Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fascism, Canadian Style, Part 2

In light of the inquisition against Ezra Levant, I am reposting an op-ed I wrote that never got published (to be honest, I didn't push it that hard.) Once again, it seems timely. Funny how that's been happening more often of late. Some of the facts need to be updated, or downgraded, since none of the changes are very positive. For example, Free Dominion recently had to move its servers out of the countries to escape its legal troubles.

U.S. Moves In An Ominous, Canadian Direction
By: Terrence C. Watson

The case of Stanislav Shmulevich, the 23-year-old who now faces two felony charges for putting the Quran in a toilet at a New York university, shows that the United States is sliding in an ominous, Canadian direction when it comes to freedom of expression.

Why a Canadian direction? As a Canadian citizen interning at a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., I’ve learned that Americans have generally positive, if vague feelings about their neighbor to the north. But Scott Brockie and Chris Kempling discovered just how much their freedom is limited in their home country. I’m in the United States now at least in part because of the way they were treated. But what happened in Canada is beginning to repeat itself in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In 2000, Brockie, owner of a small printing shop in Toronto, was fined thousands of dollars after he refused to print material for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives (GLA) that conflicted with his religious beliefs. So far, Canadian courts have upheld the ruling. Matt Hughs, GLA’s board president, has said that Brockie’s refusal left the plaintiff in the case feeling “humiliated” and “demoralized.” The board of inquiry convened to hear the case claimed, “It is reasonable to limit Brockie's freedom of religion in order to prevent the very real harm to members of the lesbian and gay community.”

Brockie’s case is hardly unique. In 2002, Kempling, a teacher from British Columbia, was suspended from his job without pay for writing letters to a newspaper criticizing the way homosexuality was being taught in schools. He took the school board to court and appealed his suspension, but in 2005 the court ruled against him.

As recently as July 2006, Free Dominion, a Canadian Internet forum, was served with a complaint similar to the one Brockie received. A woman who is not even Muslim complained to the government about the forum allowing posts critical of Islam. In response to the complaint, the Canadian human rights commission might fine the owners of the website, or even shut it down.

In Canada, we’ve gone from “Your rights stop where my nose begins,” to “Your rights stop whenever my feelings might be hurt.” The result has been a disaster for freedom of expression. And if you think this couldn’t happen in the United States, think again: it’s already happening.

In October and November of 2006, Stanislav Shmulevich put copies of the Quran – neither of which belonged to him – in a toilet at Pace University in New York, where he is a student. Now he faces serious jail time for these acts of vandalism. If the case had been handled internally, Pace might have expelled him for his actions. However, under pressure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the police have charged him with a hate crime.

Even after Pace University responded to the Quran-in-the-toilet incidents, CAIR apparently urged the involvement of New York’s hate crimes unit. Like Brockie and the owners of Free Dominion, Shmulevich will be punished merely for the expression of opinions that might hurt people’s feelings.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, once wrote, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Putting a holy book in a toilet – or posting insulting comments on a website; or refusing to print literature with which one disagrees; or writing a letter to the editor – these actions, however tasteless, violate no one’s rights.

Canada is still waiting for its Thomas Jefferson, which is perhaps why the country’s move to quash the freedoms of its citizens has encountered so little resistance. But America must hold on to the vision of great men like Jefferson and the other Founders, and not follow its northerly neighbor’s dark descent. Americans must reject the felony prosecution of Shmulevich and not limit freedom of expression solely to protect the all-too-tender feelings of others.

1 comment:

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 moderate Muslims will be pushed towards radicalization. Regardless of the outcome, once again Islamists skillfully manipulated Dhimmi justice system and came out as clear winners. Thank you, Human Right Commission!

Muslims Against Sharia are proud to be the first Muslim group to publicly support Ezra Levant and denounce HRC inquisition

Sign Free Dominion Against the HRCs Petition