(Yes, I look like Hilary Clinton. Thank you…)
I think I’m the only HRC critic who sees this as not just a free speech issue, but a property rights issue. Thanks to Ed Broadbent, who refused to sign the Charter otherwise, property rights are not acknowledged and protected in our Constitution. Canada has a far more collectivist mentality than our American cousins.
Why else would the Canadian Islamic Congress think nothing of trying to hijack a private institution like Maclean’s magazine, and blithely insist on getting 5,000 words of “rebuttal” space?
Why else would gay activists try to matter-of-factly hijack Scott Brockie’s printing press or two lesbians try to commandeer the Knights of Columbus Hall as their “right”?
The left’s collectivist mentality is on display there and it is so ingrained they, and we, don’t even recognize it as one key to the problem … It is just part of “Canadian culture.” We don’t know how to contemplate and articulate an alternative. Had the CIC gone after the CBC for some real or imagined offence, at least they’d have had a case, sort of, as their taxes were being used to offend them.
TI: There have been many critics of human rights commissions, including The Interim, who have been attempting to expose the trampling of freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of the press for years. The issue of human rights commissions seemed to really take off in 2008. What happened?
KS: Timing and personality.
Many older cases familiar to your readers, like the Scott Brockie case, they learned about through Christian publications like yours. However, those publications are mostly “preaching to the choir,” sad to say. Finite, labour-intensive, expensive-to-mail media like small newspapers have a limited readership, reach and influence.
The Steyn and Levant cases, on the other hand, both broke when internet blogs had matured. Their pre-existing fan base, especially Steyn’s, mounted an unorganized, informal “netroots” online campaign to spread the word about their cases. Unlike old-fashioned print newsletters and petitions, online publicity is low cost, immediate and able to travel the world at the push of a button.
And Steyn and Levant were always extraordinarily gracious about all the help they were getting.
And unlike many of the previous victims of the HRCs, frankly, Steyn and Levant are both extremely articulate men with a keen sense of public relations – and senses of humour. Not everyone “likes” them — as we say in our book, even one of Ezra’s friends calls him “the most annoying man on this earth.” However, enough people do that it made a difference in how their cases were presented and received.
I’ve tried to advise three different, lesser-known folks with HRC cases on how to “win friends and influence people.” And alas, they usually insist on sticking with their losing tactics: using insider jargon only their small group of followers understands; employing words like “homos” and “Zionists” and “sodomites” in their missives; sending out mis-spelled, ungrammatical, angry and frankly ugly messages and running tacky, homely websites — generally doing all the things that keep small groups like the John Birch Society small groups forever.
We need to acknowledge the role that personality plays in this process as, alas, it does in all human affairs. Some people are simply more attractive than others and people like to side with happy warriors (and winners)
Yes, Steyn and Levant have spent their careers building up impressive Rolodexes of influential people from the White House down who they could turn to in these very situations. But nothing was stopping lesser-known victims of the HRCs from doing exactly the same thing all this time.
Steyn and Levant — as they were the first to acknowledge — “won” their cases because of who they were, not on the merits of the “evidence” against them. None of this is fair, but life isn’t fair and all this is simple human nature.
Apologists [for the HRCs] have mostly backed down, because people like me are beating them. Now, they insist merely that the HRCs recover their original mandate of handling only employment and housing discrimination. But look at those employment cases: incompetent, insane or simply petulant employees getting thousands of dollars because, for instance, they don’t want to wash their hands after using the bathroom. So now all those “Employees Must Wash Hands” signs are the moral equivalent of “Whites Only” or “No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish.”
Again, even many fellow conservatives simply assume that government has a role in such things. I am far more libertarian than most of my fellow Canadian conservatives, more like an American trapped in a Canadian’s body
It doesn’t matter to me who the prime minister is or what the law says. I violate Section 13.1 of the hate crimes law every day on my blog (if I’m doing it right). So do other bloggers. The law is unjust and unenforceable. If enough people simply ignore it, and live as if it has already been scrapped, the law will wither away and be forgotten. We have to change the culture. Changing the law will come much later as it always does.
(Order The Tyranny of Nice here.)