Saturday, January 05, 2008

Touquemada™

The bizarre spectacle of various "Human Rights" Commissions in Canada taking up a Canadian Islamic Congress complaint against Maclean's magazine and Mark Steyn continues. The CIC is on a crusade to prevent any discussion of Islam they don't like. The post immediately below, Human Rights in Canada, demonstrates that they won't even accept quoting high level Imams as legitimate speech.

TOC has also commented here, here, and here. If this is the first you've heard about this you might want to skim those in order. Alternately, a nice summary can be found under this mild mannered headline: Complaints against Maclean's raise censorship concerns. I say mild mannered because "Human Rights" Commissions in Canada are as good an example of Liberal Fascism as Jonah Goldberg could ever imagine.

It's worth reading the whole thing, but I reproduce the intro here because it struck me as interesting. I fear it displays a mind-set which already accepts significant thought restrictions. We're just debating the appropriate degree and the appropriate censors.
HUMAN RIGHTS complaints against Maclean's magazine, for running an excerpt of conservative columnist Mark Steyn's bestselling book America Alone, have raised alarms about the rise in government sponsored censorship in Canada -- especially against Christians.
The phrase "the rise in government sponsored censorship" seems peculiar for two reasons.

First, if rights of free speech were not already gutted in Canada there would not be the possibility of a "rise in" censorship simply because someone tells an HRC their feelings have been hurt. Just because the government hasn't exercised its role as Grand Inquisitor so much as it could have doesn't mean Canadians are suddenly experiencing a reduction in freedom of speech. They have exactly as much now as they did right after the "Human Rights" Commissions were established. The existence and powers of the Human Rights Commissions ipso facto demonstrates that provision 2.b) of Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

"2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
is a hollow promise when matched against the thought crime provisions in sections 318 and 319 of Canada’s Criminal Code, and section 13 of the Human Rights Act.

Second, what entity other than government can apply censorship? By any other entity it's a boycott, not censorship. Perhaps this gentle description, implying other institutions may censor and objecting to a rise in the use of a totalitarian power which ought not to be tolerated in the first place, is a result of a polite society. Perhaps it results from not wanting to attract Touquemada's attention.

I would make less of this, but other parts of this article seem to share the assumptions I see in the intro. For example,

Catholic and social conservative activist John Pacheco shares Benson's concerns. "Mark Steyn is probably most popular conservative commentator in the world. If he can be attacked, it does not bode well for freedom of speech for Canadians."
I'm sorry, but the "not boding well" part is way past. It's done boding. Unless and until freedom "of thought, belief, opinion and expression" is seen to actually be a fundamental right it will simply be a matter of how much freedom of speech Parliament thinks is good for you. Abolishing the HRC's would not end the problem.

H/T five feet of fury

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