www.lifesitenews.com/home/all-stories-on-date/2013/02/27/#supreme-court-muzzles-free-speech-in-canada-crushes-born-again-christian-ac

[2] http://www.alliancealert.org/2013/02/27/canadian-supreme-court-freedom-of-religion-and-the-right-to-equality-must-co-exist/

[3] http://www.calgarysun.com/2013/02/27/gunter-supreme-court-ruling-on-bill-whatcott-not-a-vindication-of-human-rights-witch-hunts

[4] http://blogs.canoe.ca/lilleyspad/contributor-columns/column-lilley-truth-is-no-defence/

[5] http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/supreme-court-upholds-hate-laws-in-case-involving-anti-gay-proselytizer/article9104862/?service=mobile

[6] Ibid.

[7] Quoted with permission from an email to Robert Jason.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] http://illinoisfamily.org/religious/obamas-eeoc-pick-chai-feldblum-sexual-liberty-wins-in-conflict-with-religious-liberty/

Lee Duigon is a Christian free-lance writer and contributing editor for Faith for All of Life. He has been a newspaper editor and reporter and is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels.

 Article from Chalcedon.edu

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