Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On Banning Free Speech

Having read some of the silliness emanating from a local conservative blog regarding that owner's "liberal" use of banning commenters for perceived meanness, or slams against Christianity, the meaning of free speech was on my mind as I surfed the Internet today. I came upon this piece by Glenn Greenwald in which he comments on the "noxicity" of hate speech laws. He writes of the case of Ezra Levant, "... a right-wing Canadian neoconservative who publishes Western Standard, a typical warmongering, pro-Likud journal -- a poor man's Weekly Standard for Canadian neocons."

A little background: In 2006, Levant published the Danish Mohammed cartoons. An Islamic group's imam filed a complaint against Levant. Greenwald writes that rather than dismissing the complaint out-of-hand as it should have been, the Alberta Human Rights Commission decided to investigate. Though the hearing was closed to the public, Levant insisted on recording the proceedings. His wish was granted with the proviso Levant would not publish the video. He did so anyway and below is this video. As Greenwald says, it's “... nothing short of stomach turning: ...”

As repugnant as Levant's views are, free speech means that he should have the right to expose them to the light of day. For those heads on the right nodding sleepily, Greenwald goes on to say:

For those unable to think past the (well-deserved) animosity one has for the specific targets in question here, all one needs to do instead is imagine these proceedings directed at opinions and groups that one likes. If Muslim groups can trigger government investigations due to commentary they find offensive, so, too, can conservative Christian or right-wing Jewish groups, or conservative or neoconservative groups, or any other political faction seeking to restrict and punish speech it dislikes.

Down that ugly path lies people like Newt Gingrich, openly advocating that the First Amendment be narrowed considerably to exclude advocacy of "radical Islam" as a means of combating terrorism. People who favor and seek to exploit Canadian and European hate speech laws are but opposite sides of the same tyrannical coin as Gingrich and his allies who are eager to restrict political expression here.
Government control of speech, however well-meaning its surrender by citizens and regardless of how well-intentioned the government may be, is never the answer, because anyone believing the government will easily give back what it has been given is easily and frighteningly deluded.


  1. Canada: Freedom of Speech succumbing to Kangaroo Courts of the Human Rights Commission

    Proceedings against Ezra Levant are nothing short of ridiculous, but let's consider the implications for moderate Muslims. This "investigation" will further divide Muslims and non-Muslims in Canada. It will give credence to radicals' claims that the West is at war with Islam. It will antagonize non-Muslims and moderate Muslims will be pushed towards radicalization. Regardless of the outcome, once again Islamists skillfully manipulated Dhimmi justice system and came out as clear winners. Thank you, Human Right Commission!

    Muslims Against Sharia are proud to be the first Muslim group to publicly support Ezra Levant and denounce HRC inquisition

    Sign Free Dominion Against the HRCs Petition

  2. This story on Wispoloitics.com seems unfinished. Isn’t Robins the investigator that was involved with Bambi? He was also looking into other questionable cases. Then the newspaper states that District Attorney Karl Kelz is currently in a diversion agreement with the Office of Lawyer Regulation due to a grievance filed against him. Where did the newspaper get than information? Diversion agreements are kept private? They didn’t say what the grievance against Kelz was for.

  3. What is a diversion agreement with the Office of Lawyer Regulation?

  4. Actually, these Canadian Kangaroo courts have gone after Christians, when Gays filed a complaint about a Pastor/Priest preaching the Bible's prohibition against homsexuality. I don't remember if he got jail time, but he was fined. To the best of my knowledge, no Christian has used this hammer.

  5. Anon

    A diversion agreement is the way to "discipline" members of the legal profession without having the public find out about it. Go to the site below and type in Kelz, you will notice there is no record of any discipline.


  6. Bill, reread the part about Gingrich, who has proclaimed his Christianity any number of times.

    I mean, come on.

  7. How many times has Newt been married. Dont' count the ones that lasted less than an hour.

  8. Tim, I was refering to Canada, not nut, I mean Newt. Gingrich is wrong, end of story.