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In a surprise ruling, the British Columbia (Canada) Human Rights Tribunal rejected a complaint by a major Jewish organization against veteran journalist Doug Collins and his publisher, the North Shore News, for an allegedly anti-Jewish column on the “Schindler’s List” motion picture. The Tribunal found that the opinion piece, which took aim at Holocaust claims, did not violate a provincial “anti-hate” law.
The closely-watched free speech case began in July 1994, when the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) brought a formal complaint against Collins and the North Vancouver newspaper, charging them with violating British Columbia’s amended Human Rights Act.
Specifically the CJC cited a March 1994 column, “Hollywood Propaganda” (reprinted in the May-June 1994 Journal), in which Collins referred to the much-hyped movie as “Swindler’s List” and “hate literature in the form of films.” He also wrote that “the Jewish influence is the most powerful in Hollywood,” and dismissed the fabled “six million” Holocaust figure as “nonsense.” Remarked Collins: “You gotta love their movie and the people who made it, you see. Otherwise it’s off to the dungeons.” (For more on the background of this case, see “Canadian Jewish Congress Threatens Journalist for Holocaust Heresy,” in the Jan.-Feb. 1996 Journal.)
CJC official Bernie Farber castigated the Collins column as “Holocaust denial” and “anti-Semitic hate speech.” Such writing, he declared, “should never be tolerated in a free and democratic society.”
The broadly-worded provincial Human Rights Act, as amended in 1993, forbids any publication “that indicates discrimination against a person or a group or class of persons … or is likely to expose a person or a group to hatred or contempt.” As Collins has noted, this law “covers the waterfront, the key words being ‘indicate’ and ‘is likely’.”
In her 113-page judgment, released November 12, Council hearing chairman Nitya Iyer strongly criticized Collins’ “Schindler’s List” column. “It is deliberately provocative and insulting,” she wrote. “It is mean-spirited and expresses a smug self-satisfaction in the author’s apparent success in freeing himself from the grip of the ‘propaganda’ by which the rest of society are still duped.”
Notwithstanding that, Iyer concluded that the column fell short of violating the provincial Human Rights code: “Although the publication in issue is likely to make it more acceptable for others to express hatred or contempt against Jewish people because of their race, religion or ancestry, I find that it does not itself express hatred or contempt.”
A Major Victory
Iyer’s ruling is a important victory for freedom of speech in Canada, and a signal setback for the Zionist-Jewish lobby in its ongoing campaign to silence any voice regarded as harmful to Jewish interests. It is significant that this first-ever attempt in Canadian history to censor a writer by taking him to court for expressing his views was initiated by the country’s leading Jewish-Zionist organization. The Canadian Jewish Congress “and its allied organizations,” Collins charges, are “our biggest threat to free speech … The CJC complaint is a direct attack on freedom of the press.”
Because the Tribunal found, in effect, that questioning Holocaust claims is not necessarily “hate speech,” the ruling has significance beyond Canada’s borders. It affirms that Canadians – unlike citizens of Germany, France, Austria, Israel and some other countries where “Holocaust denial” is a crime – are legally free to express public skepticism of the orthodox Holocaust story.
Canadian newspaper publishers overwhelming agreed that the CJC complaint, and the law under which it was brought, threaten a basic right of Canadian citizens. The British Columbia Press Council condemned the CJC censorship bid, calling it “the most serious threat to press freedom in Canada” in 60 years.
So far the North Shore News has been forced to spend some $203,000 to defend itself in the case. Defenders of free speech and ardent Collins fans have donated more than $120,000 to a special News legal defense fund.
Along with many others, Collins had not expected the gratifying verdict. “I was surprised,” he said. “I thought it would go the other way.” Collins went on to speculate that “the adjudicator [Iyer] came to the conclusion this [case] would reach the Supreme Court of Canada and when it did, the law would be thrown out. This way we may not pursue it.”
Because the law under which the CJC complaint was made is still in place, the battle continues. As News lawyer David Sutherland commented: “We’ve won the day, but winning the day is not the answer. Government is the wrong agency or people to regulate the press … that is so fundamental. It’s important to Canada.”
A Postponed Retirement
In his column of September 3, several weeks before the Tribunal’s ruling, Collins announced his long-delayed retirement from the News. Now 77 years old, he stressed that the free speech battle had not forced him to retire. Rather, he had postponed retirement from 1995 because, as he wrote at the time, “to leave now would be desertion in the face of the enemy.” More recently he commented: “It would not have been proper to leave before the hearing, so I hung on once more. I would not run out on the bravest publisher in the country.” Now working on two new books, he says: “I may be retiring, but am not quitting.”
Few North American writers have come under more sustained attack for outspoken and often unorthodox views than the British-born Collins. At the same time, many warmly admire him as an eloquent voice for Canada’s “silent majority.” Since 1984, his twice-weekly column was a very popular feature of the North Shore News. In more than 1,400 essays written in vigorous, straight-forward prose, Collins laid out well-informed but common-sense views on the country’s most heated issues, including immigration, the status of Quebec, and special privilege “rights.”
A leading Canadian literary magazine, Saturday Night dealt at length with the Collins/CJC case in a recent (November) issue. In the ten-page article, Paula Brook (who is Jewish) expressed alarm over the columnist’s support for Holocaust revisionism. She disapprovingly noted: “Like Irving, Faurisson, Rassinier and Butz, Collins has had his work published by the California-based Institute for Historical Review, whose bi-monthly journal is banned in Canada … In fact, his News column has been reprinted verbatim in that journal …”
In view of his record, especially during World War II, the effort by some prominent Jews to portray Collins as a kind of “neo-Nazi” is an absurd and vicious smear. After joining the British army as a volunteer at the age of 19, he served as an infantry sergeant in 1940 in France, where he was captured. He was later awarded the Military Medal “for bravery in the field” fighting Germans at Dunkirk.
Escaping from a German prisoner of war camp in Silesia, he stealthily made his way to Hungary. After being captured there, he made another daring escape, this time making his way to Romania. He was imprisoned once again, but when Romania capitulated in 1944, he was freed and returned to Britain. After re-joining the military, he served in the final months’ military campaign in northwest Europe. Following demobilization in 1946, he joined the British Control Commission in occupied Germany. He moved to Canada in 1952.
Collins’ journalistic record is equally impressive. Recipient of two of Canada’s most coveted awards for journalism, his career has included work as a reporter and commentator for several major Canadian daily papers and on television and radio. He is also the author of several books. His presentation at the 1990 IHR Conference, “Reflections on the Second World War, Free Speech and Revisionism,” was published in the Fall 1991 Journal. (It is also available on audio and video tape from the IHR. See also “Doug Collins Under New Fire,” in the Nov.-Dec. 1994 Journal, pp. 43-46).
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Victory for Collins and Free Speech in Holocaust Heresy Battle, Canadian Jewish Congress Censorship Bid Thwarted|
|Sources:||The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 17, no. 1 (January/February 1998), pp. 2f.|
|First posted on CODOH:||Jan. 7, 2013, 6 p.m.|