Saturday, October 16, 2010

Crushing Free Speech in Canada

Inderpaul Chandhoke appears to be either too reckless or too incompetent to be trusted with administering Canadian law. Consider how arrogantly contemptuous the recent ruling of this Justice of the Peace seems to be toward the spirit of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Alex Hundert, who was one of those protesting during the G20 Summit in Toronto, and who has indeed been called a “ringleader,” has now been ordered that he may no longer speak to the media.

It's not that I think that Alex Hundert is right in his beliefs; I actually don't know enough about his opinions to make that judgement one way or the other. But THAT is the point. And even columnist Mark Steyn, whom I usually consider to be a scornful, right-wing jackass, understands clearly why Chandhoke’s ruling about Hundert is completely wrong-headed. Here's what Steyn writes:

“Mr Hundert is an idiotic anarchist, and I couldn't be less interested in hearing his political views, but that's the point of free speech, isn't it? I can't hoot and jeer at Mr Hundert's opinions if the government pre-emptively bans them - and thus in that sense the state is shriveling my freedom as well as his. An open-ended speech ban is not a bail condition pending trial so much as the Red Queen's 'sentence first, verdict afterwards'. But, as in Europe and Australia, the minor commissars of the Canadian state grow ever more comfortable in regulating "opinion and expression". The genius jurist who imposed the speech ban deserves to be better known: Step forward, Mr Inderpaul Chandhoke.”

To give the more often bombastically hardass Steyn his due, here he embraces one of the cardinal principles of liberal enlightenment politics. As Evelyn Hall famously summarized the idea in her biography of Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Inderpaul Chandhoke, on the other hand, seems to believe that it is his officially bestowed privilege to stifle any expression of dissent of which he disapproves. It may be juvenile to observe that if you take the “hand” out of his surname it reveals what his "hand" seems to be trying to do, but the observation is inescapable. This is not justice. This is not the Canadian way. This is one judge whom Canadians cannot afford to keep in place.