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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pete Vere: Americans are more tolerant

Censorship50leaves_2 Many Canadians like to tell themselves that they are more enlightened and tolerant than their neighbours to the south. After all, we even have valiant human rights tribunals to protect minorities from hurtful words.

On the other hand, in the United States, vicious racists get away with expressing their hateful opinions on a regular basis. The First Amendment is a guarantee to Americans that they can say just about whatever they want and the government has to let them do it. To some, this might sound like a recipe for widespread intolerance, resentment, and social instability.

Not so, says Pete Vere, a journalist who is co-author (with Kathy Shaidle) of the new book The Tyranny of Nice (click the link to read an exclusive excerpt from Shaidle and Vere's new book, coming out September 29).

In his column for the Western Standard, Vere relates a personal, very interesting story that further confirms what I've always suspected: Americans really are more tolerant of difference. Their toleration is at least in part due to the nearly absolute freedom of speech protections guaranteed to them under their Constitution. As Vere explains:

We talk about tolerance in Canada. More often than not, as our electoral choices show, Canadian tolerance is just an excuse to avoid discussing our differences. Thus Canadians stick to what’s comfortable, what’s least likely to offend the most people. We don’t want our differences to cause division and disrupt the social peace.

Americans, on the other hand, relish their differences. Tolerance is created by confronting their differences, then discovering that they share many of the same values and concerns. Americans understand, rightly, that tolerance is a product of free speech. The First Amendment allows them to get past their differences, correct misconceptions, and move on to more pressing issues.

This is a very good point, one I've rarely heard expressed this well. Left-wing culture theorists like to talk about "the other": the people that, from our perspective, seem so different as to be beyond comprehension. We can't understand them and they can't understand us. These theorists are right to point out that when such a chasm exists, it can lead  to us treating "the other" in offensive or even harmful ways.

But if intolerance is the product of difference, it is freedom of speech that allows us to discover that, beyond the difference and the mystery, people are people. When we interact with each other freely, under rule-of-law, we quickly discover that there is no "other." In Vere's story, a white man and a black man, each initially suspicious of the other, discover their shared dislike for Republicans.

When ‘the other’ failed to meet those worst expectations, each felt a little sheepish and conscience took over. So they put it behind them, shook hands, and found something else to gripe about. The government can seal a person’s lips, but it cannot change a person’s heart.

It's that last line I really like. It reminds me of something Henry David Thoreau said: "Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice."

In Canada, where human rights czars spy on our online activity, persecute magazine publishers and pastors, and even give seminars to students on how they, too, might use the apparatus of the human rights system to create "maximum disruption" to their political and ideological opponents, people are rightfully frightened to say what's on their mind.

In their anxiety, they never get across the chasm of difference, never have a chance to engage in the deeply personal discourse Vere describes in his column, never discover that they are more similar to "the other" than they are different.

For now, we have a kind of peace in Canada. But it's tissue paper thin. We do not tolerate the other: we fear him. Now that's a recipe for resentment and social instability. This is one area in which the Americans have things kind of figured out and Canadians do not.

Read Pete Vere's wonderful column here.

Posted by Terrence Watson on September 23, 2008 | Permalink


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Unfortunately, Terrence, Canadian elites feel that under the prevailing conditions they can't possibly be tolerant. Canada is like the woman who, upon showing up at a party to find another woman wearing the same dress, departs in a huff, only to return wearing something else. Of course, by then she's missed half the party, all the cool guys are taken, and so on.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-23 3:21:24 PM

"Americans really are more tolerant of difference. Their toleration is at least in part due to the nearly absolute freedom of speech protections guaranteed to them under their Constitution."


"The subprime scandal is only one example of the political elite’s willful blindness.

For forty years now, and perhaps for the first time in 350 years, the West, en masse, has been retreating from the Enlightenment that had catapulted it to the pinnacle of civilization. The forces of reason, empiricism, truth-seeking, basic freedoms (before they became "rights"); the flowering of genius in all areas of human endeavor, all are in retreat everywhere at the same time.

It's not often in history that such extraordinary delusions have been so pervasive, with such negative consequences. But instead of facing reality and learning to work with it, our Moriartys lunge at our Sherlocks and wrestle them over the precipice of the Reichenbach Falls—to the ultimate doom of the whole of society.

It's a fraud to attack those who speak out on racial differences as "racists", as though reckoning with salient characteristics of group averages denies the potential of individual members of such groups. It's inexcusable to brainwash generations of vulnerable schoolchildren that a pervasive "racist" environment is responsible for the under-achievement of "minorities" It's the "minorities’" own hereditary qualities that are in free play here: IQ, parents, ancestral culture, the hand that fate has dealt."


American are no more able to speak of these dark, "antediluvian" issues than are Canadians. It is a freedom that deserves "unbundling".

Posted by: DJ | 2008-09-23 3:27:55 PM

The NDP and Jack Layton are batshit crazy.

Posted by: atric | 2008-09-23 3:37:34 PM

I am against Human Rights Commissions. However, I'm sorry I just don't believe the story on the racist white American all of a sudden shaking hands and having a beer with the black guy who move into the street. Didn't happen. Why make up such an obviously phoney story.

Posted by: Bob Herron | 2008-09-23 4:09:35 PM

It happens with more frequency than I would have thought prior to living in the U.S. Canadians don't see because they have a hard time getting past of their anti-American stereotypes.

Twice this past summer, while camping in Michigan, I had a variation of the following conversation with different neighbors at different campgrounds.

Neighbor - "I'm not voting for Obama. I'm not voting for a n* to become president of the United States."

Me - "So you would never vote for Colin Powell?"

Neighbor - "I never said that. He's a retired general who served our nation honorably. Don't you be comparing him to Obama. Powell would make an excellent president, and I would proudly vote for him."

Posted by: Pete Vere | 2008-09-23 4:30:41 PM

"Americans, on the other hand, relish their differences. Tolerance is created by confronting their differences, then discovering that they share many of the same values and concerns."

I'm not so sure about that. My guess is that Americans for the most part have no interest in discovering what values they share, and simply have no choice but to accept the differences. But that's the beauty of America. You may want to, but you don't have to accept or try to understand someone else's point of view.

Posted by: TM | 2008-09-23 4:40:40 PM

Or maybe you don't get out as much as Pete does, Bob.

Just because you can't imagine it, doesn't mean it didn't happen. I'm certain it did. Pete isn't a liar. What it does mean is that you have a pretty narrow life, and mind.

Posted by: Kathy Shaidle | 2008-09-23 5:01:35 PM

Frankly, the stories about Manitoulan and Lake Nipissing sound like a load of baloney. I would suggest Mr. De Vere provide a name of someone or a date or something, or I'm just going to call bullshit.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2008-09-23 5:17:18 PM

Well, I believe the first story; it is the story about the lakes that has be wondering if Pete's imagination is not of the same high class as his analytical mind. We can't be that insane can we? And then I remember vaguely someone complaining about the town of Swastika, ON...

In any case, a brilliant piece of writing, Pete. As you put it so well, tolerance is not possible unless you yourself stand on principles, have a centre, from which you can truly tolerate others. But if your primary principle is "tolerance" itself, then you are simply a nowhere man with little to offer but accusations that someone is victimizing someone else.

Posted by: truepeers | 2008-09-23 5:29:53 PM

Yes, growing up in Northern Ontario, I too remember hearing the stories about Swastika, close to where I would sometimes go fishing as a child.

Basically, the town kept its name only because my fellow Northerners fended off big-city bureaucratic blow-hards from Toronto and Ottawa who made it their life work to mind everyone else's business.

However, such is the typical condescension we have come to expect against our Northern way of life, from those who would prefer to pontificate from their latte palaces and ivory basements then seek understanding of our rural culture.

Another example, that someone forwarded to me the other day, is that some sanctimonious GTAer who proclaimed: "Handguns are for shooting people. That's it."

Um, no.

They're also for shooting bears, especially five-hundred pound alpha males that see humans as a tasty treat. This is why handguns are carried by trappers, bushplane pilots and outfitters in the North. Rifles and shotguns are just too cumbersome.

Posted by: Pete Vere | 2008-09-23 6:58:11 PM

Not asking about Swastika, Pete. I'm asking about the Lake Nipissing and Manitoulin stories. Can we get some reference as to thier location in the real space time continuum?

Posted by: bigcitlib | 2008-09-23 7:08:57 PM

Speaking of government run wild and firearms, let's not forget the current bureaucratic controversy - requiring a government report - over whether a Transformer kids' toy available at any Walmart in the U.S. requires a restricted firearm license to legally possess in Canada:


Posted by: Pete Vere | 2008-09-23 7:09:36 PM

Okay, if location, space and time is what you're after, Lake Nipissing is located about three-and-a-half hours north of Toronto. Follow the 400 to Barrie, then turn right on to Hwy 11 until you reach Callander (or if you find the cozy population too much of a culture shock keep going another five to ten miles to North Bay). The lake covers about 340 square miles in terms of space.

Manitoulin Island separates the north of Lake Huron from the northwestern part of Georgian Bay. The island runs parallel, more or less, to Hwy 17 between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. From Toronto you can get there either by continuing along the 400 to Parry Sound, where it turns to Hwy 69, then going west on Hwy 17 at Sudbury. This will take you about five-and-a-half hours. Or take Hwy 10 to Owen Sound, Hwy 6 up the Bruce Penninsula, and catch the ferry to South Bay. The time will depend on the season and the frequency of the ferry. In terms of space, Manitoulin Island is 1,068 square miles.

Posted by: Pete Vere | 2008-09-23 7:23:04 PM

P.S. I know your from the big city, but it's not like you need to learn how to use a map and compass to access the information you requested. We do have Internet access up here, which includes access to Google Earth and Wikipedia. We also have running water, underarm deodorant and post-modernist eco-feminist poets with PhD's from reputable universities.

Just a word of caution on the latter. They tend to be a lot friendlier in the North than what you'll find with their GTA counterparts. In fact, one of them is currently teaching me to write poetry honoring Ted Nugent in the style of Daphne Marlatt's l'ecriture feminine.

Posted by: Pete Vere | 2008-09-23 7:55:20 PM

Let me get this straight: you've just written a BOOK on Canada's human rights system and its failings. And despite the efforts that you've spend learning enough about that system to write this book, you appear to be labour under the entirely mistaken belief that you could file a human rights complaint against your neighbour because he called another neighbour a "nigger"?
Do tell! Under what provision of what Canadian human rights code would you be able to do this?

Having read the excerpt posted here, I suspected the book was most likely a collection of clippings from right wing cranks stitched together for propaganda purposes. Now that one of its authors has demonstrated that he hasn`t a clue about the law or the system -- and given the journalistic track record Five Feet of Research-is-for-Chumps`, I can safely make that two - the book`s uselessness is confirmed.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-23 7:58:51 PM

Um, no.

I couldn't file a human rights complaint because this incident took place in the United States, which, to return to our lesson in geography and politics, is a separate country and thus does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

However, let's suppose this was Canada. He didn't just call another neighbor and his sweet little girl "niggers". He called me, my wife and my children "niggers". Having deemed us "niggers", he then prohibited his children from playing with us. Using Coach Carter's definition of "nigger", namely, "a derogatory term for our African-American ancestors," he exposed my family to hate in violation of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Under Section 13 of the Canadian

Posted by: Pete Vere | 2008-09-23 8:25:26 PM

Your jurisdictional argument may be cute, but it doesn't get you off the hook -- or make you look any less stupid.
If you think you could a complaint under s. 13 of the CHRA, then not only don't you understand the law, I suspect you haven't even read the section, which provides as follows:

Publication of discriminatory notices, etc.
12. It is a discriminatory practice to publish or display before the public or to cause to be published or displayed before the public any notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that

(a) expresses or implies discrimination or an intention to discriminate, or

(b) incites or is calculated to incite others to discriminate

if the discrimination expressed or implied, intended to be expressed or implied or incited or calculated to be incited would otherwise, if engaged in, be a discriminatory practice described in any of sections 5 to 11 or in section 14.

Hate messages
13. (1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to COMMUNICATE TELEPHONICALLY or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.(emphasis added)

(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies in respect of a matter that is communicated by means of a computer or a group of interconnected or related computers, including the Internet....

In other words, if it doesn't happen on the internet or on a phone, s.13 doesn't apply.

Nor, for that matter, does s. 3 of the Alberta act or its equivalents, which provide some variation on the followings No person shall PUBLISH, ISSUE or DISPLAY or cause to be published, issued or displayed before the public any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that... (b) is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt. (emphasis added)

In other words, if the expression is not published, issued or displayed -- i.e. put in some permanant form -- the law doesn't apply. Last I checked, swapping racial epithets over the back fence doesn't qualify as publication. It may be bad form and unpleasant, but it's not against any law.

Which you would know if you did a lick of research. Good news is you've got nearly a week to rewrite it so you don't look like a complete incompetent.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-23 9:03:45 PM

Wow, Truewest, you've proven my point. The reaction of Canadians like yourself to obvious acts of racism is to dismiss them as the "mere swapping of racial epithets". That is, unless you can make a quick buck off them at the human rights tribunals.

Now I had assumed from your previous postings that written forms of communication were not your forte, but you also fail at telepathy. There are several points I left out due to space limitation, not actually expecting someone like you to come along and defend what to most people seems like an obvious act of racism. Things like dress, deportment, messages left on my answering machine and in my email inbox, music blasting from his backyard, etc.

However, if you cannot recognize the n-word in this context as an obvious act of racism, these are subtleties are well beyond your capacity to grasp.

Posted by: Pete Vere | 2008-09-23 9:32:03 PM

I know it's embarassing to discover you haven't got a clue about the law and legal system that forms the subject matter for your you've book, but that's no reason to deliberately misconstrue my point.
I'm not defending or minimizing your neighbour's behaviour. I'm merely pointing out that your assumption that you could bring a human rights complaint against him in Canada is completely and utterly without foundation. He may be a racist and he may have done all manner of unneighbourly things as a result of that racism, but for the reasons I've set out above our law does not offer you -- or Mike, or anyone else -- a remedy, any more than American law does.
You may now set aside the argument ad hominem and return to being properly ashamed for publishing such a slapdash, poorly-researched pile of crap.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-23 9:54:25 PM

truewest, there's a Biblical injunction against arguing with a fool, less people watching the debate not know the difference. However, I will make an exception in your case since you do such a swell job proving my point. Namely, instead of confronting racism when it arises, people like you will dismiss it as, to borrow your expression, the mere "swapping racial epithets over the back fence..." That's what happens when citizens are deprived of their freedom of speech. It becomes the government's responsibility.

Well here's a little sample of what was left on my voice mail. (The audio portion only, as Youtube wasn't invented yet. While this is obvious to most readers, I'll point it out anyway since you've established that subtlety is not your strong point.)


I'm sure you'll concoct several excuses why this isn't racist, hateful or communicated via telephone. And how dare I waste your time with real incidents of hate speech (or I suppose in this case music) when there are several First Nations communities to crack down upon for lacking the foresight to name local geographic wonders according to post-modern white Anglo convention.

Which again proves my point. Tolerance is merely an excuse to avoid confronting the issue.

Posted by: Pete Vere | 2008-09-23 10:25:00 PM

What is depressing about the politics of our time is that the left, which we will always need and have in some form or another, has only one dance in its repertoire. It seems the only game they play is gotcha, i.e. endless policing of what the right is doing with its freedom, with an eye only to exposing freedom's "victimization" of some other. They do not allow themselves the license seriously to consider new ideas or policies - unless, as with green plans, it is a response to an alleged victimization that must be rectified - because they live in the fear that anything new will bring about new asymmetries, inequalities, victims. Freedom for its own sake is a risk we can no longer fathom.

THere is nothing I would like more for our politics than a renewed and revitalized left that again embraced modernity and freedom. But, at present, we are stuck with this kind of thing: a writer takes a certain literary license with his argument, trying to draw a moral from his experience in Florida for a larger ongoing discussion on the HRCs; and does the argument get seriously engaged? no of course not. The leftists are perfectly satisfied just to show their moral superiority and play gotcha on the details.

It's as is Vere were just another candidate to screw for his unorthodox views, because Canadians don't want to have to debate and consider different, unusual, viewpoints and arguments; we just want to ostracize what is obviously beyond the pale, and/or let the government handle those who step out. And that is, in part, Vere's point which I thought he made brilliantly, whatever fictional license he took.

David Warren had a good column on the gotcha phenom: http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/columnists/story.html?id=86a9c678-979f-4a0a-9843-494b3c107066&p=1

Posted by: truepeers | 2008-09-23 10:33:26 PM

After three posts in reply, you finally mention something that, conceivably, almost might fall within s. 13. Almost, but not quite. YOu might have a claim for harassment (although that would be true in either country) but human rights tribunals weren't set up to deal with prank phone calls, not even racist ones.
Of course, you continue to deliberately distort my argument. I'd put it down to dishonesty or stupidity, but I suspect that its really an attempt to distract attention from the fact that you don't understand the law that you've finished writing a book about. (Speaking of avoiding the issue.) You're embarassed. And you should be.
For the record, in my view, you were right to confront your neighbour. You are, however, completely wrong to suggest that the same thing doesn't happen in Canada - it happens every day -- or to suggest that the existence of human rights tribunals diminishes the likelihood of people doing so.
For the record, my complaint lay with your suggestion that, had you lived in Canada, you would have trotted off to the local thought police, where some friendly bureaucrat would have rubbed your back while you filled out a complaint that would have tied up your cracker neighbour for the next five years. That suggestion shows a profound ignorance of Canadian human rights law. It would have been silly enough coming from an ordinary right-wing hack, but coming from a right-wing hack who is boasting about writing a book that purports to analyze and criticize Canadian human rights law, its a bad joke.
I'm perfectly willing to have a discussion about the validity and desirability of provisions such as s. 13. There are valid practical and philosophical arguments in support and in opposition to placing limits on hate speech through human rights codes.
What I object to is people like Vere and Shaidle - (and Levant and Blazing Cat Fur and Steyn and Warren and all the bloviators and opinionators) misrepresenting the law, either deliberately or through rank incompetence. The demonization of Richard Warman and the bumbling polemics and promulgation of misinformation by Vere and his tiny hateful co-author don't advance the public debate about s. 13 one iota.
Frankly, I don't care if his story is true or whether he took "fictional license" . The moral of his story depended on a particular premise -- that in Canada, he would have had the option of filing a human rights complaint and thus never would have seen racial harmony blossom - that was absolutely and demonstrably false. Forgivable in some circumstances perhaps, but surely not when the author is poised to pass himself off as expert in Canadian human rights law?
Pointing out the glaring error that invalidates his sentimental little yarn is not playing "Gotcha". It is correcting a falsehood. It is, to borrow the coinage of another poster here (and one who is on record as opposing the inclusion of speech provisions in human rights codes) a Fact Check. Vere failed.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-23 11:40:45 PM

The moral of his story depended on a particular premise -- that in Canada, he would have had the option of filing a human rights complaint and thus never would have seen racial harmony blossom - that was absolutely and demonstrably false.

-It seems to me the moral of the story deals with how Canadians conceive of tolerance, misunderstanding what it truly is because they are, in general, less inclined to self-rule than Americans. Section 13, though the concern of the day, is but a point that illustrates our tendency to defer to government. This deference, this personal avoidance of conflict, is deeply rooted in our culture, perhaps reflecting the fact that Canada is as much an imperial construct as a nation. Instead of negotiating our own differences locally we tend to look to centralized authority, not believing in our own right or responsibility as free individuals to be, at times, a generative source of new local and national realities. Instead we see our nation or empire in terms of competing (sub)national groups, conflict between which is not for us as individuals to mediate, but rather for our elites.

That at least is how I see the moral of these two stories. To harp on how Section 13 would apply to this Florida neighbor is to get sidetracked, whether intentionally or not. You could at least wait for the book. Why this need to tease Vere that he's going to reveal himself clueless on its subject? Because he is a little loose with how he frames an interesting story about FLorida? Because he doesn't fit your idea of a national expert, the kind of guy who has a right to speak in our culture?

I rather like your bloviators and opinionators (and even aspire in that direction). It seems to me that holding strong opinions, and refining them, is what a citizen should do. Of course I notice that notwithstanding all the strong points and information certain writers convey, they do from time to time get things wrong. I can live with human frailty, especially from bloggers who aren't getting paid to take a lead in the national conversation. But then it seems clear to me that Section 13 is an unnecessary evil, and in fact much more a danger for causing than resolving civil strife.

Posted by: truepeers | 2008-09-24 12:16:48 AM

As I think I made clear, I can see why people might have different opinions on speech provisions in human rights codes. I sometimes have different opinions myself.
But facts are stupid things, as Ronald Reagan once observed. And if you can't get the simplest facts straight -- as Vere apparently can't, despite writing a book on them - then you're opinions aren't worth diddly.
BTW, I don't have an "idea of a national expert". Other than that he should be able to master the facts. Is that too much too ask?

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-24 12:24:11 AM


A general worship of facts, as if the value of thought were largely or entirely dependent on them is really rather silly. That's why we have the concept of "moral of the story". Truth, you see, is not simply about getting our facts straight. It's about having the most compelling account of what things mean. We may well find someone who can't get facts and details and logic perfectly straight less than compelling, or we might not. It all depends on the case. In this case, I think your objections to Vere's story are rather besides its point. The stories are about how people deal with, or create, a certain kind of conflict. They are not about HRCs, except to draw a contrast and parallel, in discussion of a general pattern of Canadian behaviour. I think you don't see this because you are motivated by a desire to "get" Vere, because you don't like his politics. I rather doubt you act the eternal fact checker at all blogs. That would be boring. Good night.

Posted by: truepeers | 2008-09-24 1:57:12 AM

truewest :

You obviously have never been to the real States or you would not be spewing this anti-Americanism. Take a car trip sometime, its an eyeful .Not anything you here from our press is true. Nor TV for that matter. I find most Americans honest. They have not yet succumbed as your herd of collectivists, to moral relativism or social faddism as your bunch wallows in. Reeds in the wind of chaos, bourn hither & yon to a barren land. The soil eroded by fantastical dogma, the waters of life burned away in spite.

Posted by: Revnant Dream | 2008-09-24 2:39:27 AM

Truewest wrote:

"YOu might have a claim for harassment (although that would be true in either country) but human rights tribunals weren't set up to deal with prank phone calls..."

Well, well, well... the truth of your position emerges. Calling a little girl a hateful racial epithet, blaring music proclaiming one's hate for people of certain skin color, was all just, as you put it, a "prank".

I take back what I said earlier, namely, that you probably would kept quiet and said nothing as this was going on. No, you would have laughed hysterically as this sweet four-year-old girl, the epitome of ebony innocence, was reduced to tears.

And was it just as funny when the KKK out west burned down the French Catholic residential schools of my ancestors, killing more students than all of Toronto's school shootings this year combined. Had you been alive at the time, I bet you would have found it a real tickler.

If you're a lawyer, I hope you don't do jury trials. A good friend of mine is a lawyer who specializes in murder trials. Nothing upsets twelve ordinary people more than counsel for the defendant erupting in giggles as the Crown introduces the knife with which the accused allegedly slit the victim's throat.

"Of course, you continue to deliberately distort my argument. I'd put it down to dishonesty or stupidity, but I suspect that its really an attempt to distract attention from the fact that you don't understand the law that you've finished writing a book about. (Speaking of avoiding the issue.) You're embarassed. And you should be."

Of course I'm embarrassed (check your spelling - it's that written word thing again). I'm embarrassed that a fellow Canadian would look down his nose at Americans as morally inferior, while dismissing an obviously racist act against a child as merely "swapping racial epithets" and "a prank".

At least my neighbor had the integrity, and the honesty, to admit what he had done was racist.

I'll take American honesty over the faux tolerance of the unimaginatively smug, who when confronted by real racism dismiss it as merely a prank.

Posted by: Pete Vere | 2008-09-24 6:07:25 AM

You can distort my argument, correct my spelling, accuse of me of all sort of crimes and misdemeanours and otherwise indulge in argument ad hominem to your heart's content. Hell, you can even step on my blue suede shoes.
None of this nonsense avoids the fact that you don't have a basic understanding of human rights law, despite have spent some considerable amount of time writing a book on the subject. Indeed, it appears you haven't even read -- or at least haven't read carefully -- the very statutes you purport to analyze and criticize.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-24 9:28:20 AM

tw reminds me of the crowd lining up to review Goldberg's Liberal Fascism at Amazon, before the book was even released: "worst book ever".

Posted by: truepeers | 2008-09-24 9:46:45 AM

This sure is a funny argument, for one Pete makes no mention of filing a Section 13(1) complaint in his article, yet Truewest insists that this is what Pete has at least implied. Odder still is that Pete is in effect supporting Truewest's contention by arguing back. Maybe their both tired or they like straw.

Pete does make a general reference to "lodging a human rights complaint" on page 2 with a "Canadian Style Human Rights Commission".

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code that may in fact be possible under the circumstances outlined in Petes article, and you don't even have to be a member of a designated protected group. As for the other provinces, I don't know;)

It seems to fall under the provisions in the code covering the creation of a "poisoned environment" due to usage of Racial Slurs, Harrassment or Racial Jokes found in "Human Rights Policy in Ontario" published by the OHRC.

Under subsection 3.3.2 "Because of association" this explanation & example are provided:

"Persons who are not members of a particular group protected under the Code but are harassed because of their association with that group, may also be in a position to file a complaint based on section 12 of the code which protects against "discrimination by association".

Example: A white tenant of an apartment was derided and ridiculed because of her friendship with a black person. Although the white person was not harassed based on her race she was subject to harassment because of her relationship with someone identified by a prohibited ground of discrimination."

The limitation here is that jurisdiction seems to apply only to situations involving rental housing. But because Pete was obviously renting while living in the USA I am gonna employ Truewets technique and extrapolate this into a Massive Victory for the Good Guys, in spite of the fact that the argument was about nothing and made no sense to begin with;)

Yay I win!

Posted by: Blazingcatfur | 2008-09-24 12:44:20 PM

Oops here's the link to the Human Rights Crap I quoted;)


Posted by: Blazingcatfur | 2008-09-24 12:47:03 PM

Mr. Vere, trollwaste isn't a lawyer. He just likes to pretend to be one. He has no legal education at all and knows nothing of law. Don't take him seriously.

Posted by: ebt | 2008-09-24 1:38:51 PM

Canadians are - bar none! - the most self-satisfied and sanctimonious people on the planet.

Having been born abroad and raised in 11 different countries, I quite naturally gravitated to a career that sees me travel extensively the world over for nine months of every year. Every time I return to Canada, it strikes me again how UNFRIENDLY, UNMCIVIL and PRESUMPTUOUS Canadians are, not to mention smug and sanctimonious! As a disabled veteran of Canada's armed forces, I also note that Canada is the ONLY country where I am rarely offered a "disabled seat" on Toronto buses and subways despite having only one leg. Ditto Vancouver. Oh, and it's gotten worse as time has passed. These days, the ONLY people who EVER offer me a seat in public transit are Caribbean women - usually Jamaican or Bajan. Unfortunately, this is something I cannot explain as I rarely travel to the Caribbean and am not familiar with educational and social standards there. Just an observation...

But I do travel through the USA very frequently, and can honestly say that Americans are generally more tolerant, better educated, more civil, considerate, friendlier and FAR FAR more socially adroit than are Canadians.

It wasn't always this way. Back when I "fought for my country" and all that, Canada and Canadians were very different. Today, I would not life a finger to "protect" Canadians, since Canadians would likely just kick me in the face for it as they do veterans returning from Afghanistan.

In brief, Canadians as a population are the most annoying, whinging, cowardly, ill-bred and ignorant people that I know of. My heart always sinks a little when I touch down again on Canadian soil.

Oh, and don't attack me and tell me to leave the country. I have already purchased a home abroad and made all the necessary arrangements to do just that. I've two years to go, and it's looking like the longest two years of my life.

Canada and Canadians could wear down Jesus' patience...

Posted by: Alan Deakins | 2008-09-24 6:30:06 PM

Mr. Vere, you are SO right. Truewest is a fool. Don't bother. People like Truewest are an environmental disaster, consuming way too much air and occupying far too much space for their paltry contribution to the country/world.

Though I'm a "social conservative", I care enough about the environment to NEVER purchase THE TORONTO STAR because the STAR is little more than an assault on trees. Ditto virtually every Canadian mainstream media outlet with the exception of the WESTERN STANDARD.

Truewest, I'm sure you can find a gas oven with your name on it! Buy yourself a comfy pillow, a few Valium and a nice bottle of single malt scotch, and do us all a favour and off yourself, would you? Pretty please? Now, that would be TRULY patriotic on your part!

Posted by: Alan Deakins | 2008-09-24 6:42:25 PM

EBT wrote: "Mr. Vere, trollwaste isn't a lawyer. He just likes to pretend to be one. He has no legal education at all and knows nothing of law. Don't take him seriously."

No kidding. He even threatened to sue me on behalf of his hero, Richard Warman. The administrator deleted this tyrannical attempt to shut my mouth, it gives me great pleasure to report.

In another blog, he went so far as to say that most provincial and federal human rights commissioners have legal training (they don't), and when called on that, he argued that it shouldn't matter anyway; after all, who was *I* to say what other experience they might not bring to the table???

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-24 7:08:01 PM

Nice to see I can still bring out the looniness in the loons who frequent this site. Makes a fella proud proud.
There's ebt, who once read a case (the Person's case, wasn't it, Tyler)and now believes he understands the whole legal system and can discern, with his special powers, who is and who isn't a laywer.

There's Shane, who seems convinced I am the dungeon-master of the entire human rights system and who is obsessed with the legal training of HRT members (for the record, all nine members of the BCHRT are lawyers, as are the Chair and all nine vice-chairs of the Ontario HRT and the the 11 members of the CHRT. In the socialist paradise of Alberta, on the other hand, they tend to let business folks sit alongside lawyers. Go figure.) Shane thinks I threatened to sue him for calling Richard Warman a criminal. Relax, you big baby -- I was only pointing out that you were exposing yourself to a lawsuit. I'm sure if Warman wants to sue you, he can find you easily enough.

There's BCF, one of the leaders of the Richard Warman Stalker Squad and self-appointed human rights expert. Like the hapless Mr. Vere, BCF reads provisions of human rights codes in isolation and so believes that you file a human rights complaint against the folks down the street because they're racist dicks. Here's a hint: read the whole act. You may be able to bring a complaint if your landlord does nothing about someone in the same building who harrasses you because you're black or poor or associate with such people, but even that provision is seldom used.

And now there's the bitter vet, Alan Deakins, who, for reasons that are not entirely clear, would like me to off myself. Right back at ya, pal - eat a bullet for me.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-24 9:01:20 PM

truewest said

"(for the record, all nine members of the BCHRT are lawyers, as are the Chair and all nine vice-chairs of the Ontario HRT and the the 11 members of the CHRT. In the socialist paradise of Alberta, on the other hand, they tend to let business folks sit alongside lawyers. Go figure.)

How ironic. In the rest of Canada, lawyers are regulating businesses and devising tax codes.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-09-24 9:18:52 PM

Truewest said

"You can distort my argument, correct my spelling, accuse of me of all sort of crimes and misdemeanours and otherwise indulge in argument ad hominem to your heart's content."

And then made me laugh with the following ad hominem irony.

"None of this nonsense avoids the fact that you don't have a basic understanding of human rights law, ..."

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-09-24 9:34:48 PM

And now, with the arrival of h20, the collection of loopns grows larger. h2o likes the words "ad hominem" but apparently doesn't understand what they mean.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-24 9:42:16 PM

Truewest said

"(for the record, all nine members of the BCHRT are lawyers, as are the Chair and all nine vice-chairs of the Ontario HRT and the the 11 members of the CHRT. In the socialist paradise of Alberta, on the other hand, they tend to let business folks sit alongside lawyers. Go figure.)"

Gosh. Next thing you know, engineers and doctors will want to be involved in the political system.

Heaven forbid, we might even have CBC journalists wanting to be Governors General.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-09-24 9:43:43 PM

Truewest said

"And now, with the arrival of h20, the collection of loopns grows larger. h2o likes the words "ad hominem" but apparently doesn't understand what they mean."

The dictionary said:
"attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument."

1) I'm truewest's opponent.

2) Truewest accused me of not understanding what "ad hominem" meant rather than refuting my arguments.

3) QED.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-09-24 9:48:09 PM


About those lawyers on the various HRCs. Did you happen to read this quote?

"It's that last line I really like. It reminds me of something Henry David Thoreau said: "Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice."

Maybe it's my personal experience speaking but I just wanted to know one thing about you and your lawyer friends. That one thing is

How's the skiing?

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-09-24 10:02:39 PM

I understand you just arrived, but if you follow the thread you'll discover that I have no problem at all with businessmen, doctors, engineers or any other person with some relevant experience in the world sitting on human rights tribunal. While some human rights matters involve precise questions of law, not all do. And since the system is designed to promote compromise and reconciliation, people from different backgrounds can bring valuable expertise to the process.
So I'm with you; bring on the businessmen, I say. Shane, on the other hand, sniffs that anybody without legal training has not business passing judgment on human rights matters.

BTW, by pointing out your repeated misuse of the word ad hominem, I wasn't attacking your character. I was pointing out your ignorance. If I'd said you were stupid - which is quite different from saying you are ignorant -- you might have a point.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-24 10:11:56 PM

Truwest loses an argument so he has to invent a new one, happens every time.

Posted by: Blazingcatfur | 2008-09-25 4:18:13 AM


"BTW, by pointing out your repeated misuse of the word ad hominem, I wasn't attacking your character. I was pointing out your ignorance. If I'd said you were stupid - which is quite different from saying you are ignorant -- you might have a point. "

The root of the word refers to attacks on the person rather than on their arguments. You attack the person. Not the arguments. It is not my ignorance that is in question, it is your style of argument.

I rest my case.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-09-25 6:20:23 AM

Actually, TrueWest, one of the nine BCHRC members, Barbara Humphreys, does NOT have a law degree. Neither, according to anything I've been able to find, did Mary-Woo Sims, who presided over the BCHRC's most controversial rulings and whom Premier Campbell unceremoniously removed in 2001 before the end of her term. I haven't bothered to check the veracity of your claims re: the other tribunals but since you've been wrong about this before, I see little point.

As for Richard Warman, he admits to behaviour that does not pass Constitutional muster and constitutes entrapment and fraud--although of course he does not use those terms. We've come along way from the days of "The greater the truth, the greater the libel," Truewest; today the truth is an ABSOLUTE DEFENCE against all charges of defamation. Besides, Warman's got bigger problems right now. Like staying out of jail.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-25 7:47:29 AM

P.S. You do realize that in your post of 24-Sep-08 10:11:56 PM that you neatly confirmed your belief that HRC members need not have legal training--which is no more than what I said?

Also, from what I've seen, the HRCs are less interested in reconciliation than in social engineering and robbing from the politically incorrect to give to the politically correct. SIXTY THOUSAND BUCKS to defend yourself against a guy who thinks he has the right to stink up your restaurant and drive away your customers. Are we to see guys with bowel disorders allowed to take a crap on your front steps next?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-25 7:55:42 AM

P.S.S. Something else to consider, TrueWest. Section 13 was designed to prevent discriminatory and harrassing telephone calls--a rather restricted and little-used method for spreading hate. By some obscure quirk or ruling of law, this jurisdiction was extended to cover the Internet as well, even though much of the Internet is no longer served over phone lines. Since the Internet is essentially the new TV, movies, newspapers, library, and publishing house all rolled into one, plus numerous other media, this gives them tremendous power to regulate speech and expression that they have so far shown that they cannot wield properly. It's time to take away the keys to the Internet and give them to a body better suited for the task, and send these wannabe judges back to arbitrating rent disputes.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-25 8:03:33 AM

1. From the website
Ms. Humphreys was appointed as a full-time member of the Tribunal in 1997. She holds a law degree from the University of Victoria (1984) and a Bachelor of Arts from Sir George Williams University (1969).

Nice research. Doofus.

2. While you would not want a non-lawyer sitting on a case with a constitutional dimension, those are a small minority of the complaints an HRT hears. The experience of businessperson or other non-lawyer can prove useful in many cases. But, hey, if you want all lawyers, I am sure lawyers will not complain.

3. What Warman did is not, despite the bleetings of ignorant ring-wingers, entrapment by any legal standard. The term has been defined as follows by the US Supreme Court; the conception and planning of an offence by a law enforcement officer and his procurement of its commission by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, persuasion or fraud of the officer.

In any case, entrapment is not illegal. It is, however, an abuse of process that can be relied on to stay a criminal charge in some circumstances.

4. The jurisdiction of s.13 was not extended to the Internet by some obscure quirk or ruling of law. The law was amended by Parliament.

Again, nice research skills you've got there.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-09-25 8:37:20 AM


1. My mistake. Mary-Woo Sims, however, apparently did NOT have a law degree--and look what the BCHRC was like under her tenure. Do you really need more convincing that people without legal training should not sit in judgement of their peers?

2. Since these decisions can result in forfeiture of significant amounts of property (money), often in amounts heftier than a real court would levy, I think a balanced panel of former judges would be more appropriate. Lawywers are, by nature, partisan. I only used lawyers as an example to show that not even legal training is a requirement to get into these tribunals, never mind experience on the bench.

3. You are citing American rulings to justify the practices of a Canadian quasi-judicial tribunal? That must have cut you to the quick. In law, entrapment can be committed by any individual who is an agent or official of the government; it need not be a policeman. Furthermore, fraud is illegal no matter who it's committed by. For him to investigate cases he filed himself is a blatant conflict of interest. And HRC members do not have a special legal exemption to post material that would send anyone else to jail or at least render them open to a hearing before the HRC itself. One quick-witted lawyer, while questioning Dean Stacey, noted that potentially the HRC members could end up suing one another--oh, the irony.

4. It doesn't matter who amended the law, TrueWest; I never said it wasn't amended by Parliament. But it WAS amended by some pretty quirky reasoning that utterly failed to take into account the natures of the respective media. Fortunately, there are signs that Parliament is willing to revisit this issue.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-25 9:03:12 AM

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