Monday, November 24, 2008

Moon report

The bottom line is that the Canadian Human Rights Commission's hand-picked investigator, law professor Richard Moon, is recommending repeal of s.13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. His argument is mostly pragmatic, mostly in dialogue with the wording of past legal decisions and existing legislation and international "human rights" codes. While seeing various practical limits to existing law, the Moon report, not surprisingly, does not provide any kind of serious challenge to the reigning orthodoxies of postmodern thought, what some of us call the "human rights" world view.

While recommending repeal, Moon also recognizes that Jenniffer Lynch and the rest of the gang at the CHRC need not promote his recommendations to government, and so he has provided them with a variety of alternative arguments, such as changing s. 13 so that "hate speech" cases under the Human Rights Act will be dealt with more like criminal prosecutions, and encouraging Internet Service Providers and Press Councils to do more on their own to police and silence what they deem to be hate speech. The impracticalities of such suggestions are already being noted.

I want to finish reading the report before commenting further. Many other bloggers are already providing good first reactions to the report. If I can add anything it will be after a leisurely read and an analysis of Moon's way of thinking through the human problem of "hate" and the reasons why humans need freedom of expression.

You can find the report here (pdf), summarized by the CHRC here.

Deborah Gyapong has many useful posts up, including response from Ottawa politicians, as does Jay Currie. Looking at the impractical side of Moon's recommendations is Mark Steyn.  Meanwhile, Ezra Levant is analyzing Jennifer Lynch's response as an attempt to throw Moon's report under the bus.

Sadly for this blog, Blazing Cat Fur sees this to be a moment of apparent victory and thus time for a blogging hiatus. She has worked with amazing energy to provide us daily coverage of the "human rights" and free speech debate, often attracting the unwanted attention of disparate traders in hate and victimhood, and my best wishes go out to her.
On the other side of this debate, Bnai Brith has issued a press release (via email):
TORONTO, November 24, 2008 – B’nai Brith Canada has reacted with mixed reviews to the release today of the Report to the Canadian Human Rights Commission Concerning Section 13 of the Canadian Human Right Act and the Regulation of Hate Speech on the Internet prepared by University of Windsor law Prof. Richard Moon.

“Doing away with section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act governing hate speech, a key suggestion put forth by Prof. Moon in his Report, would be a step in the wrong direction,” said Marvin Kurz, National Legal Counsel to B’nai Brith Canada. “However, we do favour in principle the type of middle approach also outlined by Moon, which opens the door to necessary reform of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

“The Moon Report proposes amendments to both section 13 and the Criminal Code that have the potential to dramatically alter existing standards for combating hatred. A careful review of the recommendations of the Report and their potential public policy implications is essential before any action is taken.


Dag said...

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

November 24, 2008 at 11:35 PM EST

"Allowing a human-rights commission to police the country's newspapers and magazines for their coverage of religious or other minorities is a terrible idea, yet that is the law, though most Canadians may not realize it. Now, an independent report requested by the Canadian Human Rights Commission recommends a repeal of the section on hate speech in the Canadian Human Rights Act. The report is a much-needed blast of common sense."

More at Globe and Mail.

The question now is whether we are still a fringe of Right Wing extremists, like we were when we stood on the sidewalk protesting last summer at the courthouse in Vancouver against the BCHRT campaign against Mark Steyn and Mcleans Magazine, or now that the Globe an d mail is in favor of our position are we redeemed and "normal"?

truepeers said...

Well Dag, I suppose you'll get your answer when the Globe tells you whether they support Moon's proposal regarding web sites:

"The third set of recommendations concerns the role of non-state actors in the prevention of expression that is hateful or discriminatory in character.

The major Internet service providers (ISPs) should consider the creation of a hate speech complaint line and the establishment of an advisory body, composed of of individuals with expertise in hate speech law, that would give its opinion as to whether a particular website hosted by an ISP has violated section 13 of the CHRA or the "hate propaganda" provisions of the Criminal Code.

If this body were to decide that the complaint is well founded, the ISP host would then shut down the site on the basis of its user agreement with customers."

Moon may have given one nod to our position but he can hardly be considered a man with a strong regard for freedom.

truepeers said...

... or more precisely, in this case, with a strong regard for due legal process. It seems the law professor thinks it's ok to relieve people of their intellectual property based on "expert" opinion but not any kind of proper trial.

Dag said...

It takes a Rachel Ehrenfeld to push things to the end. It took Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn and Mark Lemire to make this happen here, to the degree free speech is defended. There needs be more yet by far. And one can be sure few will care if it's won or lost. Imagine if this case (and cases) against free speech had happened with the backing of a Saudi billionaire terrorist financier. Yes, there would still be a few of us defending freedom, but fewer of us, for sure. Even up against the Maoist faction of the NDP at the HCRs the best we get is so far being Mooned by a guy who really doesn't like the idea of people in a state of political freedom, and a Conservative government determined to be "canadian" by doing next to nothing that might possibly raise some objection about the possibility of hurt feelings someday maybe. Tepid all round, at best.

Well, we get what we pay for.

truepeers said...

Yes, but returning to your first point, it is the victim who is redeemable in their world view, not the normal which is the cause of all our problems. That is what the guilty white "Conservative" government fears so: being attacked for being normal, i.e. evil, hegemonic, victimizing. It would prefer to be the conservative wing of the "progressive", i.e. victim worshiping, "movement" (which is really a stasis in which all kinds of people are invested). So that's where we have to focus our intellectual critique. We have to make people believe that even the normal needs to be renewed, that we cannot go on forever seeking dividends from established victimary positions, that freedom and all the good things and wealth that goes with it will only be eroded and eventually destroyed by our "progressive" stasis. See Adam's latest