1.13.2008

free speech is for everyone, even idiots like ezra levant

At Progressive Bloggers, I've seen many posts about Ezra Levant's drama-queen turn in front of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Most progressive bloggers, as far as I can tell, are ridiculing Levant. It's tempting: the neocon blowhard is an easy target.

But I'm disappointed at how many progressive people seem to think the Human Rights Commission is doing the right thing, and that Levant is the transgressor.

The man's opinions are loathsome. But are we so myopic that that we only believe in free speech for ourselves?

And if we are so selfish (and unprincipled) that we care only about our own rights, can't we at least understand that any law prohibiting certain speech or writing will eventually be used against us?

Thanks to Rusty Idols, I saw this Glenn Greenwald column defending Levant's right to free speech.

If you're not up on this bit of Canadian news, Greenwald will fill you in.
I've written several times before about the oppressive, dangerous hate speech laws which are common -- increasingly so -- in both Canada and Europe, whereby the Government is empowered to punish as criminals citizens who express offensive or otherwise prohibited political views. But here is a visceral illustration of what these sorts of laws engender that ought to give great pause even to proponents of such laws.

Ezra Levant is a right-wing Canadian neoconservative who publishes Western Standard, a typical warmongering, pro-Likud journal -- a poor man's Weekly Standard for Canadian neocons. In February, 2006, he published the Danish Mohammed cartoons, which prompted an Islamic group's imam to file a complaint (.pdf) against Levant with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, charging Levant with "advocating hatemongering cartoons in the media," and the imam specifically accused Levant of "defaming me and my family because we follow and are related to Prophet Mohammed."

Rather than dismiss the complaint as a blatant attempt to punish free thought and free speech, the Alberta Human Rights Commission announced that it would investigate. To do so, they compelled Levant to appear before a government agent and be interrogated about the cartoons he published, his thoughts and intent in publishing them, and the other circumstances surrounding his "behavior." Under the law, the Commission has the power to impose substantial fines and other penalties on Levant.

The hearing was closed to the public -- only his lawyer and wife were allowed to attend -- but Levant insisted on recording the proceedings and was directed by the Commission not to publish the video, but he did so anyway. Here are the noxious fruits of hate speech laws: a citizen being forced to appear before the Government in order to be interrogated by an agent of the State -- a banal, clerical bureaucrat -- about what opinions he expressed and why he expressed them, upon pain of being punished under the law. This is nothing short of stomach-turning.

. . . .

Technically, the complaint was filed under Canada's anti-discrimination and "human rights" legislation, but political life in Canada has seen numerous prosecutions for political opinions under that country's oppressive hate speech laws. Government investigations for political opinions are thus an accepted part of their political culture.

A similar complaint was recently filed against Mark Steyn, arising out of the publication in Maclean's of an excerpt from his odious book, America Alone. That complaint was also filed by a Canadian Muslim group, claiming that the passage "misrepresents Canadian Muslims' values, their community, and their religion." Steyn will also now likely be hauled before some government tribunal, forced to account for the ideas and opinions he expressed, incur substantial attorney fees in defending himself, and be subjected to the trauma of some government proceeding against him which can result in numerous punishments.

People like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant are some of the most pernicious commentators around. But equally pernicious, at least, are those who advocate laws that would proscribe and punish political expression, and those who exploit those laws to try use the power of the State to impose penalties on those expressing "offensive" or "insulting" or "wrong" political ideas. The mere existence of the "investigation," interrogation, and proceeding itself is a grotesque affront to every basic liberty.

For those unable to think past the (well-deserved) animosity one has for the specific targets in question here, all one needs to do instead is imagine these proceedings directed at opinions and groups that one likes. If Muslim groups can trigger government investigations due to commentary they find offensive, so, too, can conservative Christian or right-wing Jewish groups, or conservative or neoconservative groups, or any other political faction seeking to restrict and punish speech it dislikes.

Down that ugly path lies people like Newt Gingrich, openly advocating that the First Amendment be narrowed considerably to exclude advocacy of "radical Islam" as a means of combating terrorism. People who favor and seek to exploit Canadian and European hate speech laws are but opposite sides of the same tyrannical coin as Gingrich and his allies who are eager to restrict political expression here.

I often post about Americans who are punished for expressing dissenting opinions. Why is it wrong for the US to punish people for expressing themselves, but OK for Canada? Because Canada is coming at it from a supposedly liberal point of view, under the guise of protecting minority rights? That can't matter. What matters is that the government is restricting freedom of expression, and every progressive person should oppose that.

More from Greenwald:
There are numerous ways to combat advocacy of rancid ideas. Using the power of the Government to force people to "justify" their opinions to government tribunals and face punishment for them is, by far, the most malevolent -- far more dangerous than the expression of any particular idea could ever be.

UPDATE: Law Professor David Bernstein previously noted that Canada's hate speech laws have had unintended consequences, as such laws inevitably do:

Moreover, left-wing academics are beginning to learn firsthand what it's like to have their own censorship vehicles used against them. For example, University of British Columbia Prof. Sunera Thobani, a native of Tanzania, faced a hate-crimes investigation after she launched into a vicious diatribe against American foreign policy. Thobani, a Marxist feminist and multiculturalism activist, had remarked that Americans are "bloodthirsty, vengeful and calling for blood." The Canadian hate-crimes law was created to protect minority groups from hate speech. But in this case, it was invoked to protect Americans.

Just like Bush followers who bizarrely think that the limitless presidential powers they're cheering on will only be wielded by political leaders they like, many hate speech law proponents convince themselves that such laws will only be used to punish speech they dislike. That is never how tyrannical government power works. [Full column with links here.]

I couldn't agree more.

I hate how this fuels that ridiculous "liberal fascism" trope. Type "ezra levant human rights commission" into Google Blog Search and you'll see what I mean.

96 comments:

redsock said...

Greenwald cut it down to the basics:

a citizen being forced to appear before the Government, to be interrogated about what opinions he expressed and why he expressed them, upon pain of being punished under the law

places where this is allowed are generally not places in which you'd like to live.

Dr.Dawg said...

He wasn't "forced to appear."

This is a preliminary screening. Respondents and witnesses are not compelled. Levant could have sent a letter. But that would have been hard to post to YouTube.

Don't get sucked in by Levant's histrionics. He'll get off because he hasn't broken the law. This won't make it to a full hearing.

There is no attack on free speech here, either. Levant is getting due process, and, as for speech, the guy just won't shut up, and no one's moving to stop him. Not even the AHRC "thug" who had to listen. And listen. And listen.

L-girl said...

Dr Dawg, I didn't even watch the Levant clip. I'm not getting "sucked in". I simply oppose any and all restrictions on free speech. Period.

Due process doesn't mitigate it, in my opinion. There shouldn't be a process. We should all be free to publish whatever we choose.

redsock said...

There is no attack on free speech here, either.

Even the fact that they actually wasted time and money investigating this and then asking for Levant's response (in any form) is out of step with how a free society should operate.

L-girl said...

"He'll get off because he hasn't broken the law. This won't make it to a full hearing."

Are we missing the point here or what?? There shouldn't be a law in the first place!!

It's amazing to be that bloggers, of all people, don't understand that they have to stand up for unrestricted freedom of expression.

s1c said...

From the Alberta Human Rights Commissions manual on procedure - Under section 4 of the Public Inquiries Act the commissioner or
commissioners have the same power to enforce the attendance of
persons
as witnesses and to compel them to give evidence and to
produce documents and things as is vested in a court of record in civil
cases, and the same privileges and immunities as a judge of the Court of
Queen’s Bench.


He had to appear, as to the taping and then publishing of the tapes on you-tube, Levant wanted to make sure that this proceeding would see the light of day.

Unless the panel has reason to hold a private hearing, the hearing is held in public.

Also, the commission specifically states that the media is allowed at the hearing. In today's world would that not mean you-tube?

drama queen
am surprised to see you type those words.

L-girl said...

drama queen
am surprised to see you type those words.


Why?

s1c said...

Let us say that where I grew up that phrase tended to be reserved for the non hetero side of life in a non-complimentary fashion. No attack on you, or anything, just kinda surprised me.

L-girl said...

Let us say that where I grew up that phrase tended to be reserved for the non hetero side of life in a non-complimentary fashion. No attack on you, or anything, just kinda surprised me.

I didn't think it was an attack.

I guess you mean you think the expression is anti-gay. It's ok to say gay, you know. No euphemism needed.

But the phrase "drama queen" isn't anti-gay. Straight women are called drama queens all the time. It's got nothing to do with orientation.

I haven't the slightest idea of Ezra Levant's sexual orientation. Let's hope he's celibate, just so I don't puke at the thought.

s1c said...

I have no compunction about saying gay, if I did family get togethers would be pretty boring since there are more than one gay person is in the family.

Of course that just made the wedding that much more fun when you looked out at the reception and saw all the sailors (my friends) with their wives / girlfriends, and the teamsters (bh's side) with their wives / girlfriends out on the dance floor while the gay dj played the songs and the gay family members joined us on the dance floor with their significant others.

L-girl said...

That's cool. What did the gay sailors do? :)

leftdog said...

I am one of the bloggers who have been mocking Levant somewhat ... not because I am a non-believer in the right of free speech, but because of the over-the-top 'victim' role he is playing. I watched some of the video that he posted of his interview (he calls it an 'interrogation')with the Alberta HRC.

We all recognize that there is no ABSOLUTE 'free speech' - laws controlling libel and slander prove that. No, Ezra is all about theatrics, self righteous indignation, victimization, blah blah blah.

L-girl said...

I am one of the bloggers who have been mocking Levant somewhat ... not because I am a non-believer in the right of free speech, but because of the over-the-top 'victim' role he is playing.

Yes, the man is a drama queen. He deserves to be mocked for that - I agree.

We all recognize that there is no ABSOLUTE 'free speech' - laws controlling libel and slander prove that.

Yes, and shouting fire in a crowded theatre and all that. But hate-speech laws don't fall under any of those categories.

Thanks for stopping by, LeftDog. I always notice your avatar at Progressive Bloggers or Vast Left Wing (one or both?). You can see my beautiful pit-mix (now gone, sadly) on the sidebar of this blog.

Robert McClelland said...

I'm not getting "sucked in".

Yes you are and the evidence is right here in your second paragraph.

But I'm disappointed at how many progressive people seem to think the Human Rights Commission is doing the right thing, and that Levant is the transgressor.

I have yet to see even one progressive state that the HRC is doing the right thing. I have on the other hand seen numerous right whingers make that false claim; a claim that you've fallen for.

Oh, and Greenwald is a dunce who doesn't know the first thing about Canada.

L-girl said...

Oh, and Greenwald is a dunce who doesn't know the first thing about Canada.

Greenwald is a dunce. Your comment, on the other hand, is highly intelligent, articulate and substantial.

And that, in case you don't recognize it, is sarcasm.

L-girl said...

I have on the other hand seen numerous right whingers make that false claim; a claim that you've fallen for.

I don't read right-wing blogs. How would I have fallen for their claims?

Pardon me if the answer is obvious to you. I'm just a dunce, like Glenn Greenwald.

Dr.Dawg said...

He had to appear

Well, uh, no, he didn't. The proceedings are not before the Commission per se. What is presently going on is a preliminary screening of a complaint, to determine if it should go forward.

Shirlene McGovern is not a "Commissioner." She is an investigator. No Commissioners are involved.

For the record, I don't think it should. But you people should get your facts straight, if it isn't asking too much.

L-girl said...

Dr Dawg, I made a mistake and it's been corrected in comments several times over. Thank you for continuing to correct me.

This, however

"But you people should get your facts straight, if it isn't asking too much."

is really un-called for. You people? Who the hell is "you people"?

Dr.Dawg said...

I was correcting "s1c." And by "you people" I mean the folks here who think that there shouldn't be human rights laws.

L-girl said...

By the way, had to appear, chose to appear, investigator or commissioner - makes no difference. My point remains. My opinion remains unchanged. I don't like the hate-speech laws, and I don't think progressive people should defend them.

And that was the point of the post.

Or didn't you people understand that?

L-girl said...

"And by "you people" I mean the folks here who think that there shouldn't be human rights laws."

Who here thinks there shouldn't be human rights laws???

Anyone who reads this blog who thinks there shouldn't be human rights laws, speak up, please!

Robert McClelland said...

Here. Now you can claim that at least one progressive is making the claim that the Alberta HRC is doing the right thing...so far.

L-girl said...

Boy, nothing drives traffic to a blog like criticizing some sector of the blogosphere! You can't imagine the traffic I'm getting from this one post.

s1c said...

I stand corrected, of course silly me all I did was copy the commissions language where it states they must appear.

As for the human rights laws, I think I can safely state that I am by far the most conservative commenter on this blog and I have never, ever espoused that there shouldn't be human rights laws. What I am against is using a commission like this for something that has to do with free speech.

I also can't stand neo-nazis, but I support their right to have a demonstration, in fact I encourage it, so that everyone can see what they really are, hate mongering idiots.

L-girl said...

I stand corrected, of course silly me all I did was copy the commissions language where it states they must appear.

Indeed. That's why I'm not convinced Dr Dawg and others who have corrected me/us are correct. But whatever. It's a quibble, IMO.

As for the human rights laws, I think I can safely state that I am by far the most conservative commenter on this blog and I have never, ever espoused that there shouldn't be human rights laws. What I am against is using a commission like this for something that has to do with free speech.

I also can't stand neo-nazis, but I support their right to have a demonstration, in fact I encourage it, so that everyone can see what they really are, hate mongering idiots.


S1c, you and I are in complete agreement on this. :)

s1c said...

before I forget That's cool. What did the gay sailors do? :)

The chicken dance of course!!!

L-girl said...

The chicken dance of course!!!

Oh silly me. :)

L-girl said...

In comments on this post at Rusty Idols (which I also linked to in my post), a Canadian says Glenn Greenwald's column is an attack on Canadian sovreignity. This commenter claims to like Greenwald, but Americans have no business "interfering in Canadian jurisprudence".

I am sensitive to Canadians' sovreignity concerns, but that is a tad over the top.

Glenn Greenwald. Jurisprudence. Sovreignity. Yeah.

Dr.Dawg said...

I stand corrected, of course silly me all I did was copy the commissions language where it states they must appear.

Sigh. Silly you, indeed. Go back and read what you quoted. If the Commission were hearing the complaint, the respondent is compellable. But the Commission isn't hearing the complaint at this point.

Man. it's like talking to the wall.

L-girl said...

Talking to a wall? Hm, funny you should use that expression.

Here we go. Again.

* It doesn't matter if he was called in.

* It doesn't matter that - as you pointed out on your blog - that someone complained and the Commission is investigating the complaint.

* It doesn't matter if the case goes ahead or not.

* It doesn't matter that there's due process.

* It doesn't matter what the title of the person who interviewed Levant is.

* The presence of jackboots or other fascist imagery also doesn't matter.

None of that matters.

The point is there should be no hate speech laws.

If someone complains, they should be told: That's the publisher's right, it is your right as well. Complain publicly if you like, but this is not a matter for government interference of any kind.

It's one thing to disagree. It's another thing to nitpick and act like people who disagree with you are morons.

redsock said...

Dr.Dawg said...
I was correcting "s1c." And by "you people" I mean the folks here who think that there shouldn't be human rights laws.


Name one.

"People" implies there are at least two, but we'll settle for one.

Give us a name or we'll have to rightly assume that you are making shit up.

FYI: Making shit up usually doesn't pass muster for discourse around here.

L-girl said...

The presence of jackboots or other fascist imagery also doesn't matter.

I meant to say - and deleted it by accident - that this references Dr Dawg's own post about this. He makes hilarious sport over the fact that there is actually not a holocaust going on in Alberta! No, really, there isn't!

So that makes it all ok. The HR Commission is just investigating. They're not the Gestapo. So it's fine. We don't mind attempts at censorship because it's just an investigation.

Good thing there's no holocaust, but fortunately my standards are higher than that.

Skinny Dipper said...

We live in a society where we tell our children not to point and make comments about a fat person. Ezra Levant seems like a man-child who would not hesitate to call a fat person "fat." By publishing the Danish cartoons, he has violated the sensitivities of some Canadians by essentially pointing at the Prophet Muhammad by making Him/him visible like Marge Simpson's painting of a frail Monty Burns.

The Danish cartoons were brilliant. While I was viewing the cartoon drawings on the Internet, I saw the cartoons come to life as I watched Islamic protesters on television immitate the cartoons to which they objected. The violent imagery in some of the cartoons became real in reactions of some of the protesters.

Love or hate him, Ezra Levant brilliantly provide meaning to free speech as essential in upholding a liberal democracy in Canada. He described the commission investigating the complaint against him as an interrogation body rather than some mediation body. Most importantly, when the interrogator asked Mr. Levant to justify his publishing of the Danish cartoons, he clearly stated that he did not need to justify to the interrogator representing the state the publication of his words or images in a free democratic society.

L-girl said...

You thought those cartoons were brilliant? Geesh. They were crude, unimaginative, and - pardon the redundancy - cartoonish, as in broad and buffoonish.

I saw them in Harper's, surrounded by many better cartoons that the magazine had commissioned to surround and offset them.

I can't countenance anything that's come out of Ezra Levant's mouth or his erstwhile rag. I just believe in freedom of expression, is all.

Dr.Dawg said...

He makes hilarious sport over the fact that there is actually not a holocaust going on in Alberta! No, really, there isn't!

Exactly--contrary to what two links I provided at the outset were suggesting. "Banality of evil" and "Kristallnacht," forsooth.

Laws against inciting hatred of minorities are human rights laws. Just so you know. As I might have noted, I don't think the repulsive Ezra Levant was inciting hatred on this occasion, within the meaning of the law.

Kuri said...

Freedom of speech isn't absolute. I hate trotting out the old canard of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, but essentially it is justifiable to limit speech where it will incite violence or hatred. Neo-Nazi speech, for example, incites hatred possibly violence against Jews, which is why we restrict it. As Dawg has explained, the test is very high. The law however, is necessary for a fair and tolerant society.

L-girl said...

He makes hilarious sport over the fact that there is actually not a holocaust going on in Alberta! No, really, there isn't!

Exactly--contrary to what two links I provided at the outset were suggesting. "Banality of evil" and "Kristallnacht," forsooth.


I was being sarcastic.

Of course there's no holocaust. But it doesn't mean nothing's wrong.

L-girl said...

Freedom of speech isn't absolute. I hate trotting out the old canard of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre

Canard? It's not a canard. It's a justifiable limitation on free speech - when it can reasonably be considered a danger to the public at that specific instance.

Neo-Nazi speech, for example, incites hatred possibly violence against Jews, which is why we restrict it.

I disagree. And I am Jewish, and quite sensitive to neo-Nazi activity. Their speech should not be banned, and thus driven underground. It should be heard, and answered. It should be brought out into the bright light of the marketplace of ideas, to be justly condemned.

The law however, is necessary for a fair and tolerant society.

I wholeheartedly disagree. How can one limit free speech and then claim a society is tolerant? Tolerant of what? What the mainstream approves of? What the government deems acceptable? Tolerant of majority views? The test of the freedom of a society is how it tolerates minority opinions.

As far as a fair society goes, fair in what sense? As long as we have poverty and homelessness in Canada, we do not have a fair society.

Fair in the sense that nobody gets their feelings hurt by what someone else has written? That kind of supposed fairness I'll take a pass on.

redsock said...

Dawg: Who are the commenters here "who think that there shouldn't be human rights laws"?

Come on.

L-girl said...

Oo, I was about to ask that. Redsock beat me to it.

Come on, Dr Dawg. We're waiting.

L-girl said...

I've also seen it suggested on several blogs that Glenn Greenwald's essay should be ignored because he's American.

Imagine the arrogance. American wingnuts say people outside of the US shouldn't comment on American policies - which is ludicrous, of course. But hearing the same from Canadians who call themselves progressive is disgusting.

L-girl said...

IMPORTANT NOTE:

Muslims Against Sharia are not Muslims. They are a front for a right-wing hate group that villifies Muslims.

PLEASE do not respond to them. Just let the comment sit there. If we start a war with them I will just delete all of it. Understood??

L-girl said...

Well, that was easy. Mr Moderate Muslim just blew it all by himself. What a surprise.

s1c said...

L-girl, here I had a defense all set up for you, but I see now there is no need.

I just don't get it. I know that sometimes we can get fired up about various things, but personal attacks I have never understood. Morons and shitheads, well they just don't add to the conversation.
Unless of course it comes in a manner that no one takes as an attack. In the Navy we used to say, if you are not getting picked on, well we hate your fragging guts (of course we didn't use fragging but you know me).

In the blogosphere when you can hide behind keyboards civility seems to disappear. Now normally, when those who frequently comment here get wound up, we can get heated, but usually some respect is reached.

What I don't understand about this post is that everybody here agrees that the commission should not be proceeding with this inquiry. How that came to be equated with Kristallnacht and other similar comparisons, I just don't understand.

Are equal rights laws good, of course they are for the good. What would be better is a world that didn't need them but our world is filled with people who have imperfections, unfortunately those imperfections include bigotry and other associated ills.

The question this post rightfully asks imo is whether free speech should be allowed, no matter how disgusting it is to some people. As you have stated; "It's a justifiable limitation on free speech - when it can reasonably be considered a danger to the public at that specific instance."

I am sorry, but publishing cartoons in a magazine is not inciting a danger to the public.

Now, Dr. Dawg says that this is only the investigation phase so don't get your panties in an uproar (obviously I am taking poetic license). Well I have read the commissions rules / procedures and it seems obvious to me that the commission could have dismissed this upon application. Why did they decide to go to the investigation phase? Will be interesting to see what happens now. End of ramble

Jere said...

It's 2 AM, and I still haven't figured out the true origin of "drama queen." I honestly always thought it just meant an overly dramatic person. And I figured it wasn't sexist because I just assumed there used to be female-exclusive drama clubs in school with the champ being crowned "queen." You know, like in the 20s or some shit.

But it's just another example of how sexism is ingrained--"Oh, you're so dramatic. Like a woman."

But then again, s1c's homophobia origin may be correct (which would make it non-sexist just homophobic). Wiktionary says:

"Originally, an effeminate gay man (a "queen") who behaves and speaks in an overly dramatic manner so as to garner attention.

(slang) By extension, an exaggeratedly dramatic person, especially such a woman."

Now, who knows who came up with that, but this does show that at least someone else agrees with s1c. I had never heard of such a thing.

But the key here is, today it just means "any person who is overly dramatic." And I know that's how Laura meant it, which is the key.

The term may or may not be sexist or homophobic, but might be neither and can't be both at the same time. But, any time I've heard it, it wasn't meant to be either.

Now back to the heated argument.

Dr.Dawg said...

Come on, Dr Dawg. We're waiting.

But obviously not listening.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission enforces provincial legislation that guarantees human rights. Inciting hatred is a violation of human rights, and covered under the legislation, but l-girl, for one, says:

Are we missing the point here or what?? There shouldn't be a law in the first place!!

Do you even read what you type? Good grief.

L-girl said...

Come on, Dr Dawg. We're waiting.

But obviously not listening.


You have not answered Redsock's question.

You said:

you people should get your facts straight, if it isn't asking too much.

I objected to your use of the words "you people" and asked who you meant.

You said:

And by "you people" I mean the folks here who think that there shouldn't be human rights laws.

Redsock said:

Name one.

"People" implies there are at least two, but we'll settle for one.

Give us a name or we'll have to rightly assume that you are making shit up.


You have not named one person here, let alone two people, who said there should not be human rights laws.

Perhaps you need clarification.

I don't think human rights laws should include restrictions on public or private freedom of expression. I don't believe that one person's *speech* can violate another person's human rights. There is no "human right" to not be offended or insulted. A hurt feeling is not a human-rights violation.

Do you even read what you type? Good grief.

This is unnecessary. Sarcastic zingers are no substitute for discussion.

L-girl said...

S1c, "Muslims Against Sharia"'s comment was a clear violation of wmtc comment policy. I don't allow personal attacks here.

And since I'm not the government - and I'm not attempting to control what anyone else writes anywhere else but on wmtc - this does not constitute censorship! :)

Comment policy is on the sidebar.

Jere, thanks for that - interesting. I don't think the original intent of drama queen was sexist or homophobic. I've never heard it used either way, either.

L-girl said...

FYI, StageLeft's debunking of Muslims Against Sharia.

MAS showed up here yesterday but is no longer welcome.

Lone Primate said...

And since I'm not the government - and I'm not attempting to control what anyone else writes anywhere else but on wmtc - this does not constitute censorship! :)

Well, I don't know. Presumably, the Alberta Human Rights Commission could make the very same claim vis a vis Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Florida, or Pluto. By this standard, so long as a person can say what they want somewhere else, just not here (whether "here" is the province of Alberta, or Canada, or We Move to Canada), there's no censorship. It's not hard to see, though, the limitations in that point of view. How small does one have to be to claim exception from the very same standards one demands apply at the societal level? Is one, in fact, ever that small?

I'm ambivalent about things like hate speech laws. Would they have made a difference in Germany in the 20s and early 30s? I don't know. Maybe. There's also the flip side, which is McCarthyism. I personally do think there's a line. One problem is defining it. The second is ensuring that criticisms of government and policy never become equated with "hate".

Dr.Dawg said...

I don't think human rights laws should include restrictions on public or private freedom of expression. I don't believe that one person's *speech* can violate another person's human rights. There is no "human right" to not be offended or insulted. A hurt feeling is not a human-rights violation.

Ah. You aren't against human rights laws in the abstract, just against these human rights laws.

I believe that I have fulfilled my obligation to "name one," by the way.

Sarcastic zingers are no substitute for discussion.

Ultra-prissiness doesn't help things along much either. Just sayin'.

L-girl said...

Presumably, the Alberta Human Rights Commission could make the very same claim vis a vis Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Florida, or Pluto. By this standard, so long as a person can say what they want somewhere else, just not here (whether "here" is the province of Alberta, or Canada, or We Move to Canada), there's no censorship.

Lone Primate, I think you're using some strangely circuitous logic there.

Censorship is the government, in the form of some agency or law, forbidding certain speech or expression. Whether that government be federal or provincial is inconsequential to the definition.

The second is ensuring that criticisms of government and policy never become equated with "hate".

That's one of the big problem for me with any kind of censorship laws. Historically, they have been used to squelch dissent.

L-girl said...

Ah. You aren't against human rights laws in the abstract, just against these human rights laws.

I'm not against any human rights laws that protect human rights. "That person said a nasty thing about me" is not a human right offense.

I believe that I have fulfilled my obligation to "name one," by the way.

Yes, after repeated requests, you explained that you misconstrued - purposely or no, I can't say - what was being said.

Ultra-prissiness doesn't help things along much either.

I've been accused of a lot of things, but prissiness usually isn't among them. Interesting.

I just don't see the point of your little "good grief" and "it's like talking to a wall" comments. Perhaps you think you're being clever. Anything's possible.

s1c said...

S1c, "Muslims Against Sharia"'s comment was a clear violation of wmtc comment policy. I don't allow personal attacks here.

Agreed! I just had this nice little zinger all set to send basically and saw it was no longer necessary.

L-girl said...

I just had this nice little zinger all set to send basically and saw it was no longer necessary.

Heh. Sorry. :)

Lone Primate said...

Censorship is the government, in the form of some agency or law, forbidding certain speech or expression.

I don't agree that censorship is necessarily the act of a government only. We don't like to use the word when it applies to our own preferences... but if we're going to be honest, that's what it is. If I use my authority on my blog to remove someone's comment (and I have) because it offends my sensibilities, then, really, I'm engaging in censorship. At the risk of offending you, and I hope I won't, I feel your actions are inconsistent with your stated position, and I'm not persuaded by the suggestion there's a difference.

"Muslims Against Sharia"'s comment was a clear violation of wmtc comment policy. I don't allow personal attacks here.

By the same token, some statements made in public can be violations of the Criminal Code or various human rights acts, and for pretty much the same reasons. I don't see any difference here in policy, only in scale and ramifications. In each case, the principle seems to be preventing someone from uttering something hateful about someone(s) in particular in the public space over which one exercises authority, and taking action against it when it occurs.

That's one of the big problem for me with any kind of censorship laws. Historically, they have been used to squelch dissent.

I agree, but I think in this instance it's casting the net too wide. The law is pretty explicit about the issues it deals with, and I don't think there's much danger of them being used to rig an election or put a whole class of journalists in prison for pointing out problems in public policy, for instance. I do see a problem in setting the precedent of laws to curtail some speech, yes. As I said, my feelings on that matter run in both directions.

L-girl said...

don't agree that censorship is necessarily the act of a government only. We don't like to use the word when it applies to our own preferences... but if we're going to be honest, that's what it is.

I am being honest. I disagree with you - and that does not mean I'm being dishonest or engaging in some kind of intellectual trickery.

None of us are under any sort of obligation to read or listen to - let alone host - speech we find offensive.

That is completely different from preventing the speaker from speaking, the publisher from publishing. Not different by degree, as you say, but different in kind and in nature.

I respect what you're saying, but I whollly disagree with your chacterization of a blog owner deleting content as censorship. In order for something to be censorship, the censor must have some power over what is permitted in society. The blog owner does not have that power.

redsock said...

L uses the analogy of wmtc being her house and she has control over what is said or who is invited in (or asked to leave).

Now, a person's house is not considered a public area, but what about a corner bar? If I walked in and started yelling and causing a disturbance, the management/owner of the bar could have me escorted out. Could I reasonably cry censorship?

There are implied rules of conduct when someone enters a bar (or store or movie theater). Or when you "enter" a blog. Those rules are generally conceived of and maintained by the management of the establishment.

If wmtc had comment moderation, and L rejected someone's comment, is that considered censorship?

L-girl said...

Those rules are generally conceived of and maintained by the management of the establishment.

I suppose people who support restrictions on public speech feel that the "establishment," in that case, is society at large.

We need rules of conduct and behaviour. And we have them - hundreds, thousands of them - in the form of all sorts of laws.

I just don't want rules about what can be said or printed. I want there to be be full and free latitude of expression, from fringe to fringe. I don't want any powerful group (the government) - whose authority presumably is granted by the general public, but never all of the general public - decide what is ok to say, write or create.

It offends you? Don't buy it. Organize a boycott. Organize a letter-writing campaign. Publish articles calling out the offending person. There are many ways to deal with offensive speech which, I think, are more useful than repressing it (or trying to).

OK, repeating myself here. Bad habit.

Lone Primate said...

I understand where you're coming from, and when they passed the hate speech law back in the Mulroney days I was against it, pretty much for the reasons you're saying. Time's changed my opinions some. I'll say this; it can go too far, and I think putting Ezra Levant through this is almost certainly frivolous and aimed at making him think twice next time (though I honestly haven't read what he had to say so I don't know), and probably ought not to have been undertaken.

Ideals are a good thing. But sometimes they're not enough. Germany was a modern Western progressive nation, musically and artistically at the bow of our civilization. It had democracy and free speech and all the armor we suppose will defend us in the championing the free exchange of ideas and not driving them underground to fester. But even out in the open, logic and good will weren't enough to overcome passion and prejudices. Not to be flippant, but twelve million people died of a theory. So while I'm still not really reconciled to the idea of hate speech prohibitions in a democracy, I've come to sadly recognize that it's probably a good idea to have some manner of legislation to at least remind people there are lines that shouldn't be crossed for the sake of our society together. Especially in a land like this.

L-girl said...

That's well said, Lone Primate, and makes more sense to me than anything else I've read defending hate-speech laws.

I don't think you're being flippant, but perhaps too reductionist? There was - obviously - way more going on in Europe besides free speech and a theory that led to such carnage. I know you know that.

It's hard for me to believe that repressing speech can successfully repress hatred and dangerous ideas. In the internet age, it can't even suppress the spread of those ideas. I dislike the government playing the role of scolding parent to its adult citizens.

But the ideas you've put here are worthy of my attention. You make me think of what might be missing from my picture. Thank you for that.

s1c said...

But even out in the open, logic and good will weren't enough to overcome passion and prejudices.

Don't forget the economics of Germany at the time which helped to create the breeding swamp of those prejudices and passions. Some very good points made by a lot of people in these comments.

L-girl said...

Some very good points made by a lot of people in these comments.

Yes! I appreciate where many Canadians are coming from on this issue, even if I disagree with them.

They have society's best interests at heart. They want to see people safe and protected, and they want a peaceful society, where conflicts do not escalate into violence. And those are good and noble goals.

So while I disagree on this one issue, I can appreciate and respect their beliefs. Which is not something I can always say about the opposition!

Partisan said...

I-girl,

one thing that most American's don't understand, and probably never will understand, is the difference between founding principals.

The United States was founded on the principals of Life, Liberty and Happiness.

Canada was founded on the principals of Peace, Order and Good Government.

Notice that absence of "Liberty" and the presence of "Peace" and "Order".

In the 1980's for a variety of reasons, Canada became a haven for neo-Nazis. As a result of that, we enacted Hate Speech and Hate Crime Laws. Prosecutions are rare, and convictions are even more rare, beacuse of the difficulty of proving intent.

Mr. Levant is not being charged or tried under Canada's hate Crime or Hate Speech Laws.

Each Province has a Human Rights Commission. The job of a Human Rights Commision, is to investigate peoples claims of being discriminated against based on Canadian and Provincial laws, enacted to prevent discrimination.

Mr. Levant is being investigated because a Canadian, laid a charge that Mr. Levant deliberately incited discrimination against him, that cost the complainant real losses.

In otherwords, Mr. Levant is being investigated under the exact same laws that state you cannot use, race, sex, sexual orientation or religion as grounds to not rent an apartment to someone.

As a complaint has been made, that complaint needs to be investigated.

While some have suggested that the complaint should just be dismissed, the reality is that a HRC that summarily dismissed complaints, with out investigating them, and publishing the findings, would be subject to charges of bias and partisanship, and would probably become prone to bias and partisanship.

So, the Investigator has heard the complainant's complaints and case, and Mr. Levant used his opportunity to present his side of the story, as he chose.

From here, the complaint goes forward to the Tribunal, and based on what we have heard so far, will probably be dismissed.

This is not an "attack on free speech", because in Canada, we do not have free speech.

This system has been around quite some time, and works pretty well for us. Most of us, despite cases like this and others over the years, are fine with the HRC Commissions and are glad they are there.

Again, it falls back on that Peace Order and Good Government Philosophy.

We counter act's like Mr Levant's attempts to grandstand, incite emotions, create tensions in the community, and other things, for financial gain, with petty, dry, officious and boring bureauocracy.

We tent to quell potential riots with officious forms, queues, hearings, commissions filled out in triplicate, black pen only.

I am always leery of having Americans move to Canada, for this exact reason. We have, despite our many similarities, huge differences in philosophies, that many Americans, subject to that rah-rah hurrah culture for so long, just don't understand.

There is no Free Speech in Canada, and there never has been. Nor should there ever be.

Speech in Canada comes with responsibilities and consequences and as Canada has become more tolerant and inclusive, what you can get away with, with out facing consequences has become more restrictive, as it should.

L-girl said...

I am always leery of having Americans move to Canada, for this exact reason.

Good thing we didn't have to ask you then.

There is no Free Speech in Canada, and there never has been.

You mean there is no guarantee of free speech. I understand that.

Nor should there ever be.

I disagree.

My blog name is L-girl. Not I-girl. Thanks for stopping by.

L-girl said...

PS: I understand the entire chain of events regarding Mr Levant and this issue. I wasn't waiting for you to explain it to me.

L-girl said...

"This system has been around quite some time, and works pretty well for us."

"This system has been around quite some time" is not a substitute for rational argument. Slave owners said it, apartheid leaders said it, and the US military says it.

"Works pretty well for us" depends on how you define "us". I am now part of that "us" and I disagree. As do many other Canadians. Your view may be the majority (may be) but that doesn't make it right, and it doesn't make it the only Canadian belief. It's very arrogant to assume that it is.

redsock said...

You know what's really fucking annoying? In the middle of a conversation, some pompous windbag comes out of nowhere, all full of himself, and delivers a lecture.

I am always leery of having Americans move to Canada, for this exact reason.

Why don't you go fuck yourself.

...

With your hectoring tone and absolute certainty that your way is the right way, you sound far more American than you may realize.

Partisan said...

L-girl,

on your name, I stand corrected.

In Glen Greenwald's blog on Mr. Levant, he continually selectively conflates a Alberta Human Rights Commission inquiry, with a prosecution under Canada's Hate Crime Laws, he equates a completely volentary deposition at one's own convenience, with:

"being forced to appear before the Government, to be interrogated about what opinions he expressed and why he expressed them, upon pain of being punished under the lawÈ.

In the Letters to the Editor section, Canadians have continually called him on that, which has been consistantly ignored by both Mr. Greenwald and other letter writers.

Canadian tradition is, as you put it, "there is no guarantee of Free Speech",

Because of your personal history you don't like that. Because of my personal history, I love it.

It is fine, we can disagree on if it should or should not be that way, but it is that way.

Media, and you are media, IMHO, should consider that, and why it is so, long before they write their first paragraph.

You wouldn't write a blog entry about how the Canadian Government is taking away Canadian's Right to Bear Arms, would you?

Now, I notice that you (I hope) have jokingly invited those who feel they must leave the States if Hillary is elected, to come North.

Do you really want the Matthews, Drudges, Roves and Bush's to move North, and work hard to switch Canada's Health Care over to two tier or Private, introduce vouchers, bans on abortion, etc?

I hope not.

In Canadian History, waves of American immigration, and American ideas have had significant and long term impacts on the Canadian Political landscape. Some had positive impacts, many however, IMHO, had negative impacts.

As an example, we have BC and Alberta. BC still lacks treaties with many of the Aborigional tribes because immigrant Americans who swelled the province in the 1800's, put a stop to the extinguishing of Aborigional title through treaties. They just could not accept the idea of legally extinguishing title, or the idea of paying for the land.

Alberta saw a huge influx of expat Southern Americans in the 50"s with their first oil patch boom, and it is regarded as one of the key contributors to the rather, by Canadian standards, regressive attitudes of many Albertans.

When people come to Canada, they not only bring their families, but thay also bring their ideas and ideals. That can be a very good thing, that can be a very bad thing.

IMHO, the current wave of Americanisation of Canada, that started in the 1980's, has not been a good thing for Canada.

Like I said, I am very leery of that. There are many American Ideas and Ideals, that in an idealistic form, I feel are lauditory, but are completely inpractical from the point of view of Peace, Order and Good Government.

YMMV.

redsock,

hello to you too.

L-girl said...

Now, I notice that you (I hope) have jokingly invited those who feel they must leave the States if Hillary is elected, to come North.

A, the people who said "if Hillary Clinton is elected, I'm moving to Canada" were PROGRESSIVES decrying the sorry state of the US Democrats if they would nominate so conservative a hawk as Hillary Clinton.

B, it is not in my power to invite or not invite anyone to Canada. I can say whatever I like and you can say whatever you like, and neither of us control who is allowed to become Canadian. And thank goodness for that.

C, potential immigrants are not given or denied entry to Canada based on their political views, nor should they be.

Your denigration of Albertans as somehow less than Canadian because they hold different views than you is really disgusting. And, as Redsock pointed out, it seems very American.

L-girl said...

What the hell is wrong with these people? Diversity is only good when it suits us, I guess. Diversity of views, that we can't tolerate.

L-girl said...

IMHO, the current wave of Americanisation of Canada, that started in the 1980's, has not been a good thing for Canada.

IMHO, the current wave of ignorance of Canadian history, and its eternal fears of Americanisation, and the fact that those fears started closer to 1780 than 1980, is not a good thing for Canada.

Partisan said...

L-Girl,

"A, the people who said "if Hillary Clinton is elected, I'm moving to Canada" were PROGRESSIVES"

not just "progressives" have suggested that they would move to Canada if Hillary were elected,...

or was your "invite" only tailored to "progressives"?

One would think that you would have notice by now, that many members of the American "progressive" political clusterings would fit quite comfortably in the ranks of our far right.

Of course, some of our far right would fit quite comfortably in the Bush Administration, or the Putin Administration.

But it seems that you very much missed my tongue in cheek,.....

On subject B, of course you can "invite" people to Canada, to visit, and when you are a citizen, you will be able to sponsor people. I have no problem with that, as long as the rules are followed. Based on history, I have much more to fear from members of my Government breaking the rules, for their own personal benifit, or retailoring the rules, for their personal benifit, than you.

On subject C, people are rejected all the time for their political views, if they were publically espoused prior to applying or surface as part of a media case during their application. The normal, average applicant is not asked, nor should they be. Nor should anyone elses, except for holding generally repugnant extremist views. We already has a period in the 80's where we became a haven for neo-Nazi's, we don't need a repeat.

Albertans are different, so are Quebecqois, and New Brunswickers, and people from PEI, and so are people from BC.

Saying that they are more regressive than the rest of Canada is not denigrating them, it is simply a fact.

telling a yee haw Albertan joke with ignorance of Evolution as a punch line would be denigrating them.

Significantly larger percentages of Albertans believe that:
- marrage should only be between a man and a woman,
- homosexuals should not have the same rights and protections as other Canadians,
- Quebec should not be part of Canada,
- Christianity should be taught in school,
- Evolution should not be taught in school,
- The Government has no place in regulating Companies,
- Taxs should not be progressive,
- Existing consumption taxes are not regressive,
- the Government should not regulate gun ownership.

than Candians as a whole, or any individual province.

Alberta is different from the rest of Canada. That is a simple fact and anyone who takes it for anything other than that has started constructing their own strawmen.

"IMHO, the current wave of ignorance of Canadian history, and its eternal fears of Americanisation, and the fact that those fears started closer to 1780 than 1980, is not a good thing for Canada."

Canada has been a mouse living next door to an elephant since day one, we have been invaded twice, threatened by US Presidents over a dozen times, (54:40 or Fight, for one), been subject to economic wars over 150 times, and are threatened by US demagogues when ever politically convenient for their domestic audience.

Considering that I am 72 years old and Canada is 140 years old, I have seen much of Canada's history first hand.

What I was expressly talking about was NAFTA, the Conservative use of AEI Think Tanker's to dummy up a non-existant Credit Crisis to gut Social Programs, and of course, the creeping Corporatism of Canada, for a start.

And while this has been a lovely digression, Mr. Levant's free speech rights are not under attack, because, he never had them in the first place.

That is my concern with "Americanisation" and why I am leery, ( shy, have concerns, doubts) of Americans immigrating to Canada. As a progressive, you would never have defended Mr. Levant's Right to Bear Arms, because you are well aware that in Canada, he has no said right. It is probably one of the reasons you chose Canada.

You however, jumped to defend Mr. Levant's Absolute Right to Free Speech, unconcerned with the fact that he has no such right.

He has a right to Free Speech with consequences and caveats, which Mr Levant is well aware of. After all, he prides himself on being a Presstitute and a Publisher.

Now he is facing those consequences and caveats as he knew full well he would. He has also deliberately chosen, not the path of least resistance towards the end goal of "justice", but instead, to hype it for all the media attention and hystronics he can wring out of it for personal benifit.

He is also well aware that he will not face any consequences for what was little more than an attempt to incite a riot, for personal financial gain, because as far as we can tell, no riot ensued. When the Alberta HRC concludes their inquiry, we will know, one way or another, if any real danages were incurred by Mr. Levant's attempt to incite a riot.

That if anything, along with the fact that an Alberta HRC Inquiry is going forward, shows that Albertans are very much Canadians, even if they are "different" in many ways.

L-girl said...

Your denigration of Albertans is truly loathesome to me.

But with any luck you've gotten the lecturing out of your system and now you'll be gone.

L-girl said...

In case I haven't been 100% clear:

1. I understand there is no constitutional guarantee of free speech in Canada.

2. I understand the process that Ezra Levant is involved in.

3. I still hold the views I've written here.

4. Many Canadians agree with me! And they're not all from the US.

L-girl said...

I also wanted to note that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 Americans came to Canada either to escape the Vietnam war or to leave the country that was perpetrating it.

At the time, many Canadians - especially older veterans - objected to that, in much the way that Partisan objects to conservative Americans potentially moving to Canada now or 20 years ago.

Canada ultimately welcomed those Americans and allowed them to stay, and the country is undoubtedly richer for it. As I hope Canada will be from the many thousands of progressive Americans moving here now.

Americans don't bring only one mindset, one way of thinking to Canada.

Lone Primate said...

You however, jumped to defend Mr. Levant's Absolute Right to Free Speech, unconcerned with the fact that he has no such right.

He has a right to Free Speech with consequences and caveats, which Mr Levant is well aware of.


If a line is to be drawn, it's important that it be drawn high, very high. We should never let ourselves become blasé about letting that line drop down to the level of constructive criticism or critical observation — a sentiment dangerously evident in the statement above.

Freedom of opinion, press, and speech were recognized rights in Canadian jurisprudence in the Implied Bill of Rights ("implied" by the preamble of the British North America Act which promised Canada a "a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom" — and perforce a free press and attendant expression) even prior to their explicit recognition in the Canadian Bill of Rights, 1960, in which section 1(d) guarantees "freedom of speech" and 1(f) "freedom of the press". More forcefully yet in terms of constitutionality, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 2(b) guarantees "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication", "subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" (section 1). It's fair to say to the freedom of speech is not absolute, neither in Canada nor anywhere else; however, Partisan's assertion strongly errs on the side of negating the right to insignificance rather than upholding its real value. It flies in the face of the experience of the past twenty-five years and the past fifty years, to say nothing of the past 72, 140, and beyond.

Partisan said...

L-Girl,

"Your denigration of Albertans is truly loathesome to me. "

Well then, I had better not note that Quebecqois speak a different language, have different civil and property laws, and different ideas about what it is to be Canadian,

or that there are biological differences between men and women,

after all, I guess it is verbotten to upset the sensitive nature of a blogger by politely stating the obvious.

"At the time, many Canadians - especially older veterans - objected to that, in much the way that Partisan objects to conservative Americans potentially moving to Canada now or 20 years ago."

It is interesting how you continually turn my "concerns" into definitive "objections". I certainly hope that you do not do this with the legal correspondence that you transcribe.

"But with any luck you've gotten the lecturing out of your system and now you'll be gone."

Sorry, I guess that today is not your lucky day, probably not tomorrow either, maybe not next week or even the week after.

It is a very common Canadian trait to talk until the cows come home, trying to stay polite, trying not to be hostile, listening, learning, offering point and counterpoint.

You however seen to be more concerned with trying to twist my words to fit you preferred meaning and bias.

I am sorry that you take my musings to be lecturing, but I am 72, grew up with the long winded written word, where words like "concern"and "leery" had specific definitions. I dont speak the vague and imprecise AOLTeen, well, the rest of that slang phrase refering to a dilatectic shorthand are impolite and not "office safe".

My first impression of you from your blog, was that you were moving to Canada to become Canadian.

Based on this blog post and the dismissive and hostile conversations you have had with me, and other Canadians in the comments thread,

my current impression is that you moved to Canada to be an American with Health Care.

Partisan said...

lone primate,

"Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 2(b) guarantees "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication", "subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" (section 1)."

And there we have that caveat offered by the law.

Mr. Levant is being investigated under those "reasonable limits as can be demonstratably justified under the law."

He is not, as yet, being charged, or tried, he is being investigated, because someone swore out complaint under the law.

When we elect that certain persons are not subject to investigation under the law, or that certain persons complaints should be summarily dismissed with out investigation, we are attacking the base concept that we are all equal under the law.

"It's fair to say to the freedom of speech is not absolute, neither in Canada nor anywhere else; however, Partisan's assertion strongly errs on the side of negating the right to insignificance rather than upholding its real value. It flies in the face of the experience of the past twenty-five years and the past fifty years, to say nothing of the past 72, 140, and beyond."

No, my assertion is that Mr. Levant is accused of breaking the law, and so, an impartial investigation under the law, must go forward.

Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done.

My assertion is also that Mr. Levant, as a presstitute and publisher, is well aware of the law, both Criminal, Civil and Human Rights Laws, and is grandstanding and misrepresenting for personal publicity and financial gain.

If the comlainant proves no damages or harm, and the Alberta Human Rights Commission continues forward with this case, rather than dismissing it, then I believe it is our duty to support Mr. Levant, no matter how loathsome personally we find his actions.

Until then, the Commission is doing wht it is required to do, under the law, despite Mr. Levant's misrepresentatons to the contrary.

L-girl said...

"my current impression is that you moved to Canada to be an American with Health Care."

Partisan, I don't care what your impression of me is.

Based on your comments thus far, my impression of you is that you are a pompous, didactic, self-righteous know-it-all.

"Sorry, I guess that today is not your lucky day, probably not tomorrow either, maybe not next week or even the week after."

Fortunately for me, I don't have to wait for my "lucky day" to get rid of you.

You are welcome to take part in discussion on this blog, but I am respectfully asking you to stop lecturing me, and stop characterizing me or my life as one thing or another. You don't know the first thing about me, that much is obvious.

Your opinions about Canada and Americans are your own business. Your opinion of me is not welcome here. Leave off that, or your comments will stop appearing here. Thank you.

L-girl said...

Partisan, please note that what you view as "dismissive" is my attempt to not argue with someone I disagree with. As you are (I believe) new to this blog, you may not realize that I'm not much into debate for its own sake. My views on this issue are laid out here, as are yours. I won't change your mind and you won't change my mind. That is neither American nor Canadian. (In fact, it's highly un-American!) It is simply my preference.

Therefore, what you read as dismissive is merely my attempt to let the matter drop.

L-girl said...

Lone Primate, thank you for your comments. Recently, wmtc reader/commenter Amy and I were chatting about the Charter and the other facets of the Canadian constitution. Amy, who is American, and a lawyer, and very liberal, was noting many similarities between the Charter and the Bill of Right. She noted that how those documents are interpreted may vary - and of course also varies over time - but that textually, they were very similar.

L-girl said...

PS I love the Canadian health care system, but I always had health insurance in the US. So guess again.

Lone Primate said...

Mr. Levant is being investigated under those "reasonable limits as can be demonstratably justified under the law."

The issue folks are having is with the rather arbitrary use of the word "reasonable" in these circumstances. Mr. Levant is not a neo-Nazi; most people can tell the difference. It's that lack of common sense that seems to be making a hollow mockery of the idea of reasonability. This is the very kind of thing of which people are afraid; the McCarthyization of the process which will, after savaging to many innocents, inevitably have its teeth pulled (making it useless in its real intent), or become entrenched as a tyranny.

Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done.

In little rooms in front of committees where the no accused faces his accuser? Where the mere accusation, whether upheld or not, implies financial costs and lost labour? This is less about justice and more about potential vendetta and the stifling of legitimate free speech.

If the comlainant proves no damages or harm, and the Alberta Human Rights Commission continues forward with this case, rather than dismissing it, then I believe it is our duty to support Mr. Levant

Will you be the first to open the cheque book in "support" of what he's out of pocket? How about the next time? And the next time? And the next time...? To wit: what is to prevent the frivolous application of this process whenever someone takes the slightest offense?

Partisan said...

L-Girl,

you have a very strange, passive-aggressive way of trying to let a matter drop.

Politely stating that there are differences of opinion that you do not want to discuss, or engage on, is one simple way of letting the matter drop.

Misrepresentations, insults and attacks are generally not considered the way to let a matter drop. It is usually taken as a means of inciting a response.

In the extreme, there is always the ignore feature.

You have said that you want to let the Mr. Levant matter drop, I will take that you mean it in good faith, so please do so in good faith.

L-girl said...

Partisan, I didn't invite you here. I have no obligation to discuss anything with you, or to host your fatuous, self-righteous comments.

There is no "ignore feature" on Blogger. If you want to ignore this blog, it's extremely easy to do.

You've made your views very clear. Futher elucidation is not necessary.

L-girl said...

In the extreme, there is always the ignore feature.

It occurs to me that perhaps this comment displays an ignorance about the blog format.

Perhaps - I don't know - you are confusing this with a forum, where anyone who joins can respond and discuss anything they wish.

Blogs are not like that. Although a blogger may choose to treat their blog as an open forum, blogs are controlled by the blogger her/himself.

I can't put you on "ignore".

I can delete your comments, and I'm tempted because I find your condescending, lecturing tone quite annoying. But I'm trying not to.

You, however, can ignore this blog. You can read without commenting. You can comment as other people do: as part of a conversation.

I don't believe your words are being twisted or misrepresented by anyone here, myself included. But if you do, you are free to stop posting.

What I'm asking you not to do is continue the Partisan Explains Canada To The Ignorant Americans Show.

Partisan said...

lone primate,

"The issue folks are having is with the rather arbitrary use of the word "reasonable" in these circumstances. Mr. Levant is not a neo-Nazi; most people can tell the difference. It's that lack of common sense that seems to be making a hollow mockery of the idea of reasonability."

Mr. Levant is not being investigated under Canada's Hate Crime Laws or Hate Speech Laws,

nor is he being investigated for any allegations of being a neo-Nazi.

Under Alberta's Human Rights Laws, if by a public or overt act, you violate another Albertan's Humans Rights, and cause them measurable and proveable damage or loss, you can be held liable for damages and loss.

That is the entire core of this case.

A plaintiff has charged that Mr. Levants actions, violated his Human Rights under the Alberta Human Rights Laws, and as a result, he incurred provable damages and losses.

Are the charges reasonable?

Who knows, that is decided by the evidence and the HRC.

My question for you, is should the charges be dismissed as "unreasonable" with out any attempt at an investigation?

If you feel that the charges be dismissed as "unreasonable" with out any attempt at an investigation, does this not move power away from the rights of the individual and written law, and instead, shift it to the very sort of Star Chamber you suggest this is?

"In little rooms in front of committees where the no accused faces his accuser? Where the mere accusation, whether upheld or not, implies financial costs and lost labour? This is less about justice and more about potential vendetta and the stifling of legitimate free speech."

This is an investigation, as such, the Investigator hears from both sides, at their convenience. Had Mr. Levant so chosen, he could have simply not responded, he could have sent a letter of response, he could have met in her office, his office, a convenient coffee shop or cyber cafe, at the gym while he did a work out or had the interview take place from the passenger seat of his car during the commute home.

No lawyers are required in this process as the entire process is designed to minimise the fiscal and personal costs for both the complainant and the plaintiff.

The results of this investigation will be forwarded to the Human Rights Tribunal, will be reviewed, and if there are, provable damages and losses, in otherwords, grounds, the case will go forward to the next step, mediation.

If the case is dismissed, the investigation and decision will be published by the Alberta HRC.

If the case goes forward to Mediation, the HRC will attempt to work with and mediate between the complainant and the plaintiff, to achieve a settlement amiable to both parties. This could take the form of an apology by one party to another, an understanding between the two parties, a fiscal compensation for the complainant or all three. Mediation again, takes place at the convenience of both the complainant and the plaintiff and no lawyers are required.

If the case is sucessfully mediated, the investigation and mediation decision will be published by the Alberta HRC.

If mediation fails, the case will go before a Human Rights Tribunal, who will hold a Hearing, and impose a judgement.

This is not some fancy star chamber prosecuting heritics and traitors in secret.

This is a Human Rights Commision mediating a complaint that one persons actions and speech, deliberately cost another person real and provable costs and damages, in violation of Alberta's Human Rights Laws.

"Will you be the first to open the cheque book in "support" of what he's out of pocket? How about the next time? And the next time? And the next time...? To wit: what is to prevent the frivolous application of this process whenever someone takes the slightest offense?"

If Mr. Levant winds up out of pocket for this tempest in a teacup, then he is either:

-a fool, blowing money on fancy suits, new secret cameras, press releases and unneeded lawyers, as part of a publicity stunt for personal gain,

-guilty, as his actions and words not only caused the complainant real provable losses and damages, but were deliberately calculated to do so,

- or innocent and a victim of a miscarrage of justice.

Should this case ever go so far, I will read the final Judgement, listen to the arguments, and review the law.

If Mr. Levant proves in my later opinion to be a fool, I will not help compensate him,

If Mr. Levant proves in my later opinion to be guilty, I will not help compensate him,

If Mr. Levant proves in my later opinion to be a victim of a miscarrage of justice, I will do my best to help compensate him and work towards changing the law so that such a miscarrage of justice never happens again.

Partisan said...

L-Girl,

"Partisan, I didn't invite you here."

actually, you did. This is a published Blog is it not? It is not a personal diary, it is not a mailing list distributed e-letter.

"There is no "ignore feature" on Blogger."

Actually, there is. As you have noted, you do not have to respond to my comments, you do not have to read my comments and if you so choose, you can delete or block my comments.

Most bloggers use their comments features as not a letters to the editor feature, but as a conversation area.

Many bloggers don't usually even take part in the conversations in their comments areas.

And many Bloggers post rules, regulations and guidelines about what sort of conversations should be taking place in the comments area.

lone primate and I seem to so far, be able to carry on a reasonable conversation, yet you and I apparently cannot, and I am completely disinclined to attempt to engage redsock in a conversation.

Like you said, it is your blog, I don't have to read it, nor do you have to engage me in conversation, nor do you have to allow my comments to be published.

L-girl said...

actually, you did. This is a published Blog is it not? It is not a personal diary, it is not a mailing list distributed e-letter.

I did not specifically invite you here. I am not obligated to host the comments of every person who comes across this blog.

"There is no "ignore feature" on Blogger."

Actually, there is. As you have noted, you do not have to respond to my comments, you do not have to read my comments and if you so choose, you can delete or block my comments.


You are misinformed about how Blogger operates.

An "ignore feature" is a feature on forums where you check a box beside a name and that person's comments do not appear on your screen.

Blogger has no such function.

Blogger has no function whereby you can block one person's comments. Perhaps WordPress or TypePad or other blog formats do, but Blogger does not.

My only option would be to delete your comments, an option which so far I have chosen not to use.

Most bloggers use their comments features as not a letters to the editor feature, but as a conversation area.

According to a CNET story from August 2006, 175,000 blogs are created every day. Technorati logged 50 million blogs at that time. You cannot possibly know what "most bloggers" do.

Perhaps most bloggers you are familiar with do one thing or another. That has no bearing on how I choose to run my blog.

Many bloggers don't usually even take part in the conversations in their comments areas.

That's nice for them. I obviously don't share that approach.

And many Bloggers post rules, regulations and guidelines about what sort of conversations should be taking place in the comments area.

Mine are posted on the sidebar. The link says "comment policy".

If your first post had been more in the spirit of sharing your own opinion, rather than (as I've noted many times) lecturing the ignorant, I'm sure we would have gotten off on a better foot.

This was not only my impression, as you can see by both Redsock's and TheIronist's responses. Perhaps you don't realize how your writing comes off. Or perhaps you know full well and I'm being too generous.

But oh well, that's the way it goes.

Partisan said...

L-Girl,

"I did not specifically invite you here."

No, by publishing this blog you invited every English reader with a computer and internet access here.

" I am not obligated to host the comments of every person who comes across this blog."

I never said you were, I have never inferred that you were, in fact, I have fully acknoledged you right to ban me or block my posts.

I do not know why you feel the need to keep reminding me.

"An "ignore feature" is a feature on forums where you check a box beside a name and that person's comments do not appear on your screen."

Ignore features were around long before there were computers, the web and seem to be a childhood learned human ability.

"Therefore, what you read as dismissive is merely my attempt to let the matter drop."

L-girl said...

By "the matter" I was referring to the actual subject of the thread. Not all your ramblings.

Ignore features were around long before there were computers, the web and seem to be a childhood learned human ability.

When you said --

"In the extreme, there is always the ignore feature."

-- I took that to mean an actual ignore feature. As opposed to, "In the extreme, you could just ignore me." I assumed you meant something called an ignore feature, since that what you said.

If you meant I can always ignore you, yes, I could. But I choose not to ignore anything that goes on on my blog.

Could you not simply realize that for reasons possibly unknown to you, you are not getting along with the owner of this blog, and simply go away?

Are you trying to get the last word?

Surely you can't think you're accomplishing anything.

L-girl said...

You know what? Never mind the questions in my previous comment. I don't care. This is silly, so I'll end it.

Partisan, from now on, please stick to the actual subject matter of any thread or your comment will be deleted.

On this "Ezra Levant" thread, you have made your views known, and you've been very clear, so no further elucidation is needed.

I won't stop the conversation you're having with Lone Primate, or with any other commenters who choose to address you.

Please don't address me again, in this or any other thread. If you do, the comment will be deleted.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

Lone Primate said...

Mr. Levant is not being investigated under Canada's Hate Crime Laws or Hate Speech Laws, nor is he being investigated for any allegations of being a neo-Nazi.

It’s timely here to point out that it was you yourself who assured us the laws with which L-Girl takes issue were instituted in part to defend us from what you purported was an up-swing of neo-Nazi activity in the 1980s. This has been central to your thesis in defending the action we’re discussing — which, as you belatedly admit, has nothing to do with neo-Naziism. I think it’s disingenuous of you to suddenly suggest the matter is merely tangential and stress it’s a different law, when you yourself forged the connection, and some time ago. If they’re separate issues, you should have avoided linking them in the first place; otherwise, you’re being intellectually dishonest. But having opened that door, you may have to content yourself that others refuse to let it be shut, especially just so you don’t feel the draft.

My question for you, is should the charges be dismissed as "unreasonable" with out any attempt at an investigation? If you feel that the charges be dismissed as "unreasonable" with out any attempt at an investigation, does this not move power away from the rights of the individual and written law, and instead, shift it to the very sort of Star Chamber you suggest this is?

As I’m led to understand the process by a friend at work in the provincial justice portfolio, it’s usually required to seek leave from a civil court judge before one may file a civil suit. The idea is to depend on the experience of the judge and precedent to weed out frivolous cases before they actually clog up the court dockets and damage the finances and reputations of people who otherwise need not suffer litigation. This is at odds with the practice in most of the US, where filing suit is entirely a matter of fiat; hence a society that is far more litigious than ours. Am I to understand that, in the case of human rights cases, you prefer the American model to that our own? If not, wouldn’t you agree that the same standard as applies in civil liability ought to apply in human rights liability — that is, that a judge determine the gravity of the matter before anyone is called to account? Earlier, you cited potential bias… do you feel this is, therefore, the case with civil court judges?

It’s worth pointing out here that the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act (a.k.a. “the Alberta Human Rights Act”) actually does provide for this in section 22(1)(a): “Notwithstanding section 21, the director may at any time… dismiss a complaint if the director considers that the complaint is without merit…”

Had Mr. Levant so chosen, he could have simply not responded

If this were the case, then why would anyone respond? And this is not actually an option. Section 23(1)(c) empowers an investigator to “demand the production for examination of records and documents, including electronic records and documents, that are or may be relevant to the subject-matter of the investigation”, and Section 23(1)(a) empowers the investigator to “…enter any place at any reasonable time and examine it” subject to the permission of the owner (23(2)(a)) or permission of a judge (23(2)(b)). That hardly sounds to me like something a fellow can just wave off.

No lawyers are required in this process

Neither are they in civil or criminal cases. Would you face a legal procedure without one? I had always heard it said that a man who serves as his own lawyer has a fool for a client, yet you suggest Mr. Levant is a fool for having one. Perhaps he knows something about the law that’s lost on you (but not the rest of us…).

The results of this investigation will be forwarded to the Human Rights Tribunal, will be reviewed, and if there are, provable damages and losses, in otherwords, grounds, the case will go forward to the next step, mediation.

Forgive me, but this doesn’t sound like an inexpensive process. Legal representation, potential time off work, repeated meetings… it’s beginning to sound like a wonderful way to cause a great deal of trouble to someone with whose public utterances one takes issue.

If Mr. Levant proves in my later opinion to be a victim of a miscarrage of justice

If you’re already prepared to put your own judgement above that of the process, then of what value is it?

Partisan said...

lone primate,

"It’s timely here to point out that it was you yourself who assured us the laws with which L-Girl takes issue were instituted in part to defend us from what you purported was an up-swing of neo-Nazi activity in the 1980"

I have tried to be very clear on this, but apparently not clear enough.

Glenn Greenwald and many Op-Eds have continually tried to conflate Canada's Hate Crime and Hate Speech laws, with Mr. Levant's case, implying in many cases, that he is facing criminal prosecution under those laws.

Because of this continual attempt to equate these laws with Mr. Levant's case, I have tried to explain these laws and the differences, apparently to no avail.


Mr. Levant is not facing criminal charges.

He has not been accused of any crime.

He is not facing criminal trial.

He cannot be sent to jail.

His case has nothing to do with Canada's Hate crime and Hate speech laws, other than the fact that the writers in question don't like the laws.



His case is being investigated, by a Civil Body, the Alberta Human Rights Commission, under civil laws, the Alberta Human Rights Act.

The Alberta Human Rights Act, like every Provinces, is a Provincial Civil Law, enacted to provide protections against discrimination, and compensation for overt acts of discrimination, to the offended party.

Despite Glenn Greenwald and others hype, Mr. Levant is not facing criminal prosecution and jail time for an act of free speech.

He is in fact, being investigated on a civil charge equivalent to denying renting an apartment to someone based on their race, creed, colour, religion or sexual orientation.

"As I’m led to understand the process by a friend at work in the provincial justice portfolio, it’s usually required to seek leave from a civil court judge before one may file a civil suit"

This is not a civil suit and I will try to refrain from explaining the differences to try to avoid confusion.

This is an investigation under Civil Law by a body created and empowered to investigate, mediate and render decision, similar to Workers Compensation Boards.

"It’s worth pointing out here that the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act (a.k.a. “the Alberta Human Rights Act”) actually does provide for this in section 22(1)(a): “Notwithstanding section 21, the director may at any time… dismiss a complaint if the director considers that the complaint is without merit…”

The Director has two opportunities to dismiss a complaint. When the complaint is filed, and when the investigation is completed and there is a hearing.

There is a minimum legal threshhold set for a complaint. If a complaint does not meet that minimum threshhold, the Director is fully empowered to dismiss the complaint.


If a complaint meets that minimum threshhold, with out hearing the other side in the case, with out investigating the complaint, should the Director be at liberty to dismiss the complaint?

Does this not place the Directors opinion, no matter how informed it is, above the written law?

Does this not fully empower the Director to decide that complaints against his or her friends, or Companies they are invested with, or people who decide to give them money, should be quashed?

The other opportunity the Director has to quash a complaint, is at the preliminary hearing, when the Director hears the testimony of the HRC Investigator as to the substantive body of the case.

IMHO, it is at this point where Mr. Levant's case will have another brief flash of fame as the HRC Tribunal dismisses the complaint, Mr. Levant crows and the Complainant complains.

"and Section 23(1)(a) empowers the investigator to “…enter any place at any reasonable time and examine it” subject to the permission of the owner (23(2)(a)) or permission of a judge (23(2)(b)). That hardly sounds to me like something a fellow can just wave off."

"demand the production"
"subject to the permission of the owner,"

if one feels that it is not a substantive case, one can just wave it off.

Should the HRC wish to pursue the matter, with out your assistance, then they have to go before a Judge, and get a ruling that allows them to compell testimony, compell records and enter private property.

Few Judges are inclined to do so in cases that are not highly substantive, and few Human Rights Commissions are inclined to take it to a judge, as the evidentiary hurdles are substantially higher than that required for a complaint to go forward.

In most cases, the HRC will just pester you to comply with the process.

Of course, if it is a substantive case, despite one's protestations to the contrary, and they go to court, to get ruleing, you are probably hosed.

"Neither are they in civil or criminal cases. Would you face a legal procedure without one? I had always heard it said that a man who serves as his own lawyer has a fool for a client, yet you suggest Mr. Levant is a fool for having one. Perhaps he knows something about the law that’s lost on you (but not the rest of us…)"

Until the Tribunal renders a decision, there is nothing a Lawyer can do for you. Lawyers argue points of law in front of a Judge, and there is no Judge to argue in front of or other Lawyer to argue points of law against. Lawyers cross examine witnesses, and there are no witnesses to cross examine. Lawyers deal with the legal procedure, (filings, etc") and there are no legal procedures to deal with, etc.

A lawyer is of no use, until the Tribunal has had a hearing, at which point in time, a Lawyer is only useful for challenging the results of the hearing in Civil Court.

As a landlord, employer, etc, the normal professions and positions that may face a complaint before the Human Rights Commision, it is a good idea to know the law and what acts violate the law long before there is a complaint or even an act that generates a complaint. This is where a lawyer is useful.

"Forgive me, but this doesn’t sound like an inexpensive process. Legal representation, potential time off work, repeated meetings… it’s beginning to sound like a wonderful way to cause a great deal of trouble to someone with whose public utterances one takes issue"

Like I said earlier, there is no need for legal representation. One or two meetings with an investigator, Mr. Levant got in and out of his meeting in well under 30 minutes, even though he spent 20 minutes ranting, posturing and condemning the proceedings. He could have been in and out in under ten minutes.

A hearing into the results of the investigation, which you do not have to attend, at which point in time there will be a finding.

The most the Alberta HRC is make you apologise and pay $10,000 compensation.

Most disputes are resolved with an exhange of apologies between both parties, and a small amount of compensation.

When I fired an employee and they filed a Human Rights Complaint, it cost me all told, an hour of my time, an hour of my employee's time and none of my money, because their complaint was not substantive.

In contrast, when they continued to pursue their complaint outside of the HRC, it cost me almost ten thousand dollars in legal fees, and several days in depositions, not just my depositions but other staff's depositions,countering their fileings in Civil Court,

Only to have a Judge dismiss their Civil Suit from progressing forward, based for the most part, on the HRC findings.

Had there not been an HRC investigation, the case would have gone forward to a preliminary hearing, which would have cost me another $5,000 or more in legal fees.

L-girl said...

I have tried to be very clear on this, but apparently not clear enough.

You have been extremely clear. Everyone here can read and understand what you wrote. It doesn't follow that they will then agree with you.