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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Canada's Supreme Court rules prohibition against making fun of "protected" groups is unconstitutional

In its ruling in the Whatcott case, the Supreme Court made an important statement.

While upholding the validity of certain aspects of Canada's Hate Speech legislation it did rule that:

.. expression that “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of” does not rise to the level of ardent and extreme feelings constituting hatred required to uphold the constitutionality of a prohibition of expression in human rights legislation.  Accordingly, those words in s. 14(1)(b) of the Code are not rationally connected to the legislative purpose of addressing systemic discrimination of protected groups and they unjustifiably infringe freedom of expression.  Consequently, they are constitutionally invalid and must be struck from s. 14(1)(b).
So while it's not ok to say that people of a certain group should be discriminated against, we can keep making fun of them for their stupid cultural or other practices.

Which must come as a relief to Canadian comedians - at least those who haven't had to pay fines based on idiotic Human Rights Commission rulings.

UPDATE:  A good review of the ruling by Jon Kay in the National Post

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