Friday, March 13, 2009

weekend reading -- on freedom and hate

This week I attended a panel discussion at the Ontario Bar Association entitled "Hate Speech and Human Rights." Not exactly a debate, the talk featured four experts in the field of human rights law discussing the ever-elusive legal line between free speech and speech that seeks to inspire hate toward a recognizable group. The inspiration for the discussion was a recently released report by one of the participants, University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon, concerning Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The gist of Moon's recommendation in the report is that hate speech is better dealt with in Canada under criminal law and not under the Human Rights Act. Also present on the panel were Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (and former mayor of Toronto), Professor Jamie Cameron of Osgoode Law School, and Mark J. Freiman, formerly of the law firm McCarthy, Tetrault. It was fascinating to watch the panelists stick handle the hate line forwards and back across Canada's multi-faceted legal system, always mindful that freedom of expression hung in the balance. I threw as much of it onto Twitter as I could before I succumbed to texting cramp.

So, to help you make up your own mind (freely) on this issue, I present:

the Moon Report; and

a dissenting opinion.

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