Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Quote for the Record Books

"Against the argument that you cannot cry fire in a crowded theatre: Oh yes you can — you must, if in your considered view there is a fire. In that case there is a duty to cry fire."

Julian Porter, QC, speaking at the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal on Friday 6 Jun 08
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3 comments:

Drew458 said...

Actually you can, even if there is no fire. You'll get arrested or sued, but that's after the fact.

Rights outline some of the things you can do.

Laws punish you for some of the things you have done.

Before, and After. Big difference to me.

At best Law is part of a feedback loop. Knowing that something is illegal and understanding that punishment will ensue if such a thing transpires keeps some of us from being major criminals. With luck that awareness makes its way into our moral center and helps shape our future behavior.

The rest of us already know Right from Wrong, and can usually spot a Good Law a mile away. Or at least we have enough higher brain functionality to see that actions have consequences, so we don't yell "Fire!!" in a crowded theater when there is no fire, simply because it's wrong.

dicentra63 said...

Agreed. But what does that have to do with the context in which this quote was uttered?

They had Steyn up on charges of hate speech, which they were comparing to shouting Fire! in a crowded theater when, one assumes, there is no fire.

However, Steyn's council was saying that Steyn was shouting Fire! in a crowded theater because he smelled smoke and saw flames.

Different situation; different right and wrong.

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