Monday, June 09, 2008

Out of luck with Andreachuk if Andreachuk ain't good

Courtesy Ezra Levant, a story to make one sit up sharply.

The Rev. Stephen Boissoin is a Christian pastor from the province of Alberta, Canada, and landed himself before der komissars in the Human Rights Tribunal. Mark Steyn is perhaps the most famous pelt yet sought by the Arbiters of Offensivity, but along the way, a few smaller bucks have fallen into the bag, and the Rev. Boissoin is one.

His mistake was taking the stuff in the Bible as true and saying so - specifically the parts about homosexuality. There are plenty of people (including some believers) who disagree about the passages in Leviticus, Romans, and elsewhere, but in general I think that a free society that wants to have actual debate about ideas instead of just bobble-headed nodding should be allowed to talk about it. I've never been to Alberta, however. One Darren Lund, Ph.D., filed on behalf of the 'oppressed' and, six years on, Ms. Lori Andreachuk has obliged him.

(Mr. Lund seems to be attached to this particular group, whose rather fanciful slogan is "Promoting Diversity Through Action." All Canadians are diverse, but I guess some Canadians are more diverse than others.)

Anyway, Rev. Boissoin's sentence has been handed down (.pdf here), and Mr. Levant goes through some of the provisions:

- a total ban on both the Reverend and his organization from publishing in any way, shape, or manner "disparaging remarks" about homosexuality. Levant: "She didn't order him not to communicate anything "illegal" or even anything "hateful". She ordered him to say nothing disparaging. Ever. For the rest of his life."

- a similar ban making any such remarks about Prof. Lund. The man isn't even allowed to argue his case publicly. What's more...

-a written apology to Prof. Lund, published in the Red Deer Advocate, and $5000 cash damages; in addition, court costs for the prosecution's witness up to $2000 .

The best part about it is that five years ago the Alberta HRC ruled in favor of Rev. Boissoin. Lund had to appeal in order to win his case; in effect, he got a do-over.

No matter whom one agrees with in this case, I think it's obvious that the effect of the ruling is not to open debate, but to silence and stifle it. One can't even argue against Rev. Boissoin's side if one wished, because there is no way for that side to respond. It's like a hockey game in which one side is not permitted to have any sticks. Sure you can beat them, but does that really show that you have a good team? You only know when you come up against a team that can meet you on equal terms. Likewise, in order to prove Rev. Boissoin wrong you need him to be free to give you his best rebuttal; only then can you hope to eventually craft an argument that answers all the strongest objections and carries the day.

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