Posts Tagged ‘free speech in Canada’

“In the name of equality and fraternity, liberty has been curtailed in France.”

Jonathan Turley in the Washington Post explores at more length a point I made briefly in my TIME opinion piece: to honor the slain cartoonists of Charlie-Hebdo, we should be lifting legal constraints on what their successors tomorrow can draw and write and say, rather than, as France and other countries have been doing in recent years, bringing it under tighter legal constraint in the name of equality and the prevention of offense:

Indeed, if the French want to memorialize those killed at Charlie Hebdo, they could start by rescinding their laws criminalizing speech that insults, defames or incites hatred, discrimination or violence on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sex or sexual orientation. These laws have been used to harass the satirical newspaper and threaten its staff for years.

The numerous court actions brought against Charlie Hebdo by religious groups (as of 2011, organizations connected with the Catholic church had taken the magazine to court 13 times, Muslim groups once) are only the beginning:

[Other] cases have been wide-ranging and bizarre. In 2008, for example, Brigitte Bardot was convicted for writing a letter to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy about how she thought Muslims and homosexuals were ruining France. In 2011, fashion designer John Galliano was found guilty of making anti-Semitic comments against at least three people in a Paris cafe. In 2012, the government criminalized denial of the Armenian genocide (a law later overturned by the courts, but Holocaust denial remains a crime). …Last year, Interior Minister Manuel Valls moved to ban performances by comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, declaring that he was “no longer a comedian” but was rather an “anti-Semite and racist.” It is easy to silence speakers who spew hate or obnoxious words, but censorship rarely ends with those on the margins of our society….

Recently, speech regulation in France has expanded into non-hate speech, with courts routinely intervening in matters of opinion. For example, last year, a French court fined blogger Caroline Doudet and ordered her to change a headline to reduce its prominence on Google — for her negative review of a restaurant.

Related: National Post and Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog, on efforts to repeal Canada’s not-entirely-in-disuse blasphemy law; earlier here and here. And from Ireland, an urgent reason to repeal its own law of this sort: Muslim leader vows to “take legal advice if Irish publications …republish or tweet cartoons.” [Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Independent]

P.S. Graham Smith on Twitter: “What if every State represented in Paris today promised to repeal one law that restricts free speech?”

Free speech roundup

  • “Money spent trying to spread a political message is speech, whether you like the message or not.” [Michael Kinsley on McCutcheon v. FEC, earlier]
  • “Letter: Ken Avidor on Being Silenced By a Defamation Suit” [Romenesko]
  • “Canada’s first Twitter harassment trial has taken a strange twist.” [Christie Blatchford, National Post]
  • In union leader’s defamation suit, Philadelphia court orders anonymous commenter unmasked [CBS Philly]
  • New Jersey ruling letting parents be sued over kids’ Facebook posts will chill speech [Hans Bader/CEI, earlier]
  • More dispatches from Michael Mann-Mark Steyn litigation showdown [Steyn, Charles Cooke] Bonus: Steyn on Andrew Bolt case in Australia and on Nevada protests’ “First Amendment Area” (“The ‘First Amendment Area’ is supposed to be something called ‘the United States’.”)
  • “True-crime author Ann Rule’s suit against Seattle Weekly tossed” [KING]

Canada: “Man ordered to pay panhandler $8,000 for discrimination”

“A Montreal man has been ordered to pay $8,000 to a panhandler after an email he wrote complaining about her presence outside a liquor store was deemed discriminatory by the province’s human rights commission. … The SAQ [Quebec provincial liquor store operator] then made the decision to share the letter with the woman, who was advised by the police to file a complaint with the commission.” [CBC]

Leading wind turbine company sues Ontario critic

Esther Wrightman, who opposes the construction of wind turbines near her Ontario home, made some YouTube videos taking a dim view of NextEra, a leading wind-power company. Now the company is suing her, alleging among other things that she infringed on its intellectual property rights by publishing satirical altered versions of its logo. [Ezra Levant, Sun; Bayshore Broadcasting]

Free speech roundup

  • “Crime to Create a ‘Hostile Environment’ That ‘Substantially Interferes’ with Person’s ‘Psychological Well-Being’ Based on Race, Religion, Sex, Etc.?” [Volokh] “Minnesota Bill to Ban K-12 Speech That Denies Fellow Students a ‘Supportive Environment'” [same]
  • Blogger dropped as defendant in “pink slime” defamation litigation, but suit against ABC and others continues [Bettina Siegel/Lunch Tray] Suit against ABC based in part on state food-disparagement statute occasionally criticized in this space [Reuters] Dearborn residents: are you sure you want to patronize a restaurant that deploys lawyers to suppress criticism? [Paul Alan Levy, earlier]
  • Libya arrests foreigners accused of distributing Christian literature, charge could carry death penalty [Guardian]
  • Sometimes it seems NYT editors are First Amendment absolutists about everything except political speech First Amendment was meant to protect [SmarterTimes]
  • Global Wildlife Center of Folsom, Louisiana sues a satirical website and then menaces Ken of Popehat;
  • Long piece on Naffe/O’Keefe backstory of Kimberlin/Patterico legal/media war [Chris Faraone, Boston Phoenix, earlier]
  • Update: following outcry, publishing company drops suit against Canadian librarian [CBC, earlier] Also from Canada: Nanaimo, British Columbia: “Mayor ensures ‘Koruption’ stickers never seen again” [Beschizza, BoingBoing] Voltaire wept: Bruce Bawer on the Canada Supreme Court’s “hate speech” decision [Front Page mag, earlier]
  • “Donald Trump, paper tiger?” [Paul Alan Levy]

Canada high court upholds hate speech laws

In a serious blow to speech rights north of the border, the Supreme Court of Canada has upheld so-called hate speech laws as consistent with Canadian constitutional guarantees. The decision partially upheld the legal punishments applied by a Saskatchewan tribunal to a man who distributed anti-gay literature. [The Globe and Mail]

P.S. As has been pointed out, precedent in Canada on this issue was already pretty bad before the latest decision, so “serious blow” may not be the right phrase, except in the sense of hitting someone who’s already down. More: Howard Friedman via Volokh; Jacob Sullum.

Free speech roundup

  • Did U.K. high official use pending Leveson press inquiry to browbeat newspaper? [Telegraph via Volokh]
  • Canadian blogger sued over speech by Richard Warman has a legal defense fund [Blazing Cat Fur via Instapundit, 2010 Mark Steyn]
  • “Introduction To Irony: Or, How To Take A Joke 10″ [Wendy Kaminer, WBUR]
  • Meat industry ex-employee sues blogger who led “pink slime” campaign [Popehat, Lunch Tray/Bettina Siegel]
  • 1958 ordinance still on books in Ormond Beach, Fla. prohibits distribution of publications “belittling the traditional American institutions or folkways” [Volokh]
  • “We have to concede” a rhesus monkey could not beat Mme. Taitz in court battle [Lowering the Bar]
  • Common Cause vs. First-Amendment-protected political speech, part umpteen [Hans Bader, CEI]

International free speech roundup

  • UK: Jack Shafer on the trouble with the Leveson press inquiry [Reuters] Journos already cowed by hostile press laws: “Even foreign dictatorships know how to frighten Fleet Street.” [Spectator] “Even people who RT’d libelous allusions to [him] on Twitter could be sued. … surreal” [BoingBoing, Popehat]
  • Calling people names in Hanna, Alberta, or cheering on those who do, can now expose you to penalties under anti-bullying ordinance [Sun News]
  • “Britain’s High-Tech Thought Police” [Brendan O’Neill] Related, Rowan Atkinson [Telegraph]
  • Language muscle in Quebec: “After series of fire-bombings, Second Cup coffee shops added the words ‘les cafes’ to signs” [Yahoo Canada]
  • Blasphemy law around the world: Vexed with their speech, Egyptian court sentences to death in absentia various persons living in US and Canada [Volokh] “Turkish TV channel fined for ‘The Simpsons’ blasphemy episode” [Telegraph] After using Facebook to criticize politico’s funeral, women in India arrested for “hurting religious sentiments” [AFP] Indonesian man jailed, attacked by mob for writing “God does not exist” on Facebook group [Andrew Stuttaford, Secular Right] “A year of blasphemy” [Popehat]
  • Protesters block student access to “men’s-rights” speech at U. Toronto [Joshua Kennon via @amyalkon]