THE BLOG
06/10/2008 03:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Stop All "Disparaging Remarks About Gays and Homosexuals,"

as well as against the university professor and self-described "activis[t] for social justice issues" who filed a complaint against you: That's what the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission ordered Stephen Boisson and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. to do in Lund v. Boissoin. The Commission had earlier found Boissoin and the Coalition guilty of "causing to be published in the Red Deer Advocate (before the public), a publication in which it was likely to expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt because of their sexual orientation"; I oppose bans on such speech that exposes groups "to hatred or contempt," but at least on their face they seem to be limited to relatively harsh criticisms that tend to arouse hatred or contempt and not mere disagreement or disapproval.

But in reaction to this, the Commission went beyond imposing financial liability for speech likely to arouse hatred or contempt, and ordering that Boissoin stop engaging in speech likely to arouse hatred or contempt. Rather, it expressly ordered that Boissoin apologize, and

That Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals. Further, they shall not and are prohibited from making disparaging remarks in the future about Dr. Lund or Dr. Lund's witnesses relating to their involvement in this complaint. Further, all disparaging remarks versus homosexuals are directed to be removed from current web sites and publications of Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc.

This is a breathtakingly broad prohibition, which extends far beyond the terms of the (already troubling) statute. Boissoin and his group aren't allowed to saying anything "disparaging" about homosexuals, which presumably would even extend to statements such as "homosexuals are acting sinfully" or "The Bible, which I believe should be our moral guide, condemns homosexuality."

Nor can they say anything disparaging (not just anything false or threatening, but anything disparaging) about Prof. Darren E. Lund of the University of Calgary Faculty of Education, a self-described "activis[t]" for "social justice issues in schools and communities," and his witnesses, who include Prof. Kevin Alderson of the University of Calgary, and Douglas Robert Jones, a recently retired Calgary City Police Service officer who has been Liaison to the GLBT Community. I would have thought that activist university professors were proper subjects for discussion, criticism, and even disparagement — but the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission forbids Mr. Boissoin and the Concerned Christian Coalition from engaging in such speech.

Recall that the Supreme Court of Canada originally upheld the Canadian "hate speech" bans precisely because

[T]he phrase 'hatred or contempt', are sufficiently precise and narrow to limit its impact to those expressive activities which are repugnant to Parliament's objective. The phrase 'hatred or contempt' in the context of s. 13(1) refers only to unusually strong and deep‑felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification and, as long as human rights tribunals continue to be well aware of the purpose of s. 13(1) and pay heed to the ardent and extreme nature of feeling described in that phrase, there is little danger that subjective opinion as to offensiveness will supplant the proper meaning of the section.

Well, it looks like the Alberta Human Rights Commission is no longer "pay[ing] heed" to the limits imposed by the law. Unfortunate — but not surprising.