Ottawa Citizen’s John Robson: Brilliant column on Free Speech & Radical Islam

Bravo, John Robson! I highly recommend reading this informative, hilarious, and spot-on column, “Self-censorship? Me? Absolutely!”, in which he exposes the insanity of Canada’s Human Rights Tribunals, and the sickening attack on free speech by radical Islam. (h/t National Newswatch)

Really, a masterpiece. I’m going to start looking out for John’s columns every week from here on in.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What can I say about hate speech investigations into Maclean’s magazine?

I mean that literally. This used to be a free country where we had the hard-won right to speak our minds without fear. But now the Canadian Islamic Congress has complained about a Mark Steyn piece in Maclean’s to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and to the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Commissions and, according to Maclean’s national editor Andrew Coyne, the first two have agreed to “launch inquiries” into the complaints while the third is dithering. The CHRC, incidentally, won’t confirm or deny this claim. Something about open government, I believe.

Now what? If I write about censorship will the censors censor that? If I were to defend someone’s right in principle to be rude about radical Islam, it might constitute my being rude in practice about radical Islam which might be misunderstood by hypersensitive types as rudeness toward Islam generally which might be misunderstood as hate speech rather than just bad manners. Who knows?

All in all it’s much safer to write about daisies. Such pretty flowers. They are members of the Asteraceae family, the second-largest family of flowering plants after Orchidaceae. You may be thinking the common daisy, white with a yellow centre, is nice but bland. But my goodness, get into African daisies and painted daisies (a.k.a. “tansies”) and the ox-eye and the spectacular Glebionis carinata and what a feast for the eye. None of them file hate speech complaints with aggressive paralegal tribunals either. What’s not to like?

The issue here is not whether I want to say, for instance, that contrary to some ignorant stereotypes the Prophet Muhammad was a really nice guy, a teddy bear in fact. It is whether if I say such a thing I may be hauled before some tribunal to answer for the fact that in Sudan I would have a mob howling for my blood, or because I didn’t say Peace Be Upon Him.

So I refuse to be drawn into any sort of debate about what might be causing image problems for the Islamic faith. Not that it has any. My lips are sealed on such questions as dishonour killings. I’m sticking to flowers. Or favicons, you know, those cute little icons that appear next to some of the items in your browser “Favourites” list. How, I ask you, can a business in this day and age not have a favicon? A nice blue one with white letters, or a flag, or a tiny building or something. You can even have your own picture. Unless your faith forbids depictions of the human face.

Gaaack! I didn’t say that. Nor would I dare suggest that these human rights tribunals, at once prosecutor and judge, are alien to our constitutional order and should be abolished. You see, section 48 (1) (2) of the Canadian Human Rights Act stipulates, respecting the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (to which the CHRC may refer obstinate defendants), that “Persons appointed as members of the Tribunal must have experience, expertise and interest in, and sensitivity to, human rights.” If you think that means sensitivity to ancient rights like free speech, you’re about ready for some “sensitivity” training. Not for me, thanks. I’m doing daisies.

Besides self-preservation, I’m skipping this issue because Maclean’s is a large, established organization with lots of money. Some of my media colleagues are startled that not even the big guys are immune which does, I suppose, show how the appetite grows with the eating. But I say thank goodness the Star Chambers have gone after a wealthy organization that can fight back.

No, sorry, I don’t say that. Nor would I dream of claiming it is not against the law to be rude, that it is illegal to incite violence or engage in conspiracies but it is not a crime to be impolite nor should it be. If I weren’t such a coward I might find myself hollering three once-familiar arguments about freedom of speech at legislators, judges and everyone else who supports this latter-day censorship. First, sunlight destroys evil; that is, open debate reveals which beliefs are false or odious. Second, by debating things instead of just reciting them we come to a more vigorous appreciation of those beliefs we decide are true. Third, if people are neither good nor wise enough to be entrusted with sorting out truth from falsehood (and frankness from rudeness) they cannot possibly be permitted to elect governments to do it for them.

Luckily I’m too smart to say anything of the sort. The essential point here, the legal crux of the matter, is that Canadian Islamic Congress National President Mohamed Elmasry’s feelings are hurt. Egad.

Daisies. White, purple, yellow, pink. So pretty. And freedom of speech may soon be pushing them up in this country.

John Robson‘s column appears weekly.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2007

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4 Comments

Filed under Free Speech For Me Not For Thee, Islamic Propaganda in Canada, Islamist-Leftist Alliance, Social Engineering Gone Wild, Statism Gone Wild, Terror in our Midst, The Confusion of The Left, Twisted Justice

4 responses to “Ottawa Citizen’s John Robson: Brilliant column on Free Speech & Radical Islam

  1. Wm. L Hyde

    Other than Western Standard Magazine’s refusal to accept Federal subsidies for their distribution costs, I’m not sure that the Islamic groups teaming up with the Human Rights Starchamber wasn’t a major contributing factor of their unfortune shutdown recently. Sadly, this leaves a big hole in my life, and it doesn’t leave me feeling any more multi-culti, either. I can’t really tell you how it leaves me feeling, lest the police show up at my door. O Canada. Glorious and free!
    Cheers….theoldhogger

  2. Gary Knight

    I agree that Canadian Human Rights Tribunals, for one reason or another are subject to abuse (‘subject’ being the operative word, because they operate on subjective norms and seem to attract appointments of social activists). I also agree with John’s arguments for freedom of speech: the goods of sunlight and of open debate. I too lament that even the big boys like Maclean’s and churches can be cowed by allegations of hurt feelings from high-profile groups aware of how to use this system of tribunals with subjective ‘sensitivities’ they can’t find elsewhere. Chinks in a British system were used likewise to arraign an American writer. However, not being a libertarian — and I think John (he seems to value G.K. Chesterton in such matters) is not either — I take the freeom of my speach as limited to what can be uttered in conscience. Objectively unconscionable utterances (say for instance that Jews or Blacks are not full-fledged human beings), or inciting to sedition and violence, are an abuse of freedom. About such expressions states have the right to enforce consequences. The trouble is the recent case of Ezra Levant. His tribunal hearing for having republished a Danish cartoon depicting Mohammed as a modern-day terrorist may well have been farcical considering evident prejudices in the publicized transcript: and such parody does no service either to plaintiffs. But the cartoon — the worst of several — is an unconscionable expression of disdain for the iconic founder of a world religion (whatever you or I think of it). What it inevitably invites and clearly indends is to draw swords, galvanizing many otherwise moderate or wise religionists into a defense, even a militant one. This sword-drwing is far away from any invitation to open debate in the sunlight. The holy founder of my own religion, whom at least Moslems respect and wonder why we tolerate so much blasphemy against, said “blessed are the peacemakers”. Peacemekers like me can perhaps understand the emotional reasons that Mr. Levant as a self-respecting Jewish believer would be incensed at the unconsconable ‘expression’ of terroritst who did odious harm to his synagogue and implicit right to worship there. But the perpetrators can hardly be swept together with Moslems, as the retaliation of this particular cartoon implies, and even effects. Endorsement of Ezra’s unlimited right to retaliate in any degree of expression, however objectively unconscionable, shows a fatal flaw of libertarianism. It shames the laughable tribunal even more so, showing no real interest in the issues. I would hopefuly be wrong to read any such endorsement in Mr. Robson’s apt disgust with political correctness. But I hope also that in blaming secular Jews for the deplorable ignominy of the tribunals (as he’s on record as opining) Mr. Levant has borne himself false testimony — for which he can of course make personal reparation. After all, should Jews not be permitted to take fully to secular stations in life? At any rate, despite the tribunal’s contemptible record in this important case, we touch not on what’s politically correct, but simply what’s right. John, please tell Mr. Levant, that cartoon is simply wrong. He’ll appreciate your political incorrectness in naming an absolute.

  3. The cartoon is wrong???? You must be joking. There’s nothing offensive about it. And if someone does take offense over a political cartoon…SUCK IT UP!!!!! Write a letter to the editor.

  4. Ava

    Mr. Flaggman,
    There is nothing offensive about the cartoon to you, which is understandable because you are not one of them. The Prophet, apparently, is not at that stage yet, for the people who worship him, where he is drawn in cartoons in editorial pages of newspapers and magazines, or has an episode of “Family Guy” dedicated to him.

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