News Articles, Editorials and Letters to the Editor 


BC Tel. v. Censors news items collection

GS980806 Georgia Straight, Aug. 6-13, 1998, Charlie Smith
BC F.I.R.E. Chief Takes Blame for Neo-Nazi Link on Web Site

#SWC9522 Simon Wiesenthal Center, May 22, 1998, Sol Littman
... still in the business of transmitting hate material

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#BC980511-1 BC Report, May 11, 1998, p. 28, Kelly Torrance
excerpt from: A timely excuse to target hate

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#SO980416-1 South Okanagan Review, April 16, 1998, p. 4, Ron Loftus
excerpt from "In Review" column

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#OT980415-1 Osoyoos Times, April 15, 1998, p. 4, Vance Buhler
Lots of good information on Internet

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#OC980415-1 Oliver Chronicle, April 15, 1998, p. 12, Margaret Dumont
Freedom must extend to all speech

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#OC980415-2 Oliver Chronicle, April 15, 1998, p. 12, Sol Littman
Littman praises mayor for move

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#SO980402-1 South Okanagan Review, April 2, 1998, p. 5, Juergen Hansen
The lesson learned in Oliver

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#SO980402-2 South Okanagan Review, April 2, 1998, p. 4, Kathleen Connolly
Confused, but pious

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#SO980402-3 South Okanagan Review, April 2, 1998, p. 4, Ron Loftus
We've incurred the wrath of Big Paper in Oliver

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#VS980402-1 Vancouver Sun, April 2, 1998, p. A18
We need better values, not censorship

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#VP980320-1 Vancouver Province, March 20, 1998, p. ?, John Colebourn
Oliver rally called racist front

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#KC980316-1 Kelowna Daily Courier? March 16-20? '98, p. ?, unknown
Anti-racism activists questioning ‘free speech' seminar

http://ronna.netai.net/ftcnet/#SL980119-1 January 19, 1998, Sol Littman
Sol Littman 'apology' letter


BC Report, May 11, 1998, p. 28, Kelly Torrance
excerpt from: A timely excuse to target hate
The arrest of five skinheads for murder spurs call for tougher laws

In his opening address. Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh declared. "The hate laws in Canada are not adequate... I want Ottawa to consider making mere possession of hate propaganda an offence in the Criminal Code." Since then he has changed his stance. He now says Ottawa should "consider possession of hate propaganda for purposes of distribution for an offence," adding that even Reform Party MP Art Hanger is supportive. Mr. Dosanjh says he will soon make his views known formally to federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan. Ms. McLellan has said her department is examining the issue.

Mr. Dosanjh is particularly concerned about the Internet. "You can have this hateful propaganda made available- on what are essentially public airwaves- [websites are NOT comparable to 'public airwaves'] which demeans human beings, diminishes the stature of whole communities, whole groups of people because of certain differences and that's not actionable," he says.

As to how "hate" material is defined. that would be up to the courts, says Mr. Dosanjh. He also leaves to the courts the matter of individuals possessing copies of Hitler's Mein Kampf for educational purposes. However, he concedes, "I think the hesitation is we may not be able to do anything to strengthen [hate laws] without violating the Charter."

Mr. Dosanjh and other "anti-hate" activists scored one major victory last week. Fairview Technology Centre of Oliver abandoned its provision of Internet services to white-power groups.[incorrect: the ISP business was sold] Fairview and its owner, Bernard Klatt, had been under attack for almost two years over websites it hosted that were allegedly hate-mongering. Police have investigated but never laid charges. Fairview will continue to operate as a computer dealer and repair service. Many of the controversial sites have already relocated.

Mr. Klatt says one reason behind the decision was the expense of upgrading the sites.[no, the expense to support 56K dial-up access] His landlord also told him to find a new location, after local press implied a threat of commercial blackmail. BC Tel. which had already been asked by "anti-hate" groups to cut off Fairview's access, was also a factor. Mr. Klatt says that "we were attempting to upgrade our Internet connection and found that the new BC Tel contract had language in it that required us to be financially and legally liable for anything posted to the Intemet by our subscribers."

BC Tel spokesman Doug Strachan says the contract is a standard one used for the past six months." [our BC Tel Adv Com sales contact said we were the first ISP to be presented with their 'new, improved' contract] What we're attempting to do is acknowledge where the control is," he explains. As to how an Internet provider can be expected to police its websites, which can change rapidly, that again is a matter for the courts, says Mr. Strachan. He did not say whether he expected BC Tel would likewise be expected to monitor the content of all phone calls made on its system. [BC Tel is a regulated 'common carrier', BC Tel Adv Com is not]

Mr. Klatt criticizes legislative control of hate. "I think it would be interesting to explore how Canada came to be the first country to regulate emotions, for example, hate and contempt," he says. "Who gets to define what is considered hate?" He accuses some Canadians of having an immature view of the right to free-speech. "They're all for free speech rights for ideas, opinions, viewpoints that they don't personally object to, but can't imagine why someone should be allowed to express something that they personally find outrageous, obnoxious or objectionable."

Ken McVey, who tracks hate on the Internet and received the Order of British Columbia for his work, is also against criminalizing hate possession. "I have often asked those making such suggestions what they would do about the Nizkor Project, which has a rather large collection of this type of literature archived and online," Mr. McVey says. "The answer is always the same: 'Educational use would exempt you," Mr. McVey's question is why ideas that are deemed dangerous enough to be proscribed by government are suddenly impotent when used by educators. 


South Okanagan Review, April 16, 1998, p. 4
excerpt from "In Review" column

Still no word from Big Paper in Oliver about which multicultural group is to receive the proceeds from the free speech forum ad that ran in the Review. Are they trying to ignore us?

Ron Loftus, Publisher
revpaper@vip.net 


Osoyoos Times, April 15, 1998, p. 4
Lots of good information on Internet

April 13, 1998
Editor, The Times
Dear Sir:
Your unseemly attack on free speech on the net is surprising, coming as it does from one who's very livelihood depends on it. No doubt it is great inflammatory muck-racking but most of it could be applied with equal validity to other more popular media.

To say that "the Internet has become the repository of every lame-brained theory, every mutant thought, every outpouring of malice and hate, of which the human mind is capable" grossly under-estimates the collective human mind. The value of the far greater benefit from the free disemination of Information is barely mentioned in your Editorial. To suggest that these communications, so railed against by the writer, are inflicted on us by the Citizens, Constitution and the Courts of the United States, is disgusting and insulting. In fact it is "an outpouring of malice and hate." Would you favour passing out copies of this attack to our American visitors as they cross the border? Do we have to hide our copies of The Times to avoid offending them? I hope not!

To write that "Freedom of speech, curiously enough, doesn't seem to encourage truth "ignores reality and slanders every person who has spoken out to uncover truth, no matter how others have tried to hide it. To say that "freedom of speech encourages lies, hatred and contempt"... disregards the fact that these things can only be exposed for what they are and corrected by, the excercise of the same freedom of speech. Those who want to control and limit it should remember the effects such limitations had in Nazi Germany.

Yes, there are sites and discussions on the ‘net that most of us avoid, as we do with some TV, salacious books and magazines, and even some newspapers. If you think your children will access the wrong site, take care of the problem, don't blame Free Speech.

If you'd like a look at the good and useful information the Internet offers, free, go to the library or visit the Internet club at the Senior Centre on Tuesday evenings.

Vance Buhler
Osoyoos, B.C. 


Oliver Chronicle, April 15, 1998, p. 12
Freedom must extend to all speech

Editor, Oliver Chronicle;

In regards to your Miscellaneous column of April 8, 1998. It appears to me so obvious how seemingly biased you are in regard to the "Klatt Affair".

As a first generation Canadian of German descent I too abhor the horrors and pains of the Holocaust. I have never denied its existence. I have suffered for many years of my life the collective guilt and shame for the sins of my ancestral home, a very civilized and cultured nation so capable of cruelty to its citizens.

However, I strongly advocate and defend the right of freedom of speech, no matter how disgusting and painful it may be. Driving it underground and preventing open, intelligent discussions, will only perpetuate the evil of persecution of my fellow men. Your analogy of the Holocaust to Clifford Olson only simplifies and clouds the issue of free speech. It has a tendency to arouse the vox populi to a hysteria that murdered Ceasar and that Hitler was so adept at by blinding the German people to his horrific schemes.

Margaret Dumont
mdumont@ftcnet.com 


Oliver Chronicle, April 15, 1998, p. 12
Littman praises mayor for move

Editor, Oliver Chronicle;

The following is a copy of a letter sent to Mayor Linda Larson.

Dear Mrs. Larson,

On behalf of all the 22,000 members of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Canada, I wish to congratulate the City of Oliver for the firm, courageous way in which the council and the citizens responded to the proposed meeting of Mr. Klatt's supporters last month.

You were entirely justified in cancelling the meeting room reservation. [false assertion]  As I understand it, the community centre is a tax-supported facility supported by all the taxpayers in Oliver. As such it should not be available to groups who would use it to attack any of Oliver's citizens on the grounds of race, religion and ethnic origin. [that was not the purpose of the meeting nor the message of any of the speakers] You were justified in cancelling the meeting room reservation on the grounds that the meeting might lead to violence. [not true, CJC claims to have stopped the meeting]

I wish to offer special appreciation to the citizens of Oliver who gathered in spontaneous[?], peaceful protest last Saturday (March 21) to those who sought to justify FTCnet's pollution of the Internet with messages that promote hate, violence and assassination. [not true]

May I add my congratulations to you and the over 1,000 Oliver residents who signed the petition you courageously circulated calling on the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute FTCnet and its most virulent subscribers. [there was no such petition]

SOL LITTMAN,
Canadian Representative
Simon Wiesenthal Centre,
Toronto 


South Okanagan Review, April 2, 1998, p. 5
The lesson learned in Oliver

Now that Oliver has made it to the front page of the Globe and Mail, I am tempted to take sides between the accused and the accusers, to explain in detail why I think-that one side is right and the other one wrong.

However, such a stand would undoubtedly get me into trouble with lots of people. So I'll take the easy way out by proclaiming that both sides are wrong. That way, nobody can claim that I am partisan.

The facts of the case are well-known by now. On the Internet, Oliver has become known as the focus of a lot of neo-Nazi thinking and racial propaganda. Under the legal cover of "freedom of speech", a small group of people is trying to spread its version of history, which amounts to a glorification of the Nazi regime In Germany and a denial of the Holocaust. [false assertion]

In early March, this group managed to rent a municipal meeting room to hold a rally in Oliver. The municipal government promptly came under heavy fire from all sides for allowing the hatemongers to meet. Yet council stuck to its guns and defended the right to free speech.

However, just before the planned meeting, public tension rose to such a level that council was forced to send the group packing to a different location. [false statement] Given the potential for violence, council had no other choice. [not true] It is to the credit of the mayor and councillors that they made their decision in public and in a reasoned way. [There was no mention at all of CJC involvement] They managed to maintain public order while not restricting the group's basic right to freedom of expression. [false assertion]

From some of the pronouncements made last Sunday in Oliver, from occasional discussions with neo-Nazi's and from their publications, I have gotten three major impressions: Most of them have not had any first-hand experience with life in Hitler's Germany; none of them are willing to look at the well-documented facts regarding the horrible and unprecedented organized slaughter of millions of unarmed and innocent people between 1933 and 1945, and very few neo-Nazis have met any Holocaust survivors.

Unlike the original Nazi movement, these people have no coherent political philosophy at all, no idea of how they would run a government in Germany, Canada or anywhere else. This does not make their rantings and ravings any more acceptable, of course, but it does make these groups into less of a threat to our democratic order which is in relatively good shape, compared to that of Germany in 1933.

Yet the crucial political questions remain: Should we, as a society, outlaw and suppress meetings of groups that openly spread lies, preach hatred, insult the memory of the victims of Nazi terror and are proud of it? Is there a real danger that the message of neo-Nazism will spread and become a powerful movement in North America, as it did in Germany in the 1930s?

How many Canadians are willing to accept the Nazi "Fuehrer principle", the idea that only a strong and charismatic self-appointed leader can do a good job of running a country? And who wants to hear the old Nazi refrain that "'...wir werden welter marschieren bis alles in Scherben faellt..." -- "...we shall keep on marching until the world order collapses into rubble and we can take over Germany and then the whole world"?

At about the time when I was supposed to sing some of those songs, one of our more courageous teachers made us write several essays about "hubris", an ancient Greek word meaning fateful arrogance, overbearing pride, insolence, an individual's proud challenge to "the Gods", to the ethical and universal laws that hold countries and societies together.

Said teacher was careful enough not to connect "hubris" with Hitler. Instead, he made us see that there was a good deal of incipient hubris in all of us, a hubris that could become quite destructive unless it was tempered by self-discipline and channeled into a positive direction.

Being teenagers, we didn't think very highly of self-discipline. Pre-empting the earnest lectures of modem pop psychologists we figured that self-discipline would warp our tender, little souls. So we stayed away from it. But we began to wonder what else would keep our burgeoning pride in check or direct it toward a positive goal.

Fortunately, things have changed since then. The Germany of the 1930s and the Canada of 1998 are very different places. The age of -isms is over. We are no longer willing to swallow empty heroic phrases. And we certainly are not fond of self-appointed leaders who can excite the restless masses and can lead them into a major disaster.

In fact, one could argue that we have gone too far in the other direction, toward a total loss of any guiding principles and any generally accepted set of values.

But we have at least three critical factors that will prevent Nazi-type dictatorships in the future: Relatively free media, a political system that allows us to kick out unpopular governments and, above all, a gradual realization that in the real world, personal freedom and guaranteed rights can survive only if we are willing to show some self-discipline, commonsense and tolerance, right here and now.

That was the major point our teacher had tried to get across to us, I think. That, too, is the message from Oliver.

(Juergen Hansen is a freelance writer who grew up in Nazi Germany.) 


South Okanagan Review, April 2, 1998, p. 4
Confused, but pious

Editor;

I am confused by the actions of the South Okanagan Review. Here is a paper that took money for an ad promoting an event later deemed ethically distasteful and chose not to cover, regardless of its news value.

We, Mr. Loftus, are in the business of informing our readers of the NEWS -- whether we find it distasteful or not. To do anything less would be cheating our readers who rely on the Chronicle as the newspaper of record in Oliver.

However, we did have one option: to show our displeasure by not taking money from Bernard Klatt and his band of "free speech" supporters". Perhaps the Review should have put its money where it claims its morals are.

Kathleen Connolly
Editor, Oliver Chronicle
email: connolly@img.net

Editor's Note: The free speech fiasco in Oliver only became news because the media chose to make it so. 


South Okanagan Review, April 2, 1998, p. 4
We've incurred the wrath of Big Paper in Oliver

Oh My! We struck a nerve at Big Paper in Oliver. The Big Paper editor has deemed Little Paper (that's us) unworthy. (See letter to editor alongside.) We had the audacity to suggest that we didn't agree with Big Paper's treatment of a group of publicity seeking hate-mongers.

Big Paper claims, rather piously that they took the high moral ground by refusing to take a paid ad from Mr. Klatt to promote his "Free Speech" forum.

We said we struggled with that decision ourselves but in the end decided we must accept the ad otherwise we would be discriminating against those who would have us discriminate against others. Legally the group was within its rights to hold a meeting.. Everybody knows the underlying theme of this charade [false accusation] but legally they were doing nothing wrong.

No matter how reprehensible these people are, the advertising was promoting a forum, nothing more. Our concern about refusing the ad is: Where does it stop? Do we refuse NDP or Liberal advertising beause we disagree with their policies? But we are not condemning Big Paper's decision not to run the ad. It was a tough call and they went their way and we went ours. Our criticism was all the FREE publicity they gave the event, turning a minor meeting of a few kooks into an international happening.

Big Paper was not the only news outlet to over blow this non-event. Media from across the country fell into line and gave Mr. Klatt and his friends more publicity than they could ever afford to buy.

Because of the publicity generated in Oliver Mr. Klatt's internet system was swamped with hits from the morbidly curious. [not true] Our concern is that the feeble minded among them will buy into the filth generated on this network. [Sol Littman echo..]

Oliver Council found itself in a no-win situation and when the publicity surrounding the event reached a fever pitch, they had to pull the plug on the rental of the room in the interest of safety. [false statement, CJC claims credit]

I think the town of Oliver came out of the whole mess relatively unscathed but I'm not sure there wasn't some damage done. How many young, impressionable minds have logged on to the offensive websites because of the publicity?. It is for this reason that we feel we would have all been better off if we didn't publicize these events. Without the massive amounts of publicity the whole affair would have been a complete flop. Mr. Klatt and cronies, I'm sure, are very pleased at being turned into martyrs.

As for us taking Mr. Klatt's money, look at it this way, Big Paper. That's a few dollars less Klatt has to promote his venture. However, because it has caused the folks at Big Paper such consternation, we will donate the amount we received for the ad to a multicultural organization of Big Paper's choice. As the "newspaper of record in Oliver", I'm sure Big Paper will want to be on hand to take pictures when we present the cheque.

Ron Loftus
Publisher, South Okanagan Review
email: revpaper@vip.net



Vancouver Sun, April 2, 1998, p. A18
We need better values, not censorship

I cannot believe I am writing this letter to support Fairview Technology's right to free speech (BC Tel pressed to axe hate website, March 31). But, as the webmaster for Gay Vancouver Online (http://www.gayvancouver.bc.ca), I worry that this precedent could mean that if someone found my site objectionable



Vancouver Province, March 20, 1998, p. ?, John Colebourn
Oliver rally called racist front
- RCMP in small town bracing for 'free speech' meet

Anti-hate groups say a meeting in Oliver tomorrow being billed as a seminar on free speech is a front for a burgeoning white-supremacist movement in B.C. [false allegation]

And townsfolk in the small Okanagan community south of Penticton are wondering what will happen when some of the most outspoken voices of the far right gather there.

The event is organized by Bernard Klatt, of the Internet service provider Fairview Technology Centre Inc. of Oliver.

The company has been at the centre of a controversy after police in France arrested 13 people for running an allegedly racist World Wide Web site using Fairview. [no, the 'controversy' started in July 1996]

"We have no idea what is going to happen," said town councillor Evelyn Ask. "I'm hoping it will be a small meeting."

Since the meeting has been made public through media reports, Ask said the town of 8,000 has been abuzz with talk about the event.

"Nobody in this town is happy with the press we're getting," she said. "All we know is that it is being called a meeting for free speech."

Sol Littman of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said the meeting is definitely a front for white-supremacy groups. [false allegation] He said he has evidence the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan is backing the Oliver-based Internet provider.

In an Internet letter he said the Klan issued the following statement: "Knowing some of the people involved in Canada's white-supremacy movement personally, they're worthy of any effort we can make on their behalf."

Littman says the Internet letter asks subscribers to sign a petition circulated by the Canadian Association of Free Expression in support of Klatt.

Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh said the RCMP hate-crimes unit continues to investigate Fairview.

It's unfortunate the meeting tomorrow coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racism, he said. But he stressed the group does not represent British Columbians. [really? no one in BC supports free-speech rights?]

"I believe it's important for us to separate the town, the province and the country from the handful of individuals who use freedom of expression as an excuse to do what's most objectionable."

Speakers include Victoria lawyer Doug Christie, who defended Holocaust deniers Ernst Zundel and James Keegstra, former columnist Doug Collins of North Vancouver, and Paul Fromm, fired from his teaching job in Oakville, Ont., for attending a white-supremacy rally.

Littman said his group has no plans to go to Oliver to protest. But RCMP there are bracing for protest groups to show up.

John Colebourn, Staff Reporter The Province March 20th

(The rally was not held in town the "powers at be" thought the rally may cause trouble.....the rally was held out of town limits) [not true, a press conference was held in front of the Oliver town hall]



unknown- Kelowna Daily Courier? March 16-20? '98

Anti-racism activists questioning ‘free speech' seminar
Protesters are expected, police preparing to prevent a confrontation

OLIVER - This small town is once again the battleground between antiracism activists and groups they say promote hatred behind a facade of free-speech.

The Canadian Association for Free Expression is holding a seminar Saturday night in Oliver.

But anti-racism groups say the organization is a front for far-right white supremacists and the list of speakers a Who's Who of personalities linked to racist causes.

Protesters are expected to show up and police are preparing to prevent a confrontation.

Oliver was chosen because a local Internet service provider has been criticized for hosting several racist World Wide Web sites, including the U.S. Nazi party and the Canadian Heritage Front.

Jewish organizations have demanded B.C. Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh investigate the sites on the Fairview Technology Centre's web server to see if they violate Canada's hate-promoion laws.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies brought Oliver into the national spotlight earlier this year.

Canadian representative Sol Littman dubbed the town of 8,000 the hate capital of Canada because of Fairview's operations.

Littman later retracted the label after Oliver Mayor Linda Larson angrily criticized him for tarring the whole town.

Bernard Klatt, who runs Fairview from his home in Oliver, said the association approached him to hold the meeting.

"It's going to be basically around the question of Internet freedom, that's my understanding," he said in an interview.

Despite the controversy, Klatt said he is getting calls and e-mail supporting the meeting.

"They think it's a good idea that we're putting the seminar on to support the right of people to express dissenting viewpoints."

Klatt contends he has no right to censor material clients offer via his Web server.

However, a former Fairview employee [Mills was never an 'employee', he only did occasional contract work] told The Canadian Press that Klatt "wholeheartedly" endorsed the views on the contentious sites. [false statement]

"And he had the literature, newsletters, books, videos, audio tapes, you name it," said Tyrone Mills, who worked for Fairview for several months in 1994.

Klatt tried to recruit Mills and a friend into the white-supremacist movement, [fabrication] he said. Mills said he also looked after Fairview's operations when Klatt visited the Aryan Nations enclave in Hayden Lake, Idaho.[complete lie]

"He told me and said that next time he would like to have me go along," said Mills. [fabrication]

Eventually, growing tension over Klatt's views made work difficult and Mills said Klatt fired him in November 1994.[another lie]

Klatt was not available to comment on Mills' allegations. 


Sol Littman's 'apology' letter

January 19, 1998

Her Honour
Linda Larson,
Mayor of Oliver, B.C.

Fax number: (250) 498-3996

Dear Madame Mayor,

I can readily understand why the good people of Oliver, British Columbia, would be upset at having their town characterized as the "hate capital of Canada" and I have no hesitation in apologizing to the citizenry for having described the town in that way.

As I stated in the radio interview which you overheard, I considered it obvious that the whole community could not be responsible for the sins of one Internet provider and his clients. I am sure you are aware that in common parlance, the use of the term "capital" as in "Apple Capital" or "Wine Capital" does not imply that all citizens in the area are engaged in growing apples or tasting wine. It simply means that it is a hub of a certain kind of activity.

Unfortunately, through no fault of the vast majority of the citizens in Oliver, a single Internet provider, located on the outskirts of your town has allowed Oliver to become the hub of hate messaging in Canada. The kind of material being disseminated by FTCnet can not be found anywhere else on the Canadian Internet. In concentration and viciousness, it exceeds anything we have seen anywhere in the world.

For the first time, we have encountered material in the shape of an "interactive comic book" [on a site in New York] aimed directly at children and intended to teach children how and whom to hate.

I am aware that eighteen months ago, when Mr. Klatt's service first came to public attention through our efforts, that a number of Oliver institutions and businesses withdrew their custom from Mr. Klatt's service. I wish to thank them and commend them for doing so.

Unfortunately, that is not the end of the matter. FTCnet is still in operation and becoming worse than ever. As good people who despise bigotry, it is up to you, the town council and the good citizens to express your concern. It would go a long way to show your true spirit if you were to join me in petitioning the Attorney General of British Columbia in calling for the prosecution of FTCnet under Canada's federal anti-hate provisions.

It would also go along way to showing the true nature of the citizenry if you were to write letters to the editors of the major newspapers explaining why the presence of FTCNet on Oliver's outskirts is such an embarassment to your community and publicly calling for action by the Attorney General.

Yours truly,

Sol Littman
Canadian Representative