Canadian Government Says Free Speech is for Offending Muslims — Not Opposing Israel

May 14, 2015 by  
Filed under General News

source:By Glenn Greenwald

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, January 8, 2015, on Charlie Hebdo shootings:

“When a trio of hooded men struck at some of our most cherished democratic principles, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, they assaulted democracy everywhere . . . They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act . . . . they have declared war on any country, like ourselves, that values freedom, openness and tolerance.”

CBC, today:

“Ottawa threatening hate charges against those who boycott Israel”

The Harper government is signaling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.

Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions.

If carried out, it would be a remarkably aggressive tactic, and another measure of the Conservative government’s lockstep support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. . . .

The government’s intention was made clear in a response to inquiries from CBC News about statements by federal ministers of a “zero tolerance” approach to groups participating in a loose coalition called Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS), which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.

Asked to explain what zero tolerance means, and what is being done to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney replied, four days later, with a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws “anywhere in the world.”

Has a #JeSuisBDS hashtag started trending yet on Twitter? Under the new Charlie Hebdo standard — it’s not enough to defend free speech; one must praise and even express the speech targeted with suppression — have all of the newfound free speech crusaders begun organizing pro-Israel-boycott rallies in order to defy these suppression efforts? In a zillion years, could anyone imagine the popularity-craving officials who run PEN America bestowing one of their glamorous awards on advocates of the Israel-targeted Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement? The answer to all of those questions is and will remain “no,” because (as I discussed last week here with Bob Wright) the Charlie Hebdo ritual (for most, not all) was about many agendas having nothing to do with the free expression banner under which it paraded.

In that regard, Stephen Harper is the perfect Poster Boy for how free expression is tribalistically manipulated and exploited in the West. When the views being suppressed are ones amenable to those in power (e.g., cartoons mocking Islam), free speech is venerated; attempts to suppress those kinds of ideas show that “they have declared war on any country, like ourselves, that values freedom, openness and tolerance.” We get to celebrate ourselves as superior and progressive and victimized, and how good that feels. But when ideas are advocated that upset those in power (e.g. speech by Muslims critical of Western nations and their allies), the very same people acquiesce to, or expressly endorse, full-scale suppression. Thus can the Canadian Prime Minister pompously parade around as some sort of Guardian of Enlightenment Ideals only, three months later, to act like the classic tyrant.

As I’ve argued many times — most comprehensively here — all applications of hate speech laws are inherently tyrannical, dangerous and wrong, and it’s truly mystifying (and scary) that people convince themselves that their judgment is so unerring and their beliefs so sacrosanct that it should be illegal to question or dissent from them. But independent of that, what we see here again is the utter foolishness of endorsing such laws on pragmatic grounds: they will inevitably be used against not just the ideas you hate but the ones you like, and when that happens, if you cheered when such laws were used to suppress the ideas you hate, then you will have no valid ground to object.


U.S. government secretly collecting data on millions of Verizon users: Report

June 6, 2013 by  
Filed under General News


Can you hear me now? Eep. The National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon customers – right down to local call data – under a top-secret court order issued in April, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported late Wednesday. UPDATE: The Administration responds, defending a “critical tool” against terrorism and underlining that the government is not listening in on anyone’s calls.

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) order, the Guardian reported, Verizon Business Services must provide the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” with information from calls between the U.S. and overseas – but also with calls entirely inside the United States. Calls made entirely overseas were not affected. It was unclear whether phones in other Verizon divisions — its regular cell phone operations, for instance — were similarly targeted.

Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald, a frequent and fierce critic of the national security state’s expansion since 9-11, writes in his bombshell report that:

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The order, issued April 25 and valid through July 19, requires Verizon to turn over the numbers of both parties, location data, call duration, and other information – though not the contents of the calls.

The White House initially declined comment, but a senior administration official defended the activities described in the Guardian piece without confirming the specific report.

“On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” the official, who requested anonymity, said by email. “The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber.”

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