Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BMF is NOT Amused

The National Post's Lorne Gunther wrote a piece in which he said, in essence, the Salman Hossain did indeed say hateful things about Jews and infidels, but so what? That's part and parcel of being able to speak freely in a free society; indeed, it's a function of how free speech works--i.e. people get to say offensive things even though some people are bound to get offended. Mess with that, and you're veering into treacherous (and potentially totalitarian) waters. In today's letters section, a vocal advocate of state censorship takes issue with Gunther's thoughts:

Crossing the line into hate speech

Re: Mere Hate Should Not Be A Crime, Lorne Gunter, March 12.

We wish that we could share Lorne Gunter's sanguine view that calling for the mass murder of Jews was merely "repulsive and hateful" rather than unlawful. While evil words do not always lead to evil deeds, the connection between statement and action cannot simply be brushed aside. Not every occasion where hateful words are publicly expressed will be found to attract criminal consequences (witness the outcome in the matter of the late David Ahenakew), and that is as it should be, but advocating genocide, inciting violence and willful promotion of hatred do in our opinion cross that line.

Bernie M. Farber, CEO, Canadian Jewish Congress, Toronto.
Er, I'm confused. What evil deeds resulted from Ahenakew's evil words? None. (Whereas the hateful words in the Koran about the Jews' evil deeds continue to do no end of harm--are you suggesting we censor  them?) And what's up with the palaver about Dave's words not having "criminal consequences"? Sure, his conviction may have eventually been overturned--twice--but not before the dude was dragged through the courts for years. Doesn't that count as a "criminal consequence"?

And why does BMF seem to be approving of the way the Ahenakew hate speech case turned out?  Rather disingenuous, I'd say, since at the time of the court battles, BMF was certainly convinced that Dave had "crossed the line" and that the trespass should be punished. Why, now, does he seem to be backtracking?

Wait. Lightbulb flashing over my head. Could it be he's claiming all was "as it should be" (thanks, Candide)  in the Ahenakew affair because he doesn't want to say anything that might dissuade authorities from laying criminal hate speech charges against Hossain? (As if.)

Gotta love that royal "our," though. Very Queen Vicki.


Yariv said...

As I read this letter Farber says and I would argue 99.99% of decent human beings would agree that calling for the genocide of an entire people goes quite beyond the pale.

If you feel its OK to advocate mass murder well....

scaramouche said...

If it's "beyond the pale," why, then, do authorities refuse to do anything about the hate speech on view here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHgEjyaXwho&feature=related

That's kind of my point. There's a huge double standard which allows for, say, Muslim Jew-haters to say things that are "beyond the pale"00with few or now consequences--while the same kind of comments would get you in hot water if you happen to be, say, a First Nations leader. Who, Yariv, are we really fooling by claiming censorship is the way to go, the measure that will "protect" us from haters? Only ourselves, I fear.

Yariv said...

There remains a big difference between advocating hatred and calling for the mass murder of all Jews don't you think?

The Phantom said...

Same old straw man, "advocating atrocity is beyond the pale".

Not the issue! The issue, which Bernie seems incapable of grasping, is that giving government, ANY government, the power to control what people say is a bad, bad, bad idea. Because every genocide in history has been committed by a government, and every time the genocide was preceded by the power to censor speech. Oh, and gun control too. Bernie's all about the gun control as well, I recall.

Sadly, I don't think Bernie's failure is due to lack of smarts. He'd pretty much have to be doing it on purpose, at this point.

Yariv said...

Really Phantom...so you are ok with libel and slander laws being eliminated as you would be if someone urged others to murder Jews? Just want to be clear is all.

The Phantom said...

To be clear, you have just thrown up another straw man.

1) Libel and slander are laws which apply to -individuals-. Not groups, not racesl, not religions. You cannot libel or slander Judaism, you can only slander a living human.

2) Libel and slander laws have never been used, to my knowledge, as leverage to commit genocide. The same cannot be said of "hate speech" and other censorship laws.

I'd be perfectly fine with repealing libel and slander laws as long as the ban on dueling was repealed as well. I don't need Big Brother to do what I can do myself.