Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When "Freedom of Speech" means "freedom to harm"

Last year, I raised the ire of some of my academic colleagues when I wrote an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen arguing Austria was correct to jail holocaust denier David Irving.
Irving's translations of Wehrmacht documents has added to the primary source material available to historians, and he had credibility as a Second World War amateur historian until he adopted the cause of the neo-Nazi movement. It was his credibility that was a threat to the social order. Germany, Austria, and the countries of Eastern Europe are very new democracies. They might not be able to withstand the type of subversion of democracy and the stifling of real political debate that the Nazis accomplished in the lead-up to their seizure of power in Germany. Hitler's henchmen used lies, distortions, dirty tricks and media exposure to subvert democracy. The Nazis pushed their rights to the limit, and past the limit, during the Wiemar Republic. They should not be allowed to do so again.
Canada's neo-Nazi movement is really just a joke, a few damaged individuals, some small groups of losers, and a few jailbirds. The real threat to Canada's Jewish community comes from the Islamicists and from lefties trendoids who have adopted the French socialist view that Israel and Zionism, and Jews themselves, are tools of American capitalism. I have seen far, far more anti-semitism among Francophone intellectuals in Canada and in the Quebec media than I have on the streets. (In this regard, the silence among Canada's politicians and pundits, who were so loud about Jan Wong's musings, has been deafening). There is also a strong current of hate in the media and on the Internet directed at the many decent, law-abiding and community-active Muslims in Canada. Unfortunately, they do not seem to have a David Warman on their side.
Still, the Human Rights Commission has come down with a decision that seems right and fair. A Canadian neo-Nazi is being punished for promoting hate and violence, which are real crimes. And the fine of $4,000, while not crippling, is enough to give others real cause to think about their actions before posting hate on the Internet.

12 comments:

The Bloganism said...

It's funny you had to link to a Belgian blogger to get one of the more accurate takes on Quebec anti-semitism.

Ottawa Watch said...

Well, that shows the coverage it got in Canada.

Ottawa Watch said...

Even now, the media columnists are giving it a wide berth. Politics triumphs over anti-Fascism.

I think people should also be concerned about how Muslims are portrayed in the media. Cartoonists still rely on stereotypes of them, too. Problem for caricaturists is that they need to be able to do work that resonates with people. Unforftunately, that sometimes means tapping into stereotypes that should have died out long ago.

Marky Mark said...

Well done. I've been amazed and upset by how some bloggers have handled across the line comments on their blogs.

Marky Mark said...

P.S. www.jewish tribal review.com [sic] is in my mind a clear hate site but one arthurdecco has managed to cite the site with favour, and include the link as well, on each of Azerbic, MyBlahg and SooeySays. I don't think any of those bloggers are anti-Semites, but they don't seem to mind the expression of a view that crosses the line on their site-either that or they draw the line very differently than I would draw it.

Ottawa Watch said...

Zerb and "Sooey" (Kathryn Howitt) are certainly anti-Israel. I doubt they're actual anti-Semites.

Marky Mark said...

Neither is an anti-Semite. Not sure why you would refer to the latter by name if she has chosen to blog under a nickname-she did that to me once and I didn't like it very much. We're not exactly buddies (she and I) but I'd still urge you to re-consider.

Ottawa Watch said...

She's a vile person and doesn't deserve any breaks. Maybe that's too mean. I hope not. She is one of the most vicious people on the Internet, not just on her own site, but in other postings on the Net and in her contributions to Frank Magazine. She goes out with Steve Collins, a creep who works full-time for Frank.
I doubt Zerb has any real prejudice, but I can't say the same about Sooey.

Marky Mark said...

I don't know any of these people personally. I haven't enjoyed being on the receivng end of sooey's guns but I still respect her right to privacy. She pissed me off big time at one point so I referred to her by real name on her own site, knowing she would take down the comment instantly (it was on her site so she had full control in real time), which she did. I apoligized, and then she returned the favour, but I'm told she also took it down pretty quickly (I was away at the time).

I think you're making a mistake mixing up the real person and the blog written under an assumed name. I'm saying this as someone who has done it myself and who also has been on the receiving end of the saem treatment.

I do respect people who blog under their own name and are accountable. But unless someone uses an assumed name to do really bad things where they need to be held accountable, I don't think it's right to "out" them.

Ottawa Watch said...

I don't see why we should accomdate and facilitate them.
I know you disagree, but I think people shouldn't write things that they wouldn't sign their name to.
When I first posted on the Internet, I used my own name. It didn't make sense to me to do otherwise. However, I found myself at a disadvantage, being henpecked by people who knew a lot about me through Google and who were anonymous.
I think, when people engage "Sooey" in a discussion/debate, that they should know who she is, and that she is a Frank Magazine insider. It's only fair to those who might stumble upon her site by mistake.

Marky Mark said...

I think these debates should be confined to ideas. Commenting on someone's personal appearance is out of bounds.

Also, I don't think that having a personal connection to someone at an organization makes you an insider of that organization. Since that seems to be the rationale for your "outing" someone here, you'd better be correct on the facts, but I still think you could make your "insider" (if true) point without referring to the blogger by real name.

Ottawa Watch said...

I know for a fact who she is and what she does. I have had personal dealings with her. People should take responsibility for what they write, especially people like her who are so critical of others. In fact, that type of rfesponsibility lies at the heart of our defamation laws.