Ezra Levant reports on the latest from his bete noir, the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Its tribunal just noticed that one of its most prolific sources of complaints also qualifies as a violator. The Human Rights Tribunal determined that Richard Warman has participated in neo-Nazi forums, including Stormfront, over the last few years under the pseudonyms Pogue Mahone and Axetogrind (via Newsbeat1):
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued a stunning ruling today, calling the conduct of Richard Warman, Canada’s most prolific human rights complainant, “disappointing and disturbing”.
Tribunal Chair Edward Lustig condemned Warman – who holds himself out as a human rights activist – for his membership in neo-Nazi organizations and ripped into him for his frequent anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi rants. The Tribunal effectively accused Warman himself of breaking the law – pointing out that Warman’s online anti-Semitism could quite possibly expose Jews to even more hatred and contempt. That just happens to be the offence Warman claimed he was trying to enforce. And, in perhaps the most damaging finding, the Tribunal pointed out that Warman at first did not answer questions truthfully – effectively calling him an attempted perjurer.
It is the most incredible ruling I have ever read from a human rights tribunal, and it discredits Warman, his enablers at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (the censorship provision).
The list of remarks associated with Warman are genuinely offensive and anti-Semitic. The HRT has in its order a few selected quotes from his activities at Stormfront and Vanguard. He encouraged others making anti-Semitic remarks, and the HRT objected to his mere presence on these sites. They acknowledge that Warman has brought them most of their work, and express their disappointment in discovering that he’s not really a “human rights activist” at all:
I do not see any acceptable reason for Mr. Warman to have participated on the Stormfront or Vanguard sites, since there appears to be ample easily obtained messages on these sites available without his involvement. Moreover, it is possible that his activity in this regard, could have precipitated further hate messages in response. His explanation for including other hate messages in his postings by mistake seems very weak to me.
Mr. Warman has, with the assistance of the Commission, instituted most of the s. 13 (1) complaints under the Act that have come before the Tribunal. He has been very successful in these cases and has garnered accolades for his work in this regard. The evidence in this case of his participation on Internet sites similar to the Northern Alliance site is both disappointing and disturbing. It diminishes his credibility. For this reason and because the activities of the Respondents have ceased for a lengthy period of time, I will not make any further Orders in this matter.
This points out one of the problems of governmental management of political speech, one that has a parallel in the Fairness Doctrine. When government sets itself as the arbiter of acceptable discourse, it provides a path for extremists to intimidate their critics into silence. That’s exactly what happened to Ezra Levant, who had to spend a fortune to defend what had been a commonly-accepted Western practice of free political speech, at least until political correctness became a matter of law in some nations. Actual human-rights activists have bigger fish to fry than chasing Levant for publishing the Prophet Cartoons or criticizing political Islam. The Canadian government has set itself up as a tool for scoundrels who want to silence critics, and now they seem surprised to find out that their chief complainant is simply a hater who wants to attack the people he hates through the HRC.
The Fairness Doctrine would do the same thing with talk radio. Instead of actually promoting “diversity”, it would allow cranks to file no-cost complaints and hold up broadcast licenses, while the owners have to spend a fortune providing a minute-by-minute accounting of their content during the previous licensing period to prove their “diversity”. Even beyond the issues of the First Amendment, the fact that the station gets enough ratings and advertisers to stay in business should indicate that it speaks to enough of the community to remain in business. Putting the government in charge of “balance” will only provide a tool of mischief for those who want to silence voices with which they cannot compete.
But let’s not forget the First Amendment and its purpose, though. Political speech, save calls for armed insurrection, should not get moderated by the governments that free speech is designed to keep in check. Government-controlled speech eventually brings autocracy and then totalitarianism. The best remedy for bad speech is more speech, not a panel of government scolds that can get easily manipulated by extremists or the power-mad.
We’ll be interviewing Ezra Levant about his new book, Shakedown, on Tuesday’s Ed Morrissey Show and next Saturday’s NARN II.