Canada: Conservatives cancel hate speech censorship-QMI
June 22, 2012
Conservatives strike blow for freedom
Tories yank Section 13 of human rights act like noxious weed
QMI Agency: June 11, 2012
To understand how Canada got an Internet censorship law, also known as Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, you must go back in time to 1913.
That’s when John Ross Taylor was born in Toronto.
Something about Taylor just wasn’t right. In his 20s, as the world lurched towards the Second World War, Taylor openly sided with the Nazis. He was interned during the war. After the war, despite the absolute repudiation of Nazism, Taylor didn’t give up hope. He continued to call for Canadians to throw off our liberal democracy in favour of dictatorship. And, of course, he seasoned that with a dose of anti-Semitism and anti-black racism, too.
It was pitiful: He’d print up some pamphlets, climb to the top of an office tower, and dump them off the roof, like confetti, hoping that would foment a revolution. What a deluded loser. But Taylor was never violent. If you turn the sound off when watching reels of him on the news, you’d mistake him for a banker — always dressed in a three-piece suit, the kind of thing you’d expect from the grandson of a Toronto alderman. But he just wanted an all-white Reich here in Canada.
Obviously this bothered right-minded people after the war, especially Jews in Canada, many of whom were survivors of the Holocaust. Canada’s Official Jews — the bosses of the now-defunct Canadian Jewish Congress — pressed their friends in the Liberal Party for laws banning Taylor’s anti-Semitic rants. And in 1966, a committee appointed by the justice minister proposed new laws to ban hateful speech. The Cohen Commission specifically mentioned Taylor by name as a rationale.
Using this harmless buffoon as an excuse, they recommended infringing on freedom of speech for all Canadians. “There is an evident distinction between ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ public discussion, and the state has as great an obligation to discourage the latter as it has to maintain the former,” they wrote.
So in 1977, Parliament passed the Canadian Human Rights Act, and Section 13 made it illegal to publish anything “… likely to expose a person … to hatred or contempt.”
Well, around that time, telephone answering machines were all the rage. And Taylor, now a senior citizen, saw this as his magic weapon for convincing Canadians to go fascist. He would stand around street corners in Toronto, handing out cards inviting people to get a racist message by calling his answering machine. Seriously.
Taylor was charged — and convicted — of having a mean answering machine message. He appealed it all the way to the Supreme Court — which heard the case in 1990, when he was 80. They ruled against him, four to three.
Gentle reader, do you think after such a stubborn life Taylor complied and unplugged his answering machine? He did not. And thus he served nine months in jail — more than most Canadian rapists do.
For more than 30 years, Section 13 had a 100% conviction rate for the thought crime of hurting someone’s feelings.
What an abusive law. What an un-Canadian law. What a ridiculous law in the age of the Internet.
Last week that law was pulled out, like a noxious weed. In 20 years time, I predict it will be regarded as one of the Conservatives’ greatest legacies: Freedom.