That’s how a Provincial Court judge in Saskatchewan described things David Ahenakew said about Jews during an interview six years ago. I couldn’t agree more.
There are people who want to see this second trial overturned, to see Ahenakew found guilty of inciting hatred against Jews. I couldn’t agree less. Here’s why.
Ahenakew was charged after he made his now infamous statements about Jews, first as a conference speaker and later in an interview with a reporter from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. A provincial court found him guilty of “wilfully promoting hatred,” slapped Ahenakew with a $1,000 fine. Ahenakew then had his Order of Canada taken away. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, at first behind Ahenakew, condemned his statements and removed Ahenakew from all official positions including FSIN senator. An appeal court overturned his conviction, but by then Ahenakew had been exposed to everyone as a man with disgusting ideas.
But there’s a difference between spouting disgusting ideas and inciting violence against an identifiable group in society. Ahenakew is guilty of the first, not the second. He said disgusting things about Jews, as this second trial judge said. In doing so, he let the world see him in a new light, an ugly light, in that interview six years ago. But Ahenakew wasn’t inciting violence. And that should be the line when it comes to criminal charges. Inciting violence is where the loud-mouthed idiot becomes a danger to others in society, and where the criminal code should become a factor.
Believe me, I can think of some people I would love to put through the same wringer as Ahenakew. I would have to ask myself, though, whether they were simply off their big yaps or advocating physical attacks on someone else.