The Canadian parliament may repeal at least a portion of that country’s hate speech laws, which I’ve been a staunch critic of for years. The Huffington Post has a pretty badly slanted article that focuses on the fact that white supremacists support the repeal. Here’s what the legislation would do:
Bill C-304, introduced by Conservative backbencher Brian Storseth, repeals Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which bans hate speech transmitted over the Internet or by telephone. It passed third reading in the House of Commons on Thursday and is now headed to the Senate…
The new law doesn’t make hate speech legal on the web or by phone — hate speech remains illegal under the Criminal Code. But by removing it from the Canadian Human Rights Act, it takes away the authority of the country’s human rights commissions to investigate online hate speech and request that violating websites be taken down.
But reading this article, you’d think that the only people who oppose such laws are white supremacists and right wingers:
A Conservative private members’ bill that repeals part of Canada’s hate speech laws has passed the House of Commons with scant media attention, and even less commentary. But it’s being cheered by many Canadian conservatives as a victory for freedom of speech. And it’s being cheered most vocally by another group: White supremacists…“This is a huge victory for freedom in Canada,” a poster calling him or herself “CanadaFirst” posted on the website of StormFront, a notorious white supremacist group. “However, we still have other unjust Zionist ‘hate’ laws that need to go.”
“Way to go, Harper. I know we can’t get everything we want, but I stand a little taller today as a Canuck,” wrote “OneMan.”
Okay, but so what? The American Nazi Party undoubtedly cheered the court’s ruling in the Skokie case, but so did the Jewish attorney representing them for the ACLU. The KKK no doubt loves the fact that the courts have protected their right to protest, but so does every civil libertarian in the country. Stormfront may want this law repealed, but so did Christopher Hitchens, who argued vociferously against them.
This is part of a very old slander of civil libertarians that, ironically, started with the right wing. When the ACLU defended communists, they were accused of being communists (and still are to this day). When they defended the free speech rights of NAMBLA, they were accused of being pedophiles. But this does not even begin to argue against the civil libertarian position, nor is it a rational accusation to make. If you believe in free speech, you have to defend it even when exercised by those whose views you hate.