Mark Steyn Debates Complainants

By: Law is Cool · May 8, 2008 · Filed Under Administrative Law, Civil Rights, Marketing/PR in Law · 35 Comments 

We’ve all been waiting for this since forever.

The understandably busy articling students from Osgoode Hall make time to debate Mark Steyn on TVO.

A point of note: the poster of the videos introduces them as “sock puppets.” However, they are 3 of the 5 law students that produced the original research leading to the complaint against Maclean’s magazine, and the President of the CIC simply filed it on their behalf. Any assertion to the contrary is simply erroneous.

Mark Steyn Part 1

Mark Steyn Part 2

Mark Steyn Part 3

Mark Steyn Part 4

Mark Steyn Part 5

Mark Steyn Part 6

Mark Steyn Part 7

Updates: Welcome back to the thousands of Steyn fans that have returned to this site. We’ll get to your moderated comments in due time, possible within days or weeks. Our small team of full-time law students can hardly keep up with that horde. And as we’ve said before, we can’t speak on their behalf – we’re glad that they’re speaking for themselves, but we cannot answer any specific questions because we do not have the answers.

We’re finding that many of the comments are by the same posters, using different names and (fake) email addresses, but from the same computer. Some are even having a dialogue with themselves.  These comments will be given a lower priority as we sort through them all.

Comments

35 Responses to “Mark Steyn Debates Complainants”

  1. Joe Sebase on May 8th, 2008 7:24 pm

    The three persons,who debated agaisnt Mr. Mark Steyn are all ill informed,and their way of discussion is far from the polite norm. They scream,shout and when Steyn is replying, they all strart talkin loudly so to prevent to viewer to hear what he is talking. fjirst, they must learn the art of debating- and then come to the stage.

  2. markw on May 8th, 2008 9:13 pm

    The higher public profile of the students and the uncertain role of the man who filed the complaint has caused confusion in several public arenas. “Sock Puppets” appears to be sticking.


    Law is Cool: Even the most rudimentary effort to answer these simple questions would have yielded results.

  3. winston on May 8th, 2008 9:28 pm

    They sounded like radicals.


    Law is Cool: Specifically? They appeared quite composed, and not once did they yell at Steyn from the other room when he was talking.

    But hey, you came here from Steyn’s site (we track those kind of things), so we expect you to say as much.

  4. Patz on May 8th, 2008 11:15 pm

    It was a great live TV moment. Mark Steyn had these three neophytes on the run from the getgo. They were terrified and showed it. I guess they thought it would be a piece of cake and they could walk away. Not so easy kids. Everyone could hear them trying to recoup and chattering while he was talking. Note to them**Shut up, you might learn something.!!
    Best expression—protoTrudeaupian.
    Best Advice: Don’t take on Mark Steyn and Maclean’s without being more prepared. We preTrudeaupians know that Canada was much better, stronger and smarter before Trudeau. Canadians before Trudeau knew how to live and let live. I suggest you try it. You are the ones inflaming people. Shut up and serve Canada as most of do.


    Law is Cool: We have a great deal of respect and appreciation for Trudeau here on this site, especially in relation to the Charter. There are few law students, lawyers, or civil rights advocates that would state otherwise.

  5. Jen Hargrove on May 8th, 2008 11:33 pm

    I’ve read Steyn’s book, so I’m biased but I was hoping for a good debate, and trying to keep an open mind. Considering that the “3 complainants” were law-grads, I was expecting them to give Steyn a real good go. (Steyn has no formal education beyond grade 11), however, the law grads didn’t impress at all with their use of rhetoric, one-liners, or communications skills. Clearly, they were attempting to debate using legal jargon, and quoting supreme court decisions. However, their broader knowledge of history, culture and religion was sorely lacking. (The Ayatollah Khumeni is an obscure muslim figure????) They couldn’t respond in any meaningful way to big-picture questions.
    I would hope, for Osgood Hall’s sake, that these three finished at the bottom of the “Bell Curve”- if this is Osgood Hall’s finest, then Osgood has to look at its recruiting practices.


    Law is Cool: The SCC decisions they quoted were in fact very relevant. We have touched on a few of them here on this site.
    Khomeni is an obscure figure in relation to Canadian communities, and Steyn makes one of his biggest mistakes in conflating different populations around the world.
    We can infer that these students in fact finished near the top of their class based on where some of them are articling/clerking.

  6. agnostic on May 9th, 2008 12:36 am

    Law is Cool:
    What does it exactly mean that the President of the CIC filed a complaint on behalf of the students?
    Isn’t a complainant is the person under whose name a complaint is lodged?
    Or does the complaint say “Mohamed Elmasry on behalf of Muneeza Sheikh, Naseem Mithoowani, Khurrum Awan and two others”?
    If not, isn’t it the case that he is the complainant and they only did some research on his behalf? And were trying to debate the issue on his behalf?


    Law is Cool: It is our understanding, without having asked the complainants, that this is standard procedure for human rights complaints. It is being filed on behalf of a national organization representing the interests of a community across Canada. Other communities have done the same in previous complaints before the Commission.

  7. Mike Baughman on May 9th, 2008 1:34 am

    Nice try at explaining away the fact that these oh-so-busy students are not, in fact, the complainants. Pesky habit of Mr. Steyn’s, “hiding behind” those darned old facts, eh? Unfortunately for them, the facts remain. “If the sock fits…”, as you might say.


    Law is Cool: Actually, as we’ve repeatedly stated on this site, Steyn’s facts are indeed lacking. Unlike the individuals on this interview segment, we have repeatedly demonstrated how mistaken Steyn is, and how poor his understanding of global politics poses a dangerous threat to Canada.

  8. Sav on May 9th, 2008 2:12 am

    Those poor “students.’ So busy they hardly have time to debate a man they’ve helped smear. Where’s my kleenex?

    Oh, I came from Steyn’s blog too so I guess you expected that. You’re on top of things.


    Law is Cool: We are indeed. Most human rights complaints are filed and resolved without any notice by the public or the media. It was Mr. Steyn who brought attention to this complaint, not even filed against him personally, and made a spectacle of it. Furthermore, the complainants have been especially reserved in any public statements about him personally. There is no duty by complainants to publicly debate the merits of their case or otherwise justify it to the public.

    As we’ve stated elsewhere, the public “outrage” by Steyn’s unruly fans – who hold both multiculturalism and human rights in disdain – only reinforces the need for this specific issue to be addressed by legal remedies.

  9. Jay Currie on May 9th, 2008 3:17 am

    Sorry to be confused, but where was the “law student of the year”, M. Simard?

    Has he jumped the sinking ship??


    Law is Cool: Like the rest of us, busy with exams.
    We understand that most Steyn fans do not appreciate the rigors of law school, and the demands of first-year law are only overshadowed by articling requirements. Unlike many of those who visit this site, Steyn is not our obsession and we do maintain careers and school work outside of this specific issue.

    No jumping has occurred.

  10. Ben Hicks on May 9th, 2008 8:28 am

    “As we’ve stated elsewhere, the public ‘outrage’ by Steyn’s unruly fans – who hold both multiculturalism and human rights in disdain – only reinforces the need for this specific issue to be addressed by legal remedies.”

    Yep. I’m another Steyn fan. Sue me. (Hold on. You actually might…)

    Frankly, when the “specific issue” to which you refer is the right of a Canadian magazine to make its own editorial decisions, I think all Canadians have a right to be outraged. Freedom of the Press is an essential part of any Free and Democratic society, and we ignore this at our peril.

    I really, really hope that the Canadian “Human Rights” Commission finds Macleans guilty. With any luck, this will spark outrage accross the country and force the Canadian Parliament to get off their collective asses and put a stop to these Orwelian show trials once and for all.


    Law is Cool: Hi Ben,
    Basically you’ve repeated here what Steyn fans have said dozens of times. No points for originality here.
    Human Rights Commissions are firmly entrenched in Canadian society, and would require a massive legal overhaul to remove them. If anything, they have indicated that it is the values that you and your like espouse that are Orwellian and require attention.
    Even free speech has its limits – look around the site, we’ve address this many times over.

  11. Kerry on May 9th, 2008 8:55 am

    “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.” –Dean Steacy, CHRC

    Nothing to see here, move along.


    Law is Cool: As espoused by Steyn fans, yes. Free speech is highly valued in Canada, within the limits the law has outlined.

  12. Wayne F on May 9th, 2008 11:21 am

    - only reinforces the need for this specific issue to be addressed by legal remedies.

    I agtee 100%. Perhaps when/if the SCO revisits the powers visited upon the HRCs, they’ll also see fit to curtail these powers, as per our Charter of rights and freedoms.

  13. Eric on May 9th, 2008 11:55 am

    Private Property rights and the right to speak freely are human rights that I most certainly do not “disdain”. Criminalizing political opinions is clearly totalitarian. I’m amazed that some can’t seem to see that. I’m appalled by what goes on at the Huffington Post, but I certainly don’t believe it should be criminalized or regulated by a shady court body. The old saying “I may not agree with what you say but I’ll fight to defend your right to say it” has apparently been forgotten, at least up north.


    Law is Cool:
    Eric, like all the other comments here, we’ve addressed this.
    The Supreme Court of Canada specifically identified the Human Rights Commissions in Keegstra as a preferable alternative to address hate speech issues to avoid its criminalization.
    As for the Voltaire quote, it is frequently cited by those in power, with access and influence. In the case of Voltaire himself, he was a rabid anti-Semite, and his works fueled pogroms across Europe.
    But again, we’ve addressed this already on this site.

  14. sf on May 9th, 2008 12:45 pm

    “the President of the CIC simply filed it on their behalf”

    Why? Five students were unable to find the time do it, while one president had a free afternoon? Please. The complainants are the complainants. Elmasry in one case, Elmasry and Habib in another. Would you seriously make such a statement in a court room? “Ignore what the documents and the signature says, the complainant is actually whomever I wish it to be”. If you want to be taken seriously as a lawyer, you should start acting professional.


    Law is Cool: See the many other Human Rights Tribunal cases following the same procedure.

  15. KC on May 9th, 2008 1:40 pm

    “It is being filed on behalf of a national organization representing the interests of a community across Canada.”

    I find it interesting that you would say this. I hadnt hear that the CIC had as its membership all 700-800,000 members of the Canadian Muslim “community” on board. A community is but a collection of individuals who can only be spoken for when each and everyone of them delegates their ability to do so. The CIC “represents the interests” of its membership which is but a fraction of the overall Canadian Muslim population. Im sure many many many Canadian Muslims abhor the over-the-top rhetoric and the theocratic conservative ideology propogated by that organization. Being the “largest” organization of Muslims in Canada representing but a mere plurality of its adherents does not make the CIC the voice of Canadian Muslims. In fact by claiming to speak for the entire Muslim Community, the CIC is lumping Muslims together in much the same way as it accuses MacLeans and Mark Steyn of doing.

    As an aside–Khurrum Awan has absolutely zero credibility in my mind speaking about human rights given his shameful appearance before parliament when he represented the CIC’s anti-gay position on same sex marriage. Obviously Mr. Awan only believes in his own “human rights” and not those of others..


    Law is Cool: As we’ve said here before (once again), the complaint has received support from over 95% of the community in question through endorsement of other agencies.
    As for those other issues, we cannot speak to them. But it appears as if the role he played was not that of anti-gay, but one of an exemption for religious marriages (as opposed to civil).

  16. Blair on May 9th, 2008 1:46 pm

    Another linker from Steyn here:

    Admittedly as law students it is likely that you are relatively young. I say this because it is the only plausible explanation for your statement that “Khomeni is an obscure figure in relation to Canadian communities”. It is the sin of the young to believe that nothing that happened before they were born has any true significance.

    For those of us who lived through the late 70′s and early 80′s Khomeini was anything but an obscure figure. As Time Magazine’s Person of the year in 1980 he who more than anyone else changed the face of the modern Middle East. Khomeini’s influence was tremendous even here in Canada. By re-working the political balance in the Middle East he almost single-handedly changed the direction of politics in the United States (it is argued that the rise of Khomeni resulted in the rise of Ronald Reagan and the hostage crisis in the US embassy which he at the least tolerated certainly ensured that Jimmy Carter was not re-elected) which had a profound effect on Canadian politics as a result. As such his actions had profound effects on the world and Canada. For you to suggest otherwise is an indication that you should be sent back to your studies for some very important remedial history lessons.

    As for the “sock puppets”. While the term isn’t the nicest, it is an appropriate use of a common internet term. Human rights tribunals aren’t all that complicated. They are kept simple to allow individuals, like you and me, to access them without the need of expensive legal help. With regards to these tribunals, the individuals whose names are on the filings are the complainants, end-of-story. Researchers who help prepare the documents are no different than legal assistants (or articling students) who help prepare briefs. They may be acknowledged internally (by whoever they are helping) but are not “complainants”.

  17. KC on May 9th, 2008 1:49 pm

    “the public “outrage” by Steyn’s unruly fans – who hold both multiculturalism and human rights in disdain”

    Thats not fair. Certainly there is lots of that but many people who have spoken out against these complaints think the values of human rights and multiculturalism are important yet need to be more properly balanced against other values such as Mark Steyn’s right to free expression, and MacLean’s freedom to control its property (before you point out that private property isnt in the Charter I am aware of that, neither is human rights law–but both are firmly engrained in Canadian statutes and common law)


    Law is Cool: See above, and elsewhere on this site. Steyn supporters have repeatedly condemned multiculturalism, minority rights, the Charter, and even Canada.

  18. Jon on May 9th, 2008 1:55 pm

    No, most human rights complaints are not “resolved.” The true victims, i.e. the defence, pay a relatively small fine rather than accumulate legal fees. Canadian tax-payers pay everything for the plaintiff. The mercenary CHRC has a one hundred-percent conviction rate for Section 13 complaints. If the CHRC places a shot over your bow, then abandon ship.

    As George Washington said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force.” Of course, he was just an American. And he was a biased free-speecher, probably a Steynian.

    Mark Steyn has a reputation and career to lose if the complaint against Maclean’s is successful. Publishers won’t want to publish him. But Mark Steyn also cares about Canada. He’s not a lawyer who stands to make a lot of money from the Charter of Mights and Maybees.

    Yes, I hold multiculturalism and “human rights” in disdain. Multiculturalism can only be a temporary phenomenon because it self-destructs. “Human rights” are a chameleon, a Saruman. The offense of today is the right of tomorrow. Give me the Ten Commandments.

    As George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”


    Law is Cool: Lawyers involved in HRC cases make a paltry amount from their services.
    In the case at hand it would appear as if they would make absolutely nothing at all.

    Steyn’s career and reputation are hardly at stake from the complaints – they have been an issue for quite some time. And besides, the complaint is not directed against him. He made is the one that made it personal. And it still isn’t against him.

  19. nice_try_Elmasry on May 9th, 2008 2:16 pm

    Those three kids from law school are probably excellent academically, but they were useless in that forum. They sounded like spoiled kids who had their feelings hurt, and wanted to cry to their mommies. Hey, if you’re going to take on a Goliath like Steyn with some lame Ontario Human Rights squabble, think again.

  20. Sven Svenson on May 9th, 2008 2:43 pm

    ” Most human rights complaints are filed and resolved without any notice by the public or the media.” What an abomination. If this is true, I’m sure that whoever thought it up would be quite comfortable to be a prosecutor in the CCCP, Communist China and every other tyrannical regime in the world. There’s nothing better than secrecy to cover one’s despotism.

    The “debate” was rather disappointing. What didn’t come up was important: the students’ demand for essentially complete editorial control of a privately owned magazine and … oh yes, we want money. So much for them being altruists in their fight against hate speech that offends them and every other muslim living in Canada. There seems to be some basis for the contempt that many hold for islam and its adherents: it’s the religion of perpetual outrage and the only major religion that considers murder to be an act of piety (killing apostates).

    As an American I agree with Styen on this matter. If you want to make offensive speech into hate speech then you don’t want free speech.

    Get over yourselves. And, learn to live within your budget.


    Law is Cool:
    Please review the Canadian position on hate speech, which we’ve touched on in this site. It can be considerably different than in the U.S.
    1) they did not demand editorial control; this has been contested by them from the start, and reasserted at the most recent press conference
    2) no monetary damages are being requested; they will not make a cent off this
    3) It is misunderstandings like the ones you express about Islam that fuel hatred towards Muslims. There are very strict requirements for anything like that to occur, and it is hardly unique in that faith alone.
    (Deuteronomy 17:2-5)

    17:2 [This is what you must do] when you discover a man or woman doing evil in the eyes of God your Lord in one of the settlements that God your Lord is giving you. [That person] will have violated [God's] covenant
    17:3 by going and worshiping or bowing down to the sun, moon or other heavenly bodies, whose [worship] I prohibited.
    17:4 When it is told to you, you must listen and carefully interrogate [the witnesses]. If the accusation is established to be true, and this revolting practice has been done in Israel,
    17:5 you shall take that man or woman who did the wicked act out to your gates. You shall then pelt the man or woman to death with stones.

    On Justinian I‘s Corpus Juris Civilis,

    It was a matter of course that this union was to be that of the “most holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of God” (5 c., De s. tr., I, 1). The Corpus Juris is full of laws against paganism (apostasy was punished by death, 10 c., “De pag.”, I, 11), Jews, Samaritans (who began a dangerous revolt in 529), Manichćans, and other heretics. The decrees of the four general councils were incorporated in the civil law. There was no toleration of dissent. True to the ideal of Constantinople, the emperor conceived himself as “priest and king”, supreme head on earth in matters ecclesiastical as well as in the State.

  21. Hank on May 9th, 2008 5:55 pm

    “If anything, they have indicated that it is the values that you and your like espouse that are Orwellian and require attention.”

    So, advocating and valuing freedom of speech is Orwellian, but policing thought and censoring expression of political opinion is not?

    War is Peace! Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength!

    Add to that now, Free Speech is Orwellian!

    The part about certain persons with certain values “requiring attention” is chilling enough that it speaks for itself. I can hear the clinking of the chain-link being unraveled for the re-education camps as I type this.

    As for Voltaire’s remarks leading to pogroms, yeah, those Nazis were staunch defenders of freedom of expression, except for how the writings of Jews were seized and burned by stormtroopers and criticism of the government could get you sent to a concentration camp, be you jew or gentile. But, that was okay under your theory, I suppose, because it was done within the limits outlined by the law.


    Law is Cool:
    Pogroms preceded the Nazis, but yes, the Nazis would have (and did) use the defense of unfettered free speech to demonize European Jews.
    Free Speech Hate Speech is Orwellian.

    See our previous comments on Voltaire.

  22. Ben Hicks on May 9th, 2008 8:11 pm

    “Basically you’ve repeated here what Steyn fans have said dozens of times. No points for originality here.”

    Ouch. If I’d known you were keeping points, I surely would have posted the most original opinion possible rather than the correct one.

    “Human Rights Commissions are firmly entrenched in Canadian society, and would require a massive legal overhaul to remove them.”

    True. But if Canadian journalists can’t speak their minds for constant fear of legal action, we most definitely need a massive overhaul. I think most Canadians would agree. (Of course, Steven Harper’s notoriously progressive and left wing government would probably side with you…)

    “If anything, they have indicated that it is the values that you and your like espouse that are Orwellian and require attention.”

    With all due respect, you don’t know me or my values – other than that I value the right of Canadians to express their opinions with or without the government’s approval. But yeah, that totally justifies your right to dismiss me as a right wing nut job. No points for respect here.

    “Even free speech has its limits – look around the site, we’ve address this many times over.”

    No dice. I’m a fan of the John Stewart Mills school of thought – bad reasoning should be defeated with logic rather than censorship. Canadians are smart enough to form their own opinions without government supervision.

    Good day to you sir.


    Law is Cool:
    Again, we’ve addressed this before.
    The marketplace of ideas only effectively works with competing parties of relatively equal bargaining power.
    And Canadian journalists already do have standards and review bodies overseeing their conduct. Absolutely nobody believes in completely unfettered free speech. And journalists rightly should be concerned, and restrained, from engaging in hate speech.

  23. XL on May 9th, 2008 9:47 pm

    Without taking sides on the substantive issues, here is my evaluation (as both a lawyer and a long-time debater) of the studentsďż˝ performance on The Agenda (sorry about the length):

    Overall Grade: C

    Good points:
    ďż˝ On specific issues of law (where you would expect them to do well) they were clear, concise, and generally correct
    � They were effective in explaining their demands in terms of a �right of reply�, rather than getting into issues of censorship
    � They were effective in questioning some of Mr. Steyn�s exaggerations
    ďż˝ They came across as earnest and sincere in their convictions

    Negative points:
    � Their tone/delivery was simply terrible. Steyn came across as relaxed- the students appeared flustered, angry, and at times self-important. If Steve Paikin, one of the most genial hosts you will ever encounter, says �give me a break�, there is something wrong.
    � They made at least 2 major gaffes- comparing a well-know human rights activist to Ernst Zundel, and suggesting Mr. Steyn wanted to be a �martyr� (poor choice of words).
    ďż˝ Kurrum Awan has a habit of muttering under his breath- this was quite grating
    ďż˝ Their refusal to engage Mr. Steyn on larger issues of policy and philosophy was a serious error. Ducking the question of a host twice is never a good idea on TV. They seem to have forgotten that this is a TV debate, not a moot- you need to address policy issues.
    ďż˝ They spent altogether too much time talking about themselves and not enough on the effect on the Muslim community as a whole

    Conclusion:
    There is simply no way around this- they were clobbered. While they cannot be expected to rout a media veteran like Steyn, they failed to meet even basic expectations. Their delivery was unappealing, and they failed to engage their opponent effectively on any issues that were not strictly legal.
    On the bright side, most of their errors could be corrected quite easily. Better control of their tone and more preparation on political and philosophical issues could substantially improve their performance next time (if there is one).


    Law is Cool: We respectfully disagree.
    Steyn was his usual loud and obnoxious self, even yelling at the students from the other room.
    We do hope that they read your suggestions and improve on those aspects of your criticism which have merit.

    Oriana Fallaci is hardly a human rights activist. She was indicted in 2002 of violation of article 261 in the Swiss Criminal Code (translated),

    that which publicly encourages hatred or the discrimination towards a person or a group of people because of their racial membership, ethnic or religious;
    that which, publicly, will have propagated an ideology aiming at lowering or to disparage in a systematic way members of a race, an ethnic group or a religion;
    that which, in the same intention, will have organized or encouraged actions of propaganda or there will have taken share;
    that which will have publicly, by the word, the writing, the image, the gesture, by ways in fact or any other manner, lowered or discriminated of a way which undermines human dignity a person or a group of people because of their race, their ethnic membership or their religion or which, for the same reason, will deny, minimize coarsely or seek to justify a genocide or other crimes against humanity;
    that which will have refused with a person or a group of people, because of their racial membership, ethnic or religious, a service intended for the public use,
    will be punished imprisonment or fine.

  24. EYE WEEKLY - Mark Steyn takes Toronto on May 9th, 2008 10:33 pm

    [...] stamped on the cover) and he was finally wrangled on the show, hosted by Steve Paikin [and YouTubed here].Problem was, the students who repeatedly called for a public debate, refused to appear alongside [...]

  25. Phil Guenther on May 9th, 2008 10:47 pm

    I always think its hilarious when blogs (even funnier, one by a lawyer who presumably proudly upholds the standard of free speech) peruse comments BEFORE they are posted. If something nasty is posted on your site, and you don’t want to be associated with it, by all means delete it (there are arguments against even this, but far be it from me to tell you how to deal with problems). But to actually approve the content before it’s posted? I’m not asking this as if you have ulterior motives, but: what the heck are you afraid of? What could possibly be so terrible that, were it on your site for a couple of hours, it would do permanent damage? Kind of defeats the purpose of reading the comments section, when you know that the comments that appear are ‘approved by mod’. Especially since you are perfectly able to counter each point that is made, as you have done in the above.


    Law is Cool: Phil, look at some of the older posts and you will see we have had a number of issues with people abusing comments, including profanities, threats, and insults.
    These individuals have gone even further in some cases, hacking our site and taking it down, and apparently even bragging to us about it.
    Given the circumstances, these measures are all clearly warranted.

  26. Jen Hargrove on May 9th, 2008 10:57 pm

    Canada was a great nation well before Pierre Trudeau, Multiculturalism, and the Charter of Rights. In fact, many still believe that 1967 was Canada’s best year. Canada is not all about the Charter or Multiculturalism, it’s much more than that. Canada was the best place for immigrants to come to long before official Multiculturalism was proclaimed. Canadians enjoyed freedom and democracy long before the Charter was implemented. Canada’s history is rich, and there were some injustices committed- as in any nation’s history. However, overall, its greatness is unsurpassed. It doesn’t seem like students at Osgood are very well informed on their history of Canada, as their comments betray their willful ignorance, choosing only to tout the Charter of Rights as the be-all and end-all of Canadian values.


    Law is Cool:
    The Bill of Rights that preceded the Charter had a number of limitations, including applying to Federal issues exclusively. The Charter also greatly expanded judicial review. And assuming “the best” is probably an overstatement – each case is probably best assessed by their respective circumstances.
    The Osgoode students in question barely mention the Charter, so your comments do not seem well grounded.
    The intent of the Charter surpassed that of giving new rights to Canadians – it was a social contract intended to bind and unite Canada on certain principles of equity and justice. Anyone who escapes that understanding of the Charter truly does not understand Canada.

  27. Sav on May 9th, 2008 11:22 pm

    “It was Mr. Steyn who brought attention to this complaint, not even filed against him personally, and made a spectacle of it.”

    Well, when you smear someone, maybe you shouldn’t expect to get away with it. By the way, which “minority rights” or “human rights” are being condemned?

    Please try to respond in a way other than sneering about how Steyn may agree with this opinion.


    Law is Cool: This is hardly the first human rights complaint in Canadian history, and all have followed a similar pattern. As stated, most actually have a measure of respect and deference to the Commission, allowing them to resolve issues amicably. Instead in these cases, respondents have verbally abused complainants, called the tribunals into disrepute, and even rallied for their disbandment. In at least one related case, this intimidation has resulted in the withdrawal of the complaint.
    A truly principled movement would have been established independently of any actual complaint, and instead these measures are seen for what they are, motivated by self-interest. Calls for legal reform are frequently done, and without indignation characterizing this specific response.

  28. jerome bastien on May 10th, 2008 8:39 am

    you throw words around and you dont know what they mean.

    ORWELLIAN? Who’s got the orwellian position here? HINT: Its the one that is trying to impose on everyone else its morals as to what is allowable topics of discussion. Its the anti-freedom position. Its the position that suggests government can decide for you which political opinions are okay to have. I mean how can you suggest that its orwellian to support free speech – do you have ANY clue what you’re talking about – oh yeah it was BIG BROTHER, and the people wanted bigbrother to regulate more but the poor people were left to decide what to read for themselves. How horrible.

    Those traits are not only orwellian, they are objectively fascist. I dont even mean that as the backwards slur lefties throw around without knowing what it means. Having the state step in to provide a solution in an area that was previously left to the choice of the individual (what to read), is objectively, positively fascist. Mussollini would have LOVED it.


    Law is Cool: Actually, we have a pretty good idea of what Orwell is about. See our posts on the subject previously.

    Fascism is a far-right ideology, more akin to what Steyn fans espouse, rather than what liberal human rights activists exemplify. Neither fascism or Nazism ever aspired to protect minorities; in fact, both exerted the power you describe to protect majority interests at the expense of minorities.

    Let’s look at a description that Mussolini himself endorsed:

    A party governing a nation “totalitarianly” is a new departure in history. There are no points of reference nor of comparison. From beneath the ruins of liberal, socialist, and democratic doctrines, Fascism extracts those elements which are still vital. It preserves what may be described as “the acquired facts” of history; it rejects all else. That is to say, it rejects the idea of a doctrine suited to all times and to all people. Granted that the XIXth century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the XXth century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century.

    Free speech and freedom of religion are both equally enshrined in the Charter. And unfettered advocacy for one, as you espouse, is clearly more Orwellian. Yes they are in tension with situations like this, and an appropriate balance should be reached. But you would have Big Brother silence minorities, infringe on their practices, and completely exclude them from society. That’s pretty fascist too.

  29. RC on May 10th, 2008 9:45 pm

    I can’t help commenting about your claim to vast expertise on the meaning of “Orwellian”:

    LIC: “Actually, we have a pretty good idea of what Orwell is about. See our posts on the subject previously.”

    I visited the link you provide to your “posts on the subject previously” (sic). Actually post (singular). In this post your only reference to Orwell comes in a quotation from one Kelly Talcott, and a “1984″ trailer grabbed from YouTube. Some expertise, alright. You are able to find a reference to Orwell on the web, and cut and paste!

    Now Talcott focusses on the issue of privacy. While this is an important plot element in “1984″ it is not the principal theme. In the story invasion of privacy is merely a means to the end of mind control — which is the key concept.

    Wikipedia gives an apt definition of the term: “… an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past…” Thus Talcott’s invocation of Orwell is not spurious — it is just not indicative of the meaning of “Orwellian” in that it is too narrow.

    The term is indeed relevant to the issue of Freedom of Speech and the HRCs but in a way that flatly contradicts your ham-handed attempt to use it. Indeed, co-opting of this term to serve an agenda in support of state-sanctioned mind control is the very epitome of Orwellianism.

    Imagine “Orwellian” as the latest entry in the lexicon of Newspeak! I suspect old George might have found the prospect amusing, in a dark way.

    In the meantime I recommend you and the sock puppets actually read the novel, which is available online at

    http://www.msxnet.org/orwell/1984

    It might help you avoid further embarrassing yourself on this subject, and you might learn something about the real issues behind the HRC controversy.


    Law is Cool: You should have kept reading, there are far more posts than just that one.

    THE REVIVAL OF THE PROPAGANDA STATE
    US Propaganda at Home and Abroad since 9/11
    Nancy Snow and Philip M. Taylor
    The International Communication Gazette

    The dominance of censorship and propaganda is a triumph of authoritarian
    over democratic values. During times of international crisis like the Cold War or now
    in the so-called ‘Global War on Terror’, authoritarian values of secrecy, information
    control and silencing dissent would appear to take precedence over democracy, the
    First Amendment and a free press. The general trend since 9/11, especially in the
    US, has been away from openness and toward increasing government secrecy
    coupled with what can seem a rise in contempt among inner circle policy-makers
    for a public’s right to know that may override national and homeland security
    concerns. Every official pronouncement is now framed within the psyche of a nation
    ‘at war’ – epitomized by the renaming of Newark airport to Liberty International
    Airport to the commercial marketing of a hot sauce with the phrase ‘burn, bin
    Laden, burn!!’ – a war in which ‘you are either with us or against us’ and in which
    ‘there is no neutral ground’…

    Your claims of government censorship would only be compelling if they corresponded with military activity. The only claim you can make is that the government is promoting multiculturalism, which it is entitled and even encouraged to do by the Constitution.

    No, the blatantly false and misleading information promoted by Steyn & co. more closely follows the definition of propaganda.

    The father of modern American journalism lays out two essential tools in modern
    media collusion with the state: censorship and propaganda. Censorship ends the
    free flow of information so essential for democracy and makes dissent less likely.
    Propaganda can inject false, misleading or slanted information into the media in
    order to influence the behavior of populations at home and abroad. Censorship and
    propaganda exist in the news media and come in many flavors – using unnamed
    sources in national security stories; using the same elite-level sources repeatedly;
    ‘killing’ a story before it comes to light; and encouraging self-censorship on the part
    of working reporters. Although they will rarely admit to it, news organizations are
    often willing colluders with governments and militaries in efforts to censor because
    major media owners are members of the political elite themselves and therefore
    share similar goals and outcomes. Making profit would appear to rank higher than
    telling the truth in the minds of some media owners and many of their employees.
    There is nothing so sacred about having a media system driven by advertising and
    the bottom line, but in the US the conventional wisdom is that profit-centered
    media are as American as apple pie, the Fourth of July and the Founding Fathers.
    The events of 11 September 2001 have simply intensified this reality, but they also
    help to explain why the question ‘why do they hate us so much?’ had to be asked
    in the first place.

  30. Jen Hargrove on May 11th, 2008 1:29 am

    The way that “law is cool” portrays fans of Mark Steyn like myself is derogatory, inflamatory, and it is exposing me to hatred from Charter supporters. I demand to be allowed to post a full page of my views on “law is cool” in order to conteract the obvious bias against my identifiable group (Steyn fans).

  31. Donald Campbell on May 11th, 2008 5:01 pm

    OK, I did spend some time perusing your links on this post. Your opinion of ‘right-wing’ Internet users is pretty obvious; however, I would cut you some slack if they have hijacked your site.
    Unfortunately, from what I can tell, your own position boils down to “The ends justify the means”. Your position that ‘hate laws’ trump the Canadian Charter is interesting from a jurisprudential stand. Is it a standard of Canadian Law that whatever is written last has more validity than what came before it?
    Finally, the most salient point. In the latest post available when I read this site (May 10 @ 8:39), you seem to be equating Steyn fans to Fascists. Since some Steyn fans are Canadians (I read a post where he was signing books in Toronto for two hours), clearly, you are in violation of you country’s Hate Speech laws. A ‘double plus double un-good’ for sure. I certainly hope there is a Canadian up there who is willing to file a complaint with the HRC.

  32. bigcitylib on May 11th, 2008 6:36 pm

    You might explicitly as Steynosaurs to not hack your site again. You might even ask Steyn directly to tell his people to act civil.

  33. Hwi Noree on May 12th, 2008 5:01 am

    Phil Guenther (May 9, 2008 @ 10:47 pm) said:

    I always think its hilarious when blogs (even funnier, one by a lawyer who presumably proudly upholds the standard of free speech) peruse comments BEFORE they are posted. If something nasty is posted on your site, and you don’t want to be associated with it, by all means delete it (there are arguments against even this, but far be it from me to tell you how to deal with problems). But to actually approve the content before it’s posted? I’m not asking this as if you have ulterior motives, but: what the heck are you afraid of? What could possibly be so terrible that, were it on your site for a couple of hours, it would do permanent damage? Kind of defeats the purpose of reading the comments section, when you know that the comments that appear are ‘approved by mod’. Especially since you are perfectly able to counter each point that is made, as you have done in the above.

    Phil Guenther seems mistaken on the broad issue. If people go to the trouble of founding and maintaining a publication, their wish to retain editorial control is quite understandable. They don’t found a publication with the intention that it be appropriated by others and turned into a public utility. Publishers, editors, and writers won’t go to the trouble of taking on such difficult tasks, if they know that they won’t be able to maintain standards of content and presentation according to their own lights.

  34. RC on May 13th, 2008 2:34 pm

    After a more careful reading of Snow and Taylor’s piece I regret my above characterization of the piece. While it is partisan it shows some balanced analysis; it is no more polemical than one would expect on this topic, it is no more repetitive than I tend to be, and it is not overly heavy on jargon. My description was inapt, and I’ll say that citing this piece is evidence that you may have some idea what “Orwellian” means — though it is (a) is not in your words or referenced in any prior post on this site; and (b) does not discuss the term “Orwellian”, though it does touch on the subjects of censorship and propaganda, which are relevant.

    There, see? It’s not so hard to admit to having been too quick at the keyboard. Why is it so hard for you to admit that you have not written volumes of authoritative material on the meaning of “Orwellian”? And, while you’re at it, why not admit that the HRCs and the litigants’ actions in this case far more closely resemble Orwellian abuse of power as portrayed in “1984″ than anything Steyn or Maclean’s has done?

  35. Craig on May 15th, 2008 6:49 pm

    Dear ‘Law is Cool’ folks:

    I appreciate your attempt to engender a debate on this issue. However, I have not heard you or any of the other defenders of the ‘Socks’ address the question of Elmasry’s role in all of this. Surely, if you believe in a tolerant, multicultural Canada, his publicly stated anti-semitism must give you some pause.

    How do you expect the rest of us to take you seriously if you side with such a vile individual in the name of protecting human rights?

    I haven’t read your blog so my apologies if you have discussed Elmasry.


    Law is Cool: We haven’t sided with anyone.
    We took a neutral stance that the complainants had a right to issue a complaint, and that wasn’t good enough for Steyn fans.

Awards

  • 2010 Canadian Law Blog Finalist
  • 2009 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

  • 2008 Canadian Law Blog Awards Finalist
  • 2007 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner
  • Logo
  • canadian blog awards
  • Canadian Blog Awards

Partners