I am very reluctant to support any hate crime laws. I think their very nature is controversial, and perhaps can be used to stop and even persecute open and legitimate discussion or debate. Canada’s hate crime laws are very subjective, and hence open to a number of different interpretations.
The problem with hate crime laws is that they muddle the area of what is libelous or slanderous. Canada already has libel and slander laws, which could be used against those who speak or publish outright lies about someone that could damage their reputation. A good example of this is Captain Liar’s assertion that I support Ernst Zundel. He is outright lying, and is therefore publishing libel. I’ve given him the opportunity to retract his statements, but he has thus far refused.
Does Captain Liar “hate” me though? I have no idea! And I couldn’t care less whether he hated me or not. Certainly, I’m not a member of any “identifiable” group as defined by Canada’s Criminal Code. I also doubt that his comments would incite anything that would be close to breach of the peace. They could damage my reputation though.
I also have a philosophical problem with the term “incite.” It’s very meaning indicates that one can be responsible for the actions of another person. How I could ever “incite” anyone to do anything is beyond me. Only insane people can claim to be “incited.” Individuals that even suggest that the were “incited” by another are giving up their own personal responsibility and free will. What they are saying is that the words of another person, whether written or oral, held more power over their brains than their own minds had. In other words, they are irrational individuals, and unable to think for themselves.
Let’s put this another way. In Quebec, there is a religous cult that seems to believe that cloning is fine and dandy. In fact, they made news recently with claims that they had already cloned a human.
As a religious group, the Raelians are an identifiable group under Canada’s Criminal Code. Now, if I write an article, that persuasively shows that cloning humans is morally wrong and then conclude by writing something like, “these people must be stopped,” is there a possibility I might “incite” someone to violence against Raelians?
According to Canada’s Criminal Code, I might be guilty of breaching Section 319 of the Criminal Code. Especially if I knew that thousands that would read my article would not become violent, but know that just one person might decide to take this cloning issue into their hands, and blow up Raelian buildings.
What are my defences? Section 319 (3) offers me several defences to the charge that might be brought against me:
(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2)
(a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;
(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;
(c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or
(d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.
Well, I can’t establish that the statement “Cloning humans is wrong” is a true statement. It is just a statement of opinion. That leaves me with “(b). if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;”
I am convinced I could use a number of religious texts, including the Koran, the Holy Bible, the Ghita, and more to show that cloning of human beings is wrong. The fact that some insane person that was “incited” by my writings means very little now. By virtue of the fact I can show that religious texts were the basis for my arguments, I’m now off the hook.
I wonder what Robert McClelland’s defence would be, as I’m sure he knows there are many insane people in this world, that would be easily “incited” with a few words. In fact, is Robert McClelland approaching the risk of being charged with a hate crime against Christians, when he claims that fundamentalist Christians are becoming the new “madrassah” of the West? Perhaps he is guilty of two separate charges of hate – one being against Muslims that attend madrassahs, in his implication that all madrassahs teach hate, and the other charge that fundamentalist Christians teach hate towards against simply because they don’t like communism and prefer free market supporting governments?
If in fact, Robert McClelland’s published words incited some insane person to breach the peace with regard to a madrassah, or a Christian school, what defence would McClelland have? Certainly he cannot prove that his statement is true. There is nothing in his post that is even remotely suggests that Fundamental Christians are preaching hate by the fact they support governments that are free market oriented.
Would McClelland be able to use the next defence, that his argument was based on some religious text? If so, he hasn’t shown us what that religious text is, and in fact his postings regularly show that he doesn’t hold any religious text to be truth.
His next defence under Canadian law is that somehow, his statements were relevant for the public interest or benefit, and on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true. Well.. this would be quite the stretch, for McClelland would have to admit to being insane himself to believe that teaching free market economics was hatred against others. He may as well accuse the Von Mises Institute, The Fraser Institute, The Freedom Party Of Canada, The Conservative Party Of Canada, Islamic Free Enterprise Institute, The Jewish World Review, and many others who promote free enterprise are somehow guilty of hate crimes.
It’s ironic in a way, that McClelland’s accusations themselves could actually be hate crimes under Canada’s laws. He has identified a religous group, made accusations against them, and anyone that is partially insane, may be “incited” to carry out breaches of the peace against members of that religous group.
His comments are quite sickening as well. On the other hand, I will stand up in a court of law, and defend McClelland’s right to his opinion. However, I wonder if someone like Captain Liar will take McClelland to task for his hate language against fundamental Christians.
Could be interesting.