A much-criticized federal law governing hate speech violates rights to freedom of expression, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.
The decision, announced Wednesday, threw out the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s controversial legal mandate to pursue “hate speech” on the Internet.
In a 107-page ruling, tribunal member Athanasios Hadjis called the law an infringement of the free speech guarantees of Canada’s Charter of Rights.
The ruling also marks a failure of Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, an anti-hate law created in the 1960s to target racist telephone hotlines, according to the National Post. It was expanded in 2001 to include the entire Internet.
“At issue here was not true hate speech – racial slurs, etc. – which are indefensible,” Jihad Watch stated. “Rather, the aim of such laws is to crush political dissent.”
Jihad Watch accused the Organization of the Islamic Conference of “trying to strong-arm Western nations into imposing hate speech laws that will restrict speech about Islam they don’t like, including explorations of the motives and goals of jihad terrorists.”
Mark Steyn, author of “America Alone,” was on trial in Canada for allegedly inciting hatred against Muslims in an article adapted from his book. A 2007 complaint filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission claimed that Stein’s article, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” did not allow rebuttal – an action, complainants argued, violated their human rights. Jennifer Lynch, chief commissioner for the Canadian Human Rights Commission wrote a letter to Maclean’s magazine after it published Steyn’s article.
“Mr. Steyn would have us believe that words, however hateful, should be given free reign,” Lynch wrote. “History has shown us that hateful words sometimes lead to hurtful actions that undermine freedom and have led to unspeakable crimes. That is why Canada and most other democracies have enacted legislation to place reasonable limits on the expression of hatred.”
The Commission later ruled that, in general, “the views expressed in the Steyn article, when considered as a whole and in context, are not of an extreme nature, as defined by the Supreme Court.”
In the United States, Congress has recently embraced its own hate-crime legislation. A key Senate vote during the wee hours when most Americans were asleep added a so-called “hate crimes” plan, which creates federal protections and privileges homosexuals and others who have chosen alternative sexual lifestyles, to a defense spending bill.
The House approved its version, H.R. 1913, or the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, April 29.
The Senate plan remained in the Judiciary Committee until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced its consideration. Then in a middle-of-the-night vote, senators approved 63-28 a plan to add it as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, despite opposition from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
The proposal that critics say essentially makes homosexuals a protected class of citizens in the United States soon will reach the desk of President Obama, who has lobbied for it.
As WND reported, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder admitted a homosexual activist who is attacked following a Christian minister’s sermon about homosexuality would be protected by the proposed federal law, but a minister attacked by a homosexual wouldn’t be.
Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, has said such a law – by definition – requires judges to determine what those accused of crimes were thinking.
“This could create a chilling effect on religious speech, connecting innocent expression of religious belief to acts of violence against individuals afforded special protections,” he wrote. “The criminalization of religious speech, such as speech against the practice of homosexuality, has already been seen in other countries with similar hate crimes legislation in place.”