To Ben Mulroney | Oct. 20, 2001 | Orest Slepokura

Thobani has to face music

To Ben Mulroney :

You write ("Thobani has to face music," <>, October 6, 2001):

"Free speech does not exist in a vacuum. There are certain universal truths to which our society adheres. The Holocaust was a mass murder on a scale unprecedented in human history.

"Anyone who says otherwise in a public forum may be accused, tried and convicted of hate."

You flat-out lie when you state, as you do above, that it is held as a "universal truth" the "Holocaust was a mass murder on a scale unprecedented in human history."

Robert Conquest is among the historians most knowledgable on the Stalin era.

In his book on the Stalin-engineered Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33, The Harvest of Sorrow (Oxford University Press: New York, 1986. p. 306), Conquest fixes the number of Ukrainians and other Soviet citizens to die as a result of the collectivization of Soviet agriculture -- a majority either deliberately starved to death or worked to death in Siberian forced labour camps -- at 14.5 million.

Conquest, moreover, red-flags his readers that this number is somewhat on the "conservative" side.

In any case, this dwarfs the 6-million Holocaust figure and puts "paid" to the smug contention the "Holocaust was a mass murder on a scale unprecedented in human history."

(A wee ironic note before I continue: In August 1983, your father, Brian Mulroney, delivered the keynote address before an overflow crowd at the Ukrainian Heritage Village outside Vegreville, Alberta, marking the 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian Famine.)

You are also mistaken when you suggest that truth in any way applies in the prosecution of hate speech. As Professor Ian Hunter, Calgary Herald editor Nigel Hannaford and Report Newsmagazine editor Kevin Michael Grace have all recently noted, truth is IRRELEVANT in the prosecution of hate speech cases.

In fact, truth is not only IRRELEVANT, but actually NO DEFENCE against such prosecutions.

Here is a telling excerpt from a 9-page Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling rendered on May 25, 1998 in the Zundelsite case:

". . . consistent with a focus on effect rather than intent, it is the effect of the message on the recipient, and ultimately on the person or group vilified, that is the focus of the analysis. The truth in some absolute sense really plays no role. Rather, it is the social context in which the message is delivered and heard which will determine the effect that the communication will have on the listener. It is not the truth or falsity per se that will evoke the emotion but rather how it is understood by the recipient. The objective truth of the statement is ultimately of no consequence if the subjective interpretation, by virtue of tone, social context and medium is one which 'arouses unusually strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification'. Therefore, in our view, whether the message is true or not is immaterial. Whether it is perceived to be true or credible may very well add to its impact, but its actual basis in truth is outside the scope of this inquiry."

Which is why, on January 15, 1999, lawyer Doug Christie, representing his client, publisher Ernst Zundel, stood in Federal Court in Toronto before Madame Justice Reid and asked:

"My Lady, have we come this far in Canada? That truth, and the pursuit of truth, is now deemed irrelevant? ... Why, then, do we come here and swear on the Bible to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?"

It is reported that an embarrassed, sheepish silence filled the courtroom.

Statisticians inform us that earthlings have endured 5,000 wars in 6,000 years of recorded history, with a cumulative death-toll of 3,500,000,000 human beings.

In the Guinness Book of Records, I once read that Genghis Khan murdered 60,000,000 million Chinese peasants; I also read there that Chairman Mao also murdered 60,000,000 million Chinese.

But in staunch Stalinist fashion you'd have Canadians parrot "the truth" the 6-million Holocaust is "unprecedented in human history" and prosecute for hate speech anyone who dared to dissent from this official line.


You've managed to make even feminist totalitarian Sunera Thobani look good by contrast.

No mean feat!

Sincerely yours,

Orest Slepokura
Strathmore, Alta.