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May 07, 2008

Steyn and the sock puppets

Mark Steyn recounts his discussions with the "sock puppets" both on the air and after the show. The core of the problem (aside from having extra-legal "courts" at all) is this:

I believe these Canadian Islamic Congress lawsuits — and, yes, I can hear the Socks yelling "That's a lie! They're not 'suits', they're 'complaints'," but that's a distinction without a difference if you're paying lawyers' bills and you regard, as I do, the Human Rights Commissions as a parallel legal system that tramples over all the traditional safeguards of Common Law, not least the presumption of innocence. Where was I? Oh, yeah. I believe these lawsuits are deeply damaging to freedom of expression. If they win (when they win) and the verdicts withstand Supreme Court scrutiny, Canada will no longer be a free country. It will be a country whose citizens are on a leash whose length is determined by the hack bureaucrats of state agencies.

And that leash will shrivel, remorselessly. One of the better points Khurrum made off-air was that this is the first (federal) "human rights" complaint by a Muslim group, and that when it was just the Jews and gays milking this racket we didn't have any of this talk about scrapping Section 13 and abolishing the commissions. And he's right. Which is why the Canadian Jewish Congress position is untenable. As I said in my speech to the "legal jihad" conference in New York a couple of weeks back:

Canada and much of Europe have statutes prohibiting Holocaust denial. Muslim scholars are not impressed by these laws. "Nobody can say even one word about the number in the alleged Holocaust," says Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the favourite Islamic scholar of many Euroleftists, "even if he is writing an MA or PhD thesis, and discussing it scientifically. Such claims are not acceptable." But a savvy imam knows an opening when he sees one. "The Jews are protected by laws," notes Mr Qaradawi. "We want laws protecting the holy places, the prophets, and Allah's messengers." In other words, he wants to use the constraints on free speech imposed by Europe and Canada to protect Jews in order to put much of Islam beyond political debate. The free world is shuffling into a psychological bondage whose chains are mostly of our own making. The British "historian" David Irving wound up in an Austrian jail, having been convicted of Holocaust denial. It's not unreasonable for Muslims to conclude that, if gays and Jews and other approved identities are to be protected groups who can't be offended, why shouldn't they be also?

They have a point. How many roads of inquiry are we prepared to block off in order to be "sensitive"?

It was wrong to create a special category of speech that was protected under Canadian law: holocaust denial is pure, distilled idiocy, but the best way to refute it is to let it be spoken and ridiculed. Forbidding it to be spoken created the worst possible precedent . . . and that precedent is being used now by the "sock puppets" and their controllers to create more restrictions on freedom of speech. It's no longer a question of "whether", it's just a question of "how much more?".

Remember folks, "just because Pierre Trudeau cooked it up" doesn't mean "it's chiseled in granite".

Posted by Nicholas at May 7, 2008 08:53 AM

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