Hateful Letter Cleared As Free Speech
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.
- Court quashes human rights anti-gay ruling [CBC News]