A Statist View of Rights

In the statist's world, your rights are whatever the state says they are.  You can really see this concept at work in this breathtakingly bad Canadian decision reported by Eugene Volokh:

Richard Warman, a lawyer who worked as an investigatory for the
Canadian Human Rights Commission, often filed complaints against "hate
speech" sites "” complaints that were generally upheld under Canadian
speech restrictions. Fromm, a defender of various anti-Semites and
Holocaust denials, has been publicly condemning Warman for, among other
things, being "an enemy of free speech." Warman sued, claiming that
these condemnations are defamatory.

Friday, the Ontario Superior Court held for Warman
"” chiefly on the grounds that because Warman's claims were accepted by
the legal system, they couldn't accurately be called an attack on free
speech.

This case leaves one's head just spinning with ironies, not the least because it is a great example of how libel law as practiced in many western countries outside the US is itself a great enemy of free speech.  The logic chain used by the judge in this case should make every American appreciative of our Constitutional system and our view of rights as independent of (and if fact requiring protection from) the state:

[25] The implication, as well as the clear of meaning of the words
["an enemy of free speech" and "escalated the war on free speech"], is
that the plaintiff is doing something wrong. The comment "Well, see
your tax dollars at work" also implies that Mr. Warman misused public
funds for this "war on free speech".

[26]  The plaintiff was using legal means to complain of speech that he alleged was "hate" speech.

[27]  The evidence was that Mr. Warman was successful in both the complaint and a libel action which he instituted.

[28] Freedom of expression is not a right that has no boundaries.
These parameters are outlined in various legislative directives and
jurisprudence. I find Mr. Fromm has exceeded these. This posting is
defamatory.

The implication is that there are no fundamental individual rights.  Rights are defined instead by the state and are whatever is reflected in current law.  In this decision, but fortunately not in the US, the law by definition can't be wrong, so taking advantage of a law, in this case to silence various groups, is by definition not only OK, but beyond the ability of anyone to legally criticize.  There is much more, all depressing.  Here is one example of a statement that was ruled defamatory:

Thank you very much, Jason. So, for posting an opinion, the same sort
of opinion that might have appeared in editorial pages in newspapers
across this country, Jason and the Northern Alliance, his site has come
under attack and people who are just ordinary Canadians find themselves
in front of the courts for nothing more serious than expressing their
opinion. This is being done with taxpayers' money. I find that
reprehensible.

OK, so here is my opinion:  Not only is Richard Warman an enemy of free speech, but the Canadian legislature that passed this hate-speech law is an enemy of free speech and the Canadian Supreme Court is an enemy of free speech.  Good enough for you hosers?

I guess I will now have to skip my ski trip to Whistler this year, to avoid arrest at the border.

  • CRC

    "Rights are defined instead by the state and are whatever is reflected in current law. In this decision, but fortunately not in the US, the law by definition can't be wrong..."

    Sadly this very philosophy is becoming fashionable in the U.S. too.

  • CRC

    "Rights are defined instead by the state and are whatever is reflected in current law. In this decision, but fortunately not in the US, the law by definition can't be wrong..."

    Sadly this philosophy is becoming fashionable in the U.S.

  • terrence

    And, by not passing through the Vancouver airport on your way to Whistler, you greatly reduce your chance of being tasered (and possibly killed). But, I suppose speaking English may help in that regard, too. But be verryy careful about what you say!

  • Bunty

    Spinning more ironies or just plain fear ?

    Some 30 verses from the Bible were stricken as hate speech by the Canadian Human Rights in the Jessica Beaumont case. The question of Freedom of Speech arose which was also stricken as a defense as "That is an American Principle".

    Poor Canucks - they once stood tall.

  • Bunty

    Spinning more ironies or just plain fear ?

    Some 30 verses from the Bible were stricken as hate speech by the Canadian Human Rights in the Jessica Beaumont case. The question of Freedom of Speech arose which was also stricken as a defense as "That is an American Principle".

    Poor Canucks - they once stood tall.

  • Bunty

    Spinning more ironies or just plain fear ?

    Some 30 verses from the Bible were stricken as hate speech by the Canadian Human Rights in the Jessica Beaumont case. The question of Freedom of Speech arose which was also stricken as a defense as "That is an American Principle".

    Poor Canucks - they once stood tall.

  • Allan Clark

    Fromm posted pretty harsh free-speech; Warman contested. It's as destructive to society as if Fromm posted "Niggers should die" or "Americans lack class and education". Both are ridiculous in their notion, but how much right do I have to say it? I have every right, but a standing of authority changes this. There's a grey between "Americans are dumb" to shouting fire in a crowded theatre, and we'll always disagree on that. If truly Fromm's comments are injury to a class of people, as much as "Fags should die", then it might be hate-speech. Seems Warman contested successfully.

    Seems this issue is not truly free-speech, but whether public funds should be used in this case. To convert a debate regarding misuse of public funds into a free-speech debate seems a bit sensational; such belongs on the FOX network, not a learned discussion amongst intellectuals.

    Canada's legal system retains an effective means of punishing frivolous lawsuits; feel free to post your response as a legal action.

    A legal system that permits a "hot-coffee" lawsuit is not the glass house from which to throw rocks.
    (Let's ignore legal torture for the moment. Yes, I'm assuming the posters are Voting US Citizens)

    I Am Canadian
    (RMC -- VVV -- DFTT)

  • http://moronpundit.blogspot.com Moron Pundit

    Whenever I get that itch telling me to get out of the U.S. while the getting is good, stories like these remind me that there is still nowhere on earth even remotely as good as here.

    That becomes a more depressing statement yearly.

  • Max Lybbert

    /* Seems this issue is not truly free-speech, but whether public funds should be used in this case.
    */

    No, the issue is the free speech. In the US, it's actually possible for a law to be invalid for being Unconstitutional. This judge's reasoning implies that's no longer the case in Canada. "The defendant claims the law does not protect his free speech rights under the Constitution, but as the law is the law, I rule anything not protected by it is clearly not free speech."

    /* A legal system that permits a "hot-coffee" lawsuit is not the glass house from which to throw rocks.
    */

    AFAICT, Canada permits people to file lawsuits as easily as the US. Whether those lawsuits are successful is another matter.

    /* (Let's ignore legal torture for the moment. Yes, I'm assuming the posters are Voting US Citizens)
    */

    So once it's legal it's moral? The big debate here is that (1) torture is banned by federal law (the Constitution bans "cruel and unusual punishment," but the claims about the CIA hve nothing to do with punishment and everything to do with questioning), (2) various government agencies have been accused of X, Y, and Z, so (3) are X, Y, and Z torture -- and therefore illegall -- or are X, Y, and Z not quite torture -- and even if they aren't torture, should they be banned?

    I don't think I've ever heard any suggestion that there's some category of legal torture.

  • Rob

    Great post, once again !

    Well, if you can't go to Whistler and you end up in Vail, CO instead (towards the end of feb/beginning of march), then send me an e-mail. I'd like to buy you a beer and chat !!!