Calling the Censor a Censor Gets You in Trouble in Canada
Canada, all joking aside, is a separate country, and free to develop its own legal norms.
And we are free to mock those norms when they suck.
Case in point — a recent example of Canada's increasingly spotty record on freedom of expression, asseen here at Volokh. The bullet: former Canadian Human Rights Commission lawyer files complaints against web sites featuring "hate speech," as permitted by Canadian law. Free speech advocate (who has defended unpleasant expression such as anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial) calls him, among other things, an "enemy of free speech." Lawyer sues — and wins. Because he's not an enemy of free speech, you see, because that speech isn't free in Canada, QED.
Here is the Canadian trial court decision. As Volokh notes, the trial court's rationale is that because the "hate speech" was prohibited by Canadian law, and because the lawyer was successful in suppressing it, it was not free speech, and calling him an enemy of free speech was defamation:
26] The plaintiff was using legal means to complain of speech that he alleged was "hate" speech.
 The evidence was that Mr. Warman was successful in both the complaint and a libel action which he instituted.
 Freedom of expression is not a right that has no boundaries. These parameters are outlined in various legislative directives and jurisprudence. I find Mr. Fromm has exceeded these. This posting is defamatory.
I don't think Eugene Volokh is exaggerating when he says this:
Yet the Canadian justice system not only allows the suppression of certain viewpoints, and excludes them from free speech restrictions. With this case, it also tries to deny critics the right to label the speech they support "free speech," and the dissenters they like "dissidents."
The court is insisting that Canadians' speech not only follows the government-approved ideology on the topic of race, ethnicity, and religion (an ideology that I agree with, but that I don't think should be legally coerced). It is also insisting that Canadians' speech follows the government-approved ideology and terminology on the topic of free speech itself.
Ridiculous and contemptible. THIS is real political correctness.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Follow-Up: U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks Gets Free Speech Right This Time - September 12th, 2014
- The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained, But It May Have A Litmus Test - September 11th, 2014
- [Rerun from 2011] Ten Things I Want My Kids To Learn From 9/11 - September 11th, 2014
- Yale Might Want To Look Into Some Sort of Basic Civic Literacy Course - September 10th, 2014
- U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks Gets Free Speech Very Wrong - September 6th, 2014