Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bruce Bawer Uses Exactly the Right Adjective--"Quaint"--to Describe the Canadian Supreme Court Ruling in the Whatcott Case

He writes:
As the major Enlightenment thinkers and America’s Founding Fathers understood, free speech is really quite a simple matter. Yes, out-and-out libel is something else, as is shouting fire in a crowded theater. But beyond that, either speech is free or it isn’t. The Canadian Supreme Court’s decision – with its tangled, tortuous logic, its quaint, absurd confidence in the possibility of “objectively” ascertaining whether this or that statement is capable of engendering hate, and its prioritizing of group sensitivities over truth itself – has now verified that north of the border, speech is decidedly unfree. And they’ve done this, supposedly, for the benefit of the kinds of groups targeted by Bill Whatcott’s rhetoric.
Not having read Bawer's analysis beforehand, I used the identical word when I dashed off a letter to the editor earlier this morning. Here's how it began:
The word that struck me as I read portions of the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling on the Whatcott case and hate speech in general was "quaint." How "quaint" of these esteemed justices, who apparently live back in an era that pre-dates the Internet and spawns such as Facebook and Twitter, to believe that "hate speech" as they define it (or rather, don't define so much as further muddy the meaning so as to make it virtually meaningless) can be corralled and contained by our domestic censors...
I guess great minds etc., etc., eh?

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