Friday, February 01, 2008

Does Salman Hossain Have the Right to be Loathsome?

The online rantings of a Bangladeshi-Canadian university student from Mississauga have come under investigation by the RCMP counter-terrorism forces, who have advised Salman Hossain that he is being investigated for incitement and facilitating terrorism.

Borrowing from the headline of an editorial in today's National Post, Salman Hossain has shown himself to be a loathsome individual, writing such drivel as: ""Any and all Western soldiers getting prepared to enter Muslim nations like Afghanistan or Iraq should be legitimate targets by any and all Islamic militants either in the attacked nations or in the western nations --if there were any planned attacks against Canadian/ American soldiers by 'Muslim militants' in Canadian soil, I'd support it." Other postings state, ""When do I get to shoot a few Jews down for attempting to blow up dozens of mosques in America right after 9-11? Why f---ing target the Americans when the Jews are better?" He has no respect for anti-war demonstrations, saying that they "will do sh$$," and describes a "mass casualty" attack in Canada as "a well considered option" and "the best way to compel western soldiers to get out of Afghanistan/Iraq."

How should we respond to such an individual? In a free society, does someone have the right to say such things? Lorne Gunter has written a challenging editorial in today's National Post in which we argues that Salman Hossain does have such a right until he crosses the line into criminal conspiracy. This, Gunter argues, Hossain has not yet done. Whether you agree or not (I tend to), this is an issue worth discussing and thinking about. You can read the full article by clicking here.

10 comments:

TrueNorthStrongNFree said...

I also attend the University of Toronto at Mississauga.
Mr. Hossain has the right to be loathsome, however when he posts it on the web it has moved into the next level of responsibility.
Our mainstream media enjoyed reporting on the apparent cold-blooded killing of a Palestinian child by the Israeli Defense Forces. Yet a report in French by a French media outlet shows that the 'killing' was faked. Final damage was estimated to be around 600 or so people killed due to this "outrage".
We are responsible for what we write, that's why I write and speak carefully. I think some things within my head that would be illegal; everyone does. When you write them in a blog or tell people, you do so at the risk of someone reading or listening to it and reacting.
In conclusion, he does have the right to be loathsome, just not in public (ie: cyberspace).
I recognize him from school. It is unfortunate that people like this enjoy the shelter of our laws. I hope he gets convicted, it will send a message not to promote hatred, no matter how "sacred" the topic.

Glenn Penner said...

The big challenge with hate laws is defining what exactly hate is. The very subjectivity of(or lack of predictability of what constitutes) hatred defies fair legal prosecution. Laws and the consequences of breaking them should be predictable. But how can one know if what one says is going to offend someone, somewhere, for some reason? The law, therefore, becomes entirely subjective and liable to abuse, just as we see the Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan being abused today. The issue then, to my thinking, needs to be one of criminal conspiracy (which is more predictable and legally definable) rather than hatred. This is what the RCMP is looking into, incidentally, which is proper.

Anonymous said...

When you encourage people to kill others, I think it can be criminal. I think he is nuts and dangerous. He lives in a free country. Perhaps he can be deported or kicked out of school? I find it worrisome that canada has this kind of person here.

Anonymous said...

Words tend to lead to actions. How many times have innocent people been killed in school shootings because we ignored their 'words', either written or spoken. Even if Mr. Hossain doesn't act on his words what about those who read them?

Glenn Penner said...

But is the answer to silence these voices or to vigorously and loudly oppose them? I am certainly not advocating ignoring such rantings. And such rantings will take place regardless, and indeed, tend to gain power when they are viewed as persecuted and oppressed. Allowed to come into the light of day, most people see them for their hideousness and also see how others find such thoughts loathsome and unworthy in a civilized society.

Anonymous said...

I agree they shouldn't be silenced but neither should they be ignored. In the ideal world people would speak up vigorously but unfortunately few do. Look how few Christians really speak up for their brothers and sisters who are being persecuted.

Glenn Penner said...

Points well made, but I am not ready to give up the right to freedom of expression just because most refuse to do what they ought to. I agree. Hate mongers must not be ignored. But to forcibly shut them up is not the answer either. It is just too subjective.

Donna said...

I believe in the right to free speech at all times, and this man must be allowed to speak freely, according to Canadian law and the law which I live under and enjoy. I want to be able to speak freely about Christ, therefore I must give him the same right, whether it agrees with y beliefs or not.
Canada law can still hold Mr. Hossain responsible though for his speech and his subsequent actions if there are any. My concern is that we cannot know how his speech can incite other like-minded individuals or groups to violent action towards any people groups in any country, so he should he watched closely. If all believers (Christians) in Canada would rise up pray for this man for as long as they spend reading your article here and listening or reading Mr. Hossain's speech, it would be more beneficial than the time we (believers) will spend critiquing him.

nachtwache said...

Donna is right, prayer moves mountains! How wonderful it would be to have this man and many others like him come to Christ!

Anonymous said...

Mr Hossain`s comments have far surpassed personal opinion and have crossed into the domain of public endangerment. (I.E. Mr. Earnst Zundel , 5 years for racial hatred crimes) Any person making comments with regards to the "mass murder " of Canadian citizens (no matter their race or nationality) should be dealt with promptly and to the fullest extent of the law. Any other people he is "conspiring" with should be promptly dealt with as well. If this person is here attending the University of Toronto on a visa, it should be immediately be revoked. Maybe they should be invited to go to a country of their choice where it is better for them. If this person is a Canadian citizen he should be charged in accordance with Canadian law. As far as "murdering" Canadian soldiers here in Canada, the government of Canada owes these serving members some piece of mind to know their families are safe while they are deployed. Quote, Author Unknown ," I may not agree with what you have to say but i will, to the death, defend your right to say it." end quote. THIS DOES NOT APPLY HERE. To quote Mr Hossain On Jan. 17, he wrote that, "If the Taliban had the capability to attack our troops in our own soil, which I personally hope they do in the future, then these pussies will be dead scared of sending any more troops in2 Afghanistan." End quote." Speaking from experience, i know of a few soldiers, their families and a number of Canadians who would like to discuss Canadian values with Mr. Hossain.