Monday, November 24, 2008

Independent Report Says: Remove Hate Speech From Human Rights Code

An independent report by University of Windsor constitutional law expert Richard Moon is recommending that the Canadian Human Rights Commission be stripped of its authority to police hate speech on the Internet.

He suggests that section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act be repealed. Rather, hate speech should be dealt with under the Criminal Code, which has much stricter rules of evidence for finding guilt.

Moon argues:
"The use of censorship by the government should be confined to a narrow category of extreme expression – that which threatens, advocates or justifies violence against the members of an identifiable group, even if the violence that is supported or threatened is not imminent (...)"

"Less extreme forms of discriminatory expression, although harmful, cannot simply be censored out of public discourse. Any attempt to exclude from public discourse speech that stereotypes or defames the members of an identifiable group would require extraordinary intervention by the state and would dramatically compromise the public commitment to freedom of expression. Because these less extreme forms of discriminatory expression are so commonplace, it is impossible to establish clear and effective rules for their identification and exclusion. But because they are so pervasive, it is also vital that they be addressed or confronted. We must develop ways other than censorship to respond to expression that stereotypes and defames the members of an identifiable group and to hold institutions such as the media accountable when they engage in these forms of discriminatory expression."
The federal human rights body commissioned the study because of controversy surrounding its investigation of a number of cases many civil liberties and journalist associations saw as threatening the freedom of the press.

In the most prominent case, the Canadian Islamic Congress complained to the Commission that Maclean's magazine had subjected Canadian Muslims to hate speech for publishing an article by conservative journalist Mark Steyn that said Muslims were going to swamp the West. The Commission dismissed the case.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:29 pm


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