Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hate Crime?

Driving down Ellice yesterday morning, I stared incredulously at posters put up at the Ellice Cafe overnight, clearly by do-no-gooders. I can say that, because I know (first hand), no one at the cafe would give permission to put up these "free speech" posters.
The Ellice is a not-for-profit restaurant run by New Life Ministries. The late Rev. Harry Lehotsky started the cafe with the intention of making a safe place, where everyone in the community was always welcome. A business man in a suit sitting a table over from a local in a T shirt. Everyone is welcome here.
The posters read, "Pro choice, because God raped Mary", and had "Youth Against Christ" and "Youth Against Celibacy" at the bottom, as well as a picture of a small building with "Women's Resource Center" as a banner.
I was unimpressed. Angry even. I called the office to let them know, and suggested that they photograph the posters, and report it to the Police as a hate crime. No other buildings were targeted, and while I know the burden of proof required to convict on a hate crime is over the top, I didn't think this should just be "washed away".
I went to the cafe for lunch with a friend and spoke with another friend there about the posters. She said, "Let it go".
Frankly, I didn't want to, and suggested that my Jewish friends probably wouldn't take to "Kristall Nacht was just a joke", or my Muslim friends consider, "Mohammad never read the Koran"  posters as something to "let go", nor should they.
I guess my anger came more from the assertion that Mary was raped than any other part of the poster. Pro-choice/pro-life debates are another matter. Maybe it's because it's Christmas.
Mary was first told about what was going to happen to her. "You will be with child..." To that Mary asked "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" Gabriel explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and she responded, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said."
She wasn't tricked with a date rape drug, she wasn't promised anything, she wasn't raped.She willingly obeyed and participated in the event.
Dogma aside, I'd like to know who it was that plastered these posters on the building, and why they chose to target a group whose only purpose is to serve the community. I see no purpose in the posters aside from being inflammatory, and anti-Christian.
IMO, a hate crime.


  1. I don't think that qualifies as a hate crime in any way. Does it count as a crime? No. Just as your Muslim examples don't seem to constitute a crime in any reasonable non Islamic societies. Unless you wish to bring back blasphemy as a crime? That said, denying Mary's willingness with regards to her involvement in the birth of Jesus or drawing a caricature of Mohammad are not exactly the same thing as denying the events of the holocaust or those that lead up to them, no matter how disgusted you are by the actions of these individuals. I'm personally against the notion of "Hate Crimes". At least to the extent that calling a lawyer becomes the preferred method of retaliation rather than "sticks and stones". If it doesn't qualify as a crime, it shouldn't qualify as a "Hate-crime" IMHO. Now if they had spray painted "DIE CHRISTIANS DIE", or something like that, then you might have something. Not liking a group and saying you don't like a group is not the same as trying to push violence upon a group. It wasn't advocating violence. It was advocating abortion in a rather unfortunate and inarticulate manner. On thaht subject I'm pro-choice for the most part (at least as a last resort). I don't like the idea of abortion but ultimately it should be an option. Unless you install a totalitarian theocracy, it's not going anywhere. Best to push education and alternative options as much as possible rather than start a war out of ideology, but I'm not the pope, so, whatever.

  2. I was waiting for a cab two nights ago, and I actually SAW the 2 perpretraitors posting these signs. They were doing it around Higgins and Main at around 4 AM, while I was waiting to hail a cab, after walking northbound for about 15 minutes.

    They were plastering them all over or near the new Youth For Christ building. Both of them were wearing hoodies, in their 20's, and white. One had a plaid jacket on.

    I actually was so disgusted by the posters, that I called the non-emergency Police line to report them. They had a bucket of this quick drying glue-like substance that stuck to my hands, as I ripped a couple of them down.

    The Police cruiser actually spotted them walking away from the scene, with the white bucket I had described, and followed them slowly for a few seconds before taking off. I guess it's not a crime to put up hate-filled messages.

  3. TO Reed:

    This definitely sounds like a hate crime. These individuals seem to be targetting Christian-based institutions. It's like going to every synagogue in town, and plastering up "The Jews killed Jesus!"

    You would bet this would make the news (both Television and Newsprint) if anti-Semitic posters were glued onto Jewish Centres or religious places. Becuase the posters target Christians, the Police seem to be not taking the incidents seriously.

    So I guess it sends a message to the community that it is ok to target and write hateful messages against a religious group, and not have to worry about reprocussions.

  4. @ Reed. You're probably right about it NOT being a "hate crime" by definition. The targets WERE sought out because of their religious beliefs, but I guess you couldn't prove the perps were willfully inciting violence against said group.

    @ HurtinAlbertan. Would you contact me please. I'd like to follow up.

  5. Section 319 of the criminal code covers this:

    "319. (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in a public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace if guilty of

    (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
    (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    (2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against and identifiable group is guilty of

    (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
    (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction."

  6. Not sure about (1), but I would imagine a case could be made with 319(2).

  7. Drove on Broadway westbound this afternoon. Saw more of these flyers glued to a business complex on Balmoral/Broadway, and the Crossways(?) Church on Broadway and Furby. I noticed a couple of the flyers were also critical of Police for their handling of the G-20 summit in Toronto.

  8. Reed felt that these people weren't guilty of a crime. I came home to drive down my lane and noticed, "Youth against Christ" spray painted on the back of a church on Ellice. So Reed... can we agree that they are guilty of a crime now?

  9. Stating your own position bluntly and candidly does not constitute hate speech. It might make you an A-hole, but it's not hate speech.

    On the other hand, putting graffiti and posters on private property without permission are definitely not OK, but I'm guessing that's a misdemeanor charge at worst.

  10. No, attacking an idea is not even close to the same thing as inciting hatred toward a group of people. All ideas, even those that are important to people, are fair game. Also Christians hardly qualify as a persecuted minority, as much as some would like to believe otherwise.

  11. So Steven, if I understand your thinking, then spray painting "Youth against Jews" or "Youth against Muslims" on a synagogue or a mosque is different than "Youth against Christ" on a church because those groups are perceived to be a "persecuted minority", or is there a sign up sheet for that list somewhere?

  12. @ steven

    "No, attacking an idea is not even close to the same thing as inciting hatred toward a group of people. All ideas, even those that are important to people, are fair game."

    I would conclude that the people responsible for the vandalism and flyers were deliberately targeting Christian based institutions. Does it matter if Christians are a "persecuted minority" in Canada or not? You seem to be implying that they brought this upon themselves.


    "Police spokeswoman Const. Natalie Aitken said the force has not been asked to investigate."


    I am at loss for words....

  14. spray painting "Youth against Jews" or "Youth against Muslims" on a synagogue or a mosque is different than "Youth against Christ" on a church

    The analogy doesn't work. It would have to be "Youth against Yaweh" or "Youth against Mohammad" as a direct antithesis to a group called "Youth For Yaweh" or perhaps a "Youth for Moses". But yes, spray painting graffiti is certainly a crime. Is it a hate crime? I don't feel it is. Is it akin to painting a swastika on a Jewish temple? Maybe. But I'm not a lawyer. Also, you don't know for sure that they're the same people. Although a magic 8 ball would likely tell us that all signs point to yes, they probably are.

    I think the far more interesting aspect of this to me than the notion of "is it or is it not a hate crime" (does it really matter?) is the fact that someone or some group out there is so angry or disturbed that they feel the need to lash out at christian organizations. Are they overly aggressive Atheists? Is it a baby who wasn't aborted who resents the fact that a christian organization prevented their abortion? Is it someone from an oppressively religious family lashing out in some way? Or is it just some crazy. I dunno. Is there perhaps a threat that their actions get progressively more dangerous and provocative? It's probably too soon to say, but I'd be concerned, what with the level of discourse being offered by said individual(s).

  15. OK, RS, I'll give you the semantics "win". I didn't know if everyone out there knew "Yaweh".
    I'll agree that the anger demonstrated by their actions is concerning, and will possibly escalate, which is precisely why it is so unbelievable that the WPS (allegedly) did nothing to stop them when they saw them.
    As well, I just can't help but feel that society is quite tolerant of "Christian bashing". After all, we can't talk badly about the Jews, the people of colour, the first Canadians, and so on, but those Christians...they're good sport. It's the slippery slope pointed out by Pastor Martin Niemöller who said,

    "They came first for the Communists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.