Monday, June 9, 2008

THE DRUM HEAD TRIAL: Mark Steyn, McLeans, the Muslim Sock Puppets and the attack on free speech in Canada

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and the in extent that we respect his theory that is wife is beautiful and his children smart.
-H. L. Mencken

In ages bygone there were few things a soldier feared more than a drum-head trial.

An accused soldier would be dragged before an impromptu court that upturned drum that served a table. Justice had nothing to do with it. With no standards of evidence, punishment was sift and severe. There were no rights to appeal. No rights to present evidence. You were guilty
until proven innocent — and even then you were still guilty.

If this scenario seems all to familiar and gives you willies, there’s a good reason for it. Freedom of speech and press in Canada have been dragged before a latter-day version of the drum-head trial, best known as a human rights tribunal.

I’ve written about this a couple of times now in the St. Catharines Standard and the 411 is this: In 2006, Maclean's magazine ran an excerpt from
Mark Steyn's book America Alone. In the piece, Steyn writes what he thinks is the obituary for western liberal democracy. Pointing out the low birth rate of non-Muslims compared with that of Muslim immigrants, particularly in Europe, Steyn suggests the continent is on the cusp of being Islamified. And, he says, with those immigrants come the violent Islamists who wouldn't know the value of democracy from a public execution.

Now, while
Steyn gets some things right, his somewhat paranoid thesis that democracy is soon going to be replaced by a barking mad jihadist theocracy is a bit too Oliver Stone for my tastes. But that really isn't the point.

Steyn's conclusions offended the sensibilities of some law students -known in the blogsphere as the Canadian Islamic Congress' "sock puppets"- who happened to be Muslim. After Maclean's refused to give them equal space to write a rebuttal by a writer of their choice (which the magazine could not edit) under a cover they designed (which the magazine could not alter) they enlisted the help of the Canadian Islamic Congress to drag the magazine to the Canadian, Ontario and British Columbia human rights tribunals, which are due to hear the case this year.

According to the CIC, Steyn's article misrepresents "Canadian Muslims' values" and damages their "sense of dignity and self-worth." It wants the government bodies to order Maclean's to give the students their rebuttal or at the very least want the magazine to be officially censored for saying things some Muslims just don't like very much.

Now, the CIC through their sock puppets, got to complain about the alleged mistreatment by Macleans in the National Post and other newspapers, and on TV and online. But they what want is to bring Macleans to heel and want the force of government orders to do so.

The first round was much of a fight at all. The Ontario Human R issued a statement saying it could not rule on the
Steyn case because it is not part of its mandate - and then went ahead and ruled on the issue anyway in a statement you can read here.

Dripping with a staggering ignorance of the value of free speech, the commission's statement accuses the magazine of propagating racism.

"This type of media coverage has been identified as contributing to Islamophobia and promoting societal intolerance toward Muslims," the statement reads.

Surely the commission brings some evidence to support these claims, right?

Nope. None. Nothing. Zero. Squat.

The Maclean's stories "have been identified" as promoting racism? Really? By who exactly? Presumably the commission itself, because it does not cite a single source.

Maybe the commission provided some content analysis of the magazine, or pointed out where
Steyn got his facts wrong? That's a big fat no as well.

In fact, the statement is merely a declaration, convicting the magazine of being a racist rag without having provided so much as a single shred of evidence. It then says what Canada needs is a discussion "about how narrowly or broadly society places limits on freedom of expression in order to protect the human rights of its vulnerable members." And the commission makes it clear where it stands: where free speech offends, it should be outlawed by the state.

Round two isn't quiet over. Unlike the almost but not really savvy Ontario commission, the British Columbia human rights tribunal was dumb enough to hold a hearing. Never mind the complainants are both residents of Ontario, the tribunal decided to go ahead with the drum-head trial.

Reports on the hearing demonstrate exactly why its time to wipe out these commissions, or at least limit what they can do. There are no standards evidence. None. So a professor whose claim to fame is a study of Bollywood films gets accepts as an expert on the Canadian media. But never mind she has no published work on the subject, she an expert, because, well, she says she is.
By that logic, I’m an expert on organic chemistry, even though I haven't actually done any organic chemistry, I'm really interested in the subject. Expert my aching ass.

Also, the bruised feelings of the complainants count as evidence, as do the writings of anonymous loonies on blogs in other countries. But actual evidence? Facts? No these do not count. In fact, the tribunal's boss is happy to declare to that the hearing is "informal." In other words, its like playing tennis without a net - and the loser is always the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Anyway, the hearing and the case is so sad it would be laughable if it wasn't for the fact that it presents a real and present threat to free speech in Canada. A guilty verdict is almost a inevitable. These commission and tribunals operate with a 100 per cent conviction rate. (You read that right. Nearly every person or group dragged before these demented kangaroo courts is found guilty. Imagine if one of our law courts had that kind of conviction rate? Imagine the political and legal fallout if no one was ever found not-guilty in a court to law!)

The only plus in this entire sad story is that a guilty finding will allow the magazine to appeal the ruling to actual court of law where things like evidence matter.

In any case, not content with waiting for victory, some Muslims leaders holding court with Barbara Hall -the grand poo-ba of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and would be commissioner of the thought police - declared this week that if Muslims are not given an "equal voice" in the Canadian news media, there will be dire consequences.

"And we have to tell them, you know what, if you're not going to allow us to do that, there will be consequences. You will be taken to the human rights commission, you will be taken to the press council, and you know what? If you manage to get rid of the human rights code provisions [on hate speech], we will then take you to the civil courts system. And you know what? Some judge out there might just think that perhaps it's time to have a tort of group defamation, and you might be liable for a few million dollars,"said Khurrum Awan the main primary witness in the MacLean's case in BC. (check out the full story in the National Post)
So where Voltaire is sometimes reputed to have said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," the CIC is saying, "I disapprove of what you say, and I will litigate to gag you."

These are utterly incompatible ideas and they show just how out of touch the CIC is with democratic ideals.

So what is going on here? What did Steyn say that was so horrible? Whether you disagree with his thesis or not, isn't the point. Steyn is not a hate monger. I mean, even if you hate America Alone, you'd have to admit he didn't write, say, Mein Kampf. Hitler's little diatribe in which he lays the ills of the world at the feet of the Jews and pretty much telegraphs what he would do if he ever had real political power is maybe the most horrible book of the 20th century. You'd be hard pressed to find a book that so defines hate speech. And yet as nasty as it is you can get it at any book store. In it, Hitler foreshadows his "final solution." What did Steyn do? Steyn can be a sacrastic cus at times, but he essentially looks at the problem in Europe, demographics and the rise of Islamo-facism and say "Uh, do we have a problem here?"

Oh and he quotes from radical ding-dong clerics who think that blowing themselves up on planes or in Jewish pizza joints gets them a front row seat at god's party palace. To the sock puppets et al, this is a real no-no. We can't actually quote what actual people actually said. Because, you know, then we might know what they actually think which might actually be of some actual importance!

Now why don't the sock puppets want Steyn to quote from radical Muslim leaders? Well, they aren't radical Muslims, of course, and they find the view of Jihadists offensive. And since they aren't crazy jihadists, Steyn has no business quoting people who are.

A bit mad, no? But it does highlight something interesting about this effort to high-jack free speech. These folks appear to believe that their religious are immune to criticism. Their religion cannot be spoken of in any way except in terms that they deem proper.

It comes down to something Douglas Adams said once, that is that believers think religion gets a special place in society where ridicule and criticism can't touch it. He said:

Now, the invention of the scientific method and science is, I'm sure we'll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and that it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked and if it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn't withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn't seem to work like that; it has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. That's an idea we're so familiar with, whether we subscribe to it or not, that it's kind of odd to think what it actually means, because really what it means is 'Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? - because you're not!' If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it, but on the other hand if somebody says 'I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday', you say, 'Fine, I respect that'. The odd thing is, even as I am saying that I am thinking 'Is there an Orthodox Jew here who is going to be offended by the fact that I just said that?' but I wouldn't have thought 'Maybe there's somebody from the left wing or somebody from the right wing or somebody who subscribes to this view or the other in economics' when I was making the other points. I just think 'Fine, we have different opinions'. But, the moment I say something that has something to do with somebody's (I'm going to stick my neck out here and say irrational) beliefs, then we all become terribly protective and terribly defensive and say 'No, we don't attack that; that's an irrational belief but no, we respect it'.

It's rather like, if you think back in terms of animal evolution, an animal that's grown an incredible carapace around it, such as a tortoise - that's a great survival strategy because nothing can get through it; or maybe like a poisonous fish that nothing will come close to, which therefore thrives by keeping away any challenges to what it is it is. In the case of an idea, if we think 'Here is an idea that is protected by holiness or sanctity', what does it mean? Why should it be that it's perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows, but to have an opinion about how the Universe began, about who created the Universe, no, that's holy? What does that mean? Why do we ring-fence that for any other reason other than that we've just got used to doing so? There's no other reason at all, it's just one of those things that crept into being and once that loop gets going it's very, very powerful. So, we are used to not challenging religious ideas but it's very interesting how much of a furore Richard creates when he does it! Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you're not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn't be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn't be.
The fact is pretty simple. They don't like what Steyn said because it offends them. They don't attack the thesis of his book, not really. They don't go after his facts, or criticize his political analysis or debunk his claims. Instead they display their bruised feelings and say "Oh well look, some nutter wrote a blog saying hateful things after Steyn's book came out! Steyn is responsible for spreading hatred!"

What they don't understand is that freedom of speech is not a negotiable commodity. It does not fall upon bended knee before the precious feelings of sectarian groups who want to muzzle anything they don't like.

If you are in favour of free speech, as Noam Chomsky once said, it means accepting you will be offended now and again. "Goebbels was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin," Chomsky said. "If you're really in favour of free speech, then you're in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you're not in favour of free speech."

As I have said before, if these human rights tribunals side with the CIC and try to punish Maclean's, the government, provincial and federal, should promptly abolish them and replace them with something with a narrower and clearer mandate and limited powers.

We do not have a right not to be offended.

I have to ask what "human rights" have been violated by Steyn and company? Are Muslims in Canada now required to wear a crescent moon on their clothing? They are being rounded up, as the Japanese were and Native Canadians before them, and placed into camps and reserves? Are they being denied access to government services, to jobs, to the right to voice their opinions, to freedom of religion, to freedom of movement?

Is this pack of weeping, sycophantic, solipsitic chest thumpers and wanna be martyrs being denied a single right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? I submit the answer is no.

Whatever legitimate role this commission once had has been lost in an attempt to create a version of Orwellian Newspeak for Ontario. If the commission wrote 1984, Big Brother, not Winston Smith, would be the hero of the story

Human rights tribunals were designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace and ensure all citizens have access to government services regardless of religion, sex or race. They have absolutely no business ruling on the alleged offensiveness of articles printed in magazines and newspapers, never mind meting out punishments.

Now, these unelected and unaccountable commissions with no due process or legal standards of evidence are on the cusp of becoming agencies empowered to punish thought crime and blasphemy. A deep chill will fall over the fourth estate and the door will open for anyone to shut down public debate in the name of protecting their bruised feelings.

That isn't democracy and, ironically enough the CIC appears utterly unaware of this (or maybe they are and don't care), is a step in the direction to prove Steyn's thesis correct.


Anonymous said...

How I came
Yusuf Islam

(Cat Stevens)..

All I have to say is all what you know already, to
confirm what you already know, the message of the Prophet
(Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as given by God - the
Religion of Truth. As human beings we are given a
consciousness and a duty that has placed us at the top of
creation. Man is created to be God's deputy on earth, and
it is important to realize the obligation to rid
ourselves of all illusions and to make our lives a
preparation for the next life. Anybody who misses this
chance is not likely to be given another, to be brought
back again and again, because it says in Qur'an Majeed
that when man is brought to account, he will say, "O
Lord, send us back and give us another chance." The Lord
will say, "If I send you back you will do the same."



I was brought up in the modern world of all the
luxury and the high life of show business. I was born in
a Christian home, but we know that every child is born in
his original nature - it is only his parents that turn
him to this or that religion. I was given this religion
(Christianity) and thought this way. I was taught that
God exists, but there was no direct contact with God, so
we had to make contact with Him through Jesus - he was in
fact the door to God. This was more or less accepted by
me, but I did not swallow it all.

I looked at some of the statues of Jesus; they were
just stones with no life. And when they said that God is
three, I was puzzled even more but could not argue. I
more or less believed it, because I had to have respect
for the faith of my parents.


Gradually I became alienated from this religious
upbringing. I started making music. I wanted to be a big
star. All those things I saw in the films and on the
media took hold of me, and perhaps I thought this was my
God, the goal of making money. I had an uncle who had a

beautiful car. "Well," I said, "he has it made. He has a
lot of money." The people around me influenced me to
think that this was it; this world was their God.

I decided then that this was the life for me; to make
a lot of money, have a 'great life.' Now my examples were
the pop stars. I started making songs, but deep down I
had a feeling for humanity, a feeling that if I became
rich I would help the needy. (It says in the Qur'an, we
make a promise, but when we make something, we want to
hold onto it and become greedy.)

So what happened was that I became very famous. I was
still a teenager, my name and photo were splashed in all
the media. They made me larger than life, so I wanted to
live larger than life and the only way to do that was to
be intoxicated (with liquor and drugs).



After a year of financial success and 'high' living,
I became very ill, contracted TB and had to be
hospitalized. It was then that I started to think: What
was to happen to me? Was I just a body, and my goal in
life was merely to satisfy this body? I realized now that
this calamity was a blessing given to me by Allah, a
chance to open my eyes - "Why am I here? Why am I in
bed?" - and I started looking for some of the answers. At
that time there was great interest in the Eastern
mysticism. I began reading, and the first thing I began
to become aware of was death, and that the soul moves on;
it does not stop. I felt I was taking the road to bliss
and high accomplishment. I started meditating and even
became a vegetarian. I now believed in 'peace and flower
power,' and this was the general trend. But what I did
believe in particular was that I was not just a body.
This awareness came to me at the hospital.

One day when I was walking and I was caught in the
rain, I began running to the shelter and then I realized,
'Wait a minute, my body is getting wet, my body is
telling me I am getting wet.' This made me think of a
saying that the body is like a donkey, and it has to be
trained where it has to go. Otherwise, the donkey will
lead you where it wants to go.

Then I realized I had a will, a God-given gift:
follow the will of God. I was fascinated by the new
termino- logy I was learning in the Eastern religion. By
now I was fed up with Christianity. I started making
music again and this time I started reflecting my own
thoughts. I remember the lyric of one of my songs. It
goes like this: "I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes
the Heaven, what makes the Hell. Do I get to know You in
my bed or some dusty cell while others reach the big
hotel?" and I knew I was on the Path.

I also wrote another song, "The Way to Find God Out."
I became even more famous in the world of music. I really
had a difficult time because I was getting rich and
famous, and at the same time, I was sincerely searching
for the Truth. Then I came to a stage where I decided
that Buddhism is all right and noble, but I was not ready
to leave the world. I was too attached to the world and
was not prepared to become a monk and to isolate myself
from society.

I tried Zen and Ching, numerology, tarot cards and
astrology. I tried to look back into the Bible and could
not find anything. At this time I did not know anything
about Islam, and then, what I regarded as a miracle
occurred. My brother had visited the mosque in Jerusalem
and was greatly impressed that while on the one hand it
throbbed with life (unlike the churches and synagogues
which were empty), on the other hand, an atmosphere of
peace and tranquillity prevailed.



When he came to London he brought back a translation
of the Qur'an, which he gave to me. He did not become a
Muslim, but he felt something in this religion, and
thought I might find something in it also.

And when I received the book, a guidance that would
explain everything to me - who I was; what was the
purpose of life; what was the reality and what would be
the reality; and where I came from - I realized that this
was the true religion; religion not in the sense the West
understands it, not the type for only your old age. In
the West, whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make
it his only way of life is deemed a fanatic. I was not a
fanatic, I was at first confused between the body and the
soul. Then I realized that the body and soul are not
apart and you don't have to go to the mountain to be
religious. We must follow the will of God. Then we can
rise higher than the angels. The first thing I wanted to
do now was to be a Muslim.

I realized that everything belongs to God, that
slumber does not overtake Him. He created everything. At
this point I began to lose the pride in me, because
hereto I had thought the reason I was here was because of
my own greatness. But I realized that I did not create
myself, and the whole purpose of my being here was to
submit to the teaching that has been perfected by the
religion we know as Al-Islam. At this point I started
discovering my faith. I felt I was a Muslim. On reading
the Qur'an, I now realized that all the Prophets sent by
God brought the same message. Why then were the Jews and
Christians different? I know now how the Jews did not
accept Jesus as the Messiah and that they had changed His
Word. Even the Christians misunderstand God's Word and
called Jesus the son of God. Everything made so much
sense. This is the beauty of the Qur'an; it asks you to
reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon
but the One Who has created everything. The Qur'an asks
man to reflect upon the sun and moon and God's creation
in general. Do you realize how different the sun is from
the moon? They are at varying distances from the earth,
yet appear the same size to us; at times one seems to
overlap the other.

Even when many of the astronauts go to space, they
see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of
space. They become very religious, because they have seen
the Signs of Allah.

When I read the Qur'an further, it talked about
prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but
I felt that the only answer for me was the Qur'an, and
God had sent it to me, and I kept it a secret. But the
Qur'an also speaks on different l I began to understand
it on anothlevel, where the Qur'an says, "Those who

believe do not take disbelievers for friends and the
believers are brothers." Thus at this point I wished to
meet my Muslim brothers.



Then I decided to journey to Jerusalem (as my brother
had done). At Jerusalem, I went to the mosque and sat
down. A man asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a
Muslim. He asked what was my name. I told him, "Stevens."
He was confused. I then joined the prayer, though not so
successfully. Back in London, I met a sister called
Nafisa. I told her I wanted to embrace Islam and she
directed me to the New Regent Mosque. This was in 1977,
about one and a half years after I received the Qur'an.
Now I realized that I must get rid of my pride, get rid
of Iblis, and face one direction. So on a Friday, after
Jumma' I went to the Imam and declared my faith (the
Kalima) at this hands. You have before you someone who
had achieved fame and fortune. But guidance was something
that eluded me, no matter how hard I tried, until I was
shown the Qur'an. Now I realize I can get in direct
contact with God, unlike Christianity or any other
religion. As one Hindu lady told me, "You don't
understand the Hindus. We believe in one God; we use
these objects (idols) to merely concentrate." What she
was saying was that in order to reach God, one has to
create associates, that are idols for the purpose. But
Islam removes all these barriers. The only thing that
moves the believers from the disbelievers is the salat.
This is the process of purification.

Finally I wish to say that everything I do is for the
pleasure of Allah and pray that you gain some
inspirations from my experiences. Furthermore, I would
like to stress that I did not come into contact with any
Muslim before I embraced Islam. I read the Qur'an first
and realized that no person is perfect. Islam is perfect,
and if we imitate the conduct of the Holy Prophet
(Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) we will be successful. May
Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the ummah of
Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Ameen!
jaferomar is offline Reply With Quote

Grant LaFleche said...

What do you think is going to happen here. You throw a bunch of faith declarations at me and I am going to abandon free speech.

No. Your preaching is wasted here friend. No religion gets to determine what free people get to say, think or do. If you want to live in a world run by clerics and imans, where blasphemy is a crime and your very thoughts are enough to have you imprisoned or killed, that is fine and dandy. But do not except those of us with concern for the rights of free peoples to join you.