Take the case of a “particularly nasty piece of work,” Richard Warman. He’s a lawyer — an “award-winning lawyer,” according to Wikipedia — who was employed by the Canadian Human Rights Commission to root out hate speech, particularly on the Web. Oh, I’m sure he’s a pillar of decency. It’s easy to despise the speech of neo-Nazis and other “hate groups.” I know I do. But it’s one thing to hate the hateful. It’s another thing to persecute them, to deny their rights to speak.
What did Warman do? He filed numerous complaints against “hate speech” websites, and the government took many of those sites down.
So, as decent as Warman no doubt is in private life, as fun-loving and above-board, in public life he’s just, well, unjust. His very job with the misnamed “human rights” commission was an ongoing series of injustices.
So you’d expect his work to receive criticism.
And it did. Paul Fromm, a free-speech activist and founder of Canadians Associated for Free Expresssion — a group defending the worst “hate sites,” and thus said to “have links” with them (how deep those ties are I do not know; the matter irrelevant for my purposes, anyway) — has repeatedly called Warman an “enemy of free speech.” And similar things.
And so what did Warman do?
And was awarded $30,000.
Why? The judge ruled that a government official working from duly enacted government policy cannot be an enemy of free speech. That’s just unthinkable!
Yes, in Canada you may not speak the truth about free speech to its official enemies. In Canada, the reason why we must defend even the most vile speech and writing becomes clear: because suppression of it eventually leads to the inability to criticize government.
You know you’ve lost your freedom when you cannot call a censor a censor.
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Sunday, December 09, 2007