OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Hate speech

The federal Conservatives quietly removed protections against hate speech from Canada’s Human Rights Act last week, stripping Human Rights Commissions of their power to investigate hatred or violence incited against identifiable minorities. The first sign that this might not have been a good idea: White supremacists immediately celebrated.

Thoughts On The Bill Whatcott Supreme Court Case

October 17th, 2011

A brain with a progress bar.

Bill Whatcott, Canada’s most hysterical anti-gay activist, has headed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

I’ve talked a lot about Whatcott in the past, but here’s a quick recap: He was fined in 2005 for violating Saskatchewan hate laws by repeatedly distributing fliers calling gay people child molestors, dismissing all gay people as “sodomites,” and describing their relationships as “filth.” He also routinely included graphic images of sexually transmitted disease symptoms (such as anal warts and various other unpleasantries), attributing their existence largely to gay people.

While the hate ruling was upheld by the Queen’s Bench in 2007, it was overruled in 2010 by an appeals court ruling. And now the case has headed to Canada’s highest court.

I don’t know what the Supreme Court will rule in this case; it’s a complicated issue, which is why it has been getting a lot of media attention. I’ve previously talked at length at about what the purpose of Canada’s hate laws are for (the gist is that I do think they can serve a useful purpose), but here’s some extra food for thought on this case I think might be worth pondering. (I’m not saying I’m right on all counts, or even consistent, but it’s an interesting case so here we go!)

  • If I distributed fliers falsely asserting a local CEO is a child molester, I’d probably be sued for libel without any controversy. I guess distributing fliers claiming an entire group of people are child molesters is different, then?
  • Being offended isn’t the same as being a victim; being wrongly accused of destroying society in public, on the other hand…
  • Shouldn’t repeatedly delivering unwanted, hateful messages count as harassment? If not, then watch out, Mr. Chef Boyardee. (Boy, are ye going to get an earful.)
  • There are some really effective ways to respond to Bill’s nonsense without relying on Canada’s hate laws. (My favourite was a fundraising effort where a small donation would be made to GLBT organisations for every one of Bill’s fliers that was collected.)
  • You know, I don’t think many of us will have ever heard of Mr. Whatcott in the first place if he weren’t continuously put into courts and human rights tribunals where he can set himself up as a martyr.
  • I wish that all the people who disagree with what Bill has to say, but will defend to the death his right to say it, would spend at least a little effort doing the disagreement part.
  • It’s possible to express incorrect and generally idiotic thoughts about homosexuality without actually harassing and inciting hatred against gay people. In fact, I seem to recall posting a story where someone did this… Let’s see, to find it, click on Archive, followed by any freakin’ link in the entire history of this site.
  •  Perhaps giving people a reason to pause and think about how they want to say something isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  • Having the right to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
  • Why do the most vocal proponents of Whatcott’s right to distribute wrong information about gay people tend to be the same people that think scientifically-backed information about gay people distributed in schools is an infringement of their rights?
  • Why is Bill so obsessed about gay people in the first place? I mean, even I give Chef Boyardee a break now and then.

Anyway, I’m not going to follow this story anymore, so if you want to know what happens look elsewhere.

Nah, I’m totally kidding! I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one, kids! In the meantime, if you’ve got anything to add, I encourage you guys to discuss this on Facebook and Twitter!

Homophobic Lyrics Addressed By CBSC

January 17th, 2011

Characters from the Dire Straits Video wonder aloud if they've been deemed obsolete.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council announced last week that the song “Money for Nothing by Dire Straits was found to be unfit for broadcast, containing lyrics in violation with the industry’s code of ethics.

The song (and its crazy, Nintendo-era video) is a cultural staple from my childhood years, but I mustn’t have paid attention to the words, because I was shocked to learn that they’re actually pretty bad:

The little faggot with the earring and the make-up
Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair
That little faggot’s got his own jet airplane
That little faggot, he’s a millionaire

In context, the lyrics represent the words of a working class man, watching MTV with disdain over the fame and rewards that many rock stars enjoy for very little effort and talent. The homophobic slurs—even more powerful in the 80s—insult the effeminate style of these rock stars as being like that of gay men.

With the CBSC’s decision, broadcast members are asked to play a version of the song edited for the radio, which replaces the word “faggot,” with “mother.”

Sounds like a reasonable decision to me. Hateful slurs have no place in popular culture, certainly not in their intended pejorative sense. Gay people—particularly gay youth—are hurt by this word enough already, and having it played by public broadcasters in this context gives it legitimacy.

My opinion doesn’t appear to be very popular, though. A lot of people are furious with the CBSC, decrying the decision as censorship and against freedom of expression. A quick look on the  iTunes music store shows that “Money for Nothing” is inching up the charts, with commenters encouraging others to buy the song in protest.

First, I think it’s important to clarify some misinformation: Despite sensationalist headlines, “Money for Nothing” has not been banned in Canada. As iTunes protesters have easily discovered, you’re free to buy the song on iTunes (or an old timey record store, if you still know of one), set your iPod to repeat it indefinitely, and flood your ears with concentrated eighties essence until your eardrums sag with age, if you’re so inclined.

The song hasn’t even been banned from the public airwaves. The CBSC is the Canadian broadcast industry’s self-regulatory body. It is not a government organisation, membership is voluntary, and only members are asked to adhere to its code of ethics. Violators can’t even be fined. In fact, two Canadian radio stations have already played the unedited song nonstop for an hour on Friday as some kind of crass protest. The worst that will happen to those stations, if they’re even members of the CBSC, is that they’ll have to issue an on-air apology or leave the CBSC—and only if someone complains. (As an aside, I’m pretty sure I’d complain if a radio station played the same song over and over for an entire hour, but that’s just me.)

I don’t even see this decision as effective censorship. The full song is still available for purchase to anyone who wishes to hear it, its distribution channels are unaffected, and the artist’s funding and royalties haven’t been cut. On top of that, it’s standard practice for songs to have special versions created for broadcast radio. You’ve all heard them—versions that awkwardly blank out swear words and cut out offensive verses. Slurs are far more hurtful than common swears, so if one type of F word is fair game for editing, why isn’t the other F word? The “mother” version of “Money for Nothing” has existed for years, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask CBSC members to play that version instead over the public airwaves.

Malarkey for nothing, I say.

First Openly Gay Bishop Leaves After Death Threats

November 12th, 2010

A grinning skull on a sheet of paper says: "Salutations! I'm a death threat! Sorry about all this; the guy that sent me think's he's being all righteous, but he's actually a total douche.

Gene Robinson, the world’s first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, has announced that he will be leaving his post after seven years in service.

The Episcopal Church elected Robinson the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, making history in the process. During his term, Robinson served the church splendidly, elevating religion to a higher standard of the love and respect it’s meant to teach.

It hasn’t been easy, though. Members of the Anglican church have been sharply divided on having gay clergy members. When Robinson was consecrated, he wore a bulletproof vest. He has received numerous death threats, requires extra security, and became a symbolic focus point of an increasingly noncivil campaign from conservatives within the church. With a split of the Anglican church nearly inevitable, the job became too much to bear.

“The last seven years have taken their toll on my, my family, and you,” Robinson wrote in a letter to the yearly diocean convention. “Death threats, and the now worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark.” The letter was Robinson’s announcement that he will be stepping down from him position in 2013.

This isn’t to be considered a victory by those motivated by hate. Robinson was threatened and bullied as a 63 year old bishop, but stood up and served for seven years despite these threats. While he is stepping down, his legacy is continuing. The Anglicans have already elected a lesbian as an assistant Bishop back in May, and there will be others.

Thank you, Gene Robinson. I wish you the very best.

Bill Whatcott Heads To The Supreme Court

November 3rd, 2010

Next up on Whatcott Brain-o-Vision: GAY! GAY! GAY! Followed by: GAAAAAAAAAAAY!

Bill Whatcott, Canada’s most strangely obsessed anti-gay activist, will soon be the subject of quizzical contemplation by Canada’s highest court.

Whatcott was fined nearly a decade ago after distributing hateful, anti-gay fliers in Saskatchewan, but won an appeals court ruling in February on the grounds that distributing fliers is part of his freedom of expression.

The fliers really weren’t very nice. “Our children,” one pamphlet reads in part, “will pay the price in disease, death, abuse and ultimately eternal judgement if we do not say no to the sodmoite desire to socialize your children into accepting something that is clearly wrong.”

“Sodomites,” another read, “are 430 times more likely to acquire AIDS and three times more likely to sexually abuse children.”

It should go without saying that all the pamphlets were really, really, really wrong—factually and morally. So, unhappy with the appeals court ruling, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Comission asked the Supreme Court to visit the case, and they agreed.

Now, having the same level of legal understanding as… let’s say a massive, multinational corporation, I remain utterly clueless as to what the Supreme Court will find. Personally, I feel that freedom of expression is an important right, but I don’t think that necessarily means you can go around making all sorts of wacky, unfounded accusations that gay people are bringing about the children apocalypse. Sounds a lot like slandering an entire minority to me, and I hope that’s what Canada’s provisions against inciting hatred are meant to prohibit.

One thing’s pretty clear to me, though. This guy is gay-obsessed. I mean, I’m actually gay and I still don’t have as much gay-on-the-brain as this guy. Off the top of my head: In addition to crafting and distributing hysterically nutty pamphlets, Whatcott once lead Regina’s Gay Pride parade with anti-gay signage, picketted outside private Planned Parenthood clinics declaring the workers there to be “disseminators of AIDS,” and even ran for mayor of Edmonton with a completely anti-gay platform. “As your mayor,” his official platform opened, “Bill Whatcott is committed to protecting Edmontonians from homofascism.”

Right. Well, here’s hoping the Supreme Court will protect us from whatcottcrazyism!

Ugandan MP Says He Would Kill His Gay Family Members

February 26th, 2010

There was a human rights forum in Kampala late last week, with speakers largely discussing the horrifyingly anti-gay bill currently before parliament in Uganda. Otto Odonga, an MP in said parliament, decided to take the opportunity to declare that he would kill his own son if he ever found out that he were gay.

“There is something deeply wrong with you,” replied Makau Mutua, the forum’s keynote speaker.

And I really have nothing to add to that!

Hateful Letter Cleared As Free Speech

December 7th, 2009

Stephen Boisson: Irresponsible

An Alberta court has ruled that a hateful, anti-gay letter published in 2002 does not violate the Alberta human rights code. The letter (which has been republished on Xtra for analysis) was penned by Stephen Boisson, an evangelical youth pastor. In it, Boisson uses violent war metaphors as a call to arms to stop “the homosexual machine” by “taking whatever steps are necessary.”

While Canada’s criminal code forbids inciting violence against identifiable groups, the Queen’s Bench court ruled that the talk of war in the letter was metaphorical. Here’s an excerpt from the ruling:

That the language of [Stephen Boisson's letter] may be jarring, offensive, bewildering, puerile, nonsensical and insulting may be of little doubt, but the language does not go so far as to fall within the prohibited status of “hate” or “contempt.”

Boisson’s letter may not criminal, but that does not mean the public has to treat it as acceptable. There was a violent gay bashing in Boisson’s town just days after his letter was published, and—while I doubt his letter was the sole cause—it certainly supported an atmosphere where violence against gays can flourish.

There is a difference between the right to do something and the right thing to do. There are consequences for hateful speech, and it is up to the public to challenge anyone not big enough to accept responsibility for those consequences. Hate speech is worthless and leaves the world worse off for it; use your own free speech to make the world better, and confront hate wherever it is found.