The implications of the Maclean's B.C. ruling can hardly be overstated with regard to the pending federal decision on Marc Lemire's constitutional challenge to Section 13. Is the B.C. ruling a feint in the face of Parliament's attention to the Section 13 issue? The cynics among us would say yes, but for now we celebrate the victory in British Columbia:
Joseph Brean, National PostThanks, Dave, for letting me know so quickly.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled today that a controversial article about Islam in Maclean's magazine did not violate the province's hate speech law.
In acquitting the magazine, the Tribunal ruled that the article, an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book America Alone in which he describes the demographic and ideological dangers posed by a growing Muslim population in the West, was not likely to expose Muslims to hatred or contempt.
The Canadian Islamic Congress, which brought the complaint, has previously failed in two other jurisdictions: Ontario, which said it did not have jurisdiction over printed material, and federally, where the complaint was rejected as without merit.
More to come.
Denyse O'Leary, a Toronto-based journalist and blogger has posted not only her comments but also also Mark Steyn's (note he'll be on Rob Breakenridge's show this evening to discuss the verdict) and a press release from the publishers of Kathy Shaidle and Pete Vere's The Tyranny of Nice -- the most important book on the free speech issue to date. The link is to a Western Standard excerpt from the book.
When the Maclean's hearing began in B.C. I observed something to the effect that what happened in the hearing room would help decide the course of Western civilization. The remark must have seemed laughable to people who were unfamiliar with the issues. If they've read The Tyranny of Nice I doubt they're laughing now:
Intellectual freedom in Canada: Mark Steyn, Maclean's acquitted
From Mark's blog:
"CANADA vs FREE SPEECHFREE AT LAST! (pending appeal)Their Marsupial Majesties at the British Columbia "Human Rights" Tribunal have dismissed El-Mo's complaint against Maclean's and voted unanimously to acquit the hatemongers:
The panel has concluded that the complaints are not justified because the complainants have not established that the Article is likely to expose them to hatred or contempt on the basis of their religion. Therefore, pursuant to s. 37(1) the complaints are dismissed.
We'll post the full ruling as soon as we can (the piece of wet string holding together New Hampshire's Third World Internet service fell down down during the night so we have a few technical problems). I'll be discussing the verdict later today after 6.30pm Mountain Time with Rob Breakenridge on 770 CHQR Calgary.
This is good news, but it is NOT a solution. Canadian journalists and publishers must not be dragged through kangaroo courts - in which civil liberties mean nothing - just because someone is offended by something they wrote.
Essentially all that happened was that they woke up and blinked when they realized that they were no longer trampling mere "little people." They may need to back off for a bit, plan their attack strategy better. That is as much of a victory for civil rights as Canada can manage at this time."
Update EST 3:09 PM: Here's the press release from the publishers of The Tyranny of Nice:
"MARK STEYN NOT GUILTY OF "FLAGRANT ISLAMOPHOBIA," SAYS TRIBUNAL AUTHORS OF NEW BOOK ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONS CALL VERDICT THE EXCEPTION WITHIN A SYSTEM STACKED AGAINST THE ACCUSED
TORONTO (October 10, 2008) -- Today, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal handed down a not-guilty verdict in the case of Maclean's magazine and its columnist Mark Steyn. The case, prompted by charges of "flagrant Islamophobia" made against Steyn and Maclean's by the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), focused critical attention on Canada's controversial Human Rights Commissions.
Today, the Tribunal ruled that Mark Steyn and Maclean's did not violate the human rights of the complainants merely by reporting facts and accurately quoting sources.
The Steyn trial, along with other lesser known but equally troubling cases, are chronicled in the new book The Tyranny of Nice: How Canada crushes freedom in the name of human rights, written by Kathy Shaidle and Pete Vere. Authors Kathy Shaidle and Pete Vere commented today on the verdict in the Steyn & Maclean's case:
"Unfortunately, this decision is only a partial victory for Mark Steyn, Maclean's magazine and every other writer and publisher in Canada. This Kafkaesque trial cost taxpayers dearly, while many Canadians struggle to make ends meet.
"More importantly, it cost Canada its international reputation as a free, just and tolerant country. While Steyn and Maclean's won, most defendants are found guilty; the HRCs boast of a nearly 100% rate of conviction. We can only hope that this case and all the others chronicled in our book will help make the continued existence of Canada's out of control, draconian Human Rights Commissions an issue in the coming federal election.
"If elected Prime Minister, what will Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, Jack Layton or Elizabeth May do to rein in the powers of human rights commissions and protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press?"
Kathy Shaidle (co-author): email@example.com
Pete Vere (co-author): firstname.lastname@example.org
4:25 PM ET
Journalist and blogger Deborah Gyapong weighs in and says a mouthful:
I haven't read the whole decision yet, only a few pages. But what struck me is how slippery and pompously legal-sounding it all is with all the "high-minded" talk about balancing rights.
It is strange how the right to be equal before the law has morphed in the looking-glass, Kafkaesque "human rights" world into equality rights that trump other all other rights. And it no longer means equal before the law and impartiality and innocent until proven guilty and all that good stuff but quotas and rights for special interest groups and the right to discriminate against Christian belief and practice and in the case of Steyn, fact-based opinion writing. That should give every columnist in the country a bad case of the libel chill flu.
Of course, if Mark Steyn were not Mark Steyn but some low profile Christian polemicist and Maclean's Magazine were not Canada's highest profile news magazine but some tiny circulation special interest publication or blog, I bet the verdict would have been different. The BCHRT, like the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) is picking its battles. It wants to survive.
It was also interesting that the BCHRT did recognize that freedom of expression is a Charter value, but stressed that the right to be free of discrimination is also not only in the Charter but in the Code. Like that gives it more weight or something. This is the balancing act and the Code gives more weight to the freedom from discimination thing, but, hey, we'll be magnanimous.
Gag me. Are we going to start hearing the Code spoken of with the same reverence in Canada as the Charter?
The Code is anti-Charter, unless the equality provision has, through legal sleight of hand, become the trump card for every other right through judicial interpretation. I don't think that's what the framers intended. And it certainly is not in our civil rights inheritance that preceded the Charter. [...]
October 13 UPDATE
There are so many posts as a result of the ruling that I'm going to cheat and post a list of commentators I cribbed from Binky's Free Mark Steyn! site. Visit his site for the links to the following sites:
Still Even More Post-Trial Links
P2BC: Maclean’s and Mark Steyn: off of the fascist BC “human rights” commission kangaroo court hook
Paul Tuns– Mark Steyn & Maclean’s ‘not guilty’
NROTC– Re: Complaint against Steyn dismissed
Pete Vere on Steyn verdict: both sides got screwed. Shaidle: My PajamasMedia piece on the Mark Steyn verdict
Memo to FAIR: Steyn not guilty of “Islamophobia” — but free speech still in jeopardy
Ed Driscoll– Steyn Survives The Tyranny Of Nice
OVERLAWYERED– Update: B.C. tribunal dismisses Mark Steyn case
HUGH HEWITT: Victory for Mark Steyn
INSTAPUNDIT: “Canada has done more than most to give “human rights” a bad name. Surely freedom from assault by bureaucratic pecksniffs is a human right of the first order”
Mark Steyn wins against sock puppets and perversion of ‘human rights’ » Winds Of Jihad
Mark Steyn Victorious… But Don’t Celebrate Yet
Mark Hemmingway on Steyn
The Macleans complaint has come to a conclusion
Mark Steyn’s first interview after his “aquittal” for “hate speech”; (Audio) Mark Steyn on Maclean’s BC Human Rights Tribunal dismissal
FREAKISH CATFUR has lost more linkeries
StoogeLeft: Three Great Things About the Dismissal of the Mark Steyn HRC Complaint
“I sympathize with the Canadian Islamic Congress, whose mouthpiece feels that, if the British Columbia pseudo-judges had applied the logic of previous decisions, we’d have been found guilty. He’s right: Under the ludicrous British Columbia “Human Rights” Code, we are guilty. Which is why the Canadian Islamic Congress should appeal, and why I offered on the radio an hour ago to chip in a thousand bucks towards their costs.”
~ Mark Steyn ~
Flaming Catbox Links
FiveFeetOfFury issues Press Release
Andrew Coyne is blogging on the decision.
Ghost of a Flea
Jack of Hearts
Small Dead Animals
National Post, Joseph Brean
Blogging for a Free World
Free Mark Steyn
Marginalized Action Dinosaur
CFTK - TV
Blog of Walker
Globe & Mail
Ace of Spades
Hamilton Madison & Jay
Girl in Blue
The Corner at NRO
Proud to be Canadian
Victoria Times Colonist
Free Frank Warner
DUC IN ALTUM
Mark Steyn talked to Rob Breakinridge
Steyn on the Corner
Kathy Shaidle at Pajamas Media
The Toronto Star, Reuters, the CBC, The National Post, The Vancouver Sun, the CTV
Steyn & Maclean’s Acquitted / System Still Guilty
N.S. Scott: “BC HRT on Steyn article: We deem it publishable”
Jay Currie I, Jay Currie II
Gyapong I, and Gyapong II
the Canadian Arab Federation, and the Canadian Islamic Congress
In Canada, free speech does not exist in any meaningful way
The Weekly Standard
Re: The Steyn Verdict
Girl in Blue
More as we find them.. or put them in the comments if you do. Let’s give the HRC people visiting here a clear idea of how big, widespread and serious we all are.