Posted by lex, on January 7, 2008
Or at least, one Rex Murphy of the CBC pushes back against the attempts by the perpetually offended to use the resources of the state to muffle inconvenient speech in the name of “human rights.”
At issue is the excerpt of professional bombast Mark Steyn’s new book “America Alone” in Maclean’s magazine. Mohammed Elmasry and the Canadian Islamic Congress have brought suit against Steyn and the magazine in the venue of not one, but three Human Rights Commissions – Canada, British Columbia and Ontario, two of whom have agreed to take up the case. Weighing in, essentially, on whether Steyn has the freedom to write what he wishes, and Maclean’s to publish what has been written.
Human Rights Commissions – the words sounds so snuggly, don’t they? Who could stand against human rights? Well, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, David Warren has some concerns:
For more than twenty years, in this column and elsewhere, I have been writing against the human rights commissions, which have quasi-legal powers that should be offensive to the citizens of any free country. They are kangaroo courts, in which the defendant’s right to due process is withdrawn. They reach judgments on the basis of no fixed law. Moreover, “the process is the punishment” in these star chambers — for simply by agreeing to hear a case, they tie up the defendant in bureaucracy and paperwork, and bleed him for the cost of lawyers, while the person who brings the complaint, however frivolous, stands to lose nothing.
You don’t have to agree with everything – or anything – that Steyn writes to realized that we’re wandering down a dark path when quasi-governmental agencies get to choose what kind of speech is permissible. Steyn may well be comprehensively wrong, but the remedy to that is found in rebuttal, not suppression.
The title of Steyn’s excerpt? “The Future Belongs to Islam.”
It’d be more than ironic if a “human rights commission” helped bring that grim prediction closer to reality through a surfeit of well-intended sensitivity.