The Supreme Court of Canada is seen in Ottawa Dec 12, 2012.
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
This Hour has 22 Minutes, the CBC television show, broadcast a sketch imagining what the Catholic Church would be like if a Canadian was elected Pope.
They depicted a Catholic priest leading the mass, but instead of wine he used Tim Hortons coffee, and instead of the communion wafer he used Timbits.
22 Minutes is obsessed by the Catholic church. Rarely a week goes by where they don't take a run at them. But this was less abusive and funnier than normal.
At least funny to Shaun Majumder, the Hindu comedian who played the priest. But not quite as funny to Canada's millions of Catholics, whose faith holds that upon taking the communion, the wafer and wine literally transform into the body and blood of Christ.
You either believe it or you don't, and the CBC doesn't.
Freedom of speech tells us that if you're offended, turn the channel. Or if you're mad enough, write a stern letter, which is what Joanne McGarry of the Catholic Civil Rights League did, just as she did when the CBC ridiculed the Last Supper with Jesus' "wife" complaining he spent too much time drinking with the boys.
Question: Could you imagine the CBC mocking the tenets of another religion - oh, just to pick one at random, say, maybe, Islam?
Nothing too heavy-duty. Not the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, which led to riots around the world. Nothing sexual - the usual 22 Minutes attack on Catholics - like Mohammed's marriage to a six-year-old child bride, Aisha. No, maybe just a food joke, like the Tim Hortons skit, poking fun at the Muslim prohibition on eating pork.
Like maybe a Little Mosque where they just loved Canadian bacon, eh?
Yeah, I can't imagine it either. The CBC isn't that brave. They don't want a riot.
But as of last week, it's not just lawlessness the CBC has to worry about. It's the law, too.
Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Canada invented two counterfeit new rights: The right not to be offended and the human right to "self-fulfilment."
The court upheld a censorship law banning anything "likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt." Translation: If something you say causes hard feelings, that's illegal. It doesn't matter if it's true, or a joke, or fair comment.
So the most thin-skinned person in the room now has a veto over you.
In order to infringe on your freedom of speech - a real right found in our Constitution - the court invented a new right: The right to "self-fulfilment." The phrase is used no less than nine times in the court ruling (the word "feelings" appears 12 times).
This isn't a law court anymore. It's the Oprah Winfrey Show.
The court is fine with censorship for really mean comments that are "reducing the participation and self-fulfilment of individuals within the vulnerable group." The government can now "prohibit communications involving extreme feelings and strong emotions."
Did that Tim Hortons sketch hamper Catholics' ability to find "self-fulfilment"? Did it reduce "participation" of Catholics? Did it cause "strong feelings"?
Those are stupid questions. Those are childish questions. Those are irrelevant questions in a free country. Those questions are not to be found in our Charter of Rights. But now our Supreme Court says they are the law.