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Friday, October 10, 2008

Human rights complaint against Maclean's dismissed

Today, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the complaint raised against Maclean's magazine after it published excerpts from Mark Steyn's book America Alone.

The complaint was brought by the Canadian Islamic Congress.

According to the Tribunal:

The panel has concluded that the complaints must be dismissed. The complainants have not met their burden of demonstrating that, read in its context, the Article breaches s. 7(1)(b) of the Code. That is because the complainants have not shown that the Article rises to the level of hatred and contempt, as those terms have been defined by the Supreme Court of Canada, to breach s. 7(1)(b) of the Code.

Mark Steyn's website has a little more. Kathy Shaidle's reaction is here. Andrew Coyne says "Aw nuts, we won."

You can read the decision on BCHRT website here.

UPDATE:

Here is an interesting excerpt from the BCHRT's decision, at Section 157:

The Article may attempt to rally public opinion by exaggeration and causing the reader to fear Muslims, but fear is not synonymous with hatred and contempt.

Is this the first time any human rights body in Canada has distinguished between promoting fear of a religious or otherwise protected group and exposing it to hatred and contempt? With fear maybe being allowed?

I always thought: "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering," etc.

Here's another interesting excerpt from Section 151:

Read objectively, the tone and content of the Article was not nearly as offensive as some of the Internet blogs which post-dated it. While such blogs do provide some evidence that the Article exposed the complainants to hatred and contempt, the inherent weaknesses in that evidence, which we outlined above, mean that without other objective evidence, we are unable to rely on it. Further, Maclean’s cannot be held responsible for all of the blogs’ contents.

As you may recall, content from the Shotgun blog was brought into evidence during the Tribunal hearing.

UPDATE2:

According to this, Mark Steyn has offered to pay $1,000 to the Canadian Islamic Congress to fund an appeal of the BCHRT's decision. Says Steyn:

I sympathize with the Canadian Islamic Congress, whose mouthpiece feels that, if the British Columbia pseudo-judges had applied the logic of previous decisions, we'd have been found guilty. He's right: Under the ludicrous British Columbia "Human Rights" Code, we are guilty.

Posted by Terrence Watson on October 10, 2008 | Permalink

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Comments

Unfortunately the immigrant population here has grown quite accustomed to misusing Canada's H.R tribunals to try and force their way of life agaisnt our wills.

I think they use it to try a stifle free media as they do not want the truth about them told to the world.

I for one am glad the BC Tribunal threw this out.

Posted by: RobinHood | 2008-10-10 2:39:24 PM


Unfortunately the immigrant population here has grown quite accustomed to misusing Canada's H.R tribunals to try and force their way of life agaisnt our wills.

I think they use it to try a stifle free media as they do not want the truth about them told to the world.

I for one am glad the BC Tribunal threw this out.

Posted by: RobinHood | 2008-10-10 2:39:52 PM


RH,
I would have to do some hunting, but I recall reading somewhere (ezralevant.com I think) that something like 6 or 700 new immigrants to Alberta were learning English from the manual on how to file HR complaints...tell me that it isn't "by design" eh?
Of course they'll use it...we've taught them to.

Posted by: JC | 2008-10-10 3:13:58 PM


Now the speech warriors will try to squeeze an each-way win out of this by claiming they made the BCHRT "blink."

I covered this sorry affair at my place if you're interested.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-10-10 4:53:00 PM


No one is interested Dawg, you are wrong on this like you are wrong on everything else;)

Posted by: Blazingcatfur | 2008-10-10 5:00:02 PM


Dawg is a reactionary post-modern lefty that defends the hate and murder speech in the Qur'an, accepted unquestionably by a billion Muslims - as they are taught from childhood that the Qur'an is infallible, and Dawg equates the hate speech to the Bible who nobody takes literally anymore.

Dawg is missing his critical faculties, like the rest of the reactionary anti-enlightenment post-left.

Posted by: Mehdi | 2008-10-10 5:36:22 PM


Dawg,

I saw your piece and left the following comment:

Do you really believe the complaint would have been dismissed as readily if the subject of the complaint hadn't been Maclean's magazine?

Or, let me put it this way: you predicted it would go down this way. Suppose you'd been willing to lay some money on your prediction. Would you have been willing to wager just as much money on your prediction if some less well-known entity was under scrutiny, in more or less identical circumstances?

I'm not as confident as you or perhaps I'm just more cynical. We know the law always applies differently to wealthy, well-connected folks. Why not here as well?

Best,

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-10-10 5:42:20 PM


Mehdi,

I don't think Dawg is missing much in the way of critical faculties. His starting presuppositions are a little different from yours and mine, but he's explained them eloquently in the past.

He seems to care when religious extremists kill innocent people, as do I.

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-10-10 5:48:50 PM


Terrence,

The answer to your question is Yes.

The law tends to apply differently to wealthy, well-connected folks for two reasons: they can afford better legal representation, which can sometimes affect the outcome, and (certainly to the south of us where they must run for election), judges are political animals.

Neither factor applies here. Administrative tribunals are not courts, but their findings are usually reviewable by courts as they are in this instance. Their members are not elected, any more than our judges are. They don't need to play to the gallery.

The facts of the instant case were clear enough for most of us to predict the outcome well in advance, and we did. The arguments advanced by counsel for Maclean's contained nothing that hadn't been bruited about in the blogosphere for months.

But it was obvious to me that the speech-warriors, puffed up by their self-importance and faux outrage as they are, were going to attempt to make this into an each-way win. And we're seeing the sorry lot of them do just that, as they nurse their bitter disappointment with the Tribunal outcome.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-10-10 5:55:35 PM


TW, when Dawg compares barbarian, unreformed and communal Islam and equates that to reformed and secularized and privatized Christianity -- he is obviously bereft of critical faculties.

Moral relativism does make one depraved.

Whatever his value presuppositions are, they must be fit for the garbage dump or the gulag, when he declares that Islam shall not be criticized.

Posted by: Mehdi | 2008-10-10 5:58:14 PM


Dr. Dawg,
"The law tends to apply differently to wealthy, well-connected folks for two reasons: they can afford better legal representation, which can sometimes affect the outcome, ..."

This is not an example of the law being APPLIED differently. I defy you to show where, in law, it states that outcomes will be based on participants' income levels. That would be an example of the law being APPLIED differently.

(Child support and alimony notwithstanding)

I'll agree that affording a high priced legal team gives one the opportunity to research and assert legal precedants not normally found by others but if my public defender finds and asserts the same case law, it should be applied in a similar manner. Are you able to discern the difference?

"Neither factor applies here. Administrative tribunals are not courts, but their findings are usually reviewable by courts as they are in this instance. Their members are not elected, any more than our judges are. They don't need to play to the gallery. "

Yet above this you said

"...and (certainly to the south of us where they must run for election), judges are political animals."

People can be political animals without facing election. You are certainly a political and partisan animal. Hence, not facing election is not a defense against the charge that "They don't need to play to the gallery. "


Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-10-10 6:51:32 PM


The law in practice is applied differently, but not in every case, obviously.

Tribunal members don't rely on their verdicts to keep their jobs. I thought my intent was clear.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-10-10 7:12:14 PM


Dr. Dawg,

"Tribunal members don't rely on their verdicts to keep their jobs. I thought my intent was clear."

I repeat, "People can be political animals without facing election."....especially when they don't fear losing their jobs for abuse of power stemming from political bias.

I thought my intent was clear.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-10-10 7:29:10 PM


"I always thought: "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering," etc."

Only in Hollywood. (Wonder why?)

In the real world, fear is virtuous because it enhances survival.

"Evolution has equipped mammals with a readiness to easily associate fear to recurrent threats in their evolution..."

"Thus, given that fear is activated when a snake is around, they condition fear to the snake much easier than to other stimuli that are around."

"Snakes have provided a recurrent threat throughout mammalian evolution..."individuals who have been good at identifying and recruiting defense responses to snakes have left more offspring than individuals with less efficient defense systems."

Posted by: DJ | 2008-10-10 7:35:12 PM


Of course was different due to it being Macleans and Mark Steyn as opposed to some lone individual. This, by the way, is not a victory for freedom of speech and of the press, merely that these petty tyrants understood they had bitten off more than they could chew.

When I sent my written complaint about this kangaroo tribunal to the BC government, I finally last week received a reply stating the usual rubbish: that the government must remain at arm's length from the BCHRC and that the BCHRC must follow the CHRA. Interesting since the provincial government did act in a previous case where the kangaroo court tried to ban a book from libraries here. It seems that both the provincial and federal politicians want us to believe that these kangaroo tribunals are totally independent and that the government can do nothing. What an insult!

Posted by: Alain | 2008-10-10 7:59:42 PM


One can feel the regret with which the tribunal
issued its acquittal in the hints it planted
in its decision about what extra evidence might
have changed its mind. See paragraph [143].
A sociologist, indeed.

Posted by: Frank Ch. Eigler | 2008-10-10 9:37:13 PM


Frank,
The panel set out a much stronger hint at paras 8-12, pointing out that it couldn't dismiss this before the hearing because Macleans (unlike most respondents to HR complaints) didn't bring an application to dismiss.
But then that reading doesn't fit with the conspiracy theory the remedial reading class has chosen to embrace.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-10-11 12:50:08 AM


Here is the critical sentence in the ruling, from paragraph 81:

"The interpretation and application of human rights law must be flexible enough to ensure that each case brought under s. 7(1)(b) of the Code is considered in light of the context in which the communication is made."

That means that the Tribunal can invoke the magic mantras of "flexibility and "context" to make any decision they want, while still maintaining the fantasy that the test for whether a publication exposes an individual or group to hatred or contempt is an "objective" one.

In paragraph 83 the Tribunal defines "context" to include consideration of: "the social and historical background for the publication", "the credibility likely to be accorded to the publication", and "how the publication is presented." Therefore, it appears that the Tribunal is clearly carving out a 'mainstream media' exemption from section 7(1)(b) of the BC Human Rights Code. Publish what you like in a high circulation national magazine, hire the best QC attorneys money can buy, and the Tribunal will fawn over you and invent "contextual" reasons to spare you from its wrath. Try the same thing without the money, lawyers, and reputation, and you will receive a much different result, a la Stephen Boissoin.

Posted by: Arnold Schonberg | 2008-10-11 5:43:08 AM


truewest, if Macleans did bother bring an application to dismiss, it would never have been granted due to the low standard applied for carrying complaints to the hearing stage.

Posted by: Frank Ch. Eigler | 2008-10-11 7:41:49 AM


Frank,
We'll never know will we? And for the record, it is far easier to have a human rights complaint dismissed for lack of merit than it is an ordinary lawsuit.
The standard in human rights law wasis articulated in the much-cited (because applications to dismiss are made as a matter of course by lawyers familiar with HRT procedure) decision in Wickham and Wickham v. Mesa Contemporary Folk Art and others, 2004 BCHRT 134:
"The assessment is not whether there is a mere chance that the complaint will succeed, which would be the lowest threshold a complainant would have to meet. Nor is it that there is a certainty that the complaint will succeed, which would be at the highest threshold a complainant would have to meet. Rather, the Tribunal is assessing whether there is a reasonable prospect the complaint will succeed based on all the information available to it."

Seems to me that Macleans counsel could have put Steyn's story into evidence at the hearing of application and asked the very simple question: "even if you disagree with everything Mark Steyn says, think his research is bogus and his tone snide, does this really rise to the level of "hate or contempt" as defined by the SCC in Taylor? Or is it (as the panel eventually found, without Macleans calling a single witness) "essentially an expression of opinion on political issues which, in light of recent historical events involving extremist Muslims and the problems facing the vast majority of the Muslim community that does not support extremism, are legitimate subjects for public discussion".


Posted by: truewest | 2008-10-11 8:45:50 AM


Frank,
The panel set out a much stronger hint at paras 8-12, pointing out that it couldn't dismiss this before the hearing because Macleans (unlike most respondents to HR complaints) didn't bring an application to dismiss.
But then that reading doesn't fit with the conspiracy theory the remedial reading class has chosen to embrace.


Posted by: truewest | 11-Oct-08 12:50:08 AM


And good on Macleans for refusing to play their stupid communist game. Buying into the idea that you need to conform to that kind of Stalinist bureaucracy gives them way too much ground. They are a farce and that should be how we treat them. Go Macleans.

And if these complaints were only addressed in real courts...the complainant could be sued if the defendant wins his case. That would certainly put an end to the frivolity of these things.

Posted by: JC | 2008-10-11 9:04:04 AM


truewest: "Seems to me that Macleans counsel could have put Steyn's story into evidence at the hearing of application and asked the very simple question: ..."

Reread [11]. Maclean's filed a response asserting the negative to that exact question.

Posted by: Frank Ch. Eigler | 2008-10-11 9:21:27 AM


Yes, Frank, I can see that.
But if YOU reread para. 11 you will see it also notes that Macleans did not bring an application to dismiss. And paras. 9-10 point out that the Tribunal will not, on its own motion, dismiss a complaint that passes screening, but will do so on application of the respondents.
So my question is, if the practice of making s.27 applications is so well-established, why did Macleans not bring an application? They had a reasonable shot at succeeding. And even if they had failed, they would have forced the complainants to run a preview of their case. And yet they chose to take this to a five-day hearing, at considerable expense to themselves and the public.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-10-11 10:04:12 AM


JC,
Don't know where you got the idea that a successful defendant can sue a plaintiff. Ain't true. But out of curiousity, what do you think the basis of the suit would be?

Posted by: truewest | 2008-10-11 10:06:25 AM


Quoth h2o273kk9:

*********
"Tribunal members don't rely on their verdicts to keep their jobs. I thought my intent was clear."

I repeat, 'People can be political animals without facing election.'....especially when they don't fear losing their jobs for abuse of power stemming from political bias.

I thought my intent was clear."
***************

Well, no, it wasn't.

So which is it--that the Tribunal politically "backed down" because of pressure, or that it didn't back down, but merely agreed with the respondents for political reasons?

Because you don't have to be political to keep your term appointment on a Tribunal, unlike (say) US judges who must stand for election. So there's no incentive for Tribunals to find in one way or another for political reasons, and that stands no matter what kind of "political animals" Tribunal members might be.

And to be preemptive for a moment: there is no chance in Hades that HRCs and HRTs will be abolished--there's plenty of work for them, even if the speech provisions of the applicable Acts were to be repealed--so that you can't even argue for long-term political strategy.

Please accept my commiserations on your victory.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-10-11 10:59:32 AM


I note that the leftists commenting continue to remain wilfully ignorant and blind. The HRC members are certainly political animals in the sense that they have their own ideological agenda, which amounts to the same. They are almost to the last one activists, which is quickly confirmed in checking out their background.

In a free society there can never be any justification for a HRCA or HRCs, as it is simply human rights turned on its head.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-10-11 12:14:14 PM


JC,
Don't know where you got the idea that a successful defendant can sue a plaintiff. Ain't true. But out of curiousity, what do you think the basis of the suit would be?

Posted by: truewest | 11-Oct-08 10:06:25 AM

If someone sues me for saying something they disagree with...and I am successful in defending myself against such a charge...I would be suing them for time lost at work, defamation of character ant the cost of doing so. With a Vengeance.

Posted by: JC | 2008-10-11 12:54:33 PM


Good point Alain -- These leftists are the fascists of the postmodern age. Fascism comes in many disguises. To think that only jackboot wearing Germans and Italians can be fascists, while leftists who wish to grab power by closing down the open society and who appeal to mass irrationalism are not, is a lack of critical faculties. Dawg epitomizes left fascism.

Left fascism is by far a larger danger to society than rightwing fascism. And then you see them in alliance with one another such as in the alliance of leftists with Islamists, or in the politics of Ukraine, or in the Left party of Germany.

The irony with the left-Islam alliance is that the leftists will be the first hanging from the poles when Islam takes over a society, as it happened in Iran l980.

Posted by: Mehdi | 2008-10-11 1:29:21 PM


Good point Alain -- These leftists are the fascists of the postmodern age. Fascism comes in many disguises. To think that only jackboot wearing Germans and Italians can be fascists, while leftists who wish to grab power by closing down the open society and who appeal to mass irrationalism are not, is a lack of critical faculties. Dawg epitomizes left fascism.

Left fascism is by far a larger danger to society than rightwing fascism. And then you see them in alliance with one another such as in the alliance of leftists with Islamists, or in the politics of Ukraine, or in the Left party of Germany.

The irony with the left-Islam alliance is that the leftists will be the first hanging from the poles when Islam takes over a society, as it happened in Iran l980.

Posted by: Mehdi | 2008-10-11 1:36:26 PM


Left fascism is by far a larger danger to society than rightwing fascism. And then you see them in alliance with one another such as in the alliance of leftists with Islamists, or in the politics of Ukraine, or in the Left party of Germany.
Posted by: Mehdi | 11-Oct-08 1:29:21 PM

Both kinds are evil and we should condone neither one.

Posted by: JC | 2008-10-11 1:36:58 PM


Dr. Dawg,

"So which is it--that the Tribunal politically "backed down" because of pressure, or that it didn't back down, but merely agreed with the respondents for political reasons?"

Or

Before:
They began proceedings believing they were doing God's work (read: evangelical socialism) and that they would be unhindered as has been the norm...until now.

(So this first part demonstrates how one can still be a political animal especially when your beliefs, prejudices, and practices are not challenged)

After:
Embarrassment and hesitation sets in resulting from the firestorm of media/public scrutiny for the first time in their lives. That blinking red light in the corner of their eye indicating a "career dissipation" warning that the party is over. Better to not have one's name too prominent when seen squashing free speech, social justice, and basic decency and fairplay.

Otherwise, the NDP/Liberals may not touch them with a ten foot pole when it comes to patronage appointments.

(So this second part demonstrates how one can still be a political animal especially when your beliefs, prejudices, and practices are finally being challenged)

I hope you've learned a little something about human nature today.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-10-11 2:20:02 PM



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