Archive for June 27th, 2008

Canadian Human Rights Commission complaint against MacLeans dismissed

June 27, 2008

Macleans Magazine has issued a press release regarding the Canadian Human Rights Commision‘s dismissal of the complaint brought against it by the Canadian Islamic Congress.

The complaint was based on the accusation that MacLeans Magazine had published a number of Islamophobic articles most notably an excerpt from Mark Steyn‘s book America Alone.

A complaint was originally filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission which ruled that it did not have jurisdiction. However in doing so they summarily convicted MacLeans with their comments.

While freedom of expression must be recognized as a cornerstone of a functioning democracy, the Commission has serious concerns about the content of a number of articles concerning Muslims that have been published by Maclean’s magazine and other media outlets. This type of media coverage has been identified as contributing to Islamophobia and promoting societal intolerance towards Muslim, Arab and South Asian Canadians. The Commission recognizes and understands the serious harm that such writings cause, both to the targeted communities and society as a whole. And, while we all recognize and promote the inherent value of freedom of expression, it should also be possible to challenge any institution that contributes to the dissemination of destructive, xenophobic opinions.

A complaint was also filed with the BC Human Rights Tribunal which heard the case over a 5 day period beginning on June 2nd, 2008, which was live-blogged by columnist Andrew Coyne here, here, here, here, here and here.

A decision has yet to be rendered on this one.

I wonder if the Canadian HRC’s dismissal of the case is based on the realization that they may have bitten off more than they can chew. This case has drawn a great deal of unwanted publicity as to how arbitrary and one-sided their process is and they may rightfully be afraid that the government may be moved to reduce their power.

Which is exactly what the provincial and federal governments should do. Any government organization with the power to impact people’s lives to the extent that the HRCs can do, with the mantra that ‘truth is not a defence’, need to be severely curtailed.

Interestingly enough, I cannot find any reference on the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s website that refers to their dismissing the case against MacLeans. I’ll keep looking.

U.S. Supreme Court confirms individual right to own firearms

June 27, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court issued their decision in the District of Columbia v Heller and in a 5 to 4 decision came down in favour of the individual right to own a firearm.

An article on Yahoo News reported:

In the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia said the Second Amendment protected an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

However, the reporter couldn’t resist putting a bit of negativity into the article, nothing which had any relevance to the decision.

The ruling came the day after a worker at a plastics plant in Henderson, Kentucky, used a handgun to shoot and kill five people inside the factory before killing himself, the latest in a series of deadly shooting sprees across the country.

The United States is estimated to have the world’s highest civilian gun ownership rate. Gun deaths average 80 a day in the United States, 34 of them homicides, according to Centers for Disease Control data.

But then it was ever thus.

Some cautions were noted over at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Although Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in Heller firmly establishes the Court’s recognition of an individual right to bear arms, it also lists a large number of “presumptively valid” firearms regulations, including “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” The opinion also recognizes the validity of “the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “‘dangerous and unusual weapons.'” Many of these exceptions to the right to bear arms could potentially be used to swallow up the rule. Most obviously, “laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms” could easily be drafted in ways that make the purchase of firearms prohibitively difficult or expensive for most ordinary citizens. For example, Justice Scalia emphasizes that the right to bear arms is historically rooted in the right to self-defense. State and local governments could potentially enact laws requiring would-be gun purchasers to provide extensive and specific evidence that they really do need a firearm for self-defense before allowing them to purchase guns.

Actually, there is a lot of commentary on the Heller Decision over at the Volokh Conspiracy that is worth the read.

Dave Kopel has initial comments here.

You can bet your boots that lawyers working for anti-gun administrations are already burning the midnight oil looking for ways to subvert this decision.

On the positive side U.S. gun owners have received a powerful statement of their rights of ownership, but they haven’t seen the end to the battle. The courts will be busy in years to come.