Painful Truth: Free speech does not mean no consequences

A Conservative senator shouldn’t be shocked she’s the target of ire.

One of the worst things about our current era* is the way the words “free speech” have been appropriated by racists, bigots, halfwits, and profiteers in the anger-industrial complex.

The most recent “defender of free speech” is former Tory senator Lynn Beyak, who has been pushing bigoted beliefs about Canada’s First Nations people for some time. She most famously suggested that residential schools – in which forcibly taken indigenous children were beaten for speaking their own languages and physically and sexually abused in the thousands – were good things.

She remains a senator, but was finally bounced from the Conservative caucus after she apparently refused to take down racist letters** she has been posting on her personal website.

Beyak has come out now with a two-pronged defense.

1) Attacking the media for not covering Justin Trudeau’s ethics violations, Omar Khadr’s financial compensation, and other stories that have been, y’know, pretty thoroughly covered and;

2) Insisting that she will continue to defend “free speech.”

Is racist speech allowed? Of course it is. And no one is preventing Beyak from posting the stupid, racist rants of others, nor of saying incredibly stupid and insensitive things on her own. She’s been doing it for months, and she has not been arrested, jailed, fined, questioned by police, or even kicked out of the senate.***

“Defending free speech” used to mean that we understood there was a solid right for people to say things without government harassment.

Increasingly, it is used as a screen by people who have said deeply offensive things. They seem to think that not only should they not be prosecuted for saying awful things, but that they have the right to suffer no consequences whatsoever.

Wrong.

Beyak is finding out that the corollary of the right to free speech is the right to free association.

You can’t lose your Canadian citizenship for being a bigot, or even an avowed Nazi. But you can be kicked out of pretty much any other group that chooses to freely associate. You can be criticized, called names, told off, shunned, given the cold shoulder, and generally held up as an example of a twit.

You have a right to say what you want. And the rest of us have the right to decide what kind of a person that makes you, and whether we want to have anything to do with you. And to freely say so.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer made the right choice on Beyak. If he made a mistake, it was not making that decision sooner.

*Our current era is the Age of the Turdgoblins. I have this on good authority from a time traveling future historian who visited me last week.

**There’s some dispute over whether she was told to remove the letters or not. There’s no mistaking the letters for anything but racism.

***She should really be kicked out of the senate.

Just Posted

Langley baseball team brings aid to Puerto Rico

Blaze raised $50,000 for the trip to

Langley chamber joins call to kill ‘no pipeline ever’ law

Bill C-69 will hurt the local Langley economy, Chamber warns

World Day of Prayer returns to Langley

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is hosting the annual day on March 1.

Young Langley family plagued by angry cab customers

A couple rents a house formerly used by a cab firm, and unwelcome visitors knocking.

Woman groped on Langley’s 208th Street

Police are asking for tips to identify the man responsible.

VIDEO: Nail-biter game against Germany tonight earns Langley’s Team Canada a win

Langley’s Team Tardi is 5-2 at the junior curling worlds in Nova Scotia, hoping to defend their title

Samsung folding phone is different – but also almost $2,000

But most analysts see a limited market for foldable-screen phones

Alcohol policies fizzle for Canadian governments as harms overflow: reports

About 80 per cent of Canadians drink, and most enjoy a drink or two

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

Most Read