Friday, April 18, 2008

A Pofaced Proposal

Jay Currie has decided to fight fire with fire (I won't yet say that he is trying to make two wrongs produce a right) and has filed a complaint with the CHRC regarding a cartoon that was published in Le Devoir some months ago. His reasoning, if I can be allowed to take a slight liberty with his phrasing, is: "the greater good of having s. 13 deleted from the Human Rights Act ... demand[s] the filing of just such hard cases."

With respect to my friend, I think this is a very risky business. His motivation, I see, is to give that paper and various other media (for their own sakes) a much needed incentive to push the repeal of section 13(1) of the Human Rights Act. But--I can't help wondering--isn't there a very real risk that the given paper will simply acquiesce, apologize, pay the fine, and go on with a policy of rigourous self-censorship?

Jay is far wiser about such things than I am, of course. But it seems to me that there is still a more appropriate course of action to be taken--to the extent that it rivals for sheer ludicrousness the terms of section 13(1) itself.

What we need is for some high-profile type, say Mark Steyn, to file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission ... against himself.

That is: Mark Steyn should file against Mark Steyn for ... well, take your pick! Under the provision of section 13(1) I doubt that there's a column that he's written that isn't likely to fall under someone's interpretation of hateful discrimination on the grounds of "race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted." (Warren Kinsella, anyway, provides us with a banana peel or eight to start us down the slope.) After all, as Richard Warman has repeatedly demonstrated, one doesn't need to be one of the offended party to be able to register the offence.

Ridiculous, I hear you saying? Well quite. But that's the point.

To be clear: what's most appalling (or, if you like, offensive--but in an objective sense for once) about section 13(1) of the Human Rights Act is that it presumes that the averagely intelligent Canadian citizen is so susceptible to the published views of such as Stormfront or the Canadian Nazi Party (notwithstanding the latter's non-existence), that he cannot be trusted to tell good argument from bad. Unregulated by state diktat (itself the product of Canadian 'intelligence'), unfettered by state intervention (itself enacted by (certain) Canadian citizens), the averagely intelligent Canadian apparently lumbers about in a fog of sometimes hateful ignorance, safe only in the knowlege that the likes of Barbara Hall or Dick Warman will yank him by the arm (or pick his pocket) whenever he steps awry.

So, I say, it must follow that to the extent that Canadian citizens continue to accept the necessity of section 13(1) of the Human Rights Act--which they do--then they also accept that their own, personal, independent, and free wills pose them some fairly serious risk. In the absence of the discretion of the CHRC, who are they to say whether or not they have committed a hate crime?

This being so, it cannot be said to be unreasonable for even the offending parties to ask that the state deal with them, as it were, in spite of themselves. Otherwise, doesn't the state become complicit in (what has to be) the offending parties' equal and opposite status as victims?

So let Mark Steyn file against Mark Steyn. Let Mark Steyn outline his offences for the prosecution, and let Mark Steyn provide the defence. Mark Steyn will of course lose--as must anybody under the conditions of 'likelihood' ... But he shall have done so, at least, by winning.

A most Canadian solution to a most Canadian problem.

... And we shall all have had the very good fortune to have watched.