Monday, January 05, 2009

The Intolerance of Kateness

What are the limits of free speech/expression in a civil free society? Some will tell you there can be no limits of free speech or expression. Others will say any speech or expression which is libellous or slanderous, while still others will draw the line at inciting hatred, contempt or the counselling the killing of any who represent the ‘other’.

My country has a rather chequered record on the free speech and while I will not say I am a free speech/expression purist, I am reluctant to silence anyone’s protected rights of speech or expression. I generally think libel and slander laws are necessary restraints to keep free speech/expression as responsible speech/expression, which goes towards keeping the ‘civil’ in society. I have no desire to revisit life in the schoolyard, and speaking of one who was there; there was very little which was civil about the experience. One of the perks of growing up is leaving the schoolyard behind and in keeping with a civil society, should one not have recourse to the courts and legal remedies, if one is unjustly or maliciously libelled and/or slandered by the exercise of someone else’s free speech?

So what brings this up? A post and a quote at Kathy Shaidle’s blog from her co-author (The Tyranny of Nice) Pete Vete:

As a free speecher I don't believe waiving the Hezbollah flag should be illegal, but I'll be spending my big-city tourism dollars in Montreal and Chicago from now on.

Hezbollah is banned as a terrorist organization in Canada. In practical terms, this means any show of support - whether it is - material, financial or moral support of this organization is legally prohibited under law in Canada.

Now, one can argue Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization, and one could even lobby the government to have Hezbollah removed from the banned list of terrorist organizations, but until the day comes when Hezbollah is removed from the banned list of terrorist organizations – distributing, selling, buying or waving the Hezbollah flag in a public rally ,is a proscribed activity under law and all who flaunt this law, should face prosecuting under the law for lending support to a terrorist organization.

And no, I don’t have a problem with prosecution of any individual for waving the Hezbollah flag at a public rally but I do take a dim view of Toronto Police Officers selectively refusing to enforce the law as it now stands because it runs counter to the whole notion of a ‘civil’ society if moral support of a designated terrorist organization is allowed free reign to exercise such support in the public domain.

But by all means, go ahead and support the free speech/expression rights of terrorists, just don’t count on me helping you defend them.

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