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12 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. Faith based economics. Absolutely correct.
    Just remember Justin has to have faith or “a mental state of pretending to know” in order get along with the investment class.

    Perhaps if we just quit using that word ‘inflation’. That inflation that contributes to the constant devaluation of the Looney. Inflation is not a discernable force of nature. Justin may gradually come to an understanding what is going on. The constant devaluation of the looney takes money out of your mattress and hands it over to a gambler who has no use for it whatsoever. Not having any use for the increased quantity of devalued looneys he does the only sensible thing he can think of and gambles it on productive assets.

    Most of this economic cycle it great accept for the reduction in the value of the loonies in the mattress. You have the same quantity, they are just worth less. The extra looneys that were minted and loaned into existence at almost no interest rate to the investors increased their property portfolio significantly.

    The end game is the gamblers have more real capital and people have the same bank account: the same quantity of loonies. The looneys are just less valuable because of the inexplicable forces of inflation.

    Naturally, to stem the transfer of real capital to the investors we would have to charge them a fair price for the money they have to borrow. This would earn more money for the depositors and help to stem looney devaluation.

    When people say’ “the system is rigged” they are correct. It has to be rigged. The money system is a human invention, not a natural phenomena. Justin has to grapple with a class of people who are masters of rigging the system for themselves.

    I wish him good luck, may he survive and prosper, or whatever it was that Spock was saying.

    • “fantastical claims made about trade agreements”

      I agree here.

      First and foremost, Canada must be for Canadians. And if we look 100 years into the future, have we laid the groundwork for success? Take a look at Brexit. The EU may not last 100 years. NAFTA is probably going away with Trump.

      We should be planning to be self-reliant for things like water, food, energy, clothing, and shelter… the things we all need to survive. And frankly we should be building all the other things we desire too.

      When our elected representatives set rules for us (currency, tax, labour, human rights, material and methods standards, etc.) we can have some certainty that the products that we use to meet our needs have a pedigree that we can be proud of. We have a degree of control over every step. If things go wrong, we can fix it. And there is honour and satisfaction in work, that we are currently denying to our citizens and residents.

      Trade agreements undermine all that work. They tell us who owns our culture. They tell us where our food and clothing will come from. They effectively tell us what we can pay our workers. They build an expectation of fragility and disposability, short product life spans, and short-term planning, so there can be more trade. They subject us to all the world’s instability and (by our standards) criminality. They tell us we can’t complain.

      I do think it’s necessary that the world shares information. Knowledge about the universe, manufacturing know-how, fresh ideas, design improvements, all of this should be freely available (no more patent). But the work to actually produce something should be done in the country where it will be sold, and the profits should stay there.

      We don’t need China. We don’t need Europe. And we don’t even need the US, despite being the bestest of friends.

  2. On the “insightful” free speech article:

    “The Charter gives each freedom it’s [sic] own definition”

    It most certainly does not. The Supreme Court took it upon itself to do that. The Charter assumes the definitions are different, and does not define them anywhere. It does however define a relationship, that freedoms of the press and communication media are included within, and are therefore mere examples or consequences of, freedoms of thought, belief, opinion, and/or expression.

    “…few people pay attention to them. And so in public debates here and abroad, freedom of the press and freedom of expression are often linked together.”

    It’s not considered a high standard to have actually read the document you’re writing an article about in 2016, is it?

    “Section 2-B of The Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms, which mimics the First Amendment…”

    No, it does not. The First Amendment stands unobstructed. But before we even get to Section 2, it has been preemptively undercut by Section 1, which might be summarized as (“just kidding!”). The Charter is a paper tiger, guaranteeing nothing to anyone. Given enough obfuscation and distraction and corruption and power, anything can be deemed a “reasonable limit” on a Charter right, when the Charter itself gives that right away.

    “When the government monitors our free speech, the way it is supposed to, it helps protect people from hateful attitudes and behaviours”

    Absolutely not. First, monitoring “speech” does nothing unless that monitoring is then followed by something else. (Surely you’ve seen the LifeLock TV ad about the bank monitor). The government doesn’t just “monitor”. It punishes, and it prevents. And when it comes to speech, that cannot be the government’s role.

    • > It most certainly does not. The Supreme Court took it upon itself to do that. The Charter assumes the definitions are different, and does not define them anywhere.

      That is technically correct, and it was perhaps sloppy to put it that way. But it doesn’t change anything substantive about the argument. You’re just nitpicking semantics.

      And even then, you’re wrong. The Supreme Court didn’t just “take it upon itself” to interpret and define the terms. That’s exactly what they’re supposed to do. That’s the whole point of their existence. It would be *BAD* if the Charter defined the terms. They didn’t “take it upon themselves”; our Constitution (of which the Charter is only a small part) *gives* them that task. So, pedantically, while the *Charter* doesn’t make any definitions, the Constitution gives that duty to the Supreme Court. The same authority behind the Charter makes the Supreme Court responsible for interpreting it.

      > No, it does not. The First Amendment stands unobstructed.

      That’s simply not true. The First Amendment is just as much “obstructed” as Section 2 is. The only difference is that the “obstruction” is clearer in the Charter than it is with the US Bill of Rights.

      But if you think the First Amendment stands “unobstructed” you are in for a nasty surprise. The First Amendment does *not* protect incitement (what we call hate speech in Canadian legal lingo), among many other things. For example, the First Amendment also doesn’t protect advertising, or obscenity.

      You seem to be under the misapprehension that law (or “obstructions” to law) has to be written down – for example, in the Constitution or the Charter – to be legitimate law, and thus, because there’s nothing in the US Constitution that appears to limit the provisions in the Bill of Rights, that means they’re totally unimpeded. No, not even close. Both the US and Canada operate under common law, which means that codified statutes (such as the Bill of Rights) are subject to interpretation, and that those interpretations become law. In plain English, US courts can decide the First Amendment just doesn’t apply in some case, and that decision would become law (which they have, obviously, for example, with hate speech/incitement and obscenity). And of course, if you’re worried about the Notwithstanding Clause, the US Executive (the President) can simply override *anything* with a wave of his hand.

      It’s *exactly* the same situation that exists in Canada, just codified slightly differently.

      > > “When the government monitors our free speech, the way it is supposed to, it helps protect people from hateful attitudes and behaviours”
      >
      > Absolutely not. First, monitoring “speech” does nothing unless that monitoring is then followed by something else.

      Okay, *this* was why i bothered to reply to this at all. Because i honestly can’t tell whether your lack of comprehension is honest or just trolling, but it occurs to me that others might be confused by your misinterpretation, so i have to nip it in the bud.

      Pattee is saying that when government monitors speech *PROPERLY*… “the way it is supposed to”… it helps protect people. She even reinforces that point with her very next sentence: “When our laws are applied as they were intended, it’s a sign our democracy is still in working order.” (Which, really, is a “yeah, duh” kinda obviously true statement.)

      Absolutely *yes*, that’s true. It’s absurd to claim it’s not. If the government is doing the job it’s *supposed* to be doing, with regards to monitoring speech that might lead to harm or violence, then *of course* it will help prevent harm or violence. I mean… obviously.

      When the government is *NOT* monitoring speech the way it is supposed to be doing, then we have a problem. It’s a blatantly obvious point, which for some reason i don’t understand, seems to fly right over your head. That’s the only way i can figure you can come up with a comment as stupid as “How else will they know if you’ve uttered speech they need to monitor, Indi?” with regards to the government illegally spying on people. It seems a rather “duh” point, but if the government is *ILLEGALLY* spying on people, they’re pretty clearly not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. That’s pretty clearly not what we intended the government to do. Duh.

      Really, the point Pattee is making in that paragraph is not only obvious, it’s self-evident. There’s really no rational argument against what she’s saying. It just boils down to: if the government is doing what we want them to do, the government will be doing what we want them to do. We want the government to protect the people from harm… so we gave them rules for monitoring speech that will protect people from harm… and if they follow those rules, as they’re supposed to, they will protect people from harm. That’s the whole “argument” of that paragraph (which, as I said, isn’t really an “argument”, it’s just pointing out the obvious). If you want to make an argument against what she’s saying in that excerpt, you have to argue that the government doing what it’s supposed to is a bad thing (which is a little weird), or that when it does what it’s supposed to do it doesn’t actually help prevent harm (which would require arguing that hate speech laws accomplish nothing, so good luck with that).

  3. “the jaw-droppingly brazen push for more powers to spy on ordinary Canadian citizens”

    How else will they know if you’ve uttered speech they need to monitor, Indi?

  4. Well I don’t agree with “hate speech” laws. I am one of those that thinks we all should be able to say whatever we like unrestricted by the state. Now social pressures to coerce someone saying ridiculous, hateful, distasteful things to not say such things that’s a whole ‘nother matter.

    We can all point and laugh and then shun the person that says things that would be thought of as entirely anti-social and unwelcome.

    We can also guide and educate and illuminate the person saying ridiculous things to what is perhaps thought of as a more inclusive, welcoming manner to go about interacting with people.

    And of course all of the things that make up speech evolve. Some things become not so taboo or unwelcome anymore. Some things do in fact become taboo and unwelcome.

    But the power of the state…no. Stop right there.

    • > Well I don’t agree with “hate speech” laws. I am one of those that thinks we all should be able to say whatever we like unrestricted by the state.

      I think the problem here is that you don’t understand what “hate speech” is. Hate speech is *NOT* speech that is merely “ridiculous, hateful, or distasteful”, or “taboo or unwelcome”, or “anti-social”. The Supreme Court has spelled out what hate speech is, and it’s *SERIOUSLY* dangerous speech.

      There is this widespread misconception about hate speech in Canada… people seem to think that anything merely *rude* is hate speech. Or that if you merely insult someone that’s an act of hate speech. Or that if you make any disparaging claims against someone based on protected grounds (religion, race, etc.) that’s an act of hate speech. This widespread cluelessness persists, and it sometimes seems no matter how many times I smack it down, it pops back up – depressingly, often from the same people i’ve corrected before.

      But, whatever, lies and misconceptions should not be allowed to persist, so here i go again, stomping them down.

      To rise to the level of hate speech, the speech has to be… *REALLY* fucking bad. Not only that, there are a number of other *very* specific requirements the speech has to make in order to count as hate speech.

      Here is a literal exchange (cropped somewhat) that went before a judge to be tried as hate speech (A is the accused, and Q is a reporter who is asking questions about a speech A just gave):

      > A. The Jews damn near owned all of Germany. Prior to the war. That, that’s how Hitler came in, that he was gonna make damn sure that the Jews didn’t take over Germany or Europe. That’s why he fried six million of them you know.
      >
      > Q. Okay. D’you think that it was a good thing that he, that he killed six million Jews? Isn’t that a horrible thing?
      >
      > A. Well, Jews, Jews owned the goddamn world and look at what they’re doing. They’re killing people in the Arab countries. I was there, I was there.
      >
      > Q. I know, but how can you justify the holocaust? Six million?
      >
      > A. You know, how, how do you get rid of a, a, a, you know, a disease like that that’s gonna take over, that’s gonna dominate, that’s gonna everything, and the poor people, they …
      >
      > Q. How were they taking over Germany? How were they taking over Germany?
      >
      > A. They owned the banks, they owned the factories, they owned everything. They loaned money out to the peasants knowing damn well that they can’t pay it back so they took their land.
      >
      > […]
      >
      > A. Well, I’m not gonna argue with you about the Jews.
      >
      > Q. Okay
      >
      > A. Or the Germans or anybody else. All I know is what the Germans told me when I was there two years.
      >
      > Q. And you believe them.
      >
      > A. Of course I believe them.
      >
      > Q. But they, weren’t
      >
      > A. Well, because I saw the Jews kill people in, in the Egypt when I was over there. And the Palestinians, the Egyptians, the, the Arabs, generally, eh. I saw them fucking dominate everything.
      >
      > […]
      >
      > A. We didn’t give a damn about the Jews.
      >
      > Q. But to liberate the world from a dictatorship that was killing people, killing Jews, killing gypsies, killing homosexuals, killing all sorts of people.
      >
      > A. Exactly. Wanna clean up the world. I, I don’t support Hitler but I ….
      >
      > Q. That’s what it sounds like.
      >
      > A. Well, you know, he cleaned up a hell of a lot of things, didn’t he? You’d be, you’d be dominated by, you’d be owned by the Jews right now the world over. Look at a small little country like that and everybody supports them, the States, who in the hell owns many of the banks in the States, many of the corporations, many, well, look it here in Canada, ASPER.
      >
      > […]
      >
      > A. Anyway, anyway, to hell with the Jews. I can’t stand them and that’s it.
      >
      > Q. Okay
      >
      > A. Don’t talk about them.
      >
      > Q. Okay.

      Pretty foul stuff, right? “To hell with the Jews”, “can’t stand them”, comparing them to a disease, arguing that they deserved the Holocaust (or brought it on themselves or whatever). And let’s be clear, that speech isn’t only hateful, it’s encouraging violence, and it was public (he was talking to a reporter).

      Well, hold on to your hat. *THAT WAS NOT HATE SPEECH*.

      If that surprises you, well, as i’ve said, it takes a *LOT* to rise to the level of hate speech. The reason this guy got off is simply because: while he was saying foul things… and while those things were directed based on a protected ground (in this case, race)… and while those foul things did encourage or condone violence… the fact that he was being *goaded* by the reporter means he wasn’t *advocating* violence. The key exchanges in there are when he said “I’m not gonna argue with you about the Jews” (and at the end: “Don’t talk about them”) – and he also stormed away from the reporter, pissed about the line of questioning. The judge pointed out that those were not the actions of someone who was actually trying to *advocate* against Jewish people. He just said some shitty and hateful things because the reporter *ASKED HIM TO*. The reporter *asked* his opinion about Jewish people, and he gave it… willingly but not exactly enthusiastically.

      You see now how much it takes to actually be guilty of hate speech? You can literally say “all Jewish people deserve to die”… *to a reporter* (not even in private)… and not be guilty. (Provided the reporter brought the topic up, and you aren’t seen to be enthusiastic about advocating the idea.)

      An even more educational example is the Whatcott case. In this case, 4 fliers ranting against homosexuals (or rather “sodomites”) were passed out. 2 of the fliers showed classified ads, claiming that they were ads for men seeking boys, highlighting one ad that said “I’m 28, ???, searching for boys/men for penpals, exchanging video, ???, magazines & anything more. Your age, look & nationality is not so relevant.” The other two fliers were just rants accusing “sodomites” of wanting to “abuse children” and “share their filth”.

      The latter two were ruled straight-up hate speech, because of they way they exposed gay people – a traditionally vulnerable group – to violence by calling them “filth” and implying they were paedophilic predators seeking to abuse children. Basically, a reasonable person reading those fliers would take away the impression that gay people are a menace that must be stopped. This was targeting a group based on a protected ground (sexual orientation), and publicly advocating for violence against them. The fact that the desire for violence was only *implied* didn’t save Whatcott, because it was pretty damn reasonable to assume that’s what was intended, whether Whatcott *actually* intended that or not.

      But the *former* two were not hate speech. Why not? Because they merely pointed out that ads for “boys” (which could be interpreted as trolling for underage boys for sex) exist, and says they should be illegal. Granted, it does so in foul terms – and it even includes a Biblical verse about murdering people who try to seduce kids – but it doesn’t actually target a protected group *explicitly*. A reasonable person – not knowing about Whatcott’s general homophobia – could easily interpret the flyers as being against (allowing) ads where people are seeking sexual relationships with minors.

      And the Whatcott case made clear that hate speech is *NOT* merely insulting, offensive, or crude. As the Court put it: “… the legislative term “hatred” or “hatred or contempt” must be interpreted as being restricted to those extreme manifestations of the emotion described by the words “detestation” and “vilification”. This filters out expression which, while repugnant and offensive, does not incite the level of abhorrence, delegitimization and rejection that risks causing discrimination or other harmful effects.” In plain English, hate speech has to be bad enough that a reasonable person can say it’s *extreme* vilification that risks causing harm. (Along with meeting all the other prerequisites.)

      The Court even struck down the part of Saskatchewan’s hate speech law that included “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity”, because: “The words “ridicules”, “belittles” or “affronts the dignity of” are said to lower the threshold of the test to capture “hurt feelings” and “affronts to dignity” that are not tied to the objective of eliminating discrimination.” In plain English: hate speech law is >>>*NOT*<<< about protecting hurt feelings. It is *specifically* about eliminating discrimination (and other forms of harm relating to it, of course). (What that means for the Mike Ward case, I am not qualified to say. The Ward judgement was correct according to Québec law... but is Québec law legit with regards to the Canadian Charter? I dunno.) Anyone who says speech can never cause harm is being wilfully ignorant of history. Anyone who thinks hate speech, as defined by Canadian law, is merely unpleasant speech that can be dealt with by mere social shunning is wildly ignorant of hate speech law. Basically, everything you described in your comment - speech that is "taboo", "unwelcome", "distasteful", "ridiculous" - is *not* hate speech. Hate speech is *dangerous* speech - speech that a reasonable person would interpret as advocating for real harm to be done to real people. Laws should exist to protect the people who are too socially weak to protect themselves, and who can't reasonably expect to be protected by the majority. Hate speech - *real* hate speech, not what you think is hate speech - *endangers* people who usually can't rely on society to shun their aggressors. That's why we need hate speech laws.

      • Well, thanks for that. It seems our government should have spent a little more time explaining this to us.

        Speaking of the government, did you notice that Ralph Goodale has found a new source of income for his holy mother church. Money will be provided to up the security of stained glass and other sacred infrastructure. He is a much admired church activist. The Hell’s Angels should apply for financial aid to repair club house damage when Banditos spray paint rude epigrams on their fence.

      • That is all a terrific education in where the law apparently says the line stands. Thank you. I would agree that many people (myself obviously included) likely think that the bar is much lower. But we can all have opinions of said laws can’t we?

        You bring up the example of Jewish history. I seem to see a problem there nowadays. No one can say (speech) anything tending towards negative thoughts about them and their state. Anybody says anything about any kinds of oppression, land grabs, unprovoked attacks etc. and they get loudly shut down. Ooh! Look! Hate! Hate! Hitler! Anybody and everybody should be able to express opinions and observations about the behaviour of anyone anywhere. Those people being speechified upon (deal) can turn around and defend their actions with their own reasoning using…yes…speech.

        I disagree with the judge in the Whatcott case claiming that a reasonable person would take away from an awful flyer that gays are awful. No reasonable person in this day and age would think that. They would look at the flyer in disgust and dismiss it as being from some loon.

        I can’t seem to grasp the incitement part either. If I stand on a street corner yelling that all gypsies should be killed (unprovoked by a reporter mind you) then I would just be some loony standing on a street corner. Then, if some people gather around nodding in agreement then I’m guessing from your lengthy explanation that that would be hate speech. Why does it matter that anything is said at all? It seems to me that it should only matter when an actual action is taken against that identified group or someone that identifies as such. We have all kinds of laws for that. Assault, rape, murder etc. Heck…discrimination. If that were in an election and it was a platform that someone was standing on and they won power and they go about enacting such laws then we have all kinds of protections in our Charter that would not let them get away with those laws. But back to the lone individual, if that person were to say “it’s because that guy yelled out on a street corner and I agreed with him” then he’s just a complete idiot. Criminal. Is it not too far removed from a certain apparently still very popular book that we have to run out and stone the gays, stone the adulterers, enjoy dashing our kids against rocks, kill our lippy kids, blasphemers, apostates etc etc ad nauseam. (How that book manages to still be distributed astounds me in this age of hate speech.) No. We have consequences for people doing those actions. But saying them? No. They’re only words. Doing something upon another…yes…criminal. I disagree with hate speech laws.

        • Dusttodust,

          Nobody reads the Bible, at least, quantified in round figures. Nobody seems to notice that an Old Testament messiah was a man and a New Testament messiah was a god.

          My point is, I think, that religious opinion has been groomed by religious leaders from the pope on down to the street evangelist.

          A recent voice on this topic is in a Kindle publication called ‘Creating Christ’ by Valliant and Fahy.

          Our Atheist site isn’t really a forum for New Testament criticism. I think that most of us atheists are actually more incensed about Christianity and Islam than we are about the Idea of a pre existing creator god. A deist type divinity is more of a science fiction muse.

        • > But we can all have opinions of said laws can’t we?

          Certainly, but if those opinions are flat-out wrong – for example, because they’re not actually based on reality – then they can (and should) be called out as such. Just because it’s an opinion, doesn’t mean it gets a free pass from having to be based on reality, or that it’s immune from criticism.

          > No one can say (speech) anything tending towards negative thoughts about [Jewish people] and their state. Anybody says anything about any kinds of oppression, land grabs, unprovoked attacks etc. and they get loudly shut down. Ooh! Look! Hate! Hate! Hitler!

          That’s not an issue of hate speech. That’s just an issue of people *saying* something is hate speech.

          This phenomenon is hardly unique to hate speech. Idiots frequently make false claims of persecution under various laws when they can’t muster a rational rebuttal to something you said. For example, we frequently see religious people crying discrimination under freedom of belief laws for patently ridiculous reasons. That doesn’t mean there’s a problem with freedom of belief laws. It just means those bozos don’t actually know what freedom of belief laws are about.

          But as I said, that has literally nothing to do with actual hate speech. If anyone actually tried to lay charges of hate speech on someone who was merely criticizing, say, Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the courts would laugh them off.

          If you’re making a rational, cogent criticism of Israel or Judaism, and some jackass accuses you of antisemitism just for that, my suggestion would be to stay calm and ask them to explain exactly how rational, cogent criticism of a *state* or a *religion* is tantamount to bigotry against *people*. When they can’t answer rationally – as they surely won’t be able to – then you’ve got a free pass to ignore them and focus your attention on talking to non-idiots. The same is true if you’re making a rational, cogent criticism of Islam or some Muslim state, and someone cries islamophobia.

          In all cases, your *FIRST* response on hearing an accusation of *ANY* kind of bigotry should be to stop, and take a *VERY* careful and critical look at what you’re saying and why they’re saying it’s bigotry. Because it might be, and the onus is on *you* to make damn sure it’s not before pressing on. Don’t just assume, “i’m not a racist, so what i’m saying can’t be racist”, because that’s stupidly wrong on every level. Good people can accidentally do/say *very* racist things, if only because we’ve all absorbed critical doses of racist radiation just by living in the society we live in. So step 1, make *DAMN* sure what you’re saying isn’t racist – check it yourself, get your friends to check it, get your *ENEMIES* to check it; step 2, try to understand what the people who’ve called what you said racist are saying by that accusation (because it may be the case that they’re not disagreeing with the *substance* of what you’re saying, they’re only objecting to the way it’s being said); and only once you’re sure you’ve completed those two steps are you in the clear to press on.

          But in any case, if someone’s called what you said hate speech, whether they’re right or wrong about that, it has no bearing on whether hate speech laws are legitimate.

          > I disagree with the judge in the Whatcott case claiming that a reasonable person would take away from an awful flyer that gays are awful.

          No, that’s not how the reasonable person standard works.

          I just glossed over it in passing, but to be technically correct: It’s not that someone reasonable reading the flyer would think that gay people are monsters… because no reasonable person should think that under any circumstances. It’s that someone reasonable reading the flyer would think that it might *cause* people to think gay people are monsters (and thus, discriminate against them or harm them in some way). The crime in question is inciting discrimination or other harm, so the test is whether a hypothetical reasonable person can look at what the accused was doing – taking everything into context, such as societal norms and such – and say, “yup, that is pretty darn likely to incite discrimination or harm”… not whether a reasonable person would look at it and say, “that makes *me* feel like discriminating”. (Although, if it did the latter, it would be a pretty damn open-and-shut case, i’d say.)

          The reasonable person standard is pretty much universal all over our laws. The most common way you’ll hear it expressed is “reasonable doubt”, where if a reasonable person could look at the evidence presented and still have (relevant and cogent) doubts that the accused is guilty, then they can’t be convicted. But it’s pretty much everywhere in our laws, because it’s functionally impossible to make mathematically objective or quantified conclusions about most things in the real world. Like, how would you determine whether a driver was driving recklessly or not? Sure you can quantify all the specific traffic laws they violated, but reckless driving doesn’t necessary imply breaking any traffic laws – some reckless drivers *don’t* actually break any laws, such as when they’re driving the posted speed limit, but not taking into account weather, road conditions, or who knows what the hell else that they *should* be taking into account. We can’t codify every possibly relevant factor. What we do is say: assume a reasonable person is in possession of all the facts about the incident… would that person call their driving reckless?

          Bear in mind that a “reasonable person” is *NOT* an “average person”. Because, to put it bluntly, the average person isn’t very reasonable. The reasonable person is a hypothetical perfectly rational person of average intelligence, courage, honesty, and so on, who is well-versed in social norms, trends, and customs.

          The ruling in the Whatcott case was that if a reasonable person looked at the flyers, they (the reasonable person) would agree that they (the flyers) are likely to incite (some group of people in society – not necessarily the reasonable person themselves – to cause) discrimination or harm. And it’s hard to argue that conclusion: given the social reality that there are people who despise gay people, spreading the message that they’re a “disease” and such is quite reasonably likely to embolden or encourage some of those people to lash out, thus endangering gay people. (With the other set of flyers, the ruling was the opposite: a reasonable person wouldn’t agree that merely pointing out that ads (theoretically) soliciting underage sex exist could endanger gay people (or anyone).)

          > I can’t seem to grasp the incitement part either. If I stand on a street corner yelling that all gypsies should be killed (unprovoked by a reporter mind you) then I would just be some loony standing on a street corner. Then, if some people gather around nodding in agreement then I’m guessing from your lengthy explanation that that would be hate speech.

          Even without the crowd it would be hate speech. Advocating violence against people based on some characteristic would qualify as hate speech. (Ahenakew got off because he *wasn’t* advocating… he was just answering questions being put by the reporter (that he didn’t really want to answer, and repeatedly asked the reporter to stop asking, so it *clearly* wasn’t advocating).)

          > Why does it matter that anything is said at all? It seems to me that it should only matter when an actual action is taken against that identified group or someone that identifies as such.

          Because it’s generally better to stop genocides *before* they happen, rather than to just let them happen if they happen and sort out charges after the fact.

          We have *PILES* of history proving that given enough incitement, people can, and *DO*, do some horrifying things. If you’ll excuse me for bringing up Hitler… let me point out to you that as far as we know, Hitler did not even so much as *tickle* a single Jewish person throughout his entire time in power – he never shoved anyone into a gas chamber, never tortured anyone, never executed anyone – we can’t even find evidence that he even *ordered* any of those things. All he did was talk, and spread the idea that those things were okay. And six million people died. Today he’s widely regarded as one of the most evil people in history, but what you’re implying is that because Hitler didn’t actually pull the trigger, he’s really guilty of nothing.

          That’s simply not good enough. We know for a fact – and we have plenty of history to back this up – that the right words can topple empires, or spur on *HORRIFIC* tragedies. The Rwandan genocide was triggered mostly by “Hutu Power” magazines and foul radio talk that characterized Tutsis as “cockroaches”. By the time the machetes started swinging, it was too late.

          If you stop and think about it, virtually all of our law is predicated *not* on the notion of actually causing harm, and not even on the notion of specifically intending to cause harm, but rather on the notion of whether a reasonable person would have *expected* harm. As an extreme example, consider this defence: “Your honour, I didn’t kill the victim. The bullet did. I just pulled the trigger. I didn’t *choose* for the chemical reactions in the powder to create an expanding gas that accelerated the bullet to lethal velocities. In fact, when I pulled the trigger, I didn’t want that to happen! I wanted flowers and sparkles and rainbows to come out of the muzzle. And of course, even though I was pointing the gun at the victim when I pulled the trigger, there was always the possibility that something could have caused the bullet to be deflected. I was actually hoping for that to happen, in the event that a bullet was fired rather than the rainbows. So you see, *I* didn’t kill the victim. Physics did!” Our legal system would argue that any reasonable person who pointed a loaded gun at someone and pulled the trigger absolutely should have known what the consequences would be, and thus should be held accountable for them.

          For a less ridiculous example, suppose someone puts a bomb in a public place. Now, assume the bomb is found and defused before the anyone presses the detonation trigger… would you argue the bomb-planter wasn’t guilty of a crime? I mean, they never pressed the trigger… they never actually did the action that would lead to harm. They could even argue they never actually *intended* to press the trigger; they just put the bomb there, and if someone else decided to press the trigger then the fault would be on *that* person, not the bomb-planter. But I think any reasonable person would observe that the fact that something else out of their control prevented the harm doesn’t make the bomber innocent; the actions they took can only be reasonably interpreted as either *intending* to cause harm, or at the very least acting so stupidly and even criminally irresponsibly that they would have to be considered responsible – even if only indirectly – for the harm that had a fairly decent probability of happening.

          By analogy, someone propagating hate speech may not actually pull a trigger… they may not even *intend* for their actions to ultimately lead to harm… but a reasonable person looking at what they’re doing, taking into account the realities or the society we live in, would have to agree that they certainly planted the bomb, and thus bear responsibility for the harm it causes. From there it just makes perfect sense to charge them for the *likely* harm it *could* have caused, but luckily hasn’t (yet).

          > But back to the lone individual, if that person were to say “it’s because that guy yelled out on a street corner and I agreed with him” then he’s just a complete idiot. Criminal.

          That’s absolutely true. But the fact that the lone individual actually pulled the trigger doesn’t absolve the “street preacher” from pointing him at the target and making it okay – even *good* – to shoot.

          > Is it not too far removed from a certain apparently still very popular book that we have to run out and stone the gays, stone the adulterers, enjoy dashing our kids against rocks, kill our lippy kids, blasphemers, apostates etc etc ad nauseam. (How that book manages to still be distributed astounds me in this age of hate speech.)

          Well, first, let me clarify: Books cannot be guilty of hate speech. Authors would be (maybe! depending on whether they actually intended for the book to be published). Distributors would be. But not the books themselves. If the writers of the Bible were under Canadian jurisdiction, they absolutely *should* be charged with hate law.

          As for the distributors… well, there are three issues here. The first is that hate speech laws often have exemptions for religious speech. So if you go out and say, “gay people should be killed”, that’s hate speech… but if you say, “*GOD SAYS* gay people should be killed”, that’s *NOT* hate speech (so long as you can actually point to something in the religion that a reasonable person would agree supports the claim). Personally, I don’t agree with that exemption; even if the religion *does* say it, it shouldn’t be cool to advocate it. But there’s an element of realpolitik there – if we *actually* considered that stuff hate speech, can you imagine the social upheaval?

          The second issue is that, more often than not, the “harms” threatened by religious hate speech, like many things in the religion… just aren’t real. “Stone the gays” is, of course, one of the exceptions… but the vast majority of the time, when a religion smack-talks some group, the stuff they threaten them with is bullshit like “going to Hell”. Or “God hates black people”, to which the response is… “so what?” While it’s true that some people take it upon themselves to render Earthly judgment on God’s behalf, the bottom line is that the religion usually isn’t really *telling* them to – it’s usually just saying “God hates” and “you should hate what God hates”, but at the same time “only God can judge” and promising God (or karma or whatever) will deal with them later. Many religions expressly *forbid* individuals from taking it upon themselves to carry out judgments.

          The final issue goes back to the “reasonable person” standard: the reality is that a *reasonable* person would have to agree that just because a religion *says* X, that don’t mean people gonna *do* X. We, Canadian atheists, know that fact *damn* well. We know damn well that religions *frequently* bang the drum about shit like extramarital sex, dietary restrictions, wearing mixed fabrics, etc…. but as soon as they walk out of the service, the congregation is just going to forget all that shit and wear, eat, and fuck what they please.

          Of course, in some situations, the preaching is so toxic – or it goes far beyond the confines of the church – to the point that a reasonable person would agree that there is serious risk of harm. When looking at some nasty preaching, you have to consider it not as an atheist righteously disgusted by it, but as a reasonable person taking into account what actually happens in society. The vast majority of religious bigotry just rolls off people… it’s like background noise. So the vast majority of the time, saying ignorant things under the umbrella of religion won’t actually lead to harm.

          Without a doubt the Bible, honestly interpreted by today’s ethical standards, is a fucking horrible book, chock full of hate speech. But since we don’t actually have instances of adulterers being stoned in Canada, a reasonable person can reasonably say it’s not really having any effect, and thus can be ignored.

          > But saying them? No. They’re only words.

          Anyone who says “they’re only words” cannot be taken seriously. Words have *ENORMOUS* power.

          More importantly, no, they’re *NOT* only words. They’re ideas. If you don’t believe ideas have any power… why are you concerned about religion and what’s in the Bible?

          Clearly you *do* understand that ideas can be powerful, and they can be dangerous. We here all know how frightfully dangerous religious ideas can be, that’s why we fight against those ideas, before they can cause real harm. Well, the ideas being pushed in hate speech are even *more* dangerous, because most religious ideas aren’t really taken all that seriously by the majority of believers… but hate speech is *designed* and intended to be taken seriously, and ultimately acted upon with violence and discrimination. And if it’s not designed to be taken seriously, and lead to harm or discrimination, then it’s not hate speech.

          • Wow. Again. Wow.
            Thank you very much for taking the time to explain all that.
            I see that little subtle difference in the reasonable person thing that I wasn’t aware of. That it’s the third person bystander observing. Not specifically that person doing what’s being observed. Interesting. Never occurred to me.
            You have made your usual excellent points leaving me lots to ponder but I seem to continue to struggle with limiting what might be said by anyone anytime. My bottom line seems to still rest on the physical action made upon someone. Words are not physical action. Like your explanation of the contents of that book. The awful words are in there but until someone acts on them NOW that person doing the act has committed a crime. The rest is thought crime. Welcome to 1984. No thanks.

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