Prosecute violent speech

Prosecute violent speech

Voltaire is overly quoted in this context so I’ll skip him. And besides, being a decent fellow, he’d agree with me. If you deliberately use your freedom of speech to inflict violence on an identifiable group of people, you should be prosecuted. 

And that includes violence that is not uniquely physical.

Case in point: Those toxic nasties running the merch shop over at the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights who used the word “POLY” as a discount code right before the anniversary of the 1989 Polytechnique gun massacre

Sorry, did I say toxic nasties? My bad. I forgot to add stupid and inane. Firearms have no rights. People do. Starting with the right not to be murdered. And when they do get murdered anyway, they have the right not to have their memory sullied by stupid, inane toxic nasties who’d rather side with the guns to make a buck than pretend they remember how to be decent once a year for a couple of days. 

As far as I can tell by today (December 5) the discount code was no longer active. At any rate, it’s not advertised anywhere I could see it. And when I pretended to try and buy a shirt the discount didn’t apply. I’m glad I bequeathed them one more abandoned cart on their e-store. Take that, meanies. 

Maybe even they realized they’d gone too far. But I doubt it. In fact, I’d be prepared to bet they’ll be fundraising off this episode, because there isn’t much they enjoy more than playing martyr when they get walloped for being cruel. 

It’s even happening to Carey Price, a person who makes lots of money playing professional ice hockey, a sport in which men with big muscles and tiny judgment get into layers of equipment to hit each other over the helmet for the privilege of pushing a tiny puck around. 

Price, evidently an avid hunter, decided to go on social media and express his opposition to Bill C-21, legislation that would amend some parts of the Criminal Codeand of the Firearms Act

Price said: 

I love my family, I love my country and I care for my neighbour. I am not a criminal or a threat to society. What @justinpjtrudeau is trying to do is unjust. I support the @ccfr_ccdaf to keep my hunting tools. Thank you for listening to my opinion.

The fact that his opinion is, how to put this, completely wrong, shouldn’t be held against him. He’s a sports dude, not a policy dude. But for the rest of us, let’s make sure we remember that the proposed legislation would not in fact make hunters into criminals. 

Also? In a democracy it’s totally cool to object to this proposed legislation or any other. Some people I know do it for a living, and do it quite well. Bill C-21, while it pursues some worthy goals such as decreasing the rate of gender-based violence with firearms, is not perfect. But it’s not a terrible bill either.

In fact, for people who are used to dealing with complex legal arguments, it’s not especially controversial, except for a few provisions that clearly weren’t well thought through and need redrafting. Such as the part that seeks to amend ss. 110.1, 110.2, and 117.0101(1) of the Criminal Code to allow anyone to make an application for an emergency weapons prohibition order. The application would be allowed to be done anonymously and the prohibition could be imposed without an opportunity for both parties to be heard, only one. And that one-sided hearing could be held in secret. 

You don’t need to be a procedural expert to see that this could lead to abuse. How to redraft this blighted bit of proposed legislation is a perfect example of the sort of debate we could be having if we weren’t so damn busy upbraiding the indecent for attacking victims of gun violence on the anniversary of what was, until the Nova Scotia killings, the deadliest mass shooting in modern Canadian history. 

The big problem with Carey Price’s post is his support for the group that advertised POLY as a discount code for pro-gun merchandise. The backlash was such that the hockey club felt compelled to issue a statement saying Price “didn’t know” about the Polytechnique massacre when he made that post. 


I realize we don’t hire sports types for their knowledge, but this is… comment dire… impossible to explain. Either he’s really so ignorant he’s a menace to himself, or he’s so disingenuous that, well, ditto. 

I don’t have a problem with a gun owner expressing his opinions. I don’t even hate well-regulated guns that much. I profoundly dislike hunting, but I’m not here to ban it or to curtail our right to self-defense. 

I do however have a big problem with people who use their right to bear arms to hurt people — physically, emotionally, and psychologically. 

Violent speech can be prosecuted and often is. Because freedom of speech does not extend to the right to make threats or incite violence. Being deliberately and inhumanely cruel to victims of gun violence to sell more pro-gun t-shirts on the anniversary of the massacre does not rise to the same level as inciting violence against them. In some ways it’s worse — it doesn’t just incite violence but inflicts it. 

There is currently no law against being this beastly to other human beings. Maybe, just maybe, there should be.