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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Warren Kinsella gets it all wrong

Warren Kinsella, National Post scribe, author, punk, and former Liberal spin meister, has been involved in the human rights commission discussion of late. Mostly, he is busy defending Richard Warman, the man who accounts for a whole pile of Human Rights Commission cases (mostly against neo-Nazis and white supremacists), as a modern-day saint and hero.

I can't vouch for his assessment of Warman. The Citizen put together as close to a hagiography of the man as you can get recently, and I see no reason not to think of him as a courageous man who uses, what I consider, terrible means to accomplish laudable ends. We all want neo-Nazis and white supremacists to shut up. There is nothing to be said for the vile views of "white nationalists" or whatever neologism they come up with to defend their idiocy of judging whole groups of people by the colour of their skin, or their ethnic background, or the colour of their hair, or whether they're right- or left-handed (they're all just as stupid a basis for making normative judgments about character). Nevertheless, some of us want to protect freedom of speech and expression. That includes vile speech, and speech that we would never accept in polite company, or in our home (whether that's an inclusive or exclusive disjunction depends on your home), and so on.

But none of that is my point. The point is that Kinsella misunderstands what freedom of speech and expression amounts to, philosophically. His definition appears to be something along the lines of, "I get to say whatever I damn well please wherever I damn well please." Let me illustrate by quoting large chunks from a recent post of his:

"I've written that I think  Ezra Levant, who I like a lot, is full of crap on this "free speech" crusade he sort-of leads.   Mark Steyn is full of crap, too, for similar reasons.

"In respect of the latter polemicist, and after 9/11, I wrote a column in the  Ottawa Citizen   that read:

"...The terrorism of September 11 was, and I very loosely quote Mr. Steyn, “a rude awakening from the indulgences of the last decade - disabled employees in wheelchairs, whom the Americans with Disabilities Act and the various lobby groups insist can do anything able-bodied people can, found themselves trapped on the 80th floor, unable to get downstairs…"

"From his perch in rural New Hampshire, Steyn popped a head valve when I objected to the fact that he was seemingly implying that people in wheelchairs shouldn't have been in the Twin Towers and, well, they sort of deserved  what they got.  He then withheld his column from the  National Post   for weeks, until two (not one, two) bizarre apologies were extracted from the  Citizen's   top truckler.  Not very free-speechy of him, was it?  What happened to the free exchange of ideas and all that, Marko? "

Here is point one: True, Kinsella does say "free speechy," which might be a hedge. Nevertheless, it is no violation of anyones free speech for Steyn to insist on getting an apology before he releases his columns or articles. That's his, well, right. It doesn't violate free speech for him to insist on 18 kittens and a basket of fruit from Warren Kinsella himself before he sends out his columns. He can make any demands he wants. If the Ottawa Citizen decides to cave in, that's their prerogative as well. It's their paper. They own it. They get to control what goes in, and what stays out. Just because they've declined to publish an op-ed I sent them many moons ago does not mean that my freedom of speech was violated. It just means that they made an editorial decision to exclude my op-ed from their paper because it didn't meet their standards, or they didn't like my name, or they didn't like my use of commas, or whatever.

"(They wanted  me  to apologize to Steyn, too, for disapproving of the fact that  Steyn called Chinese people "chinks" and Japanese people "japs."    Shortly after I told the  Citizen's   editor-in-chief I wouldn't apologize for telling the truth, my column was canned.  Free speechers, unite! Defend Warren, now!)"

Again, a mistake, and point two: They can can you, Warren. They can fire you if Steyn insists on it. That's all perfectly within their rights, and is no violation of freedom of speech or expression whatsoever. We can defend you if we think they made a bad decision, or if we think you are fantastic and bring a novel perspective on the issues (and, truth be told, I often do think this), but not on grounds of defending freedom of speech. Because freedom of speech has nothing at all to do with it.

Freedom of speech and expression amounts to my right to use my resources, and the resources of consenting others, to publish (almost) whatever I damn well please, on the property of those who consent, or in some public places. It is not a violation of your freedom of speech if you stood up on a chair in my kitchen, started pontificating about the joys of state-run schools, and I insisted that you either keep quiet or leave. It's my house, and my kitchen, and you'll do what I say there. In your own kitchen, Warren, you are free to pontificate about anything you'd like, to whoever you decide to invite in order to listen. And just as you are at the mercy of me, who owns the kitchen where you stand on my chair, so, too, are you at the mercy of the owners of The Citizen, who own the paper where you write your column. If they insist that you apologize to Steyn before they let you back into their, uhm, kitchen, then you have two choices: Apologize to Steyn, or take your ball and play elsewhere.

It would be a violation of freedom of speech if I called the government or, more to the point, the Human Rights Commission to shut you up (it would be fine if I called them to get you out of my house). Freedom of speech and expression are violated if you are told to shut up by the government or one of her organs when you are on your own private property, or on property owned by someone who lets you say what you'd like there, or are distributing materials you had purchased, and so on. Within the constraints of private property, you can say whatever you damn well please, and the government shouldn't be allowed to prosecute or persecute you for doing it.

(Of course, all the typical caveats about libel, and threats of violence, and fraud, and yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre apply).

Incidentally, while Kinsella doesn't get it, Kelly Toughill does. Big time. In spite of the fact that she disagrees with Ezra and Steyn and the WS on just about every issue, she understands just what is at stake in this debate. It's not about whether you agree or disagree with Ezra, and it's not even remotely about Islam, or defending western culture, or whatever. It's about the Western Standard's legal right to publish what, in our judgment--and not the government's, or Shirlene McGovern's, or the Human Rights Commission's, or Warren Kinsella's, judgment--is a newsworthy, relevant, and important bit of news. Cancel your subscription, organize a boycott, write a nasty letter-to-the-editor, those are your consistent-with-freedom-0f-speech-and-expression rights. Sic the HRC on us? Hell no.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 26, 2008 | Permalink

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Comments

"a courageous man"?

Sorry, Peter. You're going to have to make a case for this. Where's the courage?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-01-26 7:05:35 PM


Actually, I didn't call him that. Here's what I said in context:

"I can't vouch for his assessment of Warman. The Citizen put together as close to a hagiography of the man as you can get recently, and I see no reason not to think of him as a courageous man who uses, what I consider, terrible means to accomplish laudable ends."

I have no reason *not* to think of him that way. Which is not at all the same as saying that he *is* a courageous man. I don't know one way or the other.

Actually, here's an excuse to discuss a pet peeve of mine. Some people think that "courageous" is a thick moral concept, as opposed to a thin one. A definition of courage might be: "Doing or saying something in spite of the danger you expose yourself to and know about." If this is all that courage amounts to, then it's a "thin" moral concept, implying no positive or negative evaluation of the person. If we add "towards a laudable end or goal" in the definition, then we have a normative assessment (the person who is courageous has one positive character trait) in the definition.

I personally prefer a thin version of "courageous." That means we don't know whether the person is to be applauded for being courageous or not. Thieves, for instance, might be thought of as courageous. So, too, might murderers and others who do wrong things while exposing themselves to potential harm, provided they are aware of this possibility.

Warman gets death threats for what he does. So says Kinsella. Lots of people want to hurt him for doing what he's doing. Even so, he continues to do it. That might count as courageous, don't you think?

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-01-26 7:27:31 PM


Thoughtful post, but we disagree on a couple things, not surprisingly.

One: I have not written, anywhere, that I actually support the complaints against Messrs. Levant and Steyn. I don't. The complaints don't meet the threshold for the types of issues with which human rights bodies should be concerned. Both cases, if they proceed any further - I strongly suspect they won't - actually risk delegitimizing future complaints involving fact situations that are far more harmful.

Two: Messrs. Steyn and Levant are indeed hypocrites. The libel actions Ezra has launched, for instance - against Chuck Strahl, against Calgary Conservative riding associations, against a Calgary anti-abortion activist, against even former employees of this very magazine - have the effect of limiting speech. That may not be Ezra's objective in suing people, but it is certainly what the defendants experience: ask them, if you don't agree. And the monetary penalties in a libel case can be enormous, far greater than what is ever experienced in a human rights case like the one Ezra is now busily marketing. I don't oppose Ezra's right to sue, at all: I just say he's a rank hypocrite for saying one thing, but doing another.

Words, you see, have power. Words can indeed cause harm. If someone were to call Ezra up tonight, and threaten to kill him, they would be using no more than words. But they would still be committing a criminal offence against him.

I would drop everything to drive Ezra to the police station to make the complaint. Is he - and any of you - saying I shouldn't be doing so?

Good night,

Warren

Posted by: Warren K | 2008-01-26 7:28:22 PM


Warren is not to be trusted!

Still, I don't advocate firing him or bringing him before an HRC.

Did you happen to notice my gracious acceptance of his right to espouse his odious and vile intolerance of differing opinions whereas he is more likely to want my ass hauled before the Inquisition to face charges.

Despicable! I can still say that can't I? At least until he gets his way.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-01-26 7:29:04 PM


Jaws,

It's too bad you need to waste such time and effort on Kinsella. He's obviously a boob who is wrong just as you (and Ezra on his blog) point out. Ezra's ALSO a boob, but the difference is that he's right about this issue.

I am glad you referenced Kelly Toughill's column I read it and was very impressed. She gets the Kantian seal of approval that the likes of Ezra and Peter Worthington (and many posters here) do not, as she is clearly supporting the principle, not the particular case of speech. I also find it interesting that it is in her words (and others written by people who don't have much time for Ezra personally or for his choice in publishing the cartoons) that the best case is put forward for not restricting hate speech. In Ezra's many writings and in his testimony those reasons are easily lost in the noise of all his rantings about radical Pakistani trained, Saudi employed Imams who want sharia law. As STRATEGY goes, Ezra's is awful as it seems designed NOT to engender sympathy for free speech. Kelly's column is decidedly different.

All this makes me wonder again about Ezra's motives (something I know he loves people doing!). In the tapes of his "interrogation" he said at one point that when he does public debates with people who disagree with him on political issues he doesn't care if he convinces his opponent. Now it is one thing to say that convincing his opponent is neither the ONLY thing nor even the MOST IMPORTANT thing he cares about, but Ezra said he does not care at all. But if he really cares about free speech being protected, then surely convincing as many people as possible (including spokespeople for the other point of view) is the best way to get that, and so he should care at least a LITTLE BIT about convincing his adversary.

The only conclusion that I can reach from this comment is that Ezra really cares more about self-promotion, which is achieved by getting to do the debate in the first place. You don't need to change the mind of your opponent to raise your public image. Ezra wants to be a "player", and that goal is won by just being in the show. So yes, I think he does believe that hate speech should not be legally restricted, but I also think his current battle is REALLY one for self-aggrandizement. If he has to choose strategies, it will be the one that makes him feel like the biggest hero, not the one that might help protect speech.

I understand, I think, how real honest-to-the-core libertarians who think Ron Paul is a lunatic or how blacks who think Al Sharpton is a shameless self-promoter feel. On the one hand, they are saying the things that they want said and think are important to have said. But on the other hand, they wonder why it had to be such an off-the-rails guy who was the standard bearer. Would that there were more Kelly Toughills and fewer Warren Kinsellas and Ezra Levants.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-01-26 7:30:12 PM


What danger? What did Warman risk with his anonymous posts on Free Dominion?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-01-26 7:45:16 PM


I hope "Good Night" does not mean "Good Bye," Warren. I wanted to respond a little.

You say we disagree about a few things, but both of the disagreements you raised are brought out of confusion, not out of genuine disagreement.

Your first disagreement is not a disagreement with me. I was merely offering an example (calling the HRC) to illustrate, I was not suggesting (I hope) that you approved of this. In fact, I would be surprised if you did, since the posts I've read on your blog only positively highlight the neo-Nazi and white supremacist HRC cases, and not at all the HRC complaint against Ezra.

I might be at fault. At the end, I asked you to get on board. That might have been read as "stop supporting the HRC's complaint with Ezra." I actually meant for it to be read as, "speak out in support of what the WS did, and on behalf of Ezra."

I'm glad you don't support the HRC in its case against Ezra. Won't you say more about it? Like, for instance, write 600 or so words about it, send it to us, and we'll run it as an opinion piece. You game?

As for two, I didn't write anything about hypocrisy, since that wasn't what I was targeting. I meant to be targeting a common misunderstanding about what counts as free speech & expression, not a comment about anyone's character.

As for words having power--agreed. And we are agreed (as I pointed out in brackets in my post) about the rightful limits on speech, especially limiting threats of violence.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-01-26 7:45:18 PM


Matthew: I don't know whether that counts as courageous. But doesn't his anti-neo-Nazi crusade count as courageous? Isn't he exposing himself to death threats and potential violence?

Actually, I don't have a horse in this race. I don't know whether he is or isn't.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-01-26 7:49:39 PM


Kinsella has never written anything a reader wouldn't expect him to write. Never a novel idea or new way of looking at something. It's nice of other writers to humour him, but why?

Posted by: philanthropist | 2008-01-26 7:52:46 PM


Oops, my tone in the first sentence at 7:49 was meant to be sarcastic. That doesn't come across. *That* is not courageous.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-01-26 7:53:43 PM


Peter - by your "thin" definition, virtually every public defence of one's values is courageous, especially when one’s values run counter to someone like Warman. (Not a very useful definition. Wouldn’t you agree?) I prefer the "phat" definition of courage, where one doesn't hide behind the skirt of the state when championing one’s values.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-01-26 8:20:45 PM


Peter,
Since misunderstanding seems to be your concern, perhaps, in the interests of accuracy, you should stop referring to the "HRC's complaint against Ezra" or its "case against Ezra". The HRC didn't make a complaint, nor does it have a case against Ezra. The HRC has received a complaint from someone about something the WS published and is, apparently, in the process of investigating it, as it is directed and required to by its enabling legislation.
That complaint may be without merit (in my view, it is) but its merits (or lack thereof) may not be apparent without investigation. If the investigator finds it is, it may recommend that the panel dismiss the claim.
By comparison, one of Ezra's many defamation actions will be permitted to continue ad nauseum, no matter how meritricious the claim may be. A court is not permitted to consider the merits of a civil defamation claim; as long as the case is properly pleaded and the impugned words are capable of having a defamatory meaning, the plaintiff can continue to his heart's content.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-01-26 8:41:31 PM


We can call Warman courageous because he's persisted in his crusade even after receiving (presumably credible) death threats from various neo-Nazis.

We can call him courageous without endorsing the behavior that led the neo-Nazis to threaten him with violence in the first place.

That, I think, is the essence of Peter's "thin" definition of courage: it's thin in that it makes no judgment of the ultimate goodness of the behavior being called courageous.

Posted by: Terrence C. Watson | 2008-01-26 8:46:05 PM


Truewest

"That complaint may be without merit (in my view, it is) but its merits (or lack thereof) may not be apparent without investigation. "

You can always count on your ability to enable the inquisitors while appearing to be above it all.

If you truly believed in free speech, you would dismiss the complaint out of hand. Otherwise, you are just another dissembler...as I always knew you were/are.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-01-26 8:52:51 PM


Gee Warren, it must be nice to debate in real time, one on one, on a blog.

Too bad you don't allow it on your own.

Posted by: Hoser | 2008-01-26 8:54:31 PM


Matthew,

I agree with Peter on the "thin" vs "thick" concept of courage. You said, "by your 'thin' definition, virtually every public defence of one's values is courageous." Not so. There is nothing courageous about publically defending lower taxes, increased spending on public transportation, legal restrictions on abortion, allowing same-sex marriage, etc. Doing any of these things does not expose anyone to enough risk of personal harm to count as courageous. But if Warman is getting death threats for challenging white supremacists, as has been reported, then he is facing a real personal risk of harm. That does not make attempts to stifle their speech RIGHT, but it can make it courageous.

One great advantage to the "thin" concept is it is easier to agree on when it applies. We can agree that certain German soldiers in WWII were courageous and others cowards based solely on how they responded to what they believed to be right and what risks they took to get it. We need not support Nazi ideas to recognize this. Soldiers (and athletes, for that matter) routinely are able to recognize which of their adversaries are courageous and which cowards. They don't base those judgements on whether they agree with the cause, but on how people conduct themselves in support of their beliefs. This is what the words have always meant, despite recent attempts to thicken them up. They are worth retaining with their original concepts.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-01-26 8:59:49 PM


Hoser,
Careful, WK might accuse you of, what was that again, oh yes

"Words can indeed cause harm."

I'm sure he feels harmed by your assertions and therefore you should be punished.

What a wus!

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-01-26 9:01:19 PM


"There is nothing to be said for the vile views of "white nationalists" or whatever neologism they come up with to defend their idiocy of judging whole groups of people by the colour of their skin, or their ethnic background, or the colour of their hair, or whether they're right- or left-handed (they're all just as stupid a basis for making normative judgments about character)."

Yet that is exactly what Israel, India, China, Japan and Korea, to name a few, do. Why is it OK for Jewish, brown or yellow nationalists to stake out those positions, as moral and defensible, but its not OK for whites to do the same? Why is it okay for Israeli contractors to deny Chinese guest workers any sort of sexual contact with Jewish women, however, if Europeans did it, they would be vile neo-Nazis, even though they don't belong to any socialist organisation? Why is it OK for the Japanese to exclude Europeans, especially those burly Russian sailors from bath houses, however, if Europeans did it they would most certainly be condemned as white supremacists by the hypocritoids?

Posted by: DJ | 2008-01-26 9:09:53 PM


DJ asks valid questions?

Why is this ok for some but not others?

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-01-26 9:20:55 PM


h20,
There are these things called laws. You may not like them, but there they are. While you may choose to observe or ignore them, those who are charged with applying them have no such luxury. Unlike you, they don't know all, see all, nor are they able, unlike you or Ezra, to dismiss a complaint simply because its made by a) a Muslim who b)"scrawls" his complaint.

Ezra is a self-promoting putz, playing the martyr because he has to answer a complaint about something he published. If the claim is really without merit, he should answer it, as he would if he were served with a libel claim. But it's so much easier (and ultimately, more profitable, both personally and otherwise) to grandstand.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-01-26 9:34:27 PM


trueewest,

"There are these things called laws. You may not like them, but there they are. "

I like laws. I also know they are there.

I will stop reading the rest of your post now since it is obviously wrong given your incorrect starting points.

Have a nice night.
How are those ski bunnies this year anyway?

(hint: I don't take you seriously as you have too many biased and incorrect starting points and you spend too much time skiiing rather than thinking seriously about political/judicial matters.)

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-01-26 9:52:57 PM


h20,
There are these things called countries. Sometimes countries have different laws. You may not like it, but,...the hell with it; why should I waste my breath trying to reason with a troll.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-01-26 9:56:08 PM


In fact Richard Warman is no hero to anyone. He uses and abuses the Canadian Human Rights Act for his own means. He runs around and pretends secret nazi agents are threatening him via blogs on the Internet. Turns out those that "threaten" him like Hal Turner are nothing more than FBI agents (http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2008/01/11/neo-nazi-threatmaker-accused-of-working-for-fbi/)

The scary thing isn't Warman and his posting of racist material on vile nazi websites like Stormfront or the Vanguard News Network, but rather the Canadians governments so eager response to PAY for what he is doing. At all the over 26 cases he has brought, not a single cent was spent by him. But rather tax-payers bankrolled his agenda. From flying him all over Canada to testify at these hearings, to paying his time, etc. Even after it has been brought to light of Warman's racist rants online, the CHRC still has no problem footing the bills.

And if Warman ever happens to lose a case - it's not Warman who will lose. It's the Canadian tax-payers who are on the hook.

Thats why this law has to be taken down and Canada be rid of this totalitarian legislation. Thanks to Free Dominion, I learned about some guy in Ontario who is challenging the very core of this law in Federal Court. He is another of Warman's victims. A copy of the legal motion he filed is on Free Dominion and also at: http://www.freedomsite.org/legal/dec13-05_writeup-on-case.html

Posted by: Eldon W | 2008-01-26 10:17:33 PM


Kinsella is a has been. When you publish posts about what he says, you provide him with notoriety he doesn't deserve. He has his fifteen minutes with his pals in the Chretien government and now that's history. Ignore him and he will fade away as he should.

Posted by: John West | 2008-01-26 10:18:20 PM


I understand his "thin" definition of courage, Terrence - but, as we know from Free Dominion, Warman operated in secret exposing himself to no risk while exposing Free Dominion and others to substantial risk. Is there courage in this, by any definition? Of course not.

Fact Check - as for taking on neo-Nazis, Warman isn’t a reformed Derek Vinyard from American History X, risking it all to take on an organized and violent skinhead movement. This isn’t Hollywood. Warman took on a few marginal racists without resources or mainstream influence – and he did so with the protection and support of the state, and public opinion. Nazis are a soft target. He wasn’t at risk...anymore than any public advocate is at risk whenever they take a position on anything.

I can accept the “thin” definition for the sake of discussion, but I don’t accept, applying this definition, that Warman can accurately be described as courageous. There are many courageous social reformers with whom I disagree, but Warman is not one of them. He makes a comfortable living and travels in polite society. He risks nothing, while doing real harm to other people.

But this is unimportant. Call it a “pet peeve”.

I’d like to comment on the question of hypocrisy. Presumably, Warren Kinsella regards himself as an advocate of free speech, as we know Ezra does. Warren has sued people for defamation, as has Ezra. Does that make them both hypocrites? Not if they both believe free speech does not include the right to defame. It may make them both philosophically incorrect when it comes to the nature of free speech, but it doesn’t make them hypocrites.

And do the people calling Ezra a hypocrite oppose defamation laws? I doubt it.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-01-26 10:25:53 PM


Thanks for the suggestion, John. But I disagree with you.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-01-26 10:43:12 PM


Matthew,

There is nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about believing that defamation should be illegal and hate speech should be legal. But the question is not quite that simple. Using the threat of defamation laws suits (or launching them) in cases where there clearly is no defamation at all in order to stifle unkind speech or speech one otherwise does not like is inconsistent with advocating no legal restrictions on hate speech and makes one a hypocrite.

Ezra is currently suing FFWD and Merle Terlesky for an article and a letter to the editor. The article was once described by Ezra on this blog as "a friendly valediction to the Western Standard" ( http://westernstandard.blogs.com/shotgun/2007/10/the-left-on-the.html ). The letter, which I have read, is not in the least defamatory, just unflattering. But Ezra is using the law to try to bully FFWD and Merle. That suggests he is a hypocrite.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-01-26 11:05:35 PM


"This isn’t Hollywood. Warman took on a few marginal racists without resources or mainstream influence – and he did so with the protection and support of the state, and public opinion."

Matthew -- I don't know. At this point, it looks like the dispute here is an empirical one. I presumed the neo-Nazi threats were credible, while you seem to presume otherwise. But I would say that a person or group doesn't need "mainstream influence" in order to make credible threats.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-01-27 12:23:20 AM


Terrance and others - check out some of the facts presented. If RW broke laws and committed violations inside even the CHRT - then he must be held accountable. No one is a law onto themselves especially if he is an officer of the court.

As regards the threats - well perhaps you should read the actual testimony as despite the hype - there are suggestions (even by the CHRT) that the alleged threatener from the USA is also a agent provocateur...all this mellow drama reminds me of "Spy vs. Spy"

As I have said elsewhere - this is an issue only gaining more steam by the day and one that can only be addressed by a independent police and public inquiry.

Posted by: thelonestranger | 2008-01-27 1:30:38 AM


Fact-Check,

Correct and Steyn's old boss Conrad Black was the King of libel chill in Canada. However, neither Steyn nor Levant seem to recognize the concept, which makes them hypocrites in my book. In effect they are saying its okay to silence opinion with frivolous lawsuits, but not via HRCs.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2008-01-27 4:08:05 AM


Or, put another way, free speech shouldn't be squelched by the state--that sort of thing is better left up to well-heeled private citizens.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-01-27 6:34:51 AM


I have no idea why Ezra Levant is suing Merle Terlesky or anyone else. He may have good reason I dont know. At least he is using the court where both sides have equal access to justice. To suggest an equivalence between a HRT and a real court does not work, and makes the accusation of hypocrisy silly.

Posted by: MikeP | 2008-01-27 11:49:44 AM


MikeP: "To suggest an equivalence between a HRT and a real court...."

No equivalence was suggested. The type of preceeding is not in issue. If Ezra were being charged with hate speech under the criminal code provision for that (and there is one), he would be no less a vigorous proponent for his right to free speech.

Your admission that you don't know if Ezra has good reason to sue or not makes you unable to judge the question of his hypocrisy, since this is essential to it. If he has no good reason and is merely using (or abusing) state mechanisms to silence speech he does not like, then he is a hypocrite. Many people believe that this is exactly what he is doing. Go read for yourself the "offending" material that Ezra is suing over, and then you can offer a comment on whether or not he is a hypocrite. Until then, you really don't know, as you have admitted.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-01-27 12:13:05 PM


Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press are SOCIAL rights. The gument that people elect have a DUTY to protect the citizen's rights. Citizens are responsible for deciding for themselves who they will talk with, what, if any, church they will attend and what they will read.

The twisted social engineering projects launched after WWII, patterned after the Stalin/Hitler models have endeavoured to force the free citizens of North America into compliance with PC rules taken DIRECTLY from the Bolshevik 'do it yourself' manual. Women doing the work of men (and also doing women's work) and men liking it (Russia) so much that they advocate that practise - result: wimpy limp-wristed men, nasty unloving women...Divorce, sad, unloved, rebellious,
undisciplined, self serving children.

Citizens working for themselves (gument) forced to take an oath to support the political party that won some election and 'gave' them a job makes these people servants of a political ideology, not of the citizens of the country that pay them. Result - mental blind, deaf, and dumb government employees working against the people they serve. Freedom of speech is limited by default through the oath thingie.

Immigration of people who despise the concept of freedom of speech and religion is a gument tool to divide and conquer via Bolshevik methodology, Ezra Levant and Mark Steyne understand this - it is time that the rest of us understand this especially the gument workers because those hot house clowns will be the first on the chopping block when the terrorists take over - the rhetorical spouters of PC have no backbones (if they had courage they would not support PC) so they will go down easy. Fighters for Freedom will always fight back and some will live. Freedom is the most desirable Abstract noun in the dictionary and it has been taken for granted in this country. Freedom is NEVER free.

People splitting hairs about what is and is not acceptable should be ashamed of themselves: the people of a free nation are responsible for social decisions, HRC is a Bolshevik invention to LIMIT Freedom and it should not exist - people must sink or swim in a Free and Democratic country. Death threats are a fact of life - men must be prepared to defend themselves and their families if they wish to live in a Democratic country - hence the Right to bear arms and the right to own property.

As our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has said 'Use it or loose it'. The Prime Minister is doing his best to lead Free people into the 21 Century, he has to defend Freedom with people who WANT Freedom: this is an all or nothing cross road in our history, IMO. We either stand up and fight with the Prime Minister, Ezra and Mark or we hold out our hands for the chains. It's an 'all in' deal - as is everything in real life.

Posted by: jema54j | 2008-01-27 12:15:02 PM


WK has been laid to rest. Let us not waste any more space and time. Topics like..

How do we inform North America that Afghanistan is key to keeping Osama*s hands off Pakistan*s Nukes?

Would you buy a made in China *Cherry* car?
Only if it were electric and half the price of GM*s Volt.

Will Alberta*s Oil Sands projects really leave a scarred earth the size of Florida and dump more air pollution than the world*s biggest polluter, Africa*s massive coal liquifaction complex?

I think Ezra has the AB-HRC safely bagged.

Now on to Liberal Apointees trying to nail Harper with 15 year old Schreiver / Mulroney palm greasing.

And Liberal head hunters trying to hang Harper for Afghani police mistreatment of head chopper prisoners. = TG

Posted by: TG | 2008-01-27 12:37:34 PM


Well the empirical evidence doesn’t look good, Terrence – and the “courageous man” argument doesn’t stand up to reason either.

You’re asking me to take the “courageous” Warman at his word that he was threatened. That’s your empirical case? But we have reason not to believe this – the Free Dominion incident and the alledged presence of agent provocateurs raise doubts about a real threat.

And if he was threatened - and maybe he was - how credible was the threat? Anyone can make an angry phone or send an anonymous email, but how many politically motivated assassinations by neo-Nazis have we seen in Canada against Canadian journalists or activists like Warman? (The reason I mentioned "mainstream influence" was to exclude the likelihood of a sympathetic member of the public from taking action against Warman on behalf of a few pathetic Nazis.)

Warman is a popular and respected activist. His work doesn’t require courage and he doesn’t display it.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-01-27 12:45:21 PM


You are wrong Fact Check. If Ezra wants to sue someone he is going about it the right way, thru the courts not thru some quasi judicial system that favours one side. It would be hyprocritical only if he took those people to the same human rights tribunal he is railing against.
If the CIC had sued MacLeans, or if Ezra had been sued in a real court, he wouldnt have had to fight this fight. A real court wouldnt hear those absurd charges.
His reason for suing someone is totally irrlevant,and your argument of hypocrisy doesnt wash and seems to me, is purely personal.

Posted by: MikeP | 2008-01-27 1:38:22 PM


MikeP,

There is more than one way one can be a hypocrite. People who rail against HR Tribunals and then suggest that they be used against people like Syed Soharwardy are hypocrites. People who say that HR Tribunals are illegitemate processes but the courts are ok are not hypocrites.

People who say that the state ought not restrict hate speech, but that it is ok for the state to restrict libel and defamation are not hypocrites. People who say the state mechanisms should not be used to restrict speech but then use state mechanisms to restrict speech are hypocrites.

You are arguing against claims that are not being made, at least not being made by me.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-01-27 2:05:47 PM


Mike P. wrote: "If the CIC had sued MacLeans, or if Ezra had been sued in a real court, he wouldnt have had to fight this fight. A real court wouldnt hear those absurd charges."


If it was possible to maintain a class action for defamation -- which is what it would take for unhappy Muslims to sue Levant and Steyn on behalf of their co-religionists -- this thing would drag on far longer and cost far more than it the equivalent complaint were brought under human rights legislation.
An ordinary court will allow an action to proceed as long as it is properly pleaded; it cannot dismiss a case as lacking in merit for the simple reason that until the matter goes to trial, there is no evidence before the court that would allow it to determine the merits. An HRC, on the other hand, can both dismiss a claim as lacking merit or it can investigate a complaint to determine if there is merit to it. Which is what Shirlene McGovern was doing when Ezra threw his self-serving hissy fit.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-01-27 2:24:41 PM


It's about time the HRC's decide what merit's looking into according to this country's laws. This kind of complaint goes totally against our rights and freedoms and should be tossed in the trash.
This is not a country which abides Sharia law and we better be certain it never does.

Not one true Canadian who cares about this country and it's values should be on side with these silly asses in the HRC's who somehow fancy themselves as thought police and worse.

Sure Ezra is emoting and making an issue, so he should. Those who think the HRC's won't be further exposed for what they are up to as a socialist cabal when Steyn and MacLeans defend themselves, hold on to your hats.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-01-27 2:58:01 PM


Kinsella saying he gets death threats is just another fanatic ploy to get at the Conservatives, after all who else could he IMPLY was out to get him aside from Conservatives?
That guy should think about getting psychiatric help.
How about we ignore him? We wouldn't want to put him off the deep end now would we?

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-01-27 5:19:59 PM


Again I say ... "Kinsella is a has-been. When you publish posts about what he says, you provide him with notoriety he doesn't deserve. He had his fifteen minutes with his pals in the Chretien government and now that's history. Ignore him and he will fade away as he should."

Johnston, why do you disagree. What position does Kinsella hold other than being a member of an idiotic punk rock band called "shit from hell".

Is he still in the political arena? Does he do some important job that we don't know about? Is he somebodies bitch? What's with Kinsella. He is a Liberal hack who has had his moment.

Tell me why this guy is getting any attention. His blog doesn't even allow comments. It used to, but they were almost 100% negative toward him. I can see why he shut that down.

Ignore him and he will fade away.

Posted by: John West | 2008-01-27 7:54:24 PM


Hi, John. That comment and this post came from Peter. My only contribution to this post was to object to giving Warman the status of a misguided but "courageous" advocate for human rights. I think Peter was just trying to point out the flaws in Kinsella's thinking. Ezra has done the same thing on his website: www.ezralevant.com. You think this is a mistake?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-01-27 9:07:47 PM


"Words can indeed cause harm."

Harry Potter was not a documentary.

Posted by: Kate | 2008-01-28 10:59:31 PM


However, since the topic of "death threats" has been raised, what on earth is Kinsella suggesting to his readers when he refers to me as "Small. Dead. Bigot" on his website?


Posted by: Kate | 2008-01-28 11:04:55 PM



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