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Speech Nazis retreat in Canada

Posted by Richard on June 28, 2008

Two down, one to go. Another "hate speech" charge against Mark Steyn has been dropped:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a hate speech complaint against Maclean's magazine.

Brought by Mohamed Elmasry, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, the complaint was the centrepiece of a three-pronged offense against what he sees as Islamophobia in the national newsweekly, with columnists Mark Steyn and Barbara Amiel the main offenders.

An identical complaint, brought with the help of three Muslim law students who became the public faces of the complaint, was rejected in Ontario on jurisdictional grounds. The third was heard this month by a British Columbia tribunal, which is now deliberating.

Announcing the decision (the CHRC does not publicize dismissals of complaints), Maclean's said in a statement that it "is in keeping with our long-standing position that the article in question, "The Future Belongs to Islam," an excerpt from Mark Steyn's best-selling book America Alone, was a worthy piece of commentary on important geopolitical issues, entirely within the bounds of normal journalistic practice."

"Though gratified by the decision, Maclean's continues to assert that no human rights commission, whether at the federal or provincial level, has the mandate or the expertise to monitor, inquire into, or assess the editorial decisions of the nation's media. And we continue to have grave concerns about a system of complaint and adjudication that allows a media outlet to be pursued in multiple jurisdictions on the same complaint, brought by the same complainants, subjecting it to costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars, to say nothing of the inconvenience. We enthusiastically support those parliamentarians who are calling for legislative review of the commissions with regard to speech issues."

The heinous acts that Steyn and Maclean's committed? They were accused of promoting Islamophobia by quoting radical Muslims. Human rights commissions, my ass.

At The Corner, Mark Hemingway opined:

There's also the very real problem that these commissions might sidestep penalizing Steyn and Maclean's out of self-preservation. They know that in going after high profile targets they've bitten off more than they can chew — any action against them would likely stir political action to do away with the commisions altogether. If they drop the complaint against Steyn, the political pressure will simply go away and they're free to continue zealously violating the rights of lesser known individuals and organizations.

Just yesterday, Ezra Levant posted about one of those "lesser known individuals" that they're already going after. In Vancouver, stand-up comic Guy Earle was heckled by two lesbians, and as comics are wont to do, he heckled back. Now the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has agreed with one of the lesbians that Earle's jokes weren't funny, so he's going on trial for his "hate speech."

If you're shaking your head about that, be sure to read Levant's follow-up post about his TV appearance with NOW Magazine editor Susan Cole. She insisted that only lesbians can legally joke about lesbians, only blacks can joke about blacks, and so on. This absurd notion caused Levant to come up with some interesting questions:

What kind of jokes could Barack Obama tell? His mom was White; is he Black enough to tell Black jokes? How about someone who is one quarter Black? One eighth? Are they only allowed to tell gentle Black jokes, but the really tough ones are reserved for very black-skinned Blacks?

Could a straight woman pretend to be a lesbian in order to tell jokes about lesbians? How would Susan Cole propose to check her bona fides? And how about bi-sexuals?

Could a transexual — a man who "became" a woman — tell jokes about women? Even if he was still six feet tall, and looked pretty masculine?

Can anyone tell a joke that begins "a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar", or would you need two people to tell that one?

Read the whole thing. In fact, if you want to catch up on the free speech rights battles in Canada, and keep up going forward, Levant's blog is your one-stop source. Highly recommended. Along with Free Mark Steyn!, whose cool banner I really should add to my sidebar.

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