Reporting Hate Speech = Hate Speech?
This is so absurd it's almost funny. A former aboriginal leader from Canada is on trial for hate speech directed against Jews. From a CBC story on the trial:
David Ahenakew's lawyer says the reporter who wrote the newspaper article that led to the aboriginal leader being charged with a hate crime should have been charged with the same offence.I'm tempted to say something funny about this, because it's just plain stupid legal theorizing on behalf of a difficult-to-defend client (at least according to Canadian law), but is it part of the larger trend of attacking journalists for their reporting? Kevin Sites reported a Marine killing a wounded Iraqi and was widely branded a traitor out at the far right end of the blogosphere for it.
Doug Christie told court Wednesday that James Parker, a former reporter with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix newspaper, knowingly disseminated hate by publicizing Ahenakew's anti-Semitic comments.
"Who distributed the allegedly hateful words?" said Christie, who argues that Ahenakew thought he was having a private conversation with Parker when he praised Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust.
"If it had been Dr. Ahenakew, no one else would have heard them other than him and Mr. Parker. Mr. Parker had a story that was the best he could hope for in his life."
Parker covered a conference on aboriginal health in December of 2002, when Ahenakew -- a former senator with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and a member of the Order of Canada -- made a speech in which he blamed Jews for starting the Second World War.
Parker spoke to Ahenakew outside the conference, recording their conversation.
In the interview, which was played in court Monday, Ahenakew referred to Jews as "a disease" and said Hitler "made damn sure" Jews didn't take over Germany and Europe. "That's why he fried six million of those guys," Ahenakew said.
The publication of the comments resulted in Ahenakew being charged with the wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group.
(I should note, by the way, that I don't agree with Canadian law in this regard. Ahenakew's comments were disgusting, but I believe in freedom of speech as long as it doesn't directly incite violence against persons, which his words don't seem to do. Having said that, Ahenakew is a Canadian citizen and must know the laws there.)