Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Human Rights Commission on Un-Canadian* Activities...and Thoughts


Ezra Levant is a Canadian publisher, columnist, lawyer and political activist. He is on the right-wing of Canada's conservative movement. Levant has been critical of Canadian foreign policy, anti-American sentiment in Canadian politicians, is known for his advocacy for Israel, and is a self-styled advocate for more provincial rights, especially for Western Canada.

On February 14, 2006 the Western Standard drew the attention of the Muslim community by reprinting the controversial editorial cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.[22] In October 2007 the magazine ended its print-run due to its unprofitability and became an exclusively online publication.

Who is Ezra?

Ezra is also bit of a professional shit disturber and I admire that in a person. It was Ezra who made the “It’s the stupid Charter” buttons that were distributed at the last Conservative Convention. Harper’s people were apoplectic when they started showing up on the floor. At first they thought it was a dirty Liberal trick designed to embarrass them until they saw the “Western Standard” logo at the bottom.

And why has he incurred the wrath of the Human Rights and Citizenship Commission ?

A controversial conservative commentator was unrepentant going into a Human Rights and Citizenship Commission hearing yesterday, using his Web site to republish the same cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that got him into trouble in the first place.

"Contriteness implies that you've done something wrong for which you need to apologize or atone," Ezra Levant said moments before his 90-minute meeting with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission in Calgary.

"I have not done anything wrong."

Mr. Levant's dispute with some members of Alberta's Muslim community became even more personal, as the head of a Calgary Muslim group said he now fears for the safety of his family due to "lies" Mr. Levant has been spreading about him.

The commission is investigating Mr. Levant's decision two years ago, as publisher of the Western Standard, to print a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

The same cartoons had already ignited violent protests and death threats from Muslims around the world after the images appeared in a Danish newspaper.

Syed Soharwardy, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, filed a complaint after the Western Standard published the cartoons, which included a Muslim man with a bomb-shaped turban, and the commission is now investigating.

So here is Ezra, making a statement to the Commission.

(Paraphrasing one Canadian de souche...) Tsk, tsk. Such a bully, screaming at the Commissioner like that. Such un-Canadian behaviour!

From what I see in these video clips, this committee has something in common with an Inquisition tribunal. Those religious courts were set up to find out the secrets that reside in a person's heart and mind, to make example of those suspected so as to suppress any form of heresy, and, importantly, they drew their coersive power from the secular authority. They were motivated by piety and concern for the wholsomeness of the society they were brutalizing.

Not the rather inept commissioner resembles the great Torquemada in any way. But that's just Levant's good, or bad, luck, that he is being interrogated by an investigator into rights abuse by someone who doesn't seem too convinced of her project. She is just this nice Canadian do-gooder, seeking to get Levant to apologize, nothing more, to a Canadian Muslim cleric who finds his religious icon being lampooned in the media offends and intimidates him. Is this such an unreasonable request, really?


* What, you may ask, is to be un-Canadian?

In my experience, and I have been accused of being un-Canadian, it means not voicing reflexively anti-American opinions, supporting Bush's foreign policies and War in Iraq, hoping for democracy to take hold in the Middle East, calling terrorism terrorism, being extremely sceptical of multiculturalism with its bastard child, "reasonable accommodation", criticising the UN and Louise Arbour, not finding excuses for radical Muslims' preachings, and being against the "notwithstanding" clause that permits Quebec to be in perpetual breach of Canadian Constitution. These are just a few of the attributes that mark out one as being un-Canadian.



Here is an example of a religiously- offensive artefact. Perhaps, in the tradition that seems to gain so much support for suppressing the right to free expression, they should sue the artist, the collector and the paper which reproduced a photo of this puerile artefact, bringing its story to the knowledge and awareness of thousands of unsuspecting readers. Because, as one cleric says, "for Christians, the image of Jesus is very special, and to interpret it in a sexualized way is an affront to what we hold dear."


Update II:

In a bizarre denouement from the Danish cartoons to Darfur, here comes the latest shocker:

Sweden and Norway were ready to deploy 400 soldiers in Darfur to support the UN peacekeeping forces, but due to the cartoon crisis in 2006 the regime in Khartoum has refused to accept troops from Scandinavia.

”The Opposition from Sudan makes it impossible to keep the promise of a Norwegian-Swedish commitment,” the ministers of foreign affairs from the two countries said in a statement.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir stated in November that he won’t accept soldiers from Scandinavian countries, where newspapers published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
”No one who speaks blasphemeous of the prophet will be allowed to set foot on Sudan soil,” said President al-Bashir.

The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of Mohammed in September 2005, and the Norwegian newspaper Magazinet reprinted the cartoons in January 2006. None of the big Swedish newspapers published the cartoons, but in the fall of 2007 they reproduced drawings of Mohammed as a dog by Swedish artist Lars Vilks that were censored by several Swedish art institutions.

There is a nice clash of civilizations for you in its starkest barbarism: The values of Western liberalism, which give people the broadest possible range of freedom in which to act, now stands in direct opposition to the Muslim values of Sharia, which maximally constrict individual freedom. This liberalism, that seeks to preserve human life and dignity, is now being exploited by the Islamic government of Sudan as a pretext to prevent the prevention of an on-going genocide.

Mafia tactics, on a global scale: You behave as we tell you to behave, you will say what we allow you to say, you will not say what we forbid you to say. If you abide by our laws, we may cooperate with your good intentions. If you do not, more people will get massacred, more women will get raped, more children will get their arms and legs chopped off.

And why shouldn't the Sudanese act like a Soprano thug, when democracies like Canada are prostrating themselves in extra effort to appease Islamic outrage with free expression? We give in to pressure, we decide to tighten just a little the space available for our freedom, thinking, surely, this is not such a big deal. Who is getting hurt here? Nobody. And we can have civic harmony. Not a big price to pay. But the little is never enough, and we are asked to make greater space for greater demands, which we succumb to, in the spirit of multiculturalism. And before we know it, we are faced with a problem from hell, like this one.

Mark my words. You have seen nothing yet.


Update III:

The Sagacious Iconoclast

Of course, some fascists who don't like Mr. Levant have said that because of that he should be censured. Nevertheless, a number of well known people who would be considered my political opponents have clearly condemned the HRC kangaroo courts, for example, here's Mr. Glenn Greenwald at Salon magazine:

This problem is not just a matter of Mr. Levant. MacLeans magazine has been called to the Canadian Human Rights Commission on a complaint from the Canadian Islamic Council because it published an excerpt from Mr. Mark Steyn's "America Alone", a book that reached the top of the charts in the USA and Canada. Shall we burn it, then? Not yet, apparently. Mr. Whyte, editor of MacLeans, has said that he will go bankrupt before he submits to the kangaroo courts. And the Muslim Council of Canada agrees with MacLeans.

Canada's so-called "human rights commissions", and others like them in Europe and the United States of America, have become abominations. If there's a real problem, we have real courts of law, with real due process per section seven of the Charter. Other than that, we must not stand for the inhuman inquisitions of these bureaucratic hacks. The HRCs are being taken to the mat. Now is the time to kick them in the balls.

David Thompson

If Levant can’t publish those cartoons, or other things deemed heretical or “hateful” by Islamist ideologues, then freedom of conscience and freedom of expression are profoundly compromised. If Levant isn’t free to “insult” or “defame” Muhammad, or to disdain the religion he founded, then a precedent will have been set and all Canadians will have a new problem. And it’s unlikely that this problem will be confined to Canada. If Syed Soharwardy and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada prevail, rational debate will most likely be inhibited when similar subjects arise, as they no doubt will. As Levant makes clear, “the process has become the punishment” and the potential risk of similar, costly, experiences will affect decisions as to what may or may not be published and what facts may or may not be stated. The threat of nuisance complaints, considerable expense and state interference will influence serious public debate in areas of religious sensitivity - or at least in areas of Islamic sensitivity, which, unfortunately, covers quite a lot.

For instance, one would have great difficulty explaining in detail and with rigour why it is one isn’t a Muslim, or why the Qur’an is not the “uncreated” word of some hypothetical deity, or why one finds Islam to be an absurd contrivance. That so many people calling themselves “progressive” should hesitate to extend this basic right to someone they happen not to like is, if not offensive, then hazardous, self-preoccupied and somewhat depressing.

Glenn Greenwald

“Here are the noxious fruits of hate speech laws: a citizen being forced to appear before the Government in order to be interrogated by an agent of the State -- a banal, clerical bureaucrat -- about what opinions he expressed and why he expressed them, upon pain of being punished under the law… Political life in Canada has seen numerous prosecutions for political opinions under that country’s oppressive hate speech laws. Government investigations for political opinions are thus an accepted part of their political culture… The mere existence of the “investigation,” interrogation, and proceeding itself is a grotesque affront to every basic liberty. For those unable to think past the (well-deserved) animosity one has for the specific targets in question here, all one needs to do instead is imagine these proceedings directed at opinions and groups that one likes.”

Via: Mick


Update: A commenter from Montreal dropped a few comments which are interesting to peruse, providing a different perspective.


At 9:41 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im moving this discussion up here.

I found this peice interesting.

Mark Steyn, Last Straw?

Free speech and the Canadian Islamic Congress.
By Terry Glavin
Published: December 13, 2007

The comments section is interesting....This bloke seems seriously misguided in his hopes. One day, they may come for you, and who will be left to speak out for you buddy.

"While I am gravely concerned about the possible dangers that may come to free speech as a result of this case, I certainly wouldn't complain if, at the least, the courts found it worthy to denounce Steyn as a bigot and a lunatic without actually passing any real sentences down. One can hope."

Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.
-- Yoda, Master Jedi Knight

At 10:50 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Your friend D was in such a rush to respond to you that she forgot to reflect for a second, when she said this:

"I find it odd that some of the same people who never batted an eye when people were being actually prosecuted, unlike this case, AND deported from the country, if you please, for antisemitism, are screeching like wounded banshees NOT BECAUSE A DECISION HAS BEEN MADE, but SIMPLY BECAUSE anybody dares to question their God given right to spew forth any kind of venomous hatred if they so choose."

She is counting on the reader's ignorance not to spot the incompatibility between the two cases. No one, not one Canadian, was prosecuted, let alone deported for antisemitism. What they were indicted for was in one case having a Nazi past, which they did not declare when applying for Canadian citizenship. The other case was Ernst Christof Friedrich Zündel, a German Holocaust denier and pamphleteer who was jailed several times in Canada for publishing literature which "is likely to incite hatred against an identifiable group".

He was prosecuted under the hate laws of Canada and his crime consisted not in offending Jews but in spreading defamatory lies about Jews and their recent, recorded and scientifically verifiable history. It is within the confines of libel law (hate laws are libel laws writ large) that he was tried and convicted.

In what way were the cartoons lies and defamations? Would it be a lie to say that King David was a lecher and a murderer? It would certainly offend a believing Jew if someone were to say it but it is not a hate crime to say it or to offend Jewish sensibilities by saying it. And any Jew asking the state to intervene on his behalf to stop people from caricaturizing King David would be deemed, rightly, quite irrational.

Funny, too, how she picks directly on the antisemitic card, so beloved of the Indecent left, in trying to create a false equivalence between Holocaust denial and offending the prophet.

I am pretty much an absolutist on freedom of speech and think Zundel should not have been put in jail for denying the Holocaust, even in pamphlets. It is up to people to take up the challenge of Holocaust denial. Unless HD becomes a launching pad for eliminationist antisemitism, the state should have stayed out of the matter.

I have to wonder what are D's intentions in pretending that people are prosecuted for antisemitism in Canada. Does she intend to imply that Jews get a better deal than Muslims in this country? That Jews are pampered, or that Jews have so much power in Canada that they can actually subvert the law for their own benefit? Is there an all-powerful Jewish Lobby at work in Canada, too?

At 11:41 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im filing a complaint against Avi Lewis for anit American hate mongering.

Any other suggestions?

At 11:56 AM EST, Blogger Bald Headed Geek said...

Saw your post on the anti-Semitic cemetary desecration in New Jersey and agree. I suspect that others were involved, and hopefully, will be arrested.


At 8:45 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canada: Freedom of Speech succumbing to Kangaroo Courts of the Human Rights Commission

Proceedings against Ezra Levant are nothing short of ridiculous, but let's consider the implications for moderate Muslims. This "investigation" will further divide Muslims and non-Muslims in Canada. It will give credence to radicals' claims that the West is at war with Islam. It will antagonize non-Muslims and radicalize moderate Muslims. Regardless of the outcome, once again Islamists skillfully manipulated Dhimmi justice system and came out as clear winners. Thank you, Human Right Commission!

At 10:30 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give up your Islamic Supremist ideology. Join the "infidels."

At 10:39 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Are you preaching conversion? MAS hold the exact same position you and I do about this circus. You read too fast and you made a boo-boo..

At 10:41 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Learn to read, learn to spell, then start dispensing advice.

At 11:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love you too.

The West should be at war with Islam.

I dont hold out the hope that the violence and supremist ideology imbedded in its core texts and exemplified by its originator can be "reformed." It will always be a menace to the other and women.

I am and never shall be a dhimmi.

But good luck with your reformist endeavor, sir.

I will be supporting the destruction of Islamic Supremists and their organizations and governments everywhere.

At 11:18 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I salute you for you reformist agenda.

I mean you no disrepect.

At 11:20 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We appreciate your support.

At 1:28 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Small Dead Animals has good discussion going.

and links to an article by Glen Greenwald in, which is also recommended.

Sunday January 13, 2008 07:25 EST

The Noxious Fruits of Hate Speech laws

by Glen Greenwald

as well a an article by David Bernstein in National Review Online also worth reading.

“You Can’t Say That”
Canadian thought police on the march.

By David E. Bernstein

Here is an excerpt from Bernstein's commentary...

"Moreover, left-wing academics are beginning to learn firsthand what it's like to have their own censorship vehicles used against them. For example, University of British Columbia Prof. Sunera Thobani, a native of Tanzania, faced a hate-crimes investigation after she launched into a vicious diatribe against American foreign policy. Thobani, a Marxist feminist and multiculturalism activist, had remarked that Americans are "bloodthirsty, vengeful and calling for blood." The Canadian hate-crimes law was created to protect minority groups from hate speech. But in this case, it was invoked to protect Americans."

At 12:12 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

THe Drenched-Trots have a thread on this. The plot thickens...

At 6:39 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of us, we must always show our utmost respect towards others in a civilize society. If you knowingly do something that could offend others, then your moral value will be in question. How would people of Jewish faith feels if someone publishes a similar cartoon portraying Holocaust victims in a very disrespect way? Would this person be upset just as Mr. Soharwardy from the Muslim community have been or would he react differently?

At 7:08 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Muhammad is not a Holocaust survivor. Muhammad is a mythical figure, in the same way that Moses was, the way Jesus was. The very least you can do is try to provide an accurate analogy. How about you offend some of the biblical figures that Judaism holds as sacred? How about you offend Jesus, who is just as important to Christians as Muhhamad is to Muslims and Moses is to Jews. You know it's all been done, and no one thought to criminalize the artist or the publisher, the way Mr. Soharwardy is seeking to do to Mr. Levant.

Do you get the difference?

Disrespecting Holocaust survivors is done all the time, by Muslim leaders, intellectuals, and by Holocaust minimizers and deniers. Making fun of a Holocaust survivor is thoroughly immoral, but it's not a crime.

At 7:26 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe you have completely missed my point. You should learn how to see beyond just yourself. It is not Mohammed or the Holocaust or Moses that is in question. It is how we conduct our lives in respecting others. It is about our value, compassion, respect, “having good manners”, to love and respect everyone, that our parents and grand parents have past on to us.

At 7:33 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Not at all. You brought up a false analogy and I corrected you on it.

You must realize we are not talking about good manners here. We are talking about whether a law can force you to behave nicely to people and when you don't, it can then punish you. Civility and reciprocal friendship are all very healthy and desirable in any community but they cannot be enforced by law. They belong to the private sphere, in which the state has no business inserting itself.

At 7:59 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you realize that Human Rights Commission is there for a purpose, not just a place where you vent for equality. The League for Human Rights of B’nai B’rith would surely disagree with you, since they have brought complains of “hate crime” on similar type of incidence in the past against individuals. If everyone in the world feels exactly like you do, how can we ever live in harmony?

At 8:49 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Well, you are the one who inserted an analogy between a cartoon mocking the Islamic prophet and the practice of some Islamic leaders and intellectuals to insult the memories of Holocaust survivors. Seems to me that a person making this kind of analogy cannot be too overly concerned about social harmony.

At 11:20 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you have difficulty understanding English. My whole comment on the issue of offending cartoon using the analogy of Holocaust was to convey the message of “sensitivity”. Different people are sensitive to different things and we must always respect that. If someone maliciously instigates another person or group of people and knowing that this could be a very “sensitive” issue, then the moral value of this individual should be in question.

At 6:57 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Perhaps you have difficulty understanding English."

Yup. That must be it. Have a good day.


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