Monday, February 09, 2009

Two cases in point

Human Rights expert Richard Moon testified to a committee of the Ontario Legislature today. You can see more of Moon's testimony preliminary transcript at Kinsella:
There are a number of right-wing critics in Canada who, instead of offering serious and plausible criticism of the Human Rights Code regulations, engage in baseless personal attacks. Without compunction, they accuse the civil servants who are mandated to implement human rights legislation of corruption. They use the term “corruption” freely and very loosely, but always in a way that suggests a significant breach of public trust. The accusations have no substance; they are pieced together out of nothing. But what they achieve, what the commentators want them to achieve, is a general sense that there is a serious problem, even if the specifics of the problem are unknown.
Just what might Prof. Moon mean by "the accusations have no substance; they are pieced together out of nothing"? Two examples come to mind.

One of them was to accuse human rights activist Richard Warman of a nasty racist denunciation of Senator Anne Cools on a racist board in 2003, an accusation that was mindlessly repeated by many conservative bloggers. The problem? It was based on a tissue of half-truths, innuendos, and misunderstandings, as I have shown here and here and here and here, and Warman is suing for defamation.

Or, who can forget the crazy allegation that CHRC employee Dean Steacy had hacked the wifi of an Ottawa woman? Both the RCMP and the privacy commissioner investigated, but both quickly dropped the matter. Why? Because there was no clear evidence that any hacking had taken place (here and here).

My experience of investigating these allegations is that underlying them is a seemingly endless string of exaggerations or half-truths or outright lies.

As Prof. Moon testifies:
Over the last few years, these commentators have made a series of baseless accusations against the members and staff or the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and these claims have leaked into the mainstream media, into the National Post, and into the columns of the Globe and Mail. Believe none of it. As I said at the outset, there are some serious questions to be addressed, but I have come to the conclusion that certain individuals who have played a large role in the campaign against human rights laws and human rights commissions, particularly in the context of hate speech, have no interest in serious debate or in the truth.
And that, as we say, is that.