It's Not Just About The Jews. It's About All Of Us
I ask this question: why is Ernst Zündel in a German prison and David Irving in an Austrian one? Because both those countries, based on well justified national shame, make it a law to deny the Holocaust.
Surely this is unacceptable.
That’s the debate my fellow columnist and esteemed colleague Rafe Mair has just set in motion in the Tyee. And quite possibly it would be unacceptable, as he argues, if it were entirely accurate. It isn’t.
In fact, Zündel is in a German prison because he was convicted on 14 counts of inciting hatred. He had engaged in anti-Semitic activities for years, and these activities included using his website to spread the foul and hateful lie known as "Holocaust denial" - which is indeed a crime in Germany.
It is also a fact that although he engaged in his disgusting activities for several years in Canada, Zündel is in a German prison because he is a German. He was found to be a dangerously undesirable non-citizen (notwithstanding the currently fashionable "No One Is Illegal" rhetoric) under Canada's Security Certificate law and he was lodged in a Toronto prison in 2003. His appeals were exhausted in 2005, at which point he was issued a one-way ticket back to his beloved fatherland.
Mair cites Zundel's successful battles against the "false news" provisions of Canada's criminal code and concludes: The fact that Zündel escaped the consequences of his filthy mind and actions tells me that Canadians are much inclined to regard freeing people like that as the insurance premium free people pay for the preservation of that freedom.
Again, that's not quite right. Zündel did not escape the consequences of his filthy mind in Canada, so Canadians deserve neither credit nor blame. It’s true that Zündel successfully fought his Criminal Code charges on the grounds that the crime of spreading “false news” was an unwarranted restraint on free speech, but in 2002 a Canadian tribunal found Zündel guilty on charges that he had violated Section 13 of Canada’s Human Rights Act.
That section prohibits the act of inciting hatred or contempt of a group identifiable by “race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.” Zündel was found to have quite clearly and unambiguously engaged in the act of inciting a hatred or contempt of Jews.
Zündel fled Canada prior to the finding, continued operating his website from the United States, then got deported back to Canada where he was locked up under a Security Certificate. He was then deported to Germany where he was tried, convicted and ultimately tossed into The Manheim Crowbar Hotel on February 15, to serve a five-year sentence.
Zündel’s German conviction rested partly upon the same evidence gathered against him for his 2002 Canadian Human Rights Act violations. So, if there some big debate Canadians should be having about this, as Rafe proposes, it should be about whether Section 13 of the Human Right Act is an unwarranted trespass upon free speech.
Section 13 states: “It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically [“including the Internet”] or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination."
I’m not so convinced that this law unreasonably restrains free speech. Whether it does or not, it is most certainly not just about holocaust denial, and it is most certainly not just about a prohibition on the incitement to hatred of Jews.
It’s about prohibiting the incitement to hatred of Muslims, Catholics, Asians, gay people, and so on. We're Canadians, and that’s the way our law works.
It's about all of us.