An Ontario teenager who is facing criminal charges after accusations of inciting hatred is being defended by The Democracy Fund (TDF), a Canadian charity dedicated to upholding constitutional rights like freedom of expression.
The teen allegedly hung posters in a public high school that linked to a video that purportedly included content that some interpreted as hateful towards the transgender community.
“The offence of public incitement of hatred is committed when a person communicates statements in a public place that incite hatred against an identifiable group that is likely to lead to a breach of the peace. The maximum punishment is two years imprisonment,” a press release from TDF reads.
Since TDF has a mandate to preserve and promote civil liberties, like freedom of expression, TDF’s litigation director Alan Honner had the following to say about the case:
In the criminal context, the term “hatred” has been interpreted as an emotion of an “intense and extreme nature” that is clearly associated with the “vilification and detestation” of an identifiable group. As interpreted by the courts, expression is not criminal merely because it ridicules, belittles, or affronts the dignity of a person.
The press release further mentions the Supreme Court of Canada case, Ward v. Quebec, wherein “freedom of expression does not exist unless it gives rise to a duty to tolerate what other people say. A society which only protects conventional or harmless expression is not a free society.”