Shire Network News #126 has been released. The feature interview is with Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals and Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury, two of the Canadian bloggers being sued by former Human Rights Commission employee Richard Warman. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to “Consider This!”

As you know, if you’ve been an SNN listener for more than a month or so, that the Canadian Human Rights Commission has been prosecuting bloggers, writers and journalists over thought crimes regarding their views of radical Islam. Publishing the Danish cartoons is not, apparently, the problem. Having the wrong thoughts while publishing them seems to be the horror that the Canadian HRC is trying to abolish (while, of course, enriching the plaintiffs’ wallets).

The United States, however, has apparently decided that it needs to keep up with the Joneses. In New Mexico, that state’s HRC has now decided what pictures you simply must take. You no longer have a choice in the matter.

The New Mexico Human Rights Commission ruled on Wednesday that an evangelical Christian photographer discriminated against a lesbian couple by refusing a job to photograph the couple’s same-sex commitment ceremony. Religious rights attorneys plan to appeal.

The commission ordered Elaine and Jon Huenins, owners of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, N.M., to pay the lesbian couple $6,600 in attorney fees.

The old saying goes that when all you have is a hammer, everything around you looks like a nail. It’s also well known that government agencies tend to expand into areas not originally in their purview. I give you Exhibit A.

Contributing to its descent into being inaptly-named, the Human Rights Commission has now found that, in spite of our Constitution’s First Amendment protections of free speech and religion, people can no longer act on their conscience when picking up their camera. One might find it shocking hearing that, in Canada, an HRC investigator, when asked about freedom of speech, replied, “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.” (One might find it odd to hear this when that “American concept” seems to have made it into section two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.) But if we were to assume that this idea is indeed an “American concept”, one then needs to be outraged that one of our American states seems not to give it any value, either. Guess “freedom of speech” is no long a human right, hmm?

You might be led to think that there was not a single other photographer in all of Albuquerque. You’d, of course, be quite wrong. My suggestion to Vanessa Willock, the woman bringing the complaint, is: Google is your friend. We still have, as far as I know, a concept here called “the free market”, even (I think) in New Mexico.

This is obviously a case of using the club of government to beat into submission those who do not agree with you. How “tolerant” and “open minded”. I’m so glad that homosexuals don’t want any “special rights”. Choosing who you enter into a contract with is still a matter of some personal choice, unless the HRC thinks that lesbians now have some sort of “special right” to force you into signing on the dotted line. The Supreme Court said the Boy Scouts had a choice in the matter vis a vis homosexuals. Unless Elane Photography is government run or government funded, which I rather doubt, chances are they get the same choice.

Eugene Volokh, UCLA Law School professor and noted constitutional scholar put another ironic twist on this. Seems that the law says that the government can only compel someone to violate their religious beliefs if there is a “compelling government interest”. The twist is that New Mexico does not recognize same-sex marriages! So the only compelling interest there might be is for the HRC to justify its existence, or perhaps to pander to the compelling liberal interest groups that traffic in political correctness.

Well lemme’ tell you; Canada is not going to one-up the good ol’ US of A when it comes to bureaucratic silliness and big-government insanity. That, may I say, is truly an “American concept”.

Brian of London, welcome to my country. I’m glad to have you, but consider that.

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