In his column for the Mail On Sunday for May 28, Peter Hitchens opened by saying "Human rights are a threat to free speech." This is absolutely correct, as we know all too well here in Canada where the ideology of human rights, enshrined in law in the Canadian Human Rights Act, has been used to stifle and chill freedom of speech.
It is bad enough that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act allowed for political dissidents to be silenced because the expression of their views was interpreted as being "hate speech" and therefore a violation of other people's "human rights". Our defamation laws, which are in serious need of revision so as to prevent their abuse, are also being used to discourage criticism of Section 13 and those who have used Section 13 to silence people whose views they don't like.
Mark and Connie Fournier, the founders and administrators of the conservative message board Free Dominion, have been fighting litigation for a number of years now, primarily from Richard Warman. Richard Warman's website describes him as a "Canadian human rights lawyer". A former employee of the Canadian Human Rights Commission he has in recent years come under heavy, and in my opinion deserved, criticism for filing Section 13 complaints as a form of political activism.
During the case of Warman V. Lemire evidence was introduced by the defence that the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Warman engaged in ethically dubious online behavior, that I, and I think most people, would consider to be a form of entrapment. One particular accusation, that the defence made against the CHRC and Warman, would suggest an even worse form of prosecutorial misconduct than entrapment - it would suggest the planting of evidence. This accusation was reported by Jonathan Kay in the National Post. The National Post article was then quoted and reproduced throughout the internet, including at Free Dominion. Warman denied the accusation, then proceeded to sue the National Post, Free Dominion, and a host of other people including conservative writers Ezra Levant and Kathy Shaidle for defamation.
This however, is only part of the legal difficulties Warman has given the Fourniers.
Warman had already filed another lawsuit against the Fourniers and Free Dominion, which named eight "John Does" as co-defendants. These are eight people who post under screen names, i.e., internet aliases that are not their real names, at Free Dominion. This quickly became a lawsuit over the issue of internet anonymity. Warman demanded that the Fourniers turn over the IP and e-mail addresses of the "John Does" to him. The Fourniers refused to do so, and have been fighting ever since. Initially, the case was decided in Warman's favour and the Fourniers were ordered to turn over the IP and e-mail addresses of the "John Does" to Warman. They appealed this decision, and in May of last year won their appeal. The Appellate Court in overturning Warman's original victory, established standards that complainants would have to meet if they want a judge to order the personal information of anonymous internet posters turned over to them.
Warman then filed another motion against the Fourniers in an attempt to secure a ruling in his favour under the new rules. This Tuesday, on May 31st, he received that ruling. The most recent judge's decision is disgusting and disturbing. Apparently calling people bad names now constitutes actionable defamation - even if the judge doesn't understand what the bad name means. As Connie Fournier writes:
If the new Divisional Court test can be thwarted by a judge essentially saying, "I'm not sure what this means but it SOUNDS bad, so the privacy must be stripped from these individuals", then the whole test becomes meaningless. (http://www.freedominion.com.pa/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=1621218#1621218)
We are constantly told that we need "human rights laws" to protect the "weak and vulnerable". Unfortunately, however, laws that are designed to protect "the weak and vulnerable" are easily abused. It is not right that someone should be liable to huge fines and life-time gag orders for mere words posted on the internet. It is not right that laws against defamation, which exist to protect people from those who would ruin their reputations and livelihoods by deliberately spreading falsehoods about them, can be used to silence criticism of those who use "hate speech" laws to silence dissent.
Please pray for Mark and Connie Fournier as their legal battle against their persecutors continues. If you are able, also please consider making a donation to Free Dominion to help pay their enormous legal costs.
Also pray for all others who face lawsuits from Richard Warman, that they might prevail.
Also pray for Richard Warman. Jesus told us to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" and Himself set the example by praying, for those who nailed Him to the Cross (which includes all of us for it is our sins that He died) "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". Pray that God will humble Richard Warman's heart, that he might be converted like Saul of Tarsus, and bring forth fruit meet for repentence, like Zaccheus making reparations to those he has wronged.
Finally, pray for Canada, that we will get the reforms to our laws and courts which are so badly needed.
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