Friday, March 10, 2006

March 10, 2006 - We're outside Knoxville, and it's 23 degrees. Unbelievable. "Hope y'all brought yer sun screen, you Canadians!"

Got a call from one the Canadian Press's finest, Mr. Colin Perkel, about the important human rights tribunal ruling issued today.

Here's a paragraph on the facts:


[1] The complainant, Richard Warman, has filed a complaint alleging that in 2001 and 2002, the respondents, Alexan Kulbashian and James Scott Richardson, communicated messages over the Internet that exposed individuals who are non-Christian, non-Caucasian, or of "other" national ethnic origins, to hatred or contempt, contrary to s. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. In his complaint form, Mr. Warman named three additional respondents, identified as "Tri-City", "Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team (CECT)", and "Affordable".

And here's a paragraph on the landmark ruling:

"[135] Accordingly, I order Mr. Kulbashian and Mr. Richardson, as well as Affordable and the Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team, to cease and desist from communicating or causing to be communicated, by the means described in s. 13 of the Act, namely the Internet, any matter of the type contained in the Hate Messages that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that the person or persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination."

The financial penalties handed out were puny, but the ruling is historic, I think. Why is it a landmark? Because, as I related to Colin, it effectively refutes the CRTC's cowardly 1998 non-decision that the Internet should be a regulation-free zone, where haters can say whatever they want.

It's also historic because it makes clear that - if an internet service provider is recklessly indifferent to hateful words and images it hosts for others - then it, too, wil be held accountable.

It's about time. The Internet is not unfairly likened to a cyber-sewer - the place where neo-Nazis, stalkers, haters, al-Qaeda, child molesters and violent pornographers have flourished with relative impunity for years. Maybe that will start to change, now. Here's hoping.

Warren Kinsella

Being the rather hardcore supporter of free speech that I am, I dislike decisions such as this and am unconvinced yet that they are either necessary or appropriate.