January 12, 2008
I've had my fun with Canadians in the past. (One time I wrote, if we can't laugh at fatties, short people, and Canadians, what good are they?)
I have also written that the thing Canadians are most proud of is that Canada isn't the United States. To the extent that Canadians have any kind of national self-image, it's in contrast to the colossus to the south. Canadians trying to explain what makes Canada special will talk about ways Canada is different from the US.
Well, some of those ways aren't very nice. Canada doesn't have a constitutional equivalent of the First Amendment, or at least it doesn't seem to in practice. When they finally got full freedom from the UK a couple of decades ago, and wrote their own constitution for the first time, they included free speech and free expression clauses that seemed as strong as ours. But it seems to have been pretty words; the government doesn't apparently really believe in them.
A magazine up in Canada called the Western Standard republished some of the Danish "cartoons of blasphemy". A couple of Muslims up there filed complaints about that with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, whose mission seems to be to find all cases of human rights being exercised, and to penalize them.
Today Ezra Levant, the editor of that now-defunct magazine, was brought before a representative of the commission and interrogated about the event. He videotaped the entire thing and has been posting excerpts of it. (Not the whole thing; like a lot of bureaucratic processes, much of it was repetitive and dull.) And he's posted a transcript of his opening statement.
When the Western Standard magazine printed the Danish cartoons of Mohammed two years ago, I was the publisher. It was the proudest moment of my public life. I would do it again today. In fact, I did do it again today. Though the Western Standard, sadly, no longer publishes a print edition, I posted the cartoons this morning on my website, ezralevant.com.
I am here at this government interrogation under protest. It is my position that the government has no legal or moral authority to interrogate me or anyone else for publishing these words and pictures. That is a violation of my ancient and inalienable freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and in this case, religious freedom and the separation of mosque and state. It is especially perverted that a bureaucracy calling itself the Alberta human rights commission would be the government agency violating my human rights. So I will now call those bureaucrats “the commission” or “the hrc”, since to call the commission a “human rights commission” is to destroy the meaning of those words.
Mark Steyn is an expatriate Canadian who now lives in New Hampshire. He's a superb author who has a distinct political point of view. He wrote a book called America Alone which talked about the way radical Muslims were using the mechanisms of government in Europe to suppress freedoms for non-Muslims. A magazine called Maclean's in Canada published an excerpt.
Why are Canadians putting up with this? The right of free expression is more important than the right to not be offended. It must be that way, for if we are only free to say things no one finds offensive, we are not free at all.
Here in the US we have such a right. The Perpetually Offended have tried to use the mechanisms of government here to suppress such expression, but their only significant successes have come on college campuses. (And those "successes" tend to be rolled back once spotlights are shined on them. Like all cockroaches, they only prosper in the dark.)
Canadians! It's your government. Why are you letting it oppress you?
Your claim is that your country is better than ours. Won't you defend your rights better than we do, in order to prove it? Or will you give away without a struggle that precious freedom that no adversary has ever been able to take away by force?
Are we going to start seeing Canadians coming to the US as political refugees, fleeing from government persecution? I sometimes laugh at Canadians, but that would not be a laughing matter.
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At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.
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