2011-10-12

Freedom of Speech in Canada

How does the Canadian public view freedom of speech?

I have been watching the flow of the comments section in this recent CBC story about a man "found guilty" of whatever "hate speech" is. (Go ahead, try to define hate speech yourself....)

Okay, Folks - Here Is The Obligatory Disclaimer
The things the man said about homosexuals are false, morally wrong, hateful, disgusting, abhorrent, and I wish such ideas didn't exist. They are pure bigotry. 

But I don't think the solution to bigotry is to stamp out the freedom of speech. 

That's my opinion. What does the Canadian public (i.e. people who leave comments on CBC.ca news stories) have to say? Here are some selected excerpts - judge for yourself the extent to which Canadians value freedom of speech.
Perhaps the standard for defining libel against an identifiable minority group needs to be as strict as that for defining libel against some large money-grubbing corporation.
Opinion is one thing, but putting it on your tee-shirt and handing out purple-prose leaflets elevates opinion into something worse when your message targets a group of people. 
Whatcott is distributing hundreds of flyers saying homosexual people will molest your children, and people are defending his right to say it. seriously?? 
Bill Whatcott should certainly be made to pay for his actions. And let's hope that even though he doesn't respect other human beings' rights and dignity, that he shows a little more respect for the Supreme Court if by doing nothing more than leaving that T shirt at home. 
most of the the people posting here about free speech seem confused about the difference between being free to speak an opnion, to argue, to dissent - and the demands of supportable accuracy of content as well as personal responsibility for being open to hearing those other points of view. Those are essential parts of free speech - not - not the right to blabber off whatever vileness you feel like spewing regardless of accuracy or intention. And the founders of various 'rights' legislation were talking about speaking truth to power - not about shredding your community with mindless venom. 
I wonder if those who are supporting this guy's "right" to say whatever he pleases would be as supportive if he was targeting a group to which he belonged? Change the word "homosexual" to you name and see if you really are as tolerant of his rants as you claim to be. Change the word "homosexual" to "black," "aboriginal," "Ukrainian," "Polish," "blond," etc. and see how little sense he makes.
Words are sacred and misuse them in a targeted fashion and you get fined. When you actively practice and promote violence and hate, you are not protected. This is Canada. 
I don't have time to keep a running tab on all the crazy people making crazy claims about what they think freedom of speech is, but I encourage you all to follow along with the comments and see for yourself.

Thankfully, there are a few commentors who do seem to value freedom of speech.