Permission to Speak
Vol: 26 Issue: 28 Friday, November 28, 2003
Every society always requires a villian against which it can measure itself. In Europe, it was the Jew. Post-war European socialists had the anti-communists, while during the Cold War, America’s villain was the Red Menace.
In our liberal modern era, society’s great outcast has changed identity once again. It is now the racist, the misogynist and the homophobe.
But although the identity of society’s chosen villians change, history says one thing remains constant.
History always indicts the censor and looks tenderly upon his victims. How many modern scholars take sides with the Spanish inquisitors? Or with Senator Joe McCarthy? The very act of censorship tends to degrade the censor.
When carried to the extreme, it can make martyrs out of monsters and monsters out of moralists.
This is a lesson lost to Candian political leaders, who, in the last ten years or so, have added politically motivated censorship to the Canadian legal system. It has now reached such a point that many judges and academics have come to identify the censorship of unpopular ideas as a human right owed to those whom they offend.
Canadian federal justice officials have expanded Canada’s existing ‘hate speech’ laws to include gender, sexual orientation and disability; police will be empowered to seize computer hard drives they suspect contain hate material. Moreover, accused ‘hatemongers’ will no longer be permitted to invoke truth as a defense in certain situations. That is to say, if one is accused of hate speech, it is no defense to prosecution that the statements themselves are true.
To publicly state that homosexuality is morally wrong is a crime in Canada. To publicly state that Islam preaches hatred towards the West is a crime in Canada. It makes no difference that both statements are demonstrably true.
Although Canada’s constitution guarantees the right to free speech, speech is not free if it is allowed only by permission of the state.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that certain freedoms are guaranteed and are subject “only to such reasonable limits that prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
Among these freedoms is are “freedom of conscience and religion…”
Unless you are a Christian. On September 9, 1998, an interfaith memorial service was conducted for the families of the 229 victims of the crash of Swissair flight 111 in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia.
Carolyn Nicholson, a minister of the United Church of Canada, was selected as the Protestant clergy to take part in the service. She later said that the Canadian federal government’s protocol officer asked her and a Roman Catholic priest, to submit their parts of the service to the protocol office for advance approval.
A Native Canadian was permitted to speak of her people’s beliefs; a Jewish Rabbi read from the Hebrew Scriptures; a Muslim read from the Koran. The minister and the priest were forbidden to mention Jesus Christ and were forbidden to read from the New Testament. The protocol officer was concerned that it might ‘offend’ someone at the service.
Instead, they both read passages from the Old Testament and did not mention Jesus Christ as instructed.
While Canadian Christians cannot openly practice their faith with the freedom of conscience guaranteed by their constitution, Canadian Muslims suffer no such liability. As reported by the Canadian Law Times Online, Canada is prepared to recognize and enforce Islamic Sharia Law.
Under the proposal, the Canadian justice system is prepared to enforce the edicts of Islamic courts in the country. The harshness of Islamic law is well-known in those countries where it is practiced. Thieves have their hands amputated, women committing adultery are sentenced to stoning, and, under Islamic Sharia law, women have no more rights than housepets.
There are about a million Muslims in Canada. Of the remaining thirty-odd million Canadians, about 85% of them identify themselves as Christians — although the numbers drop to single digits when questions about church attendence are factored in.
Strictly speaking, one could express the situation this way: In Canada, it is now legal to impose Islamic law and give it the full backing of the Canadian justice system, but it is illegal for a Christian to mention the Biblical prohibitions against homosexual conduct.
(Which is why I am writing this from North Carolina and NOT Canada)
The Bible itself is now officially classified as ‘hate literature’ whereas the Koran is now an official legal text in Canadian courts.
The following is therefore a Canadian legal text: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement” (The Koran, Sura 5.33)
And this is an example of ‘hate’ speech. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
God help us.