The National Post
Wednesday, January 13, 1999
(Letters to the Editor)

Free Rants

Re: Freedom Number One, Jan. 7.

No matter how desirable it may be, freedom of speech is too Utopian a concept in a world full of hate-mongers. Try convincing survivors of the Holocaust, or more recent forms of ethnic cleansing, that freedom of speech outweighs the "cost" of offensiveness. I'm sorry, but I would have to agree with Warren Kinsella that you are indeed whitewashing the Canadian censorship issue in your pompous editorials. Individuals or groups that covertly or overtly spew hatred of others deserve to be censored one way or another. You yourselves censor others on a daily basis, printing only those letters to the editor that place you and your political banter in a favourable light. Stop your fearmongering and get on with the business of reporting the news!

-- Drew Farrell, London, Ontario

The fact that the National Post felt obligated to write a second editorial in the space of only four days to defend its views on free speech indicates you are uncomfortable with your position. It is one thing to advocate that people like Alberta teacher Jim Keegstra should enjoy the freedom to express their views, no matter how unpopular or offensive. It is quite another to support Mr. Keegstra's right to continue teaching those same anti-Semitic views to children at a public school.

Assume that Mr. Keegstra had been preaching anti-black lessons to his students, and that his students were generating anti-black essays instead of anti-Jewish ones. I expect the National Post would have quite properly branded Mr. Keegstra a racist and supported his removal from the classroom for promoting such hatred to his students. Why the double standard?

The National Post has a few more lessons to learn about the difference between the right to express offensive views of hatred, and the right of society to prevent a teacher from imposing such views upon a captive audience of impressionable children in the public schools.

Perhaps a third editorial would be in order.

-- Allan Kaufman, Toronto

Warren Kinsella's guest column (Certain Freedoms Deserve No Protection, Jan. 7) brings to mind the appropriate quote from Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." But the weaknesses of Mr. Kinsella's position still require elucidation.

The main issue he evades is: What does the idea of "indefensible freedoms" entail? Who decides which freedoms are indefensible? By what standards? And, what qualifies Mr. Kinsella (or anyone) for the job of deciding?

After all, there is largely unrecognized hate-mongering of all kinds going on all around us right now. One prime example is called "political correctness", and it advances ideas remarkably similar to many policies of the Third Reich. The race laws are now called affirmative action. Where Nazi intellectuals trumpeted the genetic "blood" to justify racism, modern academics spout its cultural equivalent "experience" (try a simple word-for-word substitute from one to the other). While hatred drawn on racial lines is attacked, prejudicial hatred of the rich and successful (differing only by being drawn on economic lines) flourishes openly in the form of widespread Bill Gates demonization. Even the conspiracy theories are verbatim, except that the adjective "Jewish" is usually removed from "banker". There is ample reason to believe Mr. Kinsella and others of his ilk are not qualified to recognize any evil that does not come in brown shirts waving swastikas.

-- Jim May, Las Vegas, Nevada

We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Warren Kinsella for warning us how free speech, allowed to run amok, has caused racial strife and moral decay in the "Evil Empire" to our south. Our leaders, in hot pursuit of peace, order, and good government, are planning to give us less of it, and not a moment too soon. How much free speech should we have? Not too much and none of the bad speech, judging by the cautionary example of the U.S. How do we know what is bad? Not to worry, our government will tell us. Isn't that what we elect them them for?

-- Peter Lepik, Toronto

Copyright © 1999 by Southam, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.