In "Not Without a Fight" (Ethics and Public Policy Center, July 14, 2008) Stanley Kurtz offers hope
for beleaguered Canadians fighting the "human" face of fascism, in the guise of the "human rights" commissions:
I don't think it's too strong to say that the CIC's Human Rights Commission complaint against Mark Steyn is a totalitarian document. If the complaint carries - or is even partially vindicated - public discourse in Canada on the war on terror, Muslim immigration, and related topics will be transformed out of all recognition. It is as if, instead of simply rebutting or railing against conservatives and Republicans, liberal Democrats in the United States went to the Supreme Court and had the right side of the blogosphere and nearly all conservative opinion magazines placed into receivership. It is evident that the complainants are aware of this ambition. They announce their determination to reshape fundamentally a kind of journalism "that has become increasingly pervasive in Canada in the last few years." Read closely, the CIC's complaint is not really levied against any particular factual claim or rhetorical move. It is instead a request that vast sections of heretofore legitimate reporting and opinion journalism be banned. Even a failed complaint would have a chilling effect on public discourse. Complaints accepted by Canada's HRCs are investigated and prosecuted free of charge to plaintiffs, while the accused must foot huge legal bills. The mere threat of the spectacle and its cost suffices to shut down debate on controversial issues, especially for outlets and commentators less prominent that Steyn and Maclean's.
I really like Kurtz's analysis because he gets right a critical features of the civil rights collapse in Canada: While state hate appears to be directed against traditional Christians or conservatives, its net effect is to expand the power of the state against any and all citizens. Going after trad Christians was easy because they are typical targets of sanctioned bigotry, so many people would cheer their destruction without noticing what the fact that the state can destroy them means.
Let's bust some myths. It's certainly true that Canada's Human Rights Commissions (like Europe's hate-speech laws) are wielded chiefly by minorities, immigrants, and those on the left against Christians and those who lean right -- a fact that points to their status as illegitimate and illiberal weapons of political-cultural warfare. Yet left-liberals are far from untouched by the new assault on speech. Craig Unger's House of Bush, House of Saud, an American bestseller, and a book beloved of Bush opponents during the 2004 presidential election, was banned in Britain under the same libel laws that suppress Rachel Ehrenfeld. Ruling against another British libel decision, the European Court of Human Rights declared that free speech rights of anti-corporate protesters had been violated when they were forbidden to hand out leaflets against what they believed to be economic, ecological, and humanitarian malpractices by McDonald's Restaurants. With McDonald's deep pockets and an effective presumption of guilt, it was impossible for these protesters' allegations to pass muster in British court. Here, in an attack on the left of the political spectrum, lies a slippery slope from British libel law to the end of political freedom. To call this banning of anti-McDonald's leafleting a product of British culture is an offense to the liberties of us all, born as they were in Britain, our mother country.
Unlike so many Yanks (who love to hold forth on the alleged flabbiness of Canucks), Kurtz acknowledges the fact that many Canadians are throwing themselves into the fight, heedless of danger:
The tide began to turn about a month after Steyn and Maclean's were accused. Ezra Levant, a blogger and former publisher of Canada's Western Standard, was hauled before a Human Rights Commission in January of 2008 for the supposed hate-crime of reprinting the Danish cartoon caricatures of Mohammed. Levant managed to videotape his interrogation, and the spectacle of a journalist being interrogated by a bureaucrat for his supposed thought-crimes became an instant hit on the internet. Once again, dystopian science fiction seemed to spring to life, as the slippery slope from hate-speech legislation to the suppression of fundamental political debate played out for all to see on the worldwide web.
Three months later, the case against Steyn and Maclean's remains unresolved, yet political momentum in Canada has clearly shifted against the HRCs. Levant's tireless exposure of HRC abuses on his weblog has brought the sordid truth about these speech suppression mechanisms to light. It turns out that, to date, no speech defendant has ever been acquitted of a case brought before a Canadian HRC. These commissions effectively act simultaneously as investigator, lawyer, and judge, and the 100 percent conviction rate means that, as in British libel cases, we are looking at de facto presumption of guilt.
Some Canadian officials now receive more mail protesting HRC abuse than on any other issue. ...
Readers, please understand, we face a very difficult fight. Canada's nanny state can make another grab against civil rights and exhaust the power of the citizens who must work and pay taxes to continue to try to respond by their main fruitless letters.
Also, if you want to help, please acquaint your self with basic facts about Canada. The fact that we have an alleged "Conservative" government does not mean that we have a government that supports civil rights. The government has in fact supported the "human rights" commissions that are stamping out civil rights.
From what I can tell, the current Canadian government's cynical theory is that the most frequent targets (typically traditional Christians) don't have any choice but to support the Conservatives because the Liberals would step up the persecution.
Do not mistake the lack of voice for absence of resistance.
Labels: Canada, intellectual freedom