27 June 2008

I hope you're sitting down...

...because it's a victory for "free speech"... in British Columbia.

-- OTTAWA -- Freedom of expression requires that the media be capable of publishing provocative stories and comments without living in constant fear of lawsuits for libel and defamation, the Supreme Court of Canada said Friday.

In an 8-1 ruling that set out to modernize libel law and the defence of fair comment, the court found that a controversial B.C. broadcaster – Rafe Mair – did not libel a Christian-values advocate, Kari Simpson.

“Public controversy can be a rough trade, and the law needs to accommodate its requirements.”
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18 comments:

Don said...

So, what effect will this ruling have on the BCHRC / Macleans case?
Will the HRC use it to weasel out of harms way?

Don said...

Oh, sorry, forgot to finish my post.

FIRE.THEM.ALL.

Neo Conservative said...

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"don asks... Will the HRC use it to weasel out of harms way?"

i'm afraid there's just no way to predict what these politically correct dumbsticks will do next.

i say let 'em convict... and then tear 'em a new asshole in a real court of law.

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Anonymous said...

Attacking Christians is easy and perfectly acceptable, especially since what you say doesn't have to be true.

Canadian 'journalists' are way too cowardly to point out the actual truth about Muslims, except for a couple of real journalists who face legal action from the government.

Neo Conservative said...

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this decision is principled... it's a precedent... and more importantly a step in the right direction.

baby steps, my friend.

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Anonymous said...

Note that this decision was made in an actual court of law,not in front of an "Human Rights Commission"!

paulm said...

Its not principled at all.

Basically it ruled that its ok to defame and slander a parent who disagrees with the teaching of her school district to her kids, and who attempts to use the mechanisms of the school board to stop it.

This radio personality compared her to Hitler, a skin head and the KKK for disagreeing with him and her schoolboard over the use of certain materials in the school of her children.

The Supreme court's position is that a higher standard for defamation is required for 'public figures', and that her actions make her a public figure. BUT... more to the point, they have determined that defamatory comments must be "based on fact". Which means that the Supreme Court has found that it is a 'fact' that a Christian woman who argues against 6 year olds being taught that homosexuality is notmal is like Hitler, like the KKK and like skinheads.

This is a free speech victory for moonbats, but for the rest of us the Supreme Court just ruled that defamation and slander are legal.

Neo Conservative said...

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"paulm says... This is a free speech victory for moonbats."

paul... have you been following this free speech debate at all?

if it isn't free speech for everybody... we all lose.

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Zorpheous said...

For once I agree with Neo. While it is, as Neo says, a baby step,... I would say it is the first step on a very long road of TORT reform inregards to Defamation/Libel and Slander law here in Canada, and it long, long over due.

Unfortunately Paulm, views through a very limited scope and can't see the forest because he's barking at tree.

Mark, my co-blogger has been following this case for several years since his unfortunate involvement in the Wayne Crookes case in BC.

As to people trying to make this out to a victory for Ezra and the HRC bullsh*t, sorry guys, your in the wrong forest,... cause that's a whole separate issue.

Anyhoo, hopefully Mark will be writing up a good piece about this ruling, and it should be consider a step in the right direction, regardless of political party lines.

Neo Conservative said...

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"Zorpheous says... For once I agree with Neo."

okay, what in the name of blessed st. pierre is goin' on? first... jeff davidson drops by and professes agreement on something else... and now zorph beams on up.

is this maybe some sort of new lefty holiday, i dunno... national magic mushroom day?

i'm gotta confess, zee... you guys are startin' to make me nervous.

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paulm said...

Neo, you missed the second part of my sentence, the part about legalizing defamation and slander.

If comparing a woman to Hitler, the KKK or Skinheads, when she clearly is nothing like any of them isn't defamation NOTHING is.

The SCC has just legalized defamation.

Free Speech is SUPPOSED to be for everyone, that's my point. According to the supreme court, free speech covers talk show idiots comparing people to Hitler. Her freedom to speak against her school board, while ostensibly free speech, apparently makes her fair game for character assasination. The SCC has just created a system in which some speech is more protected than others. And, more to the point, if you read the decision, they found that his assertions were 'based on fact'. The headline of this post should be: "Supreme Court Rules: Disagreeing with your School Board makes You Hitler".

That, dear friends, is the most shocking affront to freedom of speech and expression, the application of the force of law against all who would speak out against something they disagree with.

It has LEGALIZED slander.

This is profoundly different from the Crookes case, which involves a moonbat being allegedly defamed on one website, and thus he sued half the internet in response. Clearly the only defamatory party (the statute for libel requires that you 'cause to be seen'), is the one who would place the alleged defamatory content on their website. The question for the courts is: Is posting a link causing defamatory content to be seen? The answer is clearly: No.

But, if the SCC believes that it is legal to call someone a nazi for disagreeing with them, then defamation statutes have no power and no effect. If they are concerned about a 'chilling effect' over newspapers and radio and tv news, what about the 'chilling effect' on concerned parents? There is no basis for their ruling, which should have been on the basis of the statute: If the content is damaging and untrue, and it was caused to be seen or heard, then the defendent is guilty of defamation. What they have done is completely short circuit that idea by saying that there is no need to actually be truthful, or use discretion in harmful, damaging words.

ebt said...

The SCC has merely confirmed that Christians have no rights, and are fair game for any anti-Christian zealot.

A victory for free speech? Not for the right of free speech, which it denies. It makes free speech a privilege, and confers it on gay activists, who are now free to slander as disgracefully and shamefully as they please.

Anonymous said...

paulm is right.


Also, in this case the grandees on the court had to make it okay for Rafe Mair to slander her, she's a christian. He wouldn't get away with it if she were a Muslim, but then again 'journalists' are far too cowardly to criticize the 'the religion of peace'.

Mark Francis said...

The lawyer for most of the Crookes cases is the lawyer who represented the defendant in this appeal: Dan Burnett. We've been waiting on this ruling for some time.

Paulm clearly doesn't understand the ruling, nor libel law in Canada.

"The SCC has just legalized defamation."

Defamation, if justified, has long been legal. You can defame a person and not commit libel. That's old, old law.

For example, me saying above:

"Paulm clearly doesn't understand the ruling, nor libel law in Canada"

Is defamatory.

So sue me.

And Neo, as he's the publisher here. (Don't worry Neo, I'll save you...)

My defense is... Fair Comment. I argue that my opinion, even if erroneous, is based upon fact, and is made without malice. To wit:

Paulm said:

"According to the supreme court, free speech covers talk show idiots comparing people to Hitler."

Yes it does. Furthermore, the court ruled that it was clearly a polemic, not presented as a neutral POV. A such, it could be protect by the Fair Comment defense.

"The SCC has just created a system in which some speech is more protected than others."

For a very long time, this has been embodied in the Fair Comment defense. We have more latitude in libel law to publish on matters of public interest. Once again, this is old law.

"if you read the decision, they found that his assertions were 'based on fact'. The headline of this post should be: "Supreme Court Rules: Disagreeing with your School Board makes You Hitler"."

That's humorous, but are you expressing an opinion here which is fact-based? The SCC worked quite hard on this one, and made decisions based upon evidence. They could take exception to what you've written about them and sue you for libel. Of course, that's not really in the public interest to have judges scaring people commenting on their rulings into silence, is it? Besides, you're just exercise your _RIGHT_ to make fair comment.

The plaintiff is on record in many instances promoting views directed at changing public policy that many consider controversial, and encouraging democratic and political actions.

This included the plaintiff publishing the following:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN:

. . . that [child’s name, date of birth] . . . must not by any teacher or, through any teacher, any other persons or resource materials, or the learning environment, be exposed to and/or involved in any activity or program which:

1. Discusses or portrays the lifestyle of gays, lesbians, bisexual and/or transgendered individuals as one which is normal, acceptable or must be tolerated;


The Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants equality to persons based upon sexual preference. It is understandable that some would want to publicly respond to such a publication calling for a public institution to behave in a manner at odds with the Charter.

"That, dear friends, is the most shocking affront to freedom of speech and expression, the application of the force of law against all who would speak out against something they disagree with."

The plaintiff was attempting to user the force of law to prevent a person from expressing an opinion, based on facts. That's reprehensible in my books, and, in this case, in our law too.

"There is no basis for their ruling, which should have been on the basis of the statute: If the content is damaging and untrue, and it was caused to be seen or heard, then the defendent is guilty of defamation."

Once again, no. There are defenses which allow defamation, IN THE STATUTE, even if there are errors made by the defendant. In this case, the plaintiff is on record endorsing discrimination based upon sexual orientation. The fact that the plaintiff believes this to be justified does not prevent some other person taking exception with the plaintiff's beliefs. The call to discriminate is a serious matter, and it is understandable that people would make historical comparisons and be critical of people holdings such opinions.

"What they have done is completely short circuit that idea by saying that there is no need to actually be truthful, or use discretion in harmful, damaging words."

Once again, clear evidence was provided (read the ruling!) demonstrating that the defendant's comments were based upon public statements clearly made by the plaintiff.

I further plead that it is in the public's interest for presentations and activist activities directed towards public institutions to be illuminated by the press, even in the form of opinion.

I could go on, but I plead that I have proven Fair Comment.

I ask for costs, and plead this matter be dismissed.

Anonymous said...

let's do a scenario:
The radio personality bashes a Muslim for his religious beliefs on sexuality, and it ends up with the Supremes.
neo...do you think they would have favoured the radio guy?

I figured it would end up 'fair game' on Christians.But I am on side with Levant and Steyn.More Christians have been the victims in HRC courts.So this was an interesting case to watch.
Don't worry tho...we won't be rioting and bombing.

Neo Conservative said...

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"anon says... Don't worry tho...we won't be rioting and bombing."

another fairly important distinction here.

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Zorpheous said...

Hey Anon,

Why both with imaginary stuff, even the CHRC favoured Maclaens Mag. And that was that evil Kangaroo Court.

Neo,

"okay, what in the name of blessed st. pierre is goin' on? first... jeff davidson drops by and professes agreement on something else... and now zorph beams on up.
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Believe it or not Neo, when we share common ground, I am completely will to give credit where credit is due and work together, and ignore the other differences we have so we can fix a problem that we both know exists.

I think it is clear to both of us that Canada needs serious TORT reform when it comes Defamation-Libel Law. There are law suites that have happened in the blogosphere tht should have never have even been, and Kate is one of them, ammong others.

Resent history has blogger walking on egg shells, people are afraid to even question or talk about the dealing of our Political Masters in Ottawa for fear of being sued, rightly or wrongly.

In the end we need Anti-SLAPP legislation, with some serious teeth, and we need to remove the reverse onus in the execution of Defamation-Libel caes.

So lets make a deal, when we are dealing with this issue, we ignore our other difference, and we work together for all of our common good. This issue is more important than political lines.

Neo Conservative said...

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"zorpheus says... This issue is more important than political lines."

a sentiment i can agree with..

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