Well, it’s that time again, for me to talk about all the people who have been talking about Jennifer Lynch and her fantastic technicolour commission, with gratuitous mention of the various other commissions and commissioners currently mucking about in the Dominion.
Well, there’s not a huge amount going on today, but I’d like to direct your attention toward a review of Ezra Levant’s Shakedown, written by Janet Levy for American Thinker: Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights:
Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights
By Ezra LevantMcClelland & Stewart232 pp., $25.95When in September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 editorial cartoons, most depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed, Muslims worldwide reacted with protests and violence that lead to the death of over 100 people and the destruction of three Danish foreign embassies. Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen described the cartoon riots as Denmark’s worst international crisis since World War II. Much debate ensued as to whether the depictions of Mohammed were legitimate expressions of free speech characteristic of Western criticism of all religions or, if in fact, the cartoons were blasphemous and evidence of rampant Islamophobia.
By February of 2006, the cartoons and their aftermath had become a major news story and a worldwide controversy. Although the story of the riots was widely covered by the Western media, few in print and broadcast media actually displayed the offending cartoons. Bristling at the idea of self-censorship and refusing to pander to political correctness, Ezra Levant, a lawyer and publisher of Western Standard magazine — based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada — made what appeared to be a logical journalistic decision to publish the story with the accompanying cartoons. He felt strongly that this newsworthy story warranted showing the source of the chaos.
Levant’s single action of journalistic prerogative led to his battle of a lifetime over his own right to free expression and freedom from prosecution for exercising it. Assuming that as a Canadian citizen his right to free speech was protected, Levant was horrified to discover that his rights could be infringed by a human rights commission (HRC) acting in the interest of an offended Muslim and champion of Sharia law, Imam Syed Soharwardy. Much to Levant’s surprise, a commission that he imagined was vested with the responsibility to uphold the rights of Canadians, avowed that the imam’s right not to be offended superseded Levant’s right to free speech.
In his fast-paced, well-researched book, “Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights,” Levant recounts his Orwellian journey into the bowels of the human rights commission and uncovers the shocking, modus operandi of this taxpayer-funded, quasi-omnipotent organization. Courageously, Levant opted to buck the tide by eschewing the usual route of capitulation chosen by 90% of those charged by the Canadian human rights commissions. Instead of offering a perfunctory apology and paying a fine to the offended imam, Levant took a 900-day, principled route to battle valiantly for his rights. He chronicled his battle with the commission on his blog and in a series of You Tube videos viewed by over 600,000 people.
In “Shakedown,” Levant explains that Canada’s human rights commissions, at the province level, initially had a legitimate role when they were founded in the 1970s. They fought typical discrimination cases of the day involving employment, housing, retail establishments and country clubs. As Canadian society evolved and became more tolerant and as society at large extinguished discriminatory practices, the commissions’ focus changed. Rather than be deemed obsolete, HRCs launched into ideological censorship and began prosecuting cases of hate speech brought by individuals who were offended by opinions they found unacceptable. At that point, the Canadian Human Rights Commissions, which employ over 200 people and operate on an annual budget of $25 million, crossed the line from the fight for equal civil rights to the battle for special dispensations for protected groups, such as Muslims, homosexuals and racial minorities.