1.18.2008

on liberals, conservatives, good blogosphere citizens and free speech

One of the categories in the Canadian Blog Awards is "Best Blogosphere Citizen". That interesting idea made me think about what it means to be a good blog citizen. In trying to define that, I naturally thought of what a bad blog citizen looks like, and the various blog-related behaviours that I don't like.

Because I have a comment policy, and don't allow all comments at all times, many people would think I'm a bad blogosphere citizen - not to mention a hypocrite, as I'm a staunch proponent of free speech. But I'm comfortable with the rules here, which enhance the experience of this blog both for myself and most readers, and which I derived over time through trial and error. We once had a very good discussion here about controlling comments, and it helped reinforce my views. Nevertheless, to some potential commenters, my comment policy makes me full of shit.

Two of my own least favourite examples of blog behaviour showed up recently in comments.

First, a commenter stopped by to tell me what I was blogging about was trivial and undeserving of my outrage.

And next, another commenter stopped by to deliver a lecture (actually a series of lectures), because clearly I am uneducated on the issue at hand. If I knew the facts, I would have agreed with him.

I don't know if I've ever left a comment like either of those on someone's blog, but if I am ever moved to do so, I hope I remember these examples and stop myself.

Because I was not born in Canada - and especially because I am from the United States - there is a tendency among some Canadian-born Canadians to assume that, if I disagree with them, my views stem from my ignorance of Canada. And then to volunteer to teach me.

I've learned a lot about Canada since our decision to emigrate, as I've made it my life's work to learn as much as I can about my new country. I have lot left to learn, of course. But if I disagree with the views of certain Canadians, chances are high that it's not because I don't understand the issues. Indeed, if don't understand an issue, I don't espouse views on it at all: I ask questions. This blog is filled with my questions about Canada, and the wonderful wmtc commenters have helped me understand everything from the Night Of Long Knives to Canadian Tire money. But if I'm not asking questions - if I'm stating "this is how I feel" - chances are very good I understand the issue.

* * * *

There's a disturbing corollary to this. I've noticed a tendency among some liberal Canadians to denigrate conservative Canadians as being somehow less Canadian. Even unCanadian. Often the US is to blame: their conservative ideas are mimicking American conservatives, and these folks are trying to turn Canada into the US.

Now you know I'm not a conservative thinker. But why should there be one way to think that is truly Canadian? Liberal views might be the majority here in Canada, but are conservatively inclined Canadians any less Canadian than liberals?

My recent defence of free speech garnered several comments, both on wmtc and elsewhere, explaining that my American ideas, such as the belief in the unfettered right of freedom of expression, are dangerous to Canada. Yet I have met - both in person and online - many, many Canadian-born Canadians who share my views on free speech. They may be a minority here. But what of it?

In the US, conservatives seek to define what it means to be American and label liberals as unpatriotic and unAmerican. In Canada, many liberals seek to the do the same about conservatives.

Canada, with its huge geography, its populace from all over the world, its commitment to diversity and tolerance, is anything but a homogeneous country. And the social and political beliefs of Canadians are anything but monolithic.

And Canada, like every society, is not static. Immigrants coming to Canada with their own views will change Canadian society, as will successive generations of Canadian-born Canadians.

Yet I routinely read and hear Albertans denigrated as being less Canadian than other Canadians, because of their more conservative beliefs. In the past this came up around Stephen Harper; now it's come up around Ezra Levant.

First, that's as ignorant as calling New York a "blue state," ignoring most people who live north of New York City. Do we need to point out that there are progressive people in Alberta? That there are conservative people in Ontario? That there are both, everywhere?

And second, if the majority of Albertans adhere to conservative beliefs, does that make them any less Canadian?

Certain issues such as freedom of expression are not properly categorized as politically left or right. There are libertarians on both sides of that political divide. A long time ago, a conservative commenter on this blog - Canadian-born - noted that the power structure of any society will attempt to restrict freedom of expression. In the US, he said, that's the conservatives, but in Canada, it's the liberals. That observation has stayed with me a long time.

As I said, I've met many Canadians who share my views on free speech. They tend to be either very conservative or very progressive. They live all over Canada. They are not American, nor supporters of American policy. They disagree that the need to restrict free speech to maintain public order is a Canadian value. They would like to see laws restricting free speech reversed. They may (or may not) be a minority. What of it?

I strongly believe that certain human rights must be protected without regard to popular opinion. If most Canadians claim to be against abortion, it must still be a woman's right to terminate her own pregnancy. If most Canadians claim to support capital punishment, citizens should be protected from state murder. Same-sex couples should have the same rights as mixed-gender couples. And so on.

But beyond basic Charter rights, must we aspire to such an orthodoxy of thought as to claim the belief in unfettered free speech is unCanadian? And must we be so parochial as to claim that belief is best left to folks from - ewww - Alberta?

There is no one Canadian set of beliefs or values that we all must adhere to. Surely that is not the Canada I worked so hard to emigrate to.

71 comments:

TheIronist said...

(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.)

Goodness. I managed to miss this post when it was first written. To presume that being American means that we come to Canada as a pre-packaged bag of “philosophies,” philosophies which are apparently the product of America’s “rah-rah Hurrah culture,” is so manifestly over-the-top that it nearly defies comment. Say what you will about the US, but it is a vast, regionally-, linguistically- and culturally- diverse country that defies generalization better than most.

And to the extent that there is a “rah-rah, Hurrah” culture in the United States—whatever that is—the “partisan” should stop to wonder whether or not it is that purported quality that drove us to emigrate in the first place.

That we are expats should indicate that we aren’t likely to be stereotypical in the ways partisan cites. I’m from the American South, for instance. Many parts of my upbringing do indeed border on cliché. The grandson of a Baptist preacher (who was also a klansman), I grew up in an intensely racist household. But now I’m a rather militant atheist hard-left political and anti-racism activist living in Canada and happily married to a brown-skinned woman. It’s probably safe to say that most Americans one meets in Canada are likely to have, if not similar stories, then at least biographies which dramatically defy presumption. I felt more at home after 3 years in Toronto than I ever have living anywhere in the US. I had simply never lived in a place where large segments of the local population shared a sensibility similar to my own.

(There is no one Canadian set of beliefs or values that we all must adhere to. Surely that is not the Canada I worked so hard to emigrate to.)


Bingo! “Peace Order and Good Government” may have defined the Anglo approach to westward settlement historically, but it says little about the Quebecois experience. Nor does the implied ethos square altogether well with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and never mind the Napoleonic Code back of Quebec jurisprudence. I wonder that Partisan has ever even been to Quebec. I’d say it’s unlikely.

TheIronist said...

By the way, the above post was meant to criticize the post that L-girl gives as an example of bad blogging, not as a criticism of L-girl, who rocks hard in the the blogosphere.

L-girl said...

TheIronist, thank you for your thoughts, and for your support. :)

I managed to miss this post when it was first written.

It was posted after most discussion in that thread had died down.

To presume that being American means that we come to Canada as a pre-packaged bag of "philosophies," philosophies which are apparently the product of America's "rah-rah Hurrah culture," is so manifestly over-the-top that it nearly defies comment.

Thanks for saying that. That is indeed why I ignored most Partisan's lecture.

Bingo! "Peace Order and Good Government" may have defined the Anglo approach to westward settlement historically, but it says little about the Quebecois experience.

Excellent point. I am forever being reminded that when I say "Canada" I am usually referring to English Canada, and I'm glad for the reminders.

L-girl said...

I also posted this at the other "Ezra Levant" thread:

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.

Partisan said...

Well, I seem to have created quite the little storm of late.

L-Girl linked to a Gleen Greenwald post loaded with histronics and misrepresentations about Mr. Levant's case, which many Canadian letter writers tried to correct, for which they were attacked for not supporting the absolutist Freedom of Speech, both here and in Salon Letters.

L-Girl said:
"Indeed, if don't understand an issue, I don't espouse views on it at all: I ask questions"

The only questions I have been asked, and I don't think is was asked of me, was:

"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."

While I have seen half hearted grudging admissions that the facts of the case were not as Mr. Greenwald noted, nor as Mr. Levant claimed, notr as this blog has posted:

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

I have yet to see what I would consider, an honest correction.

A discussion about free speech vs. free speech with caveats is one thing, misrepresentation is another.

There has been a lot of misrepresentation in the posts here.

Amerians come to Canada with a lot of baggage, so does everyone else. To be concerned or interested in that individual baggage is not unwarranted. I remember the surprise amongst many of the Vietnam era immigration over the vast political, economic and legal differences between Canada and the US.

As L-Girl points out in this post:

"As I said, I've met many Canadians who share my views on free speech. They tend to be either very conservative or very progressive."

A commonality between the far left and the far right, uncommon amongst the middle. I wonder why that is?

She has yet to ask me, or anyone else in the comments, why for example we believe that Peace, Order and Good Government is more important than an absolutist right to free speech.

I have attempted to politely and civil engage, only to have my words distorted and twisted, strawmen constructed and then attacked.

I guess redsock speaks for this blog most elequently with his comment:

"Why don't you go fuck yourself."




" I wonder that Partisan has ever even been to Quebec. I’d say it’s unlikely."

In my youth, I liked Montreal, as I grew older, Quebec City, now, the Gaspe, which should be no big suprise as I spent much of my childhood on the other side, in New Brunswick's North Shore. By a brief quirk in time, I was born a Edmontonian and not an Acadian.

"Goodness. I managed to miss this post when it was first written. To presume that being American means that we come to Canada as a pre-packaged bag of “philosophies,” philosophies which are apparently the product of America’s “rah-rah Hurrah culture,” is so manifestly over-the-top that it nearly defies comment. Say what you will about the US, but it is a vast, regionally-, linguistically- and culturally- diverse country that defies generalization better than most"

Everybody who comes here has baggage, everyone who lives here has baggage. Hiding it away in the attic or denying it, does not make it go away, or make other people understand why it is so important to you to keep it.

Sometimes it's "good" baggage, toys from childhood, family heirlooms, photos, sometimes it's bad baggage, most often, it is a mix of both and it influences how we act and react, and what we believe.

I have my own baggage, the product of a long life spent living and working all across Canada and the US.

L-girl said...

Don't flatter yourself, Partisan. You're not the first person to create a storm here, and I'm sure you won't be the last. The sooner you stop lecturing us, the better.

L-girl said...

""Indeed, if don't understand an issue, I don't espouse views on it at all: I ask questions"

The only questions I have been asked, and I don't think is was asked of me, was:..."

Exactly. Since I already understood the issue before you got here, I didn't need to ask you anything. Perhaps you imagined I was waiting around for the Mr Partisan Explains Canada show. Too bad for you, I've been investigating Canada without your help lo these many years.

L-girl said...

I have attempted to politely and civil engage, only to have my words distorted and twisted, strawmen constructed and then attacked.

What you did is lecture, and then continue to lecture, and then offer more self-righteous lecturing.

Thus Redsock's response. And mine, too. I don't care if you go fuck yourself or not, but as you seem incapable of normal discourse, I do wish you'd go away.

L-girl said...

"As I said, I've met many Canadians who share my views on free speech. They tend to be either very conservative or very progressive."

A commonality between the far left and the far right, uncommon amongst the middle. I wonder why that is?


Perhaps because theirs are the views that end up getting repressed.

Perhaps because many people in the centre don't have to think about their right to freedom of expression, because all they say is baaa and moooo.

Perhaps you confuse being in the majority with being right.

Partisan said...

L-Girl,

"Perhaps because theirs are the views that end up getting repressed.

Perhaps because many people in the centre don't have to think about their right to freedom of expression, because all they say is baaa and moooo.

Perhaps you confuse being in the majority with being right."

While I have only seen a sober OP-Ed in the Kamloops Sentinel and the Calgary Herald correcting the false assertions regarding the Levant case,

I have seen Op-eds in the Brandon Sun, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Journal, Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, The Mountaineer, Kamloops Daily News, Toronto Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Sherbrooke Record, Halifax Daily News and the New Brunswick Daily Journal supporting Mr. Levant's absolutist right to free speech and decrying the Star Chamber Inquisition he is being subjected to.

It would appear that "theirs are the views that end up getting repressed" is not in fact happening.

A key reason why many of us in the center do not believe in absolutist free speech, is to protect the rights of the minority from the trampling of the majority.

I sure wish that when I was a young boy in Acadia, that we were accorded Human Rights under Law.

Of course, when two minority lunatics from the far side of assorted minority spectrums use the laws to face off againts each other, then we have a rather ludicrous spectacle.

Amy said...

OK, I admit that I am ignorant of almost all things Canadian, though I am learning a lot as I read this blog every day, but this whole fight has struck me as particularly difficult to get a handle on. I have read all the comments at this post and at the prior Ezra Levant post, and I am puzzled. The person who does not believe in free speech (Partisan) seems to be the one who is using it the most and causing much upset here.

Can someone explain to me why Canada does NOT believe in free speech? I have looked at your Charter, and it seems to reflect most of the basic freedoms and liberties that are covered by the US Bill of Rights (and perhaps more), but you all seem to agree there is no free speech clause.

I know I am probably going to sound like just another self-centered American chauvinist, so forgive me ahead of time for saying this: How can a free society NOT protect the freedom of speech? It is so fundamental to my understanding of democracy, of civilization, that I just cannot get my head around this whole thing. How does Canada justify this?

L-girl said...

Hi Amy, in an attempt not to delete Partisan's annoying comments, I let the argument go too far, to no purpose. Ah well.

Can someone explain to me why Canada does NOT believe in free speech?

Canada does believe in free speech. But there are also restrictions on speech under the rubrick of human rights laws - anti-hate-speech laws. Many things that pass for free speech in the US would qualify as hate-speech in Canada and be restricted. Fred Phelps's anti-gay billboards come to mind. That wouldn't be tolerated here.

As much as I despise hate speech, I'm pretty much a blanket free-speech person, so I don't support these laws.

Many Canadians do not agree with the hate-speech laws. Those that do, in my experience, often take a condescending "that's not the way we do things here" tone, since I can be considered an outsider in some respects. However, many Canadian-born Canadians also dislike the laws.

I hope that helps. Lone Primate's most recent comment in the "Ezra Levant" thread may also shed some light.

L-girl said...

Oops, it's not his most recent comment anymore! But his comments in general may be enlightening. (They always are!)

redsock said...

I have seen Op-eds in the Brandon Sun, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Journal, Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, The Mountaineer, Kamloops Daily News, Toronto Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Sherbrooke Record, Halifax Daily News and the New Brunswick Daily Journal supporting Mr. Levant's absolutist right to free speech and decrying the Star Chamber Inquisition he is being subjected to.

Looks like Mr. P is gonna have to go on a lecture circuit.

L-girl said...

Looks like Mr. P is gonna have to go on a lecture circuit.

I guess all the newspapers are controlled by Americans.

Amy said...

Thanks, Laura. I went back again and think I saw the comments you must be referring to--the one that discusses the specific language of the Charter which does in fact talk about freedom of expression. Of course, even in the US there are limits on freedom of expression, and there is much debate here as well about whether it is constitutional to limit hate speech.

Like you, I would rather hear what the bigots and racists and anti-Semites, etc., are thinking so that (1) I know who they are, and (2) I can challenge their statements and biases. As much as it makes me heartsick and outraged, I would rather hear it than live in a world where I cannot say what I want for fear of being punished and where I do not know what others are thinking.

Is Canada's hate speech law justified by the need to keep the peace? Or to protect the sensibilities of those who may be targeted by that speech? I realize that Canadian free speech/hate speech/human rights law is far more complex than I can absorb through reading through all these posts, but I am curious about the general justification for hate speech restrictions.

Lone Primate said...

I have seen Op-eds in the Brandon Sun, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Journal, Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, The Mountaineer, Kamloops Daily News, Toronto Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Sherbrooke Record, Halifax Daily News and the New Brunswick Daily Journal supporting Mr. Levant's absolutist right to free speech and decrying the Star Chamber Inquisition he is being subjected to.

Firstly, this ought to give you pause to reflect on the relative ill repute in which the execution of the Act is being received nationwide. Most people are prepared to see such laws applied to the likes of neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and the like. Clearly, they don't see Ezra Levant's opinions as meeting the Oakes Test in that regard. The administration of the law seems repressive and malicious.

Secondly, it seems strange to me that in having reserved the right to second-guess the eventual outcome of the case on the basis of your own opinions, that you would ridicule the editorial staffs of upwards of a dozen newspapers clear across Canada simply for suggesting the law is being misapplied, never mind decrying a verdict.

L-girl said...

I would rather hear it than live in a world where I cannot say what I want for fear of being punished and where I do not know what others are thinking.

Ah, well said! I hope you won't mind when I quote you now and again.

Is Canada's hate speech law justified by the need to keep the peace? Or to protect the sensibilities of those who may be targeted by that speech?

Both. You hit it on the head, twice. Although "sensibilities" would be called human rights, something I find a tad silly. I don't think hate speech violates human rights.

L-girl said...

Lone Primate, maybe you can answer Amy's question more thoroughly, if you're so inclined, about the rationale for free-speech restrictions in Canada.

Amy said...

I'd be honored to be quoted. Or is that honoured? :) Anything I post is fair game to be repeated and attributed to me or I wouldn't have posted it. I won't post something that I would be ashamed to say face to face to someone.

Partisan said...

amy,

"I know I am probably going to sound like just another self-centered American chauvinist, so forgive me ahead of time for saying this: How can a free society NOT protect the freedom of speech? It is so fundamental to my understanding of democracy, of civilization, that I just cannot get my head around this whole thing. How does Canada justify this?"

Most societies do not allow absolute free speech and have libels laws, slander laws and other laws for example, "against inciting to riot".

In Canada, we have a criminal law against Hate Speech, as a subsection of the Criminal Code dealing with Hate Crimes. Prosecutions under both laws are very rare as the bar on burden of proof and proving intent have been set intentionally high.

Some argue that the bar is too high, as gay bashings that result in death are almost never prosecuted as hate crimes, some argue that the laws should not exist in the first place.

The Hate Speech laws were introduced in the 1980's, during a wave of neo-Nazi violence, to try to hold for example, someone who incited a synagogue burning, criminally liable, even if they took no part in the setting the actual fire.

We also have Human Rights Laws that bar discrimination along a variety of criteria. These are not criminal laws, but Civil Laws that can impose fiscal compensation for intentionally violating another person's Human Rights and causing them to suffer damages and loss.

Both these laws are part of a background of social change that started with minority conflict in the 1950's, 60's and 70's as people who had long been oppressed, demanded equal rights.

Many "middle" Canadians do not question these laws, as the intent is to protect the minority and once upon a time, many of us were the minority.

For example, I grew up as an Acadian, subject to substandard schools, non-existant health care, employment, housing and Government discrimination, along with the usual taunts, spitting and violence.

During the FLQ Crisis, our communities were invaded by Armed Soldiers who spoke no French, curfews were imposted and hundreds of peaceful Acadian Rights Activists were rounded up an interrogated, some were held under no charges until the end of the Crisis and the lifting of the Emergency measures.

The Daily Gleaner, at the time, published Op Eds calling for the forced expulsion of the Acadians from Canada by either the Government or an active citizenry. Very "Evangeline".

My Wife grew up as the child of Russian Immigrants to Alberta and has similar but different tales of discrimination.

Lone Primate said...

I'm no expert, I'm just one guy who's had his opinions yanked all over the map on the issue over the years.

If I had my druthers, we wouldn't have hate speech laws. I was opposed when we first instituted them. To me, they were an embarrassment. My philosophy was that it was better to have people out in the open saying ugly things where we they could be countered than forced to murmur them in the dark.

My opinions greyed somewhat as time passed. Not to ascribe everything to the issue, but it seems to me that the insistence (whether or not it's actual) on the absoluteness of rights has not served the United States well. Certainly the attempts towards a slavishly literal interpretation of the Second Amendment has not made the United States a better place (not in my opinion; I know there millions there who beg to differ). Likewise, the idea that you should be able to say whatever you want without regard for the consequences is also an idea I can't entirely endorse. First of all, it's been a fallacy even in the United States for centuries; you can't say something malicious and willfully false about an individual and not wind up in court. It has occurred to me to wonder why, therefore, it must be regarded as a virtue to defend the utterance of calumnies so long as they are directed at an identifiable group, rather than an identifiable individual. To me, it's the same thing, only writ large; the problem is, a "group" generally can't sue, and so it becomes the responsibility of the state.

I think if we lived in a country with only one language, one ethnicity, one religion... and such countries do exist... it really wouldn't matter much. People could be as bigoted as they liked, because whom in their society would it effect? No one. The neighbours might not like it, but could never morph into policies that could disenfranchise or otherwise disadvantage them because they would be insulated by having their own society.

But in a country like this, one that was divided into at least three groups at its very inception, the potential for well-aired bigotry to take on a very public form is well-documented. Canada was a horribly difficult place to govern, particularly in the 1840s right up to Confederation. It's a real wonder the will existed to create a single nation. It's still touch-and-go, as we know all too well. The problem has only gained more and more dimensions as people arrive from scores of other countries, each with its own particular opinions on "others". I feel that it is especially important in a country with such a large foreign-born population, one that must quickly and deftly assimilate newcomers to established ways or risk the crystallization of a real foreign element within our already disparate identity, to set standards on the manner in which we portray one another publicly. I mean this both to protect newer elements in our society from the xenophobic instincts in more established ones; and also to instruct newcomers that the prejudices with which they lived previously are not welcome to become established here. When people see the courts take on hate-mongers like Zundel and Keegstra, people who spoke motivated by hate and not truth (no matter how much they purported otherwise), the implication is clear that there are responsibilities in speech to the nation, to one another, to humanity. Just as there are when we attack one another as individuals, so too are there limits when we would destroy and impair the futures of groups within the nation.

A balance has to be struck. There is a difference between demanding all Jews be forced to leave Canada or not be allowed to be doctors on the one hand, and criticizing the policy of Israel towards the Palestinians on the other. The line must fall between these cases. It's difficult to set a line that's hard and fast but I honestly believe most sensible people can tell when an opinion crosses that line.

Again, I wish Canada were a country with no need for such legislation, and on the whole I'd be happier without it... but I've come to appreciate the motivation behind such legislation and if I'm not completely at ease with it, I can live with it now.

Partisan said...

lone primate,

"Clearly, they don't see Ezra Levant's opinions as meeting the Oakes Test in that regard. The administration of the law seems repressive and malicious."

The only Op-eds written about the application of the Oakes test were in fact the Kamloops Sentinel and the Calgary Herald correcting the false assertions regarding the Levant case. They noted that the Oakes Test only applies after the investigation is concluded, as the investigator is not empowered to render decisions or judgements.

The Op Eds in the majority of the papers were not very much interested in the facts of the case, but were very interested in seeing how many time they could use the phrase "Star Chamber".

"Secondly, it seems strange to me that in having reserved the right to second-guess the eventual outcome of the case on the basis of your own opinions, that you would ridicule the editorial staffs of upwards of a dozen newspapers clear across Canada simply for suggesting the law is being misapplied, never mind decrying a verdict."

The law is not being misapplied.

If there is a substantive complaint, meeting the minimum legal criteria, the complaint must be investigated.

More than a dozen major Newspapers across Canada have done their studious best to avoid and evade that simple fact.

However, I do fully understand why the Media and Media Corporations are highly resistant to the idea that they be held liable for any damages arising from what they print. : )

Now, maybe the minimum bar for the criteria for a complaint to go forward, needs to be raised. We can argue about that aspect when the HRC findings are published, until then, all we know is that the complaint met the minimum legal bar.

Amy said...

Partisan, that description of Canadian law doesn't sound that different from American law. We also have laws that allow civil recovery for libel and slander (though they are not criminal violations), but libel and slander involve false statements of fact and thus I don't see that as a restriction of speech.

As for speech that results in physical harm or violence, US law generally will penalize that harm and violence as crimes (depending on the circumstances). Gay bashing that results in death or injury is a crime because of the physical harm, not because of the speech alone (though some state laws will increase the penalties if the crime is seen as a hate crime). And we also have laws against discrimination, but they generally focus on discriminatory conduct, not speech alone. (One exception may be sexual harassment in the workplace where speech itself may be sufficent to establish a violation of employment discrimination laws.)

Amy said...

Oops, posted before I was done.

I also wanted to say that I think there is a difference between protecting people from physical harm and protecting them from hurt feelings, even if those hurt feelings result in fear of physical harm. The hard line to draw is when speech is likely to result in physical harm. US law struggles with drawing that line. My impression is that Canadian law penalizes speech as speech even if there isn't any physical harm or likely risk of physical harm. Is that right?

L-girl said...

(One exception may be sexual harassment in the workplace where speech itself may be sufficent to establish a violation of employment discrimination laws.)

I've been thinking of those hostile climate rulings, which of course I support. In a sense Canada's anti-hate-speech laws are like hostile climate laws for the whole society. I've been trying to articulate (to myself, at least) why I support one but don't support the other.

Amy said...

Lone Primate, I saw your post after I posted mine, and thanks for sharing your thoughts on the reasons behind the Canadian hate speech laws. In my post I also talked about the need to draw a line between speech that should be prevented --- when it is intended and likely to lead to violence or physical harm---and speech that should be tolerated. Maybe Canada draws that line differently from the US, maybe you agree with where that line is drawn. But I think we agree that a line must be drawn to ensure free expression.

Amy said...

I've been thinking of those hostile climate rulings, which of course I support. In a sense Canada's anti-hate-speech laws are like hostile climate laws for the whole society. I've been trying to articulate (to myself, at least) why I support one but don't support the other.

The way I see it is that an employee being subjected to sexual harassment is trapped---either give up his or her job or be stuck in a discriminatory environment. The law is protecting the employee's right to work without having to make that choice. With more general hate speech, the person making the speech does not have that power over the targets, and the targets are not forced to give up a job in order to avoid the undesired speech. They can simply ignore it or respond to it as they see fit----unless they are being threatened with imminent physical harm.

Does that seem to make sense?

L-girl said...

Does that seem to make sense

Yes, it does, it makes perfect sense. But somehow it feels incomplete. I will keep thinking about it. Although not tonight. :)

Partisan said...

Amy,

yes, the laws are very similar to Hostile Climate laws in the US.

However, the complainant must have a case based on actual damages and costs, not emotional ones. Having to pay for increased security, vandalism damages, etc.

and Mr. Levant, as a Publisher, is held in the same sort of position as an Employer who either fostered a hostile environment, or willingly allowed the allowed employees to create a hostile environment.

had Mr. Levant been acting as a private citizen however, he would have been immune from any claims, much like employees are.

Partisan said...

posted too fast,

The Human Rights Laws are similar to Hostile Climate rulings, but different, as it is not a suit in Court, but a hearing in front of a Civil body.

Canada's hate crime laws are more like adding additional sentencing to a crime for using a weapon,

and Canada's hate speech laws are more like "inciting to riot" laws, where the person who incited the riot, did not take part in the riot.

Lone Primate said...

The only Op-eds written about the application of the Oakes test were in fact the Kamloops Sentinel and the Calgary Herald correcting the false assertions regarding the Levant case.

I wasn't actually using the reference in the literal sense, but in manner in which Americans "plead the Fifth" without necessarily being in court. My meaning was that the application of the law doesn't seem to pass muster in the court of public opinion... it doesn't "pass the Oakes Test" among the hoi poloi.

but were very interested in seeing how many time they could use the phrase "Star Chamber".

That very same comparison occurred to me too. The prevalence of the image in the public imagination would tend to suggest that your opinion is not in keeping with the general inclinations of the country where the matter is concerned. This is not to say you're not entitled to your own opinion, but that in the long run it's unlikely to be the one that carries the day.

The law is not being misapplied.

I don't think the public agrees with you. Your mileage may vary vis-à-vis the Kamloops Sentinel and the Calgary Herald.

If there is a substantive complaint

I believe you will find that this is the bone of contention. People do not seem to be in general accord with this assertion.

More than a dozen major Newspapers across Canada have done their studious best to avoid and evade that simple fact.

Another way of putting that is to say they don’t agree, and have stated the reasons for their objections. That’s the spin-free way of putting it, anyway.

Now, maybe the minimum bar for the criteria for a complaint to go forward, needs to be raised.

I think that’s the point the editorials you’re deriding are trying to make, actually. If the complaint didn’t seem trivial, even inimical to public discourse, it’s unlikely that most of the major newspapers in the country would be of a like mind in raising the red flag.

Partisan said...

lone primate,

interestingly enough, L-Girl's most recent post is about how one paper, after hyping crime fears after crime fears, sensationising the stories, building a climate of fear, ran a realty check,

sensationalism sells papers.

If Mr. Levant is found liable, then many papers have a problem.

In our neck of the woods, incindary stories, infammatory Op-Eds and "exposures" of convicted sex offenders living the the communities, have lead to houses being burned and people being driven out of the community for fear of their lives.

If Mr. Levant is found liable, then too, could not some of these papers?

If you can't publish highly infammatory op eds on suspected crack houses, suspected meth labs or paroled sex offenders living in the community, what will they publish?

In Canada, Media is even more consolidated than in the US. There is a reason why in many of our major and minor newspapers, you will never see an acticle or op-ed critical of Israel. That is because it is Editorial Policy imposed by the owner of one of Canada's largest Media Conglomerates.

Even though an overwhelming majority of Canadians (over 80%), were against the Iraq War, a large number of Editorial pieces were calling for Canada to go to war with Iraq. Some became quite shrill and brutal. I remember one in the Globe and Mail, Canada's Largest newspaper, read coast to coast, a fixture in the Business Community, arguing that the US was going to go to war anyway, and Canadians were fools to pass up the chance to grab a chunk of Iraq.

If the Media were held liable for misinforming the public and hyping non-issues into issues, there would be an awfully large number of court cases out there.

"I don't think the public agrees with you. Your mileage may vary vis-à-vis the Kamloops Sentinel and the Calgary Herald."

Op-Eds are not a statement of public opinion. They are a printing of the opinion of the Editorial Board or the Ownership of the paper.

Letters to the Editor are a statement of public opinion, subject to the views and editing of the Editorial Board. You can send them a letter, but they don't have to print it.

When Op-Eds "catch" with public opinion on what the public see as important matters, Newspapers often run a cycle, Op-Ed, letters, another Op-Ed, building a kind of public opinion feeding frenzy.

Mr. Levant's case however, fell quite quickly from the Media eye. If you look at the letters to the Editor section of the Globe and Mail, who ran in my opinion, the most inflammatory Op-Ed regarding the Levant Case, they published two letters.

One, decrying the State Chamber treatement of Mr. Levant, the other, politely correcting the hype in the Op Ed, expressing the opinion that it is about time Mr. Levant was taken out to the woodshed, but that this time is probably not it.

After that, it got quiet.

"I think that’s the point the editorials you’re deriding are trying to make, actually. If the complaint didn’t seem trivial, even inimical to public discourse, it’s unlikely that most of the major newspapers in the country would be of a like mind in raising the red flag."

The complainant has seen the complaint. The HRC has seen the complaint, and Mr. Levant has seen the complaint, but he is not allowed to publish it or leak it.

The only fully informed opinions out there on if the complaint is reasonable or not are the complainants and Mr. Leveant's. Now I would not trust Mr. Levant's good judgement on this matter, based on his history. I also would not trust Mr. Levant's opinion based on the fact he is the defendant.

I wonder where the Globe and Mail got their opinion of the reasonableness of the complaint, seeing as how they have not seen it?

I wonder if Mr. Levant's status as a former employee and one of their Media Stars, the relationships he built at the paper, has an impact on their opinion?

I don't trust the opinions of the complainant, either.

I think I will wait until the HRC comes out with their opinion.

L-girl said...

In Canada, Media is even more consolidated than in the US.

I don't think this is correct. Can you back up this claim with evidence?

M@ said...

Partisan, are you aware that Blogger is a free service? You could start your own blog for free and post your long-winded ramblings there without annoying anyone at all.

I'm mystified as to why you think you should impose a 1300-word post on someone else's blog. The host of this blog has made it quite clear they're unwelcome; I can attest that they are annoying.

It's gone quite beyond the original post and discussion. You're simply being rude, and ought to stop.

redsock said...

Op-Eds are not a statement of public opinion. They are a printing of the opinion of the Editorial Board or the Ownership of the paper.

Those are editorials.

Op-Eds are opinion pieces written either by regular columnists for the paper or by outside writers who have either submitted an opinion piece or are asked by the paper's editorial board to submit something. They can agree or disagree with the paper's stance on the issue.

Letters to the Editor are a statement of public opinion, subject to the views and editing of the Editorial Board. You can send them a letter, but they don't have to print it.

Thanks for explaining what a letter to the editor is and, indeed, how the process works.

When we ask you to stop lecturing us, this is fine example of what we are talking about.

L-girl said...

Thanks, M@.

As you can see, I gave up. Perhaps some reinforcement from other wmtc readers will have an effect. Although Allan's and TheIronist's annoyance had no effect, so maybe that's wishful thinking on my part.

It is very rude to post such lengthy comments on other people's blogs - but it is convenient for the commenter. It allows him to glom onto an already-established readership, rather than taking the time to build his own.

If you followed the exasperating discussion argument in the earlier thread, you'll see Partisan is unfamiliar with blogg etiquette. He refers to "the ignore function" - and when he's called on it, acts as if he meant something different - and tries to expound on "what most bloggers do" with their comments. Yeah. Most of the 50,000,000+ blogs out there.

So perhaps Partisan simply doesn't know that it's impolite to post such long-winded lectures on other people's blogs.

Or perhaps he's just a jerk.

Or both!

redsock said...

You could start your own blog for free

Indeed. I see that

http://letmetellyouhowtheworldworks
andhowyouarewrongoneverysingleissue
andohbythewayiam72yearsoldandthus
amaboreyourearsoffknowitall.blogspot.com

is available.

L-girl said...

ROFL

M@ said...

I have been following the discussions there and here, though I admit I glazed over by the end of the first post by Partisan.

I figured it wouldn't hurt to have him hear from someone who hasn't contributed to the subject matter, lest he think the objection stemmed from "misundertanding" his point.

Incidentally, if Partisan would like a complete and exhaustive explanation of how to start a blog, he is welcome to post his e-mail and I'll gladly provide him with it.

redsock said...

Let's note the first words Mr. P typed when coming to this blog:

"one thing that most American's don't understand, and probably never will understand ..."

Now that's the way to start a robust discussion!

L-girl said...

I have been following the discussions there and here, though I admit I glazed over by the end of the first post by Partisan.

Truth be told, I haven't been able to finish any of his posts, except when we were sniping back and forth. Being lectured by know-it-alls is one of my least favourite pursuits, and not something I enter into voluntarily.

L-girl said...

Let's note the first words Mr. P typed when coming to this blog:

"one thing that most American's don't understand, and probably never will understand ..."


Even beyond the misplaced apostrophe, it's a statement of such sweeping arrogance and pompousness, that he's really no better than the raving wingnuts this blog used to attract.

Notice how now that he's arguing with a Canadian-born Canadian (Lone Primate), he's dropped that bit of reasoning.

Partisan said...

"Canada
Radio and television ownership in Canada is governed by the CRTC. The CRTC does not regulate ownership of newspapers or Internet media, although ownership in those media may be taken into consideration in decisions pertaining to a licensee's broadcasting operations.

Apart from the public Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and community broadcasters, media in Canada are primarily owned by a small number of companies, including CTVglobemedia, Canwest Global, Rogers, Shaw, Astral, Newcap and Quebecor. Each of these companies holds a diverse mix of television, cable television, radio, newspaper, magazine and/or internet operations. Some smaller media companies also exist. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_of_media_ownership

A list of the Media companies in Canada

http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/294381

"Journalists Question Media Ownership in Canada
by Dru Oja Jay

Canadian Journalists hope to avoid the fate of Italy, where Prime Minister Berlusconi controls the largest newspapers and broadasters.

"Media concentration is worse in Canada than in other industrialized countries; in New Brunswick, way worse." Spoken by American media economics expert Robert Picard, this statement set the tone for a day-long discussion on media ownership."

http://www.dominionpaper.ca/accounts/2003/11/10/journalist.html

L-girl said...

US media family tree

redsock said...

In Canada, Media is even more consolidated than in the US

Mr. P: Nothing you posted shows a comparison of consolidation of Canada media versus the US media. Your snips talk only of Canada.

L-girl said...

Mr. P: Nothing you posted shows a comparison of consolidation of Canada media versus the US media. Your snips talk only of Canada.

And this

"Media concentration is worse in Canada than in other industrialized countries; in New Brunswick, way worse." Spoken by American media economics expert Robert Picard

does not count, as it's not quantified. It's just a statement by a supposed expert. Anyone can make a statement saying A is worse than B.

Partisan said...

in the previous thread, L-Girl said:

(and as it is posted, it in no regards can be considered private communication)

"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."

So as you can see, I am rather torn as to what to post in this thread in response to comments addressed to me.

If I respond to redsock's posts in kind, then, I am in violation of Comment rules, subsection 1, sub rule #1.

If I respond directly to L-Girls post, then this comment will be deleted.

It is quite the Kafkaesque situation considering some of the posts regarding Hostile Climate and Absolutist Free Speech.

If one has access to a University computer, The UBC School of Journalism has quite a few articles and studies on Media Consolidation, the narrowing of opinion and even the repression of ideas.

There is of course the Can West controversy,

http://www.montrealnewspaperguild.com/canwestlinks2.htm

but of course, none of this is absolutist fact, as there is very little of that in the world.

One could of course, do some research, do some reading and form ones own opinion.

But that of course would be less "fun" than other forms of behaviour.

L-girl said...

Partisan, my request was for you to not address me personally. If you want to respond to something I've written - as you did in your previous post in this very thread! - you can certainly do so without prefacing it with a speech.

Or can't you?

One could of course, do some research, do some reading and form ones own opinion.

You made a claim as a statement of fact. "In Canada, Media is even more consolidated than in the US" is not an opinion. It's either true or false.

Redsock and I both doubt the veracity of this claim, and we're asking you for evidence. Can't provide any so you're substituting with lame taunts? What a surprise.

When you make a claim around here, be prepared to back it up. Folks here like facts.

L-girl said...

But that of course would be less "fun" than other forms of behaviour.

I find nothing about you, your posts or my responses to your post "fun". Or fun.

M@ said...

I notice that Mr Partisan chose not to avail himself of my suggestion that he begin his own blog in preference to posting his inanities here.

How "surprising".

(Quotes make meanings indistinct! Therefore more fun! And "fun"!)

M@ said...

By the way, for the sake of Partisan:

"Blog" is a short form for "web log", referring to what was originally a form of online diary or journal. Web logs have progressed in the last few years to become an important and interesting means of communication.

"Blogger" is a web site and company that provides free tools to create such a web log at no cost to the creator. Blogger is owned by the well-known web search company Google, and is the provider for L-girl's fine site (also accessible from the URL, or Universal Resource Locator, wmtc.ca).

"Quotes" is a shortened term for "quotation marks", also referred to as "inverted commas". They are typically used to denote actual quotations, i.e. literal reproductions of a person's speech or writings. However, they can be used ironically to show that the typical meaning of the word surrounded by the punctuation is not to be taken, signalling to the reader that a different -- often opposite -- meaning is to be inferred.

"Principal" -- referring to one of your early comments (if not your first comment) in the previous thread -- means the first, lead, or head person in an organization; for example, the principal of a school is the top administrator and authority for that school. It is often confused with the word "principle", meaning a basic truth or assumption, as you did, twice, in your comment, making both your authority and your intelligence on suspect.

Please feel free to contact me for more information on how to start a "blog", how to do so using "Blogger", and how to identify and use such "principles" as decorum and decent behaviour, at your convenience.

redsock said...

Mr. P: Please put the sections of the other posts you are quoting/responding to in italics, as many of us do here. I find it very hard to figure out what are your words and which words you are quoting.

Put [i] at the beginning of the quote and [/i] at the end. However, use < and > instead of [ and ].

Use the letter i for italics and the letter b for bold.

Thank you.

redsock said...

One could of course, do some research ...

Yes, one could.

Especially when one has made a stark claim that someone else thinks is incorrect and has asked one for some factual basis for such claim.

In other words, get thee to a factorium -- and don't come back until you have some proof of your claim.

Partisan said...

M@,

thank you for you kind offer of assistance in setting up my own blog, I probably could have used the assistance in the late 1990's when I set up my first blog.

If you are offering unpaid assistance on some of the more obscure coding for capturing and embedding live video, I could probably use your assistance on the three blogs I have and the two group blogs I contribute to.

However, I see no need to create a blog entitled " Commenting on the we move to canada Blog", as there is a functioning comments field.

But thank you for your kind offer.

L-girl said...

Foolish, foolish Partisan, once again making claims but offering no evidence.

If you indeed own three blogs and contribute to two others, wmtc readers might well wonder why your profile links to none of those. Your profile created in January 2008 and viewed all of 9 times as I type these words.

Perhaps your blogs (or "blogs," as the case may be) are not hosted by Blogger. That is no matter, since Blogger allows commenters to sign in with user names from any platform. In addition to that relatively new function, Blogger has always offered the capability to link one's profile page to one's website, whether or not that site is hosted by Blogger.

If you are, as you claim, a veteran blogger, then you know that it is considered extremely poor form to post at a blog but not allow readers of that blog access to your own.

That kind of one-way communication is considered dishonest, even deceitful. It speaks of a lack of integrity - the inability or refusal to stand behind one's words.

Partisan, if your claim

the three blogs I have and the two group blogs I contribute to

is true, please offer proof of same. A link in this thread will suffice. (If you blog, then I'm sure you know how to create a link, not just paste in a URL.)

If you cannot provide such proof, your posts will no longer appear on this blog.

****

M@, please stop making me spit out my coffee. It's dangerous to laugh so hard while drinking a hot beverage.

M@ said...

So, Partisan -- what you're saying is that the content of my comments was not new to you, and I didn't need to give such long-winded explanations for such simple concepts?

Huh. How about that.

Well, like Laura, I eagerly look forward to a link to one or more of your blogs. I'm especially interested to learn whether you punctuate properly on them. If you would like information on the varied uses of the apostrophe (the small curled mark that one inserts, seemingly at random, near the end of some words), by all means let me know.

redsock said...

in the late 1990's when I set up my first blog.

That means that Mr. P was one of the first bloggers. Like, ever -- in the whole world11!!1!!

L-girl said...

That means that Mr. P was one of the first bloggers.

What an honour it is to be visited (and lectured) by such a trendsetter.

****

From the link Allan supplied above:

As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs.

In the "Ezra Levant" thread, I linked to an August 2006 CNET article that said Technorati was tracking 50 million blogs. That number more than doubled in 16 months!

But Partisan has the gall to lecture me - a mere noivce, blogging only since July 2004 - what "most bloggers" do with their comment sections.

Partisan said...

m@

"Well, like Laura, I eagerly look forward to a link to one or more of your blogs."

Sadly, that could be taken as a violation of this Blog's Comments rule, subsection #2, rule #4,

so, you will have to find my blogs based on their subjects and content, the same way I came here.

before you start:

" I'm especially interested to learn whether you punctuate properly on them. If you would like information on the varied uses of the apostrophe (the small curled mark that one inserts, seemingly at random, near the end of some words), by all means let me know.

I would direct you to this Blog's comment rule #3.

redsock,

point taken an so I will attempt to restate:

Some media observers,

-(after all, many, most, a lot, is a quantitative statement that must be backed up by statistical tables and may or may not include Chinese, Russian, French, etc)

-(observer's is a much less quialified statement than expert or authority which must be substantiated by documented education, experience and resume)

suggest that Canada's Media is more consolidated than the US's.

- (they claim, but with out access to their evidences and proof, and counterclaims and proofs, it can only be a suggestion ).

redsock said...

Sadly, that could be taken as a violation of this Blog's Comments rule, subsection #2, rule #4

Yo, P! The person who created the comment rule is asking for the links.

Thus, no violation. Trust me.

redsock said...

I will attempt to restate

Man, you are really full of shit.

M@ said...

Sadly, that could be taken as a violation of this Blog's Comments rule, subsection #2, rule #4.

If you're not willing to state what blogs you write on, why would you make such an assertion about your blogging experience? An unsubstantiated claim like that is even less convincing than no claim at all.

You are welcome to e-mail one or more of your links to me. My e-mail address, unlike yours, is in my blogger profile.

But really, your pedantry act is great. You'd be hilarious if I didn't think you were sincere.

L-girl said...

Partisan, I make the rules around here, not you, and I have no trouble enforcing them. I've never yet had to enlist the help of pompous poser blowhards.

And since you, predictably, failed to provide the link I requested, you have just posted your last comment at wmtc.

But don't feel bad. In the short time that you have been here, you have contributed nothing, enlightened nobody, and in general have been a useless bore. No one will miss you.

Buh-bye!

L-girl said...

Blog's Comments rule, subsection #2, rule #4

I assume this is a lame attempt to ridicule my comment policy. Recall how in an earlier thread he said "some bloggers post rules regarding what can be posted in comments". Then he found out I had such rules.

****

Isn't it interesting how someone who has been blogging almost since before there were bloggers can't use italics to distinguish quoted text from his own text?

****

What do you think, guys? Does he really think he's fooling us? Is he just too embarrassed to admit defeat? A clueless git? Some combination of the above?

I'd love the opportunity to observe some of these trolls through the safety of one-way glass, and somehow peer into their lonely psyches. Who are the GaryStJs and Partisans of the world? What drives them?

redsock said...

you will have to find my blogs based on their subjects and content

He's gotten much more verbose since 2002.

...

I vote for: Is he just too embarrassed to admit defeat?

...

He also said at one point that he was old and wordy and did not speak AOL-ese or whatever slang those crazy kids use today, then promptly used the term "presstitute" in talking about the media.

redsock said...

I hope he voted for you in the Blog Awards.

L-girl said...

I hope he voted for you in the Blog Awards.

But do you hope he "voted" for "me" in the blog "awards"?

L-girl said...

We have the Translucent Partisan, blogging from Australia (looks very interesting).

We have Partisan American, a supporter of John McCain's.

And there's The Happy Revolutinary, a Partisan also from Australia.

Sadly, none of these are a 72-year-old Canadian empowered to speak for the majority of his kind.

And thus ends the Partisan Era.

redsock said...

M@, you will be sharing P's emailed URLs with the rest of us, won't you? :>)

M@ said...

Oh -- absolutely. I kind of thought I might be banned here, though, for my egregious transgressions of the rules, as catalogued by the Departisan... surprisingly he's wrong there too, I guess.