On the Human Rights Commissions
Author: Andrew Phillips
Article Published: 15/09/2008
Libertarians — this one anyway — believe in free speech, period. Any opinion is allowed, however vile, for this simple reason: to start saying this isn't acceptable or that isn't allowed starts an unending process that ultimately and surely kills the quest for truth.
Subject to the common law definition of both slander and libel, with libel carrying the heavier penalty, any opinion in the realm of what constitutes the "public good" must be allowed for the most part regardless of its content.
Open debate is the cornerstone of democracy. I underscore the importance of Voltaire's statement, "Though I disagree with what you say I will defend to the death your right to say it." Truth is not always palatable or accepted, its voice is not always recognised, but the concept of free speech guarantees at least that it may have a voice. Today "politically correct" censorship tries to deny free speech. If this had happened in the 'thirties, where would Britain have been without Winston Churchill, who kept telling an inconvenient truth about the Nazis? Although most people didn't believe him, or want to believe him, there was never any question of trying to suppress what he was saying beyond trying to ignore him. Tragically, for both Britain and the world, he turned out to be absolutely correct in his personal assessment of the situation.
As the great Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero once wrote, "Men who are eager to terrorize others will inevitably become frightened of the very people they are intimidating." If government(s) in Canada have come to that point in their existence where they fear one lone voice and what it is saying they themselves are now living in fear. That irrational fear is the place where discrimination and repression is born. Only governments, or people they have funded through backroom dealings, have been able to practice "systematic" repression and discrimination throughout history. When this stage has been reached governments who engage in the suppression of a fundamental civil liberty no longer govern on our behalf as our constitutionally elected representatives. Instead they are trying to rule unconstitutionally based on their own arrogant agenda.
Recently a Supreme Court of Canada ruling has defanged the power of the Canadian Human Rights Commissions to the extent that their entire position is now untenable. This free speech ruling favoured by nine Supreme Court judges — virtually the whole Supreme Court of Canada — now protects expression of all opinions with reference to constitutional safeguards. The ruling puts to rest "this lingering notion that comment or opinion must be fair or reasonable," according to media legal expert Mark Bantley of the Gowlings law firm in Montreal. "It gives constitutional protection to all opinions, no matter how outrageous, so long as they are based on the facts".
In their very existence the Human Rights Commissions have shown themselves to be practitioners of a selective form of "mob law" where only some people and some opinions are allowed, at the Commissions' discretion, to benefit. As to mob law itself, Abraham Lincoln once said, "There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law."
My real concern, my worry, my very real fear, is that when enough Canadians no longer believe that they are "presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal," that they shall develop their own brand of mob law as a form of defence. We will then have looked into the abyss for so long we will have become the abyss itself.
We shall have become as vile as they are now. We will have mutated into something loathsome as a people and a nation possessing "neither check or correction" which, as Winston Churchill once said, comes from Parliamentary procedure and constitutional law. We will employ the same sorts of behaviours and vile rationalisations we once, and rightly, condemned. There can be only one end if we pursue this course. That shall be an end requiring an epitaph which might be written in words like these:
"If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." — Abraham Lincoln