Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rage in the ‘Peg: The Old Alliance is Reborn with a Brand New Right-Wing Agenda

So here is my exceedingly detailed rundown of the policy debates as they unfolded on the floor earlier this afternoon. (Kady’s other live coverage can be found here and the actual policy resolutions can be found here).

Started at 1:40 PM (CT) – Chairs are having a tough time controlling the crowd. They’re very rowdy. Seems they’re getting tired of policy talk and want to socialize.

Policy Plenary Resolutions

-Plenary Chair gives a warning that these plenary resolutions are making changes to things they may not like, and these amendments may end up changing them more to their dislike

These policies will brought forth today in order which was decided by a priority vote that was held yesterday.

RES 106 : Health Care: Encourage provinces to use more private health care
FOR: The Tories believe in the power of the ppl, that power is taken from the bottom. This resolution would be providing innovative ways of providing healthcare. They like the Quebec model of health care delivery.
AGAINST – this speaker asks the Chair to pls update us to the football game score in Montreal and walks away. Obviously that’s how serious they take the issue of healthcare, especially public healthcare.
AGAINST – lots of jives at Stephane Dion by Stephen Flethcher. He’s such a funny guy (or at least so he thinks). He thinks this isn’t necessary, Adam Smith “invisible hand” will take care of everything and this policy would hurt them..
FOR – this speaker claims the resolution doesn’t promote the dismantling of our public health care.
AGAINST – this is the type of policy that the Liberals and NDP want us to pass. It will help prevent us getting into office.
FOR – other OECD countries use this system, let’s not be like Cuba or S. Korea and adopt this resolution
AGAINST – this type of resolution is what the media wants us to pass. If this is to happen and work, the Supreme Court will let this occur.
*DEFEATED (I’m a tad surprise it was defeated, but some good arguments made were made for and against it, but on the whole I and other Liberals just don’t support buying your way to the front of line as happens in a private health care system)

RES 110 – protection of at risk workers from exposure to infectious diseases
FOR – the right of front line workers should transcend the rights of the infected person
AGAINST – no one will speak against
FOR – oops, the speaker approached the `no` mic had to move over a foot to the left to make his `yes` arguments from the `yes` mic. Argues that health workers do so much for us already, so let’s protect them.
AGAINST – he almost spoke from the wrong mic too, and he ``didn’t want to make the same mistake``. This is provincial jurisdiction, and this law is already in place in their province.
*PASSED overwhelmingly

-a football update is given to the delegates

RES 113 – Dangerous Offenders: 3 strikes and you are out
FOR – no speaker found from the riding that put it fwd
AGAINST – govt doesn’t issue sentences, and this asks the govt will then declare who is dangerous and dictate their sentences, hence it doesn’t make sense. Wow: a more rational Tory.
FOR – this resolution sends a msg to `dangerous offenders`
AGAINST – resolution would put in danger ppl who have in the past led dangerous lives and who have turned their lives around and have become upstanding citizens. The wording of this resolution is dangerous.
POINT OF ORDER - different meaning in French and English. The English text makes more sense apparently. But the riding assoc isn’t here to verify which is accurate. Chairman takes liberty to decide the English is right.
FOR – a passionate woman gets up in support of it, starts yelling about the ills of society
FOR – A Delta Richmond East delegate! The sponsoring riding association! But she can’t comment on which translation is right. But she gives a life example of why the resolution is important.
AGAINST – speaker doesn’t know if Canada can afford this resolution and build the associated prisons or if the party should support it. Perhaps money would be better spent rehabilitating ppl? (crowd gets very upset at these remarks, maybe this guy is from another party, he’s making more sense that a lot of others here).
*PASSES. Seems a small group of ppl in the corner all voted against it – maybe a block of 30 (maybe all from a province?).

RES 114 – removing faint hope clause, making sure criminals serve their full sentence
YES – rights of society and its citizens must be put first
AGAINST – the faint hope clause is misunderstood. It’s only for those who committed second degree murder or lesser crimes and only allows them to apply for parole by the 15 year mark and most applications are still denied, but this rules out any rehabilitation (boos from the crowd). The 3 strike resolution that was passed serves the spirit of this resolution he says.
*PASSES with big majority

RES 119 – Human Trafficking – proposed by caucus
FOR – seeks to improve the condition of life of those who will never have the opportunity to be in a setting like this Convention
AGAINST – none
*PASSED – with one against, the chair didn’t see it, he thought it was unanimous

POINT OF ORDER on RES 113 - difference in text is an issue. French ppl voted on the French text, not the English. If such a discrepancy occurs again, those resolutions should be held off until the next convention. That is not fair, because the French text was only provided to Quebec. The French text in this instance did not make any sense he said. Maybe they should hire better translators next time.

RES 202 – reaffirm Charter of Rights & Freedoms, specifically notwithstanding clause (sec 33)
-wants protection for democratic decision making
POINT OF ORDER – another technicality on English French translation. The submitter likes the French better, says the translator did a good job translating as a result. As a result, this resolution is to be continued until its sorted….

Res 203 – Remove ability of Canadian Human Rights Comissions to investigate hate speech complaints under Section 13
FOR – removing authority from Cdn Human Rights Commission to regulate, receive and investigate or adjudicate complaints regarding to Sec 13 of the Can Human Rights Act. FOR: one’s public opinion, freedom of expression and free speech could can be barred without this resolution becoming law. Goes on about how like these are like 1950s style Communist show trials (comments met with standing ovation!).
*PASSED overwhelming, maybe 5 votes against
Conservative Party of Canada: Supports weakening protections against hate speech! Minorities across the country must be thrilled!
Predictable, but still a shame. The was sooo misleading. I’m far from an expert on this issue, but from I know ost of these people section 13 has been used against are people who have expressed virulently anit-Jewish, anti-gay or Muslim hate speech. And despite what one of the speakers said in fact there have been people acquitted by the HRC so there were flat out lies said, everyone who has been convicted were of serious hate crime statements. This is a trumped up issue by the hardcore right. I had thought Harper would ignore this because he doesn't want to be defending the people this helps, but apparently the Justice Minister voted for this and will “look into it” so we’ll see. Sad.


RES 207 – oh the big one! Committing a crime against a pregnant woman, recognizing the unborn child as a victim of crime. The line of delegates who want to speak on this is huge!
Chair – says he doesn’t want to entertain all of the ppl wanting to speak, because there was enough discussion yesterday (away from the media).
AGAINST – taking away a women’s right to choose (met with boos, boos from their own to their own! Seems a pattern when anyone expressed a moderate viewpoint). This resolution is opening up the issue of whether or not a woman as the freedom of choice. She’s gone a bit over time and the crowd wants her to get down.
Chair – reminds the crowd that all people here are delegates and deserve respect, the delegates here are representatives of their community and represent different views which they’d like to welcome.
FOR – the only right way to vote on this resolution is to vote `yes`
AGAINST – this is another policy that the opposition wants us to pass to draw unwanted and unfair att’n to us.
About 20 ppl were not able to speak who wanted to. The chair wanted to close discussion. The crowd shouts `no`. Chair says it’s his job to close it because there is not enough time. Chair tries to move to the vote, but another Point of Order is called.
The delegate who called the Point of Order claims that debate yesterday was cut to 3 ppl on each side, hence, not enough discussion was held yesterday. The second plenary is where they can discuss it more and that are being prevented. The Chair responds telling the delegate that “incorrect and there will be no more discussion because there has been enough lobbying and discussion this weekend”.
Chair calls for vote again with much pride. It’s too close to call. An electronic vote is needed. (Oh I’m very anxious to see results…can’t wait…seems forever….). It passed with what I BELIEVE was 58% (stupid, they didn’t allow for the over all results to be shown more than 1.5 SECONDS!)
Conservative Party of Canada: Supporting efforts that could lead to the re-criminalization of abortion. Just the start of their campaign for the women’s vote!

So does this mean they will bring back Epp’s “unborn victims of crime bill” now? If so, I hope Dion still sticks to his commitment to whip caucus against it, because if not with the larger Conservative seat count even a small number of Liberals, Bloc and NDP would be enough to see it pass. But at least it would have to start back at Square One. Nicholson has said he’s going to introduce a modified bill that makes attacking a pregnant woman just an aggravating factor, we’ll see it deserves as much scrutiny as possible, the motives of this party were laid clear today….

RES 213 – caucus proposed. Elimination of support for full Gender equality and pay equity.. No caucus will speak to it. Seems no delegate will either.
AGAINST – it only says `women`, not `men`. If it said both, this guy would support it. Women don’t need any special privileged protection. As Tory`s, they don’t guarantee participation, but provide that opportunity, and women don’t need a guarantee. Apparently he believes women have it “too good” right now.
FOR – Smith, MP from Kidonan St. Paul – there are professions where women are not paid the same for equal work, makes it sound like they support pay equity when this would severely weaken it
AGAINST – political issues are not mentioned, only the `social realm`, it’s a bit backward in times
*vote is close, but they’re declaring it PASSED.
The Conservative Party of Canada: Against pay equity, against gender equality: How’s that for reaching out to women!

RES 218 – diversity principles (expects new Canadians to adopt “Canadian common values” such as respect for rule of law, etc.,)
FOR- This will assure that immigrants coming into Canada know and like and respect our values and this will keep Canada strong
AGAINST – issue with the wording of `common values` and `Canadian common values`, he thinks it changes Canada’s reputation of a mosaic to a melting pot (Boos)
FOR – a son of two immigrants, who doesn’t like ppl calling themselves `something-Canadian`, that shouldn’t be acceptable here, you don’t see Americans calling themselves “something-American”. But wasn’t that the point of the earlier speaker, we are the cultural mosaic and they are the melting pot, weren’t we supposed to be proud of that?
*PASSES, with only a few objections
Conservative Party of Canada: Against multiculturalism: How’s that for reaching out to new Canadians!

RES 222 – Immigration by Temporary Workers – proposed by caucus
FOR – protects interests of Canada’s companies and gives Canada a list of ppl who have already been here who we may want to see as Canadians
AGAINST – workers who are temporarily here from other countries are here because they’re unskilled, they’re paid little. They do work that Canadians wont do because of the little pay. This resolution may satisfy farmers and business workers, but these ppl are here because they have no skills and they can barely speak English.
FOR – 6% of GDP for Canada generated in this person’s riding (Calgary I believe). Can’t get enough workers to maintain the city’s productivity. So they need foreign workers. They’re future Canadians.
*PASSES, with only a few objections

RES P223 – Auditing Aboriginal programs
FOR – didn’t get what it was about
FOR – based on Conservative principles. First nations have been impressed with the Tory govt, and the MP from Vancouver Island North believes they helped him get his riding back from the NDP.
AGAINST – I couldn’t quite hear this Aboriginal delegate’s arguments, but she sounded quite upset wit this proposal, would make life harder.
*PASSED
Conservative Party of Canada: Making Life Harder for Aboriginal Peoples when they need the government’s help more than ever. Shame!

We get another football update.

RES 303 – reduce or eliminate capital gains to encourage savings and investment
AGAINST – someone doesn’t agree with the economics of this, says it can’t exist in reality. He suggests an alternative.
*PASSED

RES 305 – eliminate tax disadvantages for families and recognize the economic value of stay at home parents and intro tax fairness measures i.e. income splitting FOR COUPLES WITH CHILDREN (my capitals are italicized on the handout): Income splitting
FOR – We need more children in this country, we can’t bring in enough children via immigration.
AGAINST – a single mother can’t split her income and take the same advantages
*PASSES, it was like 60% “for”
I’m amazed no one brought up just how prohibitively expensive income splitting is especially at a time of economic turmoil and near budget deficit, but then again we’ve heard nothing about sensible fiscal or economic policy here form delegates today.

RES 306 – The Tory Party favours a simplification of the federal tax code, to reduce the complexity of tax calculations for ordinary Canadians.
FOR: reduce the size of the Can Revenue Agency
-no one to speak against it
*PASSES, only a couple of objections

*Media scrum – missed some of the floor debates watching this.
It was Rob Nicholson. Basically a lot of questions to him about the controversial resolutions, he’ll be looking into them all…. But I really find those media scrums a waste of time. Like they’re good if you’re working with visual media, and your audience likes to see an ‘actor’ read some scripted lines that are more than predictable. Just for TV, for that shot or photo. I don’t think I’d go to any in the future. Only good if you get one-on-one. But they never answer you. Makes me think anonymous sources are more worthwhile, if they can be trusted and used for the right reasons.
So while I was out...what did I miss?! What did they pass or say while the media was out?????
Sparrow informs us that that while we were out, the Common Securities Resolution passed with a big majority, which apparently Quebec doesn’t support.

So that was …RES 301 – Nat'l Securities Regulator
(didn`t hear arguments, I was distracted by the charisma that is Ryan Sparrow. Wanted to make sure the media had all the info they want. Asks me, “how’s it going”. He’s been quite polite this weekend to me, I’ll give him that. But the paid media do get preferential treatment. )
*PASSES, only about 3 against

RES P105 – Offshore oil drilling in the Arctic
-didn’t get any of the arguments unfortunately, but apparently no one spoke against
*PASSED, followed by loud chants of “Drill Baby Drill” (ok that was probably just going on in the delegates heads)

RES P111 – amend Can Health Act to permit funding of complementary health services which demonstrably improve ppl`s health (seems similar to a resolution from this morning, but I guess this has more to do with chiropractors and alternative medicine).
AGAINST – resolution doesn’t harmonize with the Canada Health Act
*DEFEATED


RES P122 – proposed by caucus – Provide best possible services to Canada’s troops
AGAINST – no one comes out
*PASSED, 2 ppl vote against. Chair chimes in that it would be very surprised if that failed within this party.

RES P205 – Arctic Sovereignty
FOR: let’s follow the philosophy of Sir. John A McDonald “use it or loose it”. Let’s make investment into sovereignty, based on `true, north, strong and free`
AGAINST – no one comes fwd
*PASSES

RES P208 –another change in the French version has occurred with this resolution. It deals with STUDENT LOANS – a student, youth policy!!! But alas, it’s clearly a Tory student policy: A conservative govt will revamp the federal student loan program to eliminate the inclusion of parental income and assets in the assessment of loan applications.
FOR – this resolution stands up for students, and removes bureaucracy so that students can get loans to be able to improve Canadian society
AGAINST – a kid with a millionaire dad shouldn’t get support
FOR – creates false assumption that rich parents support their kids
AGAINST – The govt has done a lot to help students as it is, the idea of excluding parental income is a good idea, but were also removing the fact of the difficulty that students have paying back their student loan debt and cant find work. We should help them as well.
*Going to electronic vote. 52% support it – PASSES.
Oh WAIT, apparently it was DEFEATED, because 6 provinces voted against and you need a double majority.

RES P209 – abolish employment insurance contributions paid by students when they have a summer job.
AGAINST – the exemption should go to senior citizens, and doesn’t make sense by not taking into consideration everyone in all walks of life
*DEFEATED

RES P307 – Tories will recognize the importance of innovation to create a flourishing Canadian economy. This means providing support for businesses by ensuring low corporate and small business tax rates and enhancing tax credits for companies who will flirt with R&D.
AGAINST – Tories are a party of low taxes, and this policy isn’t innovative in its self.
*Goes to electronic vote. DEFEATED with 66% against.

RES P311 – Arctic research - didn’t hear what it was about. Chair can’t find anyone to speak to it. Someone goes up to ‘nominate it’. Chair asks for any rationale, and the nominator has none. It goes straight to vote as no one will speak to it. While no one would speak to it, it passes and there were quite a few against. .

Chair announces problems that were discovered in their electronic voting of 307. So they’ll have to redo it in a few moments. Funny, because they were showing off earlier, saying `hey, US, this is how `electronic voting` is done.

RES 312 – clean nuclear with a diverse energy mixed future – I wasn’t really paying attention – blame flirtatious Christian Conservative
*PASSED

RES P316 – family farms and small family-business. Sets out to strengthen the visibility of family operations
AGINST – we shouldn’t be playing favourites and we should stay loyal with our Conservative economic principles: broad based tax cut approach to small businesses should remain
-this is providing subsidizes which they’re against, and it’s not fair to limit to the type of businesses that are listed in this policy.
*DEFEATED

RES 307 goes to revote due to that electronic voting error – 54% vote `No` so it’s now it's still defeated with a different result than before

RES 202 brought back – which was the one resolution with a difference in French and English about the notwithstanding clause.
AGAINST – speaker does a shout out to his `baby` whom he loves. Says this resolution may be manipulated by opposition saying that the Tories are taking away ppl`s rights.
FOR – can’t cherry pick the Charter on what we like and don’t like. Tories supported the resolution earlier today dealing with the Charter and that received a standing ovation. The Liberal Party of Toronto cherry picks, not the Conservative Party of Canada.
*goes to electronic vote. PASSES with 57% support.
Conservative Party of Canada: Striving to overrrule the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They sure are "Second to none" on human rights as Jason Kenney says!
Another football announcement.

Fletcher helps close the ceremonies and says that the Tory govt is “piped” and ready to go to work in the fall. On cue, a bagpipe corp. comes out and closes the celebrations. THANK GOD IT’S OVER!

But seriously these were some scary policies that will make life worse for women, immigrants, aboriginals, victims of hate crimes, while adopting Republican style energy policies.. Thank goodness Harper never won a majority or he definitely would have put them all into place after this convention. So the hidden agenda is no longer hidden this is exactly what I’m sure he would like to do.

As a pragmatist, he won’t go through with all the major right-wing policies that was passed today, but even to do some of them had better be staunchly opposed by the Liberal caucus.

So this officially wraps up my coverage from the ground. Thanks to all my new readers (especially the ones who read through super long posts like these), thanks to anyone who linked to me, and yes thanks for having me Conservatives!

Now I gotta catch a flight home!

But before I go I’ve got one more post ready giving my overdue thoughts and questions on the Liberal leadership!


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16 comments:

jaycurrie said...

"And despite what one of the speakers said in fact there have been people acquitted by the HRC so there were flat out lies said"

Well, actually, no.

there have been people who the CHRC has declined to bring before the Tribunal but the Tribunal has preserved a 100% "conviction" rate in the cases it has heard.

sharonapple88 said...

there have been people who the CHRC has declined to bring before the Tribunal but the Tribunal has preserved a 100% "conviction" rate in the cases it has heard.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission doesn't have a 100% conviction rate.

The argument was made on section 13.1, which deals with hate speech (about 2.2% of all cses.)

There have been 14 cases heard by the Canadian Human Rights Commission and in 13 of them the case was judged to be hate speech (A high rate, but it's not 100%.)

More information on section 13.

sharonapple88 said...

Ops... there have been 14 cases since 2001, with 1 being dismissed.

jaycurrie said...

sharonapple88...you're right. In Beachesboy at aol.com v. Heather Fleming and Ronald Fleming Neither the Complainant nor the Respondents could be contacted by the Commission but the dimwits at the Commission took the case to the Tribunal anyway where it was, quite properly, dismissed. And, for the record, there was also a complaint - filed by Warman as I recall - which was dismissed by the Tribunal because the Respondent was proven not to exist. In both cases the only reason why the complaints were dismissed at the Tribunal level was the sheer, brute, incompetence of the Commission in bringing them forward in the first place.

I'm sticking with my 100% conviction rate.

sharonapple88 said...

I read the Beachesboy at aol.com v. Heather Fleming and Ronald Fleming as the tribunal's review and not the commission's. The Tribunal and the Commission are independent of each other. The commission never explains why the cases are brought to the tribunal, it's up to the person bringing up the complaint, who was absent at the proceedings.

As for that high judgement rate... They appear to weed out cases, those that remain then go through mediation. When that fails, the case is sent to the tribunal. Going from the stats linked earlier, there were 48 complaints brought between 2005-2007, but only 57 cases resolved from 2001-2008 and only 14 that went to the tribunal, so there appear that the majority of them that are dismissed or dropped out right. (The most famous dismissal is probably Mark Steyn's case, which was dismissed by the Ontario and the federal Human Rights Commissions.)

The high conviction rate isn't pretty... one way to look at it is that the tribunal is power mad; another is that the commission does a good job of getting rid of frivilous cases and only sending ones with any merit to the tribunal -- if the tribunal heard cases without the commission, it's possible that the majority of people wouldn't be found violating section 13.

penlan said...

Danielle,

Thankyou for all your blogging on the convention! Really appreciate everything you have done to keep us aware of what's gone on there.

jaycurrie said...

sharonapple, with respect, the 14 cases you cited in your first comment were all decisions of the Tribunal. It is the only decision making body here. The Commission cannot make what purport to be legal deccisions; rather they review complaints and bring matters forward to the Tribunal. They take conduct of the matter on behalf of the complainant which is why Warman rarely shows up to the hearing of his various complaints.

It is certainly possible to argue that the 100% conviction rate is due to the excellent job the Commission does in screening and mediating the complaints it receives. Or one might suggest that the fact there are no defences - other than demonstrated non-existence - which have ever been accepted by the Tribunal - might have something to do with it.

But neither position goes to the heart of the argument which is over whether Canada should have its citizens' speech regulated by the government. Those of who believe in free speech are convinced that the state has no business regulating speech. Others disagree.

Christian Conservative said...

"I wasn’t really paying attention – blame flirtatious Christian Conservative"

What?! Flirtatious? LOL... are you trying to get me in trouble at home or something? Some people say I am, but I'm just a friendly guy, ask David Graham... or Marlene Jennings, I was even friendly with her! ;-) (and I have the photo to prove it!)

sharonapple88 said...

Actually, the commission doesn't represent the complainant public interest.

I can see why the Commission shouldn't represent anyone or really be involved with the tribunal. Opens too much of a bias.

100% conviction rate

Well, it's not 100% (close to it but not 100%), but it's not a convinction since the Tribunal doesn't deal with a crime, but complaints.

It's quite funny to read the ruling of www.bcwhitepride.com where there was a request for the maximum penalty. Sounds serious. The maximum penalty is $10,000 (big, but I was somehow expecting more for something that's suppose to be a maximum penalty). Anyway, it wasn't rewarded in the case ($6,000) and Beck also got a witness fee.

Or one might suggest that the fact there are no defences - other than demonstrated non-existence - which have ever been accepted by the Tribunal - might have something to do with it.

It would be interesting to go through all of the cases. The ones on the site (linked above)... racial conspiracies, neo-Nazis (they don't believe in human rights, but they damn well believe in "racial rights"), calls to stop immigrations, promoting deportation and the sterilzation of visible minorities, some are calls for violence...

There are two ways you can defend something like this

1. Free expression.
Works more in the United States, however Canada has the notwithstanding clause which unfortunately allows for limits to be placed on rights. Too late about wanting to limit government interference in free expression. (And in a way since these are complaints brought to the commission, it's really citizens that are trying to limit other citizen's speech.)

2. What they're saying is correct. Took a class in high school where we watched a documentary on hate speech cases from the US -- they tended not to win when they took this approach for the obvious reasons.

Of course freedom of expression is needed in a free society. Just as people should be concerned about the government, we should also keep in mind civil suits brought about to limit free speech, usually brought about by corportaions to limit criticism of their actions. If we fear the Human Rights Commission, internationally, Canada is known to have libel laws that favour the defendent. Anyway, one possible SLAPP example here.

jaycurrie said...

"it's not a convinction" perhaps a distinction without a difference. There is a current argument that the 2001 amendments have turned 13 into a penal statute without providing the protections of criminal law.

"however Canada has the notwithstanding clause which unfortunately allows for limits to be placed on rights." which was invoked by the SCC in Taylor prior to the 2001 amendments. It was a close decision and it is quite possible that the current Court would find that s. 13 as it is now is not, in fact, a reasonable limit. We'll see.

"What they're saying is correct." Correct is a rather slippery term. Over at Dawg's I cited Bernie Farber as listing as a CJC accomplishment for 2007 "working towards making the criticism of Israel a hate crime." Now I am a huge supporter of Israel but I can't imagine it being reasonable in a free and democratic society to ban criticism of any nation state.

If one were to say, based on impeccable data, that all A's are child molesters and child molestation is despicable, should you be the potential subject of a hate speech complaint. To paraphrase Julian Porter, "Shouting fire when there is an actual fire is not wrong." Or at least shouldn't be.

I have no time for SLAPP suits which are the flavour de jour for people like the Lying Jackal and Lucy not to mention an ex lawyer for the CHRC.

sharonapple88 said...

Over at Dawg's I cited Bernie Farber as listing as a CJC accomplishment for 2007 "working towards making the criticism of Israel a hate crime." Now I am a huge supporter of Israel but I can't imagine it being reasonable in a free and democratic society to ban criticism of any nation state.

No of course not.

Now anyone can try and do something like this, and it would be interesting to see whether or not they'd succeed. I highly doubt that criticism of countries could be banned. Otherwise half the people in Canada would probably be fined for criticising the US. <-- joke.

After going through some of the cases on-line, none of them fit this criteria, even taking a broad view.

(There has been some debate on whether Farber said these things. Checking out the Jewish Congress's website on the plenary for 2007. (Scroll down to North America.) No sign of making criticism of Israel a hate crime... closest is "expediting the expansion of the current Criminal Code preventing and prosecuting crimes against religious communal institution." (Mention of a three-way dialogue between Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders -- yay!) Saw Dawg's blog where a poster, Sue, who was at the meeting state that Farber didn't say that. I've tried to find different sources on this, but most of them lead back to the article you noted on Dawg's Blog. Now something may have be said, but I retain the right to be skeptical on this. (I'll be fair and check back on Dawg's Blog to see what else is said on the matter.))

If one were to say, based on impeccable data, that all A's are child molesters and child molestation is despicable, should you be the potential subject of a hate speech complaint. To paraphrase Julian Porter, "Shouting fire when there is an actual fire is not wrong." Or at least shouldn't be.

It's difficult to find real impeccable data on various groups anywhere. The problem is that most of the time people are quite ready to believe the worst of people who do not belong to their "group" -- one reason the scientifically inaccurate book, The Bell Curve, became a best seller.

Anyway the act of saying "fire" is meaningless. The real problem is promoting the idea that they should be rounded up and hung by lynch mobs.

(Interesting conversation we're having on this.)

jaycurrie said...

sharonapple88 - very interesting.

As to "Sue" and Diana Ralph - all I have at present is Sue (no last name's) unsupported contradiction of Ralph's piece. And as you point out, that piece is all over the net and has not, so far as I can tell been contradicted by anybody but Sue. I have a call into Dr. Ralph. We'll see what happens. However, I have been able to check a few of her other assertions and she seems to have got those right. (By the bye, I entirely disagree with Ralph's views on Israel.)

As a practical matter it is certainly difficult to find objective, much less impeccable, data on group characteristics. However, my point is that where the truth can be found there should be no sanction against telling it.

As for lynch mobs, I should think that the Criminal Code deals pretty effectively with calls to "exterminate" or "lynch" this group or that.

Now, as you bring it up, The Bell Curve is a good example of how free speech should work. It was published and instantly attacked. Some of the attacks were simply knee jerk responses to anyone who talked about race and intelligence. But the more telling attacks dug deeply into the science and showed where the inferences drawn were not supported by the data. Now, in a CHRC driven world, rather than engaging with the book, the objective would be to suppress it entirely as likely to promote hatred or contempt. I think that is the wrong approach.

sharonapple88 said...

Now, as you bring it up, The Bell Curve is a good example of how free speech should work. It was published and instantly attacked. Some of the attacks were simply knee jerk responses to anyone who talked about race and intelligence. But the more telling attacks dug deeply into the science and showed where the inferences drawn were not supported by the data.

The ultimate outcome was that it was discovered that the methodology was flawed (guess citing racist eugentic supporters isn't the best way to go about this). The initial response wasn't negative -- it was positive. Newsweek apparently said "the science behind [it] is overwhelmingly mainstream." Even the "liberal" New York Times noted that it made a "strong case." Heck, the New Republic said, "The notion that there might be resilient ethnic differences in intelligence is not, we believe, an inherently racist belief."

(Oddly, race makes up a small part of the book, but it's the part that everyone focused on. It mainly deals with how the intelligent is not only passed down genetically, but that the intelligent should become a new artisocracy. It's an odd Emperor's New Clothes situation -- if you're offended, it might be because you're stupid.)

It was the second wave of criticism (like the article linked above), some from various scientific experts, that inevitably took the book down. (The book wasn't peer editied, and it's clear that there were some flaws in their reasoning.)

The way the story was initially promoted was that it was a bombshell, but it's almost uncritical acceptance when it first came hints that it wasn't a new theory -- it just touched on unresolved racial issues. We always think we've resolved our prejudices, that our beliefs are based on solid reason, but even though the arguments become more sophisticated, the basic ideas and feelings don't seem to change. (No surprise, racists like VDARE, still like the book. Anyway, I digress. Ultimate debate is the ideal, it's all out there now, hopefully people were paying attention and weren't just cherry picking.

Would something like The Bell Curve end up in front of the Human Rights Tribunal? It doesn't actively promote hatred. It appears to be more of a smug book (damn smug). In the end, if Steyn was seen as not writing hate speech, I can't see how The Bell Curve would be treated differently. Of course we really can't know -- this is all a hypothetical.

jaycurrie said...

sharonapple88, I suspect that the Bell Curve would be an unlikely target for a CHRA hate speech complaint. Largely because, whatever its methodological flaws, it was not particularly nasty about one protected group or another.

I suspect a better example might be a book - happily as yet unwritten - which obtained a set of facts about a group and then drew normative conclusions and arrived at policy prescriptions based on those facts. To take a dumb case: let's say women test a bit lower than men in, say, mathematics and spacial reasoning. This finding in itself is not likely to attract the CHRC. However if you then said, "It follows that women should not work in science or finance." You would be getting onto dangerous ground. And if you said "It is a waste of time to teach girls math." You might well have crossed the line.

That said, there is no obvious reason why that line crossing should be the business of the state.

Simply saying things should not be - except in extreme cases of direct incitement to violence - a matter of state concern. Now, if a publicly funded school or university prohibited girls from taking math that would be clearly discriminatory and is certainly the state's business. (But note I said publicly funded - a genuinely private school or home schoolers should retain the right to teach what they believe is important. Which is, of course, another argument.)

sharonapple88 said...

But note I said publicly funded - a genuinely private school or home schoolers should retain the right to teach what they believe is important. Which is, of course, another argument.

True.

In On Liberty John Stuart Mills argies that people should be free to do what they wish -- defy the tyranny of the majority and preach what they know is true -- as long as there is no harm to others.

I think it's safe that we agree on this idea.

What we probably disagree with is how is harm defined, and how best to deal with it.

Opinions can cause bruised egos, but it's rare for them to cause any real harm.

In a hypothetical situation -- what if there is a proven and direct link between an increase in contempt towards a group and violence towards them?What now? Does the government have a right to step in? And if they do, what can they do to correct the situation? Is there any possibility of breaking this cycle, or should we just accept a certain amount of violence? (Afterall, it's rare that it's taken to the extreme of genocide; although on the flipside, it's hard to tell a group of people that they should accept a degree of violence in their lives.) Do the rights of the people being targeted override the rights of those spreading prejudice?

I don't think the debate between individual and group rights will ever be resolved except in a utopia.

I have a friend who argues that it would be impossible to create a real utopia. Individual have their own ideas of what the perfect society would be and it would be impossible to reconcile everyone's wishes in a functional society -- someone's going to be left out, someone absolutely miserable. I tend to agree with him.

Danielle Takacs said...

Christian Conservative: I know you're a nice guy, that's why I'm taking advantage of that and TEASING you :P :)