Fortunate to have the U.S. Constitution
If you ever wonder how fortunate we Americans are to have the U. S. Constitution, look no further than our cousins across our northern border or to our former parent across the pond. Nearly 600,000 people in the United Kingdom have signed a petition attempting to prevent Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from visiting the kingdom. The British Parliament is actually—yes, really—debating the issue.
“Suzanne Kelly, the woman behind the petition drive, told USA TODAY she is ‘delighted’ that the petition has resonated with so many people.”
“Kelly said if people who peddle hate speech have been banned from Britain, then Trump should be barred, too. She said some people were not aware that “free speech is not the same as hate speech.”
Back in 2010, the vice provost of the University of Ottawa sent conservative commentator Ann Coulter a letter warning her about Canada’s “hate speech” laws. The Vice Provost, Francois Houle, wrote, as reprinted in Salon.com,
“I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws delineate… “free speech”… in a manner that is somewhat different than… in the United States.”
“… Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression. For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges.” [Bold text, Salon.com]
“Hate speech” seems to depend on political perspective.
Is it just me, or do both examples of so-called “hate speech” seem coincidentally similar to simple opposition political speech? While millions of people oppose Trump and Coulter’s political views, millions also support them. Take, for example, Canada’s position on free speech, according to Houle. If I were to say all left-handed people should be shot on sight, put in prison, or deported, that could rightly be described as hate speech. However, even in that case, I’m not doing those things nor am I calling for anyone to act. I’m merely stating my, albeit disgusting, view of what I think should be done with lefties (Hey, some of my best friends are left-handed). Again, it’s my opinion. And, while this is a ludicrous example used to make a lucid point, Canada and the U.K. clamp down on free speech for much less than the leftie-hater above. Just ask Mark Steyn.
An opposing political policy may be bad, even stupid, but is it hate?
In Britain and Canada, “promoting hatred against any definable group…” can be described, as in Donald Trump’s case with Muslim immigration, a political opinion. Although I don’t agree with Mr. Trump’s broadly sweeping proposal, I do agree with increased scrutiny of any group responsible for more than 99% of the terrorist, suicide attacks in the world.
European and Canadian governments are intellectually lazy on free speech
When opposition political speech is defined as “hate speech,” simply because one opposes divergent ideas, western democracies are treading into a totalitarian tide. Let’s not, in America, succumb to this intellectual laziness, such as appears to be happening on too many of our college campuses. You may not like my speech, but that doesn’t automatically make it “hate speech.”