HE SAID JEHOVAH! HE SAID JEHOVAH!

Irksome, Language, WTF?

As we've discussed many times before, our friends in Canada have a government with very strong opinions about what opinions are "acceptable" — meaning what opinions may be uttered without prosecution, fines, cease-and-desist orders, and reeducation. It's not to American tastes to create vast bureaucracies with the power to regulate and punish speech based on vague guidelines, but Canada is a sovereign nation, and can do what it wants.

Pity poor Professor Cameron Johnston at York University. He was just trying to make this fundamentally Canadian concept clear to the students in the class he was teaching by giving examples of unacceptable opinions. Really, reminding them that some opinions are unacceptable was, in the Canadian context, an act of great patriotism, akin to starting an American lecture with the Pledge of Allegiance and possibly a barbecue. In the course of being so very Canadian, Prof. Johnston mentioned that the sentiment "all Jews should be sterilized" was "unacceptable."

Regrettably, Professor Johnston doesn't get it.

See, it doesn't matter that he uttered the words in a context — the context of identifying the sort of opinions that are unacceptable to Canada. He still uttered them.

By uttering the words, Prof. Johnston committed speechcrime. That's a strict liability crime; intent is irrelevant. Moreover, in thinking that he could utter a series of offensive words by putting them into a specific disapproving and pedagogical context, Prof. Johnston committed a hate crime against the Moron-Canadian community, which is too stupid to grasp context, and the Entitled-Canadian community, which believes that it is un-Canadian to require them to pay close enough attention to follow context. Prof. Johnston knew or should have known that his class of 450 people would include members of the Moron-Canadian and Entitled-Canadian community.

And indeed it did — in the form of Sarah Grunfeld, a member of the Moron-Insipid-Entitled-Canadian community. Sarah Grunfeld was outraged to hear, sort of, that her professor thought that all Jews should be sterilized, and started quite a stir, complaining to York University officials and various community members. Tumult and inquisition ensued. The Canadian media acted in an appallingly un-Canadian manner, focusing on the so-called "context" of Professor Johnson's words and the utterly irrelevant detail that he was Jewish. Grunfeld, raised by her actions into a position of leadership in the Entitled-, Insipid-, and Moron-Canadian communities, did her best to set them back on the path of right thinking:

Grunfeld said Tuesday she may have misunderstood the context and intent of Johnston’s remarks, but that fact is insignificant.

“The words, ‘Jews should be sterilized’ still came out of his mouth, so regardless of the context I still think that’s pretty serious.”

Grunfeld also expressed skepticism that Johnston was in fact Jewish.

Asked directly by a reporter whether she believes Johnston is lying, she was unclear.

“Whether he is or is not, no one will know,” she said. “. . . Maybe he thought because he is Jewish he can talk smack about other Jews.”

Grunfeld demonstrates that with proper accommodation, Moron-Canadian students are able to learn the most important lessons that modern universities offer, such as the lesson that there is no objective reality. Is the person-object-construct we call "Professor Johnston" Jewish? What a childish question, reflecting a retrograde, linear belief system. Whatever "Professor Johnson" or other social constructs like "The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs" might say, whether the "Johnston" person-object is "Jewish" depends on the shifting perceptions of people like Grunfeld and on advanced scholarship by deep thinkers.

Shockingly, some Jews in Canada are contributing to the continuing wordcrime, failing to cherish Canadian values:

In response, Sheldon Goodman, the GTA Co-Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs issued the following statement:

“Upon hearing of this incident, we immediately contacted York University as well as Professor Johnston directly. While York is currently looking into the matter, it appears that a very unfortunate misunderstanding has taken place. We believe Professor Johnston’s use of an abhorrent statement was intended to demonstrate that some opinions are simply not legitimate. This point was, without ill intentions, taken out of context and circulated in the Jewish community.

“Professor Johnston, himself a member of the Jewish community, may regret his wording but should not see his reputation tarnished. This event is an appropriate reminder that great caution must be exercised before concluding a statement or action is anti-Semitic.”

Sheldon "Goodman" doesn't get it. He's focused on "context." He's using "logic" and "inquiry." He might as well come right out and label Sarah Grunfeld and all the members of her dull-witted inattentive community as second-class citizens. Fortunately there are other Jewish-Canadians who are better assimilated into Canadian values. B'nai Brith of Canada, which has a record of supporting Canadian values about speech, is fully supporting the Moron-Canadian community by running Sarah Grunfeld's statement in full. In that statement, she speaks out bravely against all the bigots who wrongfully demanded her to absorb hate-concepts like context, comprehension, and caution:

I stand by my initial concern brought to the University’s attention immediately after the incident that when Professor Cameron Johnston made the abhorrent statement in his class that all Jews should be sterilized, he failed to qualify the statement clearly as an unacceptable opinion held by others. His delivery of this statement, made in a class of 450 impressionable students, was offensive to me and to others in the room.

I have since been grossly misquoted and ridiculed by the media, and attempts have been made to assign blame to me with the false claim that I simply “misheard” or “half heard” what was said. Meanwhile, the professor has not been called to account in any way for his “miscommunication”.

But Sarah's not done. Showing great insight far beyond her years and apparent natural abilities, she identifies what the real crime is here: that people — people like her — will be deterred from making careless, stupid accusations of racism if those accusations are actually subjected to scrutiny, and if the accusers are burdened with hateful responsibility for paying attention to what's going on around them:

It has been a very painful experience for me to see how the university has closed ranks and reneged on its assurances to me. I understand that there may have been a miscommunication, but any miscommunication was on the part of the professor, not me. The media has been complicit in allowing a false interpretation of my actions to be circulated widely, which can only have a chilling effect on the ability of students to have any kind of a voice on campus.

Well said. There ought to be a government inquiry — perhaps by Jennifer Lynch — into whether universities and the media are chilling stupid people from being stupid.

Meanwhile, if Sarah Grunfeld feels that Canada is a cold and barren place that refuses to celebrate her differences, she should consider coming here to America. Sure, we don't have Human Rights Councils like Canada. But there are signs that our universities and their administrators are coming around to Sarah's way of "thinking," and doing what they can to protect the moron community. At Brandeis University, Professor Donald Hindley uttered the word "wetback" in the course of criticizing people who use it; the 50-year teaching veteran was found guilty of racial harassment and forced to admit an ideology-monitor to his class. At Widener University School of Law, administrators are defying a hearing panel that cleared professor Lawrence Connell, and insisting that he be punished for using the term "black folks" in class and using the name of an administrator in an exam hypothetical.

And surely I need not offer you links to establish that modern America is, in fact, very welcoming to morons.

Come on down, Sarah. You've got lots of friends here.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

64 Comments

60 Comments

  1. Jeffrey Ellis  •  Sep 16, 2011 @8:56 am

    Sarah Grunfeld: “The words, ‘Jews should be sterilized’ still came out of his mouth, so regardless of the context I still think that’s pretty serious.”

    As one of my commenters pointed out to me, the words 'Jews should be sterilized' came out of Grunfeld's mouth, and if we are ignoring context, that makes her a hate-speeching anti-Semite.

  2. Derrick  •  Sep 16, 2011 @9:05 am

    I hate the term 'talking smack' for the same reason I hate Cee-lo's 'Forget You'.

  3. David  •  Sep 16, 2011 @9:08 am

  4. PLW  •  Sep 16, 2011 @9:22 am

    "Now I've said it!" Ni!

  5. Dan Weber  •  Sep 16, 2011 @9:27 am

    Sometimes people just dare you. "Yes, I am going to be this stupid, and I dare you to try to explain it to me just how stupid I am being, when I will resist you at every step of the way."

  6. Richard Hershberger  •  Sep 16, 2011 @9:34 am

    Wow. That was a lot of build-up, all pointing to an abusive and oppressive official prosecution, or at least bureaucratic over-reaction against an innocent academic. What we actually have is a stupid person whining, with everyone in an actual position of power or influence correctly identifying it as such and disregarding it. "Stupid person whining" stories are always fun, but we were promised so much more!

  7. mojo  •  Sep 16, 2011 @9:42 am

    Reductio ad absurdum

  8. Josh M.  •  Sep 16, 2011 @9:53 am

    I read this once. Then I read it again. Then, after my pulse had returned to a semi-normal rate, my eyes had gone back into their sockets, and I had put the spiked cluebat back on the shelf, I thought to myself that there's no way that anyone could be that stupid.

    Then I remembered that I know a few people like that personally.

    Then I thought no one could be that much of a self-important jackass.

    Then I remembered that I know a few people like that personally.

    I'm so glad it's Friday. I need several pints to wash the sheer horror of this out of my skull.

  9. Patrick  •  Sep 16, 2011 @10:14 am

    It's Jehovah, Ken. Same derivation as Yahweh. In Hebrew, יהוה. The final H is important, and is what makes the characters blasphemous in a language that has no characters for vowels.

    Misspelling the name without the consonants is like getting a Chinese ideogram tattoo that reads "Surprising Hippopotamus" when you thought you were getting "Fierce Warrior" or something.

    Really, without the final "H" it's meaningless. I had to read your headline three times to get the joke. Aren't you a Christian minister or something? It's sad when an agnostic like me has to point out something that's a key element of your faith, which is that saying JHVH is blasphemous, while saying JHV is only nonsense.

  10. Ken  •  Sep 16, 2011 @10:17 am

    I was going to go with that-was-a-meta-joke, but given that everyone knows how bad my proofreading is, I just changed it.

  11. Hasdrubal  •  Sep 16, 2011 @10:49 am

    I understand that there may have been a miscommunication, but any miscommunication was on the part of the professor, not me. The media has been complicit in allowing a false interpretation of my actions to be circulated widely, which can only have a chilling effect on the ability of students to have any kind of a voice on campus.

    That's a pretty impressive lack of self awareness to be able to say those two sentences consecutively without sarcasm.

  12. perlhaqr  •  Sep 16, 2011 @10:59 am

    We should treat our brothers and sisters who have immigrated from the land of Mor kindly. But possibly we should cut off the immigration flow from that place. We have enough Moron-Americans as it is.

    Would it be a hate-crime to say that "all Moron-Americans should be sterilised"?

  13. Semaphore  •  Sep 16, 2011 @11:07 am

    Everyone knows that this student is an idiot- she's being mocked all over the country right now. You're going a little overboard with your characterization of Canada as a land of intrusive regulation of speech- hate speech prosecutions only proceed with the consent of the Attorney General, and they're exceedingly rare. Like, "teaching Holocaust denial in a high school class and making the students parrot it back on tests" rare.

  14. Ken  •  Sep 16, 2011 @11:11 am

    @Semaphore: I'm sure that's of great comfort to Ezra Levant, out many thousands of dollars for printing the Mohammed cartoons, and Mark Stein, whose publisher had to pay hundreds of thousands because he published unflattering opinions about a culture. Not to mention Elizabeth Lampman.

  15. Laura K  •  Sep 16, 2011 @12:00 pm

    I can hear a distant rumbling interspersed with squaks and choking noises. The sound has traveled from the Jewish Cemeteries of Plattsburgh NY and Montreal, Canada to my home in Rhode Island. It's my ancestors struggling to decide whether they should roll over in their graves, curse in Yiddish or keep laughing in sheer black frustration.

  16. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 16, 2011 @12:36 pm

    I despise the English language.

    I despise it because it does not contain sufficient words to express my loathing and disdain for this worthless see-you-next-Tuesday.

    This horrible, reprehensible, vile, irredeemably fuckwitted retard, likely with her empty head buried in a text message, missed part of what her professor said. After it being proven beyond all possible doubt that she is absolutely, completely, totally wrong, she opted not to retreat from her position but instead to double down on her "how-the-fuck-do-I-manage-to-remember-to-breath" level of stupidity, saying things that were so amazingly stupid as to actually make me think that there was a better than decent chance she is actually attempting to demonstrate the absurdity of Canada's laws.

    But alas, non.

    This simpleton is just too stupid to be allowed to breed. She should be locked away and studied so that science can come to understand how someone who lacks even a single working braincell has managed to become a senior in college.

    And while we study her – preferably using sharp, pointy objects and devices that deliver an electric current – we should round up every single educator that has ever had contact with this "person", so that we can shoot them in the fucking head in a public fashion so that they might serve as an object lesson to the rest of their profession as to the dangers of letting a shaved simian rise through the grades of whatever passes for an education system in the frozen, worthless wastes of Canada.

  17. mojo  •  Sep 16, 2011 @1:18 pm

    There is no right not to be offended. Sorry. Try and work through the pain, or maybe go somewhere else, huh?

  18. John Regan  •  Sep 16, 2011 @1:50 pm

    You forgot to mention controversies over the word "niggardly", which have their own wikipedia entry:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22

    They're all in the US. I think we need to run this by Sarah Grunfeld and get her opinion before we go further. I hope I haven't gone too far already.

  19. VPJ  •  Sep 16, 2011 @2:43 pm

    "Meanwhile, if Sarah Grunfeld feels that Canada is a cold and barren place that refuses to celebrate her differences, she should consider coming here to America."

    But we can't have her here taking jobs that rightfully belong to our own Moron-Americans!

  20. Ken  •  Sep 16, 2011 @3:00 pm

    @VPJ Moron-Americans GENERATE jobs, VPJ. For every Moron-American, you need attorneys (ahem), emergency room personnel, lottery employees, reality TV scriptwriters, and Disney Store managers.

  21. doug  •  Sep 16, 2011 @3:19 pm

    i still would rather immigrate to almost any other English speaking country when America collapses in debt then Canada.

  22. Wilhelm Arcturus  •  Sep 16, 2011 @4:00 pm

    @Scott Jacobs – Wait, did you suggest sterilization? Trying to bring this whole thing full circle?

    @doug – I'm sure they will be happy to have you, once you pick up the language.

  23. Ken  •  Sep 16, 2011 @4:03 pm

    I'm not sure I can imagine any dystopia more nightmarish than Canada filled with Americans.

  24. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Sep 16, 2011 @4:21 pm

    It's at times like this that I really wish H. L. Mencken was still alive. His scorn would have been eloquent, elegant, and endlessly quotable.

    *sigh*

    Among the many, MANY, Mencken pieces that I treasure is one he wrote summing up his involvement in the Dayton Tenn. 'monkey trial'. He made it absolutely clear that Scopes was as guilty as a cat in a goldfish bowl, that in the opinion of both Mencken and the defense lawyers there was no ghost of a chance of a 'not guilty' verdict, or of an overturn on appeal, and that the entire point of defending Scopes was to hold Tennessee up to national ridicule. At no time did anyone connected with the defense believe that a teacher such a Scopes had any right to teach a curriculum in any way different from the one he had contracted to teach, especially one prohibited by law. The law was absurd, but laws are. Tennessee had, in Mencken's opinion, an absolute right to decide what would be taught in its schools. And Mencken had an absolute right to call them sub-literate morons for doing so.

    I don't agree with the man's politics or opinions on every point, but Gods he could both reason and write!

  25. Semaphore  •  Sep 16, 2011 @4:36 pm

    @Ken, I don't think that I can imagine a dystopia more nightmarish than Canada filled with Americans either!
    We have different histories and a different social consensus about what is and is not acceptable. The Charter doesn't protect hate speech, because we think that it causes harm to both the victims and the community. The government didn't tell Warman to publish information about Lampman, and the complaint about Levant was ultimately withdrawn. Prohibiting hate speech isn't intrusive in daily life, and sends a message, particularly to members of historically disenfranchised groups (note that you can be as rude to an individual as you want, short of defamation), that society won't permit attacks on basic human dignity.
    I would much rather live under a system that places minimal and very reasonable limits on speech than in a society where anyone can crawl out from under his rock and spew hatred.

  26. Ken  •  Sep 16, 2011 @4:44 pm

    @Ken, I don’t think that I can imagine a dystopia more nightmarish than Canada filled with Americans either!

    It would be the worst of both worlds for everyone.

    We have different histories and a different social consensus about what is and is not acceptable.

    Absolutely.

    he government didn’t tell Warman to publish information about Lampman, and the complaint about Levant was ultimately withdrawn.

    But the government created a system that encouraged Warman to run amok and has never imposed any consequences on him for doing so. And the complaints against Levant may have eventually been withdrawn — but only after a process that, to our tastes, was outrageous.

    Prohibiting hate speech isn’t intrusive in daily life, and sends a message, particularly to members of historically disenfranchised groups (note that you can be as rude to an individual as you want, short of defamation), that society won’t permit attacks on basic human dignity.

    Here's another difference. Americans are more likely to think that this is better handled by more speech rather than by government intervention. If you think that's ineffective, I invite you to consider how the careers of Mel Gibson and Michael Richards are doing these days. Also, we believe that when the government gets into the business of regulating feelings, the sort of nonsense discussed in this post is the natural and probable result.

    I would much rather live under a system that places minimal and very reasonable limits on speech than in a society where anyone can crawl out from under his rock and spew hatred.

    I would respectfully disagree with the "minimal and very reasonable limits" characterization. You have courts that prohibit people from quoting from the Bible. That aside, I would much rather live under a system with very vigorous speech protections — ones only allowing "hate speech" to be sanctioned when it presents a clear and present danger of imminent lawless action — and depends upon the populace to sort it ought through the marketplace of ideas.

  27. Ken  •  Sep 16, 2011 @4:48 pm

    Tennessee had, in Mencken’s opinion, an absolute right to decide what would be taught in its schools. And Mencken had an absolute right to call them sub-literate morons for doing so.

    Somewhere I recently read an assertion that the entire Scopes trial was a put-up — a local effort to create a "trial of the century" to generate local attention and revenue. I'll have to find it.

  28. Semaphore  •  Sep 16, 2011 @5:34 pm

    @Ken I remember reading about the Levant proceeding when it was going on – and people here did think that it was outrageous, too, because of the conduct of the officer involved. I lived in Alberta at the time and it was embarrassing for all of us to think that this person was representing our government. The process isn't perfect, especially through administrative tribunals like the Human Rights Commission, but it's a statement of our values that we are willing to bring in the weight of the government in to protect minorities' rights.

    I'm not a big fan of the marketplace of ideas as the sole regulator of speech- I think that it's very vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority. Fifty years ago, I doubt that people would have batted an eyelash at Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic tirade, and even now there are horrible things said about minorities (particularly when the same-sex marriage laws are proposed) that work for those who say them instead of losing them respect in the public sphere.

    There are a tiny number of hate speech prosecutions in Canada on the criminal side. The number from the Commission is likewise low, and they acknowledge that you're entitled to hold and publish opinions that people don't like.

    On your point about the Bible quotes, I took a look through the Saskatchewan judgement you posted and I think that the tribunal and the court's decisions were right. "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death …" is pretty clear hate speech. That speech is religious isn't a defence.

    I had some trouble with the idea of limiting speech that doesn't present a clear and present danger when I first came across it, until I really thought more about the magnitude of psychological harm and exclusion that hate speech creates. I think that the courts did a good job of protecting freedom of expression with very narrowly construed provisions (even in the human rights legislation, which is normally very broadly interpreted) and I agree with the conclusion that when something crosses the line to hate speech it has no value and is dangerous for the community. It's a hard line to cross- even threats of violence are constitutionally protected.

  29. SPQR  •  Sep 16, 2011 @5:37 pm

    I would much rather live under a system that places minimal and very reasonable limits on speech than in a society where anyone can crawl out from under his rock and spew hatred.

    And I very definitely would not prefer such an Orwellian system that actually raises people to praise censorship and the suppression of dissent in such a frankly contemptuous manner.

  30. SPQR  •  Sep 16, 2011 @5:38 pm

    … until I really thought more about the magnitude of psychological harm and exclusion that hate speech creates.

    Oh, now I'm just nauseous. Canadians were a people to be admired once, now they can be harmed by uncomfortable ideas and distressing words.

  31. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 16, 2011 @5:47 pm

    @Scott Jacobs – Wait, did you suggest sterilization? Trying to bring this whole thing full circle?

    Certainly not for ALL Jews, but for this Jew in particular?

    Absolutely. We should do everything possible to make certain her foul, tainted DNA is not passed on to future generations.

  32. Ken  •  Sep 16, 2011 @6:39 pm

    The process isn’t perfect, especially through administrative tribunals like the Human Rights Commission, but it’s a statement of our values that we are willing to bring in the weight of the government in to protect minorities’ rights.

    With all respect, one problem is that you've defined "rights" to include "the right not to be offended," which is an utterly unprincipled and open-ended right easily subject to political manipulation. (Look, for example, at which groups get subjected to criminal or civil "hate speech" proceedings, and which do not.) I also submit that its an embarrassing and demeaning stance for free adults to take.

    Another problem is that you've bought into the idea that censorship will, in the long run, go to the benefit of disenfranchised minorities. History disagrees. What happened when Canada embarked on its moronic Dworkin/MacKinnon anti-pornography crusade? Gay porn shops were disproportionately targeted. This was a big shock — to people who were idiots, or blinded by cannon, or had no grasp of the history of freedom of expression. For now, "favored" minority groups enjoy a government-protected right not to be protected, while the government withholds that "protection" from disfavored minority groups. That's why you'll find, for instance, sensible Canadian gay rights groups coming out against censorship of asshole anti-gay speakers like Boissoin — they know damn well that freedom of expression protects them more than it hurts them in the long run. Think of the politician in Canada you hate the most. Now think of that politician determining what speech is hateful and dangerous and without value.

    I had some trouble with the idea of limiting speech that doesn’t present a clear and present danger when I first came across it, until I really thought more about the magnitude of psychological harm and exclusion that hate speech creates. I think that the courts did a good job of protecting freedom of expression with very narrowly construed provisions (even in the human rights legislation, which is normally very broadly interpreted) and I agree with the conclusion that when something crosses the line to hate speech it has no value and is dangerous for the community. It’s a hard line to cross- even threats of violence are constitutionally protected.

    By contrast, I don't trust the government to decide what speech has "value", and to label speech as "dangerous" based on unprincipled touchy-feely psychological concepts rather than principled physical ones.

  33. Semaphore  •  Sep 16, 2011 @9:06 pm

    I'll agree with you that the right "not to be offended" is unprincipled and open-ended, particularly when everyone's definition of offence is different. However, with respect, there's a difference between saying something offensive, which is constitutionally protected, and willfully promoting hatred against a group of people, particularly a minority with a history of discrimination against it.

    Could you please explain what you mean by embarrassing and demeaning? I can see how having the government-as-nanny standing over you with the Criminal Code in hand waiting for a violation could be demeaning, implying as it does that you're not competent to regulate your own words and the other party is too weak to stand up to it, but I wouldn't agree that this is what the laws ultimately lead to, since they have virtually no impact on day to day life. I don't think that I even knew that we had hate speech laws until I started law school, and the laws limiting speech that we do have are actually fairly uncontroversial. For example, the government recently proposed repealing a law preventing broadcasters from knowingly broadcasting false news, and people were not happy about it.

    As for the Dworkin/MacKinnon attempt to restrict pornography, it actually ended up giving most pornography explicit constitutional protection, and the case challenging disproportionate application of the obscenity laws to gay erotica at border checkpoints led to the formal extension of equality rights under the Charter to include sexual orientation.

    The laws aren't perfect, and the people applying them are even less so. However, what we're trying to do is create a society where people can participate in the democratic process without being attacked and marginalised because of something they can't control and which has been historically discriminated against.

    As for the government deciding which speech has value, I agree that it's problematic. However, outside of setting the legislation itself, they have very little to do with it since judges are very careful when interpreting these laws and courts are more than willing to strike down laws that unduly circumscribe freedom of expression (the solicitation law was recently struck down on those grounds). I went through your exercise of imagining which politician I would least want determining the boundaries of freedom of speech- and while there are a couple that I wouldn't want taking care of a dog I didn't like I can't think of any who are so outside of the mainstream that they'd censor anything that wasn't extreme. And if they tried, the courts would laugh themselves silly slapping it down.

    Psychological harm is a tricky concept, but I think that it's necessary. Physical harm is a bright line test and psychological harm is a lot more open to interpretation, but words have the potential to harm to the point that they make it impossible for people to participate as full citizens, which is the harm that the laws are trying to address.

  34. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Sep 16, 2011 @9:20 pm

    Semaphor;

    The core problem with having ANY exception to the right of free speech is that it gives the government a pretext. The American Founders included free speech as the very first Amendment to the Constitution largely because the British Government had been entirely too goddamned fond of jailing people for disagreeing with the British Government.

    Anti-Hate Speech laws sound very fine and wonderful, if you presume a neutral and honest government. I hear that the Chinese assert that they had one once upon a time, but I suspect that's a myth. In practical terms hate speech laws allow those in power to punish people they disapprove of, while ignoring similar degrees of hostility uttered by the Approved.

  35. Rliyen  •  Sep 17, 2011 @1:48 am

    George Carlin would (God rest his soul, even though he was an atheist) be probably be brought before the HRC if Ms. Pearl Clutcher had heard his routine about Two way words:

    "And the cock crowed three times."

    "Hey, it's in the Bible! Cock is in the Bible!"

    Then again, I'd think she'd get that confused with a sexual organ squawking.

  36. Amy Alkon  •  Sep 17, 2011 @8:45 am

    Great point about how America has de facto "Human Rights Councils." And it's terrific that you linked to these pieces on theFIRE.org — a terrific organization that defends free speech rights on college campuses, and anyone's free speech rights, at that (atheist, religious person, conservative, liberal, professor or student).

  37. ScottH  •  Sep 17, 2011 @7:29 pm

    "…but it’s a statement of our values that we are willing to bring in the weight of the government in to protect minorities’ rights. "

    We don't want anyone tobruise their hands, now.

  38. Rustybadger  •  Sep 17, 2011 @8:37 pm

    As a Canadian, let me weigh in on the free speech debate… Semaphore, the reason Ken used the words "embarrassing and demeaning" is that immature behaviour by adults IS embarrassing and demeaning, to those watching, and to those participating. It's like that one uncle you have who always gets drunk and trots out the really obscene jokes at family gatherings. Adults should be able to act like adults, and not like children. How does this relate to hateful speech? Let me 'splain:

    Hatred never killed anyone. It is an emotion. Hatred has led to many terrible ACTIONS, however. The problem with emotions is that you can't outlaw them- you can only outlaw certain expressions of them. So, we outlaw rape, which is an expression of Lust; we outlaw theft, which is an expression of Greed; and we outlaw various forms of discrimination, which are expression of Hatred. It is therefore illegal to deny someone access to your restaurant because of their skin colour, and so on. We have extended those provision beyond the visible differences in humanity such as race, to include ideological differences such as religion; biological differences such as sexual orientation, and so on. Fine, so far.

    The problem is that our government has gone too far in its attempts to protect groups of people (but not individuals, interestingly) from harm. By seriously considering emotions as being definitively harmful, our masters have shown their own immaturity and ignorance. It should NEVER be anyone's 'right' to go through life without having their feelings hurt. If you think that it should, you're an idiot, a fool, and a pathetic excuse for a human being. Did that hurt your feelings?

    There is also a world of difference between hating someone (or a particular group of people), and actually causing harm to them because of that hatred. I personally hate a number of people, both individuals as well as groups- yet I would never express that distaste in ways stronger than a blog post. How long will it be before it's illegal to make stereotypical jokes about lawyers, taxmen, or other professions? It's no more ludicrous than the rules we have about hurting the feelings of other minorities.

    Little children cry to their mommies when their playmates call them names. Their mommies usually say 'Remember, "sticks and stones may break my bones"- now go back outside and play.' For adults to behave as babies when their feelings are hurt is indeed embarrassing.

  39. jon spencer  •  Sep 18, 2011 @7:48 am
  40. JJ  •  Sep 18, 2011 @11:04 am

    Hmm… pissing off twats like Ezra Levant versus the glory of the Westboro Baptists and Bill O'Rielly setting up Tiller to get whacked.

    Beaverpride. Haters gonna hate though.

  41. Ken  •  Sep 18, 2011 @11:50 am

    Haters gonna hate, Canadian hatees gonna run to the government for protection from getting their feelings hurt, and get attention depending on how politically favored their group is.

    By the way, that time that the cops started an investigation of a possible hate crime because someone put up a sign saying "Stop the Tamil Tigers" (a designated terrorist group) at a rally? That was some prime stuff, there.

  42. JJ  •  Sep 18, 2011 @12:55 pm

    Kinda says something when a so-called 'terrorist group' can freely fly the flag on the Don Valley Expressway, doesn't it? The conflict in Sri Lanka was far more complex than 'good'/'bad' and probably deserves a bit more reflection than 'some dude said a thing and I'm gonna run this terrorism shit into the ground'. Just sayin'

    We've built a mechanism to discuss and arbitrate on whether or not 'GOD HATES FAGS!!!' is worthwhile political discourse rather than default to 'FUCK YEAH, FREEDOM BABY!'. It's a dispute resolution system, not a presidential kill order for posting some youtube videos… we're better than that.

    So yea, haters gonna hate and build giant walls of rad cognitive dissonance to keep on hatin'

  43. Ken  •  Sep 18, 2011 @1:01 pm

    Yes, it does say something when a designated terrorist group can fly flags advocating a designated terrorist group freely, but citizens flying a flag saying the terrorist group should be stopped are investigated for "hate crime." I leave it to the good sense of the readers to determine what it says.

    Yes, you've built a system where bureaucrats decide whether your expression has value. Congratulations.

  44. JJ  •  Sep 18, 2011 @1:23 pm

    You're mad that a police complaint was investigated and went nowhere with no charges being recommended to the CPS? That's the crux of your argument? That to you is the horror of our values and makes us an abhorrent enemy of 'true free speech(tm)'?

    You then ignore the fact that the content of one's youtube videos in the US is infact cause for an extra-judicial kill order to be written in one's name… well, that and a trip to summer camp, I guess.

  45. Ken  •  Sep 18, 2011 @1:32 pm

    Yes, that's right; we're nothing but a relentless cheerleader for the War on Terror and the U.S. government's exercises of power around here. It's totally true. You're so perceptive.

  46. JJ  •  Sep 18, 2011 @1:52 pm

    If I may be so bold as to swing this back to some form of consensus… well not yet, I'm going to take a muthafuckin' flamethrower to your strawman first…

    I never said you were a cheerleader for said bullshit, I said you ignored a very prescient fact staring you directly in the face whilst going off on your 'Canada hates free speech' diatribe. You earlier compounded two entirely seperate issues, that of the Human Rights Tribunal which is not relevant in this case, since said issue entirely applies to one York student, her righteous dumbfuckery and subsequent public shaming. There was no need for the HRT to be involved as we went with the default option most Canadians recognize as 'take off, ya hoser'. No claim was filed, nor will there be and I do believe the two of us can come to agreement on that.

    If anything, I feel this incident shows the relatively weak power of what Norman Finklestein would call 'the zionism industry' has in Canada when it comes to it's influence in public discourse and shaping public opinion. Additionally, it was an important story that did deserve the attention it received, if only to remind us that some people are just dumb as shit. Never forget!

    By the way, if you want a better point for debate in the future, I'd steer clear of the Tamil issue and go with the two lesbians trying to heckle a comic in Vancouver. It just oozes 'what the fuck!?!'

  47. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 18, 2011 @2:26 pm

    some people are just dumb as shit. Never forget!

    If you keep talking, we'll have little opportunity to forget…

  48. Cormac  •  Sep 18, 2011 @6:12 pm

    Remember how easily people were throwing around the idea that disagreement with Obama is racist…?

    Now imagine if Holder had been empowered to send a Department of Acceptable Speech SWAT team to kick in your door in the middle of the night, shoot your dog, your cat, even your kid's pet hamster! Then they unload on you because…well, they'll make something up later…and end up plugging a couple members of your family (and, maybe, the neighbors on the other side of the wall)…

    Pretty scary shit, eh?

  49. ElamBend  •  Sep 18, 2011 @6:54 pm

    "If anything, I feel this incident shows the relatively weak power of what Norman Finklestein would call ‘the zionism industry’ has in Canada when it comes to it’s influence in public discourse and shaping public opinion. Additionally, it was an important story that did deserve the attention it received, if only to remind us that some people are just dumb as shit. Never forget!"

    By implication you're saying that the Jews got the strings on things a bit stronger here south of 49 and any old Jewess numbskull can cry wolf and get said industry into full swing? That's what you're saying right?

    As for the Sri Lanka thing; no, fighting a terrorist group doesn't justify repressions, or killing journalists and certainly Tamil's have had (and will have) a shit time in SL. But the Tigers were a terror cult run by meglomaniacs who invented the suicide bomb, used child soldiers in a way that puts Africa to shame and made 'their' civilians live in an armed camp. And they were essentially Commie, I hate Commies…

    You know I love Canada, I really do, it's history, the similarities and differences with the US. It's sometimes amusing to hear some Anglophone Canadians try and elucidate the vast differences between the US and Canada (and then explain why Quebec can never leave). What's sad is that, at it's birth, Canada was heavily settled by New Englanders and carry many of the same political foibles of that region, including talking down to people, telling them what's better, and presuming to speak for so many others.

    Your example of Westboro is a great example for us. (They had nothing to do with the killing of that Doc, btw, it was essentially a lone nut.) However, they are assholes, and without the help of the government, some Americans came up with a solution, it's called Patriot Guard. The community came together and found a consensus for effectively shutting them up when they weren't wanted without involving the near-monopoly on violence that the government represents.

    Every time the government is involved to shut up the unpopular minority, all of us lose some of our rights. It may seem convenient at the time, but at some point, you may find yourself in the unpopular minority; and wouldn't it be nice to know you got some protections. Oh well, you can always drive to Buffalo.

  50. SPQR  •  Sep 18, 2011 @7:47 pm

    Rustybadger, we know that there are Canadians who get it but its good to hear from them.

  51. JJ  •  Sep 18, 2011 @8:10 pm

    "By implication you’re saying that the Jews got the strings on things a bit stronger here south of 49 and any old Jewess numbskull can cry wolf and get said industry into full swing? That’s what you’re saying right?"

    Are female jew really refered as jewesses?

    On a serious note, I cannot say how it would play out in the US just as I cannot say how this would have played out in front of our 'Anti-freedom Kangaroo Court', as neither happened. I do however believe that your country is very incapable of actually having an honest debate on some issues due to the strength of said lobby. There's an excellent Glenn Greenwald article today that effect. Is that in itself more damaging than this so-called 'Canadian criminalization of free speech'? It's a worthy conversation to have but I highly doubt you'd make it three sentences without being labeled an 'anti-semite' or 'self-hating jew'.

    I do feel that a dispute resolution mechanism, which can be tested and has, is superior to manufactured consent that falls somewhere between a j-street press release and 'oh god it's rapture-rific!'.

    On the Tamil question… firstly, it's nice that you hate communism. Thanks for sharing and I'm glad that you can use it to marginalize a group of people. Secondly, that entire conflict was fucking disgusting. Full stop. However, I cannot think of a single definition of the word 'terrorism' that would not apply equally to Sinhalese forces during the conflict. I'm honestly at a loss to come up with a definition that wouldn't apply to US or Canadian forces.

    Speaking as a Quebecois, Mohawk at that, the defense of Ezra Levant was honestly why I felt the need to toss out a barb. The company he works for, Quebecor/Sun Media, often stoke the fires of sovereignty in one language whilst castigating Quebecers as a whole for even entertaining such thoughts in a paper printed not fifty kilometers away. Suggesting that he had to defend himself from 'an onslaught of ninnies who need to suck it the fuck up' is honestly silly considering he's got a multi-billion dollar media empire paying the bills. He's also never let facts get in the way of, or even be included in, one of his natavist diatribes.

    That being said, I'm glad there's a dispute resolution mechanism in place as opposed to vigilantism. Multiple people have already been jailed over or because of the Westboro brigade and deep psychological scars inflicted on the families of their victims. While I'm sure some dudes on motorcycles mean well, it doesn't stop others from bringing small armouries in an attempt to extract vengeance. To my knowledge, and as much as I might laugh at it, no one's kicked Levant's ass yet.

    Tiller, I feel, was killed as he was repeatedly singled out by Bill O'Rielly who ran multiple 'opinion pieces' calling out Tiller as a murderer. Had nothing to do with Westboro as far as I know either.

    In closing, I've always been 'the unpopular minority'. It's cool, chicks dig it.

  52. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 18, 2011 @11:04 pm

    Tiller, I feel, was killed as he was repeatedly singled out by Bill O’Rielly who ran multiple ‘opinion pieces’ calling out Tiller as a murderer. Had nothing to do with Westboro as far as I know either.

    We'll ignore, for the moment, the fact that Tiller was – by state law – technically a murderer.

    What I would rather point out is that "being a fucking douchnozzle" does not, in fact, make you part of "the unpopular minority".

  53. Mike  •  Sep 19, 2011 @9:30 am

    As a Canadian, I get it. Levant and Steyn were 100% correct and were railroaded.

    Let me add:

    1. I feel a tiny bit bad for Sarah Grunfeld. She heard something out of context in class, overreacted. Hell, we've all done that. But instead of apologizing and doing her best Emily Litella "Oh. That's very different. Never Mind.", she doubled down on the stupid by insisting she was right all along. 18 year old first-years aren't very good at admitting they were wrong.

    2. Growing up near Toronto, we had a saying. "If you can hold a fork, you can go to York".

  54. SPQR  •  Sep 19, 2011 @9:38 am

    I do feel that a dispute resolution mechanism, which can be tested and has, is superior to manufactured consent that falls somewhere between a j-street press release and ‘oh god it’s rapture-rific!’.

    Well, the above is completely incoherent but looks like an attempt to copy some stupidity from Noam Chomsky to look smart. As with any attempt to refer to Noam Chomsky, it merely results in the appearance of being an incoherent leftwing kook.

  55. SPQR  •  Sep 19, 2011 @9:42 am

    To call a state-funded prosecution, a prosecution whose rules allow it to abandon all of the common law evidentiary protections as well as allow the same agency to serve as judge and prosecutor, and wherein the prosecution itself is punishment, a "dispute resolution mechanism" is … I can't resiste … Orwellian.

  56. Anon  •  Sep 19, 2011 @11:32 am

    I don't understand how this story is still in the news; as one person already posted this girl has repeated the same words and feels that her context is better justification for it.

    The professor probably isn't that good, he seems to need to resort to shock; making the shocking statement before giving context is dramatic… and now he has more drama than he wanted.

    I bet she can use a fork.

  57. b  •  Sep 19, 2011 @12:20 pm

    I admit, I like this story being in the news. Why? Simply because some dark part of me wants this woman hounded for the rest of her life for her willful ignorance and self-important stupidity. I want her life ruined. I want her driven from that university. I want her to have to change her name and never be allowed to utter a single sentence beyond "Can I super-size that for you?" without being ridiculed.

    It's not nice. It's not Christian. It's petty and pointless. But some microscopic yet vociferous part of me wants it.

  58. Linus  •  Sep 19, 2011 @2:43 pm

    You’re mad that a police complaint was investigated and went nowhere with no charges being recommended to the CPS? That’s the crux of your argument? That to you is the horror of our values and makes us an abhorrent enemy of ‘true free speech(tm)’?

    Yeah, Ken, Canada may be ruled by despots, but they're benevolent despots. Why are you so upset by their benevolence?!?

  59. ElamBend  •  Sep 19, 2011 @2:52 pm

    "Multiple people have already been jailed over or because of the Westboro brigade and deep psychological scars inflicted on the families of their victims."

    I don't think the first part of your sentence is true and in the second part, you give those who've had to put up with those folks too little credit (and the Westboro folks and their signs too much).

    odd side note. Your referred to yourself as Quebecois, but revealed yourself as Mohawk. I always assumed that only the francofone referred to themselves as much (as well as assumed that Mohawk were mostly Anglophone – I mean, wasn't that part of the underlying quarrel 20 years ago).

    As for the SL war, yes, nasty stuff. But if you can't see how CAF and the US Military aren't unable to be labeled terrorists, I not sure I can debate you. FWIW, the Tiger leadership seemed to show, from the beginning, a much lower regard for human life; on their side and the Sinhalese, military and civilian. The Sinhalese junta (a fair word, I admit), brought total war in the end; but I cannot imagine living in a world place run by the Tiger leadership. (and note, I'm NOT saying Tamil). There certainly are degrees of evil and they were that to the nth degree.

  60. Richard  •  Oct 4, 2011 @7:18 am

    I can hear a distant rumbling interspersed with squaks and choking noises. The sound has traveled from the Jewish Cemeteries of Plattsburgh NY and Montreal, Canada to my home in Rhode Island. It’s my ancestors struggling to decide whether they should roll over in their graves, curse in Yiddish or keep laughing in sheer black frustration.

    Laura K, they would have sadly shaken their heads while saying in Yiddish "a shanda for the goyim".

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