Press Release: “AFT Denounces Draft Bill 59”

Update September 8 @6:05 PM EDT

Sean McGuire, who thinks “Quebec’s Proposed Anti-Hate Speech Bill Is Cause For Concern” has posted on the bill again. This time to announce, “Richard Dawkins Weighs In Against Quebec ‘Anti-Hate’ Bill-59

In a tweet, Dawkins says,

Quebec Blasphemy Law. As ignominious as “useful idiots” get. Blind and pathetic grovelling to the Islamist lobby.

and adds a link to Kyle Shideler’s Townhall.com Article “Quebec’s Proposed Imposition of Blasphemy Laws Will Affect Us All.”

Check out the many responses to Dawkins’ tweet.

——————-

Atheist Freethinkers shared the following press release with Canadian Atheist:

AFT logo

For immediate release
AFT Denounces Quebec’s Draft Bill 59 at Ontario Non-Believers’ Convention

Montreal, 21st August 2015 — Tomorrow in Kitchener, Ontario a major convention for non-believers, the “Non-Conference,” will feature issues of importance to atheists, humanists and secularists. Atheist Freethinkers (LPA-AFT), an association which promotes secularism and supports the rights of atheists, will be represented by its president David Rand on a panel discussing the international campaign to repeal all laws which criminalize blasphemy, including Canada’s antiquated law prohibiting “Blasphemous Libel.”

Mr. Rand will also denounce the Quebec government’s plan to introduce legislation, draft Bill 59, which is a major threat to freedom of expression and fundamental human rights and would be equivalent to a new anti-blasphemy law at the provincial level. This Bill 59, whose declared purpose is “to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence,” would grant sweeping new powers to the Quebec Human Rights Commission (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse or CDPDJ), allowing it to initiate investigations on its own without having received a complaint, to receive complaints anonymously without protecting the anonymity of the accused, to suppress speech before completion of an investigation, to impose exorbitant fines and to publish a list of the “guilty” on the internet.

“This legislation, if adopted, will effectively criminalize legitimate criticism of religions and other ideologies, whereas the Commission should instead be protecting the right to express such ideas as an essential element of any healthy democracy,” says David Rand.

In addition to draft Bill 59, the Quebec government simultaneously introduced an action plan, ostensibly to fight against “radicalization” but which blames this phenomenon not on the obvious cause of radical Islamist propaganda, but rather on so-called “Islamophobia.” In the words of Mr. Rand, “By putting all Muslims in the same basket and claiming that anti-Muslim prejudice is the motivator, not the result, of radical Islam, the Couillard government is completely at odds with reality. Worse still, in combination with Bill 59, it is giving preferential treatment to religions in general and to Islam in particular by protecting them from criticism.”

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Reach us by email

David Rand, bulletin at atheology.ca
Jaque Parisien, jaque.parisien at gmail.com

www.atheology.ca

16 thoughts on “Press Release: “AFT Denounces Draft Bill 59”

  1. Rand only defends freedom of expression when it’s his own. He’s like the foxnews of secularism.

    • I think you will find that ‘Freedom of Expression’ and ‘Secularism’ are very similar programs. Major limiting factors in free expression are privilege or exception. Oh yeah, fear is also a limiting factor.

  2. Isn’t such a bill unconstitutional? Isn’t it against the chart? Or are there loops that I am not aware of?

    • No, no, and no.

      Rand is just misrepresenting the bill, and going over the top with the hyperbolic rhetoric as usual. The bill will not “criminalize legitimate criticism of religions and other ideologies”. It doesn’t even come close to it. Rand just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

      • it is you who are misrepresenting the bill, and going over the top with the hyperbolic rhetoric as usual. Have you read the Bill(available as a PDF at http://is.gd/Gp3fPR)? If not, please read it and give us your opinion. Can you support your “No, no, and no” answer?

        Why does Quebec or Canada need a hate speech law. So someone or a group can say, “Why Is Everybody Always Picking On Me?”

        • This tells me a lot, taken from the above source:

          “Muslim groups appeared to be mostly in favour of the legislation — with the caveat what constitutes hate speech, as well as “excessive control” and “emotional security” needed to be better defined.

          “Why not support a law that is in favour of all groups who have been humiliated, denigrated?” said Samah Jebbari of the Canadian Muslim Forum. “It’s not just because it can be good for the Muslim community. We are Quebecers here, the welfare of everyone counts. Anyone who crosses the line and disseminates hate has no place here — whether he’s an imam, a journalist, a politician or a high school student.”

          Jewish representatives were against the legislation, however, believing the best remedy for hate speech is more freedom of expression — not less.

          Groups representing the LGBT community, for their part, were also skeptical of the law, despite the fact they were targeted in 16 per cent of police-reported hate crimes. Most of the homophobia seen in Quebec — insults, belittling, exclusion — does not necessarily constitute hate speech, they said. What is needed is more education and dialogue — not more repression.”

          I am not surprised! Look at the groups who support the bill. Even homosexuals and Jews are against it!!! But, Samah says anyone who crosses the LINE!!! even if the person is A “high school student”!!! Samah Jebbari wants to criminalize even a high school student who may God-forbid say things against Islam! Great. what a great great bill!!!

        • > it is you who are misrepresenting the bill, and going over the top with the hyperbolic rhetoric as usual.

          Saying “Rand doesn’t know what he’s talking about” is “hyperbolic rhetoric”? That seems about the mildest criticism possible. Are you implying that *ANY* criticism of Rand is “hyperbolic”?

          > Have you read the Bill?

          Yes.

          > Can you support your “No, no, and no” answer?

          Yes.

          But I’m not going to, because I don’t have to. Rand is the one making the outlandishly stupid claims. The burden of proof is on him.

          Let him show you where in the bill it “criminalize legitimate criticism of religions and other ideologies”. If he’s not pulling it out of his ass, he should be able to point out the section that criminalizes legitimate criticism of religion, right? So, let him show it.

          (For the record, I’m guessing it’s not the part where it explicitly says: “However, the purpose of these prohibitions is not to limit the dissemination of such speech intended to legitimately inform the public.”)

          > Why does Quebec or Canada need a hate speech law. So someone or a group can say, “Why Is Everybody Always Picking On Me?”

          Why are you asking this question? This bill is not introducing or changing any hate speech law.

          In fact, the bill has literally no effect on hate speech law at all, and it certainly has nothing to do with “criminalizing” anything. That’s just… complete gibberish. In Canada, criminal law is federal jurisdiction, not provincial; Québec couldn’t criminalize anything even if it wanted to. Provinces can’t write or change criminal law, all they can do is administer it… and that’s what Bill 59 is: it’s an administrative bill. It doesn’t add or change any laws about hate speech or anything else, all it does it change how Québec responds to violations of Canadian hate speech law. Go ahead and read it. It’s just a bunch of stuff about how the CDPDJ, HRT, and the public school system should handle hate speech cases.

          As I said, Rand doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

      • But it limits “free speech”, doesn’t it? Or am I missing a point here? Didn’t you tell me I didn’t understand free speech because I couldn’t see that it applies to “everyone” even the ones who promote and spread illegitimate, irrational, backwards and offensive ideas (such as religious ideas)?? Now, how come such a bill is legitimate? It is clearly trying to literally criminalize people for expressing their ideas, no matter how hateful or offensive their ideas are. Criminalizing them for merely expressing those ideas is against freedom of expression isn’t it?

        Wasn’t this the meaning of free speech you defined in your previous comments: To allow people to express whatever they think, no matter “the content” of their speech? Or does that apply to only a certain privileged group of people and the rest must shut up not to cause offence or be labelled as spreading hate speech?

        The bills seems very blurry to me. How can we criminalize people based on “speech crimes”?? as far as I can see the bill criminalizes based on mere “speech”, nothing else, and people can file a report “anonymously” (fishy!) against anyone whose “speech” they perceive as hateful towards them. That doesn’t sound practical and leaves a lot of blurry portions. So, it means people may need to go to a court and defend themselves for say , telling “fuck all the Jews”?? Or typing on social media ” I hate gays, let’s kill them all” ?? Or what? How can we “clearly” and “objectively” define “hate-speech”???

        That doesn’t seem right or I am missing something because I can’t believe deputies can be that stupid. We have evolved out of criminalization based on mere “speech”. As far as I can see, It looks like going really backwards and this is what I get from the Montreal gazzete not from David Rand. oh and the official supporters of the bill give me a very good clue as well! http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/bill-59-and-the-hate-speech-dilemma-in-quebec

        • > But it limits “free speech”, doesn’t it?

          No.

          > Or am I missing a point here?

          Yes.

          > Didn’t you tell me I didn’t understand free speech because I couldn’t see that it applies to “everyone” even the ones who promote and spread illegitimate, irrational, backwards and offensive ideas (such as religious ideas)?? Now, how come such a bill is legitimate?

          Because the bill isn’t what you think it is (or what Rand says it is).

          *IF* the bill did the things you think it does, then I would be one of the first and loudest of its critics. But… it doesn’t. It *can’t*… that’s just not how law works in Canada. Rand is just being his usual self – loud, angry, terrified of Muslims, and utterly clueless.

          > It is clearly trying to literally criminalize people for expressing their ideas, no matter how hateful or offensive their ideas are. Criminalizing them for merely expressing those ideas is against freedom of expression isn’t it?

          It is not clearly or literally doing any of those things.

          It is a provincial legislative bill. It *can’t* criminalize *anything*. Criminal law is federal jurisdiction. A Québec legislative bill cannot add or change any hate speech laws, and it can’t possibly do anything to criminalize expression. Believing that Québec can criminalize speech is as stupid as believing your school board can legalize pot. Rand either doesn’t understand this, or he does and he’s trying to deceive everyone. So he’s either a liar or an idiot. Personally, I think “liar” would be worse, so I give him the benefit of the doubt.

          Furthermore, though it has nothing to do with the bill, hate speech is not criminalizing people “merely for expressing hateful or offensive ideas”. Believing that is hate speech is as stupid as believing that merely lifting someone’s purse to get a paper that was under it is theft.

          > Wasn’t this the meaning of free speech you defined in your previous comments: To allow people to express whatever they think, no matter “the content” of their speech?

          Whoa, whoa, whoa – I *NEVER* said people should be allowed to express whatever they think, no matter the content of their speech. Don’t put words in my mouth.

          > Or does that apply to only a certain privileged group of people and the rest must shut up not to cause offence or be labelled as spreading hate speech?

          That is the kind of gibberish that bigots say.

          Hate speech is not about “offence”. It has *LITERALLY* nothing to do with “offence”. Literally. The Supreme Court of Canada made that crystal clear: just because you feel insulted by something, that doesn’t make it hate speech.

          You’re so freaked out about hate speech, yet like Rand you have no clue what it really is. Why not actually figure that out first, before deciding whether it’s a good or bad idea.

          > The bills seems very blurry to me.

          That’s what I’ve been saying: You don’t understand it. It’s not clear to you, so you’re afraid of it.

          > How can we criminalize people based on “speech crimes”??

          As I said to Veronica, the fact that you’re even asking this question betrays that you have no clue what the bill is really about.

          > as far as I can see the bill criminalizes based on mere “speech”, nothing else….

          Wrong.

          First, the bill doesn’t “criminalize” anything. If that’s what you think you see in there, you’re not understanding the bill at all.

          Second, where are you getting this silly idea that “mere speech” is hate speech? The bill doesn’t say what is or isn’t hate speech at all (it doesn’t have to, because that’s defined in the Criminal Code of Canada, and clarified by the Supreme Court), so if you’re seeing something in there that says “mere speech” is hate speech, you [i]really[/i] are not understanding the bill.

          > and people can file a report “anonymously” (fishy!) against anyone whose “speech” they perceive as hateful towards them.

          Uh, no.

          The bill does allow people to file complaints anonymously, but I’m a loss why you people think that’s a bad thing. Remember Alain Simoneau? He’s the guy who went to the CDPDJ to complain about prayer in government meetings, and he got harassed and threatened for it (there were actually charges laid in some cases). Was that really necessary? Was it *REALLY* necessary for him to have to be “outed” and face public humiliation and harassment? Either the prayers were legal or they weren’t, and we could have figured that out without Simoneau having to be made a public pariah.

          You’re talking about this anonymity issue like it’s some big, dark conspiracy, but the reality is you’re just not cluing in to what’s really going on here. This is not adversarial justice. You don’t need to “face your accuser” because your accuser is the Queen: Hate speech is a *crime* – a *FEDERAL* crime. This is not fricken Judge Judy, it’s criminal law.

          If the Commission can find the evidence of hate speech in a way that doesn’t rely on the identity of the person who made the complaint, then what is the point of revealing that person’s identity? That’s just… stupid. It’s pointless. It helps no one, and it only puts whoever reported it at risk for harassment. For example, if someone handed out fliers saying “all gay people should die”… who the fuck cares who reports it? The person who reported it is not the least bit important to the case. The bottom line is that there’s physical evidence – the flyers – and if the Commission can prove you made them (which is usually not hard – most bigots *sign* their work, and are proud of what they’ve done), so all they need to do decide whether it’s hate speech or not. No one benefits by releasing the name of the person who filed the report, except the people who want to torment and harass that person.

          As for the second part, about people filing reports for stuff they merely “perceive” as hateful… did you even read the bill? Try again. Chapter 3 paragraph 5.

          > That doesn’t sound practical and leaves a lot of blurry portions.

          It’s your understanding that is blurry, not the bill.

          > So, it means people may need to go to a court and defend themselves for say , telling “fuck all the Jews”?? Or typing on social media ” I hate gays, let’s kill them all” ?? Or what? How can we “clearly” and “objectively” define “hate-speech”???

          If you really cared, I could try to explain it to you. But I know you don’t really care, and this is just a rhetorical question. You have already made up your mind, without bothering to get all the facts. You freely admit you don’t understand hate speech law, but somehow you’re just sure it’s wrong. And yet, even though that is *LITERALLY* ignorance in action, if I called you ignorant, you’d freak right the hell out.

          > That doesn’t seem right or I am missing something because I can’t believe deputies can be that stupid. We have evolved out of criminalization based on mere “speech”.

          They’re not. We have.

          Again, the bill is not what you think it is.

          > As far as I can see, It looks like going really backwards and this is what I get from the Montreal gazzete not from David Rand. oh and the official supporters of the bill give me a very good clue as well! http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/bill-59-and-the-hate-speech-dilemma-in-quebec

          I read that article, and it was terrible: biased and generally short on clue. The writer has no idea at all what she’s writing about, and uses emotive rhetoric to rile people up, not to inform them. “Supporting a fatwa — a standing order to kill Rushdie — would surely be considered hate speech or speech inciting violence. So would accusing someone of supporting a fatwa, if he didn’t.” *facepalm* Uh, no. Neither of those things is hate speech. A call to kill someone is not hate speech. It is a threat. And a false accusation is slander.

          Someone should inform the writer of that article that not every kind of legally dubious speech is hate speech.

          • Intimidating attacking tone as usual Indi. will you ever change?

            1- I never said I READ the bill! I put that article there and clearly said I got my info for that time being from there! Not from the bill itself but I will DEFINITELY read it BEFORE I make up my mind!

            2- I DO care and I used words and expressions such as it SEEMS blurry to ME. It LOOKS BACKWARDS TO ME, AS FAR AS I CAN SEE etc. to show my scepticism.

            3- David Rand is NOT the only one opposing the bill and I said the supporters and opposers of the bill give me a very good clue! (BTW I don’t think Rand is afraid of anyone though I do not know him, but he is definitely legitimately afraid of an ideology, we all know which one)

            4- Those questions were NOT rhetorical. they were honest questions. But well, what can I expect from you. it is not easy for you to put your hammer down, is it? (yes, that is a rhetorical question!)

            5- ” You freely admit you don’t understand hate speech law, but somehow you’re just sure it’s wrong. And yet, even though that is *LITERALLY* ignorance in action, if I called you ignorant, you’d freak right the hell out.”

            No, you are wrong. I ASKED if we are to have a hate-speech law “how can we define hate-speech objectively and clearly then”??? , “isn’t that criminalizing based on mere speech?” it is called hate-SPEECH for a reason otherwise it would be called hate-CRIME.
            But, I NEVER said I was sure about anything and showed my scepticism SEVERAL times in several ways. such as two times asking AM I MISSING SOMETHING. A good constructive response would be telling me what hate-speech law IS instead.

            BUT, If this is about IGNORANCE, then The only LITERAL ignorance + literal Alethophobia comes from
            the person who thinks a draconian religious ideology IS compatible with western liberal democracy **million face palms***

            the one who can’t see the difference between an “ideology” *Islam* and “people” who practice it or born into it or half- practice it. etc. i.e *muslims*,

            the one who has no clue about the most basic scientific categorization of things and says there is no Chinese or Islamic culture on top of calling everyone racist for that *many many more face palms*.

            (like saying : How do you put Flu and HIV and millions of others in one basket and call them all VIRUS? Can’t you see how diverse and vastly different they are??? that’s pure racism against all those poor single celled organisms!) The list can go on…

            6- “That is the kind of gibberish that bigots say.”

            Nope. that is what people say when they intend to tell others how hypocrite they are. I said that based on your previous comments, because I saw you jump up and down for freedom (your brand of freedom of course) when anyone suggests things such as banning burqa which any SANE ANTI-MISOGYNIST HUMAN BEING INCLUDING MANY MUSLIM FEMINISTS strongly support( you know the ones who have evolved enough to know human rights is NOT just about CHOICE but mostly about the reasons that COERCE choice)
            and they all have VERY CONVINCING reasons for what they stand for while supporters of superficial freedom stick to their extreme individualism and stupid choice arguments.

            So, I saw that then I saw when it comes to bills like this one, that in my opinion *in the time that I wrote that comment* “limit freedom of expression” you support the repression of freedom. that’s why I added that rhetorical question there. But well, you say the interpretation of the bill by the opposers is not true or you will be an opposer too. So, I get that back.

            Ok.I go on to read the bill instead of wasting my time arguing….

  3. Veronica

    Yup…I got it…scary indeed. The main problem is of course “Islamophobia”!!! (sarcasm alert). What else could anyone possibly expect from Ayatollah Couillard?

  4. @Indi

    Believing that Québec can criminalize speech is as stupid as believing your school board can legalize pot. Rand either doesn’t understand this, or he does and he’s trying to deceive everyone.

    Rand is saying the bill will effectively, not literally, criminalise certain kinds of speech. If expressing certain opinions in public can get you hauled in front of a government tribunal that has the power to impose significant financial penalties and put your name on a publicly available list of offenders, then yes, those opinions have been effectively criminalised. The bottom line is that Quebec wants to give itself the power to punish people for saying the wrong things.

    The bill doesn’t say what is or isn’t hate speech at all (it doesn’t have to, because that’s defined in the Criminal Code of Canada, and clarified by the Supreme Court), so if you’re seeing something in there that says “mere speech” is hate speech, you [i]really[/i] are not understanding the bill.

    Section 319 of the criminal code talks about expression that “incites hatred” or “wilfully promotes hatred” of an identifiable group. By that definition, “mere speech” could certainly qualify if the Human Rights Commission were to decide that something a person had “merely” said in public was inflammatory enough to incite hatred in the minds of reasonable people. The speaker doesn’t even have to actually express hatred, but simply say something deemed likely to expose a group to hatred. Section 319 is at least sensible enough to allow truthfulness as a defence, but would this carry over to enforcement of Quebec’s new proposed bill? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    The writer has no idea at all what she’s writing about, and uses emotive rhetoric to rile people up, not to inform them.

    Quebeckers and other Canadians are riled up about the proposed bill because they bloody well should be. It would be nice if more of them could get riled up about Section 319, and also about the very existence of quasi-judicial Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals, in the process.

    • Very well said. Thank you so much for this comment, after reviewing the bill myself through the link Veronica provided, I can’t agree more. Fingers crossed for freedom of expression.

    • > Rand is saying the bill will effectively, not literally, criminalise certain kinds of speech. If expressing certain opinions in public can get you hauled in front of a government tribunal that has the power to impose significant financial penalties and put your name on a publicly available list of offenders, then yes, those opinions have been effectively criminalised. The bottom line is that Quebec wants to give itself the power to punish people for saying the wrong things.

      Except all that’s also wrong. Québec has the power to do that already. The bill does not change that (the bill only changes how Québec goes about it). Rand’s weasel words don’t save his point. The bill does not “effectively” make any speech “criminalized”; it *LITERALLY* doesn’t change which speech is legal, or permissible, at all.

      > Section 319 of the criminal code talks about expression that “incites hatred” or “wilfully promotes hatred” of an identifiable group. By that definition, “mere speech” could certainly qualify if the Human Rights Commission were to decide that something a person had “merely” said in public was inflammatory enough to incite hatred in the minds of reasonable people. The speaker doesn’t even have to actually express hatred, but simply say something deemed likely to expose a group to hatred.

      But that, again, has nothing to do with Bill 59. Bill 59 neither introduces anything to criminal code, nor changes section 319. So the claim that the bill is some monstrous threat to freedom, or that it “criminalizes legitimate speech” is complete bullshit. It just… doesn’t… do that. By *ANY* sane interpretation.

      (And for the record, no, “mere speech” would not qualify, and neither would merely being inflammatory. The law does not exist in a vacuum – you can’t just read the text of the law and say “well, this *could* be interpreted this way or that way” – it is interpreted in light of related jurisprudence. When you take the relevant jurisprudence into account, the speaker does indeed have to actually express hatred – and specific *types* of hatred, actually, not just dislike or rage, and to an extreme degree – or say something that is reasonably likely to incite it (which is not something you can do accidentally, realistically, and if you did you wouldn’t have been “wilfully” inciting). This perception that hate speech is an insanely broad net that could catch legitimate speech is nonsensical, and totally unrelated to reality.)

      > Section 319 is at least sensible enough to allow truthfulness as a defence, but would this carry over to enforcement of Quebec’s new proposed bill? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t count on it.

      It has to. Québec can’t unilaterally change the Criminal Code. If it ain’t a violation of 319, it ain’t hate speech, and nothing Québec could possibly do would change that. If, hypothetically, Québec overnight turned into some sort of freakish 1984 police state and started to prosecute people for telling the truth, that would last precisely as long as it takes for the first case to make it to an appellate court – or the Supreme Court if absolutely necessary.

      Bill 59 does not change the law. It just institutes procedures for enforcing it.

      > It would be nice if more of them could get riled up about Section 319, and also about the very existence of quasi-judicial Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals, in the process.

      Even if you have a problem with 319, it makes no damn sense to freak out over bill 59. Bill 59 is not creating or changing 319. It’s just Québec doing some administrative housekeeping that will make them enforce 319 more effectively. To put it in perspective, what you’re basically doing is freaking out at a government allocation of funds to the cops to fight the drug war, when your real problem is with the drug laws. You’re just wasting your rage on the wrong target, pointlessly – and looking like an ass in the process.

      The bottom line is, you have no beef with Bill 59. It doesn’t do what you or Rand thinks it does.

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