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Canada From the comments: ‘This is good for anybody who believes in fairness in debate.’ Readers respond to anti-Muslim cyber libel case

Today, readers are responding to the outcome of a closely watched defamation case. A self-styled anti-Muslim pundit has been ordered to pay $2.5-million in damages to the owner of Paramount Fine Foods, in a ruling in which the judge said that hateful internet speech needs to be confronted.

Mohamad Fakih day took the risk of his life: buying a struggling Lebanese restaurant in Mississauga in 2007

Paramount Fine Foods

Les Battersby:

In a free society ever person should have the right to criticize bad ideas - including religious ideas, many of which are toxic in the extreme. That said, we have well established laws around slander. If someone is making slanderous accusations against an individual they should be prosecuted.

bojobo:

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Great news. These dangerous racists trying to hide behind free speech. We need more Mr. Fakih's in our society. A guy who is an entrepreneur and gives to charity. We don't need racists in this country.

Psmasher:

$2.5 million in damages seems insane! For a few youtube videos that nobody watched? Any money Mr. Fakih does get should be donated to charity. Turn the other cheek and show he's the bigger man here.

Freshycat:

This was damages for libel or defamation, not hate speech (which is a criminal code offence, not a civil action). There is zero concern about free speech here, in my opinion. Nobody should be able to destroy another person's reputation with lies and smears without consequences. Mr. Fakih suffered very big losses -- a $2.6 million deal -- that needed to be compensated for. For the same reason I think it's wrong to smear people as linked to white supremacists when they are not, it is wrong to allege somebody is linked to terrorism when they are not. A ruling like this is good for anybody who believes in honesty and fairness in debate. It is also necessary in the age of social media, which allows lies to spread with such rapidity and force. We are going to need more such rulings to make people more responsible for their behaviour on social media.

michaelmoore:

[The words were] obviously was hyperbole, but they were words and words have meaning. If he did not mean what he published, he should not have published it, and he certainly should not have doubled down on it after the courts became involved. Calling it satire is a cheap excuse by the purveyors of hate. It is not satire, it is libel -- knowingly false statements having a tendency to diminish the victim in the eyes of right-thinking fellow citizens -- and the court correctly found that he has to take responsibility for the results of what he recklessly published.

JC12345:

And sorry but $2.5 million for hurt feelings? These guys were mean jerks but I'm pretty sure I've seen less than that awarded in wrongful death suits. This is political correctness on steroids.

TCampbell24 in response:

It's not for hurt feelings. It's loss of business income.

Moatview:

The comments here seem to confuse free speech with libel. Johnston and his ilk can say what they want about particular groups up until that tips over into hate - that's free speech. But that same venom spewed specifically toward an individual crosses a line and we have laws against it.

Bevann:

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Good to see this judgement. Has nothing to do with free speech as some will try to claim. Has everything to do with not tolerating hatred.

Rationalthought:

No, it is not a free speech issue. Free speech means freedom to speak without government persecution. This was a libel lawsuit filed by someone who suffered damages as a result of what this people said and did. Free speech does not mean that your speech is free from consequences.

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