- Elisabete Teixeira
- 8825 acessos
Thursday, September 10, 2009
In late November 2007, the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC) ruled that Pastor Stephen Boissoin and the Concerned Christian Coalition (CCC) violated Alberta's human rights law by publishing a letter in a local newspaper that was "likely to expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt because of their sexual preference". On May 30, in the penalty phase of the proceedings, the AHRC ruled that Boissoin and CCC must pay damages equivalent to $7,000 as a result of the tribunal's decision to side with the complainant, homosexual activist Darren Lund.
The ruling also ordered Boissoin and CCC to cease publishing "disparaging remarks" about homosexuals in the future in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet. Furthermore, Boissoin was ordered to publicly apologize to Lund in a local newspaper statement.
Boissoin has publicly stated that he "will never offer an apology" and has appealed the ruling. His court appearance is scheduled for September 16-17. As is to be expected in a case that has dragged on for seven years, his court costs have accumulated to over $150,000. You can make a donation to his legal costs online by going to http://www.stephenboissoin.com/. I know that I am planning to.
Please remember this case in prayer. Pray that Mr. Boissoin’s lawyers will get a fair hearing and that his appeal will be successful.
This is an important case for freedom of expression and belief here in Canada. Mr. Boissoin has been effectively muzzled by a quasi-legal body for the rest of his life from ever expressing his biblically-based views on homosexuality. In what is reminiscent of Soviet show trials, he is also being forced to publicly apologize for a crime he claims never to have committed.
Update: Canadian pastor appeals ruling
Pastor Stephen Boissoin is scheduled to appear in court on September 16-17 to appeal a ruling made by the Alberta Human Rights Commission in May 2008 that he and the Concerned Christian Coalition violated the province's human rights law by publishing a letter in a local newspaper that was "likely to expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt because of their sexual preference".
Update: Rev. Stephen Boissoin prevails against Alberta's human-rights censors
There is no denying that Stephen Boissoin of Red Deer, Alta. scores low on the free-to-be-you-and-me scale. In a notorious June 17, 2002 letter to theRed Deer Advocate, he excoriated the “homosexual machine” and “militant homosexual agenda” that, in his opinion, was spreading “all manner of wickedness” in Canadian society. He ended with a call to moral arms, urging “Mr. and Mrs. Heterosexual” to “start taking back what the enemy has taken from you.”
In other words, it was more or less a standard-issue manifesto from a Christian culture warrior, setting out a doctrinaire version of the Biblical view of homosexuality as a grave sin. The language is creaky and old-fashioned — and perhaps even bigoted to modern ears. Yet it encapsulates the way that millions of religiously observant Canadians feel about the subject. And, as Alberta’s Court of Appealaffirmedthis week, he should have every right to say it.
Unfortunately, it has taken Mr. Boissoin a full decade to vindicate his rights. And during this time, he has endured a Kafkaesque ordeal.
A few weeks after his article appeared, a gay activist named Darren Lund blamed Mr. Boissoin’s letter for providing local homophobes with “encouragement,” including those who allegedly had beaten a gay teenager in Red Deer. In July, 2002, Mr. Lund drafted a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, arguing that Mr. Boissoin and his group, the Concerned Christian Coalition, were in violation of the province’s Human Rights, Multiculturalism and Citizenship Act, which prohibits published material that “is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt.”
In an appalling 2008 decision, a one-person human-rights panel not only ordered Mr. Boissoin to pay $5,000 to Mr. Lund, and write an apology; but also ordered the man to cease all commentary on issues relating to gays in newspapers, the internet, or broadcast media. The fact that Alberta’s human-rights law also contains a clause declaring that “nothing in this section shall be deemed to interfere with the free expression of opinion on any subject” was brushed aside as if it were meaningless.
As noted above, the logic of the human-rights panel was like something out ofThe Trial. At one point in its decision, the panel shut down the defendant’s free-speech argument by declaring that “there appeared to be no raging debate in the community at the time the letter was published.” To which any defender of free speech might reply: How can there be a debate, in the first instance, if any effort to communicate one side of that debate is met with censorship …with such censorship being justidied on the grounds that there’s no debate?
In the grand sweep of Canadian jurisprudence, the Boissoin case may not seem significant at first blush. Yet it is highly symbolic of a large and important trend.
The late 2000s, when this case first was litigated, marked the cresting of human-rights-mandated censorship in Canada. For it was during this period that journalist-activists such as Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn began calling attention to the behavior of politically correct, complainant-friendly human-rights mandarins who typically have little or no actual legal training. In 2009, Mr. Levant publishedShakedown: How Our Government Is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights, a book-length catalog of Canada’s most jaw-dropping “human rights” outrages; and he used his book tour as an opportunity to raise funds for the legal defence of Mr. Boissoin, who was able to appeal his case to Alberta’s court system.
And sure enough, that same year, a Queen’s Bench judge tore apart the human-rights verdict against Mr. Boissoin. He concluded there was no evidence to support Mr. Lund’s claim that someone had been attacked — nor the claim that the alleged attackers had read Mr. Boissoin’s article. He also overturned the panel’s conclusion that Mr. Boissoin’s letter constituted hate speech, and, perhaps most importantly, declared that the panel had no authority to order the wide range of punishments it had imposed.
Mr. Lund appealed that decision to the Alberta Court of Appeal, which rendered its decision this week — another victory for Mr. Boissoin. “Matters of morality, including the perceived morality of certain types of sexual behavior, are topics for discussion in the public forum,” concluded Mr. Justice Clinton O’Brien. “Freedom of speech does not just protect polite speech.” Just so.
As a journalist, I find it especially welcome that Justice O’Brien saw fit to quote at length from an affidavit provided in 2002 by Joe McLaughlin, the managing editor of the newspaper in which Mr. Boissoin’s letter appeared. As my esteemed Alberta counterpart observed, “editorials, commentary and letters written in critical response to Mr. Boissoin’s letter are more likely than not to promote tolerance of homosexuals rather than discrimination.” He also noted that his newspaper published “a flurry of letters [both] supporting and opposing [Mr. Boissoin’s] views.”
That is the spirt of free speech in a nutshell: The solution to speech you think is wrong isn’t censorship; it’s speech you think is right. Though I disagree with Mr. Boissoin’s views on homosexuality, I congratulate him on his victory, which is really a victory for all Canadians who care about ideas — even if he never should have been drawn into this expensive, exasperating decade-long saga in the first place.
Managing Editor for Comment at theNational Post.
Christians! Wake up!
The end is here! Do you have any doubts about it? The question is not:
"Are these the final days of humanity or not?"
But: "Am I ready spiritually?"
Or more alarming still: "Am I ready to suffer for the love of Christ?"
You may refute the idea by saying: "These things don't happen in the Western world, ours is a free society..."
And I say to you: "Well, it's happening now..."