We admit it — there are times we suspect that Canada’s human-rights commissions exist simply to make life easier for editorial writers. Or maybe they’re just trying to make parody redundant. They certainly seem to have notions about free speech and a free press that are profoundly at odds with the traditions of Western democracy.
Commissioner Hall also claims that the media have a responsibility to “engage in fair and unbiased journalism.” Those are certainly ideals The Gazette and most other Canadian publications strive to achieve, with admittedly imperfect success. But that responsibility, like membership in the Quebec Press Council, is voluntary. If someone wants to start a rabidly partisan, scurrilous scandal sheet, that’s fine with us, too. State-compelled norms of behaviour are censorship, not idealism.
The underlying problem here might be that liberty has once again run into one of its most formidable foes – the bureaucratic mind. Such minds recoil at the unruliness of the media – among other things – and won’t rest until all participants in public discourse are fully regulated by government. They do all this “for the common good,” of course.
But when they succeed, we can all kiss our precious freedoms goodbye.