Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter July 12, 2005

Dear Friends,

The recent terrorist attacks in London have changed the direction of our July Newsletter. Our hearts go out to the United Kingdom. Those who are afraid, who have lost friends and loved ones in the terrorist attacks are in our hearts and prayers.

The terrorist attacks on London's public transportation system remind us of the very tragic terrorist attacks in Israel, Spain and the 911 attacks in New York City. The police are investigating the attacks. We need to be careful what we say until the police have completed their investigations. Until the full facts are known, we feel it is better to be very cautious with our reactions. Some terrorist organizations take credit for crimes they have not committed.

Some Islamic people living in predominately Christian western countries are alarmed by the intense anger heard in the voices of some people who are calling radio talk shows. Islamic people living in mainly Christian countries might be living with a lot of fear. Even in the face of senseless terrorist attacks we need to understand that the terrorists involved in some very deadly attacks since the 911 attacks are not speaking for all of Islam or for all Islamic people. Just as killing innocent Londoners is wrong, lashing out in hate and anger against innocent Islamic people is wrong.

Canada Day and American Independence Day celebrations take place in early July. This is a month when Canadians and Americans take a few minutes to celebrate living in freedom and relative peace. People living in democratic countries with a good human rights record can be very proud of their societies. The sense of pride, however, does not mean we are not prepared to try to improve society, so minority groups face less hate and are better treated in society.

In June, the Canadian House of Commons passed a same-sex marriage bill. The law needs to be approved by the Canadian Senate and then receive royal assent to become law. When the bill becomes law could depend on how much debate the Senate gives the bill. Canadian Senators are appointed, not elected. Because they are appointed, not elected, they may feel more able to vote on personal conviction of human rights, without having to worry about facing an angry constituency during the next federal election.

More information about the Canadian same-sex marriage law can be found on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation web site .

When gay people in Edmonton, Canada were celebrating pride week and the passage of the same-sex marriage bill by the House of Commons, there were reports of gay bashings were made to the Edmonton Police. Some leaders in the gay community expressed concerns that the heated debates of same-sex marriages might have been responsible for the attacks. A news report on one of the hate crimes can be found at Edmonton Canadian Broadcasting Corporation site.

A gay New Zealand web site gives a brief summary of some of the crimes against gay people committed between 1990 and 2001. Some of the crimes include manslaughter, robbery and stabbings, sexual assault, kidnapping and murder and numerous assaults. The most troubling thing is what the some people might see as a possible correlation between the showing of some films and assaults on gay people. For example, in February 1996, the week after the film about “AIDS: What You Haven't Been Told” there were 12 incidents of anti-gay violence and in July 1996, there were 10 acts of anti-gay violence the week after the same film was shown. Other examples can be found on the web site. The URL is Gay New Zealand. We are not stating there is a cause and effect relationship between gay-negative publicity and attacks on gay people. A lot of study would be required to positively make that case. We urge people to take care what they say in public, because we do not have enough studies to know what the impact of our comments could be.

David Ahenakew was convicted of willfully promoting hate against Jewish people and was fined $1,000.00. News reports say he referred to Jews as a “disease” and told a reporter the Holocaust was good. David Ahenakew is reported as having said the conviction supports the fact that first nations people in Canada face discrimination. Ahenakew is reported to be considering appealing the conviction. We gather proceedings are being taken to strip David of his Order of Canada.

Additional information about the Ahenakew case can be found in the following articles:

Candian Broadcasting Corporation.
Candian Broadcasting Corporation

A conviction for promoting hatred against a group of people can be seen as a violation of freedom of speech. The problem for David Ahenakew appears to be that he made the comments to a news reporter and thus the comments were not seen as a personal conversation.

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