Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights
by Ezra Levant
Recommendation: Buy if you want to slip Levant a Loonie, or go to his web site.
Evil exists—evil people, I mean. Take Barbara Hall. She’s “Chief Commissioner” of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (HRC). That’s a place where someone can go and tattle on his fellow Canadians when he feels his “human rights” have been violated. The beautiful thing is, he gets to decide what those rights are and how they have been violated.
No complaint is too frivolous! And there cannot be too many of them. In fact, Hall doesn’t think enough Canadians are ratting each other out because she wants the number of complaints to “spike”: she desires to boldly seek out “known and unknown causes of discrimination”! The fact that this spike would boost her budget and secure her position are incidental considerations, of course.
My favorite is the case of Beena Datt who cried rights! after she insisted on her fundamental human need to not wash her hands. Datt, who worked at McDonald’s sliding out hamburger patties, claimed a skin condition barred her from being clean. McDonald’s took sympathy and gave her two month’s sick leave—with pay. When she returned, she still refused to wash. So McDonald’s—that corporate unfeeling rights abuser—gave her more sick leave with pay. About two and a half years worth of leave, that is. But since every job, even the manager’s, requires hand washing, and nobody wanted to buy burgers from a woman with a skin condition who refused to wash, they eventually fired her. She ran to her HRC.
Which ruled in her favor saying that McDonald’s “violated her human rights” and didn’t “do enough to accommodate her.” The company had to pay $50 grand, plus three years legal fees, plus they were told they had to “cease the discriminatory conduct or any similar conduct and refrain from committing the same or similar contravention.”
No appeals are possible to the HRC: you have to go to a regular court for that. Lots of people and companies like McDonald’s did, where their judgments, Levant informs us, were routinely tossed. But most people can’t afford to go to court, so they get stuck paying their fines. What’s really slick is that anybody can bring a complaint to an HRC and they do not have to pay anything if their case bombs, nor can they be counter-sued, nor can the HRCs themselves be sued. And up until Mark Steyn, the HRC’s never lost a case! Part of this success must come from the wide powers these commissions enjoy. Like warrantless search and seizure of everything you own or have touched.
There are a slew of cases presented far more appalling than Datt’s hand-washing refusal. Maybe too many, because they are exhausting to read. And we get it. HRCs are the bureaucracies what Kafka had in mind. But we never hear of what good, if any, the commissions have done. How many complaints trivial? How many ignorant and idiotic? How many justified? A lot of real hate amongst the races, is there? Too much cabin fever on those long, nearly endless, Great White North winter nights, so that people end boredom by calling each other too many hurtful names?
Then again, the worst is too bad. Levant was editor of a magazine and published some cartoons of a certain Muslim figure of worship. A local man was incensed and claimed this violated his rights. How? Never mind—it’s the seriousness of the charges that counts! The HRC took his case and drug Levant to its cells for an interrogation, which, mirabile dictu, the HRC allowed Levant to tape, which tapes he posted on YouTube (link). This was his salvation.
Because so many people got a glimpse of the “banality of evil” via the internet, Levant won his first case; however, his worries aren’t over (check his site for up-to-date information). The HRCs are still in business and every now and then somebody thinks it would be great fun to sic a lawyer on him. So one of the reasons he wrote this book is to reduce the rate of these needless and troublesome suits by exposing the worst part of the bureaucracy. I wish him luck.
Epilogue: Ted “Chappaquiddick-Booze-’em-up-Chase-them-skirts-but-Solid-on-abortion” Kennedy, the “lion” of the senate, sat one day and contemplated his Legacy. He looked to the frozen north and felt envy. How could he join his Canadian brothers in the noble fight against isms? He knew creating HRCs in the USA would be impossible. But he could, surreptitiously—how devious! how bold!—place a “hate crime” amendment that would mimic an HRC’s goals into a defense appropriations bill. They’ll never look for it there! And this he did. Yesterday.