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Old 03-13-2012, 11:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavaturaccioli View Post
Because government has no right to determine what is or isn't insulting or offensive, much less the right to sanction speech it deems so with force...
Going to play the Devil's advocate here and say "Why not!?" Is the Canadian government not of, for and by the Canadian people? Is it not therefore representative of what the Canadian people that elected it want? And are not the decisions that the government makes, the ones that we have trusted them to make - based on our votes?

If the government doesn't have the "right" to determine what is or isn't insulting or offensive, then it also shouldn't be tasked with determining what taxes are paid, what a "sensible" speed limit is, which countries we should trade with, what sentences should be meted out for different crimes, etc.

Where does one draw the line on what is or isn't within the "right" of the government, which we elected to represent us and make our laws for us?
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Old 03-13-2012, 11:12 AM
 
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Default What exactly do the laws in Canada prohibit?

Just a couple of links to provide more information on what is actually considered hate speech in Canada:

Onine Hate and the Law

I haven't read this through entirely but it appears to do a decent comparison of the similarities and differences between Canadian and US laws on the topic. Stephen Brooks - Hate Speech and the Rights Cultures of Canada and the United States
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:53 PM
 
Location: Canada
5,715 posts, read 6,575,513 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavaturaccioli View Post
The charges should never have been brought. Steyn should never have been exposed to criminal penalties for expressing an opinion.
You are using the word "charges" as though the police charged Steyn with a crime. As I wrote before, anyone can complain about a book. The site I linked to contains a number of cases of little old lady equivalents complaining about one book or the other. These are not official charges brought by the police.

There was one person, a Muslim, who complained about the book. His complaint was investigated by human rights tribunals and dismissed. Steyn has been riding that horse for publicity
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshineleith View Post
I think that you will fit in well in Canada - your attitude pretty much sums up how most Canadians that I know, see "freedom of speech". I find the Canadian approach well balanced. I agree with your post 100%.
Here's my view, and I greatly disagree with the Canadian/British approach. My belief is you're allowed to say anything you want, unless it's a direct call to action for violence or like yelling fire in a movie theater. Polite speech doesn't need protecting, "offensive" speech does
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stubblejumper View Post
You're defining unreasonable based solely on your perception of what's good and right. Bear in mind that in the eras where those movements occurred, most people would have disagreed with you.

And that's my point. Those people were wrong, but had free exchange of ideas not been allowed, regardless of the validity of the idea, then those good ones would never have been expressed either and we'd still be living with those wrong ideas.

Either we decide that we, as a society, are perfect, and that debate isn't necessary, or we open debate and accept that some really terrible ideas will be brought forward along with the good ones.

Would you call Malcolm X's call for segregation and black supremacy controversial, but not unreasonable?

As for the hate crime stuff, it is arbitrary. We've taken things that were already criminalized and added the motive of "hatred" to them. How do you quantify hatred?
I think you are relativizing all the meaning out of words. Societies are based on perceptions of what is fair and what is decent and that meaning is going to change over time, as you've already pointed out by referencing women's rights, racial rights, etc. We grow in understanding as people and as societies. And there will be debate - there always has been debate - and some really terrible ideas have come along, along with the good ones.

But we weren't talking about different ideas - we were talking about hate speech, which is speech inciting people to violence against other people. Your argument seems to be that most humans don't possess at least the modicum of common sense needed to differentiate between a 6-year-old screaming "I hate you" and a grown person deliberately disseminating information in such a way as to incite people to actually kill people.

If we really have as little common sense as your argument suggests, all our laws are moot points.

I don't understand why you are separating current laws covering aspects of free speech from the broader picture as though you approve of the one (not shouting "fire" in a crowded place) but not of the other. All that separates them, that I can see, is semantics.

(Don't know if I'll be able to get back to this thread - I have family in the hospital - just wanted you to know I'm not purposefully ignoring you or anyone else)
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
6,480 posts, read 6,225,841 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshineleith View Post
Going to play the Devil's advocate here and say "Why not!?" Is the Canadian government not of, for and by the Canadian people? Is it not therefore representative of what the Canadian people that elected it want? And are not the decisions that the government makes, the ones that we have trusted them to make - based on our votes?

If the government doesn't have the "right" to determine what is or isn't insulting or offensive, then it also shouldn't be tasked with determining what taxes are paid, what a "sensible" speed limit is, which countries we should trade with, what sentences should be meted out for different crimes, etc.

Where does one draw the line on what is or isn't within the "right" of the government, which we elected to represent us and make our laws for us?
We elect governments to do a number of things. Deciding what Rights we have isn't one of them. The government limitations on conduct you listed above... determining what taxes are paid, what a "sensible" speed limit is, which countries we should trade with, what sentences should be meted out for different crimes, etc. are not determinations of Rights, but statutory laws dealing with fiscal matters, public safety, trade, and criminal justice -all legitimate functions of government. What an individual may say or not say isn't a legitimate function of any government in a free society. The difference between your model and mine is the difference between a government that governs with the consent of the governed and a nation of serfs.

Were a democratically elected government to decide to decide the number of children we may have, would that sit well with you?
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by netwit View Post
You are using the word "charges" as though the police charged Steyn with a crime. As I wrote before, anyone can complain about a book. The site I linked to contains a number of cases of little old lady equivalents complaining about one book or the other. These are not official charges brought by the police.

There was one person, a Muslim, who complained about the book. His complaint was investigated by human rights tribunals and dismissed. Steyn has been riding that horse for publicity
Had Steyn's book been deemed 'offensive', what sanctions would a tribunal be empowered to impose? I assume that it's something with a bit more import than wagging a finger at him and saying 'Shame, shame.'
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Staten Island, NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by netwit View Post
I think you are relativizing all the meaning out of words. Societies are based on perceptions of what is fair and what is decent and that meaning is going to change over time, as you've already pointed out by referencing women's rights, racial rights, etc. We grow in understanding as people and as societies. And there will be debate - there always has been debate - and some really terrible ideas have come along, along with the good ones.

But we weren't talking about different ideas - we were talking about hate speech, which is speech inciting people to violence against other people. Your argument seems to be that most humans don't possess at least the modicum of common sense needed to differentiate between a 6-year-old screaming "I hate you" and a grown person deliberately disseminating information in such a way as to incite people to actually kill people.

If we really have as little common sense as your argument suggests, all our laws are moot points.

I don't understand why you are separating current laws covering aspects of free speech from the broader picture as though you approve of the one (not shouting "fire" in a crowded place) but not of the other. All that separates them, that I can see, is semantics.

(Don't know if I'll be able to get back to this thread - I have family in the hospital - just wanted you to know I'm not purposefully ignoring you or anyone else)
Were I to, right here and now, call for violence upon any group, the likelihood of increasing the chances of actual violence are di minimus. Were I to shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theater or incite an angry mob already predisposed to action, the chances of danger would be a good deal more real. There has to be a capacity for actual violence or imminent danger before there's a governmental interest in sanctioning me for what I say. Otherwise, I am free to express my opinion -however odious some may find it.

There was a time in this country when calling for racial equality was 'offensive' and most of government was on board with the inequality. It was freedom of speech that brought about the necessary changes.

I sincerely hope things work out with your family member.
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Old 03-13-2012, 05:42 PM
 
Location: Lethbridge, AB
1,132 posts, read 1,659,186 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshineleith View Post
If the government doesn't have the "right" to determine what is or isn't insulting or offensive, then it also shouldn't be tasked with determining what taxes are paid, what a "sensible" speed limit is, which countries we should trade with, what sentences should be meted out for different crimes, etc.

Where does one draw the line on what is or isn't within the "right" of the government, which we elected to represent us and make our laws for us?
Taxes, speed limits and trade are economic or public administration issues. Offensive speech is a morality issue. The government has as much right to tell you what's offensive speech as it does to tell you what religion to adhere to, what clothes to wear or who to spend time with.


Quote:
Originally Posted by netwit View Post
But we weren't talking about different ideas - we were talking about hate speech, which is speech inciting people to violence against other people. Your argument seems to be that most humans don't possess at least the modicum of common sense needed to differentiate between a 6-year-old screaming "I hate you" and a grown person deliberately disseminating information in such a way as to incite people to actually kill people.
No one in this thread has suggested that incitement to violence should be covered under freedom of speech - The only argument I've made in that vein is that it's already covered under a different section of the criminal code and needn't necessarily have two pieces of legislation dealing with it.

We are talking about suppression of ideas. For example, David Ahenakew was charged and convicted under section 319 for disparaging, anti-semetic remarks he'd made at a speech, then later, in an interview. Relevant parts of the speech and interview are available at CanLii.org. He made no direct threats nor appeals for violence towards anyone.

Quote:
I don't understand why you are separating current laws covering aspects of free speech from the broader picture as though you approve of the one (not shouting "fire" in a crowded place) but not of the other. All that separates them, that I can see, is semantics.

(Don't know if I'll be able to get back to this thread - I have family in the hospital - just wanted you to know I'm not purposefully ignoring you or anyone else)
Yelling Fire! in a theater is a public disturbance, which is covered under a different section of the criminal code. Having a quiet conversation, and stating that you believe there to be a fire, and yelling Fire! in an attempt to cause panic should be fairly easy to differentiate.

Best wishes to your family.
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Old 03-13-2012, 05:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavaturaccioli View Post
We elect governments to do a number of things. Deciding what Rights we have isn't one of them...
Of course it is. All laws are in one way or another about protecting rights: your right to drive a car at any speed you please is curtailed by my right to drive on a safe highway. One person's right to publically spew racial hatred against other people is curtailed by the right of society, individuals and groups to not be subjected to and harmed by said venom - whether that injury be financial, physical, social or emotional.

If your laws work for you - great - you've found a country that is a good fit for you. I wouldn't want to live in a country where groups like the KKK are tolerated under the guise of "freedom" or where gay couples don't have the right to be married. But that's me. If you find that acceptable, even applaudable in the name of "freedom", that's your perogative.

The laws in Canada work just fine for the vast majority of Canadians. Different strokes for different folks.
http://www.prosperity.com/freedom.aspx

Last edited by sunshineleith; 03-13-2012 at 06:02 PM..
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