Tuesday, July 01, 2008
In a chilling must-read piece, David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen discusses some totalitarian machinery already in place in Canada and how it is being governed by left-wing enemies of individual rights.
He does so in the vein of providing a warning to his fellow Canadians: The end of (another of the three) Mark Steyn show-trials is only a tactical maneuver by the so-called Human Rights Commissions. They are far from considering the error of their ways and far from facing the abolishment they ultimately deserve.
The Ontario HRC had previously dismissed it: but with an outrageous statement from its chief commissioner, Barbara Hall, to the effect that Maclean's was guilty of publishing "hate," nonetheless. She regretted that her commission had no mandate to try the case, but looked forward to a time when this mandate would be extended.On considering an image of this functionary such as the one above, I recall at once Ayn Rand's weariness at the smallness of the enemy and the danger of such small people having government force at their disposal. This person is a complete zero and all the power in the world will never change that -- but she can, with that power, obliterate real value and destroy real lives. This is all that matters to someone like Barbara Hall, but I digress....
A British Columbian "human rights" tribunal did, however, decide that it had jurisdiction over what a Toronto-based magazine could publish, and the show trial against Maclean's continues there, with judgement awaited. The Alberta HRC continues to try Ezra Levant and his Western Standard magazine (now defunct in print) -- in proceedings that have gone on for more than two years. The Canadian HRC has taken 16 months in preliminary consideration of the case a gay activist brought against the small Toronto-based Catholic Insight magazine. Indeed: prolonged and arbitrary delays appear to be part of the method by which the HRCs bleed their respondents dry with legal and other expenses. [bold added]
In case you didn't notice from the above, Warren spells out the imminent danger to freedom of speech these commissions pose in Canada:
[Y]ou can be tried for the same imaginary "hate crimes" in any or all federal and provincial jurisdictions, simultaneously or sequentially. A single complaint by any reader anywhere is enough to launch a secret inquiry. The target has no right to confront his accuser, and will not at first even be told who he or she is.Worst of all, the Canadian people are still, according to Warren, nearly oblivious to the danger! There is still time to fix things as the aftermath of all the recent adverse publicity has demonstrated, but the HRCs seem to be backing down in the wake of that publicity merely so that, "The CHRC can retrench, and return to its bread-and-butter business of destroying little people who command no publicity -- biding their time until circumstances are propitious to 'extend their mandate' again." Later, he adds that, "The system is, in principle, indistinguishable from that in place during the Cultural Revolution in Maoist China."
Truth is no defence, the absence of harm is no defence, there are no rules of evidence -- due process is entirely subverted. The inquisitors of these kangaroo courts may ultimately reach any "judgement" they please, after months or years of playing cat-and-mouse with their selected victim.
All of the complainant's expenses are paid by the taxpayer, as well as all of the overheads and expenses of the jet-setting "human rights" bureaucrats, who do all the prosecutorial work, as well as providing both judge and jury.
I find it distressing how poorly-appreciated freedom of speech seems to be these days in the West, but unsurprising at the same time. Pragmatism has taught many, over generations, that the abstract principles freedom of speech permits us to communicate aren't really that important, and other modern philosophies have influenced the culture to regard feelings -- such as being offended -- as having cognitive status and moral import.
The situation is not hopeless, but it cannot remain so for long with such a system in place. Anglosphere beware: Free speech may be a time-honored tradition, but it will not remain so without a spirited, principled defense.
This post was composed in advance and scheduled for publication at 5:00 A.M. on July 1, 2008.
Today: Corrected typos.