Canadian Jewish Congress believes that a line needs to be drawn between speech that is and is not worthy of constitutional protection.Yes, indeed, and in Canada we have such a line. It's known as the Taylor case, and in 1990 the highest court in the land ruled that, because of this chap Taylor's hatefulness, there should forever after be an asterisk beside free speech, one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed Canadians in our Trudeaupian Magna Charter. And the asterisk would say, in essence, what that Ceej line says--that some speech is so foul that it is unworthy of protection. And, further, that our "human rights" bodies should be the ones to decide for Canadians when and if that invisible line had been crossed. In the National Post, Karen Selick summarizes the familiar details of the insult and injury to our body politic that this well-intentioned but short-sighted ruling has wrought:
Accusations of anti-Muslim hate-mongering have been levelled against Maclean's magazine for Mark Steyn's commentary on immigration policy; and against Western Standard magazine and its publisher Ezra Levant merely for printing the notorious "Muhammad cartoons" as part of its news coverage.
Even B'nai Brith, a Jewish organization known for supporting the anti-hate provisions of human rights legislation, has been hit with a complaint.In other words, it is impossible to draw a line between speech that is constitutionally acceptable and speech that is constitutionally unacceptable. (The Supreme Court will now grapple with that fact as it reconsiders the Taylor ruling, the subject of the Selick piece.) When you try to do so, as both the Ceej and BB have discovered, you will inevitably be tripped up by the same line, as someone, hearing what you have to say, takes great umbrage, and decides that your speech is unworthy of protection.
While the complaints against Maclean's and Levant ultimately were dismissed, the accused parties had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars upholding their innocence -- money they'll never get back. Worse yet is the chilling impact those prosecutions have had on less stalwart souls than Steyn and Levant. The risk of being put through such an ordeal, even if one is ultimately vindicated, undoubtedly has diverted many a commentator into less hazardous topics of discussion.
Draw such a line and it will turn into a noose: it's as simple as that.
Update: Did Mark Steyn just call Canadian liberal O.J.s "half-wits"? Why, yes; yes he did.