By J. DeVoy
A 24-year-old man was arrested in Canada for telling children that Santa Claus does not exist at the annual Kingston parade celebrating this seasonal icon. (source) While excessively praising this torch-bearer in a dark world of child-coddling would be too try-hard, I would definitely buy him several drinks after his complete exoneration and release from incarceration. Except, oops, this didn’t happen in the United States where you can freely correct unhealthy delusions without fear of criminal prosecution.
For being “America’s hat,” Canada has remarkably poor speech protections. Being arrested for telling children the unvarnished truth is but one example; Canada’s complete lack of analogues to 47 U.S.C. § 230 and the SPEECH Act, as well as a breathtakingly broad view of group libel that includes disparaging remarks about broad loosely related (or unrelated) groups, reveals that the country operates more like Saudi Arabia than the US when pure speech is involved.
The article indicates that the perpetrator was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct and a probation violation. Thus, the story may have a veneer of legitimacy that goes beyond typical “think of the children” idiocy – but not by much.
For more reading on probation violations and offensive expression, see this entry at Popehat ¶ 3.