Sunday, January 13, 2008
Free Societies Are Offensive Societies
Since anyone with a modicum of life experience realizes that government bureaucrats quickly develop the thinnest of skins, it's obvious that freedom of speech cannot be subjected to tests devised by the tender sensibilities of government bureaucrats if speech is to remain free.But in Canada, it is.
Ezra Levant published the Danish cartoons of Muhammed that caused the riots across numerous Muslim countries in his magazine, and now he is being brought before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for it.
This post has segments of video from the hearing itself published. I urge everyone to watch them. Start with the last one. He had me cheering. "It is disgusting to me that I would have to explain my reasoning to the government." "I do not seek to convince you, because to do so would grant you moral authority." He says that he has and will talk directly to the radical Muslims, because he knows he is a free man, but he will not argue to the government. "I don't grant you at all the right to sit in judgment of whether or not I am reasonable."
Here is a man for our times. In the second video Ezra points out with considerable vigor that what is causing animus against Muslims are actions such as the one brought against him here. And he's right. "The last house of worship torched in Edmonton was my synagogue. And, you know, it's not these cartoons that create hatred. It's radical Muslims who blow things up, who torch my synagogue, who file nuisance suits. They're the ones that make people hate Muslims." Then he points out that the radical Muslims are the ones creating the problem. "Everyone came to Canada for our freedoms and to have a better life. ... When these radicals try to import their values ... that's what makes people hate Muslims."
The individual who brought the complaint is Syed Soharwardy who works for IBM and is an Imam and a relatively prominent figure in Canadian Muslim circles. The scan of the complaint is here, published by Ezra Levant. The complaint includes these sentence "Publishing T(sic?) cartoons in the Western Standards (sic) is, in fact, spreading hate against me. I am openly the follower and related to the Prophet Muhummed (peace be upon him). Western Standards (sic) to have published (sic?) cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammed as terrorist (sic). It means he had defamed me and my family because we follow and related (sic) to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him)."
Good luck to Mr. Levant. If he were prepared to concede the authority of the Human Rights Commission, he would have plenty of complaint fodder against Mr. Soharwardy at hand. Here, for example
A Canadian instrumental in designing the Human Rights Commissions has protested against their misuse against free speech. Here Marvin Katz argues the other side. One of the ironies of this whole situation is that many Jewish groups in Canada originally lobbied for the passage of laws against slandering peoples, for obvious historic reasons.
The reality, however, is that such a complaint forces the person accused to spend money and time defending his- or herself. This can be used as a means of intimidation and coercion. Coercion and intimidation is exactly Mr. Soharwardy's aim. He tried to get Mr. Levant arrested by contacting the police, and his demands are cited here:
Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada said publishers of the cartoons should apologize and added that they are abusing freedom of the press.Not likely.
"They have to apologize in the newspaper, and they have to condemn their action, and they have to come to our centre and apologize to our congregation, too," he said.
That said, the value of free speech is of 3 parts.
The first is that true speech has a value without debate and must be allowed.
The second is that part true speech has a value and must be allow so that the truthfulnesses be determined.
The third is that false speech forces folks to defend truth and without that defense, truth loses its value. Without defense, the truth is lost and becomes without value.
In this case, while the cartoonist is harassed, in defending his view, the ugliness of the forces against him is brought out. His truth of freedom is proclaimed and folks are brought to defend that freedom rather than letting it fade away.
This is my belief and the basis for it can be found here On Liberty
Yes it is a royal pain in the ass that he be force to this end, but necessary in the defense of freedom.
Tom, at least Kelo didn't circumscribe free speech. We can bitch all we want about losing our land to the higher corporate bidder. That is, we can as long as we don't mention any s_n_t_rs name in conjunction with it during election time.
Proceedings against Ezra Levant are nothing short of ridiculous, but let's consider the implications for moderate Muslims. This "investigation" will further divide Muslims and non-Muslims in Canada. It will give credence to radicals' claims that the West is at war with Islam. It will antagonize non-Muslims and radicalize moderate Muslims. Regardless of the outcome, once again Islamists skillfully manipulated Dhimmi justice system and came out as clear winners. Thank you, Human Right Commission!
A great many Muslims in the west have tried to make the same point. Some have had their lives threatened for it. Unfortunately, many Muslims who have advocated a more open society in Islamic countries have actually been killed for doing so.
If one looks at the history of any religion and the various cultures in which those religions have predominated, it is clear that there is a spirit of an age that often determines the net outcome of culture/religion/philosophies.
In practice, the type of philosophy that Mr. Levant is expressing is a very good one for Muslims in the west.
There are and there will be strong differences between different schools of Muslim teaching and different Muslim cultures, and very heated arguments will continue. But that does not have anything to do with the individual in the post-Enlightenment west, and that is the distinction he is trying to preserve.
Declining jury trials, hearings that are effectively held in secret (to save people's 'embarrassment'), endless rules that hedge in judicial discretion.
And the Internet? It will be very tempting for bureaucracies to follow the Chinese lead and set up choke points at their electronic borders:
I think the bad global economic news has accelerated the pace of various trends.
Canada has a long history of subordinating free speech to bureaucratic self-perpetuation. Ironically, in a sense, José Padilla's now trying to take U.S. law to the opposite extreme.
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