A Free Speech Question

Question: Is someone you know or follow being denied their right to free speech?

People have been getting fired from their jobs for speaking their mind. People have been getting banned from publically speaking for freely speaking. Or is it speaking freely?

But is it their inalienable right to speak? What is “free speech” anyways? I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but here is what it means in North America:

In the good old US of A it is defined by Amendment Numero Uno of the country’s constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Up here in the Great White North, it is defined under a 1982 act which added the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to our constitution. The rights prescribed here are guaranteed to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

There are quite a few rights stated in the charter, but this post is about Free Speech. Section 2(b) of the charter states:

Everyone has the fundamental freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication

Sounds similar to the U.S.’s First Amendment. Canada also has the right to free assembly, etc. Those rights are under other subsections of the charter.

If I understand this correctly, it seems like everyone in North America should be able to say whatever they want! Not so fast! Maybe not. In Canada, our Criminal Code has a couple of sections that prohibit hatred. Under the law, you cannot do the following: advocate genocide – crim. code sec. 318, publicly incite hatred – sec. 319(1), or promote hatred – sec 319(2).

So how does the criminal code define hatred? Actually, it doesn’t. Since it is not defined by the criminal code, it is left up to the courts to decide what it means. And in numerous legal precedents over the years, the lawyers and judges have had a lot of fun doing just that.

In the two sections where the word hatred is used, we see the wording “against an identifiable group”. From my understanding, you can’t be charged for inciting hatred against people who, for example, “don’t brush their teeth”. It has to be any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.

If you’re wondering if I became a lawyer in my spare time, I did not. What I do like to do in my spare time is to catch a good movie at the theatre.

Unfortunately, if I bought tickets to see Jordan Peterson’s new movie at the Carleton Theatre in his home turf of Toronto, I will have to ask for my money back. In this article, I learned that the University professor-turned-public-speaking-sensation has been censored once again.

What about free speech? Why won’t they let the people see the feature film, The Rise of Jordan Peterson?

While his popularity has surged over the last few years (hence the name of the film), he is not popular with everyone. But has he said anything hateful? Is his message so divisive that he deserves to be shut out from speaking in his own home town?

I guess the audience will have to be the judge. If you don’t know who Peterson is, his rise to fame started in 2016 when he spoke out against bill C-16, a bill of law introduced by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. The bill did end up getting passed and added the words “gender identity and expression” to three places, one of which I referenced earlier in the definition of an identifiable group under the so-called “hate speech” law.

So what was Peterson’s problem with the new wording? He was afraid the new law would be used to compel a person to use words they did not wish to use. Specifically, he was talking about “gender pronouns”. While he has since stated that if a theoretical student in his classroom requested he use a specific “gender pronoun”, he would do so at that student’s request. He did not believe it should be the government’s place to compel him to do so.

He was allowed to speak at length about this issue during the Senate hearing on C-16.

Since that time, he has blown up on social media. He has written a book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos. He has appeared on numerous talk shows and participated in many debates. He has gained popularity around the world, but in the words of the article I referenced earlier, some just don’t want to contribute to the “cult of personality around Peterson”.

That is my example of the erosion of free speech in my country. What do you think? Feel free to answer the question I proposed at the beginning of this article, or tell me what you think about Peterson.

After all, I think it is still a free country.

11 thoughts on “A Free Speech Question

  1. I follow Jordan for his carnivore diet! He’s not real popular for that, either. Fascinating guy. Same stuff going on in the U.S. Whatever happened to “I don’t agree with a word you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”–Patrick Henry Though I happen to be fine with gay people and all, I am not sure it should be illegal for someone to say they don’t believe it is “normal.” For religious reasons or scientific/evolutionary ones. I don’t consider that “hate speech.” Hate speech was protected in this country until very recently. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to think either. Above all, this is a very slippery slope. One we shouldn’t be going down… Nice post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by to read the article and for your comment.

      I heard about Jordan’s carnivore diet in one of his interviews. His daughter apparently found relief from some of her health issues with the same diet. I’m curious about it.

      I am fine with all people as well. No one should be treated with hatred but refusing to call someone a made-up word of their choosing does not fall in that category, in my opinion. If the person requested I call them by their chosen word I would probably do it anyway.

      Like

  2. Instead of the beginning of the article, I will address the end. It is NOT a free country because people have free speech; it is free because it was stolen when the legal owners were silenced. Unless people stand up for their rights, well…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s been my hope that the trend of silencing would be forgotten. I hoped, but I knew better… And here we are. Freedom of speech is being hindered every day. Every day people battle for it. It’s absolutely ridiculous to hear that a show/ movie/ concert/ whatehaveyou gets cancelled because of the opposition against the performer. If you don’t like what he says, don’t go. If you don’t like what he says, don’t let your under-aged kids go. Otherwise, you should just move on. We cannot expect everyone to listen to only one type of music. Why are we expecting people to see eye to eye on more serious issues?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Okay, you don’t need to answer where you live for now I know. I wondered if you were Canadian actually, after I asked, for I’d thought the US and Canada could say prime minister. Anyways, so onto free speech. It’s interesting, I just commented on Anne’s blog – https://allinadaysbreath.wordpress.com/ – that when I’m interested in a topic, then everyone is writing about it. I should find the comment, but either way. What I was saying to someone yesterday, and someone else today, is that in the effort to be accepting and liberal they’re marginalising those on the other end of the spectrum. So in the effort to protect the marginalised’s rights, they’re going against the rights of others. Which is twisted and way worse than it was (like the schools here in the UK have to teach against their religion and about other religions and cultures, even if they think it’s detrimental to the children. Like the religious on a campus in uni in the US having to leave campus – an organisation I mean – because they’re going against the rights of the ‘marginalised’ by believing differently to them, so instead of people being protected, you’ve people being hurt and prosecuted for believing anything, even if they are accepting and not preaching, just existing). Okay, rant over. Just been going on with so many examples from online, real life and different countries. It’s painful to see.
    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Answer to 1st question:
    The blogs that WP wiped out didn’t get the 1st Amendment protections even tho those blogs were created on an American platform. But, private industry isn’t subject to the same governmental rules.

    Jordan Peterson? Heard of him…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You Asked — Is someone you know or follow being denied their right to free speech?

    My Answer — No

    You Stated — People have been getting fired from their jobs for speaking their mind.

    My Response — But they did practice free speech.

    You Stated — “In the good old US of A it is defined by Amendment Numero Uno of the country’s constitution:”

    My Response — Which is only for Congress not for businesses.

    You Stated — “If I understand this correctly, it seems like everyone in North America should be able to say whatever they want!”

    My Response:
    “You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.”
    — A Universal Paradox

    You Asked — “So what was Peterson’s problem with the new wording?”

    My Response — Fear

    Like

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