“If people could be made moral by law, it would be a simple matter … for Congress to pass a law making all Americans moral. This would be salvation by law. Men and nations have often resorted to salvation by law, but the only consequence has been greater problems and social chaos.”—R.J. Rushdoony
“Morality always serves as a restraint on human desire … When you remove the morality, therefore, you remove the restraint. And it is this, not any new scientific or moral enlightenment, that accounts for our revision of attitude. The rules inhibited us, so we got rid of the rules. No longer must women bear the children conceived within them. No longer need men or women heed vows of sexual exclusivity. No longer need the ancient curbs against sodomy, bestiality, pederasty, and other assorted sexual delights confine and restrict us. So we steadily rid ourselves of the laws, and then make it illegal for anyone to oppose or criticize what we have done.”—Ted Byfield
Whether it’s about setting up a hate-free utopia, or simply silencing all criticism of what has always, until now, been viewed as immorality, Canada’s human rights commissions have lately found their mission called into question. Critics in the Canadian and American media have been pouring on the heat, and at least some Canadian politicians have begun to listen.
Faced with mounting criticism and scrutiny, the Canadian Human Rights Commission has submitted an official report to Parliament. A full text of the report is available at http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/pdf/srp_rsp_eng.pdf.
In order “to create a society free from racism” (p. 44 of the online edition of the report, cited above: all quotes from this source), the CHRC has asked Parliament for more power to censor Canadians’ speech. Particularly, the commission has recommended changing the Criminal Code to remove “truth” as a defense against a charge of hate propaganda—“on the basis that a hate message [against “a given race, sex, or religion”] can never be true and therefore the justice system should not give hate-mongers a platform to make this argument in a criminal trial”(p. 40).
For a person accused of the crime of “hate propaganda” and facing heavy fines or imprisonment if found guilty, it’s hard to see how disallowing truth as a defense would leave him able to mount any kind of defense at all. But the CHRC’s report didn’t stop there.
The commission would also like to see more police involvement in “hate speech” cases, “as to the manner in which provincial police and Crown prosecutors could coordinate their efforts to protect Canadians from hate propaganda” (p. 40). Special “police hate crime units” should be organized, the report recommends.
Parliament is currently considering legislation “narrowing the definition of hate” to include only those expressions obviously aimed at inciting real violence. But that, says the CHRC report, “would unduly limit the possibility of prosecuting very extreme forms of expression” (p. 39). Is there such a thing as “only mildly extreme”?
Finally, the commission cites a need for more “voluntary self-regulation by the media” (p. 43), including internet service providers (p. 43), who should be encouraged to set up an “internet hate hot line” (p. 43).
CHRC Won’t Talk
We had questions for the CHRC, but this time the commission declined to answer them.
“Our position is clearly stated in the report,” said a representative of the commission’s media relations office, which has apparently decided not to relate to the media for the time being.
When we examine the report itself, we find all the usual justifications for employing, increasingly, the coercive power of the state. It is indeed, as Rushdoony would say, a scheme for “salvation by law.”
There is an attempt made herein to depict Canada as a society acutely menaced by “hate” and “hate groups,” wallowing in racism and other forms of “discrimination,” in need of constant supervision by human rights commissions.
Because hate can “undermine democracy,” says the report, “Canada and many other nations have enacted laws to limit forms of extreme hateful expression”—“extreme” as decided by human rights commissions—“that have very minimal value in the exchange of ideas, but do great harm to our fellow citizens” (p. 2). Nowhere is this “harm” defined or described, nor illustrated by examples.
“Hate on the Internet is part of a broader pattern of hatred, prejudice, and discrimination in Canada” (p. 3), says the report—making Canada out to be a kind of snake pit full of seething hatreds. On page 7 the CHRC appeals to the Southern Poverty Law Center—a quasi-Marxist organization in the USA that routinely lists all Christian or conservative websites—including this one that you’re reading now—as “hateful.” “Hate” websites can be “deceptive,” warns the commission, citing the SPLC: human rights experts must protect ordinary citizens from being gulled by hate groups posing as Christians or conservatives.
The purpose of the human rights enterprise is “the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians” (p. 8), and is in line with the latest in European hate speech laws and international treaties (p. 9). Canadian Court of Appeals Justice Russell Juriansz is quoted (p. 5): “It seems fair to say that the American view [of speech protected by the First Amendment] is becoming a minority one in the world. Canada is part of what appears to be a growing global consensus, which observes that careful restriction of some forms of speech are both desirable and necessary.” One searches in vain for a single example of a human rights commission restricting speech by a homosexual activist, an Islamist, a communist, an atheist or anyone but a Christian or a conservative.
What it all boils down to, of course, is using government coercion to make Canadians hate-free—that is, prohibited by law from speaking out against controversial subjects like same-sex “marriage” and Islamic culture’s treatment of women. We are not impressed by such blather as the “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination” (p. 10). It is not possible to “eliminate hate,” any more than it has been possible to stamp out any other unsavory aspect of human nature by declaring it against the law.
But such efforts have always been spectacularly successful when it comes to expanding the power of the state and engulfing taxpayer dollars.
An Interview with Ezra Levant
Leading the charge against Canada’s human rights commissions is one of their intended victims, Ezra Levant. As the editor of a now-defunct news magazine, Levant published some of the infamous “Muhammad cartoons” to illustrate a news story about the violent Muslim reaction to them worldwide. Levant spent over $100,000 defending his right to report the news and practice free speech. Eventually the complaint against him was dropped—but not after he learned that, in dealing with the human rights inquisitors, “The process is the punishment.” He has recently written a book, Shakedown, exposing the commissions’ abusive practices.
“So far,” Levant told Chalcedon, “politicians have been timid to tackle them, because they are so politically correct—how could anyone be against something with ‘human rights’ as their middle name?
“That’s why they have to be denormalized in the public square—to be revealed as counterfeits and imposters. Only then will there be legislative momentum for change. Until then, each of Canada’s fourteen HRCs will continue to have statutory powers and their taxpayer budgets—$200 million a year amongst the fourteen of them.”
The Canadian Human Rights Commission, CHRC, is a federal body. Each of Canada’s thirteen provinces has its own HRC.
“I think the most utopian HRC officers think they can change human nature through their work,” Levant said. “They want to abolish ‘hate,’ for example, although it’s a natural human emotion; and ‘inequality,’ although to remove all differences amongst us would require a totalitarian effort that not even the Soviets or Mao could muster.
“But I think more HRC officers don’t want to change human nature. They want to punish human nature in those they define as their enemies—Christians, conservatives, people who are not sufficiently ‘progressive’ in their views on social issues.”
For how long can Canada continue to support a human rights machine that crushes citizens who criticize homosexual politics or the growing influence of Islam? How long before Canada ceases to be a free country?
“We’re already seeing the consequences,” Levant said. “Our freedoms have slowly been eroding, to the point where government bureaucrats feel comfortable trying to censor our country’s leading media outlets, such as Maclean’s magazine, and charging Christian clergy with ‘hate speech’ for merely preaching the Bible. They even took a run at Calgary’s bishop.”
There is no space here to detail the human rights campaign to suppress Canadians’ liberties. For the reader who is unfamiliar with the subject, here is a selection of Chalcedon’s “human rights” reports from 2008:
– “Fighting the Human Rights Machine,” Oct. 7, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2887
– “Canadian ‘Human Rights’ Commissions Bear Down on Christian Clergymen,” Sept. 24, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2886
– “Canadian Doctors Warned to ‘Set Aside’ God’s Law,” Sept. 9, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2885
– “How ‘Human Rights’ Commissions Erode Religious Freedom,” June 19, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2864
“Canadians have a long history of freedom, and of fighting for freedom,” Levant said. “And although our constitution does not have as strong protections for freedom of speech as the U.S. Bill of Rights does, we still have it. More importantly, it still exists in Canadians’ consciousness.
“It is my contention that the success of Canada’s HRCs is precisely because the mass of Canadians have not heard about the true nature of these HRCs, and so they have been able to operate in stealth, concealing their true, illiberal nature. By exposing them to sunlight, we are waking Canadians up to the reality of these censors, and Canadians are not impressed.”
Turning the Charter Inside-Out
Glenn Penner, CEO of The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, took exception to the CHRC’s report to Parliament.
“We very much oppose these recommendations,” he told Chalcedon. “Freedom of expression is at the root of religious liberty and must be defended vigorously.
“There is a trend toward defending an individual’s or a group’s ‘right’ not to be offended—in particular, it seems, for Muslims and homosexuals—and labeling this as hate speech. Removing truth as a criterion for libel and hate speech only pushes this trend farther. This trend is dangerous in that it limits the rights of others to express different opinions and represents a significant threat not only to freedom of expression and religious liberty, but to democracy and the rule of law itself.”
But it is the nature of “human rights” and “hate crime” legislation to erode personal liberty and expand the power of the state. Ted Morton, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, explained how “human rights” plaintiffs have used Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms to empower the state at the expense of the citizens:
“The Charter applies to ‘state action.’ That is, it protects citizens from governments, not citizens from other citizens. HRAs [human rights acts] apply to ‘private action,’ by prohibiting discrimination in private sector employment, credit, housing, and so forth. That is, HRAs expand the scope of government and restrict freedom of association—another Charter right. [The plaintiffs’] claim amounts to asking the courts to use the Charter—a state-limiting instrument—to order the expansion of government.”
God’s Law vs. Humanist Law
As this article is being written, the U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on a federal hate crime bill that the president has promised to sign into law. This may have already happened by the time you read this.
This is why Chalcedon has followed Canada’s human rights commissions so closely. As the bodies charged with implementing Canada’s “human rights” laws, they have shown themselves to be abusive, high-handed, single-mindedly bigoted against Christians, and corrosive to civil liberty. We believe there is a danger that Canada’s experience might be repeated here.
But why are “human rights” agencies so abusive?
To understand what has happened in Canada, it’s necessary to understand the difference between Biblical law and humanistic law. R. J. Rushdoony explained, in Law and Liberty:
“Laws grounded on the Bible do not attempt to save man or to usher in a brave new world, a great society, world peace, a poverty-free world, or any other such idea. The purpose of Biblical law, and all law grounded on a Biblical faith, is to punish and restrain evil, and to protect life and property, to provide justice for all people. It is not the purpose of the state and its law to change or reform men: this is a spiritual matter and a task for religion. Man can be changed only by the grace of God through the ministry of the word. Man cannot be changed by statist legislation; he cannot be legislated into a new character… The fact of law and the strict enforcement of law are restraints upon man’s sinful inclinations. But, while a man can be restrained by strict law and order, he cannot be changed by law; he cannot be saved by law. Man can only be saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.”
Compare this to the language on any Canadian human rights commission website, federal or provincial. They’re all out to create an earthly paradise, free of hate and racism, by force of law.
“Humanistic law aims at saving man and remaking society. For humanism, salvation is an act of state. It is civil government which regenerates man and society and brings man into a paradise on earth. As a result, for the humanist social action is everything. Man must work to pass the right set of laws, because his salvation depends upon it. Any who oppose the humanist in his plan of salvation by law, salvation by acts of civil government, is by definition an evil man conspiring against the good of society.”
This is why Canada’s human rights commissions have persecuted Christian clergymen, college instructors, bloggers, and ordinary citizens who express the view that homosexual activity is immoral or unhealthy. Those citizens are treated as obstacles on the road to utopia.
“The majority of men in office today,” Rushdoony wrote, “are intensely moral and religious men, deeply concerned with saving men by law. From the Biblical perspective, from the Christian perspective, their program is immoral and ungodly, but these men are, from their humanistic perspective, not only men of great dedication but men of earnestly humanistic faith and morality.”
First published in 1984, could any words more accurately describe Canadian human rights apparatchiks and members of Parliament, and U.S. congressmen, senators, state legislators, bureaucrats, and judges today in 2009?
Driven by a humanistic religious vision—a false religion’s vision, but nonetheless profoundly motivating—the rulers of our world press on, trampling personal liberty, property rights, families and other basic human institution to create their earthly paradise. The fact that no such statist effort, through all of human history, has ever succeeded in creating anything but misery and tyranny does not deter them. They believe in their vision.
And even if they didn’t, they personally grow rich and powerful by promoting it.
This is what God’s people are up against.
Our salvation must come from the Lord Himself, and from our own active faithfulness and obedience to Him and to His word.
- Lee Duigon
Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.
Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.