Red Deer Advocate to Lori Andreachuk
Reprinted from EzraLevant.com: http://ezralevant.com/2008/06/red-deer-advocate-to-lori-andr.html
Red Deer Advocate to Lori Andreachuk: we're not your propaganda organ
Out of the 400+ blog posts I've written this year the one that has attracted the most readers has been the one about the Stalinist sentence that the Alberta human rights commission's divorce lawyer/censor-in-chief Lori Andreachuk meted out to the Alberta pastor Stephen Boissoin.
That story created a buzz because Andreachuk's order was so un-Canadian -- a Christian pastor was ordered to recant his views, publicly renounce his faith, and never speak "disparagingly" again, for the rest of his life, about either homosexuality or the particular gay rights activist who hauled him before the HRC.
Another part of the order that Rev. Boissoin must follow is:
Mr. Boissoin [must] provide Dr. Lund with a written apology for the article in the Red Deer Advocate which was the subject of this complaint
request [his] written apology for the contravention of the Act be published in the Red Deer Advocate.
Well, yesterday the Red Deer Advocate had something to say about Commissar Andreachuk using them as her personal propaganda organ. It's one of the best Op-Eds I've written on the subject -- a mix of strong analysis and obvious passion. It impressed me, for I always bore a bit of a grudge against the Red Deer Advocate for agreeing to a plea bargain with the Alberta HRC several years ago -- they had been the target of the same complaint as Rev. Boissoin was, and instead of fighting it, Maclean's-style, they succumbed. I suppose I shouldn't blame them too much -- they're a business that has to make money, and fighting against the bullies at the HRC costs a fortune. But yesterday's Op-Ed makes up for whatever moral ground was lost in that first capitulation. Here are some extended excerpts; but the whole thing is great. I've highlighted some especially good parts:
A lot of folks in Alberta and beyond are feeling bruised and abused by the Alberta human rights commission’s conduct in dealing with a letter to the editor that was published on this page six years ago today.
We at the Advocate are among them.
We have had our eyes opened to some state-sanctioned ugliness.
The letter, by a local pastor, expressed love and compassion for some homosexuals, while decrying the activist homosexual agenda of some educators, MPs, judges (and possibly, though not specifically mentioned, Advocate editorialists who have long supported gay rights.)
Stephen Boissoin’s letter promoted a flurry of responses, pro and con, in our pages and two complaints to the Alberta human rights commission against the Advocate.
...a lengthy, dispiriting process that culminated at the end of May with the rights commission ordering Boissoin:
• to pay two people whom the commission acknowledges were not direct victims of his words — $5,000 to Lund for ridicule and harassment and up to $2,000 to a witness;
• to apologize in writing to Lund;
• to ask that the Advocate publish his letter of apology and the commission’s seven-page Decision on Remedy.
Boissoin has no intention of apologizing, as he makes clear in a letter on this page.
The galling presumption of the rights commission to subvert a newspaper’s own judgments over whether, when or where it should publish coerced opinions offers a window into its dangerous thinking.
...The more fundamental and serious defects of the rights commission surround its flawed processes that can lead to repressive and dangerous fallout.
Canada has criminal laws against libel and expressing hatred. Those laws are applied in courts, after police investigations and careful review by skilled prosecutors.
They are argued by lawyers before a judge, in a legal framework with rules of evidence that protect all sides.
The Alberta human rights commission, and others like it across the country, lack these tested and protective structures.
...The effects of how their processes are applied and findings are enforced endanger free speech and liberty.
The rights commission judged that Boissoin’s words “likely” exposed homosexuals to hatred or contempt. That’s a judgment based on scant evidence and a warped reading of Boissoin’s comments. It was arrived at by ignoring some of Boissoin’s phrases and misinterpreting others.
...Now, the rights of Albertans to publicly express views that they honestly believe are being constrained not by criminal law, but by fear of being hauled before a rights commission and the certainty of accumulating massive legal bills to defend themselves.
More egregiously, the rights commission not only wants to censure hateful speech (a laudable goal), but to pre-emptively deny some Albertans the right to express their legitimate views on certain topics.
The commission forbids Boissoin from writing “disparaging remarks” about gays — a phrase that has dubious legal weight — and forbids him, in advance, from writing critically about Lund’s involvement in this case.
This is called prior restraint. It’s an abomination in any free and democratic society.
But it’s what Lund sought and what the misguided rights commission has agreed to order.
I think that's the toughest Op-Ed I've ever read on the subject. Good for the Red Deer Advocate, and for Joe McLaughlin.
I'm also glad that the Advocate allowed Rev. Boissoin to publish a letter to the editor, too. You can read it here in full. Some excerpts, with my bold and underlining. It contains some stunning details I had missed:
[The Advocate] quotes Lund saying, “I certainly didn’t request an apology, so that was a bit of a surprise.”
“I don’t see the value in an insincere apology.”
Lund’s response fails to surprise me.
What’s interesting is that an apology is precisely what he sought for almost six years.
Lund’s original complaint to the rights commission asked that I pay thousands of dollars in fines to him and to Egale Canada, a pro-gay lobby group, in addition to a written apology.
He further requested that if I failed to provide the apology, an order be put into place that would ban me from having my opinions published in every major newspaper in Alberta.
Egale responded publicly by refusing to accept a fine designated to them.
Egale further stated that though it does not agree with my opinions, more importantly, it did not support Lund’s complaint against me.
After Lund’s original complaint was rejected, he appealed on University of Calgary letterhead.
Unfortunately, his appeal was granted and he amended his request for a remedy.
He asked for $5,000 for himself, $5,000 payable to an arm of the Alberta Teachers’ Association plus, once again, a written apology.
Here is his request for the apology word for word: “Dr. Lund requests the panel provide an order directing Mr. Boissoin to publish a full apology in the Red Deer Advocate within one month of this panel’s decision. Mr. Boissoin is to apologize for submitting the article and for his views on homosexuality.”
Lund did not just request an apology for my letter to the editor but also for my personal, deeply held religious views.
He went on to request that “If Mr. Boissoin fails to comply with the order, that the panel provide an order disallowing the publication of Mr. Boissoin’s views on homosexuality in any of the major print media in Alberta, including the Red Deer Advocate, Red Deer Express, Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun and Lethbridge Herald.”
These excerpts can be verified at http://www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca/LundDarren113007Pa.pdf
Lund is correct when he says that there is no value in an insincere apology.
But instead of acknowledging that for the last six years he has sought an order that I provide one, he acts totally surprised.
I will never offer an apology. I stand behind what I said (my interpretation of it) in my 2002 letter to the editor.
Imagine a world where an officious, meddling busy-body can request a government bureaucrat to order his political or religious opponent to be banned from writing a letter to the editor of any newspaper in the province. But Darren Lund did more than that; he didn't just request that Rev. Boissoin be gagged; read his demand carefully. He requested that all of Alberta's newspapers themselves be ordered not to publish it, even if they received such a letter.
Andreachuk essentially accepted Lund's fascist request -- she didn't tag the newspapers with her order, but went so far as to ban Rev. Boissoin, forever, from uttering his views even in private e-mails. Again, not just from uttering "hateful" or "discriminatory" views, whatever those are, but anything disparaging at all.
It's been six years since Lund filed his abusive complaint against Rev. Boissoin. That's how slow and grinding these commissions are. I should know -- I'm coming up on 900 days in my own case, being prosecuted by the keystone cops at the Alberta HRC.
It's good to see the Red Deer Advocate standing up so vigorously to the HRC, and publishing Rev. Boissoin again. But the fact remains: Andreachuk's order stands. And Premier Ed "Ed" Stelmach is fine with that, as if his freshman cabinet minister in charge of the HRC, Lindsay Blackett.
Why don't you e-mail them each here and here, and let them know if you're on the side of Rev. Boissoin, the Advocate and free speech, or on the side of Andreachuk, Lund, censorship, bullying and the Alberta government?