By Mike Archer. I am deeply offended that Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada would encroach on Canadians’ right to freedom of speech and cower in fear of the very terrorists he and his government have used as props in his re-election campaign.
After boldly telling the world, “We will not be intimidated by jihadist terrorists,” Harper quickly showed us how easy he is to intimidate. He changed Canadian law by criminalizing thoughts and communications with which it disagrees or considers to be a threat.
We are not talking about hate speech. That is already illegal. Nor are we talking about incitement to violence – again already illegal. Just like the plethora of new laws after 911 – everything the terrorists did that day was already illegal.
No. What Harper is attacking is any form communication which advocates or promotes terrorism and “any writing, sign, visible representation or audio recording that advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences.”
Here’s the rub.
He doesn’t define terrorism. He throws the term around like a tagline in a marketing campaign. He leaves the interpretation a nd definition of the term to bureaucrats, cops, judges and politicians. Who knows, maybe the mob can deal with people who disagree with him. No special oversight is required. No need to worry.
We’ve all watched as world leaders from George Bush to Vladimir Putin have learned to refer to those with whom they disagree as terrorists. These men are using the politics of fear – fear of evil, fear of a different religion, fear of the unknown, fear of ‘those people,’ fear of brown people, fear of anything they can lay their hands on – to disassemble and dismantle the parts of our society which get in their way and force them to account for themselves.
A generation of jaded baby boomers has watched as much of what it took for granted has been disassembled or revealed to be empty rhetoric. From race inequality in America to world peace and economic stability … so much has simply turned out to be just another slogan to be whipped out when there’s money to be made or political opponents to crush.
If only the baby boomers still gave a damn about the kind of world they are going to leave behind maybe they would use their electoral clout to tell Stephen Harper what it means to be Canadian.
It certainly doesn’t mean taking advantage of two men who suffered from mental illness, sending men and women to war on what is turning out to be a combat mission and then using the fear you have created to take away one of the main foundations of our democracy.
Voltaire wrote “I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”
Shame on us for allowing Stephen Harper to take away such a fundamental part of what it used to mean to be Canadian.
Cover image: John Milton’s Areopagitica.
Editor’s Note: This column was heavily influenced by Jesse Kline’s piece in The National Post which is well worth reading.