Free Speech is an absolute necessity for a free society. It is a right and an obligation. Like all rights Free Speech carries with it a counterweight of responsibility. The only binding responsibilities of free speech should be honesty and accuracy. Imagine a world in which physicians could not refer to sociopaths, sexual predators and serial killers as "mentally ill" or "dangerous" or even "in need of treatment" because it might hurt their feelings. That would be suicidal for a society.
In Canada, legislation that was originally well intentioned, has been used to an even more suicidal effect. Some of the fellow bloggers I admire most have been brought before the Human Rights Commission as a means of punishing them for speaking freely, accurately and honestly about real threats to the safety and integrity of their country. As an American, I want to express my solidarity with them and their cause. They are currently engaged in supporting an effort to change the flawed laws that have put the power to persecute them for their opinions and statements of undisputed fact into the hands of people with very destructive intentions.
Human Rights Commision is an ironic name for an organization that can be used to squelch an absolute and essential right like free speech in favor of a non existant right such as the "right not to be hated" or "the right not to be offended"
I urge any of my Canadian readers who are not aware of this effort (not likely, I know) to help in this effort and all you Americans, Aussies, Israelis and others who have Canadian friends and relatives to urge them to get behind it too.
Here are some interesting and relevant thoughts from Solzhenitsyn's Harvard speech in 1978- He saw a lot of this so clearly back then because he knew a lot more about the reality of Human nature, the value of freedom and the sanctity of responsibility than anyone born in America (or Canadia) ever could.
First, what he says about the balance between legal rights and values:
The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man's sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse.
Then he talks about what a "statesman" (it applies to any citizen- especially Canadian bloggers) has to put up with in order to do anything of real value:
...has to move cautiously and even timidly; there are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him, parliament and the press keep rebuffing him. As he moves ahead, he has to prove that every single step of his is well-founded and absolutely flawless... The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals. It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.
I believe that honesty, accuracy and the responsibility to publicly identify and speak out against threats to the system that provides the right of Free Speech are the greatest of those obligations. That is why it is important to support My Canadian friends in this effort!
Finally, here is the declaration of support for the changes that a group of bloggers released today. I am honored to post here in support of every honest, self-reliant and plain-speaking soul in Canada. God bless you all!
We strongly support those members of the Conservative Party of Canada who seek to repeal Sections 13 and 54 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Sections 13 and 54 of the Canadian Human Rights Act are a direct attack on the freedom of expression guaranteed to us under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The provisions of these sections allow the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to prosecute anyone alleged to have said or written something "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt" whether there is a living, breathing victim or not.
Vague concepts such as speech or writing "liable to cause hatred or contempt" are the basis of expensive state-funded prosecution of individuals. The statute provides no objective legal test for "hate" or any objective means of determining what constitutes "contempt". As a result, the CHRC is used by various groups and individuals, as a risk-free taxpayer funded method to silence their critics and those they disagree with. CHRC investigators have testified that that "freedom of speech is an American concept" and therefore not valid in Canada . Such statements are contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but are standard operating procedure at the CHRC.
Commissioners of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, who are not judges and are often not even lawyers, have held that "truth" is not a defence against prosecution under Section 13. Intent or fair comment are also not defenses. In fact, there is not a single listed defence under Section 13! Because of the lack of any defenses, the Tribunal has a 100% conviction rate since 1978. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal routinely ignores the principles of fundamental justice, such as the rules of evidence, and these kangaroo courts, even allow hearsay evidence. The CHRA provides for each Tribunal to make up the rules as they go.
Every journalist, writer, Internet webmaster, publisher and private citizen in Canada can be the subject of a Human Rights complaint for expressing an opinion or telling the truth. Given the ambiguity of Section 13, it is virtually impossible for any individual to determine if they might be in violation of Section 13. Arbitrary censorship and punishment are wrong, and cannot be justified in a free society."
Kathy Shaidle has a book about it all The Tyranny of Nice
Blazing Cat Fur writes often and intelligently about it.
Small Dead Animals
Ghost of a flea