There are many things for an American like myself to admire many about Canada, but one that doesn't make the list is Canada's inability to strongly defend of free speech. Canada's strict and extensive censorship laws infuriate both the Mark Steyn and Noam Chomsky ends of the political spectrum and to an American, the Canadian attitude towards free speech seems to ignore the benefits of frank and open exchange of ideas and values.
The most recent example of censorship tendencies getting taken too far is a Canadian response to the extreme unpopularity of Governor Rick Perry's new web ad.
Rick Perry recently released an ad for his presidential campaign where he argued that "there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school." Because of the divisive language used in the ad, it currently has (at the time of this blog post) over 345,000 "dislikes" on YouTube.
While it is not the absolutely most disliked video on YouTube, it is rapidly making its way towards that spot. The video now has more dislikes then some uploads of the infamous "Friday" music video by Rebecca Black.
So what is the response to this from Canadian media personality Amber MacArthur in the Globe and Mail? To suggest that the video should be taken down because it is "hate speech."
The Perry video is an open attack on the gay community. He clearly implies that homosexuals should not be allowed to serve in the military, just on the heels of President Barack Obama's repealed of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." As Obama stated in September, "Patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love."
When Perry declares that "there's something wrong when gays can serve openly in the military" he is, per the YouTube guidelines, demeaning a group of people based on their sexual orientation/gender identity. The Pentagon has declared zero tolerance for such discrimination, so perhaps the Google-owned video service should follow suit.
Aside from Perry's offensive political ad, there is a larger life-and-death issue at hand here. Each year there are reports of teens committing suicide, many of whom were publicly bullied about their sexual orientation. It is disheartening to see a grown man, particularly one who aspires to be president of the United States, contributing to such hatred and to speak out against what is a legal right (for gays to serve in the military).
It only takes YouTube a few hours to pull down a video if it features copyright infringement, so maybe it's time for YouTube to take a stand and defend the rights of the gay community, and pull the plug on this discriminatory Rick Perry rant.
MacArthur seems to be missing the beauty of what is happening here. Perry's ad is reviled by many people and that opinion is being made loud and clear.
The ad was already generating bad press for Perry, but bad press combined with a quantitative measurement for how unpopular his views are is incredibly healthy in a democracy. If the video were to be taken down, we would have no way of knowing that his video is hated by a vast majority of people who take the time to rate it.
I suspect that many people who care about gay rights are encouraged to see that the majority of Americans making their opinion known think that Perry's comments are wrong.
Arguably, Rick Perry would be served much better if he could run for office in a nation where his offensive remarks were scrubbed from the public record so they would be unable to follow him around. Now I don't know much about Canada, but I do know that you can get elected to Parliament representing a French speaking province without speaking fluent French and that Alberta is the Texas of the North.
So once his campaign reaches its ignoble end, perhaps Perry should start a new political career in Edmonton.