Jonathan Kay critiques in the National Post today his colleague, Warren Kinsella, and others who oppose taking hate speech protections out of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Kay spends much of his argument doing the typical, right-wing commentator thing: if it's not a burning cross or a swastika emblazoned across the front of a synagogue, it's not hate. For Kay, there is no racism or hatemongering of any kind in Canada.
And if there is, victims can use the Criminal Code provisions against hate to prosecute, Kay suggests.
This whole debate has sprung out of a private member's motion recently put forth by Liberal MP Keith Martin, who refuses to back down despite the protests of his leader, Stephane Dion.
The conservative approach (and I include Martin here as a conservative, he used to be a Reform MP after all) to this issue seems to be simple: deny there's any hate problem at all in Canada and then fight to eliminate the most effective means of fighting any hate in Canada.
I do agree with some of the commentators that the current case against Ezra Levant (for publishing pictures depicting Mohammed as a bomb-toting terrorist) does seem to go too far and that Levant is likely innocent of spreading hate.
But Kay, Martin and others believe that the complainants in that case shouldn't even have the right to complain.
Of course, if one can't turn to their provincial human rights commission for protection from hate propaganda, is getting someone charged instead under the Criminal Code an easy thing? Hell no. As Kinsella pointed out on his blog recently, only a mere handful of cases have been successfully prosecuted.
Consider for a moment the case of the Alberta pastor who published a disgusting, hate-filled letter in his local Red Deer newspaper in 2002. In it, Stephen Boissoin denounced, "Homosexual rights activists and those that defend them...as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities." In the letter, Boisson urged readers to, "take whatever steps are necessary to reverse the wickedness" of the "homosexual machine."
"Whatever steps are necessary"? Two weeks later, a young gay man was gay-bashed in Red Deer.
As a gay man, whenever someone with power like Boissoin urges all citizens to "take whatever steps are necessary" to "reverse" my "wickedness," I feel very, very threatened. Was Boissoin charged under the Criminal Code? No. Was he brought forth before the Alberta Human Rights panel and forced to answer for his hate-inspiring words? Yes.
We need the protections in the Canadian Human Rights Act. It's up to individual human rights boards to dismiss frivolous cases, while at the same time provide those being attacked by hatemongers a chance to have their cases heard.
The right-wingers in this debate deny there is any one spreading hate and promoting violence against anyone in Canada. We know that is a load of right-wing crap.