The chief purpose in life for Canadians, as for all of us, is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. For American journalists, though, Canada’s chief purpose is often to provide a distant early warning of judicial trends likely to take root in the United States—and the Canadian canary in the coal mine is chirping loudly.
That’s because the Supreme Court of Canada last week ruled unanimously that “truthful statements can be presented in a manner that would meet the definition of hate speech.” The decision reverses the result of the John Peter Zenger case (1735): Zenger, thrown into jail for telling the truth about a royal governor, got out when a New York jury decided that truth, even if presented in a way that makes officials mad, should be a defense against defamation charges.
American, British, and Canadian law eventually reflected that understanding, with resultant benefits to freedom of speech and of the press. Now, if U.S. judges follow their northern brethren, we’ll have what Sun News broadcaster Ezra Levant says Canadians have: “open season on Christians.”
Why Christians? Because this particular case grew out of anti-homosexuality flyers distributed by a Canadian evangelist that included incendiary lines such as, “The homosexuals want to share their filth and propaganda with Saskatchewan’s children. … Sodomites are … 3 times more likely to sexually abuse children!”
America’s Christophobes are already examining the anti-homosexuality literature on this side of the border. I suspect some American Christians are also ready to rumble, but I hope they remember what the Apostle Paul famously wrote to the Corinthians: “I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Christians should continue to defend free speech rights and the clear biblical teaching that both heterosexual adultery and homosexuality are wrong. We should also not speak, write, and act as if we are righteous and “those people are the sinners.” We’re all sinners in different ways. Thanks be to God for forgiving our trespasses. Can we be tough but also kind?