Well, it’s that time again, for me to talk about all the people who have been talking about Jennifer Lynch and her wondrous multi-colour commission, with gratuitous mention of the various other commissions and commissioners currently mucking about in the Dominion.
First off, Rebekah from The Miss Marprelate Tracts makes a good point about the Lynch list that is:
So… we overreacted. Well, we’re big kids and can say we’re sorry. Or if not sorry, we can at least admit that we weren’t targeting the HRC for the right thing. This time.
Second, our pal Richard Warman is keeping himself busy. BigCityLib has the story:
…for an appeal of the ruling in the FreeD vs. Richard Warman case wherein Free Dominion owners Connie and Mark Fournier were ordered to turn over the IP addresses of eight FreeD members who allegedly posted defamatory comments re Mr. Warman.
At the time of the initial ruling (back in March) Toronto employment lawyer and progblogger Garry Wise wrote:
An order for disclosure may have been justifiable if the statements made by the anonymous posters were, on their face, apparently actionable.
The Court’s disinclination, however, to engage in any factual analysis of the alleged defamation or the necessary balancing of competing interests has created a dangerous precedent that should not be allowed to stand.
Third, something which I missed before. By Brian Gable, from Dan Cook’s Globe and Mail blog:
Fourth, Ezra Levant does that thing that he does: B’nai Brith diligently disproves stereotype about Jews:
The B’nai Brith is diligently disproving a stereotype about Jews. Unfortunately, it’s the stereotype that we’re smart.
Exhibit A: here’s their press release from last week about a nuisance human rights commission complaint, filed by an anti-Israel group. On its own, the press release would be sensible — it points out that HRC complaints are often bald-faced attempts to legally bully political targets, a tool increasingly used by the unholy alliance of foreign jihadis and their domestic leftist allies.
B’nai Brith calls the complaint “frivolous”:
…“It is obvious that this maneuver to involve the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is part of a new strategy being employed by those who wish to create a ‘legal chill.’
…“We have recently seen other cases here in Canada which exemplify this new strategy of intimidation through ‘legal chill’: there was an attempt to muzzle Maclean’s magazine, the Western Standard and Ezra Levant were dragged through tribunal hearings, and B’nai Brith Canada, for a period of five years, had to defend itself against a frivolous charge lodged with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. In all of these cases, the charges were either withdrawn or the defendants won, but only after an enormous cost in terms of dollars and human resources.
“Serious reform is necessary to ensure the viability of our Human Rights Tribunals and Commissions. Canadians who believe in standing up for human rights should really be concerned that these types of frivolous complaints keep wasting valuable resources that could otherwise be spent fighting genuine human rights violations.”
On its own, there’s a lot to agree with there.
But there’s one small problem: the B’nai Brith only calls HRC censorship complaints “frivolous” when they’re not the ones using them.
Exhibit B: last spring, B’nai Brith dispatched its Ottawa lobbyist, lawyer Michael Mostyn, to help prosecute Marc Lemire in the censorship complaint brought against him by serial complainant and Stormfront bigot Richard Warman. B’nai Brith was — and still is, to this very day — an intervener against Lemire, along with other Official Jews who prefer to censor rather than debate their political opponents. Here’s a copy of the transcript from that hearing; you can see that in addition to the B’nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Simon Wiesenthal Center were also intervening against freedom of speech.
You can read Mostyn’s comments, starting at page 317 on the .pdf, page 5951 on the transcript’s numbering system. His comments were brief, so I’ll reproduce them in full here:
MR. MOSTEN: Okay, thank you very
22 much. It’s Michael Mosten speaking for B’Nai Brith
23 and, as promised, I’ll be very, very brief.
24 Mr. Steacy, you had previously spoken
25 about the complaint driven process and you had said
1 that there are various ways that you intake complaints
2 such as by telephone, other means.
3 So, if I can perhaps phrase it as,
4 small “c” complaints being an informal complaint,
5 something that might be received over a telephone
6 versus a big “C” complaint which would be something
7 going through a formal and approved process, do you
8 consider all of those complaint driven as you were
9 speaking previously?
10 MR. STEACY: Yes, I do.
11 MR. MOSTEN: Okay. Would you agree
12 that it’s a common investigative technique to engage in
13 online conversations?
14 MR. STEACY: Yes, it is.
15 MR. MOSTEN: Is it an important and
16 essential investigative tool for you in your role in
17 the Commission to engage in online conversations?
18 MR. STEACY: It was.
19 MR. MOSTEN: Is it fair to say that
20 complaints come in various forms, there are multiple
21 postings on websites, there’s all kinds of material
22 online and that these websites and message boards are
23 not blank slates before you would have in the past
24 taken a look at them?
25 MR. STEACY: I would agree with that.
1 MR. MOSTEN: And I put it to you, Mr.
2 Steacy, that to allege that any of these previous
3 Commission cases that there are any fabrication
4 involved with that is ludicrous.
5 Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, those
6 are my questions.
(Sorry for not cleaning up the formatting.)
There are a few things to say right off the bat.
First, Mostyn clearly didn’t have a clue what he was doing there. He’s B’nai Brith’s lobbyist on Parliament Hill, and actually a former Conservative candidate. He’s not a life-long censor like Bernie “Burny” Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress. His questions were uninformed and foolish, and I think he knew it, which is why he kept them mercifully brief. That’s no excuse, of course. But it adds a degree of pitifulness to his appearance.
Second, Mostyn was cross-examining Dean Steacy, and he asked a short series of questions, the foolishness of which I’ll address in a moment. But what’s far more important is what Mostyn did not ask Steacy.
Steacy is the censorship investigator at the Canadian Human Rights Commission who testifed, under oath, in this very case, that “freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value”. You can read that for yourself right here, at transcript page 4793.
This was uninteresting to Mostyn and it obviously did not trouble him enough to motivate him to ask about this stunning renunciation of our Charter of Rights, Bill of Rights and other inheritances of freedom.
But perhaps freedom of speech is outside Mostyn’s mission statement. Surely anti-Semitism isn’t, though.
Exhibit C: in last fall’s federal election, the B’nai Brith issued this embarrassing election guide. Look at the very first cluster of recommendations: the B’nai Brith actually demands that the “Criminal Code should be amended to include Holocaust denial as a hate crime.”
To date, the concept of “hate crimes” has been bad enough — grafting a political offence onto existing criminal offences. So someone who hits you is guilty of assault and battery; someone who hits you because you’re gay or Jewish or black is guilty of assault and battery and “hate”. It treats victims differently based on their “identity”, and it starts to criminalize emotions — for that is what “hate” is.
But look at what the B’nai Brith is doing. They don’t just want to graft “hate” onto existing crimes. They want hate itself to be a crime. Worse, actually: mere “denial” of a historical fact. One doesn’t have to be a “hater” to question or deny the fact of the Holocaust. But B’nai Brith wants the mere disbelief (or even a public musing of disbelief) of that fact to be a crime.
Is there any other fact — scientific, historic or otherwise — so sacrosanct that we would ever consider criminalizing disbelief in it? Would “denying” the Armenian genocide be a crime? Stalin’s mass starvation of the Ukraine? Mao’s murder of 50 million of his own countrymen? Would the denial of those historical facts be a “crime”, too? How about other facts — like that the world is round? Or how about theories that aren’t quite facts, but that political correctness demands we treat like facts, such as man-made global warming?
Seriously: have you ever heard of anything more anti-intellectual, anti-liberal, indeed anti-Jewish than to demand the criminalization of dissent, even stupid dissent? How embarrassing that this is being done in the name of Jews.
Just a few lines down, B’nai Brith demands that “symbols used to advance a racist agenda” be “banned”. What does banned mean? That there now ought to be pictures that are crimes to depict?
I watched Tom Cruise’s movie Valkyrie the other day. It is chock full of swastika flags and other Nazi symbols. Should that movie be banned? How about Schindler’s List? How about documentaries or textbooks about the Second World War? In the U.K., some politically correct officials have ruled that St. George’s cross is a racist symbol. Hell, forget the St. George’s part — some argue that any cross itself is racist. What fools would demand the “banning” of symbols? The answer: fools who are so self-absorbed, so solipsistic, so unimaginative, so cloistered, so supremacist that they can’t see five minutes ahead: that the very first “symbol” to be demanded “banned” for “advancing” a “racist agenda” would be the Star of David, that radical Palestinian activists would cite as the symbol of anti-Arab hate.
Exhibit E: the five-year, secret HRC complaint against B’nai Brith itself. This is the ne plus ultra in hypocrisy. The B’nai Brith was abused for five long years by an anonymous Muslim antagonist, and their sole response is that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to be so abusive — only Jews should be. They don’t object to abusive nuisance suits. They just object when other people get to do it.
The B’nai Brith is not as obsessed with censorship as the Canadian Jewish Congress. That would be impossible: the new CJC president, Mark Freiman, is actually a former section 13 censorship prosecutor for the CHRC. But the B’nai Brith is a pretty close second.
You’d think B’nai Brith would abandon its incoherent, illiberal policy on HRCs out of self-interest — to appeal to the countless Canadian Jews who are turned off by the CJC’s soft fascism, and to demonstrate intellectual coherence with the rest of the B’nai Brith’s more conservative policies. Michael Mostyn’s embarrassing behaviour at the Lemire hearing — whether that was on his own volition, or on Frank Dimant’s instruction — shows the B’nai Brith has a lot to learn about the Jewish values of freedom and democratic debate. And the CJC’s press release last week condemning “frivolous” HRC complaints by others, while the B’nai Brith continues their frivolous intervention in the ongoing Warman v. Lemire case, is just pure hypocrisy.
Fifth, Rob Breakenridge writes of Carleton U. and HRCs: HRCs: The Cause of – And Solution to – Our Free Speech Problems:
The irony of this story is enough to make your head explode.Who will save us from the threat of censorship? Why, the censors themselves:Carleton University was only trying to keep campus political discourse civil. Now, it looks as if it will face Ontario’s human rights tribunal.
In March, a campus group advertised Israeli Apartheid Week with vivid signs of an Israeli fighter jet targeting a Palestinian toddler. Carleton told the group, Students Against Israeli Apartheid, to come up with something less pointed.
It complied, but complained to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that the school trampled its freedom of expression. A mediation will likely be held in late September or early October, and, if the parties cannot agree, the complaint will proceed to a hearing, said Yavar Hameed, a lawyer representing the Carleton students.There is obviously much more going on at Carleton and much of it clearly has more to do with the Israeli-Palestinian situation than freedom of speech. It also seems to me that no one involved here – the student activists, the university, or the human rights commission – really believes in freedom of expression in the first place.I wrote here and here about this poster controversy – in short, the university was wrong to deny the students the opportunity to display the poster, just as the University of Calgary was wrong to deal the way it did with Campus Pro-Life’s anti-abortion display.I think many of the campus anti-Israel crowd and the broader academic left are being awfully hypocritical in their embrace of freedom of expression in the case of this poster. We’ve seen pro-Israel speakers denied the opportunity to have their say on Canadian campuses. We’ve seen efforts to keep pro-life clubs and speakers off campuses. The threat to free speech on campus began long before this poster was blocked.