Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jennifer Lynch Defends Kangaroo Courts

Note to Readers: If this post and others like it on my blog seems like "inside baseball" to you because you just don't "get" the ins and outs of Canadian politics, I suggest that you read Ezra Levant's Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights and visit his blog at: The links there will take you to other blogs. You can find out about the Calgary pastor who was ordered not to say anything about homosexuality in public for the rest of his life because he wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. You can find out about the Catholic priest who was persecuted for saying what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality. You can find out about how Ezra Levant was persecuted for publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in his magazine - etc. No, this is not North Korea or Saudi Arabia we are talking about. It is good old Canada. Ezra is a Conservative, but his campaign for change is drawing support from across the political spectrum including PEN, Egale, and other liberal groups, as well as many liberal MP's and Senators. He is a loudmouth; but he is also right on this one.

Jennifer Lynch, the head of the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission (sic), gave a speech the other day in which she gave indications that she finally is beginning to understand that the HRC's are becoming pariahs in Canada. But she seems unable to comprehend what could possibly be wrong with a little government censorship between friends.

The National Post published part of her speech and here is an excerpt, with [my comments interspersed in bold]. I am doing this partly to raise awareness of creeping totalitarianism in Canada and partly because if nothing changes in a few years I won't be allowed to criticize the bureaucratic nannies this way.

"As personal attacks were made against anyone who tried to correct the record, the number of people willing to make the effort dwindled. There is tangible proof of this: Fifty percent of interviewees for an upcoming book on human rights have stated that they feel "chilled" about speaking up. [Subjective feeling here are taken as "proving" chill. What this proves is that Jennifer Lynch interprets chill in totally subjective terms; it is a feeling. But all kinds of people feel all sorts of ways and it is cheap and easy to say you feel chilled even if nothing has happened to you except that someone has not let you have your own way or argued back against you. This should not be the basis for discriminating against people.]

Ironically, those who are claiming that human rights commissions' jurisdiction over hate speech is "chilling" to freedom of expression have successfully created their own reverse chill. [So reverse chill is bad, but non-reverse chill is good? I'm having a bit of trouble following this. But it seems to come down to this: she equates people expressing a subjective feeling with people being hauled before a tribunal and forced to spend $100,000 defending their right to free speech. Both are "chill." Look, if all Ezra Levant could say was "I feel disagreed with and disparged as a person" would I be concerned about his subjective feelings? No. But the fact that he was hauled in before a tribunal and forced to hire a lawyer at his own expense to defend his right to free speech is not a matter of "subjective feelings" but of "objective persecution."]

Critics of the human rights system are manipulating and misrepresenting information to further a new agenda--one that posits that human rights commissions and tribunals no longer serve a useful purpose. [Well, they don't serve any useful purpose. What would be helpful here would be an argument that they do serve a useful purpose. But she won't argue that - she merely assumes it.]

Because the Maclean's case was about a journalist, it naturally attracted the attention of many other journalists, who quite rightly see their role as a bulwark against incursions on freedom of expression. [No kidding, really?]

But I do believe that some are unwitting accomplices in a gross oversimplification of the issue, who flame the controversy by repeating inaccuracies. [Note that she does not have the nerve to say that the journalists were wrong or that the HRC's were not intruding on freedom of expression. She contents herself with hinting that maybe the journalists were wrong about some minor technicality or other. But so what? Are they threatening freedom of journalistic expression or not? Come on, Jennifer. Engage with the argument. If you think you are not guilty at least say why. Name one inaccuracy. She doesn't because she can't.]

It seems that, fundamentally, detractors do not believe that access to administrative tribunals in search of equality is something that our country should ensure." [Well, at least you have managed to grasp that much.]

Ezra Levant, on his blog yesterday, calls attention to an article on - of all places - The Daily Kos, the extreme liberal blog conglomerate that situates itself somewhere to the left of the Democratic Party close to NDP land. He quotes Sean Parnell, who quotes from The National Post article and concludes by saying that Lynch's thinking is "almost beyond my ability to mock." He also warns that attempts by the left to chill free speech in the US are dangerous and counter-productive. Let's put a mark on the wall: this is the first time I've found something on The Daily Kos to agree with. I just hope this doesn't become a habit.

There is one other quote from her speech that I want to highlight. It wasn't in The National Post but is on the CHR Commission website

"Freedom of expression is a fundamental right in Canada. As all of you will know it is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Because no right is absolute, the modern concept of rights is that of a matrix with different rights and freedoms mutually reinforcing each other to build a strong and durable human rights system."

I agree that no right is absolute, although some are fundamental - which is the point of having the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The question is "Who should decide what the limits to freedom of expression are?" We have actual laws in this country against fraud, incitement, libel and other restrictions on absolute free speech and we have real courts to rule on when these laws apply. We have actual defences like truth as well. The key is that someone has to be harmed; then there is a remedy. But Jennifer Lynch wants to restrict free speech whenever she feels like it and someone feels outraged regardless of whether a real law has been broken or anyone actually has been harmed. This is a very, very bad idea. It is, in fact, incompatible with freedom of speech and the rule of law. The rule of law I can take; the rule of lefitist, ideologically-driven busybody bureaucrats with too much power and too big a budget for their own good is quite another thing.
Ezra now has his own analysis of the Lynch speech up on his blog today. I really appreciate his forthrightness about defending conservative Christians. Since he is a Jew it is hard for the opposition to attack him for self-interest in defending Christians. Jews know a thing or two about persecution and it is time for Christians to realize that we need to speak out for our rights while it is still legal to do so. Meanwhile, Ezra is doing what he can to keep our rights safe.

The Toronto Star is doing its best to set the stage for using the HRC's as a wedge issue to discredit the Tories in the 2011 provincial election. All it talks about today in its story on last night's leadership candidates debate is the HRC issue. Hudak and Hilliar want reform of the Ontario HRC and Tribunal as part of the Conservative Party Platform. Elliot and Klees (astonishingly!) don't because they are afraid the liberals will exploit the lack of public understanding of the issues to make the Tories look like they are against human rights. (!) In other words, Orwellian inversion of the truth looks like the winner this year, according to the polls. The Star is not to be trusted on this issue; it has drifted far from its liberal roots and now hews pretty closely to the administrative totalitarian line. This should be a very interesting campaign. At least the Conservative are getting it. In the long run, it will be very interesting to see if the Ontario Liberals actually find that defending the Kangaroo Courts is a winning election issue. I suspect that they might find the electorate of a different mind than the Star.

No comments: