Freedom of speech — not — in Canada

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard that Canada’s Orwellian “Human Rights” Commission has accepted a complaint from some irate Muslims regarding Mark Steyn’s allegedly racist temerity when he quoted in a Canadian publication the Islamist supremacist words uttered by Norwegian imams. Steyn has a few words on the subject, the most compelling of which were these:

Here’s my bottom line: I don’t accept that free-born Canadian citizens need the permission of the Canadian state to read my columns. What’s offensive is not the accusations of Dr Elmasry and his pals, but the willingness of Canada’s pseudo-courts to take them seriously. So I couldn’t care less about the verdict – except insofar as an acquittal would be more likely to bolster the cause of those who think it’s entirely reasonable for the state to serve as editor-in-chief of privately owned magazines. As David Warren put it, the punishment is not the verdict but the process. To spend gazillions of dollars to get a win on points would do nothing for the cause of freedom of speech: It would signal to newspaper editors and book publishers and store owners that it’s more trouble than it’s worth publishing and printing and distributing and displaying anything on this subject, and so it would contribute to the shriveling of freedom in Canada.

This is a political prosecution and it should be fought politically. The “plaintiffs” certainly understand that, ever since the day they went in to see Ken Whyte and demanded money from Maclean’s. I want the constitutionality of this process overturned, so that Canadians are free to reach the same judgments about my writing as Americans and Britons and Australians and it stands or falls in the marketplace of ideas. The notion that a Norwegian imam can make a statement in Norway but if a Canadian magazine quotes that statement in Canada it’s a “hate crime” should be deeply shaming to all Canadians.

This morning I spent 20 minutes mulling over a couple of offers for overseas rights to America Alone from the Islamic world. It seems that Muslim publishers from Turkey to Indonesia are more robust than Osgoode Hall law students. What a sad comment on the decayed Dominion.

Meanwhile, as I’ve said before, the best way to show support is to support the beleaguered publishers by taking out a subscription to Maclean’s for you or a friend. US and overseas wannabe-subscribers have told us they’re having a bit of difficulty getting the website form to acknowledge non-Canadian postal codes. If you have trouble, send us the details and we’ll make sure Maclean’s sort it out when the Subscription Dept wallahs return to the office on Christmas Bank Holiday First Thursday After Hogmanay, or whenever folks go back to work in Toronto.

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    This is what happens when you let other people launch pre-emptive attacks on you. No, we just can’t all get along.

    The advantage is always with the attacker inflicting the injury, not the defender having the injury inflicted on him.