A judge’s decision to overturn a ruling on an anti-gay letter published in a Red Deer newspaper has free speech advocates across the country celebrating, including those in the gay and lesbian community.
Court of Queen’s Bench judge E.C. Wilson ruled earlier this month that while Stephen Boissoin’s 2002 letter to the Red Deer Advocate might have been “jarring, offensive, bewildering, puerile, nonsensical and insulting,” it didn’t constitute a hate crime — a judgment that overturned a 2007 Alberta Human Rights Commission ruling. (The letter likened gay people to pedophiles and pimps.)
“We support the dismissal of this action,” says Matt Mills, editorial director of Pink Triangle Press, a national gay media company based in Toronto. Mills says that while the letter in question was “very offensive to a lot of people,” free speech has been “critically important” for gay and lesbian Canadians. “The long-term ramifications of quashing free expression are just not good for everybody.”
Darren Lund, the University of Calgary professor who filed the original complaint against Boissoin, says he was “very surprised and disappointed” by Wilson’s ruling, and is considering an appeal.