Let's take advantage of the opportunity presented to us, and use this election campaign to find out how committed all of the parties are to the issue of freedom of expression, and what if anything needs to change.
We're at a crucial juncture in the history of Canada. We either protect free speech, or we go down the road of imposed ideological conformity.
This may sound a little alarmist to the average Canadian, who probably does not have a lot of time for these issues. I know this-- I'm a mom, and I know I can't follow all the issues, either.
The erosion of free speech is nothing less than the erosion to seek and expound Truth. How can I find Truth if I am not allowed to ask uncomfortable questions? How can I spread the Truth-- or even just test a working hypothesis-- if I cannot say what's on my mind?
Eleven years ago, I started a Catholic religious message board. I wanted to spread the Catholic faith. I asked myself this question: if I have an interfaith message board to spread the Catholic faith, non-Catholics will spread their (un)truth and that defeats the point of my message board.
I thought about it. And while it is true that free speech offers the opportunity to spread what is wrong and erroneous, it is the only way to spread what is good and true. If you want people to listen to you and accept your truth of their own volition, you must be willing to hear them out and let them say things you consider to be wrong or offensive. Because that is your opportunity to counter what you consider to be false. Otherwise you can only impose and scream at people, not dialogue.
I discovered another thing about the free exchange of ideas. When people commit to the free exchange of ideas in a friendly forum, it is far more effective to solidifying tolerance and charity than if it had been imposed from above.
On my forum, I had a few rules against being rude, but I never forced anyone to "make nice". Letting people say what they had to say, and then patiently debating them made people felt far more open and attached to the other person than if they had been treated as an ideological enemy.
My experience running a religious message board helped me develop my vision for Canada as far as social peace is concerned. I really believe that free speech is not only desirable but absolutely necessary for true tolerance. If you cannot tolerate being offended, then you cannot tolerate people. That is the very definition of the word. If you cannot tolerate, then you make enemies of those you cannot tolerate.
That is how social conflict arises. It does not mean you stop being angry at what is said. It means that you use your anger to answer your opponent, not silence him.
Tolerance cannot be imposed from above.
Free speech is thus necessary for social peace.
Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, and Jack Layton, I want to know what you think of free speech. Are you willing to repeal Section 13.1 of the Canadian Human Rights code, so that people can express themselves freely? Are you willing to eliminate the Human Rights Tribunals?
It's time to make Free Speech an election issue.
I CALL ON ALL BLOGGERS WHO BELIEVE IN FREE SPEECH TO DEMAND THE SAME OF OUR LEADERS AND CANDIDATES.
The media is closely following what is being said in the blogosphere. The CBC is doing this through Ormiston Online.
The CBC wants to know what people are thinking? Well, here's our chance.
Ormiston Online has a Facebook Group. I highly recommend joining this group and writing on "The Wall" that Free Speech is your issue, and that you want it to be addressed. THEN INVITE ALL YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS AND REQUEST THAT THEY DO THE SAME.
If we all do it, we will create a buzz-- no doubt about it.
I would also ask that in your Facebook status lines, please write in a statement such as "Suzanne wants to know if the party leaders will repeal section 13.1 of the Canadian Human Rights Code" or "Suzanne wants to know if the party leaders will abolish the Human Rights Tribunals. Do you?"
This statement will bring the free speech to the fore. I also suggest that you do this on Twitter. There are aggregators that look for statements on twitter.
Then after you publish your blogpost, login to digg.com, then go back to your blogpost and hit the "Submit" button. Invite all your readers and friends to do the same.
This is how we will get this issue to the forefront. So let's go! If you really want the Free Speech issue to be addressed, now is the time to speak up.
Please submit this article to Digg by submitting the button below (you need an account first).
UPDATE: I think the Digg.com button might be having a glitch. I do believe you can digg this post here.
If you do succeed in Digging it, please let me know in the comments.