November 22, 2012
On top of everything else, Canada’s Section 13 ‘hate speech’ law was based on junk science
One of the key arguments advanced by Mr. Lemire was that the justification for Sec. 13 (and, indeed, for upholding the “hate law”, Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code) that the Supreme Court bought in 1990 was based on bad science. Frankly, it was “theoretical” nonsense back then, but neuropsychology has made huge inroads and shown us how the human brain reacts. The science they accepted in 1990 is now junk. (…)
In the case of Sec. 13, the Supreme Court accepted that “hate speech” had a bad effect on society. This was all based on a 1965 report by an obscure University of Toronto psychology professor Frederick Kaufman. He argued that minorities were made fearful by “hate speech”, that they tended not to want to be themselves and that they withdrew from society and, at the extreme end, abused drugs or alcohol. This being so, Parliament, the Court held, was right to suppress “hate speech.”
Common sense and every day observation tell us that that’s not the way groups respond when they are criticized, even extravagantly. Professor Michael Persinger, led as an expert witness by Lemire and sank the scientific ship holding afloat the Supreme Court’s justification of repression. Persinger testified that Kaufmann was wrong. On being confronted with “aversive stimuli” (“hate speech” is a loaded term, Persinger testified), minorities either scoff at the comments and reject them or become angry and want to argue or refute them. Neither reaction is a harm to society. In fact, both are positive. So, in fact, beyond a few wounded feelings “hate speech” causes no harm to society. There goes any justification for Sec. 13 This was a key argument. (…)
Finally, Judge Mosley all but admits that the purpose of Sec. 13 is not to suppress “hate speech” but to silence a particular political ideology: “Apart from the technology, there is little to choose between Taylor’s callers and like-minded individuals looking for confirmation of their views on a white supremacist web site. And the suggestion that they are open to countervailing views can not be taken seriously.”(para 94) The judge rejects evidence from several witnesses that the Internet is far more interactive and functions very differently from a telephone answering machine.