Wednesday, September 9, 2015

When It Comes to Free Speech, Some Jews Just Don't "Get" It

A crash course in "human rights"-type thinking is offered by one Lita-Rose Betcherman, a former "human rights" apparatchik whose letter to the editor appears in the September 10th issue of the Canadian Jewish News (link not yet available online). In response to the news that the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (unofficially, Canada's body of Official Jews) is opposing proposed Quebec legislation that aims to curtail "hate speech," the mightily affronted Ms. B. writes:
As a Jew and a former member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission for 11 years, I deplore the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs' criticism of Quebec's proposed legislation to combat hate speech, dubbing it an abuse of freedom of speech ("Quebec hate bill could stifle free speech, CIJA says," Aug. 27).
As the primary target of hate-mongering, for Jews to be an outspoken critic of Quebec's proposed legislation is enough to discourage governmental bodies from proposing similar legislation. Let us leave that position to our enemies.
As to the merits of the Quebec bill as drafted, its purpose is clear and with any judicious improvements, its effectiveness will emerge from its administration.
Spoken like a true believer in the efficacy of Canada's "human rights" inquisitions. The fact is, however, that what always--always--emerges from such measures is, to employ the most apropos and colourful lingo, do bupkes to protect Jewry, serve the interests of those who admire shariah-style speech restrictions, and end up biting us Jews in the tuches. (See, for example, the experience of attorney David Matas, who was subjected to a lengthy prosecution by Manitoba's "human rights" racket for saying something at a conference that offended a Muslim; at the time, her name was kept secret such that Matas and B'nai Brith Canada, the organization he represented, did not know who had lodged the official "human rights" complaint against them.)
It is heartening that CIJA, the organization that subsumed and replaced the Canadian Jewish Congress--for many years, one of the foremost opponents of free speech in the land--has twigged to the dangers of the anti-"hate speech" mishegas, and has spoken out against the proposed bill.
Someone else who was late to see the damage wrought by anti-hate speech provisions in Canada's "human rights" codes but who vociferously opposed them towards the end of his life, was Alan Borovoy. I wrote about him and his "aha" moment in a letter last week to the National Post, a response to this column by the great Barbara Kay (the letter was considered for publication but didn't make it in):
Some years ago, I attended a talk by the late Alan Borovoy, one of the architects of Canada's "human rights" apparatus. During the talk he lamented the fact that the system he, with the best of intentions, had helped animate, had taken a very wrong turn. Instead of concerning itself with adjudicating and eliminating instances of discriminatory practices in the areas of say, employment and apartment rentals, "human rights" had morphed into something monstrous, something that, shades of Orwell's 1984, was seeking to eliminate free speech, the human right that's a prerequisite for--and that safeguards--a free society. 
It seems to me that Jacques Fremont, in his guise as chief of the Quebec Human Rights Commission, is exactly the sort of lumbering Frankenstein monster that Mr. Borovoy--who, after all, was the "doctor" who gave the beast life--was warning us about. Given a little power, this "human rights" commissar isn't content with solving picayune instances of discrimination in daily life. He claims for himself the right to oversee nothing less than a complete overhaul of society such that an individual's very thoughts, should they go to a place that dares to question or criticize or question any aspect of one of the world's religions, would be deemed unlawful--a crime against the state. 
While I can't presume to speak for Mr. Borovoy, I am confident that he would decry this deplorable and frightening overreach by a "human rights" body, and encourage Quebecers and, indeed, all Canadians to do the same.
Alan Borovoy, "human rights" advocate extraordinaire, finally saw the light. Sadly, the likes of Ms. Lita-Rose Betcherman, Jew and former "human rights" commissar, as well as--go figure--David Matas, likely never will.

Update: The above is cross-posted at The Megaphone.

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