Hate speech

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pc_m...@my-deja.com

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Dec 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/1/99
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First off, greetings and happy Hanukkah to all. As a frequent reader of
(and sometimes contributor to) some of the religion forums on UseNet, I have
come across a topic that is certainly relevant to this NG - but there has
been surprisingly little said about it. Most of the letters on "hate speech
laws" that I've seen in SJC, Alt.Messianic, and SCI have been from spamming
Net Nazis or the like, and not from the "usual suspects".

However, as an American (and half-Canadian) writer doing research, and as
someone with a deep interest in religion, I wonder what the opinion of the
folks on this NG is towards the "hate speech laws" and Constitutional
amendments advocated by the Clinton Administration and those that are
already in effect in Canada. There certainly is a lot to have an opinion
about!

For those of you not familiar with the Canadian laws (and I am not
absolutely 100% familiar with them myself - still doing research), here's a
quick rundown. In 1971-72, the liberal Trudeau government, appalled at the
violence and race-card playing that was going on in America, from Archie
Bunker and George Wallace to militant Black groups and war protestors (not to
mention the furore over Quebec's desire to secede) passed Sections 318 and
319 to the Canadian Federal Criminal Code. These provisions outlawed speech
made in public to a public audience that deliberately incited hate or racism,
or advocated killing or genocide (e.g. "The only good ni---r is a dead one",
etc.) with fines or a term punishable by up to two years. The law was
applicable to prejudice directed towards "any identifiable group".

In the years following, most of the provinced passed what came to be known
as "Human Rights" Bills, most notably to protect women, minorities, and the
disabled in terms of fair housing and employment. However, (I think it was
around 1983-84 or so w/ regard to British Columbia, who's speech codes are
the most, pardon the pun, outspoken) many provinces in the '80s and early
'90s enacted speech codes that criminalized or opened the door to
criminalizing what was deemed as "hate speech" in a much broader way.

By 1993, BC amended their Bill to include the press/publishers and TV news
media under the hate speech law. At that time, a veteran journalist (albeit
one with a long record of articles saying unflattering things about Jews,
gays, and other minorities) for a large newspaper named Doug Collins decided
to "try" the new law, believing it to be an unconsionable intrusion into the
freedom of the press. In 1993, Collins wrote an infamous article for British
Columbia's North Shore News that questioned the Holocaust and derided Steven
Spielberg's 1993 movie as *Swindler's* List, branding it anti-German and a
tool for pushy "Hollywood Jews".

No sooner was the ink dry than B'nai Brith Canada and the Wiesenthal Centre
brought suit against Collins for "hate speech". Collines prevailed in
Canada's Supreme Court in 1996, but lost to a Provincial Human Rights
Tribunal in BC in early 1999, and was ordered to pay damages and publish a
retraction (his case is pending on appeal).

Okay, enough of the history lesson already. The point of this is, that the
press was evidently largely on the side of the Jewish community up until the
point that they brought suit against a newspaper. Then, newspapers and
columnists across Canada, along with groups like the BC Civil Liberties
Union, essentially "took Collins' side" - not neccessarily supporting his
views, but that he had a right to say them. Proponents of the hate speech
laws said that this pointed to widespead anti-gay, anti-Semitic, and bigoted
attitudes among the media, that required a legal remedy to stop things from
going any further.

And in BC, outspoken Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh has been pressing for
even tighter speech laws, with the full support of CJC's Bernie Farber and
Canadian Wiesenthal's Sol Littman. Already, in what some feel as a nod to
political correctness, the "any identifiable group" broadness of the original
Federal Criminal Code was de facto redifined in the courts to mean
specifically Blacks, Jews, other ethnic and religious minorities, and gays.
Also, telephones were placed off-limits to "hate speech", and many Attorney
Generals have already been vigourously looking into ways they can prosecute
hate sites on the Internet.

Another new law under consideration is one that would make "truth" an
invalid defence for hate speech. In other words, if you denied the Holocaust
using documents from the Institute for Historical Awareness (or whatever
they're called), or if you had a gov't study that said that gays were twice
as likely to get AIDS and you used that against them, your "truth" would not
be accepted as a valid defence. The thinking behind this is that it would
keep bigots from testifying at length and getting free media publicity for
and about their theories.

Again, these set off another firestorm. Many Canadian Jews are furious at
the actions of Littman and Farber, claiming that they only perpetuate the
stereotype of the pushy, entitled Jew who wants to force his lifestyle on
others. They also bristle at the "truth is not a defence" proposal, as they
feel it implies that they don't have enough "truth" about the Holocaust or
anti-Semitism to combat the deniers.

Others, however, such as Farber and Littman, believe that the overriding
objective must be to stop cold any more bigots from getting any more power
and influence - especially before they can influence children.

One thing that hasn't yet been much addressed (although I'm sure it
eventually will be) is the issue of intra-group "hate speech" and art. For
example, if a R Jew said that an O was close-minded and bigoted, and the O
said that the R wasn't a real Jew at all; or if an MJ told his R colleague
that he was a "lost sinner", and the R countered that the MJ was a traitor,
God only knows what would happen in court! And art - some books have already
been banned, and you can be sure that the Catholic Defamation League would
have wiped out offences such as the infamous "Virgin Mary" portrait in New
York, as a religious minority in majority-Protestant Canada.

So tell me - what do you think? Do you think that America needs to amend
its Constitution to exclude "hate speech" from allowable discourse, or do you
believe that the current, open-door policy is the best way? Do you think
that the Canadian laws are just, or do they perpetuate negative stereotypes
and lead to other threats?

A popular if blue-humored joke of Leo Rosten's said that if you have two
Jews in a room, they're liable to have three opinions on any given subject.
Whatever your opinions on this issue, I look forward to hearing them.

Thanks again,
PC


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

Joseph Hertzlinger

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Dec 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/2/99
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On Wed, 01 Dec 1999 08:20:44 GMT, pc_m...@my-deja.com
<pc_m...@my-deja.com> wrote:

> So tell me - what do you think? Do you think that America needs to amend
>its Constitution to exclude "hate speech" from allowable discourse, or do you
>believe that the current, open-door policy is the best way? Do you think
>that the Canadian laws are just, or do they perpetuate negative stereotypes
>and lead to other threats?

Such laws are both stupid and unconstitutional. The major effect is to
convince the neo-Nazis that there's something to their mishegoss and
does not expose them to the light of ridicule. When they can publish
their dreck we can also prepare counterarguments so we can't be taken
by surprise by "Rabbi Baba Metzia claims that Gentiles are animals"
and similar nonsense. (The initial reaction to neo-Nazi propaganda is
speechlessness as one does not know where to start.) There is also the
matter that if the neo-Nazis are close to taking over, exposing their
plans could possibly be interpreted as "hate speech." The absence of
hate-speech laws also makes it difficult for Nazis to start repression
if they ever do take over. Once they take over, they will have to
hire censors, they will have to deal with people claiming to be
censors who are leaking information, they will have to deal with the
fact that most policeman will refuse to get involved in book burning,
they will find that whatever level of government they take over will
be opposed by other levels, if they actually try a massacre, they will
find that any similar groups will have access to uncensored
information and can be prepared, and they will find that most of the
"60 million guns" in the U.S. are turned in their direction.

Susan Cohen

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Dec 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/2/99
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Joseph Hertzlinger wrote:

> Such laws are both stupid and unconstitutional. The major effect is to
> convince the neo-Nazis that there's something to their mishegoss and
> does not expose them to the light of ridicule. When they can publish
> their dreck we can also prepare counterarguments so we can't be taken
> by surprise by "Rabbi Baba Metzia claims that Gentiles are animals"
> and similar nonsense. (The initial reaction to neo-Nazi propaganda is
> speechlessness as one does not know where to start.) There is also the
> matter that if the neo-Nazis are close to taking over, exposing their
> plans could possibly be interpreted as "hate speech." The absence of
> hate-speech laws also makes it difficult for Nazis to start repression
> if they ever do take over. Once they take over, they will have to
> hire censors, they will have to deal with people claiming to be
> censors who are leaking information, they will have to deal with the
> fact that most policeman will refuse to get involved in book burning,
> they will find that whatever level of government they take over will
> be opposed by other levels, if they actually try a massacre, they will
> find that any similar groups will have access to uncensored
> information and can be prepared, and they will find that most of the
> "60 million guns" in the U.S. are turned in their direction.

I don't think I've ever heard a better refutation of the call for
hate speech legislation. And I'm someone who, at the very least,
wouldn't mind it - which I only mention so you know the depth
of the compliment.

Susan

Dan Winter

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Dec 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/3/99
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There was a PBS series (whose name I forget), that had a group of about 15
people from various backgrounds (lawyers, scientists, doctors, clerics, etc)
discuss issues, like freedom of speech and medical ethics. It was hosted by
Fred Friendly and Arthur Miller (I think).

Antonin Scalia was one of the speakers, and his reply on freedom of speech
was very interesting. The discussion was what limits you can put on speech
at private or public universities. Scalia argued that the first amendment
was designed to further political discourse, and provide an opportunity to
share and discuss ideas. Schools could be an obligated (especially public
ones) to allow a speaker to come on campus and make an impassioned case for
why blacks are less capable than whites, but a group of frat students
standing on their porch yelling "nigger" at every black who passed by would
not be protected, since that was clearly not trying to enlighten or increase
understanding.

For folks who are interested in the downside of hate speech legislation, go
check out "The Shadow University" at your local library. It is a deeply
disturbing documentation of how diversity has been used at our college
campuses to kill the first amendment rights of our students (using our own
tax money to do it, yet). The author was the second academic advisor for
the Jewish student at one of the big Pennsylvania universities who was
accused of the legendary "buffalo" insult against a group of black women.

Dan Winter
Not speaking for anyone


Scoop wrote in message ...
>Quoth Joseph Hertzlinger:
>: <pc_m...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>:
>: > So tell me - what do you think? Do you think that America needs to


>: >amend its Constitution to exclude "hate speech" from allowable
discourse,
>: >or do you believe that the current, open-door policy is the best way?

>:
>: Such laws are both stupid and unconstitutional.
>
>[typically thoughtful Joseph post snipped]
>
>Hear hear! I would only add to your refutation that "hate speech" laws (and
>their bastard offspring, hate /crime/ laws) make a dangerous precedent of
>criminalizing what people think.
>
>That said, an argument could be made for penalizing inciteful speech -- as
I
>believe has already been done in the "fire in a crowded theater" example.
>But that's a bit different from voicing an opinion or making rules for
>"allowable discourse." (I say, give an idiot enough verbal rope, and
>there'll be no end of spectators to help him hang himself.) And tacking a
>few years onto a murderer's sentence because he didn't like his victim --
>isn't that a given anyway?
>
>(Forgive the incoherency -- I'm in the pre-coffee hours.)
>
>+-+-+-+-+-+ Neal Ross Attinson +-+-+-+-+-+
>+ So many stories, so little newsprint... +
>+-+-+-+ http://www.sonic.net/scoop +-+-+-+

mei...@qqqerols.com

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Dec 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/4/99
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In soc.culture.jewish on Wed, 01 Dec 1999 08:20:44 GMT
pc_m...@my-deja.com posted:

P&M

> However, as an American (and half-Canadian) writer doing research, and as
>someone with a deep interest in religion, I wonder what the opinion of the
>folks on this NG is towards the "hate speech laws" and Constitutional
>amendments advocated by the Clinton Administration and those that are
>already in effect in Canada. There certainly is a lot to have an opinion
>about!

The administration has supported a constitutional amendment about
this? I missed that. Are you sure? There are always a couple dozen
amendments someone is supporting though.

I'm against amending the constitution in such a case. Although
sometimes I am jealous of Canadian laws, we have a system here and
fiddling with it isn't a good idea.

Right now, I beleive the standards for speeches made in person is
'clear and present danger' of starting a riot or something. Although
I think the movie of the same name has nothing to do with hate speech
or speech at all.

> Okay, enough of the history lesson already. The point of this is, that the
>press was evidently largely on the side of the Jewish community up until the
>point that they brought suit against a newspaper.

Including wrt the law involved? What does it mean to be their side if
when it comes to a test, they're not. If not wrt the law, I would
assume they're still on our side.


> Then, newspapers and
>columnists across Canada, along with groups like the BC Civil Liberties
>Union, essentially "took Collins' side" - not neccessarily supporting his
>views, but that he had a right to say them. Proponents of the hate speech
>laws said that this pointed to widespead anti-gay, anti-Semitic, and bigoted
>attitudes among the media, that required a legal remedy to stop things from
>going any further.

This is certainly going to annoy media types. Even if such attitudes
are widepread. Are they?

> And in BC, outspoken Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh has been pressing for
>even tighter speech laws, with the full support of CJC's Bernie Farber and
>Canadian Wiesenthal's Sol Littman. Already, in what some feel as a nod to
>political correctness, the "any identifiable group" broadness of the original

I thought true pol. cor. meant including any identifiable group, like
fatties, short people, tall people. Everyone but nzis and other
bigots.

>Federal Criminal Code was de facto redifined in the courts to mean
>specifically Blacks, Jews, other ethnic and religious minorities, and gays.
>Also, telephones were placed off-limits to "hate speech", and many Attorney
>Generals have already been vigourously looking into ways they can prosecute
>hate sites on the Internet.

> Another new law under consideration is one that would make "truth" an
>invalid defence for hate speech.

whoa, baby.

> Others, however, such as Farber and Littman, believe that the overriding
>objective must be to stop cold any more bigots from getting any more power
>and influence - especially before they can influence children.

There's no perfect solution is there.

About 5 or 10 years ago there was a supreme court decision in the US
that slightly weakened the truth is a defense defense to libel. I
think this might have meant that cagey use of words by one who
intended to mislead that everyone took as he intended them to, to mean
one thing which was false and libelous would still be libleous even if
the speaker could show that one reading of the words was literally
true. I say that mostly because I think that was the one big hole in
the libel laws. I haven't seen any more about it, I'm not going to
pay a lawyer to research it from me.. I can't even find a law
newsgroup where someone might know the answer. This is really outside
the aclu's area but maybe I'll call them someday.


> So tell me - what do you think? Do you think that America needs to amend
>its Constitution to exclude "hate speech" from allowable discourse, or do you
>believe that the current, open-door policy is the best way?

The US shouldn't amend it's laws on speech. It is a bad thing that
the Free excercise of religion clause was gutted a few years ago.

I heard a lawyer from the MD CLU, of the ACLU say a few years ago that
the first amendment might not work forever, but he and I think the
time to change it is nowhere near. I thought Canada was in better
shape than the us, but if they could write a law that works they don't
have a 1st amendment to worry about.

> Do you think
>that the Canadian laws are just, or do they perpetuate negative stereotypes
>and lead to other threats?

> Thanks again,
> PC

You didn't ask about hate-crimes. I have been sort of tied on this
until lately. It seems to me that what makes hate crimes worse
because they target a member of a group instead of an individual they
hate, is that it is part of a trend, a continuing practice. In that
case, there is an element involved of punishing the current criminal
for the crimes of those who came before him. I think this is enough
to break my tie.

mei...@QQQerols.com

Remove the QQQ
and I'll get back to you.


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