Posted by: Christine Johnson | March 6, 2008

Censorship at Its Finest

Modern Commentaries has a story about a crusade to silence bloggers in Canada with “lifetime speech bans” – something that has actually already happened to some people – for not following along with certain liberal ideals. In her post, Amy highlights this snippet from Connie Fournier at No Apologies:

Free Dominion was served with a human rights complaint last summer which was later dropped. Currently, we are in the midst of one defamation suit initiated by Richard Warman, and we have been served notice of another suit by Warman, as well as notice of a joint suit by Warman and Warren Kinsella. Ezra Levant is fighting a human rights complaint before the Alberta Human Rights Commission, and he has been served with notice of a defamation suit from Richard Warman. Mark Steyn is fighting several human rights complaints, and he is suffering almost daily abuse on Warren Kinsella’s blog. The most vocal writers who have been fighting the human rights commissions have been threatened with lawsuits and worse. Blogger Mike Brock even received an email that read, “I hope that type of sentiment comforts you the day you find yourself staring down the barrel of a 12 gauge shotgun, Mike.”

We believe that there will be more lawsuits coming, and it is absolutely critical that we go the distance. We will lose our chance to reclaim our right to free speech in every other medium if we lose the stronghold we have built on the internet. We cannot allow even one more website to go dark, or for another blogger to shut down their comments out of fear of the radical left.

Think this hasn’t got much to do with those of us in the United States? Think again.

If you run a conservative blog, or an orthodox Catholic/Christian blog, or anything blog that runs afoul of what “offends” the liberal left, politically correct and perpetually offended, they’ll come after you. The men in this case are Richard Warman and Warren Kinsella. Remember those names, because they’re coming for you.

Even if you don’t live in Canada, how long will it take for the defamation suits to go south of the border? Not very.

[UPDATE: Actually, Warman is already trying to block U.S. websites. From Ezra Levant:

written about how Richard Warman, the former Canadian Human Rights Commission staffer who is now the CHRC’s biggest customer for thought crime complaints, has tried to censor Canadian libraries in British Columbia and Ontario.

But the largest libraries in the world now, of course, are online. And defamation suits and human rights complaints — Warman’s preferred tools of censorship — don’t work as well if the libraries and other websites in question are based in the United States. Their robust First Amendment means that U.S. defamation law is not an effective censorship tool, and that country does not — yet, at least — have anything as pernicious as Canada’s various thought crimes laws.

Well, if a Canadian can’t censor U.S. websites, can he get Internet companies here in Canada to block those U.S. sites from Canadian Internet users, like Communist China does with politically incorrect sites? That’s exactly what Warman sought to do in an application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

I’m not an expert in telecommunications law, but from what I gather, Canada’s big Internet companies like Rogers and Bell are governed by the Telecommunications Act (apparently little ISP’s aren’t). Section 36 of that Act specifically bans communication companies from interfering with content without government approval — and that includes censoring websites:

Except where the Commission approves otherwise, a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.

Well, that’s what Warman — and the censors at the Canadian Jewish Congress — asked the Commission to do. In the written application to the CRTC filed by his lawyers, Warman asks not only for the CRTC’s “permission” under section 36 to ban two particular U.S. websites, but he also asks for:

Directions on procedure… whereby Canadian carriers and other interested parties can present their views as to whether the blocking of these URLs should be made a final order of the Commission and whether the blocking of these websites should be mandatory for all Canadian ISPs.

Amy’s got more, with plenty of links to other articles on the topic.

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