Do we need a "war council" to fight the HRCs?
the weakness of the Free Speech movement is that it's not coordinated and there is no war council. That weakness is easily exploited by the movement's opponents.
I usually agree with her analyses, but not here. (I thought her use of the phrase "pre-crime" to describe the "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred" wording of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act was brilliant -- it showed the abnormalcy of criminalizing something that might or might not happen in the future.) But on her call for a war council, I politely disagree.
One of the advantages of freedom loving people -- as opposed to the centrally-planned groupthinkers who constantly beset us -- is that we think of ourselves as individuals. To use a leftist phrase, we "celebrate diversity" -- intellectual diversity, that is. A centrally-planned, command-and-control "war council" doesn't quite fit with our way of thinking. More to the point, it often doesn't work. I think it's a case where spontaneous order beats planned chaos. I think it's the nature of the Internet, too, and the nature of free speech itself: a messy cacophony that just happens to work better than the alternative.
Let me give you a practical example. Should we free speechers use the tactic of filing section 13 complaints against our opponents?
There are plenty of reasons why we should. It would be free, first of all. It would cause our opponents to waste time and money, and possibly demoralize them. It would tie up the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and the Tribunal, with busy work -- so they could do less harm to others. Carefully chosen complaints could demonstrate the absurdity of trying to outlaw hurt feelings. (I think of Steyn's observation that every music store in North America that has a "rap" section would surely violate the prohibition against the word n*gger.) It would be especially fascinating to tag supporters of HRCs with complaints themselves -- even to tag HRC staffers (and there are plenty of bigoted HRC staffers out there).
On the other hand (and this is my view) to file such complaints would legitimize an illiberal, unconstitutional, unfair process. It would further entrench precedents of political censorship. It would concede that HRCs are valid. And -- God forbid -- if the idea was to overwhelm and overwork the HRCs, there's always the chance that such an increased workload could lead to bigger budgets and staffs!
A central war council would have to choose one of these two approaches. I rather prefer the ability for me to decline to do so, but for Jay Currie to do so with gusto.
Another example is whether or not to fight this fight in court, and if so, how hard. The National Post has tried to avoid getting bogged down in court with Richard Warman, even going so far as to issue an apology to him (that didn't save them from a lawsuit from him, though -- in fact, it probably encouraged it.) I, on the other hand, look forward to squaring off with Warman in a real court, with real rules of procedure and disclosure, and with real laws interpreted by actual judges.
Who's right? We both are. The National Post has written more about the abuses of HRCs than any other Canadian medium. Why should they spend money on lawyers and spend time in court, instead of writing more great reports and editorials?
There are a hundred ways to fight HRCs. Some free speechers have more time than money -- they can do research, and even blog. Others have more money than time -- they can donate to the fights. Some have political connections -- they can press their MPs for change. Others have a facility with public speaking and writing -- they can call talk shows, or write letters to the editor. Still others are professional journalists themselves. I don't think that such a range of people could be "co-ordinated" even if one tried to do so.
I like the "multi-polar" approach that free speechers have achieved in the past four months. It wasn't too long ago that only a handful of voices were speaking out against HRCs. Now there are literally hundreds. There is a momentum, a synergy, that could not have been planned. From Binky and his excellent daily aggregation of news, to Old Jed's great songs (and awful voice), to the comedy of The Nose on Your Face and Iowahawk to the deep research of John Pacheco and the "rantings" of Rick Mercer, this couldn't be planned -- to plan it would be to limit the fight to the imagination and experience of a few "experts", rather than to invite the whole world to fight back in their own way.
It is exceedingly satisfying to me to behold the daily battle -- uncoordinated, unplanned, but enormously effective -- that is being fought by amateurs and volunteers. It truly has been a grassroots effort in every way -- fighting against 14 well-funded HRCs and their retinue of high-priced help. We are winning, and winning more and faster than anyone could have predicted.
Of course, there are de facto leaders of this fight -- people who write or think or do more about it than others. Steyn is an obvious example of such; I am too, in my own way; the others in the Freedom Five are, whether they like it or not (I don't think anyone likes being sued, but I think they're all going to fight like hell).
Keith Martin is an important leader; those Tory MPs and staffers who are trying, behind the scenes, to get the federal government to make changes, are silent leaders. Every talk show host and op-ed writers is a leader, too -- in the sense that denormalizing the commissions is the first step to building a public demand for change.
I'm not arguing against co-operation -- we saw a splended and generous example of that, with Steyn's day-long fundraiser. But I think that what we're building here is a grassroots revolt, a taking back of Canada's laws, a reassertion of Canadian values over alien values of censorship and political correctness. It is populist by nature, it is instinctive. Like many others -- like Pundita -- I'll continue to offer up my own ideas of strategy for this fight, on my blog. I'm sure Kate and Kathy and Connie and Mark and Debbie and Blazing Catfur and a dozen others will, too. We'll find our way to victory, probably by many paths, but all converging on the goal together. We're already well on our way, don't you think?