Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tolerance, hate speech and censorship

The following are excerpts from an article by Dr. Stefan Braun entitled, "Is Canada Still Tolerant and Fair." America would do well to pay close attention (Hat tip to Professor Ed who brought this to my attention via the Heretical Librarian Blog.

"Canada is widely regarded as a model multicultural society; tolerant, peaceful, fair. To be sure, we have our share of bigots, racists and malcontents. But we are a progressive society."

"Progressive societies resolve their internal differences peacefully, and respectfully. And if some should confuse intolerance for truth or mistake might for right? Well, unlike the US, we also have criminal hate censorship laws, as well as assorted human rights, equity, and hate speech codes to set them right. But before anyone thinks of emulating the "true north strong and free," they better have a close look at what is happening on progressive Canadian campuses."

"To be sure, hate censorship laws and campus speech codes seemed like a good idea, back when they were first enacted. For awhile, it seemed to serve Jews well. What right thinking Canadian official would hesitate to muzzle militant neo-Nazis, sexists, homophobes, and xenophobes; or tolerate their indecent attempts to squelch the voices of their victims? Hadn't extremists done enough damage to societies everywhere?"

"So why, once again, do thoughtful Jewish students have to fear to speak when those whose hate knows no bounds do not fear to speak against them? Hate censorship laws and the speech codes haven't changed. But times have. The political climate has changed. Faces of oppression have changed. And so, too, have the discourses of campus hate censorship. There is now a new, more popular, more belligerent, minority in town; a new victim; the victim of occupation. Forget how this occupation came to be, or the complex truths of why it persists to this day. David is now Goliath, and Goliath is David, at least in the minds of those now favored to speak. Zionism, we are told is racism. A Palestinian Holocaust is unfolding. Jewish leaders are genocidal Nazis. Israel is an Apartheid state, not a legitimate repository of the historic Jewish identity. To merely identify with it, much less advocate for it, is to stand accused of the worst kind of criminal racism in the docket of hate. Jewish voices be warned; guilt by association will not be tolerated."

"And so, Benjamin Netanyahu and Daniel Pipes cannot equally freely, or fearlessly, speak at any progressive, multicultural, Canadian campus. No pro-Zionist can. But just about every self-serving anti-Zionist demagogue and Israel-demonizing progressive ideologue can. Hate is whatever those with the power to disrupt, destroy, and silence, say it is. And so, only the Jewish voice is a campus security concern. Hate censorship has been hijacked. A shelter against illegitimate promotion of hate has been turned into a sword against legitimate exercise of Jewish voice."

"How could it be otherwise? Censorship is force not talk. It is not about demonstration of right, but an exercise in might. Might is a double edged sword. In the end, the sharper edge, as is the nature of might, belongs to the more belligerent, or the more popular, not the more tolerant or the more civil."


Kevin said...

Bingo! Outstanding post. Hate speech laws are a direct violation of freedom of speech. They take away power to speak one's mind and give control to whoever is in power at the time. People should have the freedom to say what they believe publically and loudly and others should have the freedom to publically and loudly disagree with them. The decision about what is true is left up to the hearer... no the government to decide what ideas are right for its citizens to hear and believe.

professor ed said...

professor ed said...
I agree, I felt strongly that the implementation of "speech codes" and it's twin "hate speech" were and are wrong. Academic speech codes stifle constructive/educational discourse in classrooms on various campuses in both the US and Canada. I do not agree with ethnic, racial, or even political derogitory language, BUT it is wrong to legally ban such speech. As we are seeing in our neighbor to the north, while all presumably "educated" citizenery favor "proper" speech in our communication with one and other, that word "proper" can occasionally be devilishly defined.

Comrade Anonymous said...

I agree. I am opposed to hate speech laws. But how do you feel about Canada's obscenity laws, which bans even writing that is considered obscene, including literature. I bet you're not such a free speech absolutist when it comes to that.

Dennis said...

Believe it or not, Comrade, I am also against the government censorship of obscene writing. Amazing, isn't it? But not as amazing as the fact that we're all agreeing on something :-)

Comrade Anonymous said...

It's nice to see you again, Reasonable Dennis. It's been a while. You should come out more often and spare us from Crazy Dennis.