Friday, July 08, 2005

The Actions of Others...

So, now David Ahenakew is claiming that his trial on charges of promoting hatred was itself racist.

Hmm - interesting. While I am sympathetic to the plight of the aboriginal peoples of this nation, I find it something of a reach to accept that Ahenakew's comments on Jewish people a couple of years ago is somehow excusable in light of his ancestry and wrongs perpetrated against them by the early settlers of Canada.

I find the Ahenakew case interesting because it is the first prosecution under Canada's hate crimes statutes in the criminal code that has been publicly visible. (Certainly, the first I have heard of recently)

The judges finding seems to set the bar for identifying a 'hate crime' as such fairly high:

In reading his verdict, Irwin said Ahenakew's comments "clearly dehumanize the Jewish people" and were exactly the kind of comments that laws against hate crimes were designed to address.

"To suggest that any human being or group of human beings is a disease is to invite extremists to take action against them," Irwin said.

Certainly, this is one of the rare cases where such laws have been exercised in a situation that wasn't associated with a 'white supremacist' or other similarly obvious target.

Somehow, I doubt that there will be a sudden flurry of 'thought crime' prosecutions taking place as a result of the Ahenakew decision. It seems to me that the bar is set high enough that these sections of the criminal code will only be exercised in rare and egregious situations.

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