On Tuesday October 2, the Federal Court of Canada found S13 of Canada's Human Rights legislation dealing with hate on the Internet to be constitutional. The irony of course is the fact that a few months earlier a federal private members bill repealed this section choosing not to wait to hear the wisdom from the Court. Nonetheless many can take some comfort and at least be able to say "I told you so."
A key key figure who utilized S13 to help defend ethnic and faith minorities against toxic speech is a friend and a person I consider a hero, Richard Warman. Sadly instead of gratitude Warman was victimized for his efforts.
While many did engage in a rational debate on S13, some scurrilously targeted him. It appeared they were more interested in their freedom to hate as opposed to their freedom of speech. In order to accomplish their goals they utilized the well worn technique of historical revisionism where they would take a grain of truth and build upon it a mountain of lies.
It was said of Richard Warman for example that he launched frivolous cases attacking people's rights to free speech. The truth of course is much different.
Richard launched 16 cases that went to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT), virtually every one of those cases involved outright calls for genocide and/or ethnic cleansing. For example in Warman v. Harrison, Richard Warman was able to prove that the defendant, Craig Harrison, made repeated calls for genocide against the Aboriginal, black, Jewish and francophone communities. Here are some of the messages posted by Harrison:
• "kill anyone who is not white because god says so."
• "god says rise up and kill all whites who date blacks."
• "i saw a film clip on the holohoax were(sic) a kid and his mother were separated in the camps!imagine how more worse the world would be if hitler hadnt (sic) fried all those jews! i wish i could have been in charge of the gas chambers!"
There was also the case of Warman v. Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team (CECT) et al. In this matter the CECT a vile White Supremacist group called for attacks against mosques/synagogues and members of the Muslim and Jewish communities. According to the Hearing decision the CECT posted the following from then American neo-Nazi leader William Pierce:
"If we want our kind to survive on this planet longer than another generation or two, then we must clear the cobwebs of Christian superstition and Jewish propaganda from our minds and face the facts without being squeamish...we must have exclusive possession of those portions of this planet which constitute suitable habitat for us...in order to obtain and maintain that exclusive possession, we must be prepared to kill, to annihilate, any and all competitors...racism is God's gift to any race that wants to survive. Racism is healthy and natural and essential, and we had damned well better clear of [sic] minds of the Judeo-Christian lie that it is evil and wicked and nasty and low-brow."
Another of the 16 cases, Warman v. Kyburz, involved Fred Kyburz who posted material calling for genocide against the Jewish community. Kyburz was obsessed with trying to spread hatred about Jews. Much of his material was garnered from the aforementioned American neo-Nazi leader William Pierce. Indeed the three CHRT members pointed out the depravity of Kyburz's targeting of Jews writing:
"On October 25, 2000, Mr. Kyburz published an article written by William Pierce, entitled 'There will be Hell to pay.' This is a lengthy article -- one quite remarkable in the level of vitriol that it directs at Jews."
They noted the article deals with many issues, including the neo-Nazi canard that Jews control the media and the production of child pornography and that as such they "should be exterminated root and branch as a class." Further, it makes the argument that the slaughter of every Jew in Russia would be a justifiable act.
Virtually all of Richard Warman's cases brought before the CHRT were similar in hate and poison to the few examples I have extrapolated herein.
For the most part the remedies on these complaints were fines and cease and desist orders. Warman, in helping to remove such vitriol from the Internet, himself became a victim. He was the poster boy for those who believed they were saving Canada from the "censors." In reality it's Richard Warman who was the hero for shutting down some of the most vicious hate sites ever established.
And so today Richard Warman can hold his head high, vindicated by the judiciary yet in the end it is a hollow victory. While S13 remains in effect until its repeal is rubber-stamped by the Senate and given Royal consent, we have fewer tools to fight hate and we are the lesser for it.