Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Free Speech Then and Now

The Supreme Court of Canada overriding a jury verdict of seditious libel against Jehovah's Witnesses saying rude things about the Roman Catholic Church back in 1950:

There is no modern authority which holds that the mere effect of tending to create discontent or disaffection among His Majesy's subjects or ill-will or hostility between groups of them, but not tending to issue in illegal conduct, con­stitutes the crime, and this for obvious reasons. Freedom in thought and speech and disagreement in ideas and beliefs, on every conceivable subject, are of the essence of our life. The clash of critical discussion on political, social and religious subjects has too deeply become the stuff of daily experience to suggest that mere ill-will as a product of controversy can strike down the latter with illegality.

The Supreme Court in 1990:

In applying the Oakes approach to legislation restricting hate propaganda, a meaningful consideration of the principles central to a free and democratic society requires reference to the international community's acceptance of the need to protect minority groups from the intolerance and psychological pain caused by such expression.

A decline of style and substance. What will 2010 bring?

No comments: