Threats of violence aren’t a free speech issue. They’re a crime



July 23, 2013

Recently, a lesbian couple in Kingston received threatening letters in their mailbox, stating that they would be shot with BB guns if they didn’t move out of the city. In case anyone is wondering, these kinds of threats of violence are NOT hate speech. Threats are worse than hate speech. ARPA Canada regularly advocates for the removal of hate speech laws (and we saw success at the federal level just recently on that front – see here). But threats of violence are a totally different ball game and should not be confused with “hate speech”. Hate speech laws should be eliminated because they criminalize opinions without any proof of harm, violence or threats of violence. Laws against threats of violence, bodily harm and death however are totally reasonable, even necessary. As National Post columnist Robyn Urback puts it, threatening violence is against the law and the question of free speech becomes irrelevant when the central message is “Move out of town, or I’ll shoot you!” 


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