Aug. 02, 2006 - Issue #563: Bombay Calling
Human rights body not doing enough on homophobic website complaint
Wells had alleged that three websites linked to Chandler—freetospeak.ca, concernedchristians.ca and freedomradionetwork.ca—contained material that is “likely to expose persons of an identifiable group to hatred or contempt.”
The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s investigation, received by the complainant in early July, agreed with Wells.
The backstory is a long one, but the nutshell is this: in 2002, Stephen Boissoin wrote a letter to the Red Deer Advocate. In the letter, Boissoin wrote:
From kindergarten class on, our children, your grandchildren are being strategically targeted, psychologically abused and brainwashed by homosexual and pro-homosexual educators.
Our children are being victimized by repugnant and premeditated strategies, aimed at desensitizing and eventually recruiting our young into their camps. Think about it, children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights.
Come on people, wake up! It’s time to stand together and take whatever steps are necessary to reverse the wickedness that our lethargy has authorized to spawn. Where homosexuality flourishes, all manner of wickedness abounds.
Don’t allow yourself to be deceived any longer. These activists are not morally upright citizens, concerned about the best interests of our society. They are perverse, self-centered and morally deprived individuals who are spreading their psychological disease into every area of our lives. Homosexual rights activists and those that defend them, are just as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities.
Darren Lund, a University of Calgary professor, filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission about the letter to the editor. The provincial investigation grinds on.
Boissoin’s letter to the editor is reproduced on Chandler’s
websites. On concernedchristians.ca, the letter is headed by a banner that
declares it to have been “written in love and needed to be said in this
time of homosexual activism.”
Chandler says he and other Boissoin supporters had to battle with the Alberta Human Rights Commission in order to post the proceedings of the provincial commission’s investigation and its correspondence with both Lund and the Concerned Christians of Canada. “We had to win the right to have all the information about the [Boissoin] situation on the internet for all to see,” Chandler says.
Chandler also defended Boissoin’s statements on his radio show, which airs on AM 1140 out of High River. On one show, Boissoin declared he “hate[s] the practice of homosexuality,” and Chandler indicated that it is a physical deficiency that can sometimes be fixed with hormones or steroids. Archived copies of the show are filed on freedomradionetwork.ca.
Because the internet lies within federal jurisdiction, Rob Wells took the issue to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
But Wells believes that the Commission is not doing enough to act on his successful complaint. He argues that the Commission should have taken the extra step of having the offending material immediately removed from the websites. Wells points out that other websites containing hateful material (on the basis of race and ethnicity) have been ordered shut down by the Commission, and he does not see why this one should be any different.
Instead, the Commission will appoint a conciliator in this case, who will try to broker a solution between the two parties.
Wells thinks the conciliator is a waste of time. “Craig Chandler has already stated that he would rather go to jail than cooperate with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.”
In law, hateful speech is not the same as disagreeing with a minority
group’s public policy stand or political tactics. Rather, hate speech
involves portraying a group of people as inferior, depraved or
Wells says that the Boissoin letter does exactly that.
“Hate speech can be broken down like this: does it portray the minority group as having disproportionate power? Does it allege a conspiracy on the part of the minority group? Does it argue that the minority group is intellectually and/or physically inferior? And does it portray the minority group as inherently evil?
“These are the basics of the kind of propaganda people use to dehumanize others. And that’s what you find on these websites.”
While Chandler thinks Boissoin could have chosen better words to express his opinions, the Calgary businessman says this case is a clear instance of freedom of expression.
“Look, no one is causing violence here. No one is asking for violent tactics. I want to make it clear that we are not anti-anything. We are pro-family ... and this is an issue of freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Freedom Radio is like any other media outlet. We talk about the news, have guests, and have the right to express ourselves,” continues Chandler.
Jeff Young, general manager of AM 1140, says his station has no plans to cancel Chandler’s Freedom Radio Network Saturday timeslot, at least for now.
“Until the issue has been decided by the [federal] tribunal, we are not going to take any action. But it must be made very clear that the opinions expressed are those of the radio hosts, not the station.”
Rob Wells believes that the tolerance for hateful remarks about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer people is higher than it is for people who face discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or race.
“Substitute the word ‘black’ or ‘Jewish’ for ‘homosexual’ in Boissoin’s letter and you get something that would land that man in jail,” says Wells.
“Studies done by Statistics Canada show that gay men are more likely [than other identifiable groups] to experience violent assault as a result of hate-based attacks, and they are more likely to die, too. In fact, about 10 gay men die a year as a result of hate-based attacks. So my question is, what’s the quota? How many of us have to die before we take hate speech seriously?” V
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