Saturday, December 22, 2007

Suppressing Freedom of Speech

I mentioned a few days ago the Canadian courts upholding an Alberta Human Rights Commission decision that effectively bans criticism of homosexuality. Here's yet another story, again, from a Christian website, but other than the target of the complaint itself, there seems to be no news coverage of this.

TORONTO, December 20, 2007 ( - In a press release today Catholic Insight magazine responded to the charges in a human rights complaint against it by Edmonton resident Rob Wells. The magazine’s editor, Father Alphonse de Valk, dismisses the complaint as unfounded and says he intends to contest it vigorously. Fr. de Valk says the magazine considers all of the actions against it to be "trumped up and made with the intent to harass".

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has advised Catholic Insight magazine that Edmonton resident Rob Wells has filed a nine-point complaint against it on the grounds of offence to homosexuals. The Catholic Insight editor notes his publication "adheres to the teachings of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, which are clear that persons with same-sex attraction must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity and every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

At the same time, he adds that "in a democratic country respecting freedom of the press and religion, a magazine such as Catholic Insight has the right and responsibility to report on, analyze and comment on the activities of any segment of society that is involved in lobbying and activism on issues of public policy, such as changing the legal definition of marriage, adoption rights, the reallocation of social benefits and other vital questions."

Father de Valk observes the text of Mr. Wells’s complaint consists of three pages of "isolated and fragmentary extracts from articles dating back as far as 1994, without any context. This creates a misleading impression of the tone of the magazine’s overall coverage of the homosexual issue." Mr. Wells, he notes, has an additional human rights action in progress against leader Ron Gray and his Christian Heritage Party and in 2006, launched an action against three Canadian websites. Both complaints have been over the issue of homosexuality.
Can you imagine if homosexual advocacy groups had been subject to this kind of harassment in the 1960s for simply advocating their position that people should be free to have sex with members of the same sex? I don't know what it costs to defend yourself from the Human Rights Commission, but I can't imagine that's it $9.99. There comes a certain point where the cost of defending yourself has a severely chilling effect on freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech, homosexuality widely accepted: pick one.

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