The NY Post reports on this outrage:
December 16, 2007 — Celebrated author Mark Steyn has been summoned to appear before two Canadian judicial panels on charges linked to his book “America Alone.”
The book, a No. 1 bestseller in Canada, argues that Western nations are succumbing to an Islamist imperialist threat. The fact that charges based on it are proceeding apace proves his point.
Steyn, who won the 2006 Eric Breindel Journalism Award (co-sponsored by The Post and its parent, News Corp), writes for dozens of publications on several continents. After the Canadian general-interest magazine Maclean’s reprinted a chapter from the book, five Muslim law-school students, acting through the auspices of the Canadian Islamic Congress, demanded that the magazine be punished for spreading “hatred and contempt” for Muslims.
The plaintiffs allege that Maclean’s advocated, among other things, the notion that Islamic culture is incompatible with Canada’s liberalized, Western civilization. They insist such a notion is untrue and, in effect, want opinions like that banned from publication.
Two separate panels, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, have agreed to hear the case. These bodies are empowered to hear and rule on cases of purported “hate speech.”
Of course, a ban on opinions – even disagreeable ones – is the very antithesis of the Western tradition of free speech and freedom of the press.
Indeed, this whole process of dragging Steyn and the magazine before two separate human-rights bodies for the “crime” of expressing an opinion is a good illustration of precisely what he was talking about.
If Maclean’s, Canada’s top-selling magazine, is found “guilty,” it could face financial or other penalties. And the affair could have a devastating impact on opinion journalism in Canada generally.
As it happens, Canadian human-rights commissions have already come down hard on those whose writings they dislike, like critics of gay rights.
Melanie Phillips rips these ‘human-rights commissions’ a new one:
The irony, of course, is that by this action Canada is thus demonstrating that if any culture is incompatible with liberalised western civilisation, it is clearly Canada’s. The idea that certain arguments must not be made, and that to do so is to find oneself arraigned before a judicial tribunal, is the very antithesis of a liberal society. It is a symptom of totalitarianism. It is also doubly ironic that it is the Islamic world, through the Canadian Islamic Congress, that is bringing this action — since in seeking to suppress the view that the Islamic world is incompatible with liberalism, it is demonstrating with the starkest possible clarity the truth of that proposition.
It is no accident that it is uber-â€˜liberal’ Canada, which worships at the shrine of human rights law, where this medieval inquisition is taking place. The fact that the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission are to conduct this kangaroo hearing is grotesque but not in the least surprising. The belief fundamental to human wrongs law, that minorities are sacrosanct and that to criticise them is proof of rampant prejudice, is part of the mindset which has turned truth, morality and freedom inside out. If a writer who tells the truth about Islamists spreading hatred and contempt for the west is himself hauled before a court charged with spreading hatred and contempt by telling such a truth, then the Orwellian nightmare has well and truly arrived.
As Steyn has written before, multiculturalism can have brutal consequences. Obviously, Canada’s already sliding down that slippery slope.