Is turn-around fair game?
Dean Skoreyko has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against Kenneth Hotz and Showcase TV for their televised stunt of flying a plane past Toronto pulling a giant banner reading "Jesus sucks", pictured at left.
The stunt was part of a television contest to see who could be the most offensive. Hotz claims he originally wanted to have a banner saying "Heil Hitler" or "Guys are stupid", but the airplane banner company refused, saying those messages were too offensive. Apparently "Jesus sucks" isn't.
The whole joke rather imploded on itself. It wasn't funny, but it wasn't even daring -- saying "Jesus sucks" is about as banal as it comes, especially in pop culture or "the arts". I mean, after Piss Christ or even the Da Vinci Code, is a two-word childish insult really that edgy? I thought Charles Lewis had a good treatment of the failed stunt, but he downplayed the timidity of taking on Jesus. Heil Hitler would have been edgier -- and perhaps even funny, coming from Hotz, a Jew himself. But that would likely have meant a tearful phone call from his mother, and Hotz isn't quite that brave. A human rights complaint or three might have emanated from that, too, not to mention trouble from the CRTC for airing same. So Jesus sucks it had to be.
"Mohammed sucks" wouldn't be funny, but it would have truly shown guts -- both as a political statement and as an act of personal courage -- it was precisely the sort of thing that got Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh murdered, and van Gogh was more nuanced.
Christians have turned the other cheek to this kind of things since, well, Jesus's time. He put up with rather more execration than a two-word insult. But Skoreyko is making an important point: if Canada's human rights industry will protect every other group from hurt feelings -- gays, Muslims, blacks, etc. -- will it also protect Christians, from such a clear and explicit attempt to offend them?
Hotz precisely meets the test of Canada's hate speech laws: what he did was "likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt". That's the wording in the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Alberta code, the B.C. code and other provincial HRCs. If Hotz was a skinhead, and the banner said "Jews suck", he'd already have had a human rights officer at his door, and probably a policeman, too.
I don't know Skorekyo, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't actually believe that he can get "justice" from the BCHRT. I don't think he wants it. I think he wants the opposite: he wants his case to be thrown out, so that he can prove what we all know to be true. In Canada's human rights industry, only certain political and religious views are protected from hurt feelings -- and Christians aren't one of them.
I have refrained from filing human rights complaints against my own antagonists, though they meet the test of bigots. Syed Soharwardy, the radical imam who first filed an HRC complaint against me, is an anti-Semite who also accuses Christian aid workers of kidnapping Muslim babies; he treats women at his mosque like they're back in Saudi Arabia; his website features quotations from terrorist leaders. He's a walking, talking human rights violation.
Same thing goes for Maclean's magazine's complainant, Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress, who has said every adult Jew in Israel is a legitimate target for a terrorist murder. He's an anti-Semitic bigot, crying out for an HRC complaint. Et cetera.
But to use HRCs merely to settle political scores is dangerous to everyone, because it strengthens the power of the state to censor political and religious ideas. That's the foolish mistake that the Official Jews of Canada have made for thirty years -- thinking that only their own enemies will be on the receiving side of that pain. Better late than never, the B'nai Brith has started to realize that the precedents they helped make are now being used by the Soharwardys and the Elmasrys of the world, against Jews and Zionists.
That's why I haven't done what Skoreyko has done, and I don't recommend it. But I rather think he knows his complaint will be dismissed -- and so it won't add to the already overwhelming weight of precedents in HRCs to censor political and religious views in the name of hurt feelings. I think Skoreyko is counting on the opposite happening: for his case to be dismissed summarily, without even a hearing -- as proof that the HRCs are biased and arbitrary, and that they believe in the Animal Farm credo that all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.