Sunday, October 2, 2011

How Can We Get Rid of State Censorship if the Prime Minister is Not On Board?

That question was posed by an NDP MP, for heaven's sake. Joe Comartin tells the Montreal Gazette that he doubts the private member's bill that would put the kibosh on Section 13, the controversial censorship provision of federal human rights statutes, will go anywhere because it doesn't have the backing of the guy at the top:
NDP justice critic Joe Comartin noted the House of Commons justice committee previously examined the issue and found the human rights code was a bit outdated and needed some revision.
But he disputes [the bill's sponsor, Alberta MP Brian] Storseth's argument that the section restricts free speech and must be abolished.
"I don't agree with him," Comartin said Friday.
He also questions whether the bill will receive support from Prime Minister Stephen Harper or the majority of the Tory caucus.
"I'm not sure about his analysis of the membership of his party," said Comartin, adding he hasn't heard Harper endorse the idea.
Conservative party members voted a few years ago at their annual convention in favour of a resolution to eliminate the human rights commission's authority to "regulate, receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints" dealing with hate speech on the Internet.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who oversees the human rights commission, voted for the resolution.
The prime minister, meanwhile, has said that "everyone has some concerns" about the issue and that it's a delicate balancing act to protect free speech without inciting hatred.
Whenever someone plays the "delicate balancing act" card, you know the balance has been tipped in favour of the censors and it's game over for free speech. The question is why Harper would play that card when, to the citizenry at large, Section 13 is pointless, useless and utterly superfluous:
On Friday, the Canadian Human Rights Commission said that complaints regarding hate speech account for slightly more than one per cent of those received by the quasi-judicial body.
Only two such complaints have been received since 2009, both of which were dismissed, said commission spokesman Craig Carson...
Then why the heck do we need it? If someone's speech is criminally hateful, it can be prosecuted in a regular court, where there's at least the presumption of innocence and rules that aim to keep the kangaroos at bay. We could easily chuck the section and no save the Farbers and Warmans of the land would ever miss it.

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