February 23, 2009

Ahenakew acquitted of promoting hate

Ahenakew found not guiltySix years after he said Jews were a “disease” and tried to justify the Holocaust to a Saskatoon reporter, David Ahenakew has been found not guilty of willfully promoting hatred.

Reading a 19-page decision, Provincial Court judge Wilfrid Tucker harshly condemned Mr. Ahenakew's remarks, calling them “revolting, disgusting and untrue,” but determined that the former head of the Assembly of First nations did not intend to broadcast his views.

“There is no indication that the accused, at the time of the interview, even considered the possibility that the statements he made to [the reporter] would cause hatred against Jewish people to be promoted,” Mr. Tucker said.

The charges stem from a December, 2002 speech to First Nations leaders during which Mr. Ahenakew denounced immigrants and blamed Jews for starting World War II. In a subsequent interview with Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reporter James Parker, Mr. Ahenakew said that Hitler “fried” six million Jews to “make damn sure that the Jews didn't take over Germany or Europe” and that the world would “be owned by the Jews right now” had Hitler not “cleaned up a hell of a lot of things.”
Comment:  Trying someone for hate speech is hugely problematical when freedom of speech is a right. Most cases of hate speech probably shouldn't be crimes.

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