President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau conclude their news conference in the Rose Garden of White House in Washington, Thursday, March 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Canada Toys with Free Speech Restrictions

When I was a kid, my parents told me to simply ignore people who insulted me or called me names.  Apparently, not everyone was taught the same thing.

A liberal member of Canada’s parliament has introduced legislation which would ban “Islamophobia” and prosecute it as a hate crime.  What is and isn’t “Islamophobia” would presumably be left up to the courts to decide, since it is ill-defined in the bill.  The bill is currently tabled, but many are pushing for it to be brought up again for consideration.

This is part of a larger trend of attacking free speech within Western countries.  This particular bill relates to “Islamophobia,” but there are attempts in Canada to criminalize speech which is perceived as insulting to other groups.  There are also rumblings within the United States by those who would like to see similar bills introduced here.

These types of bills or laws present a major problem.  For, in a world where each protected group is able to claim a “safe space” for themselves, there is no room left for open debate.  Granted, open debate often involves insults and ad hominem attacks, but that is the price to pay for being an adult.  If we can’t deal with being insulted or offended, then we are not a people who are able to handle the responsibilities of liberty and self-governance.  Instead, we are a people who must be “protected” by an all-powerful government.

Thus, the question is, “If someone insults me or some facet of my being, what is the proper response?”

Is the answer to use the government to force that person to be quiet or comply with my wishes?  If so, then what those who support these types of laws are really saying is, “I want to use the police power of the state to silence anyone who disagrees with my point of view, my beliefs, or my actions.”

Or, is the proper response to personal insults simply to ignore the other person or engage in civil debate?  If so, then there is a recognition in this response that I don’t need the affirmation of another person to be myself.  I can be who I am, regardless of another’s response.  Don’t we teach our children this?

 

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Aaron Simms

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