Il processo straordinario di Arthur Tophan
Parte 1ª: Fonte.
Part 1 - November 08, 2015 / Gilad Atzmon
by Eve Mykytyn
|Gilad Atzmon con Arthur Topham|
Section 319 of Canada’s criminal code is an extraordinary law by most western standards. It reads, in relevant part: “(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, willfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
The statute does not define hatred, but does provide 4 statutory defenses.
(a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;
(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;
(c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or
(d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.
It is important to understand that the prosecution (the Crown), with all of its resources, need only prove ‘hate,’ and then the only available defenses are affirmative, meaning that the burden of proof switches to the defense.
This week I attended some of the extraordinary trial of Arthur Topham in the Supreme Court (the highest provincial trial court) in Quesnel, British Columbia. As a lawyer, the differences in procedure between American and Canadian courts were of interest to me. Ahead of the trial, I read a little about the Canadian legal system and found that on paper the differences appeared minor. I don’t know if the huge differences in practice that I observed in this trial has to do with the way trials are usually conducted in Canada, the understandable loosening of formality in a court in a small town and/or the nature of the trial.
The history of Mr. Topham’s travails can be found here.
It is sufficient to understand that this trial follows eight years of harassment. Mr. Topham has already had to close his successful remodeling business. This is a criminal trial, and Mr. Topham could go to prison for two years. Mr. Topham and his wife live on a remote property on which they maintain a chicken coop, grow vegetables and engage in other rural activities. But it is clear that Mrs. Topham could not live there alone. These are not wealthy people. Mrs. Topham told me that she is not a political person, but she loves and supports her husband and believes in free speech. The defendant and his wife have exhibited bravery, courtesy and calm to a degree that is awe inspiring.
The police arrested Mr. Topham for ‘hate’ after they received complaints from various Jewish people who found his writing hateful. Although the police clearly knew where he lived, they arrested Topham as he and his wife were driving, leaving his wife stranded and Mr. Topham in jail. While jailed, Mr. Topham’s house was searched and his computers, shotguns and other items were taken. (Shotguns are essential in an area where grizzlies often decide to take up residence on the porch.)
I understand that before I arrived, the Crown presented the arresting and investigating officers. Clearly the officers are not qualified to establish ‘hate,’ so how does the Crown do this? There is no victim to present, no one whose injuries the jury must assess, instead it is to the jury to decide if ‘hate’ is present, no injury need be shown.
The Crown chose to use an expert witness to show hate, and qualified Len Rudner as an expert in Judaism and anti-Semitism. Mr. Rudner’s biography indicates that he is a ‘professional Jew,’ in that he has been employed for the last 15 years by the Canadian Jewish Congress and its successor organization, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). Prior to this trial, Rudner has attempted to force Mr. Topham’s internet service provider to shut down his web site, and has lodged civil complaints against Mr. Topham.
The crown used its questioning of Rudner to introduce what it considered to be the most damaging articles on Topham’s site, Radical Free Press (RFP). These included a list of books and articles, all of which are easily accessible on the internet and/or for sale at Amazon.ca.
Most of these publications accuse Jews of some pretty nasty politics. What at first appeared to be the Crown’s most damning evidence was a picture of a stereotyped Jew holding puppets that were Canadian politicians. On cross examination, it was hard for Mr. Rudner to counter what a careful viewing showed to be a clear political statement. I think the shocking picture of the Jew served to make the statement more powerful. But is it the job of the court to evaluate the strength of a political cartoon?
Without going to the truth of the matters presented, I am troubled that Mr. Topham is on trial for reprinting sources that are widely available in Canada. Again, on cross examination, Mr. Rudner had to admit that this was so. A quick google search for “the protocols of the Elders of Zion,” reveals hundreds of sources that display the protocols in full.
The procedure, at least in this court, was that all objections had to be heard outside the presence of the jury. This meant that each objection forced the jury to leave the room (not the judge and the lawyers) thus making an objection, even for the record, was a cumbersome and time consuming process.
In one of these interminable objection interludes, the Crown stated that ‘free speech is not on trial here.” Shockingly, Judge Butler echoed her sentiments. Legal fictions (such as that all lawyers are capable of providing an adequate defense) are generally employed to allow the system to work. In this case, the legal fiction went to the charge itself. Mr. Topham is on trial for writing and for publishing articles that presumably reflect his beliefs. What else is free speech if not that?
Mr. Rudner indicated under direct examination that he was the author of the written expert opinion he provided to the court. This was troubling, because the Crown had originally employed Bernie Farber as its expert, and Mr. Farber had provided an opinion that was word for word the same as Mr. Rudner’s. If Mr. Rudner did not commit perjury, he was at least deceptive in his presentation of his expert opinion.
Barclay Johnson, defense attorney extraordinaire, gave an opening argument that was an impassioned call for freedom of thought and speech. Later the Crown objected, but the damage so-called had been done. Mr. Johnson endured a tongue lashing and a civil procedure lesson from the judge. The jury was instructed to ignore some of Mr. Johnson’s speech. I assume that this helped plant the speech more firmly in their minds.
Mr. Topham countered the charge of hate and argued as a defense that the writing was political with an expert of his own. Gilad Atzmon, the iconoclastic jazz musician, writer and philosopher volunteered his time to help. It seems wrong to enjoy a presentation when a man’s freedom is at stake, but it was delightful to watch Mr. Atzmon ignore or flaunt every rule of procedure and get away with it.
Atzmon was qualified as an expert on Jewish Identity Politics a topic that clearly few in the court had heard of. In his most amusing argument on the subject, Atzmon explained that there was a section on identity politics in every bookshop, and that topics included the LBGT community. Faced with political correctness, the court backed off and agreed to allow Atzmon in as an expert.
Atzmon began by explaining his system of characterization. He divides ‘the Jews’ into three non-exclusive categories. The first, Judaism, is made up of religious Jews. The second, Jews, are people who are Jewish by an accident of birth. The third, and most important category for this purpose is ‘Jewishness,’ those who identify politically as Jews. Mr. Atzmon described the first two categories as innocent. Objections were raised, innocent is, after all, a legal conclusion and if the first two are innocent, the third is, by implication, guilty. Judge Butler agreed with the Crown’s objection and then allowed Atzmon to proceed in describing the first two categories as innocent. From then on, the defense attorney, the prosecution and the judge adopted these categories for clarity of discussion.
Atzmon argued that contemporary opposition to Jewry is driven by political and ideological arguments; that no one criticizes Jews as a race or a biology. There is little criticism of Judaism, the religion, as a whole, but there has been some criticism leveled at a few aspects of the religion such as blood rituals and goy hatred. The thrust of his argument was that Jewish politics and ideology must be subject to criticism like all other politics and ideologies.
Like a rabbi on acid, Atzmon explained his philosophy, allowed few questions, and browbeat the attorneys. He dealt with his own philosophical approach to Jewishness and the dangers of believing oneself ‘chosen’ and then he got in a few swipes at categories one and two as well. The jury was mesmerized. Later, Atzmon told friends that he had directed his remarks to the juror sleeping in the first row. If he could be made to listen, presumably the others could as well.
Atzmon made the point that many of the most apparently anti-Semitic writings were made by the early Zionists. According to Atzmon, Herzl and others saw a problem with European Jewry and thought that the existence of a homeland could cure problems such as usury, discrimination against non-Jews, exclusiveness, etc. The take away is that if Jews are entitled to criticize Jews, why can’t other people? This is especially true because the Jews have a disproportionate amount of power in government, finance and the media. They clearly have the means to counter criticism if they choose to do so.
On November 12th the jury found Mr. Topham guilty of ‘inciting hate.’ This leads to a few questions.
First, the jury found Mr. Topham guilty on Count 1 but not guilty on Count 2. Ordinarily, this is a result we are comfortable with since the state (the Crown) may have proved ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that a defendant committed an assault but not have shown sufficient evidence of battery. Mr. Topham’s case is different. He was charged with two virtually identical counts, both relating to his website but covering different periods of time, that is, count 1 was for the period from April 28, 2011 to May 4, 2012, and count 2 was for January 29, 2013 to December 11, 2013.
If Mr. Topham intended to incite hate, would he really have changed his mind in the brief period between counts 1 and 2? We will never know what the jury relied upon; in yet another abrogation of free speech, the jury was threatened that if they spoke to anyone about their deliberations, they would be committing a criminal offense. How is the public supposed to understand the mysterious machinations of the term ‘hate’ without knowing what caused a jury to convict a fellow citizen of such a crime?
Hate is a crime the essential elements of which have been left undefined. As a writer, one must not only discern from the miasma what constitutes ‘hate’ but also guess what elements a jury will find persuasive. If one of the main goals of the criminal law is to prevent certain behavior then clarity of what such behavior is, is essential. What can Canadians say? May they say they disagree strongly with a particular group? What evidence can one print in support of their disagreement? Surely, it is not the defendant’s responsibility that a particular political group is also associated with an ethnic identity and a religion. The Crown, by controlling website content through its ‘hate’ law, is controlling not only what Canadians may say but also what Canadians may read. Mr. Topham’s is not the only blog to criticize Israel and Zionism. Should Canadians then read political criticism only from other countries? Very troubling.
Second, the crown had almost 2 years to prepare its case. Its evidence was contained in 4 binders. Many of the pages were illegible and the Crown itself seemed to have extraordinary difficulties in citing to its own arguments. The defense quite properly objected. The Crown wanted to provide clear copies of the illegible pages in yet another binder cross referenced to the originals. The trial could have been an exercise in maze solving. Judge Butler ruled that the Crown had to provide legible copies. This seemed to present a large obstacle and endless court time was wasted in discussions of printing costs, etc. As a foreign observer it seemed ironic that the crown spent $190 an hour on its expert witness, who as an earlier independent complainant against Mr. Topham might have been willing to accept less, and I don’t know how much money on ‘security’ but had so much trouble producing legible copies.
I belabor this point because it is very odd for the prosecution to allow its evidence to be blurry. I would expect in proving an elusive crime like ‘hate’ they would want their evidence to be as clear and convincing as possible. Was the intent to confuse the jury? Was the Crown merely incompetent? This is not impossible. The judge spent much time instructing the crown’s representative, Ms. Johnston, on procedural issues. This gave me the impression (and perhaps the jurors as well?) that the judge was helping and thus favoring the prosecution. Surely this was unintentional on Judge Butler’s part.
Third, and this relates to point two, the jury was given 62 pages of ‘charges’ (or what Americans call jury instructions). Even if all twelve jurors, ordinary men and women, are speed readers, how are they to read and evaluate 62 pages of instructions and then apply them to four binders? The plethora of material leads me to suspect that the jury was not intended to read the material at all. This would tend the jury toward a guilty verdict.
There is not a sinister act by the jury. They were asked to sit through weeks of testimony about Jewish politics, history, religion, and identity. Jury selection would have excluded anyone who was actually interested in such topics. They were handed stacks of paper. Faced with these circumstances, they presumably decided that the Crown and the judge worked for their province and had British Columbia’s best interests at heart. It is actually a testimony to the weakness of the Crown’s case that Mr. Topham was found not guilty at all.
The battle is not over. Following the verdict, both sides indicated that they intended to appeal. (Here Canada differs from the United States where prosecutors can appeal only under very limited circumstances). The Crown asked that Mr. Topham’s bail restrictions be changed and that his website be taken down. Judge Butler did not decide these issues because first, as the defense pointed out, these requests were improperly made. Mr. Topham intends to present a Charter (constitutional) argument that the judge had stayed at the beginning of the trial so that the ‘facts’ of the case could be more fully developed at trial.
Eve Mykytyn graduated from Boston University School of Law and was admitted to bar of the state of New York. Read other articles by Eve.
Kevin Barrett 's TRUTH JIHAD: Gilad Atzmon bears witness to the trial of Arthur Topham
Posted: 15 Nov 2015 03:07 AM PST
Canadian publisher Arthur Topham will likely be appealing his conviction on one count (accompanied by an acquittal on the other) of “promoting hatred toward the Jewish people.” The conviction appears to have been the result of the prosecutor, judge and jury’s inability to understand the concept of satire. Check out Arthur’s article “Guilty/Not Guilty” for details. If and when Arthur appeals, I will be happy to volunteer my services as an expert witness. I have four advanced degrees in literature (three MAs and a Ph.D.) and have done extensive work on the literary theory of Bakhtin, whose work provides the best possible basis for an accurate understanding of what satire is and how it works.
Meanwhile…Shortly before the verdict came in I recorded this interview with ex-Israeli philosopher-musician Gilad Atzmon, who may be the world’s leading expert on Jewish identity politics. When Arthur Topham was charged with “willfully promoting hatred against the Jewish people,” hauled into court, and menaced with a possible two-year prison sentence, Gilad flew to Quesnel, British Columbia to appear as an expert witness. (Read Gilad’s description of his testimony, “The Expert Witness“).
Arthur Topham (who has appeared on Truth Jihad Radio) is a kind, decent person without any apparent hatred in his heart. It is his love of justice, not his hatred of anyone, that led him to criticize Zionism and the dark side of Jewish identity politics. Arthur and his wife Shasta, who is Jewish, have behaved with amazing restraint and decorum during their eight-year ordeal, during which their remodeling business was destroyed.
What was Arthur Topham’s alleged crime? Parodying Zionist Jew Theodore Kaufman’s book “Germany Must Perish!” by changing “Germany” to “Israel” throughout the text. This tiny change produced the satirical masterpiece “Israel Must Perish!” – and led Canada’s Zionist Power Configuration to have him jailed on “hate crime” charges!
Who is the REAL hater here – Arthur Topham, or the Zionists like Kaufman who wanted to commit genocide against Germany, and are now committing genocide in Palestine with the full support of the governments of the US and Canada?
And how has Jewish identity politics morphed into genocidal Zionism? If anyone can explain that, it would be Gilad Atzmon.
Also check out my interviews with Arthur Topham:
Arthur Topham puts Zionist double-standards & hypocrisy on trial! (December 17, 2013)
Persecuted writer-editor Arthur Topham: “Zionists assault free speech” (January 21, 2015)