Censorship as Free Speech - Free Expression Values and the Logic of Silencing in R. v. Keegstra


  • Terry Heinrichs




In this article, the author criticizes the Supreme Court of Canada's view in Keegstra that free expression values — and by extension free expression itself — are furthered rather than hindered by the suppression of free speech. The author examines in detail, first, the majority's reasoning in its consideration of the relation of hate speech to the "truth," "self-fulfillment," and "political process" rationales, and second, the thesis underpinning the contention that tolerating hate speech will effectively "silence " the expression of target group members. In fact, a significant portion of the critical space of the article is devoted to an examination of the merits of this controversial "silencing" argument. The author contends that this second argument poses the relevant problem, not as a conflict between free expression and other Charter values (such as equality or multicultural ism), but as one occurring entirely within the free expression guarantee itself. In this aspect of its reasoning, the author views Keegstra as pioneering an argument that would suppress free expression in its very name.