Helping a worthy cause

The Western Standard in Canada, as part of its reporting, published copies of the Mohammad cartoons. To my mind, that's good journalism. To the Alberta Human Rights Commission, it's a hate crime, and it initiated a government prosecution against Western Standard. The Western Standard has now put out an SOS for help footing its legal bill against this government prosecution (or, given my distaste for this kind of government witch hunt, "persecution"). If you would like to help out, go here. Here's the Western Standard's statement of its position and its plea for help defraying its costs:

Our magazine has been sued for publishing the Danish cartoons, and I need your help to fight back!

As you know, the Western Standard was the only mainstream media organ in Canada to publish the Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

We did so for a simple reason: the cartoons were the central fact in one of the largest news stories of the year, and we're a news magazine. We publish the facts and we let our readers make up their minds.

Advertisers stood with us. Readers loved the fact that we treated them like grown-ups. And we earned the respect of many other journalists in Canada who envied our independence. In fact, according to a COMPAS poll last month, fully 70% of Canada's working journalists supported our decision to publish the cartoons.

But not Syed Soharwardy, a radical Calgary Muslim imam.

He asked the police to arrest me for publishing the cartoons. They calmly explained to him that's not what police in Canada do.

So then he went to a far less liberal institution than the police: the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Unlike the Calgary Police Service, they didn't have the common sense to show him the door.

Earlier this month, I received a copy of Soharwardy's rambling, hand-scrawled complaint. It is truly an embarrassing document. He briefly complains that we published the Danish cartoons. But the bulk of his complaint is that we dared to try to justify it – that we dared to disagree with him.

Think about that: In Soharwardy's view, not only should the Canadian media be banned from publishing the cartoons, but we should be banned from defending our right to publish them. Perhaps the Charter of Rights that guarantees our freedom of the press should be banned, too.

Soharwardy's complaint goes further than just the cartoons. It refers to news articles we published about Hamas, a group labelled a terrorist organization by the Canadian government. By including those other articles, he shows his real agenda: censoring any criticism of Muslim extremists.

Perhaps the most embarrassing thing about Soharwardy's complaint is that he claims our cartoons caused him to receive hate mail. Indeed, his complaint includes copies of a few e-mails from strangers to him. Some of those e-mails even go so far as to call him "humourless" and tell him to "lighten up". Perhaps that's hateful. But all of those e-mails were sent to him before our magazine even published the cartoons. Soharwardy isn't even pretending that this is a legitimate complaint. He's not even trying to hide that this is a nuisance suit.

Soharwardy's complaint should have been thrown out immediately by the Alberta Human Rights Commission, just like the police did. But it wasn't. Which is why I'm writing to you today.

According to our lawyers, we will win this case. It's an infantile complaint, without basis in facts or law. Frankly, it's an embarrassment to the government of Alberta that their tribunal is open to abuse like this.

Our lawyers tell us we're going to win. But not before we have to spend hundreds of hours and up to $75,000 fighting this thing, at our own expense. Soharwardy doesn't have to spend a dime – now that his complaint has been filed, Alberta tax dollars will pay for the prosecution of his complaint. We have to pay for this on our own.

Look, $75,000 isn't going to bankrupt us. But it will sting. We're a small, independent magazine, not a huge company with deep pockets. All of our money is needed to produce the best possible editorial product, not to fight legal battles. This is clearly an abuse of process designed to punish us and deter other media from daring to cross that angry imam in the future.

One of the leaders in Canadian human rights law, Alan Borovoy, was so disturbed by Soharwardy's abuse of the human rights commission that he wrote a public letter about it in the Calgary Herald on March 16th. "During the years when my colleagues and I were labouring to create such commissions, we never imagined that they might ultimately be used against freedom of speech," wrote Borovoy, who is general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Censorship was "hardly the role we had envisioned for human rights commissions. There should be no question of the right to publish the impugned cartoons," he wrote.

Borovoy went even further – he said that the human rights laws should be changed to avoid this sort of abuse in the future. "It would be best, therefore, to change the provisions of the Human Rights Act to remove any such ambiguities of interpretation," he wrote. That's an amazing statement, coming from one of the fathers of the Canadian human rights movement.

I agree with Borovoy: the law should be changed to stop future abuses. But those changes will come too late for us – we're already under attack. The human rights laws, designed as a shield, are being used against us as a sword.

We will file our legal response to Soharwardy's shakedown this week. And we will fight this battle to the end – not just for our own sake, but to defend freedom of the press for all Canadians.

Do you believe that's important? If so, I'd ask you to help us defray our costs. We're accepting donations through our website. It's fast, easy and secure. Just click on

You can donate any amount from $10 to $10,000. Please help the Western Standard today – and protect freedom for all Canadians for years to come.

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  • Ymarsakar

    One of the problems with ultra civilized people, is that their immune systems suck. Because their immune system has been protected from germs, diseases, and viruses by civilization, their immune system cannot recognize friend from foe. So, to name allergies, anything remotely appearing to be “foreign” like pollen, creates an intense and obvious over-reaction on the part of the immune system. In the case of overwhelming inflooding, the immune system is actually capable of KILLING the body it is supposed to protect. Thousand bee stings for example.

    This latest example of Western civilization, is quaint. The Western immune system against barbarians, enemies, and murderers is so “clean” that it treats its own people as the enemy. Which might not be such a bad thing if they get rid of the germs at the same time, but unfortunately in most cases of allergic reactions, there ARE NO GERMS present.

    Civilizations need militaries to protect them. Militaries are composed of barbarians, violent people who believe in honor, duty, loyalty, and individual combat prowess.

    No civilization in the history of mankind has survived without the natural immunities conveyed by the white blood cells that inhabit the military. You can use the Sheepdog analogy or the immunology analogy, but irregardless, human nature is not so much psychological as it is based upon hard science. I tend to think that if most people understood that, they wouldn’t do stupid things. Well, less than they would before that is.

  • Tatterdemalian

    Would a donation of money actually help, I wonder? This case involves the government itself bringing criminal charges, and it will be decided not based on who was wronged and how much compensation they should get, but rather on whether or not Weekly Standard broke the law. Any such law that could be violated by printing the MoToons is stupid and suicidal, but Johnny Cochran himself couldn’t get them off the hook if there is, in fact, a law in Alberta that says hurting a Muslim’s feelings is a criminal offense.

    Better to spend money on lobbying to get those laws overturned, than on a legal defense against a slam-dunk case.

  • Ymarsakar

    It’s a logistical and psychological issue, Tatter. If this newspaper caves in because of a lack of funds, and it goes to trial with no resistance or a plea bargain, this becomes what is known as a “cake walk” for the enemies of liberty. Something they can tote as a victory.

    While the odds are not good, since we are talking about CANADA here, donations would help simply by providing them with the means to resist. All guerrila warfare, which is what is happening in Europe and Canada, requires funds. The PLO requires Israeli sent tax funds, and American foreign aid, to stay afloat. They require Saddam, Hezbollah, and Iranian funds for suicide bombers.

    Without funds, the resistance collapses. People will stop fighting. It would be a neat solution to terrorism, except Bush ain’t going to exactly intimidate the entire Middle East with submarines. Nevermind about that.

    But the benefits are all legal here. Some of the benefits to supporting the newspaper is in morale. A lot of these legal suits are used by our enemy to flail us with. If we don’t at least mount a competent defense, even if it is Canada, then I don’t want to know what happens after that.

  • Ymarsakar

    Aren’t all legal.

  • jg

    I hope Stephen Harper’s election will mean civilised news again from this once proud nation. I doubt it.

    But the cartoon violence is but the tip of the iceberg, even in this country. Read more from By Robert Spencer | March 30, 2005.

    Violence, and the threat of it against the free press, signify that the (Islamic) sword has entered America’s shores in a new manner.


    The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has this week waged a campaign against National Review, seeking an apology and the removal of a book called The Life and Religion of Mohammed from sale by the NR Book Service.

    In a press release, CAIR called the book “virulently Islamophobic,” and quoted sections from advertising copy for book that called it a “guide into the dark mind of (the Prophet) Mohammed.” It took issue with the ad copy’s description of the book as explaining “why Mohammed couldn’t possibly be a true prophet, and reveal[ing] the true sources of his ‘revelations.” Above all, CAIR was angered by the ad copy’s assertions that “Mohammed posed as the apostle of God…while his life is marked by innumerable marriages; and great licentiousness, deeds of rapine, warfare, conquests, unmerciful butcheries, all the time invoking God’s holy name to sanction his evil deeds,” and that “Mohammed again and again justified his rapine and licentiousness with new ‘divine revelations.’