August 12, 2008

Gotta love that socialist police state

Police in Winnipeg promised to arrest on sight members of the odious freak Fred Phelps's Westboro Baptist Church who announced they were planning on disrupting the funeral of Tim McLean, the young man who was beheaded on a Greyhound bus recently.

Of course, U.S. authorities could never get away with such a thing without finding themselves slapped with a federal (and/or State) lawsuit but because Canada doesn't have the per se equivalent of the First Amendment, they can do it up there, evidently.

It's even worse from a First Amendment perspective, because not only would the Winnipeg police have made arrests after the fact, but they were telegraphing what's known in America as "prior restraint" on speech, which is a giant no-no, constitutionally speaking.

(Notwithstanding former Bush administration press secretary and current Green Bay Packers PR flack Ari Fleischer's address to the nation that they had better watch what they say.)

And I doubt that there were any objections at all, if that's what it took to keep the Phelps crowd at bay. Don't ask me why they were wanting to protest at this particular funeral; I'm not a theologian.

As a matter of fact Canada, a parliamentary democracy, doesn't even have a written constitution, but rather a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to which freedom of speech is balanced against potential harms caused by the form that certain speech may take.

Which is pretty much how the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the First Amendment has worked throughout its history anyway.

So there's not a real huge difference, at least in application.


capper said...

I can think of a number of righy blogs that could be banned in Canada.

Eamon Knight said...

Perhaps you could point out in the article where the cops promise to arrest Phelps & Co. "on sight"? What it *says* is they could be arrested for causing a disturbance, or perhaps for traffic violations (and BTW: disrupting a funeral is, apparently, a criminal offense in Canada).

But nothing about being "arrested on sight".

illusory tenant said...

Hi Eamon. A bit of poetic license on my part, but only a bit. The Phelps crowd is itself a per se walking, talking, giant-sign-waving disturbance.