Alright, here we go.
First off, via FrontPage Magazine: One Day in the Life of an Ex-Leftie – by Jamie Glazov:
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is David Solway, the award-winning author of over twenty-five books of poetry, criticism, educational theory, and travel. He is a contributor to magazines as varied as The Atlantic, the Sewanee Review, Books in Canada, and the Partisan Review. His book, The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, was a Canadian bestseller. A former leftist, he abandoned the political faith after 9/11. He is the author of the new book, Hear, O Israel!
FP: David Solway, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Congratulations on your new book.
I would like to talk to you today about some of the difficulties you have suffered as an ex-leftie in our literary culture. Tell us a bit about how you are being treated as an author and poet and the challenges you are facing with your new book.
Solway: Let me begin by distinguishing between the person and the writer. As a person, I’ve experienced my share of problems, like any conservative in today’s liberal-left culture. Long-standing friendships have gone by the board. Discussions become quarrels. The attempt to articulate one’s conservative principles meet with incomprehension, disbelief or outright ridicule—and even ostracism.
A few examples. When I expressed my skepticism of John Kerry during the 2004 American election, one of my very close friends started calling me “Bushy” and after the publication of The Big Lie, broke off contact altogether. A fifteen-year friendship bit the dust. Another longtime literary colleague took exception to my characterization of Islam as a mortal threat to Western civilization and we ceased all communication. I’ve since heard on the grapevine that he now celebrates Ramadan and may have converted to Islam. One of my most intimate friends and I parted ways over a disagreement about Barack Obama, whom I regarded at the time as a disaster in the making. I had considerable difficulty coming to terms with this unexpected rupture and tried to soften the exchange by facetiously challenging him to a duel with pearl-handled pistols and appropriate seconds, a lefty for him and a righty for me, but he wasn’t interested. There went another twenty years.
When I voted for the Conservative Party and Stephen Harper during the last two Canadian elections, I effectively put myself outside the Canadian literary community which has embraced either the Greens, the socialist NDP or the quasi-socialist Liberal Party. I withdrew from all our writer’s organizations, including PEN Canada, and am pretty well a lone wolf now.
Professionally speaking, doors began slamming wherever I turned. I had enormous trouble finding a publisher for the two sequels I’d completed to The Big Lie—namely, Living in the Valley of Shmoon and Hear, O Israel!, and this despite the fact that TBL was listed as a nonfiction bestseller and hit the #13 ranking on Amazon.ca. This—shall I say, reluctance—was no doubt due to the hijinks of our Human Rights Commissions, accessed pro bono by disgruntled Muslims and lefty apparatchiks in their campaign to suppress the publications of conservative writers and thinkers. A guilty verdict entails stiff penalties, including a proscription against one’s right to speak freely. Even an acquittal before these Commissions is almost tantamount to a guilty verdict: the financial cost to the defendant is prohibitive, in some cases leading to bankruptcy or near-bankruptcy, and the court’s summation in such cases inevitably stigmatizes the defendant. These Commissions agreed to hear complaints by offended Muslims against outspoken writers like Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, and magazines like Macleans for printing excerpts from their work. For many of us, this seems like a coordinated attack on the principle of free speech.
One sympathetic editor of a major Canadian publishing house informed me that I should, so to speak, “go south, young man,” since I would stand a better chance of finding a publisher in the U.S. than in Canada. This didn’t turn out to be the case. Another told me in confidence that both the tone and content of the new work would expose the publisher either to being firebombed or hauled before the HRC. Still another advised me to try and find a “niche publisher,” since the mainstream firms in this country would be chary of tempting the HRC. Similar warnings were echoed by several others in the business of writing and publishing—and in no uncertain terms. Fortunately, I eventually found one House, the small press Mantua Books, whose publisher Howard Rotberg was willing to take a chance on me, damn the consequences, and accepted Hear, O Israel!, which appeared just two months ago. But I sometimes wonder if the new book will be the last one I will be able to steer toward its conclusions without glancing into the rear-view mirror, looking for those flashing cherries.
Maybe it’s time I got my act together and filed a complaint with our Human Rights Commissions citing invidious discrimination and the willful hurting of my feelings on the part of our publishing consortiums. That should do it. But seriously, I have no doubt that in speaking and writing as bluntly and, I hope, as candidly as I try to do, I have offended others. So be it. I too have been offended by many of the ad hominem denunciations that have been flung my way, especially on the Net, some of which are quite frankly unprintable here. But what of it? This is the way the game is played: one speaks one’s mind, others speak theirs, occasionally one steps out of bounds which is inevitable in any free and uncensored exchange.
Read the rest here.
Meanwhile, Ed Driscoll also happens to mention Ezra Levant’s adventures with the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
Second, Mark Mercer writes via the Saint Mary’s Journal: A small battle won for freedom of expression:
Stephen Boissoin, a former pastor in Alberta, thinks that children “are being warped into believing that same-sex families are acceptable; that men kissing men is appropriate.” Mr Boissoin urges us to “take whatever steps are necessary to reverse the wickedness…. Where homosexuality flourishes, all manner of wickedness abounds.”
These sentences are from a letter Mr Boissoin sent to the Red Deer Advocate. The Advocate published that letter on 17 June 2002.
Another Albertan complained to the Alberta Human Rights Commission that Mr Boissoin’s letter was likely to expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt and that Mr Boissoin had, thereby, violated Section 3(1)(b) of the Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act. On 30 November 2007, an Alberta Human Rights Panel found that Boissoin had indeed violated that section.
The Panel ordered Mr Boissoin to cease making “disparaging remarks” about homosexuals, to write an apology to the complainant, to ask the Advocate to publish that apology, to pay the complanaint $5,000, and to pay another party up to $2,000. Mr Boissoin appealed the decision to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.
On 3 December 2009, Justice E.C. Wilson ruled in favour of the appeal. The Panel had no authority to order Mr Boissoin not to speak his mind and no authority to compel an apology. And, said Justice Wilson, the Panel erred in finding the letter to constitute hate speech. Whatever one might think of it, the letter was not an expression of hate or contempt.
Justice Wilson did not, however, rule against Section 3(1)(b). Yet he agreed with Mr Boissoin’s lawyers hate speech is a federal matter, not a provincial one.
Read the rest here.