Free speech in Canada

In The Inquisition In Canada my friend Bob outlines how Human Rights Commissions (HRCs) are being abused.

Last week’s Cross Country Checkup episode titled “Are There Legitimate Limits to Free Expression?” also delves into the role of the HRCs as part of a larger discussion on free speech. You can find a nice introduction to this topic in the episode’s introduction (text) or you can download to the whole show (MP3). Several people people close to this issue are interviewed as well callers from across the country.

There was also a quote from someone (unfortunately I don’t remember who) which sums the issue up nicely (paraphrasing):

You have a right to not be exposed to hate but you don’t have a right to not be offended.

One Reply to “Free speech in Canada”

  1. Sounds like something Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. might say, though I don’t think he did. Holmes is one of my heroes, a jurist of incredible perception, the kind of person we need more of today. He once said this:

    “It is only the present danger of an immediate evil and an intent to bring it about that warrants Congress in setting a limit to the expression of opinion.”

    By ‘immediate evil’, Holmes meant causing real harm, like being robbed or attacked. This should be the real reason why we prosecute hate: not so much because of the words themselves, but because words which are vile enough can incite people to hurt one another and that is what is wrong.

    Offence is not real harm. It is a matter of opinion and the protection from it has no place in a rational legal system.

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