March 15, 2012
A publicity-hungry feminist lawyer has called for Rush Limbaugh to be arrested, prosecuted, and (hopefully) fined or jailed for besmirching the good name of “a young law student” (30 years old) who told Congress she needs free contraceptives. Apparently there is an antique statute in Florida that makes it a first-degree misdemeanor on anyone who “speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity.”
Gee—maybe they could sentence Limbaugh to a day in the stocks, or a ride on the ducking stool. Where is the local witch-finder when you need him?
Obviously it never occurred to Rush that this 30-year-old hardened activist might have wanted the contraceptives for her goldfish, or as ammo for her pea-shooter. How could someone who can’t keep herself supplied with contraceptives possibly have given the impression of a want of chastity?
But this lawyer is missing a bet; in fact, she’s all wet. If her objective is to create a national climate wherein no one dare impugn the virtue of a left-wing blabbermouth who demands public assistance to finance her sexual adventures, she has only to peek across our northern border.
What she really wants is something like Canada’s hilariously misnamed “human rights” commissions and tribunals. These are the answer to every soft-core Stalinist’s dream. Here’s how they work.
Let’s imagine you say or do something, anything, to offend a feminist, a gay activist, or a Muslim. You might not even know you’ve done it: the seriousness of your offense rests solely in the eye of the offended party. Once he, she, or it is properly steamed up, he can bring a “human rights” complaint against you, and you’re off to the races.
When the human rights commission decides to accept the complaint—and they have accepted some breathtakingly trivial complaints—the commission will pay every cent of the plaintiff’s legal fees. The defendant pays every cent of his own, which can run literally into the $100,000 range. On top of that, the commission can levy a fine on you, payable to the plaintiff.
It’s important to understand that a human rights tribunal is not a court of law. Indeed, law has absolutely nothing to do with this procedure: the accused need not have broken any law at all in order to be prosecuted. Ordinary rules of evidence do not apply. The plaintiff’s feelings will be treated as evidence—forsooth, even his delusions may be used as evidence, if the hearing officer is in a mood to entertain them. Hearsay evidence—as long as it supports the plaintiff—is also welcome. The plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that he has suffered any real damages, and the defendant is presumed guilty unless, by some miracle, he can prove himself innocent. And because it’s impossible to prove yourself innocent of hurting someone’s feelings, acquittals are virtually unheard-of.
A Canadian human rights case can go on for years, destroying the defendant financially. Serial plaintiffs can make very sweet money just by looking for occasions to be offended.
Oh! I almost forgot the best part! In the world of human rights commissions, there’s no such thing as double jeopardy. In addition to the federal human rights inquisition, each of Canada’s twelve provinces has its own—so there’s double jeopardy, triple, quadruple, and even endless jeopardy. A determined plaintiff can drag you up in front of however many tribunals he likes: after all, the government pays all his expenses.
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It is a well-known peculiarity of Canada’s human rights industry that there are never any homosexual, feminist, or Muslim defendants—only Christians, conservatives, and hapless individuals who have somehow run afoul of one of the favored “minorities.” Defendants whose lives have been shattered by these tribunals include housewives, florists, persons attempting to rent out a room in their home, pastors, a bishop, newspaper and magazine editors, and one stand-up comedian. It’s irrelevant whether, in the end, the tribunal decides to fine you. As one of the defendants, a journalist, said, as his legal costs approached $200,000, “the process is the punishment.”
I wish I were making this up, but I’m not; it’s all true. It isn’t satire. Free speech in Canada is tottering on the edge of sheer extinction.
So, as pleasing as it might be to the American Left to dig up a legal antiquity that would put Rush Limbaugh in the pillory, there’s more of what they want—so much more!—just waiting to be imported down from Canada.
First Amendment notwithstanding, one more Democrat president, one more Democrat Congress, and we’ll have what Canada has.
� 2012 Lee Duigon - All Rights Reserved
Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on www.amazon.com