Special Report: “You’re Free To Think What We Let You”
Vol: 76 Issue: 19 Saturday, January 19, 2008
In Canada, saying or publishing material that offends somebody — and it doesn’t matter if the statement is true, can land a person in front of one of the many provincial or federal human ‘rights’ commissions where the only rights that count are those of the easily offended.
The hot water is especially deep if one offends Islam — which is almost impossible to avoid if one is going acknowledge its existence. Apparently, the only thing you can safely say about Islam is that it is a religion.
If you call it a peaceful religion, you offend the word ‘peace’. If you call it a noble religion, you offend nobility. If you tell the truth, you offend Islam.
You remember when the Danes had the temerity to publish the dozen or so cartoons depicting Mohammed? The Danish daily that published the cartoons admitted it did so as a test of freedom of expression.
It turned out that in Denmark, freedom of expression is only viable if you are a Muslim who has no qualms about destroying the property of others.
The Danish government came down on the newspaper, its editors went into hiding, and the cartoonists received death threats by the trainload.
The backlash was so severe that many North American news outlets refused to show the reason for the uprising — and if they did dare to republish the cartoons, they pixelated them.
One of the few newspapers in North America who dared to republish the cartoons as they appeared was a Canadian newspaper; “The Western Standard” which was published (at the time) by Ezra Levant.
It is important to remember the cartoons broke no laws. Indeed, compared to typical cartoons depicting Christians and Jews, they were pretty benign.
But when the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada (yes, there is such a thing) complained, Alberta’s Human Rights Commission agreed to hear the case.
In other words, although Levant broke no laws, his freedom of speech is conditional.
Canadians are only free to say something unless it offends someone else. Of course, ‘conditional freedom’ is not freedom at all.
The kind of freedom of speech allowed by Canada’s Human Rights Council is the same kind of freedom enjoyed under the Nazis or the Soviets — “You are free to say anything we let you. “
A few years back, a pastor was hauled in front of Alberta’s Human Rights Court for putting up billboards citing Leviticus 18:22. The billboards didn’t actually display the verse — just its citation: Leviticus 18:22.
To be offended, you’d first have to look it up: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
Two gay guys went to the trouble to look it up, decided that God’s Word offended them, and they took their troubles to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
The pastor was fined for his perfidious billboard ‘message’ (the ‘message’ being limited to the fact that there is a verse located between Leviticus 18:21 and 18:23 — as I said, you had to look it up for more information) and he had to pay reparations to the gay guys whose noses were out of joint.
Plus, he was ordered to a re-education camp to be rehabilitated. (It isn’t called ‘re-education camps’ in Canada — that might offend Nazis — so they call it ‘sensitivity training’)
Last month, the Canadian magazine, Maclean’s (sort of a “US News and World Report” for Canadians) published an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s new book, “America Alone.”
Steyn does not say nice things about Islam, but he doesn’t say anything libelous or illegal. The book hasn’t been banned in Canada, and anyone is free to pick up a copy.
But four law students, backed, of course, by the Canadian Islamic Congress, filed suit with; a) the federal Human Rights Commission; b) the BC Human Rights Commission and, c) the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
It would appear that “human rights” are different in all these jurisdictions — otherwise, there would be no need for all these jurisdictions.
The federal and BC courts both agreed to hear the case, meaning that Mark Steyn will have to stand before these commissions and defend himself, somehow. Or Maclean’s will. Somebody will have to pay for offending Islam!
Two things are worth noting. The first thing is that the complainant does NOT have to pay legal fees, or prove any violation of the law.
The second point is two-fold. If you are hauled before one of these courts, your legal expenses are your own. There are no applicable laws you can turn to, since ‘offense’ is in the ear of the beholder.
That may explain why no accused has ever been found ‘not guilty’ in a Canadian human rights court.
After all, the standard is giving offense and by definition, if the court takes the case, you’ve given offense. Ipso facto, you are guilty. And since there are no applicable laws broken, (other than those guaranteeing freedom of speech) defense is a waste of time and money.
What do you say in your own defense? “I didn’t mean to offend this jerk?” Ooops! Now you’re facing new charges.
Right now, as I type this, I do so from the safety of the United States of America, ensuring that it is published on a server located in the United States of America.
(We’re in Batavia, NY for the weekend for a speaking engagement)
Freedom isn’t free. It never has been. But to appreciate its value, first you have to lose it. And by then, its too late to get it back.
Just ask a Canadian with an non-government approved opinion. If you can find one who’ll dare to share it with you.