Washington Post staff writer Steven Pearlstein reveals some
frightening things about our northern neighbor in his Dec. 12 article,
"In Canada, Free Speech Has Its Restrictions." Andrea Wylie, a member of
the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC), sums up the
Canadian attitude about free speech with the observation, "We don't have
the hang-up you Americans have with free speech." That means politically
incorrect speech is banned in Canada.
The government's most powerful weapon against politically incorrect
speech is its hate speech law. The law prohibits any statement that is
"likely to expose a person or group of persons to hatred or contempt"
because of "race, color, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital
status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual
orientation or age." If you think that's bad, hold on, it gets worse.
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Pearlstein says, "Prosecutors are not required to show proof of
malicious intent or actual harm to win convictions in hate speech cases,
and courts in some jurisdictions have ruled that it does not matter
whether the statements are truthful." That means you can say, "The
average woman cannot fight as well as the average man," and wind up
facing fines or imprisonment.
In 1994, Douglas Collins wrote several columns for Vancouver's North
Shore News, questioning whether as many as 6 million Jews died in Nazi
concentration camps. A commission tribunal ruled his columns showed his
"hatred and contempt ... subtly and indirectly" by "reinforcing negative
stereotypes" about Jews. The tribunal fined both Collins and his
newspaper $2,000. The newspaper was ordered to publish a summary of the
New Yorker Harold Mollin tried to market his new "weather insurance"
to Canadians planning weddings or vacations. His 30-second TV spot
featured a huckster dressed in Indian headdress leading senior citizens
in a rain dance. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation refused to run it
because they deemed the ad insulting to Native Americans and the
Canadian advertisers have strict politically correct guidelines.
Thus, a national restaurant chain was forced to pull a TV ad featuring a
helpless dad trying to prepare a dinner for his kids. He gives up and
takes the kids out for hamburgers and fries. A hearing office ruled that
the commercial "reinforced negative stereotypes" about men that "cannot
be excused by an attempt to engage in humor."
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Last November, there were violent protests in New Brunswick over
Indian fishing rights. On orders from CBC network officials, reporters
had to refer to the participants as "native fishers" and "non-native
fishers," even though the Mik'maqs call each other Indians.
You say, "Williams, why are you telling us this? Those are Canada's
No, they're not. There are speech codes at many American colleges and
universities. Students can face up to expulsion for politically
incorrect speech. Both professors and students can be required to take
sensitivity lectures, a la the Chinese reeducation camps. Sex harassment
regulations similarly restrict free speech in the work place and in the
military. Simply telling an off-color joke in the presence of a female
employee can bring charges of "creating a hostile workplace
environment." In the military, simply looking at a female soldier for
longer than the prescribed amount of time can get you into trouble.
In the days of the House Un-American Activities Committee and
McCarthyism, our socialists used to criticize conservatives for wanting
to silence dissent and free speech. But who's stifling free speech now?
It's America's socialist elites, mostly now, on university campuses.
The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that government may limit free
speech in the name of other worthwhile goals that include ending
discrimination, ensuring social harmony or promoting sex equality. If we
allow America's socialist elite to continue to incrementally eat away at
our liberties, we'll find Canada's totalitarian laws here.