The Criminal Standard | Jay Currie
Revolting as Ahenakew’s comments were I am inclined to think that the Criminal Code provisions have worked as intended. Essentially, hate speech charges under the Code are reserved for truly egregious speech intended to directly promote hatred. That Ahenakew said ignorant, anti-Semitic, things is not in issue; what was in issues, as it should be in any hate speech matter, is the intent. Not liking Jews – repellent as that is – and saying so should certainly make a person an outcast and can and should be contradicted. But it does not and should not result in a criminal conviction.As Ezra noted last year, there is also a downside to making a fuss about angry old men like Ahenakew:
The Lying Jackal view of the world requires us to outlaw speech we find repellent; my view is that we should only criminalize speech in the narrowest of circumstances and with the requirement that the Crown prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. My view will allow all sorts of speech with which I disagree. And, by setting a high burden on those who want to prosecute speech, it will avoid the chilling which the absurdly low HRC standards create.
If we are to abridge a Charter guaranteed fundamental right we should make such abridgment very, very difficult. Abolishing the HRC’s jurisdiction over speech and leaving really nasty cases to the criminal process will accomplish this.
David Ahenakew is a former somebody, who is now a nobody, who has views that are distasteful.
If a reporter hadn't been at the conference, none of us would know about it.
A reporter was there, and the resultant publicity marginalized Ahenakew even more in life, including stripping him of his Order of Canada. He was denounced nationally. He became a pariah.
And that's how it should be.
And it should have ended there, in 2002.
But it's 2008 now, and Ahenakew is still front-page news. And his nutty views, which should be in obscurity along with him, are in the news again, too. He's praising Hitler again, and hating Jews -- and the national (and even international) media are eating it up. Google News says there are 453 stories about him in recent days.
If you're in the PR business, you know that getting 453 different news stories in a week is an astounding achievement. That's a multi-million dollar advertising buy -- except that news stories carry much greater credibility with readers than do ads. Ahenakew could never have received such an audience for his views on his own.
Six years after the fact, and Ahenakew is facing his second trial for saying those bad words (his first conviction was overturned on appeal, and a new trial was ordered). I have no idea how many millions of dollars that has cost the justice system, but it's a lot. And all to persecute a man's foul words -- a man whose deeds of military service and educational reform were extraordinary. Ahenakew has never hurt a fly. But he's been charged with the crime of saying bad things.
He's being tried in criminal court, under the criminal code prohibition against hate speech. That's the only reason why he was acquitted -- because he's in the real court system. Had he been charged before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, he would have lost -- they have a 100% conviction rate.
Ahenakew himself is obviously unrepentant. To the contrary -- he's surely now convinced, more than ever, of a Jewish conspiracy to silence him.
But that's not even the real achievement here.
The real achievement here is that a broken-down nobody is a media superstar, and that his odious views are receiving massive attention. No doubt, some Aboriginal youth look up to him as having stood up to the White Man, and stood his ground. He's a role model for defiance who made the white government blink at least once.
There is a glamour attached to him and his views that just wasn't there when he was a rambling old fool at a conference. Now, he's such a danger to the state -- his ideas must be so powerful! -- that the government has to silence him, using the brute force of the law.
It was the Official Jews who pushed for the creation of hate speech laws, both in the criminal code and in human rights commissions.
And what have those Official Jews achieved in this case?
They have turned a bigoted nobody into a bigoted somebody.
They have turned racist comments muttered to a hundred snoozing conference-goers into racist comments read with interest by hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
They have turned a baseless whiner into someone with a basis for his whining -- six years of prosecutions by the state being his basis.