National Post | 18Dec2007 | Orest Slepokura

"Truth is no defense"

Ezra Levant:

Re: "Censorship in the name of 'human rights,'" Ezra Levant, National Post; 18Dec2007.

On May 25, 1998, a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, convened to hear a complaint sworn against the Holocaust revisionist, Ernst Zundel, delivered a written decision that in essence concluded that "Truth is no defense" -- that, in other words, the truth of any material posted on the Zundelsite was quite irrelevant in any determination to be made against Zundel in the course of the CHRT hearing.

Here is a telling excerpt from the nine-page CHRT ruling, which begins with the affirmation that human rights rulings will be mostly concerned with effect rather than intent.

". . . 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."

Notice that towards the end it is determined that should some statement made by the one accused be perceived to be true it may in fact add more weight to the complainant's case as adjudicated by the tribunal; it may even, apparently, in some way actually work in his ultimate favour.

That said, I am wondering whether the text I cited above (or one like it) will not be picked up as a kind of legal stick by Mr Elmasry to discipline you, Mr Levant, for having called him "an apologist for Islamo-fascism" in your op-ed in today's National Post.

Or, perhaps, Richard Warman will file another official complaint about this, thereby making it-- what? -- complaint number 27.

Orest Slepokura
Strathmore, Alta.

c. Mohamed Elmasry, Canadian Islamic Congress
Ken Whyte, Editor, Macleans
Alan Borovoy, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Editor, National Post