Programming Note: Free Speech & Human Rights Commissions

21 Jan

A friend of mine – no supporter of conservative politics, conservative publications , or conservative punditry – posted a link the other day on her facebook profile to the website of Ezra Levant, the prominent conservative… pundit, former publisher and former political operative.

The link was to one of the videos Levant posted online of his recent appearance before the Alberta Human Rights commission.

Here’s the comment she added to her link: “AMAZING!!! I am not a huge fan of his politics BUT I am now a huge fan of his!”

Levant’s appearance before the commission was a result of a complaint made against him when – in 2006, in his former capacity as publisher of the Western Standard magazine – he republished the infamous Danish cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, then at the center of international controversy. Levant was one of the few publishers in North America to do so.

He took the opportunity of his appearance before the commission to reject the right of the commission to hear his case at all (summarizing his thoughts on the matter on the Globe and Mail’s website today).

It was this argument – that human rights commissions allow for politically-motivated attacks on freedom of speech – that inspired my friend to cross the political divide and praise him so publicly.

And Levant’s YouTube videos have gone viral, as the kids say, attracting hundreds of thousands of hits in one week and garnering quite a bit of attention south of the border (although Levant complains he has been ignored by much of the Canadian mainstream media).

Tomorrow, he and Canadian columnist Mark Steyn, who is at the center of a similar human rights commission complaint lodged against Maclean’s magazine, will be interviewed on Bill O’Reilly‘s program on Fox News, which may not help their case among left-leaning Canadians (although that is not likely to cause either of these gentlemen to rethink their appearance).

Before Levant appears on Fox, he will be on Canadian public television on a program produced by… moi. It should also be viewable online within a day or two. You are free to watch it if you’d like.

(UPDATE: Levant reports on his website that his Fox News appearance has been postponed)

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10 Responses to “Programming Note: Free Speech & Human Rights Commissions”

  1. Simeon George Drakich January 22, 2008 at 4:52 am #

    “Canada is free and freedom is its nationality.” – Sir Wilfred Laurier

  2. Kerry Wilson January 22, 2008 at 11:04 am #

    I thought Steve or one of the guests might have mentioned that CIBC employee Jeffrey Rubin, who, on pain of losing his job, was forced to undergo ‘sensitivity training’ with a Muslim ‘counsellor’, having offended some Muslims by something he said. The incident occurred in 2005. No one I know remembers it, but it was a really big deal. That’s the guy who should have taken his right to his job all the way to the Supreme Court! This should have been mentioned as a parallel to your Human Rights Commission conversations.

  3. Charlotte January 22, 2008 at 11:20 am #

    It was painful to watch Ezra Levant’s rant about human rights tribunals in Canada on your Monday’s program. Like an immodest, self-centred and silly teenager, Levant and his inflammatory and defamatory comments about human rights agencies reveal just how much these agencies are needed today. Human rights tribunals and commissions were designed, among other things, to educate and challenge the chilling effects of systemic discrimination, of private/non-governmental enterprises, like the Western Standard, when they consciously or unconsciously decide to target and discriminate contrary to the provincial human rights codes. In Ontario, the human rights code has near constitutional status in law. Our history in Canada gives us many hard reasons why we must be vigilant in protecting human rights – not corporate rights – and why human rights commissions and tribunals were established soon after the second world war. Today, we must guard against more Guantanamo Bays.

    To pit the huge monolithic power of Western media’s right to freedom of speech against relatively powerless individuals who together comprise a particular ethnocultural or religious community and their right to be free from racism, hate and racist stereotyping, which is what Steve Paikin did on his show, serves no purpose at all except to sensationalize Levant’s folly and to highlight what Levant’s principal concern is namely, himself. How drole! Levant complains loudly in having to appear before the Alberta Human Rights Commission and having to expend money to answer why he feels he has the god given right as a media producer to oppress, insult and perpetuate certain harmful and racist stereotypes about Muslims.

    Indeed, Steve Paikin missed the point entirely about Levant’s rant and the only only “who got it” was the American Mohammed Fadel. Kudos for Fadel! Levant cares only about money and power and retaining his money and power. He is indignant and callous when it comes to corporate and media etiquette and responsibility to the audience he purportedly serves.

    Media in our “free and democratice country” has already embraced, at least according to their publicists, the commitment to combat racism and systemic discrimination, which many acknowledge continue to pervade our publications, airwaves and the electronic medium. And yet, here we have Levant who published cartoons that not only insulted individuals but succeeded to perpetuate the media and hollywood generated racist stereotypes and myths of a historically maligned religion and culture. With rights and freedoms comes social responsbility; however, it is clear that Levant has yet to learn that.

  4. Eric Green January 22, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    The dhimmified Charlotte s entirely incorrect by portraying the (now-defunct) Western Standard as a member of a monolithic Western media that crushes relatively powerless individuals having the right to be free from racist stereotyping.

    Rather, the WS was a marginal, small periodical whose publisher is now defending an all-out onslought initiated by a salafist Wahhabist imam, one who is backed by the resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (a bastion of human rights and tolerance, eh, Charlotte?). Especially eggregious is the fact that Levant is now facing the entire might of the Canadian state in its prosecution/persecution of him.

    Two facts remain: Islam is not a race; and no one who believes in the Universal Declaration of Human Right can suggest that anyone’s human rights include the right not to be offended. Like any other citizen of the post-Enlightenment West, Levant’s only obligation (and his absolute right absent criminal sanction) is to speak his mind freely, assemble as he sees fit, believe in whatever deity (or none) he chooses, and write on any topic of his choice. To suggest otherwise is to play directly into the Islamists’ hands, thereby setting back a millenium of civilizational advance in the West.

  5. Johnny Carson January 22, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    Kudos to Eric Green for his wonderful reply to the dhimmified Charlotte, who holds I suspect, a not unusual perverted world view which if left unchecked, will lead to the destruction of freedom in Canada. My parents emigrated to Canada in the 50’s from a devastated Europe. My father was a child in Germany during the war and saw first hand the destruction of his ancestral home caused by the Nazis totalitarian inclinations.

    He reveled in the freedoms of living in Canada and made sure to innoculate his children against being led astray by the idealistic philosphies espoused by Charlotte. If untempered with realism and care, these philosphies can lead to the evils of central planning and State control.

    In Canada today, we are going down the path to civil discord and perhaps even civil war, if we do not challenge and fight (in words) those who would destroy the fabric of Canadian culture. The cult of multiculturism is destroying Canada, not because of different skin colours, but because it does not insist on the primacy of Canadian values over foreign ones. Saudi Wahabbist values are NOT compatible with Canadian freedoms.

    It is not “racist” to insist that immigrants leave their anti-democratic, misogynist cultural values at the door when they come to Canada. My ancestors were the same in the past; they grew out of it.

    It is absolutely imperative that Canadians grow a backbone, or this wonderful country of ours will be changed from the inside out. Most of us will not be happy with what’s left. I for one, have no intention of submitting.

  6. Helen Sikora January 22, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    I heartily endorse the comments of the two previous commentators, Eric Green and Johnny Carson; multiculturalism is destroying our value systems. Since I have lived the history of all the legislation that has brought us to this sorry state, I feel quite qualified to state that we got along just fine without all the top-down legislation we now have to navigate.

  7. jane cryderman January 22, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    I am somewhat mollified to see a rather substantial awaress of the hidden agendas of the so called human rights commission. I was only just joking about how we will soon have racist thought police showing up at our doors to haul away the politically incorrect .. Or the multiculturial incorrect.
    I then opened a newspaper and saw Mr Levants address to his persecutors.. and said hey It has arrived..
    So my next question is .. What was the outtcome of Mr levants witch hazing?
    Jane C

  8. Seraphic Single January 22, 2008 at 6:41 pm #

    Why was the Catholic (and only woman) Joanne McGarry questioned about the HRC complaint (which was dismissed) against Bishop Henry? It would have been a lot more pertinent to the case if McGarry was asked about systematic (and historical) prejudice against Catholics? Catholics have been subjected to anti-catholic sneers for hundreds of years; why not ask how we have dealt with them and thrived?

  9. Heather January 22, 2008 at 7:22 pm #

    Great show! I am relieved that you are still able to broadcast a show where people are allowed, nay encouraged, to speak their minds and air their opinions.
    However, I am confused as to how you are allowed to show the link to view the actual cartoons on TVO’s website?! Are you not just doing what Mr. Levant did? What is the difference? ‘Tis a puzzlement.
    Keep up the good work.
    Heather

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Programming note: Limits of Censorship « echenblog - March 6, 2008

    […] on “free speech, hate speech and human rights commission” (and blogged about the issue here. The show (and the blog entry) dealt with a couple of cases of magazines being brought before human […]

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