Monday, May 12

Warning to Americans about Canada's Section 13

Think it can't happen here? Last week VDare published a report by Canadian FreeSpeecher Kathy Shaidle titled First they came for ... Canadian "Hate Speech" Totalitarianism.

Kathy's piece is a great summary of the Section 13 issue and provides important background on spectacular earlier cases related to Section 13, including Paul Fromm's.

At the end of the report VDare inserts a note about Senator Edward Kennedy's most recent attempt to pass U.S. federal "hate" legislation that is a blatant attempt to link freedom of speech with crime at the federal enforcement level. See this 2007 World Net Daily article on the issue.

Kennedy relies on a man named Alexander Tsesis for the rationale underpinning the hate crime legislation.

The name Tsesis will ring a bell for readers who looked through the list of expert witnesses called in Marc Lemire's Section 13 hearing. The Attorney General of Canada called Tsesis to bring his opinion to bear against Lemire's constitutional challenge to Section 13.

Mr Tsesis's opinion also plays a role in the arguments that Canada's Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has deployed in defense of Section 13.

Nicholson filed a brief on behalf of the Justice Ministry to further contest Lemire's challenge to Section 13. Today, Ezra Levant dissected some of the "junk history" that Nicholson invokes and adds this observation:
So who is this nut the government keeps quoting?

His name is Alexander Tsesis, a professor at a middling U.S. law school. Tsesis has two political clients: the Canadian Justice Department, and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachussets, tied with Barack Obama as the most left-wing senator in America. Tsesis is a left wing kook -- but the Canadian government hangs on his every word.
Why should Tsesis's views be supported by Canada's Conservative government? Ezra explains:
... the decision by the Justice Department to intervene was made before Rob Nicholson was the minister -- even before the Conservatives were the government. It was made when Irwin Cotler, the Liberal, was minister, if I'm not mistaken. Ever since then, federal lawyers have been beavering away in support of section 13, along with other tax-paid lawyers from the CHRC (and the gaggle of Jewish censors from the Canadian Jewish Congress, B'nai Brith and the Simon Wiesenthal Center).

Putting aside politics, if a previous Justice Minister instructed his lawyers to intervene in support of censorship, it's those lawyers' duty to do so until their instructions change. And, since the Conservatives have not yet changed course on section 13 -- or any other aspect of the Canadian Human Rights Commission -- it should not be surprising that Justice Department lawyers are still serving up the kind of junk history and psychobabble that is evident in this memorandum.
Now read the psychobabble and junk history, and realize it's only a matter of time, which will approach fast if Obama takes the White House, before an American version of Section 13 goes into effect.
9:00 PM Update:
The blogger Blazing Catfur has just sent me the following link with the comment that Anuj C. Desai does a good job of refuting Tsesis's thesis.

It turns out that Tsesis published a book in 2002 that is obviously the inspiration for the thinking behind Sen. Kennedy's hate legislation and the argument posed by Canada's Justice Ministry against striking Section 13.

The 2002 book is titled, Destructive Messages: How Hate Speech Paves the Way for Harmful Social Movements.

In his overview of the book Desai writes:
Alexander Tsesis sets forth a thesis about the relationship between what he refers to as “hate speech” and
action that follows from it. His broad claim about the relationship is simple and straightforward: When systematically developed over long periods of time, “hate speech” lays the foundation for harmful social movements that ultimately result in the oppression and persecution of “outgroups.”

From this premise he argues that United States courts should abandon the rule that advocacy or incitement must be likely to result in imminent harm before it can be constitutionally proscribed,7 and that legislatures should criminalize “hate speech.” He then concludes the book with a proposed statute to do just that. [...]
Here is the PDF of Desai's discussion, which is titled, Attacking Brandenburg with History: Does the Long-Term Harm of Biased Speech Justify a Criminal Statute Suppressing It?

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