Warren Kinsella is a professional smear-artist, who has already had to pay a huge reparations sum to Doug Christie’s client, a conservative activist named Roger Rocan. Kinsella wrote the book “Web of Hate” First Warren Kinsella National Post Editorial Reply Also See: 82% OF PEOPLE SUPPORT FREEDOM OF SPEECH ON THE INTERNET AND WARREN KINSELLA LIES AGAIN! FULL BIO ON KINSELLA!
National Post The only way to emancipate oneself from slurs, one thoughtful commentator once opined, is to take legal action against the authors of those same slurs — “whenever they occur.” There are a great many journalists who would doubtlessly disagree with such a sentiment (although their numbers will shrink dramatically, as we shall see, once the identity of that thoughtful commentator is revealed). Journalists often regard laws restricting what people can say and write as heretical, dangerous or unconstitutional. In the past decade or so, in fact, a sizeable number of opinion pieces have been published in Canadian newspapers warning of the dangers associated with such laws, and how they inevitably lead to a “chill” in the public expression of ideas. That, certainly, seems to have been the utilitarian fever that gripped the confused author of the lead editorial in the Jan. 4, 1998, edition of the National Post, titled Can We Talk? In that editorial, the author — whose identity, mercifully for him or her, remains cloaked — asserted that laws designed to prevent the promotion of hatred and genocide were, among other things, “political censorship,” “potentially sinister” and “authoritarian and illiberal.” The evidence marshalled to validate these ridiculous charges by the Post? The cases of Jim Keegstra, the one-time Alberta school teacher, and that of Malcolm Ross, another former teacher, from New Brunswick. With little success, but no small amount of sophistry, the author of the Post’s editorial sought to whitewash the hateful activities of Messrs. Keegstra and Ross — terming the Supreme Court of Canada’s thoughtful decision in the former case “enforced orthodoxy,” and its judgment in the latter case “ideological conformity.”
The facts suggest an entirely different reality. In his Eckville classroom, Mr. Keegstra for many years taught his students — a word we often employ, it should be recalled, to describe children in our educational system — that Jews were “money thugs” and “gutter rats.” One boy, Richard Denis, received an approving grade from Mr. Keegstra for writing this in an essay: “We must get rid of every Jew in existence so we may live in peace and freedom.” Another of Mr. Keegstra’s students, Gwen Matthews, wrote in an essay that, during the Revolution, French Jews would kill “innocent girls,” then “cook the girl and [eat] her.” The Post’s editorial board member, however, informs your readership that it is “offensive” that Mr. Keegstra was brought to legal account for teaching children these sorts of obscenities, which he or she calls “ideas.” I may be missing something, but I fail to see where the “idea” is in what Richard Denis was encouraged to write. The Post’s editorial is also offended that Mr. Ross was removed from his proximity to New Brunswick youngsters for his own libels against Jews, non-whites and many others. In his various self-published books, Mr. Ross likens Jews to “a deadly poison,” asserts that the Holocaust was “imaginary,” and declares that immigration “dilutes the blood . . . of our Race.” Mr. Ross, it should be noted, was not even prosecuted for circulating this sort of filth in the communities in which his students lived; he was merely removed from his teaching position, but was permitted to remain on the payroll as a curriculum planner. The Post’s editorialist, meanwhile, concludes that such a change in Mr. Ross’s employment status was “extraordinary.”
(On the contrary: what was extraordinary was that Mr. Ross was not simply fired.) And what are we to make of all of this? Our nameless correspondent sneers that we Canadians live in a society that is “saturated in public conformity,” and insinuates that those of us in the colonies need to wake up, and embrace the forward-thinking American approach. In that country, of course, Ku Klux Klansmen are regularly given permits to march through minority neighbourhoods and scream racial epithets at children; in that country, neo-Nazis are permitted access to publicly funded airwaves to praise Adolf Hitler; in that country, as any idiot would know, racial tensions remain proportionately worse than anywhere else on the planet. The Post’s editorial writer, however, breathlessly urges us to emulate our American neighbours in respect of hate propaganda, and thereby become more “free.” The thoughtful commentator referred to at the outset of this article had a different view, as do I. Making Canada’s laws relating to human expression more similar to those in the United States, he writes, gives a select few “a complete liberty to build and destroy reputations.” The author of the thoughtful commentary? Mr. Conrad Black, proprietor of this newspaper. Warren Kinsella is a Toronto public policy lawyer, and the author of Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network. National Post | Editorial Free speech, desirable though it may be, is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. People simply do not like to listen to attitudes they deem offensive. Even liberals (we use the word here in its old fashioned sense), are often tempted to bend the rules of free discourse to shut up some obnoxious racist or misogynist. We argued in our editorial of Jan. 4, however, that in the long run, the benefits of free speech outweigh the costs of offensiveness. Not everyone agrees. Like many other scholars, Warren Kinsella, whose reply appears on the opposite page, argues that expressions of hatred should be legally prohibited. Fair enough. But Mr. Kinsella goes farther than the average liberal (we revert here to the modern meaning). He argues our editorial amounted to a “whitewash” of the hate merchants targeted by Canadian censorship. To make this point, however, he quoted the editorial far too freely. For instance, the National Post did not say that all laws against promoting hatred and genocide were “potentially sinister” and “authoritarian and illiberal.” We wrote that a proposed amendment forbidding defendants to cite truth as a defence was “potentially sinister” — and so it is.
And we said that it and other proposals for broadening hate-speech laws could be put to “authoritarian and illiberal purposes” — and so they can. Indeed, as we pointed out, current law has been put to the authoritarian and illiberal purpose of forcing the mayor of Fredericton to mouth opinions with which he disagrees. Canada’s hate-speech jurisprudence is built around two Supreme Court of Canada decisions: One upholding a federal hate-speech law as applied to Alberta Jew-hater, James Keegstra; the other partially affirming a tribunal’s finding against Nova Scotia anti-Semite Malcolm Ross. Mr. Kinsella claims we described their views as “ideas.” In fact, we prefaced “ideas” with “evil” and “offensive.” But while we have nothing but contempt for the views of Messrs. Ross and Keegstra, it is clear that the legal cure to which they were subjected is worse than the disease with which they were diagnosed. It is “extraordinary” in a country with constitutional guarantees of free speech that a court can order someone not to express his opinions. For the moment, the banned opinions are those of a tiny and despised minority; that may not always be the case.
Thus, Mr. Kinsella dismisses recent American legal decisions expanding free speech by stating that in the United States “racial tensions remain proportionately worse than anywhere else on the planet.” Really? Worse than Rwanda? Or Bosnia? Or Indonesia? One hesitates to imagine the purposes to which a ruthless prosecutor could put this ethnic slur. Oddly for a lawyer, however, Mr. Kinsella seems never to have heard the legal tag: Hard cases make bad laws. Censorship may be intended to suppress only those who express the most vicious and wicked views. But in the end, it may be enforced against those whose views are merely offensive to the majority. That is a cure worse than the illness — though it may also aggravate the illness. History demonstrates that an enforced orthodoxy always lends a martyr’s nobility and a dissident’s cachet to its heretics. The case of hate speech is no different.