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December 04, 2009

Alberta Judge Overturns Human Rights Commission, But Doesn't Go Far Enough

After a seven-year legal nightmare, an Alberta judge overturned the decision of the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal that an anti-gay letter to the editor from former pastor Stephen Boissoin was hate speech.

Boissoin wrote that he was declaring war on the "homosexual machine" that was "spreading their psychological disease." He cautioned that gays were "recruiting" children and warned parents: "Will your child be the next victim that tests homosexuality positive?" He said people who support gays are as immoral as pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps.

So...not a great guy. But that shouldn't be criminal. In fact, not only shouldn't it be criminal, it should be protected from civil interference from the government. The Canadians aren't there yet.

The judge knocked down the Alberta Human Rights Commission ruling, but only because he thought the letter didn't go quite far enough to be considered "hate" or "contempt." He thought the letter had a "more benign tone" than other examples of prohibited speech.

That's not really a victory for free speech. Still, there are some good points. The judge stripped the Human Rights Commission of the authority to order people to "cease and desist" making "disparaging remarks" about gays. Similarly, the judge noted that the Human Rights Commission's requirement that Boission apologize for the letter is beyond its authority and that it couldn't force a newspaper to carry the apology. The judge assailed the Commission's "prejudgment" and "prejudicial" treatment of Boissoin.

There's also this, from the guy who complained to the Commission in the first place, Darren Lund:

"In my view, the judge's ruling sets such strict standards for hate speech that this section is rendered all but unenforceable.

Not a flaw, jackass.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:17 PM

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