Kathy Shaidle

My blogger-husband is being sued for… linking to Mark Steyn’s website?

Posted on October 29 2010 12:00 pm
Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury, now entering its 11th year online. Her latest book is Acoustic Ladylandkathy shaidle, which Mark Steyn calls "a must-read."

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Richard Warman

A short time ago, NewsReal readers got a surprise lesson in Canadian libel law when I was threatened with legal action for blogging (at my own site) about George Soros.

It’s not my first “brush with the law”: in 2008, I was served — along with Ezra Levant and a group of other Canadian conservative bloggers — for allegedly “libeling” a former employee of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

You see, a couple of years back, writers and bloggers like Ezra Levant discovered that this individual had an interesting way of spending his time:

At the federal Canadian Human Rights Commission, for example, one single activist — a lawyer named Richard Warman, who used to work at the commission himself — has filed 26 complaints, nearly 50% of all complaints under that commission’s “hate messages” section. He’s turned it into a part-time job, winning tens of thousands of dollars in “awards” from people he’s complained about in the past few years. Warman is a liberal activist, who likes to complain against Web sites he calls racist or homophobic. He’s had the common sense to stick to suing small, oddball bloggers who can’t fight back.

To put it as clearly as possible: Richard Warman has admitted under oath that he would visit little known “far rightwing” websites, sign up as a fellow “right winger” using screen names like “Lucy,” and engage commenters in “racist” conversations (such as chats about Canada’s immigration policies)  — then turn around and charge the commenters and the site owner with violating Canada’s Section 13 “hate speech” law.

The trouble with Section 13 is that, the way it’s worded, one only has to communicate messages “likely to expose” members of certain protect groups “to hatred or contempt.”

The key word is “likely”. After all, isn’t almost any eventuality “likely,” perhaps in some far off future? And “hatred and contempt” are feelings. Section 13 doesn’t say anything about assault and battery, mind you, or even property damage. Someone else’s hurt feelings are all it takes to get you in trouble, and since anything’s “likely”, you can’t NOT be found guilty.

So you won’t be shocked to learn that, up until very recently (when people like me started raising a stink about this state of affairs) the Canadian Human Rights Commission had a 100% conviction rate on Section 13 cases.

Mark Steyn picks up the tale, in his column for Maclean’s:

Who has availed themselves of the “human rights” protected by Section XIII? In its entire history, over half of all cases have been brought by a sole “complainant,” one Richard Warman. Indeed, Mr. Warman has been a plaintiff on every single Section XIII case before the federal “human rights” star chamber since 2002 — and he’s won every one. That would suggest that no man in any free society anywhere on the planet has been so comprehensively deprived of his human rights. Well, no. Mr. Warman doesn’t have to demonstrate that he’s been deprived of his human rights, only that it’s “likely” (i.e. “highly un-“) that someone somewhere will be deprived of some right sometime. Who is Richard Warman? What’s his story? Well, he’s a former employee of the Canadian Human Rights Commission: an investigator. Same as Shirlene McGovern.

Isn’t there something a little odd in a supposedly necessary Canadian federal “human rights” system used all but exclusively by one lone Canadian who served as a long-time employee of that system? Why should Richard Warman be the only citizen to have his own personal inquisition? (…)

Now, Mark Steyn and Maclean’s have had their own semi-legal problems, but they haven’t been sued by Richard Warman for asking inconvenient questions about where our tax dollars are going.

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