Note to American journalists: Step across the border into Canada and you will give up every vestige of your right to free speech and free press. If you write a piece that someone finds offensive or that merely hurts his feelings, you may end up facing trial before one of Canada’s “human rights” tribunals that collectively boast a conviction rate in the range of 100%.
Hard to believe? Just ask Mark Steyn, widely regarded as one of Canada’s finest journalists. He recently went on trial before one of these kangaroo courts in British Columbia because a group called the Canadian Islamic Congress didn’t like a book excerpt of his that appeared as an article in Maclean’s magazine.
The Islamic group claimed that the excerpt from Steyn’s book America Alone engaged in “spreading hatred against Muslims” – despite praise from other journalists such as Rich Lowry, who calls the piece “a sparkling model of the polemical art” and lauds its “profound social analysis.”
No matter. Before the national Canadian Human Rights Commission and its provincial counterparts, truth is no defense. And there is no requirement to prove harm. All you have to do is disagree with the writer’s point of view. Forget freedom of speech. Lowry quotes one of the national commission’s principal investigators as saying: “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”
It is incomprehensible to think that freedom of speech and press have been so thoroughly brutalized within the borders of our northern neighbor. Equally unbelievable, however, is the fact that the plight of Mark Steyn has been greeted with such a stunning and nearly universal silence by U.S. media. With a handful of exceptions like Lowry, American journalists have completely ignored this travesty to the north.
It’s true that Steyn and Lowry both are conservatives – Lowry is editor of National Review – but I don’t want to say the deafening silence is driven by ideology. (One of the few other Americans to break the silence, for example, is New York Times reporter Adam Liptak, writing in the International Herald Tribune.) I think it’s a matter of journalistic indifference to something that’s not happening here.
Yes, it’s a Canadian matter. But threats to free speech and free press transcend borders. Especially when the threat is this serious, and the border this close. That makes it our matter, too.
Final note to American journalists: WAKE UP!!