Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

barrelling down the slippery slope and gaining steam

The Human Rights Commissions in Canada are under the microscope right now due to the Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant trials (to call them trials, even though they take place in buildings with the word "court" written on the door, is preposterous) proceedings. And while public attention is focused on those two, there are still other proceedings going on all the time. The latest ruling, in the Rev. Stephen Boissoin case, states in part that
Mr. Boissoin and [his organization] The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals. Further they shall not and are prohibited from making disparaging remarks in the future about Dr. Lund [the complainant] or Dr. Lund's witnesses relating to their involvement in this complaint. Further all disparaging remarks versus homosexuals are directed to be removed from current websites and publications of Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc.
The ruling goes on; it is fascinating reading, if one is fascinated by venality.

The ruling admits that "...there is no specific individual who can be compensated as there is no direct victim who has come forward seeking redress", and yet Boissoin must pay Dr. Lund $5000 because "Dr. Lund, although not a direct victim, did expend considerable time and energy and suffered ridicule and harrassment as a result of his complaint." [emphasis mine] Boissoin is also on the hook for up to $2000 of the complainant's witness's expenses.

Boissoin said some nasty things in his letter, but did not incite violence; he did not shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater where no fire was present; he did not write that homosexuals ought to be killed; he did not do anything but express his opinion in a letter to the editor of a small-city newspaper. And for that, he is not only out of pocket for up to seven grand to someone who was not harmed in any way by his words, but he is forever prohibited from exercising his right to free political speech. If the text of the ruling is followed to the letter, then if Boissoin even says in private email correspondence that "Lund is an asshole", Boissoin will go to jail for contempt of court!

These Human Rights [sic] Commissions are an abomination in a liberal democracy. In these hearings there is no presumption of innocence; truth is not a defence; fair comment is not a defence; freedom of speech as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not a defence; all costs for a legal defence are borne by the defendant but the costs for prosecution are borne by the government; no harm must be demonstrated in order for a conviction and subsequent financial compensation to the complainant; no rules of evidence apply; the cases may be tried in multiple jurisdictions simultaneously (Mark Steyn was exposed to of all things triple jeopardy, being tried in Ontario, BC, and soon in the Federal HRC); the complainant need not reside in the jurisdiction where the proceedings take place, nor even show up for the proceedings;"expert" witnesses do not need to have expertise in the field in which they testify, nor must their testimony actually be relevant; and the tribunal "judges" need not have any legal training at all, nor apparently any familiarity with the rule of law or the operation of a courtroom; there is no such thing as a speedy proceeding (Ezra Levant's case has been ongoing for over 800 days; Boissoin lost his case in November and the ruling came out on May 30). These HRCs are nothing short of kangaroo courts.

At one time, the HRCs were charged with redressing discrimination in things like housing and employment, but like a cancer they have spread to suppressing free political speech: Steyn's, Levant's, Boissoin's, and potentially even my own (I published the Danish Mohammed cartoons, like Levant, as well as an image of the Piss Christ "artwork"). Once, just once, I would like to have the slippery slope argument proven wrong. I won't hold my breath.