Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dangerous Precedent - Hate Crime Sentence

A 63 year old Alberta man is going to jail for 16 months followed by 36 months probation for having an offensive website.

I'm going to sleep better tonight knowing that the world is a safer place with an old crank who wanted to spout off online behind bars.

Seriously, Reni Sentana-Ries' website, the Federation of Free Planets, and his opinions are outrageous, vile and disgusting. Anyone who denies the holocaust has more than a few screws loose. I shouldn't even need to state that, but I will lest anyone get the wrong idea.

I do have a major problem with the fact that he was arrested and jailed for simply stating his opinion, however misinformed that might be. I'm especially concerned about the words of the crown prosecutor:

Crown prosecutor Steven Bilodeau said outside court that the conviction and sentence sets a benchmark for similar Internet hate-crime cases.

"The Crown wanted a strong message because it's the first hate-crime conviction
involving hate on the Internet," said Bilodeau, who handles technology and
Internet crimes.

"Putting hate on the Internet means everyone can see it, not just the people you run into on the street corner and it's really hard to get rid of."

The crown did send a strong message, freedom of speech in Canada is not as safe as we may think. Hate Crimes are often fake crimes. Our criminal code is full of laws to protect society from nut cases like Reni Sentana-Ries, if he were uttering threats or defaming individuals he could have been prosecuted under any number of laws. In this case he's only being jailed for holding a disgraceful opinion.

It's probably just as well that nobody will read this man's diatribes any longer, but a dangerous precedent has been set for the next person who posts an unpopular viewpoint on their website.

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