Monday, July 23, 2007

Where do we draw the line?

While Free Dominion ponders how to deal with a Human Rights complaint, today's National Post reports that Vision TV aired another hour-long talk by fundamentalist Israr Ahmad on Saturday - one day after saying it regretted broadcasting a previous lecture by the Pakistani preacher, who says Muslim scripture advocates violent holy war and the "extermination" of Jews.

Amad's Saturday lecture apparently included statements comparing the Jews to "parasites", and described the Holocaust as "divine punishment" and called Jews "condemned."

"It is most troubling that VisionTV made a calculated decision to re-broadcast a segment featuring a radical Imam, whose words have the potential to incite hatred and violence," Frank Dimant of B'nai Brith Canada said yesterday.

"It is a complete abdication of their responsibility to knowingly give a platform to this individual whose calls for jihad can clearly be interpreted by his supporters as a call to engage in terrorism. B'nai Brith Canada will be launching a formal complaint with the CRTC calling for a full investigation of this matter."

The comparison is interesting because both situations deal with allegedly inflammatory third-party dissertations, but the first case is a conservative-leaning internet forum and the second is a TV channel supposedly regulated by the CRTC.

Free Dominion's Connie Wilkins was interviewed last night by Michael Coren (Suzanne has it here). Wilkins alluded to the possibility that the end goal here may be to try to shut down Free Dominion, and other Conservative blogs when the business of worrying about third-party comments becomes too complicated and expensive to handle.

Personally, I think all bloggers need to be concerned about this eventuality. Few of us can afford lawyers. Most of us are providing this service free of charge. Some have tip jars to help pay for the costs of the domain site, but few if any are making a living from blogging.

Television broadcasters on the other hand, have access to corporate lawyers and cash.

I know what you're thinking - What about that 'faceless digital entity' that used vulgarity to attack the mother of a recently-fallen Canadian Soldier? Well, I think blogs can be self-governing to a point. Once the offensive post is pointed out, the owner can then decide whether to delete and apologize or carry on, in which case they will likely lose readership in the long run. Also, remember that in that particular case, we are talking about the blog owner making an offensive comment; not a third party or guest.

I would also suggest that the remarks made by Israr Ahmad on Vision TV were far more inflammatory than those made by Bill Whatcott (Relapsed Catholic).

Kathy notes in a subsequent post:

And Coren made an excellent point: "Isn't the notion that 'radical Islam is a threat to national security' actually the official policy of the Canadian government...?"

Perhaps there's fodder here for another Human Rights complaint.

* * * *
Update: Actually maybe the next complaint will be directed at the National Post, which has dared to publish this letter complaining about the Vision programming:

"...This program must be shut down as it propagates jihadi violence against non-Muslims. We Canadian Muslims must learn from the British experience and start the crucial task of waking up from the state of denial and realize there is no shame in confronting extremism within our communities. If our beloved Canada is going to confront radicals and violent extremists, we simply cannot afford to tolerate individuals who take advantage of our liberty and democracy to harm fellow Canadians."

And at BigCityLib Strikes Back - The Ballad of Free Dominion and other news. (BCLSB provides a MSM link to the story).

Tuesday Update: Letter from Bill Roberts of Vision - An apology and clarification.

Wednesday Update: From Jack's Newswatch: Political website cited for crime of 'offending'.


Kingston said...

Joanne, If the HRC follows through on this and the will, I actually suspect as I type this someone over at FD is scanning Rabble looking for something to launch their own complaint about( I have no doubt they will find it) it is only a matter of time before it will hit the more moderate blogging sphere. We have to choices here, one to police ourselves or be policed.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Kingston, the other issue is about the CHRC itself. Who is it accountable to? And who makes the decisions about which frivolous cases will be pursued with taxpayers' money?

Kingston said...

J. If you think anyone can knock the CHRC off its throne, then I hate to say this, but your smoking something. There is not a govt or party in this great land of ours with the will to try. Which ever party tries will be crucified in the press.
I do not want this to happen but it is going to happen. The blogging sphere has had a free fun of it for to long and has on a lot of sites gotten progressively more nasty and uncivil.
I truly believe that all sites that are moderated imply some consent when they allow a comment to posted and therefore assume liability for the comments. How you fix this without curtailing free speech I cannot totally answer too but I think a lot of it can be addressed by common sense and the golden rule.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I truly believe that all sites that are moderated imply some consent when they allow a comment to posted and therefore assume liability for the comments.

Then the Marie-Line Gentes of the world will have won.

Kingston said...

I am afraid so, and it is not fair, but to look at this from a strictly legal point of view from my quote that you posted, it is a fact. If I make a totally hate filled rant here in the comments and you allow it to be posted are we not both guilty. Well there is not much on FD that I agree with since they seem to manage to go over the top on every thread, the same as Rabble seems to do, either the blogging sphere as a whole goes to bat for them or adjusts to the fact that it is only a matter of time before we are subjected to over sight by the CRTC,CHRC or some other like minded body.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

If I make a totally hate filled rant here in the comments and you allow it to be posted are we not both guilty

Morally, yes perhaps.

I see your point though. There will likely come a time when some kind of code of ethics is enforced for the blogosphere. Then only those with the deepest pockets will have "free speech", because only they will be able to handle the costs of a Human Rights challenge.

Anonymous said...

k, I have read Whatcott's comments. I don't find them a 'totally hatefilled rant'.Is that your assessment of what he said? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Found this today.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, anon. Link can be found here.

I think you would be hard-pressed to find any blog that isn't offensive to someone somewhere.

Isn't it our right as Canadians to be offended?

bigcitylib said...


The progressive side of the sphere DOES police itself. Look what happened to McClelland, for example. Which was trivial compared to this.

Kingston said...

Anon, I was using myself as a an example, if after a few Corona I decided to come online and mouth off about clowns for example. BCL, Your absolutely right about what happen over at My Blahg, that is all I am asking for, that we police ourselves. I do not see a lot of policing going on over at Rabble or FD and it my fear it is going to destroy a good thing that is not just informational but enjoyable. All I suggested last week is the leader of the four main political blogging assoc, get together and come up with some code of conduct between that we can all use as a measure stick of when we have gone to far or in the best case scenario to stop us for crossing that line.

PGP said...

Well ..... If anyone thinks that the use of HRCs to exert retribution against people who offend will end without the political pressure on those establishments forget it.
This instance is telling enough!

That an individual is allowed to abuse a public institution under the false guise of "Human Rights" is an abomination.

This is exactly what is wrong with the commissions and evidence of the very real need to define the boundaries of their activities.
Or to eliminate them completely!

We are a nation governed by law and do not require the judgment of unelected and un-accountable bureaucratic bodies to make or define the laws of Canada.

As if we as a nation are better in any way because of a Joe Stalin style commissariat or star chamber tribunal that acts with such impunity!

The HRC's whether Federal or Provincial are a blight on a free society And have no place in this nation.

JR said...

pgp, I agree. The 'Hate Messages' section of the Human Rights Act effectively makes a mockery of the 'freedom of expression' granted in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

That section of the HRA should be scrapped completely.

PGP said...

I see that the American bloggers characterize Vision TV as Islamic TV!
Huh? I guess if you swim with fishes you get the smell.

Anonymous said...

"morally, perhaps" said Joanne nonchalantly. That says it all.

It's just a matter of time when the moralistic, holier-than-thou crowd becomes hoist on their own petard. Rightly so.

Law-abidingly, perhaps. Try that out, eh.

Didn't Jesus have something to say about words used as weapons? Didn't Jesus have something to say about doing unto others as you would have done unto you?

Where do YOU actually draw the line?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Sorry, brave Anon. Not quite following your rant here.

Enlightener said...

" Lines should be drawn when anyone, even a neighbor behaves in an uncivilzed manner. If another person, regardless of who they are or what their reasons may be, threatens the
safety of others, they should be treated accordingly. When a dog attacks people it is captured caged or put down, why treta humans differently. Danger is danger, A juvenile is just as dangerous with a weapon as an adult. Jungle-like behavior should expect jungle-like response. Safety of our families
and ourselves precedes all other aspects."