First They Came For… Canadian “Hate Speech” Totalitarianism Is Not New

May 06, 2008

Before December 2007, most
Americans had no idea that bureaucrats in their neighbor
to the north had been waging a war on free speech

for over a decade
.

Then well-known conservative
columnist and author

Mark Steyn
announced that he and Macleans,
Canada`s oldest weekly newsmagazine, were being charged
by a British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal  with

"flagrant Islamophobia"
for printing an excerpt
from Steyn`s book America Alone

At the same time,

Ezra Levant
, a lawyer and lifelong libertarian
pundit based in Alberta, was brought before an Alberta

 Human Rights Commission
tribunal for his own

"crime"
:
publishing the controversial

Danish "Mohammed"
cartoons (his Western
Standard
, now defunct, was one of only two Canadian
publications to do so.) Ever media savvy, Levant
videotaped his defiant opening statement—and

uploaded it to YouTube.com.
Over a half-million
views later, Levant was a free speech hero.

(At least on the internet. U.S.
media bellwethers like the New York Times and
Washington Post
still don`t seem to have reported
the story.)

Levant and Steyn are campaigning
for a drastic overhaul of Canada`s "human rights"
bureaucracy, which dates from the 1970s and has
mission-creeped from investigating housing and
employment discrimination to suppressing politically
incorrect speech. Recently, a

Christian printer
was fined for declining to print
gay activist propaganda, and a

Catholic bishop
was harassed with a human rights
complaint for a

pastoral letter
explaining Catholic teaching on
homosexuality—

filed
as part of a

"gay marriage"
publicity stunt.

But the fact is that a long
chain-gang of other Canadians—not as famous, articulate
or resourceful as Steyn and Levant and in some cases
positively insalubrious—have been persecuted and
punished for years because they`ve offended

Canada
`s politically correct

Trudeauvian Establishment
. But almost nobody
complained. This is a case where anti-Nazi German
theologian Martin Niemoller`s

much-cited lines
("They came first for the
Communists, and I did not speak up because I wasn`t a
Communist"
) really apply.

For example,

Paul Fromm
.

The
former schoolteacher`s problems started back in 1994,
when his employers, The

Peel Region Board of Education
, learned about the
far right company he kept outside the classroom.
After thirteen years of litigation, Fromm was stripped of his
license to teach, although it was conceded he had never
promoted his views in the classroom.

Now,
given their druthers, libertarian human rights champions
would have chosen a more ideologically photogenic poster
child than Paul Fromm. Many articles claiming to detail
Fromm`s far right activities have appeared in
Canada`s admittedly liberal media over a period of more
than thirty years. (See his—very volatile—
entry
on Wikipedia.)

Nonetheless, Fromm had a few respectable supporters,
too, because the circumstances of his dismissal were
nothing less than

Orwellian
.

A
particularly eloquent condemnation of Fromm`s fate
appeared in the Calgary Sun in 1997—written
by…Ezra Levant:

"Three
years ago, Fromm was investigated to see whether he was
infecting his classrooms with his own
ideologies. He was exonerated. Its sole condemnation:
that Fromm`s political activities outside of school
`were inconsistent with the fundamental or core values`
that a teacher was supposed to teach…

"Fromm
is
not using his classroom as a pulpit
. According to
Fromm`s employers, Fromm had `demonstrated a profound
disrespect for the principles of multiculturalism and
ethnocultural equity.`

"But it
is the Peel

educrats
, not Fromm, who have demonstrated a
profound disrespect for our traditions of free speech
and political association."
[

Free Speech Is Too Important
, by Ezra Levant
Calgary Sun,
January 17, 1997]

Others
grudgingly (albeit quietly) appreciate

Fromm`s one-man campaign
against

Canada`s Human Rights Commission "thought police"

in general and in particular one of its former
employees, lawyer

Richard Warman
, who has in effect made a profession
of filing complaints.

This
campaign is Canada`s quintessential  "why can`t they
both lose?"
free speech case, our very own
chilblained

Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell
, while lacking
the latter`s peerless entertainment value.

U.S. columnist
Paul Jacob`s distilled
description
(December 9, 2007) of the rancorous Warman-Fromm relationship is impossible to improve upon:


"What did Warman do? He filed
numerous complaints against `hate speech` websites, and
the government took many of those sites down….


"Paul Fromm…has repeatedly
called Warman an `enemy of free speech.` And similar
things.


"And so what did Warman do?


"He sued.


"For libel.


"And won.


"And was awarded $30,000.


"Why? The judge ruled [PDF]
that a government official working from duly enacted
government policy cannot be an enemy of free speech.
That`s just unthinkable!


"Yes, in Canada you may not
speak the truth about free speech to its official
enemies. In Canada, the reason why we must defend even
the most vile speech and writing becomes clear: because
suppression of it eventually leads to the inability to
criticize government.


"You know you`ve lost your
freedom when you cannot call a censor a censor."

Perhaps
because of the difference between

U.S. and Canadian libel law,
Paul Jacob hasn`t yet
been sued by Richard Warman for writing that. Neither
has Eugene Volokh, who brought his considerable legal
acumen to bear on his

blog post
analyzing the judge`s decision:

"It
seems to me that Fromm was simply expressing opinions
that the court disapproved of—that people who try to
restrict `hate speech` are `enem
[ies] of free
speech,` that people who are punished for hate speech
are `dissidents,` that people who for ideological
reasons use the law to restrict speech they disagree
with are ideologues who want only to deny freedom of
speech to those with whom they disagree. Who is an
`enemy of free speech` obviously turns on the speaker`s
view of free speech, and the view that he expects his
audience to share, or that he wants to persuade his
audience to share. Who deserves to be labeled with the
generally positive term `dissident` depends on what
dissent the speaker believes to be legitimate and
morally proper.

"Yet
the Canadian justice system not only allows the
suppression of certain viewpoints, and excludes them
from free speech restrictions. With this case, it also
tries to deny critics the right to label the speech they
support `free speech,` and the dissenters they like
`dissidents.`

"The
court is insisting that Canadians` speech not only
follows the government-approved ideology on the topic of
race, ethnicity, and religion (an ideology that I agree
with, but that I don`t think should be legally coerced).
It is also insisting that Canadians` speech follows the
government-approved ideology and terminology on the
topic of free speech itself."

Volokh
found another case, Warman v. Beaumont, which was
decided a month after the Fromm case,

particularly troubling
:

"Much
of the complaint was about expressly racist, anti-gay,
anti-Semitic, and otherwise bigoted speech; as blog
readers know, I believe even such speech should be
protected, but there`s little new at this point in
Canada`s restrictions of such speech. (…)

"But the
Canadian Human Rights Commission and Mr. Warman
apparently do take this view. According to them, the
statement `I don`t care if it`s a religious thing or
not, if you don`t want to follow our rules, even if it
is taking off your scarf thing for one lousy picture,
then stay out of my effing country!`
may be legally
suppressed, on the grounds that it`s "likely to expose
persons to hatred or contempt on the basis of religion."
If the Commission had its way, how far further down the
slope would Canada slip?"

Ironically, Volokh asked that
question just before Steyn and Levant found themselves
slipping right down that very slope.

But this was a question that
Canadian columnist

George Jonas
has been asking for

decades
. Again and again, Jonas has

warned
his fellow journalists that one day, when
they ran out of "white supremacists" to silence,
the Human Rights Commissions would

turn their attentions to them
. Jonas

wrote back in April 2006:

"Even a
chief architect of the concept, Alan Borovoy,

general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties
Association,
is beginning to notice the hideous
chickens coming home to roost in his barnyard. `During
the years when my colleagues and I were laboring to
create such commissions,` he

wrote last month in the Calgary Herald,
 `we
never imagined that they might ultimately be used
against freedom of speech.`

"Borovoy
should have imagined it, partly because it was
self-evident, and partly because I told him so during
our discussions of the subject some twenty years ago. We
argued about it nearly every Saturday in the late 1980s,
sitting with friends in a Toronto cafe. It seemed to me
then, as it seems to me now, that Borovoy`s crowd of
left-leaning liberals could imagine all right how the
`human rights` laws they promoted could be used against
somebody else`s freedom of speech—some conservative
fuddy-duddy`s, for instance. What Borovoy`s brand of
`progressive` cosmopolitans couldn`t imagine was that
their laws might one day be used by conservative
fuddy-duddies—even veritable clerical-fascist
imams—against their own freedom of speech."

Of course, Canada`s liberal
commentariat didn`t care about this incremental erosion
of their God-given rights, and neither did average
Canadians—whose prejudices they largely share—because
the victims were "white supremacists",
conservative Christians and "homophobes".

The irony was noted by only a few,
such as the likes of Jonas (who, not incidentally,
survived both Nazis and

Communists
before

escaping
from his

native Hungary
): that in hunting "fascists",
the Human Rights Commissions and their supporters
eventually became the very thing they claimed to hate
most: freedom-hating, rights-squelching Nazis in
everything but name.

VDARE.COM NOTE:
In the U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy`s

latest attempt
to pass federal “hate”
legislation, by incorporating it into the National
Defense Authorization Act, was defeated on December 6,
2007. For a pro view, click

here
;
contra,

here
.

Kathy Shaidle (email
her) has been blogging since 2000, and runs the site

FiveFeetOfFury
.

She and Ezra Levant, along with other Canadian
conservative bloggers and writers
, are currently
being sued by…

Richard Warman
.