September 2008 Archives
The Canadian Human Rights Commission has said and done some pretty appalling things over the years, but one of their most-publicized embarrassments was when Dean Steacy, the CHRC "hate speech" investigator, famously testified that at the CHRC, "freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value."
You can look that quote up for yourself, right here in the May 10, 2007 transcript, at page 4793.
This has become an international embarrassment for the CHRC (and Canadians in general). According to Google, Steacy's quote has been reported on nearly 1,000 websites across Internet, and he still makes newspaper headlines, as in these examples.
That's because it's not only a fascist thing to say, it's staggeringly incorrect. It shows a wilfull ignorance of Canadian history and Canadian values. More than that, it shows an arrogance -- an arrogance that is congenital to the CHRC, from its chief Jennifer Lynch on down.
Last month, I submitted several questions about Steacy's comments to Richard Moon, the professor hand-picked by Lynch to give the CHRC a "review". They included these ones:
CHRC lack of respect for Charter values
33. Dean Steacy, the senior section 13 hate speech investigator for the CHRC testified that "freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value... It's not my job to give value to an American concept." Does Steacy's testimony represent the CHRC's view of freedom of speech?
34. If not, what is the CHRC's view of freedom of speech? Has that view been promulgated within the organization? Has Steacy been corrected in his view or disciplined? How?
35. If the CHRC has changed its view, or if Steacy’s view was a rogue view, have there been any changes to the way that Steacy and other section 13 hate speech staff operate?
36. Will the CHRC publicly state its new policy regarding freedom of speech to contradict the impression left by Steacy?
(You can see the rest of my questions here.)
Of all my questions, I thought those were the easiest. The CHRC had suffered such P.R. damage as a result of Steacy's buffoonery that I was certain the CHRC would take the occasion to clarify their support for freedom of speech -- even if they were lying, frankly -- by distancing themselves from Steacy's comments. Lynch herself tried to do some damage control on the subject back in June, when she said "I'm a free speecher. I'm also a human rightser." The use of the word "also" showed she was still dissembling: free speech is a human right. Her use of the word "also" betrayed the fact that she didn't get that, though she felt a need to identify herself as for free speech.
I thought they'd do the same with Steacy -- make a "clarification", if nothing more.
Well, I was wrong. Not only is the CHRC not backing away from Steacy's comment, they're defending it.
According to the closing arguments filed last week by the CHRC in the Warman v. Lemire "hate speech" case, Steacy was correctly enunciating CHRC policy: they don't believe in "freedom of speech" -- that's American. See paragraph 48 of their submissions, here.
Freedom of speech is part of freedom of expression. Speech is a form of expression -- the most common form. Is that really the best the CHRC can do to explain away Steacy's incorrect, bullying, and un-Canadian statement?
It goes without saying that foolishness is wrong. Here's Canada's Bill of Rights, in which "freedom of speech" is protected in section 1(d). Here's the Charter of Rights, in which section 2(b) guarantees "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication". To pretend that exhaustive list doesn't apply to speech is pure chicanery. Here is a list of over 200 Supreme Court of Canada cases on "freedom of speech", many of which predate the Charter.
The CHRC's bizarre explanation is laughable. They don't even dare quote Steacy's comments, because they're so awful for normal people to read. So here they are again, in context:
MS KULASZKA: What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate one of these complaints?
MR. STEACY: Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value.
MS KULASZKA: Okay. That was a clear answer.
Why this is important
I write about this not just because it shows just how intellectually illiterate the CHRC is, and how bankrupt they are when it comes to understanding real human rights, and how much of a menace they have become to real human rights. I mean, the fact that the lead "hate speech" investigator actually thinks that free speech isn't a Canadian value is terrifying; the fact that he thinks you can have some Orwellian freedom of expression without free speech is just, well, stupid. There's no other way to say it. It's stupid to think freedom of expression doesn't include freedom of speech. And this is the man who's protecting us, apparently.
But that's not why this is important. This is important because it shows just how incorrigible the CHRC is, how unreformable they are, how unredeemable they are. This shows that they're willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars -- for surely that is at least what the cost of the legal factum prepared by CHRC's hired gun, Margot Blight, has cost taxpayers -- to stubbornly defend Steacy's illiberal, pseudo-intellectual ramblings.
I thought they'd cut that foolishness loose, and grudgingly acknowledge that freedom of speech is important -- and then add in some bumf about how the fake "right not to be offended" was more important. But they wouldn't even do that. They have doubled down on Steacy's fascist hand. They are digging in. They are standing by their man: freedom of speech isn't Canadian.
This is gross. It's long past a national embarrassment; it's an international embarrassment. But it's precisely this mule-like stubborness that's going to cause the CHRC to lose.
Severely normal Canadians reading the CHRC's weird attempt to de-Canadianize free speech will scratch their heads and say: "who the hell are these petty tyrants?" And legislators who are now starting to look at Canada's out-of-control HRCs, too, will realize that the rot has gone so deep, they're beyond pruning -- they must be pulled out by the root.
The CHRC's fascist submissions in the Lemire case are a scandal. That's bad for Lemire. But it's good for political reform. The CHRC has closed ranks with one of their most embarrassing poster boys, Dean Steacy. His shame is now Jennifer Lynch's. I feel like we're a step closer to winning.
I've written before about how in the 1960s the Canadian Jewish Congress spent its donors' money building up the "Canadian Nazi Party" as a straw man for them to later bravely knock down, with cameras rolling. It all made no sense if the CJC's goal was to make the country safer for Jews; it made a lot of sense if the CJC's goal was to usher in powerful new censorship laws for its own use, and to write dramatic fundraising letters -- in other words, to perpetuate the symbiosis between themselves as "victims" and fake Nazis as "victimizers".
I recently came across this 1965 video clip in the CBC's archives, from the old show This Hour has Seven Days. It doesn't involve the CJC fabricating a Nazi threat. It involves the CBC fabricating a Nazi threat. It was one of the strangest things I've ever seen.
The clip opens up with Larry Zolf interviewing a 20-year-old kid, dressed in a neat suit, standing on Yonge Street in Toronto handing out anti-Semitic pamphlets. The clip was fascinating -- not only how polite the kid was, but how polite bystanders were when they denounced him as "mentally defective". The purpose of the clip, and the entire segment, was to terrify Canadians about the neo-Nazi threat.
I've never seen such politeness; the crowd around him was so earnest in their defence of Jews and their debunking of his cockamamie theories. At one point, Zolf asked the kid if he supported Hitler and Mussolini, and the kid refused to answer, out of, I don't know, shyness maybe, or maybe a sense that he knew he was doing something wrong. His silence on that question, a mere 20 years after the end of the Second World War, was met with boos and groans all around. This kid wasn't convincing anybody. But you can't bring in hate speech laws without trumping up a threat, and the CBC was happy to play its part.
Next up was Carl Stern, a "Montreal psychiatrist" who testified about a disease he called "group hatred". Yes, this was a medical condition. Viewers were treated to the most bizarre theories dressed up as medical science; my favourite was Stern's declaration that people in the U.S. South who lynched Blacks had been found to be "full of very abnormal sexual conflict" themselves -- that's why they did it. Uh, thanks for the kooky theory, doc. I'm sticking with "they're racist". The 20-year-old kid came across as plain stupid. He looked like a well-dressed deer in headlights. But the 60-something "psychiatrist" was the truly scary one -- frankly his pseudo-medical analysis of politics struck me as the more Nazi-like presentation.
Justice Minister Guy Favreau was interviewed, describing his creation of the Cohen Committee, that later recommended Canada's censorious hate speech laws. What's so depressing is that both the hosts and Favreau himself acknowledged that there was no scientific basis to think that the "hate" they were hyping was spreading at all. So what -- governments crave power like drunks crave liquor.
The next clip is what truly caught my eye. It was an interview with John Ross Taylor. I knew little about Taylor other than what I read in his Wikipedia entry, and the hate speech case at the Supreme Court that bears his name. Taylor was the first Canadian convicted under the section 13 hate speech laws of the Canadian Human Rights Act, and he served nine months in jail for refusing to submit to it. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1990, when Ross was 80 years old.
This interview of him was when he was 55. It was filmed in his country home. Like everyone else in the segment, he was dressed formally.
I listened to his interview and found myself, again, laughing. His incoherent philosophy was such a mish-mash of ideas -- mainly fascism, but with splashes of everything including direct democracy thrown in -- that I couldn't imagine anyone taking him seriously, other than perhaps the 20-year-old kid on Yonge Street.
Taylor talked about sending the Jews to... Madagascar. He said we should model our political leadership after moose leadership. Yes, moose: that two bull moose meet, and the stronger one beats the weaker one, and that's how we should select Canada's leader. This laughable man -- who presented himself with the graveness of Winston Churchill -- was the threat in the face of which our freedom of speech was destroyed by the government. This man -- who, fifteen years later, was reduced to handing out pamphlets asking people to call his phone answering machine, to hear a "hate" message about Jews -- was sentenced to nine months in jail for his ideas.
His ideas are nuts. No-one was persuaded by them. But he was the bullet in the gun fired by the CBC, the CJC and the Canadian government.
The segment ended with another quote from the nutty psychiatrist. "Dr." Stern said that, in his medical opinion, hate was a germ. That's right, a germ. And that people like Ross were able to "create epidemics". Unfortunately, said the CBC's expert, love wasn't a "germ", so we couldn't create a love epidemic.
I've never seen such a barrel full of baloney in my entire life. The whole show was one big set-up. From a lonely high school drop-out on Yonge Street and a lonely fascist in the woods of Ontario, the CBC claimed Canada was in a hate epidemic -- spread by germs. And the next decade, Favreau's committee had punched a hole in our freedom of speech. We're still digging out of their mess 40 years later.
The Jews weren't sent to madagascar. Anti-semitic protesters don't wear suits anymore. CBC reporters don't smoke pipes on TV sets while pouting. Though our politics have plenty of bull, there's not a lot of moose in them. And there aren't many fascists in power. That is, if you don't count the HRC censors themselves.