John Robson writes:
It is bizarre and confusing that David Ahenakew was just quietly found not guilty of hate speech. If his venomous ravings weren’t hate speech, what is? And how is anyone meant to understand our laws or court system now?
Our courts are by now in the habit of delivering astounding judgments and I can well imagine them convicting someone, especially a white person, for saying precisely what David Ahenakew said about any minority except, possibly, Jews. I just don’t understand why the legal system does what it does.
I am very close to a free speech absolutist because, as I’ve said before, John Stuart Mill nailed it in On Liberty. Free speech helps truth defeat error, first because a heretical opinion may turn out to be correct, and second because when a remark is both offensive and wrong, its open expression leads to vigorous criticism and denunciation. Moreover, hateful speech is the rattle not the fangs and usefully warns us that the latter are present.
(…) is it now a coin flip whether spewing race hatred gets you a jail sentence? Indeed, if Mr. Ahenakew were tried again would he be convicted? Can anyone say with any confidence what the rules are, or why?
Surely that’s an astounding state of affairs, incompatible even with order, let alone good government.