CHRC legal brief: Steacy was right, freedom of speech is "an American value"
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.