How the Internet saved free speech in Canada
Posted by sanityinjection on May 5, 2009
In the June edition of the libertarian magazine Reason, Canadian publisher Ezra Levant tells the story of his fight to defend himself against the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission. Levant’s crime? Offending Muslims by reprinting the now-famous Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Of particular interest is the role the Internet played in Levant’s victory. Levant credits support from ordinary citizens – both written and financial – with helping him sustain his defense until his accusers ultimately withdrew their charges in the face of mounting public criticism.
However, the fact that Levant had to go through such an ordeal at all should serve as a wake-up call for freedom-loving people everywhere. Canada may be more politically correct than most democracies, but it is not a great leap to see similar tendencies in the US and elsewhere. There are those who would happily establish the equivalent of the Alberta HRC in every state or province of every Western country. In our desire to uphold human rights, we must not allow ourselves to be deluded into mistaking the right to never be offended as one of them. Thus, I may find Dan Brown’s books to be offensive and bigoted, but I strongly defend his right to write them and have them made into movies no matter how much they may offend me.
Over half a century has passed since George Orwell first introduced us to the Thought Police in 1984. (And if by chance, dear reader, you have never got around to reading this book, please do so at once.) How horrified would Orwell, a passionate socialist, be to know that Canada of all places has come so far in bringing his dystopia to life?