Electronic Frontier Canada says the Canadian Human Rights Commission should not attempt to control Internet content
Electronic Frontier Canada (EFC), Canada's premier organization devoted to the protection of freedom of expression in cyberspace, is opposed to the Canadian Human Rights Commission's current attempt to control the flow of information on the Internet.
In a series of hearings that began in Toronto on October 14th, a Human Rights Tribunal will attempt to decide if a California web site spreading Ernst Zundel's hateful messages is a discriminatory practice that falls under the jurisdiction and within the scope of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
EFC's opposition to the Commission's agenda should not be interpreted as support for Zundel. Like the vast majority of Canadians, EFC finds Zundel's anti-Semitic views ludicrous, grotesque, and offensive. However, in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, EFC believes that free speech means "freedom for the thought that we hate."
EFC believes the expression of controversial opinions, no matter how erroneous or repugnant, should be protected from government censorship by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"Of course, this doesn't mean that all speech is protected," says David Jones, EFC's president and a professor of computer science at McMaster University. "The Charter does not, for example, protect fraud, libel, or death threats, whether over the Internet or not."
"Expressions of opinion, and even claiming that the Holocaust is a hoax," adds EFC vice-president Jeffrey Shallit, "should be protected." EFC favours the repeal of all Canadian laws restricting hate speech.
"Laws intended to restrict 'bad' speech are often too broadly written, and have the potential to restrict genuine debate," explains Shallit, who is a computer science professor at the University of Waterloo. "Let's not forget that the Communications Decency Act was recently found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court," he says, "in part because it did not distinguish between 'obscene' speech and speech that was merely 'indecent'."
"I'm sure if the Commission thought it could prove that the Zundelsite fell within the legal definition of 'hate propaganda', as defined in sections 319 and 320 of the Criminal Code," says Jones, "then this would be a criminal proceedings (sic)."
"Instead," continues Jones, "the worst this Tribunal can decide is that publishing the web site is a 'discriminatory practice' under the Canadian Human Rights Act, that 'exposes people to hatred or contempt'." "It's a broader and more flexible legal concept, and the standard of proof is not as rigourous because the penalty that can be imposed is less severe."
"But on the other hand," says Jones, "if the Tribunal issues a cease-and-desist order and the web pages do not go away, Zundel might be jailed for contempt."
"I question whether it is a distortion of the judicial process, considering the eventual outcome may be the same, to allow the Commission to attempt to do through the back door what they could not possibly hope to achieve through the front door," says Jones.
"This is not about technology, not about jurisdiction, not about regulating the Internet, and not about setting legal precedents," asserted Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress during a recently televised debate on CBC Newsworld. "This is about punishing Ernst Zundel," he said.
"I'm sure some people would like to skip the hearing and go straight to the punishment," says Jones, "but the details really do matter in this case. This hearing is all about whether a government department can re-interpret an old law to give itself sweeping new regulatory powers over the Internet."...More than twelve years on, it's obvious that Jones had it right. The Official Jews want to "punish" the Zundels--all the Zundels, every last pimply loser logging onto an Aryan website; the Jews have convinced themselves that unless they conduct a search and destroy mission, "bad" Zundelesque words will inevitably give rise to bad Hitlerian deeds. And if punishing the Zundels entails throwing free speech to the slavering jackals and handing sweeping powers to a bunch of intrusive, power-hungry ideologues--in essence, assassinating free speech a mari usque ad mare--well, so be it. The Jews figure it's a small price to pay to afford them a feeling (a delusion, really) of security. Thing is, it's not a small price. It's a huge price. Collossal. One which no free society can afford--not if it hopes to remain free, especially in an era which finds the jackals trying to enshrine sharia rules re "free speech" (which can be summarized thus: shut up and submit, impudent kafirs) on a global scale.