AR-Online logo 



Posted Sunday, December 13, 1998



December 11, 1998

The use of 'truth' must remain unfettered

says Peter Stockland


IT IS ALARMING enough to hear left-wing nutbars in B.C.'s NDP government want criminal code restictions on the truth.

More worrisome still is learning that federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan and her provincial counterparts largely approve the idea.

Though little publicized, the country's justice ministers met in Regina earlier this fall to discuss toughening up criminal laws against hate propaganda.

Under urging from B.C. Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh and his cadre of social reconstruction bureaucrats, the ministers approved in principle reforms that must raise the neck hair of all concerned about free speech and the free contest of ideas.

In fairness, a spokesman for the Alberta justice ministry made clear to me this province is taking careful steps to ensure implementation doesn't violate fundamental democratic principles.

Spokesman Peter Tadman said Justice Minister Jon Havelock signed off on the general proposals, his support is contingent on the details passing full Charter of Rights review.

Pierre Gratton, press secretray for McLellan, also stressed the federal justice minister is a year away from introducing legislation reflecting the proposals.

However, he added: "The assumption is there is full support to move forward and develop the legislation."

Even that should give serious pause. One troublesome proposal would let police seize computer hard drives suspected of containing hate propaganda.

It wouldn't be necessary to actually disseminate the material. The mere possession of words or images deemed "hateful" could bring Constable Longnose and company battering through the domicile door.

Worse, under the reforms, accused hate-mongers would be unable to defend themselves on the basis of sincere belief in the truth of whatever they were allegedly mongering.

Gratton said this planned restriction is meant to keep courtrooms from becoming platforms for spouting such things as Holocaust denial.

"Figuring out how we'd do that is the work that still has to be done."

It is a delicate business, indeed, and one arguably better left aside in a democratic society.

However great and glorious original intention might be, the risk is enormous that government, and the courts through criminal law, will become arbiters of acceptable opinion, adjudicators of history.

The consequences are evident from a case in Holland where judges decreed this week that a book publisher will be heavily fined if it prints a tract challenging the authenticity of Anne Frank's diaries.

The screed apparently claims the diaries were written by Frank's father, not by the young woman who's a worldwide symbol of Nazi atrocity.

The publisher has a reputation for printing Holocaust denial books so the courts ruled the Anne Frank book, is by association, just another in that vein.

Now, I cannot understand why anyone would engage in such a spurious pursuit as Holocaust denial. The Holocaust happened. People by the boxcar load--including Anne Frank--suffered and died in circumstances of unimaginable horror.

If the devil is in the details of that horror, then those obsessed with finding and contesting them can go to hell as far as I'm concerned. Life is too short, and too precious.

Saying that, however, does not mean the state should use criminal sanction to deny the deniers the freedom to hold their fetid versions of the truth.

We may all agree that hatred is a contemptible thing. But can we agree, in language precise enough to sustain criminal charges, exactly what constitutes hatred? Is it really a mere demented opinion? Worse, is it simply a point of view we find objectionable?

Increasingly, the word is being used in this latter sense. Conservatives in all the world's major faiths are now quite accustomed, for example, to having truth they hold sacred decried as "hatred" when they conflict with late 20th-century amorality.

On a more local level, the cartoonist at this newspaper was publicly accused Wednesday of being "hateful" for his lampoon of the tax-funded National Action Committee on the Status of Women.

Granted, not even the lunacies cooked up by B.C.'s socialist silly geese would likely land the Herald's Vance Rodewalt in the hoosegow for his drawings. But the defining down of what constitutes true hatred, and the ubiquity with which the debased term is toosed around, makes any legal restrictions on the use of truth a dangerous path to tread.

It is one thing for B.C.-style lefties to skip obliviously along that route since they believe truth is just a social construct anyway. We need only look next door to see the sort of social horror show they yearn to construct.

For the rest of us, alarm bells should be ringing. So should the office phone of every justice minister in the land.


Stockland can be reached at (403) 235-7562 or E-mail at

The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical

 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

[ Go back to AR Online Index | Index to AR.#14 | Go to Main Action Report Index ]

Order books | Auschwitz Index | Irving Index | Irving Page | Irving Book-List | Other FP Authors
Buchladen | Auschwitz | Irving-Verzeichnis | -Hauptseite | -Bücher | Weitere FP-Autoren
© Focal Point 1998 [e-mail] write to David Irving