In the Globe and Mail for Wednesday, August 31 of this year I encountered a piece by the African American sociologist of sport, Harry Edwards, on quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the American national anthem. The piece was encouragingly framed as a contribution on “Human Rights,” and entitled “Silence is the enemy.” Dr.
By Len Findlay / Posted Friday September 23, 2016
It is that time of the year again. School has begun, and rules are being made, left, right and centre. Some of us are feeling the relief of sending children and grandchildren off to learn and have fun – and also to get a bit of distance from the “Why? Why? Why?”
Library and information workers use their education and experience to support intellectual freedom and address social concerns, such as by lobbying for copyright reform for peoples with print disabilities, exposing how commercial Internet filters are biased against sexual and gender minorities, collaborating with social workers on library services for homeless people, and fighting to safeguard cultural heritage in the context of war, conflict, and genocide. Sometimes their work comes down to a single word.
If asked to use the words “the police” and “freedom of expression” in a constructive sentence, I would guess 9 out of 10 Canadians would come up with something like: “It’s essential that the police not violate our freedom of expression.” And this spring-to-mind sentence is obviously true. Less obvious perhaps is that it also essential that the police themselves are able to exercise their right of free expression and that our own information rights factor into the issue of police expression.
What do you do when uninvited guests crash your party and say really offensive things? Asking them to leave is one strategy. What if they arrive masked, disguising their true purposes, and your party is an annual parade through the streets of downtown Toronto? In the case of two plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit, you sue for $104 million in damages for tortious defamation, civil conspiracy and intentional infliction of mental distress. Free speech folks should be concerned about having recourse to such litigation techniques as a response to offensive speech.