Canadian Appeals Court Rules for Boissoin


I’ve written many times over the years about the case of Stephen Boissoin, a Canadian pastor who was brought up on charges of violating that nation’s hate speech laws for writing a letter to a newspaper condemning homosexuality. I actually didn’t know the case was still going on, but an appeals court in Alberta just handed down a ruling in his favor on those charges, saying that his statements did not violate the law.

You can read the full text of his letter in the ruling (PDF). It’s standard anti-gay rhetoric, full of idiotic and bigoted statements. But the court said, quite rightly, that it should not therefore be banned or provoke punishment:

A human rights tribunal held that a letter to the editor published in an Alberta daily newspaper exposed homosexuals to hatred or contempt, and directed remedies, including an order to cease and desist and an award of damages. On appeal, a Queen’s Bench judge set aside the tribunal’s finding. The judge held that while the language of the letter “may be jarring, offensive, bewildering, puerile, nonsensical and insulting”, it was not likely to expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt within the meaning of the Alberta statute. I agree that the letter is offensive; it is coarse, crude and insensitive. However, in my view, the letter constituted an expression of opinion that did not infringe the statute. For the reasons which follow, I would dismiss the appeal.

That’s the right result, but the law remains on the books and is still very corrosive of free speech. The law in Alberta says:

No person shall publish, issue or display or cause to be published, issued or displayed before the public any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that…is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt.

This is astonishingly broad. Virtually any statement criticizing anyone at any time could be construed as exposing them to hatred or contempt. Hell, when I write about bigots saying bigoted things — people just like Boissoin — it is my entire goal to expose them to contempt. Contempt is exactly what they deserve. The job of the government is not to protect anyone from other people’s beliefs but only to protect them from their actions that harm them or violate their rights. These laws are a very bad idea and they should be eliminated entirely.

Comments

  1. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    In fact, I would say that the proper response to hateful speech is not to ban the speech, but to respond to it, to tell others why the speech is not correct, and to show the writer that they won’t be able to get away with saying it without criticism.

  2. says

    Brownian wrote:

    Is it? Not in theory, but in practice?

    When people are forced to spend years defending themselves through a legal process that can be expensive and difficult, I’d say this is corrosive to free speech in practice. And Boissoin is hardly alone, lots of people have been put through similar ordeals.

  3. Brownian says

    When people are forced to spend years defending themselves through a legal process that can be expensive and difficult, I’d say this is corrosive to free speech in practice.

    I’m not seeing a dearth of anti-homosexual rhetoric among politicians here.

  4. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    It would seem that that law would prohibit most acts of journalism. Case in point: reporting on the Penn State molestation case was certainly “publication . . . likely to expose a person or a class of persons [Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, and the Penn State administration in general] to hatred or contempt.”

  5. baal says

    I’ve not quite liked stand alone anti-hate laws but do think ‘hate’ plays into the totality of circumstances that fold into blameworthiness. As such, the right place to fold this concern into the criminal code is as part of setting a sentence within the normal range for the underlying crime.

  6. maudell says

    Yes, most Americans don’t understand we don’t have (American-style) free speech in Canada. It doesn’t mean that we are affected by this in our day-to-day lives, but I think it’s a flaw of our system. In theory. In theory, because I wish we had free speech, but watching America going makes me question its value. It seems to spread a lot of willful disinformation and propaganda. I don’t think people should go to jail for their thoughts though. Ever.

  7. Brownian says

    Brownian, everything (or nearly) said n Parliament is immune from prosecution.

    Well, it would be in the Legislature, but I’m not talking about plumbing Hansard for bad words. I’m talking about people speaking outside of legislatures, parliament, and city councils, like Allan Hunsperger, Ted Morton, and Bill Whatcott, who just this spring stuffed flyers in my mailbox with pictures of dismembered fetuses somehow related to the gay agenda.

    I don’t think people should go to jail for their thoughts though.

    Does that happen? Ever?

  8. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    No person shall publish, issue or display or cause to be published, issued or displayed before the public any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that…is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt.

    Shouldn’t he be charged just under the obvious fact that by publishing his screed, he has exposed himself to contempt? I’m feeling quite a bit of contempt for him.

  9. eric says

    That “cause to be published” should also cover the newspaper. Did they prosecute the paper’s management staff too?

    Let me guess…no, they didn’t, beacuse from the outset the law is being used just to punish pepole who make unpopular speech.

    Brownian, you asked if it was corrosive in practice or only in theory. Well, the state has already started arbitrarily using it to punish the people they don’t like while not applying the law as written to the people they do like. That sounds pretty “corrosive in practice” to me.

  10. Brownian says

    Well, the state has already started arbitrarily using it to punish the people they don’t like while not applying the law as written to the people they do like.

    Right, like every state does with nearly every law. It’s unfair and an issue to be sure, but that’s not an issue specific to this particular law.

    That sounds pretty “corrosive in practice” to me.

    I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean to me or anybody else.

    Maybe the problem is the use of ‘corrosive’ in this context, in that it vaguely implies a slippery slope, but not much else.

  11. steve84 says

    Yeah, free speech sounds so nice in theory and of course a government should be prevented from arbitrarily censoring political opinions, but it’s also blatantly obvious that America isn’t a better society because of it. On the contrary. It’s frequently primitive and extremely divisive. So far nobody has been able to demonstrate how Canada is worse beyond hypothetical about a vague law being abused.

  12. Trickster Goddess says

    I lived in that town (Red Deer, Alberta) at the time the letter was published and can lend some background to this story.

    Stephen Boissoin is an ex-con who has multiple convictions for assault and extortion. He became a jailhouse Christian and after being released from jail started on his ‘ministry’ which consisted mainly of running a downtown youth drop in center. He was a regular writer of anti-gay letters to editor, as were several others in the town.

    The particular letter in question was more vile than anything he had previously written and and ended with a call for good Christians to rise up before it was too late and “wage a holy war against homosexuality.”

    I have mixed feelings about our hate speech laws but felt the complaint about this letter was a bit misguided although the letter did come close to the line I draw where hate speech laws should be invoked only in cases where the speaker calls for violence against a minority group.

    As it was at the time the letter would have passed without long term note or complaint if not for something that happened about 10 days later. A young gay man was walking home along a footpath after taking in the Canada Day fireworks when he was confronted and subjected to anti-gay slurs and then assaulted with brass knuckles, causing severe facial damage. The victim, instead of keeping quiet, which was customary among gay victims at the time, not only complained to the police but also came forward to the press which published the assault as a front page story. This caused a big public reaction and many people drew a connection between the assault and the violent rhetoric in the letter and that was when the complaint was filed.

    It was later reported that the alleged assailant was a regular at the youth drop-in center and other attenders claimed they heard the man bragging about the assault and Boissoin expressing approval of his actions.

    Although the man’s name was known and reported to the police, no one was ever charged for the assault.

    On the upside, this incident marked a turning point the the culture of Red Deer. It was my sense that many people in the town had no particular animosity against gays but no one was willing to speak up against the letter writers or publicly call out the local provincial politicians on their anti-gay pronouncements. After the Boissoin’s letter and the assault, however, that all changed and every anti-gay letter to the editor was countered by 3 or 4 pro-gay letters.

    Shortly after that time, same-sex marriage started becoming an issue in Canada with the Ontario and BC Supreme Court decisions and both local newspapers immediately published editorials supporting it.

    And one year later, Red Deer had its first ever LGBT Pride celebration (and no protesters showed up.)

    As for Boisson’s youth drop-in center, it closed about six months later after donations to support his project dried up.

  13. Trickster Goddess says

    Well my quoting from memory was a bit off. Here is a link to the actual letter.

    Some choice quotes:

    My banner has now been raised and war has been declared so as to defend the precious sanctity of our innocent children and youth

    The masses have dug in and continue to excuse their failure to stand against horrendous atrocities such as the aggressive propagation of homo- and bisexuality.

    …every professing heterosexual is have [sic] their future aggressively chopped at the roots.

    From kindergarten class on, our children, your grandchildren are being strategically targeted, psychologically abused and brainwashed by homosexual and pro-homosexual educators.

    Come on people, wake up! It’s time to stand together and take whatever steps are necessary to reverse the wickedness that our lethargy has authorized to spawn. Where homosexuality flourishes, all manner of wickedness abounds.

    They are perverse, self-centered and morally deprived individuals who are spreading their psychological disease into every area of our lives.

    It is only a matter of time before some of these morally bankrupt individuals such as those involved with NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Lovers Association, will achieve their goal to have sexual relations with children and assert that it is a matter of free choice and claim that we are intolerant bigots not to accept it.

    It’s time to start taking back what the enemy has taken from you. The safety and future of our children is at stake.

    (Emphases mine)

    Whatever one may think of the merits of the hate speech law, I think the judge is wrong in saying this letter doesn’t expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt since that is basically the whole point of the letter. It frequently uses demonization and invokes violent language and imagery but stops just short of specifically calling for violence against people. A very loud dog whistle IMO.

  14. says

    I have rather mixed feelings about this case insofar as it lies on the boundaries of the limits to free speech (at least in open societies).

    On the one hand, as noted in the OP the Alberta law is overly broad on its face – although whether it is actually too broad would depend on case law, and not just as relates to Boisson’s case.

    In addition, limits to free speech too strongly enforced are dangerous tools in the hands of the privileged and the powerful. What would happen to an agglomerate such as FreeThoughtBlogs were it possible for, say, the American Family Association (an organization that is, as far as I can tell, universally reviled by the FtB bloggers) to have the activities of its critics hobbled or curtailed through the application of ill-conceived hate-speech laws?

    On the other hand, it seems to me that speech (or speech-like activity) leading directly to harm or violations of rights is inadequately sanctioned, and speech (or speech-like activity) that contributes to cultural environments enabling bigotry- or authoritarian-related morbidity and mortality is also inadequately sanctioned.

    Consider the case of Amanda Todd, who IMO was caused to be clinically depressed by her harassers. Is there a functional difference between such behaviour and clubbing someone’s kneecap with a bat? As far as I can see, in both cases physical harm is caused (what with clinical mental illness following from changes in neurochemistry).

    Consider also Big Lies that gain widespread acceptance but have wide-ranging, real-world, harmful consequences – such as the Dolchstosslegende or global warming denialism.

    Consider also the cultural environments that allowed persecution and violence against Jews & Gypsies in Europe for centuries, or that allow systemic disenfranchisement of and violence against ethnic and cultural minorities around the world down to the present day.

    By itself, Boisson’s letter might just be foul words, but in the wider context of prevalent authoritarian-religious bigotry against GLBTQ it could, IMO, reasonably be construed as inciting more than just hatred & contempt. Just substitute ‘Jew’ for ‘homosexual’ in the excerpt posted by Trickster Goddess, consider the sociocultural behaviour of Christian Europeans against Jews over the last several hundred years, and I think you’ll see what I mean.

  15. Brownian says

    I apologise if I came across as trolly, but I’m actually quite conflicted about cases like this. I think composer99’s comment is a good summary of the values in conflict.

  16. lancifer says

    Composer99,

    Dolchstosslegende linked to global warming? That may be the most obscure Godwin I have seen to date.

    I love to see the frustration exhibited in posts like yours. It shows that people aren’t buying your pseudo-scientific political nonsense and it really gets to you, doesn’t it?

    Enjoy the holocene my deluded little fellow, I am.

  17. dingojack says

    Lance – Boy, how obscure! It took me only a few minutes to Google it, and I didn’t even break it to a sweat.

    Yeah, ‘pseudoscience’. And your ‘science’ can produce as evidence – what exactly?
    You might enjoy your Holocene (just mind the extreme droughts and hurricanes) but will your children and grandchildren*?

    Dingo
    —–
    * Oh I forgot your motto: ‘I’m alright Jack, fuck you’.

  18. says

    lancifer:

    If you review what is, admittedly, a meandering comment pondering where to constrain free speech, and what you get out of it is the summary in your comment, then I put it to you that you need to start reading for comprehension a little better.

  19. lancifer says

    composer99,

    My reading comprehension is fine thanks. Your post was a list of complaints about having to endure the opinions of people with whom you disagree, lamenting the unfortunate fact that they have the right to disagree with you.

    I would have dismissed it entirely except for the strained and obscure analogy between post WWI Germans that felt Germany was “stabbed in the back” and those of us that see no impending catastrophic consequences from increasing a beneficial trace gas.

    Apparently you are conflicted that the first amendment should allow me to disagree with you.

    Too bad.

  20. lancifer says

    Dingojack,

    You had to Google Dolchstosslegende?

    The obscure part wasn’t the mention of Dolchstosslegende, but linking it to global warming.

  21. lancifer says

    Trickster Goddes,

    After the Boissoin’s letter and the assault, however, that all changed and every anti-gay letter to the editor was countered by 3 or 4 pro-gay letters.

    Shortly after that time, same-sex marriage started becoming an issue in Canada with the Ontario and BC Supreme Court decisions and both local newspapers immediately published editorials supporting it.

    And one year later, Red Deer had its first ever LGBT Pride celebration (and no protesters showed up.)

    As for Boisson’s youth drop-in center, it closed about six months later after donations to support his project dried up.

    So, ugly hateful speech was met with supportive, reasonable speech. The community rallied around those that had been derided and condemned those that had tried to belittle and vilify them.

    This is the correct response to vile hate speech, rather than the government choosing which ideas are worthy of being expressed and punishing those people that express ideas that are unpopular.

  22. says

    lancifer:

    First, since my comment began with “I have mixed feelings” and the very next paragraph gave a very good reason why, the charitable interpretation of your response is that you failed to read it for comprehension and read what you wanted to instead of what was actually written.

    Second, it is simply a fact that the US currently constrains free speech (defamation & death threats are what I can think of). So IMO unless you are going to tell me that those are illegitimate constraints on free speech, you must at least concede that free speech can be constrained or limited, and therefore any disagreement centres around the degree of that constraint.

    For both of these points I think it is worth re-emphasizing that all the cases I presented, the exercise of free speech was a necessary or sufficient step towards violation of rights to person or property. Frankly, once again I cannot think of any charitable reason why you interpret my comment as lamenting the ability of others to disagree with me.

    Third, the analogy of the Dolchstosslegende and climate denialism speaks for itself. As the Wikipedia article notes, the dagger-stab myth legitimated the murder of several Weimar officials, deligitimized the Weimar Republic, and galvanized German nationalist & revanchist sentiment and activity (of which the NSDAP was but a minor part until the mid-20s). Climate denial has held up effective action against climate change for approximately three decades, three decades during which deleterious changes have definitely taken place (e.g. Arctic warming leading to changes in jet stream behaviour).

    Against this latter point, all you have is a crank physics claim that is unequivocally false. I would post pertinent links but I suspect that in your case I would be wasting my time and that anyone who could be convinced by me is no longer following this thread.

  23. hjhornbeck says

    lancifer @24:

    This is the correct response to vile hate speech, rather than the government choosing which ideas are worthy of being expressed and punishing those people that express ideas that are unpopular.

    You’re confusing ideas with actions. Canadian law does not put any restrictions on what you say in private. Most public speech is free and clear, too. It does condemn public speech that aims to incite violence or fear in an identifiable group, though. So you can freely argue in public that the Holocaust didn’t happen, you just can’t say that you’d like there to be another one.

    I think we all agree that some speech should be restricted, such as “I’m going to kill you.” Most of us also agree that hateful speech should be regulated, we just disagree on whether it should be policed informally through more public speech (ie. by blogging about it, writing opinion pieces, and so on), or formally through the government. Both have their pros and cons; the former is prone to the whims of the majority, while the latter can be too powerful when done poorly.

    On the whole, I’m with Brownian. Any speech that promotes violence against a group should not be tolerated by society as a whole, and the best way to enforce that is on a society-wide level via the government. By a lucky coincidence, I’m listening to a Canadian podcast on this very subject! They spend an entire hour picking over our laws and cases; check it out here.

  24. pacal says

    Ed you say:

    “That’s the right result, but the law remains on the books and is still very corrosive of free speech.”

    I agree that the law is too put it mildly overly broad. However the fact remains that very few complaints have ever been up held by courts of any kind in Canada.

    Further I would deny the allege corrosive impact on free speech. It is easy to find hateful speech in this country of Canada. The Protocals are openly sold, and anti-Muslim literature and screeds are routine. I can easly find anti0Gay hateful hysteria. In fact here in Canada we have Sun TV whose stock in trade is selling hateful bigoted crap.

    The number of prosecutions and law suits under Human rights acts for “speech” is small the number of “suiccesses” of those lawsuits is tiny. And even those successes have been overturned by the courts.

    Human rights tribunals are well aware that this legislation doesn’t have legal legs which is why it is almost never used.

    As for chilling effect? What chilling effect! The fact is it is so easy to find hateful bilge and the authorities have little interest in clamping down on it.

    My personal opion is that those laws sthat allow for possible prosecution of speech should be removed given that they are both ineffective and a violation of free speech under the Canadian Charter. The courts have invariably in cases like this found for free speech.

  25. lancifer says

    Composer 99

    … it is simply a fact that the US currently constrains free speech (defamation & death threats are what I can think of).

    Yes, because both those actions have direct effects on other people. Your list of complaints was about speech that in your opinion inspires “cultural environments that allowed persecution and violence”. Talk about a vague concept that could be easily exploited to suppress minority viewpoints.

    You objected to “climate denialism” on the grounds that it was a “big lie”? Uh huh. So there should be laws against “big” lies? Who decides what is a lie and how “big” it is? You?

    You are engaged in special pleading against opinions that you find personally objectionable.

    Also your characterization of the current state of climate science is also your opinion. As are the prescriptive policies that you favor to deal with what you perceive as a problem.

    Seriously, do you think there should be laws prohibiting me, or anyone else, from making our views on the effects of CO2 on the climate system public? Or that there should be laws to stop us from publicly opposing the implementation of government energy policies?

    I think you came into what you perceived as a forum that was favorable to your opinions and spouted authoritarian remedies to people expressing opinions you find objectionable.

    And when called on it you are trying to make it a discussion of climate change.

  26. lancifer says

    hjhornbeck,

    I think we all agree that some speech should be restricted, such as “I’m going to kill you.

    Yep, agreed. But the Canadian law goes much further.

    It does condemn public speech that aims to incite violence or fear in an identifiable group, though.

    “Aim” goes to intent, and unless you have perfect knowledge of a speaker’s mind you can not decide what is his “aim”. And if it only takes impugning the speakers intent then virtually any speech can be constrained.

  27. dingojack says

    You objected to “climate denialism” on the grounds that it was a “big lie”? Uh huh. So there should be laws against “big” lies? Who decides what is a lie and how “big” it is? You?
    Evidence.
    Also your characterization of the current state of climate science is also your opinion…”
    Nope, again, evidence.

    ‘Aim’ goes to intent, and unless you have perfect knowledge of a speaker’s mind you can not decide what is his ‘aim’. And if it only takes impugning the speakers intent then virtually any speech can be constrained.”
    Quick, release all murders, ’cause nobody could possibly decide they intented to kill without mind-reading. @@

    Really Lance do practice being a fool, or does it come naturally?

    Dingo

  28. dingojack says

    So, how have these draconian laws affected press freedom, for example?
    Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Rankings 2012.
    1. Finland Norway
    3. Estonia Netherlands
    5. Austria
    6. Iceland Luxembourg
    8. Switzerland
    9. Cape Verde
    10. Canada Denmark
    12. Sweden
    13. New Zealand
    .
    .
    .
    28. United Kingdom
    .
    30. Australia
    .
    .
    .
    47. United States
    .
    .
    .
    57. United States (extra territorial)

    Dingo

  29. lancifer says

    Dingusjerk,

    Quick, release all murders, ’cause nobody could possibly decide they intented (sic) to kill without mind-reading.

    They are incarcerated for the act of murder, not their intent, although intent does factor into the level of the charge once you actually murder someone.

    A person can “intend” to murder as many people as they please and not be committing a crime. It is only when they take action that a crime is committed.

    Even conspiracy to commit murder requires actions, beyond mere intent, on the part of the perpetrator.

    I think I had placed you in the “never respond” category and now I remember why.

  30. Trickster Goddess says

    So, ugly hateful speech was met with supportive, reasonable speech. The community rallied around those that had been derided and condemned those that had tried to belittle and vilify them.

    This is the correct response to vile hate speech,

    It is the best response to vile hate speech.

    Unfortunately, in an atmosphere where this kind of speech is accepted as the norm, people are reluctant to speak up lest they too become a target for defending the vilified group. That’s how it was in Red Deer.

    Politicians and preachers strongly reinforced the idea that being virulently anti-gay was the right and proper attitude to hold.

    Gay people who were interviewed in the press or on tv did so anonymously. Even the spokesperson for the local gay rights group would have his identity obscured when he was on tv for his own safety. Gay people who were assaulted did not speak up for fear of being further victimized.

    Boissoin (and many others) had been vocally anti-gay for years and no-one would raise their voice against them. Even the particularly vile letter under discussion drew nary an objection until the young man anonymously went public and showed visceral evidence* making the general population aware of how this culture of hate speech engendered an environment of violence toward gay people and anyone who supported them.

    *His face was so severely damaged that they didn’t even have to pixelate it to hide his identity.

    So, yeah, countering hate speech with more speech is definitely the best way to handle it, but when that attitude is presented as the dominant culture, particularly in a small city, it can be socially and even physically dangerous to stick your head up and speak out.

  31. lancifer says

    Trickster Goddess,

    “…it can be socially and even physically dangerous to stick your head up and speak out.”

    Very true. but as Dr. Martin Luther King famously said,

    “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

  32. dingojack says

    Super Chimp –
    They are incarcerated for the act of murder, not their intent, although intent does factor into the level of the charge once you actually murder someone.”

    ‘Feloniously taking another person’s life with malice aforethought without mitigating circumstances’.

    Note the bit in bold, that goes to intent. Whether you intended to kill is consideration when you get charged and/or convicted of murder. (Mitigation can also can consider intent. For example, was the person in control of themselves at the time, did they believe they were in imminent danger, was that feeling of danger based on a reasonable fear? And etc.)
    How do we judge the intent in murder cases presently? (I’ll give you a hint, it has nothing to do with mind-reading).

    Having said that, you’re at least partially right in that intent alone is not enough. But have you any evidence of cases where Canadians were locked up for just thinking bad thoughts (based on mind reading)?
    People can intend to write racist crap, that isn’t a crime. Clearly you missed the bit where this guy took action and wrote a hate-filled screed to a newspaper. In Canada, at least, that is a crime.

    Possibly you put me in the ‘never respond’ category because you can’t stand having your logic-deficient postings examined and questioned.

    Dingo

  33. hjhornbeck says

    lancifer @29:

    “Aim” goes to intent, and unless you have perfect knowledge of a speaker’s mind you can not decide what is his “aim”. And if it only takes impugning the speakers intent then virtually any speech can be constrained.

    When the speech consists of “All jews must die,” you don’t need to do much interpretation.

    Look, here’s the actual law. Tell me what parts you find objectionable.

    318. (1) Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

    319. (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of [an indictable or convictable offense].

    (3) No person shall be convicted of an offence […]

    (a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;

    (b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;

    (c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or

    (d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.

  34. Rick Pikul says

    Not to defend the law but I am seeing here in Ed’s post and some of the comments a common problem.

    People who are used to looking at American laws will often find Canadian ones to be overly broad and vague. This is not because they are any more broadly applicable but because we word our laws differently and place more emphasis on “reasonable man” tests and judges being able to tell both the Crown and the defense to not be an idiot.

    It’s a product of the Canadian legal system being closer to the Common Law end of the Common Law/Civil Code spectrum.

  35. lancifer says

    hjhornbeck,

    Tell me what parts you find objectionable.

    OK.

    318. (1) Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

    So if I merely utter the words, “It think it would be a good idea to kill all the Lithuanians” I should go to prison for five years? Seriously?

    319. (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of [an indictable or convictable offense].

    So if I say the words “Those damn gingers are disgusting, and we should hate their orangie asses.” I should be imprisoned?

    And then there is this idiocy,

    (3) No person shall be convicted of an offence […]
    (b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text.

    So you get a pass if your religious holy book espouses killing the Jews for instance.

    To paraphrase a popular saying, the road to authoritarianism is paved with PC intentions.

    Do Canadians really think they can outlaw hate?

  36. pacal says

    lancifer you say:

    “To paraphrase a popular saying, the road to authoritarianism is paved with PC intentions.

    Do Canadians really think they can outlaw hate?”

    Aside from the usual very PC moaning about PC, your comment has a few problems.

    for example there have been very few prsecutions of such cases and convictions are virtually non-existent. Its chilling, authortarian effects have been close to zero. It is still very weasy to find in Canada all sorts of hateful bilge.

    Your examples are meaningless it is extremely unlikely that anyone would be convicted of uttering any of your examples.

    I find it of interest that Canada which has such, a law, which for all practical purposes is largely unenforced and uninforcable, is ranked with Denmark as no. 10 in terms of press freedom by Reporters without borders, whereas the US is ranked 47.

    So far the authortarian impact of this law seems to be pretty minimal.

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