Alright, here we go.
Second, Mark Steyn does it again, in Macleans: Thinking about the old Ignatieff:
In Ottawa on Monday, I kept getting asked—including by three stray passersby on Wellington Street—what Beatles song Michael Ignatieff should sing. Oh, come on, you don’t really need a professional for this, do you? Help! Yesterday (All my troubles seemed so far away). The Fool On The Hill. Hello, Goodbye. Get Back (to Harvard and a little light BBC hosting) . . . I wasn’t really in the mood to pile on Iggy, poor chap. I was in town to testify to the House of Commons Select Committee on Justice and Human Rights about the Canadian “Human Rights” Commission’s assault on individual liberty and freedom of expression. And, mainly because I’ve been yakking about this subject for a couple of years now and have pretty much exhausted my stock of free-speech quotations from Milton to Salman Rushdie, just for variety’s sake I decided to cite Michael Ignatieff to the committee. I was talking about the assertion by Chief Censor Jennifer Lynch that, Canada’s constitution notwithstanding, there is “no hierarchy of rights,” only a “matrix” in which “freedom of expression” has to be “balanced” by modish group rights and collective rights. And I responded with a blast of Professor Ignatieff:
“Collective rights without individual ones end up in tyranny. Moreover, rights inflation—the tendency to define anything desirable as a right—ends up eroding the legitimacy of a defensible core of rights . . . The right to freedom of speech is not, as the Marxist tradition maintained, a lapidary bourgeois luxury, but the precondition for having any other rights at all.”
Bingo! In my battles with the “human rights” enforcers, I am an Ignatieffite—okay, that’s a bit unwieldy, but I’m certainly an Iggybopper. As I told the Select Committee, I support the Ignatieff position—on freedom of speech, on individual vs. collective rights, and on the way “rights inflation” damages the core of real rights.
Third, a blast from the past: our very dear friend Khurram Awan. From the Queen’s University Journal: Media need more Muslim voices, lawyer says:
Khurrum Awan may not have won his human rights complaints against Maclean’s magazine, but said he’s happy people are still talking about its effects two years later.
“It was to raise awareness on the issue of media defamation, the exclusion of Muslim voices and the lack of oversight of media,” he said.
On Wednesday, Awan spoke to about 30 people in Biosciences Complex about his experience filing three highly-publicized complaints against Maclean’s in December 2007.
Fourth, Jay Nordlinger writes for the National Review:
I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch Ezra Levant’s and Mark Steyn’s testimony in the Canadian parliament. You should. You may well pulse with pride for your civilization — a liberal-democratic one. Levant and Steyn were talking against Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. This is the section that allows government officials to investigate and punish online “hate speech.” Both Levant and Steyn have been hauled up for, essentially, warning against capitulation by liberal democrats to radical Islam. Steyn began his testimony,
Something has gone badly wrong in the Canadian state’s conception of human rights:
Until last month, Section 13 had a 100 percent conviction rate: Even Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-Il understand that you don’t want to make the racket look too obvious.
Under Section 13, citizens are subject to lifetime speech bans — not in the Soviet Union, not in Saudi Arabia, but in Canada.
Section 13 prosecutes not crimes but pre-crimes. Crimes that have not yet taken place. The phrase “pre-crime,” by the way, comes from a dystopian science-fiction story written by Philip K. Dick in 1956. Half-a-century later, in one of the oldest, most stable democratic societies on the planet, we’re living it.
And this is how Steyn concluded his testimony:
Section 13’s underlying philosophy is incompatible with a free society; its effect is entirely irrelevant to the queen’s peace; and its use by agents of the “human rights” commission has been corrupted and diseased beyond salvation. It is time for the people’s representatives to defend real human rights and end this grotesque spectacle.
I have quoted only Steyn, but both Mark and Ezra were magnificent in their defenses of free speech — magnificent in their prepared testimony, and magnificent in their answers to questions. These men were informed, measured, wise — and stylish. See the videos on Ezra’s website, here. Who could have known that one of the most stirring happenings of the entire year would take place in, of all venues, the Canadian parliament?
And it is very interesting that, in these times, the burden of defending basic liberty has fallen to people known as right-wingers. As an old Ann Arbor kid, I find that very, very interesting, and astounding.
Read it here.
Fifth, Mbrandon8026 from Freedom Through Truth writes:
As I watch what is going on in this country with our human rights commissions, I become increasingly concerned that Niemöller and Santayana are prophets for our times here in this great land I call home. If they are prophets for our times then I ask you all this question:
Will the last one out, please turn off the lights?
And one more question, If Niemöller were arriving here in Canada today, would his poem look like this?
First they came for the unborn, and I did not speak out—because I was not one of the unborn;
Then they came for the pseudo-Nazis, and I did not speak out—because I was not a pseudo-Nazi;
Then they came for the Christians, and I then tried to speak out for all the voiceless—because I am a Christian;
But I was too late. They had too much momentum, and nobody listened.
Then they came for the Jews, and I could not speak out—because I was no longer here;
Then they came for the gays, and I could not speak out—because I was no longer here;
Then they came for the Muslims, and I could not speak out—because I was no longer here;
Then they fought among themselves for they found that the values they had espoused were built on sand.
Read it here.
Sixth, from the Ottawa Citizen: Seeking access:
Last week, the Federal Court of Canada opened the door for a new hearing before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, to decide whether the steps discriminate.
The unfortunate truth is that this is one case where what’s done is done. It’s not practical to rebuild the steps, and the steepness of the grade doesn’t allow for a ramp. (Plus, there is an elevator not too far away. ) It’s not fair that disabled or elderly people don’t get to enjoy the steps, but at least the controversy has had the salutary effect of raising public awareness and, one hopes, ensuring that future structures are more accessible.
Read it all here.
Seventh, Dr. Deal W. Hudson writes for Catholic Online: Why Catholics Should Take a Position on the Hate-Crimes Bill:
Are the concerns of leaders like Donohue, Perkins, and Pence unreasonable? Certainly the recent experience of Catholics in Canada should be a loud warning to American Catholics about how hate-crimes laws can be used to target the Church. Similar legislation has already been used in Canada as the excuse for an official investigation of a well-known pro-life activist, Rev. Alphonse de Valk, by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Father de Valk’s supposed crime was publicly defending Catholic teaching against the notion of same-sex marriage.
Canadian Bishop Fred Henry was required to testify before the Commission for the same reason. Though the complaint from a single individual was eventually withdrawn, the bishop spent thousands of dollars on his legal defense. One journalist summarizing all the cases of Catholics targeted for human-rights violations titled his article, “Catholicism — a Hate Crime in Canada?”
Read it here.
Eighth, Neil Dykstra writes about Jan Butermanès (sic – keyboard troubles ) complaint before the AHRCC against the Greater St. Albert Catholic School Board for No Apologies: A Call for Choice in Education.
Former Toronto mayor Barbara Hall, chief commissioner for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, said she understands how ethnic, faith-based or other special-mandate housing could appear unfair. The Human Rights Code, for example, enshrines every person’s right to “equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of accommodation, without discrimination” based on ethnic origin, religion, sex, age and other factors. At the same time, the code allows exceptions, specifically for groups of people with specific and similar needs.
“There are circumstances where what would otherwise be discrimination is justified,” Ms. Hall said, citing university student residences, seniors’ homes and housing for domestic abuse victims as examples.
To Ms. Hall’s mind, places like Friuli Terrace fall into the same category. With encouragement from the province, the Italian community built it to serve its members and no one complained; it has only become an issue now, 20 years later, due to provincial policy changes and soaring demand for subsidized units.
Read it here.