Democracy is a wonderfu ideal. Yet, there will always be a question of how to exercise our democratic rights, while preventing a ‘tyrrany of the majority’?
To many people, the best answer is:
Protecting the rights of each and every individual, the minority of ‘one’, is the best and only way to ensure the protection of the whole society from tyrrany by the State.
Yet, not everyone agrees. The philosophy which seems to currently be gripping much of ‘the Western world’ turns its back to the individual, turns a blind eye to the violations of individual freedoms, in favour of collectivism. I have wondered how much of this is a philosophical difference, how much is simply due to the attitudes inherrent in different political systems.
Many people today think that the best way to ensure peope are not discriminated against – the best way to promote tolerance and harmony within a society – is to put limits on the freedom of speech. By instituting ‘hate speech laws’, these people argue, hate and prejudice will not be allowed to spread and will, eventually, be eliminated from our society.
I wish this would be so!
Time and time again, ‘hate speech laws’ have not only failed to reduce prejudice, I woud argue that they have allowed it to fester, until a time when it erupts in hateful and abominable acts. What is worse, they have resulted in political institutions which are invariably used to opress, all in the name of preventing opression. We have seen this happen many times in history, but we still seem unable to learn the right lessons from history!
Let us consider the example of Germany in the 1930′s. After all, it is precisely to prevent atrocities such as the Holocaust that ‘hate speech laws’ are being instituted. Yet, in Maclean’s, Mark Steyn (both he and Macleans are also being persecuted under ‘hate speech laws’) quotes Canada’s leading libertarian lawyer, Alan Borovoy, as saying:
“Remarkably, pre-Hitler Germany had laws very much like the Canadian anti-hate law. Moreover, those laws were enforced with some vigour. During the 15 years before Hitler came to power, there were more than 200 prosecutions based on anti-Semitic speech. And, in the opinion of the leading Jewish organization of that era, no more than 10 per cent of the cases were mishandled by the authorities. As subsequent history so painfully testifies, this type of legislation proved ineffectual on the one occasion when there was a real argument for it.”
To the contrary! Hitler, once elected, effectively used these laws to usurp power.
Should there be ANY limits on speech? Mr. Levant, also currently being persecuted by the thought crime police, has videotaped part of his interrogation by the Alberta HRC. He makes the most passionate, well reasoned speech on the attributes of free speech!
But, is tide turning?
For the past several years, what would appear to be illegal behaviour in both its investigations and prosecutions by the HRCs in Canada has inexplicably been tolerated. Now, this may come to an end. This week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have announced they are opening a criminal investigatigation of some actions by the HRCs. Ezra Levant has more information on this.
Australia may also be changing its ideas with regard to limiting freedom of speech. As Robert Jago writes on Dime a Dozen, Australia’s Liberal Party is calling for a change to its ’hate speech laws’, because they have been shown to promote, not curb, divisions in their society!
But, perhaps the best news comes from Erope! Czech Republic is a nation of reason (fully 59% of Czechs describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or non-believers) and their scepticism extends to other areas, as well. Lubos Motl, one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists, writes that Vaclav Kaus, the President of Czech Republic, has vetoed an ‘anti-discrimination’ bill. His justification?
“I consider the bill to be a useless, counterproductive, and low-quality bill while its consequences seem to be problematic….”
Good on you, Czechs!
You can read the full, well reasoned and excellent speech here. Mr. Motl writes that, ironically, “Because the bill has been “ordered” by the European bureaucrats and the country may face sanctions (let’s say it: the Czechs may be discriminated against) if the anti-discrimination bill is not approved”
Yes, the overwhelming bureacracies still want to control every aspect of society, including what we say and think. But, little stories like this make me hopeful. Perhaps these are the beginnings of a real change in attitudes: one that will place more value on each and every individual, and treat all of us with the respect and equality in the eyes of the law that we deserve!
Has the dyke of opression finally sprung its first little leaks of reason?
P.S. President Klaus’ book, ‘Blue Planet In Green Chains – What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom’ is due for release in English this month.