The Calgary Post ran an editorial on July 28 called Court Can Undo Harm to Free Speech. Read it here.
The article starts out as follows:
"When Rev. Stephen Boissoin takes his case before the Court of Queen's Bench on Sept. 16, the court has a golden opportunity not only to right the wrong done to Boissoin, but also to strike down the law that gives the Alberta Human Rights Commission jurisdiction over matters of free speech. Boissoin published a letter in the Red Deer Advocate in 2002 in which he criticized the representation to impressionable schoolchildren of homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle choice. Boissoin used strong language and said this would lead to desensitizing kids and recruiting them into the gay lifestyle. One can agree or disagree with Boissoin's opinions, but what he said is irrelevant to the larger issue, which is his inalienable right to say it."After some analysis of what transpired it closes with the following two paragraphs:
But what is telling are the comments to the editorial. There are only 5, 3 pro, and 2 very con.
"The HRC has overridden the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to shut down free speech in a case which commissioners themselves admitted did not appear to be a criminal matter. If it is not a criminal matter, then no other body should have ever had the right to take it up.
It is up to the court now to restore to Boissoin his right to free speech, and to declare unconstitutional the section of the Alberta human rights code that allows for such an intolerable undermining of the guarantees specifically laid out in the Charter."
Someone calling self "Sane Person" weighed in with this:
"Stephen Boisson equated gay people and the lives they lead basically to evil. This dehumanizing propaganda bathed in religious piety cannot be allowed to stand. If Boisson said that Jews were evil, he would be sitting in jail! We must accept that there are limits to free speech. Or else the Boissons and Zundels of this world will cause a lot of damage."Sane Person appears to be anything but. Stephen Boissoin did not equate gay people with anything PERIOD. He called the Homosexual Agenda wicked. Here is the letter he sent to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate. By the way, he expressed an opinion, which he is welcome to even if a Sane Person or Sane Person disagrees. When people get really angry at someone expressing an opinion about something, I wonder why.
Next up was "Nordicelt" who had this to say:
"Objectively speaking, ther are 2 kinds of speech,..there is "free", speech,& there is "controlled", speech,.."Free", speech, means just that, in that "ANY" idea, is allowed entre' into the public domain, for evaluation, consideration, acceptance, or rejection,..by the public,..Controlled speech,on the other hand, presums, that "speech", needs to be run through some sort of "filtering", process, so as to "prevent", some catagory, or other of "speech" from being either spoken, or heard,..Once you accept the notion, of "controlled", speech, you open up a whole can of worms. Once one accepts the notion, that the certain ideas are "off limits", to public discussion, then you must accept the notion of "laws", governing speech,..& a speech "CZAR" to oversee speech,..But "IF", you have no objection to such laws & Czars, being in place,..then , you cannot claim to believe in the concept, of "FREE", speech, but rather, you believe in "CONTORLLED", speech,..Should you belong to that eliment, of society, that favours, "controlled", speech , then keep in mind, that , if some day, you find that "your" speech, is filtered out of public hearing,..then you will have no ligitimant cause to complain,..."Bravo Nordicelt, or should I say Really Sane Person. Couple of spelling errors, but I get your drift.
Next up was Rank a few minutes later and had this to say:
"Lund used the AHRC system to muzzle an opinion instead of debating it in the realm of free speech and then the AHRC sentenced Boisson to life without parole and the case is Lund-Boisson??? It is the AHRC and its powers/methods that should the issue and in this case not the complainant-moron."Zap. I have found it interesting how the Alberta HRC has been able to duck out of this Appeal. Oh, well. But, Lund can't duck out, and Lund had no real dog in this hunt to begin with, so if he gets his comeuppance out of this, well that would be just tough noogies. But if you read the Appeal, or my analysis of it to date here, here and here, you can get some sense of what is at stake.
Well, unless we think that Sane Person was the only one on the side of quelling Free Speech, we got words of wisdom from Ken (Barbie being out getting a tummy tuck, I guess):
"Many people died fighting hitler so that the Boissons and Nazis of the world would never again rear their ugly heads. It's sad to see the Herald defend such hatred and evil in our society and call it "free-speech". That's been a convenient cover for hate mongers and bigots for decades. Sane person is right. If Boisson had made those same comments about Jews, blacks or evn Catholics, he would be sitting in jail. Lets not forget that homophobia is no more acceptable that racism and anti-semitism, nor should it be. Throw Boisson in jail!!!"Who is this masked man? Get a grip, Kenny Boy. My father flew Spitfires for the RCAF in WWII so that our country would be free. He approved of the Universal Declaration if Human Rights and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the latter of which now forms part of constitutional law, and which trumps any provincial legislation that tries to limit free speech. I also know that my father would like Stephen personally, like I do, and respect him for standing up for what he believes in, even if he differs from some of mine and my dad's opinions. He went to war so that we could be free. He even went to war, so guys like you could spew drivel like the above.
Stephen uttered an opinion, to which he is entitled, as a Canadian citizen. People, like Ken running amok and getting their knickers in a knot 7 years later, with no context have a personal agenda. Wonder what that might be?
The next commenter was "On2u" who had this to say:
"Ken, Are you saying you are intolerant and hate hetrosexuals? Are you hetrophobic? People are entitled to their opinions whether you or anyone else is "offended". Offending someone is not against the law - slander, defamation are against the law. How do you think the homosexual population secured the rights they have - through freedom of speech - you are killing the hand that gave homosexuals the rights they have today. How foolish. So anyone who has a different opinion and dares to voice it is guilty of hate speech? WOW. You may not like what people say, you may strongly disagree with what people say, but what you are suggesting is tantamount to cutting out peoples tongues for having different ideas that are part of their religion or political views - ie - you are efffectively taking away the FUNDEMENTAL rights given to Canadians by the HRC themselves and the Charter of Rights. Give your head a shake."Good on You, On2u.
So, you get the drift. There is some (wow that's an understatement) strong sentiment about the Boissoin case. However, it appears that very few people understand what it means to us as a society. I get that some people don't like what he said. I am tired of living in a society that is Politically Correct and we have to say what people want to hear.
Free Speech begets new ideas, and change in society, not always for the good, but usually, if the society has not been oppressed. Since Ken, without Barbie's prompting I expect, brought Nazis up, the Nazis arose in large measure because the German society had been suppressed and oppressed since the First World War, not because it just happened on a bright and sunny day. If the people of Canada suffer similar oppression of Speech and Religion and other rights for which our parents and grandparents fought, eventually there will be an uprising, like in Germany, and it is likely to be as ugly, and looking for someone to blame, and that would be very wrong. That is one of the reasons why I am strongly in favour of reducing the powers of the HRCs now, and allowing Canadians and people who reside here to speak their minds, and allowing us to use our own brains and consciences to choose who we want to listen to.
By calling everything we say or do, some kind of discrimination, we are becoming a timid people, and I do not want that. I refuse to be looking over my shoulder for some government hack to scold me for being politically incorrect. My being sensitive to you as a person does not preclude me from telling you that I believe that you are about to be run over by a car.
Wake up People.
After I was done and posted this, there was more that people had to say, including Stephen Boissoin himself. Here's what else followed, and hence I have reposted this updated blog entry.
Well Read weighed in next at 12:55 the next day, July 29 with the following:
Have you people read his letter? It would be well deserved to be considerd hate speech against homosexuals. Here is a few choice experts. "The following is not intended for those who are suffering from an unwanted sexual identity crisis... this is aimed precisely at every individual that in any way supports the homosexual machine that has been mercilessly gaining ground in our society since the 1960s." This little nugget could almost be takend directly from any white supremacist groups pamphet with a few words interchanged "Face the facts, it is affecting you. Like it or not, every professing heterosexual is have their future aggressively chopped at the roots." "Your children are being warped into believing that same-sex families are acceptable; that men kissing men is appropriate." How is THIS not hate speech" "Where homosexuality flourishes, all manner of wickedness abounds." "These activists are not morally upright citizens, concerned about the best interests of our society. They are perverse, self-centered and morally deprived individuals who are spreading their psychological disease into every area of our lives." I'm sorry Calgary herald, but i despise the tack you've taken with regards to this issue. Boissoin's article crossed alot of lines, calling it "Strong language" does not do it justice. It's anti-homosexual hate at its worst because and you've added isult to injury by making light of it. Post the whole article so people can make up their own mind and be equally disgusted by the intolerance and bigotry that still persists in our "Free society".Well Read is actually anything but. He excerpts, but of course, even THE LETTER is out of context, as you might know if you read some of my posts on him here, and of course THE LETTER here and here, for example. It is opinion, and He is welcome to it. But read on.
Next up a few hours later was Voltaire, probably not the original:
“I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” - Voltaire You do not have to agree with the man's opinions or rhetoric, but he has the right to his own opinions, and he has the right to voice them. Unless he was calling for (or inciting) violence or hatred-motivated actions, against people, then he's expressing an opinion. Which he is currently free to do, as YOU ALL are free to not like it, not agree, and to write your own scathing opinions of his pathetic existence... as long as you are not inciting violence or hate-motivated actions against HIM. Get it? Be careful on this slippery slope, folks. The beauty of a "Free Country" is not long to be ours if we keep screaming at politicians, courts and the "Nanny State" to take care of us and shut up dissenting voices. They'll be only too happy to do so.Bravo, Voltaire.
He came back a few minutes later with this juicy tidbit:
... and a "Free Society" doesn't mean that everyone has to like everyone else. Sure it would be nice; but agreeing to disagree might be the best kind of peace we can make... and there's "freedom" there, to boot.Bravo, once again, Sir.
"another voice" gave, well another voice to the comment debate and had this to say to Ken, one of the early naysayers, which would ultimately give hiim the last say:
Ken, I think you missed the point. The Herald was defending Rev. Boisson's right to express his opinion (free speech), not with his opinion - big difference.The penultimate voice heard was actual Stephen Boissoin himself who had this to say:
It is embarrassing that so many years after we thought we'd defeated fascism, Canada's elites are trying to re-impose thought control via speech control. Imagine their ideal society, when no-one dare voice an opinion which a government-selected victim group might find offensive. It will be a stultifying intellectual wasteland, with no social issues safe to discuss in public; not too different than governments in places such as Zimbabwe, where the ruling elites also arbitrarily decide, after the fact, what citizens may or may not say (as anyone with personal experience can attest). The offended feelings of the politically influential, and not truth, (much less freedom), become the real issue. We have perfectly adequate protections in the civil and criminal law for genuine abuse of free speech. The rest is censorship, which the left abhorred a few years ago when they were decrying controls over pornography, for example. But controls over people's religious or social views? No problem. The trouble is, our governments are so cowardly that they are prepared to tolerate this state of affairs, or at least let the courts do the work of restoring Canadians' free speech rights that the parliamentarians should have been doing, by amending the various HR codes. On this issue, cowardice is strictly non-partisan.But, of course, one of the things I have learned over the years is that most people are more interested in being right than in listening to the truth, or in discerning the truth out of what is presented to them, so these words of Stephen, which have come out of 7 years of struggle, specifically, but 40 years generally sort of got lost with the inane final comment of Ken to another voice who had to get in the last word (been there done that, got the t-shirt and nothing else for my troubles):
Anothervoice- There is also a difference between free speech and an act of hatred. Hatred can have many victims and create many conflicts. Just because such an act is perpetuated verbally does not make the act any less harmful.Blah, Blah, Blah Ken. You don't know the man. You know nothing about his work. You don't know the context of THE LETTER.
Here's what I myself wrote about THE LETTER in my post in which I presented THE LETTER:
I myself might have written such a letter several years ago, and today would look at it as insensitive and intemperate, and not likely to get the type of result that I desired. However, I would stand by my/his right to pen such a letter as the heartfelt writing of someone trying to spark some debate, and discussion.That happens to be my opinion. Stephen was trying to spark debate about something that was very troubling to him, and used strong language to spark that debate.
7 years later people are still debating. Unfortunately, they are debating THE LETTER, and not THE ISSUE. Boy, didn't see that one coming!!