A very disturbing free speech case has emerged out of Canada: another example of how the West is abandoning principles of free speech in its widening definitions of hate speech. The Alberta Human Rights Commission has punished Rev. Stephen Boission and the Concerned Christian Coalition for anti-gay speech, not only awarding damages but censuring future speech that the Commission deems inappropriate. Boission’s offense came in the form of a letter containing anti-gay language.
Boissoin’s 2002 letter was published in the Red Deer Advocate with the headline “Homosexual agenda wicked” and comparing gay people to pedophiles and drug dealers.
Darren Lund, a high school teacher, with the Alberta Human Rights Commission filed a complaint that the letter constituted a hate crime.
Notably, Lund is now a professor of social justice in Calgary. Yet, he seems to have few qualms about criminalizing free speech: “There are some reasonable lines that need to be drawn and some responsibilities that come along with free speech. . . . I think the ruling was very strong on that, that you can’t just hide behind saying something is my opinion or my belief and that somehow allows hate speech.”
Notably, while the Commission ruled that “there is no direct victim who has come forward,” it still ordered damages paid to Lund.
It further ordered that “Mr. Boissoin and [his organization] The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals.”
I personally could not disagree more with this letter and I find Boissoin and this group of homophobes to be extremely obnoxious. However, it is far more frightening to see an individual and group punished vicariously for the crime of another individual. Moreover, there are many people who believe that homosexuality is a sin and social scourge. I may find them to be prehistoric and prejudiced, but free speech does not exist to protect “good speech” alone. The West appears to be sacrificing this precious right on the alter of political correctness. We do not need the first amendment to protect us from popular speech. What we are seeing in places like Canada is the compelled conformity with majoritarian values. Bossoin and homophobes like him should defeated the open market of ideas — not coerced or punished into silence.