Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant, and The Free Speech Revolutionaries: We Were Viral Once.

A quick round-up.

As Ezra Levant's brief span as youtube flavor of the week comes to an end, he ponders the fleeting nature of fame and wonders what in the hell you have to do to make people see past the nerdy classes and embrace his Free Speech Revolution. The answer?

My YouTube videos, and these primary documents, are a good starting point to illustrate the unCanadian purposes of the commissions, and their unfair processes.

Note that Ezra wants to use his video performance to convince people to his cause, not punish the unconvincable.

So, that ain't gonna work.

Meanwhile, Tristran Emmanuel (Yo Tristran! Neil Young wants his side-burns back) concludes that Most "average Canadians," it seems, still don't get it. He has also unearthed this wonderful email, purportedly from an assistant to a federal Conservative Member of Parliament:

Good afternoon everyone, I am wondering if someone might be aware of an issue with the Canadian Human Rights Commission??? I have received a few emails from constituents complaining about the HRC and I don't know whether this is just a blanket complaint or whether HRC was recently in the news....?Can anyone help me shed some light on what this issue might be about???Thanks so much for your help!

And he's shocked! shocked!! that an unpopular Conservative government, presiding over the first Canadian recession in 15 years, a possible budget deficit, and an Asian land-war without end in sight, shouldn't be paying more attention to abolishing a complaints body that has had the temerity to annoy Mark Steyn, Andrew Coyne, and Ezra Levant!

Meanwhile, in his latest column, Mark Steyn runs up against good old fashioned Canadian common sense. He quotes one Lauren Demaree of Windsor:

"Placing limits on free speech is a slippery slope, but that is not the only issue in play here. There is often a fine line that is crossed between opinion and hate propaganda and our laws need to reflect this more effectively. Where do we draw the line? When a group of people is harassed or when someone is beaten? How about killed? When your writer Andrew Coyne sits on a high horse spouting the ideals of free speech, he doesn't stop and think about the consequences of his words."

Wrong! Mark fulminates! Oh so wrong!!

Who has been "killed" or "beaten" or "harassed" by Coyne-Steyn "hate propaganda"? The killings and bombings, as Ezra Levant pointed out, occur in countries without freedom of expression...

Well, as I have written here, one practical consequence of the complaint against Steyn and Macleans is that Steyn supporters have vandalized a popular website offering career advice to law students. And as I have written here, the consequences of Ezra's publishing those cartoons in The Western Standard have included hate mail directed towards Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy .

And as to this last example in particular. When it is possible to communicate instantly across thousands of miles it is sometimes easy to forget that a print publication like The Western Standard is actually created at a particular point in space, specifically Calgary, Alberta, and has a readership clustered around that point in space. Now, Calgary is just a little town. All the streets run one-way. And the readership of The Western Standard seems, not putting too fine a point on it, to come from its most provincial and thuggish quarter. Consider this before you condemn the Imam in question for raising a stink. Getting hate-mail in such a context is not something to be brushed off lightly.

64 comments:

Mé said...

I actually agree with Levant, Steyn, and Coyne on their free speech arguments.

Ezra Levant has mentioned to the Alberta commission that he does not need to inform a government body of his intent when he published the Danish cartoons. As for people sending hateful messages to Muslim leaders, there was nothing in those cartoons that directed people to send those messages.

I believe the one of the focuses of Levant's arguements about free speech is that it has not been given to him by the government. Rather, he has the natural inalienable right to speak freely. I don't believe that even he advocates speech that is libellous or slanderous. He is clear that any denial of speaking freely is because the government has placed limits on speech and not that the government has given the citizens free speech up to a certain point.

If citizens are not allowed to write, mention, show, or say anything that may not be false but may offend communities such as Muslims, Jews, blacks, gays, and aboriginals; what is to stop the government from enforcing regulations that prohibit speech that offend the leader of our provinces and country?

Finally, who owns the copyright to the images of the Prophet Muhammad? Just because Muslims are not allowed to draw or look at images of Muhammad, should they impose their values on non-Muslims?

Anonymous said...

What also needs to be pointed out is that the view that these cartoons published by Levant promoted - the close assocation between Islam and terrorism - is being used to prop up support for a war in Iraq for which every excuse that the Bush administration has given has fallen to pieces.

Granted, Erza Levant, even for a bit player, is a minor bit player, but the propaganda that he has chosen to participate in does have very real, and very powerful, deadly consequences.

Ti-Guy said...

a good starting point to illustrate the unCanadian purposes of the commissions, and their unfair processes.

What a fascist purveyor of Newspeak Ezra is. unCanadian does not mean what he is trying to force the word to mean...the exact equivalent of Un-American. As far as I know, un-Canadian just means not nice.

"...first they came for the privileged, well-connected fascists, and well, you know. I had to wash my hair that day. I'll do better next time. I promise."

Ti-Guy said...

what is to stop the government from enforcing regulations that prohibit speech that offend the leader of our provinces and country?

Uh, the Constitution. And if that can't protect us, then we have far bigger problems than the right of hate-mongers to spew garbage.

Anonymous said...

"presiding over the first Canadian recession in 15 years"

You aren't even trying to talk like an adult.

A recession is a decline in any country's gross domestic product (GDP), or negative real economic growth, for two or more successive quarters of a year. Canada has had no such decline, though the slowdown around 2000-2001 came close. According to intrade (I shouldn't even be sharing this with you) there is only a 62% chance of an American, and therefore Canadian, recession this year. Maybe, possibly, there might be a recession. Quite possibly not.

Only time prevents me from fact checking the rest, but let the record show you basically print a fresh batch of lies every day. By inventing fake recessions out of thin air, there is no more need for me to fact check you; you've been exposed as a flat out liar wholly unconnected to reality. Good day sir.

nick said...

The "hate mail" against the Imam, wouldn't have anything to do with his radical views including his belief that this great country should be taken into the abyss by being run under Sharia law.

No it would have anything to do with the fact that he's fine with how the countries currently embracing Sharia law operate (stoning gays, lashing women who've been raped, religious thought police), and that he'd like Canada to become like that.

Nope, forceful opposition to him has nothing to do with that.

It was because a small circulation publication had a cartoon of mohammad on one of its issues.

The mind of the progressive left.

Something truly to behold.

Ti-Guy said...

Only time prevents me from fact checking the rest, but let the record show you basically print a fresh batch of lies every day.

What a shame. And here I was waiting..almost lactating with anticipation...at being educated by one of BCL's intemperate and bilious anony-tards (who's probably all angried up having just come over from KKKate's, where he called Antonia Zerbisias a fat whore).

No one can say for sure that a recession exists until it's almost over. So anticipating one isn't a crime against humanity.

Ti-Guy said...

The "hate mail" against the Imam, wouldn't have anything to do with his radical views including his belief that this great country should be taken into the abyss by being run under Sharia law.

What evidence do you have to back up this assertion, Nick?

No it would have anything to do with the fact that he's fine with how the countries currently embracing Sharia law operate (stoning gays, lashing women who've been raped, religious thought police), and that he'd like Canada to become like that.

What evidence do you have to back up this assertion, Nick?

Anonymous said...

Interesting how its not those preaching violence, committing acts of mass murder, lashing women, stoning gays, rounding up teenage girls and throwing them in jail for listening to music, punishing rape victims for being raped,

all explicitly in the name of Islam,

that are to blame for anti-Islamic sentiment.

It's those who actually write about the afformentioned that are to blame.

What a peculiar worldview the "progressives" have.

Giving thugs who oppress in the name of Islam a pass, while damning those who damn the thugs.

Anonymous said...

Ti-guy,

have you read a single thing about what this Imam advocates?

Do you have a clue what sharia law entails?

Have you any idea what sharia rule looks like?

Evidently not.

Stick to drive by profanity laden smears. Your good at that. Addressing points of substance - not so much.

Ti-Guy said...

have you read a single thing about what this Imam advocates?

Do you have a clue what sharia law entails?

Have you any idea what sharia rule looks like?


This is so typically righty. Discussion carried out completely in non-declarative language to suggest the righty knows more than the person he's challenging.

Fuck the anonymous, already, BCL. They will always, always revert to this type garbage.

Ti-Guy said...

Interesting how its not those preaching violence, committing acts of mass murder, lashing women, stoning gays, rounding up teenage girls and throwing them in jail for listening to music, punishing rape victims for being raped,

That's just typical Canadian anti-Americanism. How dare you insult our bestest friencd and trading partner?

bigcitylib said...

Anon 11:25,

I'm talking about the next couple of quarters, not the last couple.

Nick,

Crap. Pure crap.

Holly Stick said...

So is nick also "Muslims" Against Sharia?

Anonymous said...

You said that "an unpopular Conservative government, presiding over the first Canadian recession in 15 years"

Present tense, no amiguity. You claimed Canada is currently in recession and you got called on it, full stop.

"a possible budget deficit"

He's setting debt repayment records and posted a $18 billion surplus recently; you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. He's so far from deficit and his track record is so good that you have to make *speculative* criticisms about stuff that may happen? Go sit in a corner.

He may also preside over a major earthquake, but we don't rationally speculate as such.

Just admit it BCL: you feel 'entitled' to print outright lies on a daily basis and get offfended when you get called on it. Typical blogger behaviour.

anonymous anonymous said...

The Islamists and the Left, which under Dion now includes the Liberal Party of Canada, while having different agendas have found common cause on this issue: anyone who doesn't buy hook, line and sinker into their ideology should, according to them, simply shut up.

My predication is that BCL will soon do the logical thing and ban anonymous comments on his blog, it goes against his better instincts. Ti-guy, who loves to see speech banned, especially when it contradicts his angry-left world view will be happy angry man.

bigcitylib said...

I changed it to "soon to be presiding...", so as to help out the easily confused.

bigcitylib said...

Nope. Actually, I changed it back. Anons will have to learn more about how tenses work.

Ti-Guy said...

Ti-guy, who loves to see speech banned, especially when it contradicts his an#gry-left world view will be happy angry man.

Sign up for a blogger account...er...Phantom? Flaming? Ontario Lad...KKKate Minion #7987987? Richard Evans's fuck-buddy Jeffy-poo?

or...*gasp*...Ezra?

You're hiding behind "anonymous" to prevent anyone from tracking your inconsistencies.

Such a brave, free speech warrior.

Anonymous said...

The cool thing about catching you in a really huge lie is that I don't have to come back tomorrow and fact check your ass again. It's been done. It's over. You keep lying even after you've been caught lying.

Joke's on me, I suppose, in that the 25 people, all Liberals, reading this blog don't really care. If a liar lies among 25 liars, does anyone really care? The liars sure don't.

Ti-Guy said...

Anony, sweetie...there's a post above about the crisis in boys, especially about their feminisation.

Why don't you take your petulance and your hiding under mommy's skirts up to that discussion and...well, serve as an object example, at the very least.

Think you're man enough, Biff?

Piet said...

Ti-Guy:

Right here Syed Soharwardy defends Sharia. The hudud of sharia stoning people who commit "illegal sexual practices" or zinaa, which includes homosexuality and adultery. He says: "The purpose of Islam is to create a very high and strong ethical and spiritual society on earth. In order to create such a society, Islam provides a complete road map. This road map is called Shari'a."

I don't know why you would defend such an imam...just because he is apparently popular among Muslims in Canada? Or just because of an "enemy of my enemy" sort of thing?

Ti-Guy said...

Right here Syed Soharwardy defends Sharia.

Really? It looked like he was explaining it in the context of an ignorant article in the Calgary Sun.

I don't know why you would defend such an imam...just because he is apparently popular among Muslims in Canada? Or just because of an "enemy of my enemy" sort of thing?

When have I ever defended him? I don't think he needs to tolerate vicious attacks and smears and most Canadians would think that's just common sense.

I didn't see any defense of stoning in that article.

Man, these Levant YouthQuackers sure are desperate for a crucifixion, aren't they?

Piet said...

Ti-Guy:

Just read the article, he is defending sharia. At the end, he answers the titular question of the article, saying: "Therefore, Islamic Shari'a is a blessing not a burden". How is calling sharia a "blessing" merely "explaining" it as you say? Seems to me that it is much more like defending it, as I say.

Stoning is part of Sharia. It's the punishment for "illegal sexual practices" or zinaa committed by a married person, among other "crimes." Do you want a source for that too?

You defended Soharwardy right here in the comments section, and you continue to do it now. A previous commentator metnioned that Soharwardy is a proponent of sharia, and you, rather than taking the ten seconds of google searching to confirm that he does, you stick up for him and instead critique the commentator.

bigcitylib said...

Piet,

He defended a kind of family law mediater for Muslim families in Ontario inspired by some version of Sharia law, based on his belief that Sharia law has got a bum rap via corrupt mid-East governments. He was not arguing for Sharia to be "imposed" on Canadians.

Here in Ontario, he made this argument and didn't convince those in power to change the system. End of story. His view was listened to, weighed, and rejected. Yahoos like you, Steyn, et al were marginalized during the debate as basically having nothing to offer. Think about it.

Ti-Guy said...

Piet, why wouldn't an imam defend Sharia from ignorant and bigotted attacks?

You keep mentionning stoning, but I've yet to see any support on his part for that punishment.

Admit it...you just hate Muslims..not just Islam (which you also hate) but Muslims themselves. Why is that so difficult for you people to express openly?

*tsk*...Look how Shaidle's latest anti-Muslim pogrom over at KKKates has fired up the haters today. She really needs to be arrested for a hate crime and thrown into jail.

Piet said...

BCL:

When I read that article, and he says sharia in general is a "blessing" and that is a "road map" to the creation of "a very high and strong ethical and spiritual society on earth", it doesn't seem to me that he is merely defending "a kind of family law mediater for Muslim families in Ontario" as you say, but is defending sharia in totality. If he just wanted to say partial-, semi-, sorta-sharia, or, sharia-based mediation for families, is a blessing, maybe he would have said that, instead of defending sharia in general? Think..about...it?

Ti-Guy said...

So, Piet...do you believe he should be...interned?

Nice Afrikaans name, by the way. Or is it Vlaams?

piet said...

Ti-guy:

And so now you concede that Soharwardy did defend sharia, even though I`ve offered up no more evidence then quoting the article I had already showed you which you rejected as evidence previously. Did your reading comprehension skills improve within an hour?

If he is defending sharia, and an outlined punishment in sharia is the stoning of married people who commit zinaa, just maybe he is defending that stoning? If he was defending Draco's Laws, maybe, just maybe he was defending Draconian punishments?

Admit it...you just hate adulterers and gays...not just adultery and homosexuality (which you also hate) but these people themselves. Why is that so difficult for you people to express openly?

Ridiculous attack.

bigcitylib said...

Piet,

Yes, but that was what he was doing. If you want to know the whole context of the debate his remarks occured in, employ teh googles! Employ teh googles!

Ti-Guy said...

Ti-Guy asks Piet:

Piet, why wouldn't an imam defend Sharia from ignorant and bigotted attacks?

Piet responds:

And so now you concede that Soharwardy did defend sharia...

...???

Seriously, these wingnuts just don't use language the way normal people do.

Piet said...

BCL:

I know the impetus for him writing the article was for the family tribunals thing, sure. However, that context doesn`t change what he writes in the article though.

Like what could you be suggesting? That only in the context of advocating for family law tribunals Sowarhardy thinks sharia law is a blessing? Other times he thinks otherwise? I doubt it. He stands up for sharia, full-stop, it's too clear.

Ti-Guy said...

I doubt it.

Why don't you ask him? Put your questions to him in a polite fashion (no screaming about Islamofascim and 72 virgins) and see what he says?

Doubt should be a catalyst for discovery and greater knowledge. Go for it!

piet said...

Ti-guy:

Oh yeah, ti-guy, you really got me, by using a rhetorical question to give the impression of indicating one thing, but, when called on it, stepping back and hiding behind it being subjunctive! A real questor for truth you are.

ti-guy: Why wouldn't your mom pay her pimp?

Oh! I never called her a prostitute! It was subjunctive! Ridiculous.

Ti-Guy said...

Oh yeah, ti-guy, you really got me, by using a rhetorical question to give the impression of indicating one thing, but, when called on it, stepping back and hiding behind it being subjunctive! A real questor for truth you are.

I wasn't asking a rhetorical question. You just didn't answer your it. Your kind never does answer questions.

What do you call the universe you inhabit? Where things are known with a high degree of certainty based on very little evidence?

You've made grand, defamatory claims about someone with no real evidence and you think that's persuasive?

Admit, it, Piet...You hate Muslims. You're a bigot.

piet said...

Ti-guy:

This is the claim I made about Soharwardy:

He defends sharia.

This is the claim Soharwardy makes about sharia in the article you had trouble reading:

It is a blessing, and a roadmap to some utopia of sorts.

And you call my "claims" about him grand and defamatory, and without evidence?

Admit, it, ti-guy...You hate gays and adulterers. You're a bigot.

Ti-Guy said...

Ok, so you're not asserting he supports stoning people necessarily. You're just implying it.

Ok. That's defamatory, but...well, there you are.

piet said...

No, I say he defends stoning. That`s what I say outright. This follows because he defends sharia, as he says, which includes stoning as a punishment.

Ti-Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ti-Guy said...

Yes, I recognise the little your game you're playing. You're insisting a defense of Sharia means supporting stoning. Few places implement full Sharia, yet I'm sure they also have many defenders of Sharia.

It's really dishonest, you know.

But then, bigots usually are.

I have no way of knowing whether Sowarhardy supports stoning for hadd offenses, and I don't much care. There is zero chance of such barbaric punishments being implemented in Canada without envisioning a radical transformation of society.

It strikes me as odd that those crowing loudest about freedom of expression are singularly indifferent to freedom of conscience (which is a more fundamental freedom). People may hold beliefs that we abhor; the only concern for the rest of us should be how those beliefs manifest themselves. But that seems secondary to the free speech warriors, who are all too willing to condemn people for thought crimes, more so in the absence of any evidence at all and will employ any absurd sophistry to do it.

Piet said...

How's it dishonest at all? Stoning (rajm) is part of the punishments in sharia. You're the dishonest one if you deny that. But you probably won't deny it, because you refuse to take any solid stand at all, except in bombastic insults. You won't actually say whether it's part of sharia or not, just like you haven't said whether Soharwardy supports sharia or not, even though the facts have been made plain that he does, and that was the beginning of this conversation.

When Tariq Ramadan (that oh so moderate of Muslim thinkers) and Sarkozy had that debate not so long ago, the best Ramadan was able to push for was a moratorium on stoning because stoning, he said, couldn't be implemented fairly, not because it was actually wrong to stone "sexual deviants" following the example of Mohammed.

And so why limit it to Canada as you do? When Ramadan makes his push for a moratorium on sharia hudud punishments, including stoning, why does he do it if no one actually gets stoned? The thing is people are stoned, and imams standing up and saying that stoning is just plain wrong would probably get a good way to have it stopped, no? But not even Ramadan does that. And Soharwardy? He doesn't even back the moratorium Ramadan is pushing...and instead he says "sharia is a blessing" and the stonings continue. But what do you care? Actually, you say: "I don't much care." Soharwardy is worth defending in your mind because he is attacking Levant or something like that. Enemy of your enemy is your friend, even if means not caring about people who are stoned.

Or you don't think a Canadian imam has any effect on the rest of the world? Tariq Ramadan says quite the opposite. He says Muslims not in the West really look up to Muslims who succeed in it, and look to them for information disproportionate to their population. So when a Canadian imam writes on his website: "Sharia is a blessing" and someone in a state that may have a limited implementation of sharia, or may be in a national debate of sorts with different forces pushing for implementation of more sharia, and others for less...what do you think that person reading Soharwardy is going to take away from reading his defense of sharia? I bet there is a high chance he would be emboldened to implement more sharia, because he would be convinced it really is a blessing, and a road map to a true utopia.

And you know I said nothing about limiting his freedom of conscience, yet you go on about "those crowing about freedom of speech" to imply I'm one of them, and then say they employ sophistry to imply that that's what I've been doing, but without actually outright saying it, and that's been a frequent thing for you: implying without laying things out clearly as you actually see them, so that no one can actually reason with you without you falling back behind a veil of "plausible deniability" of what you are actually saying. Who knows why: you enjoy just going on despite the content? Beats me.

You've spent some time defending a sharia supporter, while I've tried to reach out to convince you that this Soharwardy guy isn't all that great, and his position is quite troubling.

Ti-Guy said...

I don't see what point you're trying to make, Piet and I've been saying this for quite some time to people such as yourself.

What is the point of you trying to convince me that Sowarhardy is a dangerous, brutal evil fascist? What would I do with that belief? What action would you expect me to take?

Why don't you try to answer that question before you bore me any longer with your hysterical Islamophobia and the baseless assertions you're making.

By the way, if you're not a Canadian, whatever concerns you might have might not be at all relevant to me, as I live under a particular constitutional order that might quite different from yours.

RSP said...

I believe in free speech subject only to the following exceptions:

(1) libel against individuals>, provable in a court of law under recognized rules of evidence. Note that religions or political parties cannot suffer libel in any legal sense. Only individuals can complain of libel.

(2) "yelling fire" in a crowded theatre when there is no fire. The essential feature of this hypothetical situation is the lack of time and opportunity to assess the validity of the alarm and the immediate and irreversible consequences of panic.

Note that I do include "hate speech" among the utterances that should be forbidden. A basic premise of democracy, at least in my view, is that people can be trusted to evaluate opinions and formulate public policy in a way that maximizes human welfare. Does this mean that individuals might not respond to bigoted speech by doing (illegal) harm to others? No. But I think the alternative to free speech as I have defined it is worse. Laws against hate speech provide a convenient tool for those who would silence criticism against themselves. Imagine a Christian fundamentalist who brings a charge of "hate speech" against someone who has spoken bitterly against fundamentalist preaching. Today, supporters of the HRC think, perhaps, that such a charge stands little chance of being upheld. But will that always be the case? The worm has a way of turning.

Ti-Guy said...

I've come to believe, in the experience of several decades, that a negative freedom such as free speech absolutism is a freedom without purpose and in that environment, only ideologues prevail. They end up controlling discourse and eventually distort it, with consequences (genocides, illegal invasions, violent hate crime) that are catastrophic.

I support various legal mechanisms to litigate the consequences of expression; libel laws, HRC tribunals and hate propaganda legislation, and I especially support the ones that do not pose barriers of power, wealth or connections in order to be of use to the majority of us.

I'll become concerned when the processes become corrupt...when due process, basic rules of evidence and avenues for appeal are ignored, but that hasn't happened yet to my satisfaction, despite the self-agrandising and immoral Ezra Levant's protestation to the contrary.

I do not, however, support censorship, which is the pre-emptive restriction of expression in the public realm by those with power, be it the State or the corporation.

RSP said...

Let's focus on a particular case. Ezra Levant has published the "Mohammed cartoons". Question: Is this an offense that should be punished in any way? Note that I am not asking whether Mr. Levant is a good person. I am asking whether he should be punished for printing the cartoons.

bigcitylib said...

RSP,

Determining whether Ezra should be punished for publishing those cartoons is exactly what the HRC is looking at now. And they will look at it based on whether anyone could have been "hurt" by the publication, not just "offended" by it. And remember, there have apparently been hate mail and death threats made to members (not just Soharwardy)of the Calgary Muslim community as a result of the controversy surrounding these letters.

Now, if Ezra does get tagged for something, I would look very closely at the details of the judgement as to whether I thought it was warrented. But I have no problem with HRCs existing and examining situations such as Ezra's. If you start writing like a Nazi, you shouldn't be surprised if you're caught up in laws designed to catch Nazis.

RSP said...

You are correct in stating that the HRC is trying to determine whether the publication of the cartoons is punishable. However, I did not ask what the HRC's opinion will be. Rather, I asked whether you think that publication was a punishable offence? I, myself, do not think it was, but I would like to know what you think.

RSP said...

I seem to have lumped "Ti-Guy" and BigCityLib" together. If anyone is offended, I apologize. The following question is addressed to "Ti-Guy".

In your post, you complain that "ideologues" use "free-speech absolutism" to control discourse. Has not Ezra Levant's accuser already controlled discourse? Levant has had to respond to the accusations at his own expense. Who will dare to say anything the least bit controversial if it is apt to provoke an accusation that must be defended before the HRC?

bigcitylib said...

RSP wrote:

"You are correct in stating that the HRC is trying to determine whether the publication of the cartoons is punishable. However, I did not ask what the HRC's opinion will be. Rather, I asked whether you think that publication was a punishable offence? I, myself, do not think it was, but I would like to know what you think."

I haven't one hundred per cent decided yet, and because of what I I write in the main post.

Calgary Muslims got hassled (phone calls, emails, death threats (although pretty mild)), and a proximate cause is assuredly the publication of the cartoons. I would like to know the extent of the hassling before I made a call on Ezra's culpability.

For example, what if, on the day after Ezra published, a Western Standard reader walked out and burnt down the Imams mosque? I think Ezra should bear some kind of responsibility for that. Don't you? He knows or should know the nature of his audience. Now, obviously that didn't happen, but some stuff did. So what responsibility does Ezra have? I'm waiting to judge. And I think this is a matter where society has a right to judge, and certainly a right to investigate.

Ti-Guy said...

In your post, you complain that "ideologues" use "free-speech absolutism" to control discourse.

I don't think they use it; in an environment of negative freedom, ideologues prevail. And ideologues tend to go corrupt (start committing sins of commission or ommission, etc.).

Has not Ezra Levant's accuser already controlled discourse?

This action is a re-action to a certain character of discourse that has prevailed for quite some time and has been advanced by Ezra's Western Standard and plenty of other vehicles of much higher quality and wider readership than that. It has not been a control of discourse to avoid anti-Mulsim rhetoric; in fact, we've been drowning in it it.

Levant has had to respond to the accusations at his own expense.

Actually, at this point, he didn't even have to respond the way he did and as far as expense is concerned, well, what information do we really have about that.

Who will dare to say anything the least bit controversial if it is apt to provoke an accusation that must be defended before the HRC?

What do you mean by controversial? I have no problem expressing controversial things (although the Righties seem to have extreme reactions when others do). Even if I felt it important to criticise Islam, I have no qualms about doing it because...I don't hate Muslims and I don't hate Islam.

Piet said...

Ti-guy:

(Okay, so I thought I sent my post, but I guess anonymous comments are not allowed anymore, and I've lost that post so I've logged in with my google account.)

What would be the point of trying to convince you that Soharwardy supports sharia? That you may believe it. What actions would you take if you did believe it? How about, not defending him, and admitting that you do in fact believe it?

And I'm so sorry for boring you, Ti-Guy. I know you paid so much money to come listen to me! I wouldn't want you to feel like you got ripped off! What?

Examples of my "hysterical Islamophobia", Ti-Guy? That Soharwardy supports sharia? That stoning is part of sharia? Yeah, really hysterical to agree with Soharwardy about what he believes, and to agree with the majority of Islamic scholars about what Islamic law includes. Just radical.

Ti-Guy said...

Piet:

What would be the point of trying to convince you that Soharwardy supports sharia?

That's not the question I asked you.

You have asserted, through a form of sophistic reason, that Sowarhardy supports STONING, despite there being no evidence of that. I am asking you why I should simply take your bizarre form of reason to accept that as fact. I am asking you, even if I did end up believing that, what that should mean to me.

If you don't answer the question as asked, then I can assume you don't have much of a reason or that you're unwilling to state what your real intentions are.

The rest of your comment is unrelated to the question I asked you.

RSP said...

BigCityLib:
In your most recent post, you state that the emails received by the Muslims were “assuredly” inspired by the publication of the cartoons. Well, with all due respect, I fail to see how the connection is assured. However, let us grant for the moment that there is a connection, and that some of the emails contained death threats. Threating someone with death is probably a punishable offense. If such threats were issued, I would support the prosecution of whoever sent them because, among other things, threatening people with violence for what they say threatens the free discourse upon which social progress depends. But notice, Ezra Levant did not issue the threats. Someone else did. Yet Levant must bear the expense of defending himself before the HRC. We come, then, to the question you raise. Is Levant responsible for what someone else does in response to his publication of the cartoons?
My own answer to this question, with which others may disagree, is “No”. To hold publishers and authors responsible for the actions of their readers would make public discourse practically impossible. Who in his right mind will write anything controversial about anything if there is even a remote possibility that he will be held responsible for the violent act of one of his readers? This is a chilling effect upon discourse that does not require a great deal of imagination to appreciate. Yet it does require imagination to conjure up scenarios to justify the suppression of free speech. I refer to your hypothetical Western Standard reader, who lays down his copy of the magazine and sets out to burn down the Imam’s mosque. You admit that this hasn’t happened, but the assumption that it might happen forms, I think, the basis of your opinion.

Piet said...

Ti-guy:

Soharwardy supports sharia, by his own admission. He called it a "blessing" and a "roadmap" to a something like a utopia. That's in the article a linked to. Do you accept that he that he supports sharia? Or do you still think that by calling it a "blessing" he was merely "explaining" it as you claimed before?

Sharia includes stoning (rajm) as a punishment for "hudud" crimes. From the fact that he supports sharia, it follows that he supports stoning, because stoning is part of sharia. Do you need me to give you a link to a source for stoning being a part of sharia, or do you know that already?

RSP said...

Ti-Guy:
You have spoken of "free speech absolutism" as a "negative freedom". I'm not sure what "negative freedom" is. Could you clarify that for me?

You state that "in an environment of negative freedom, ideologues prevail." What exactly is an "ideologue"? Is it a person with strong opinions? Are you an ideologue? Am I? Are we to be allowed to express ourselves only if our opinions don't stand the slightest chance of stirring someone else to anger?

Ti-Guy said...

You have spoken of "free speech absolutism" as a "negative freedom". I'm not sure what "negative freedom" is. Could you clarify that for me?

A negative freedom simply means freedom from restrictions on behaviour. It's not negative as a value judgment; it means the absence of limitations to free behaviour.

Negative freedom doesn't suggest any particular purpose for freedom, and in that sense, poses some difficult questions for societies governed by that approach to liberty. On the one hand, it creates an environment for potentially limitless forms of action and expression for individuals; on the other it tends to encourage social fragmentation and the belief in "everything and nothing."

Ideologues are people whose belief systems are rigid and governed by ideals that are unassailable and by a morality that is absolute. In a society fragmented by negative freedom, certain types of people become disillusioned/unhappy in the absence of something transcendent to live for, and gravitate towards the ideas articulated, very clearly forcefully and passionately by ideologues.

Proponents of negative freedom maintain that destructive ideas and actions are expected to be marginalised or rendered inoperable through competition among the different forces in society, a process by which only the "fittest" ideas prevail.

This works fine in theory and points to a utopia that humanity could eventually create (although I doubt it...I believe we will eventually destroy ourselves). But in the meantime, we don't have nearly the type of level playing field to provide for fair competition and end up lurching from crisis to crisis, with many innocent victims along the way.

I'm not an ideologue, by the way. In fact, that's the only thing I know about myself, even though I'm a devout Catholic, a supporter of the free market, and a supporter of freedom of expression. I do believe that with freedom comes responsibility for the consequences.

Are we to be allowed to express ourselves only if our opinions don't stand the slightest chance of stirring someone else to anger?

You can't really know that beforehand. Hate speech has fairly predictable consequences among its targets, however. We know it does anger them and quite often, radicalises them into extreme behaviour.

That's why I don't support censorship, but support legal mechanisms to deal with the consequences of expression.

Ti-Guy said...

Piet:

Since you refuse to answer the question as posed, I'll provide my own answer.

You want me to believe that support for Sharia implies the support for barbaric practices. You want me to believe this is not only true for Sowarhardy, but probably for all Muslims and to also believe that its essential to Islam.

In this way, you want me to join you in opposing Islam and people who support that belief system.

Carrying that further, you want that to effect my interaction with Muslim Canadians. You want me to pass value judgments on their way of life and to view how they live in a negative way. You want me to join you and the others in stygmatising, ostracising, and shunning (as Kathy Shaidle recommends) fellow Muslim Canadians, so that they all get the message that their way of life and their beliefs are not only incompatible with our Canadian culture, but also threaten it.

After that, we'll all move on to the Jews, the Indians the Blacks and the queers, right?

Piet said...

ti-guy:

How did I not answer your questions? You asked two:
"I am asking you why I should simply take your bizarre form of reason to accept that as fact ['that Sowarhardy supports STONING']."

I just showed why is my very last post. Your second question was:

"I am asking you, even if I did end up believing that, what that should mean to me."

And I answered that in my post one more prior, but I'll repeat it here for clarity anyway: "That you may believe it. What actions would you take if you did believe it? How about, not defending him, and admitting that you do in fact believe it?"

And no, I don't want you to do any of that ramble you go on about. You put words in my mouth unfairly.

So there: I have answered your questions. Have you ever answered any of mine questions? For example: Do you think that Soharwardy supports sharia? Do you think that stoning is part of sharia? Two simple questions Ti-guy.

Ti-Guy said...

Do you think that Soharwardy supports sharia? Do you think that stoning is part of sharia?

Isn't there another question here? Does support for Sharia mean that Sowarhardy supports stoning?

Stop playing games, Piet.

I'm well aware of the radical strains in Islam and the existence of Islamists (those who believe society should be ordered through Islam). I'm also aware of terrorism.

But this is Canada, not Saudi Arabia (or some ethno-centric European country or some Redneck American Red state, for that matter) and I am a Canadian. I live in a very diverse society under a constitution that protects freedom of conscience and religion and which also sets out equality rights that ensure that everyone is equal before and derives equal benefit from the law, without discrimination.

I also know that criminal actions are police matters and that legal issues are settled in a court of law (or in a tribunal).

If you have nothing to say about how any of your concerns relate to the above, then you don't have anything interesting to say to me. In this whole conservation, the only thing that was of benefit was a link to an article by Sowarhardy.

Maybe some Libertarian can take over and patiently explain to you what your problem might be, but I'm done. You're not going to convert me.

RSP said...

Ti-Guy:
You have defined “negative freedom” as “freedom from restrictions on behavior”. In my endorsement of free speech, I did not advocate complete freedom from restrictions. Specifically, I identified (1) libel and (2) the yelling of “fire” in a crowded theatre as examples of speech that should not receive legal protection. There are a few other examples that I might have mentioned, like the making of false claims in the pursuit of fraudulent financial gain, and so on. My point is that I accept restrictions on speech, but I do insist that those restrictions deal only with misrepresentations of fact that lead to demonstrable harm. The key words here are “fact” and “demonstrable harm”. I regard the expression of opinion as being beyond the reach of legal inquiry. But that is my opinion. You may disagree.

In your fifth paragraph, you write:

This [free speech absolutism] works fine in theory and points to a utopia that humanity could eventually create (although I doubt it...I believe we will eventually destroy ourselves). But in the meantime, we don't have nearly the type of level playing field to provide for fair competition and end up lurching from crisis to crisis, with many innocent victims along the way.

What exactly is “fair” competition among ideas, and how can a tribunal of “hate speech” censors possibly bring about such “fairness”? Yes, the editorial board of a large newspaper (or even a small one) can spread its opinions far more effectively than I. Fortunately, however, there is more than one newspaper in the country, more than one radio station, more than one TV station, and more than one blog on the Internet. We have this multiplicity because, until now, a respect for freedom of speech has been the political norm. Is every voice heard with equal clarity? No. But how on earth will a tribunal of “speech police”, who insist that we anticipate illegal violence before uttering harsh criticism, improve matters? If they are allowed to do their work, the competition among ideas will indeed be “fair”. We will all be equally quiet.

Piet said...

Ti-guy:

So, you won't answer either of those questions, even though I've done my best to answer yours? And yes, you could answer the third one you offer as well, sure. I'll answer it (again): Yes, because stoning is part of sharia. Now that I go through our conversation, you scarcely answered any questions at all; you've hurled a lot of insults toward me, but nothing kind.

How does an imam supporting sharia in Canada relate to legal issues in Canada? Because he is a Canadian who influences Canada. He is a leader of sorts who has an impact on what people think. People do attend his mosque and people do read what he writes. He's not a nobody. The Constitution doesn't protect "freedom of conscience" by itself.

Anonymous said...

ti guy?
I looked and I looked
Then I gave up.
You didn't make one rational point in all your arguments.
Never any need to support your argument.
Disagreeing is not an argument.
Abuse and contempt are not arguments.

BCL
why don't you heel this lap dog. Isn,t he a bit of an embarassment

Ti-Guy said...

The key words here are “fact” and “demonstrable harm”. I regard the expression of opinion as being beyond the reach of legal inquiry.

That can only realistically be ascertained to any meaningful degree of satisfaction in a court of law (or a tribunal). Stating those as principles doesn't mean much in real life.

What exactly is “fair” competition among ideas, and how can a tribunal of “hate speech” censors possibly bring about such “fairness”?

I wasn't really talking about existing law and tribunals. I was making a general statement in relation to my point about negative freedom, which really does boil down to "What good is freedom if you do nothing constructive or nothing at all with it? It's not an issue I myself have invented; people have been talking about this for a long time.

Current Conservatives, big proponents of negative freedom, are very much disturbed by the less salubrious manifestations of that freedom; cultural fragmentation and degradation, pornography, drug use, etc. etc. What ends up happening in such cases is a general restriction of freedom, which is the irony that negative freedom quite often ends up in.

Fortunately, however, there is more than one newspaper in the country, more than one radio station, more than one TV station.

Hardly. Most of the media is concentrated and cross-media ownership is a real problem. Choice in the media is a complete illusion.

We do still have some very good media, but it's increasingly marginalised in sea of banality and sensationalism.

The Internet is a different issue, however; it may succumb to corporate interference and may become just another morass of banality and amateurism, but I'm remaining optimistic.

But how on earth will a tribunal of “speech police”, who insist that we anticipate illegal violence before uttering harsh criticism, improve matters?

No one's insisting you do anything. Those mechanisms I referred to deal with the consequences of expression.

One of the more tedious aspects of this debate is that people blithely refer to absolutes in freedom and choice without seeming to think about what benefit these really have. And that's fine. But I just don't happen to think that way. I don't think the freedom to do nothing or nothing of value is worth spending a lot of time defending, nor do I think it's particularly noble. Supporting negative freedom really means supporting nothing at all.

Most people think freedom of expression is the freedom to state what their personal beliefs and values are in front of an audience and any restriction of expression, or discussion of the consequences is somehow attacking their values and their beliefs...that's it's a personal offense.

It's a very odd way of thinking, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this blog a bit lately, and some other leftist blogs as well. It seems that many of the left are in favor of the CHRC, but can't actually come up with a logical, convincing argument against the rightist opposition to it. Rather, like the author of this blog, they resort to making small little pot shots against the right blogs whenever they can. This tactic usually betrays the lack of any substantial argument. In regards to the CHRC issue, the sad truth of the matter is that we don't live in some sort of perfect world where everything just falls into place and everyone has rights that don't conflict. For example, a Jew has the right not to be discriminated against, right? And a Muslim person in Canada also has the right not to be discriminated against, right? How ironic that it's not possible for Jews and Muslims to be mutually free of discrimination. Why is that? Well, to find out let's take a look at one of the passages of the Qur'an:

"And verily, you will find them (the Jews) the greediest of mankind for life and (even greedier) than those who - ascribe partners to Allâh (and do not believe in Resurrection - Magians, pagans, and idolaters, etc.). Everyone of them wishes that he could be given a life of a thousand years. But the grant of such life will not save him even a little from (due) punishment. And Allâh is All-Seer of what they do." (2:96)

Can you honestly say that passage isn't discriminatory towards Jews? According to the anti hate speech laws Islam should be banned from Canada because it spreads, as I have just easily demonstrated, it spreads hate towards Jews. But wait, according to the Charter and the Bill of Rights we have freedom of religion, right? Aaaaaand therein lies the problem. By trying to regulate hateful speech the HRC ends up putting some rights higher and some rights lower (usually based on what is most politically correct)... and let me ask you this: Is that not the very *essence* of discrimination? Also, does the saying "Some animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" mean *anything* to you?

Here's the ironic part of all this, the comment that I just posted (pointing out a hateful, discriminatory verse of the Qur'an) could be be construed as discriminatory by some easily offended "radical" Muslim. Therefore, I'm posting this comment anonymously, just to be safe, even though I have a Blogger account. To me, I already feel like I'm living in Orwellian country!