Citing an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, the Jewish organization B’nai Brith is calling for a broader definition of a hate crime to respond to the alarming numbers of offenses aimed at their communities. I must strongly oppose the move and would urge them to also rethink their stance on this issue.

While no one really wants to go on record as being against something that appears on the surface to be for the good of everyone, the idea of an ever increasing list of what constitutes hate is absolutely the wrong road to be going down.

B’nai Brith is calling for holocaust denial to be included in our anti-hate legislation. If the measure was adopted by our legislators, one more nail would be hammered into the coffin in which our freedom of expression would be buried in. Am I being extreme? Unfortunately, no.

People do not lose their freedoms overnight. It is an incremental slide, save for times where one’s country is invaded. The Jewish people, of all people, should be more worried about losing our freedoms than becoming active participants in their suppression.

I can understand the rationale behind the latest calls. While we all find anti-Semitic behaviour to be offensive, what will be next on the list of things that we not only can’t debate, but will not even be allowed to say? I for one have no doubt about the holocaust. The proof is there for us to see, as are many survivors’ testimonies and legacies. It is a historical fact. Anyone who professes that it wasn’t an actual event is, for the most part, immediately discounted as a bigot and rightly so.

Let’s try something here.

I believe that the holocaust was a lie.

If you read that and felt a twinge of anger, then the problem resides in you. It won’t be resolved by tighter control over what others can say. Myself, I am more worried at the tighter restrictions that are ever being placed on our freedom of expression. I remember the first time I read an account of the holocaust being a hoax. It was written by the infamous Ernst Zundel. My reaction was not one of anger or fear, but of scoffing and loathing. At first I thought I was simply reading the wording incorrectly, and then it occurred to me that the man was simply a bitter person enveloped with hatred and seething with anger. He does, however, in our alleged free society, have the right to voice his views. Or at least he used to.

Am I coming to the defense of Ernst? God forbid, no. But I am coming to the defense of the right which he was exercising. We cannot have rights for only some free speech. Either we have free speech, or we do not. There is no middle ground here.

If we raise our children properly and teach them well, then the Ernst Zundel’s of the world cannot hurt us, but if we start to restrain our means of free thought and political debate, then we defeat our own culture as we become enslaved to everything that we will then fear to speak out against.

What will be next, the inability to comment on terrorism lest we are accused of inciting hatred towards Arabs? Will we be too afraid to point a finger at those who harm our children lest we promote violence towards pedophiles? These are not extreme questions, but are very legitimate one’s. We had better be sure we are willing to eat the whole apple if we take that first bite.

As for lost freedoms, I am kind of disappointed in the Canadian Jewish community. I would have thought that of everyone involved, they would be the most sensitive to what lost freedoms entail.

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