January 31, 2008


Proud to Be a Footnote (Robert Ferrigno, 1/30/08)

Canada has universal health care but not the First Amendment protection afforded US citizens. Me, I’m self-insured and paid enough for shoulder surgery last year to buy a Prius, but I’ll take the First Amendment any day. I suspect so would Mark Steyn, an incisive thinker and fearless essayist who lives in the US, but publishes a regular column in the Canadian magazine, Maclean’s. That’s where the trouble started.

On Wed, Dec 5, 2007, four Muslim students at Toronto's Osgoode Hall Law School, and the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, accusing Steyn and Maclean’s of violating their "sense of dignity and self-worth”. My sense of dignity and self-worth is harmed every time I see the six-pack abs on the guy in the Bowflex ads on TV. Who do I sue? While the particular flash point for the CIC was Steyn’s article “The Future Belongs to Islam," an excerpt from his best selling book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, the full complaint made clear that it was Steyn’s body of work that was on trial.

I first became aware of the situation when a Canadian reader emailed me with the news that not only was Steyn being charged by the Human Rights Commission, but in the documentation against him was his very positive review of my previous novel, Prayers for the Assassin. Steyn's praise for Prayers, a book written by a “recognized Islamophobe” according to the CIC, was further evidence of his prejudice against Muslims. For the record, I am neither Islamophobic nor recognized.

It gets better--apparently views that the complaint attributes to Mr. Steyn actually come from his summation of the plot of the novel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 31, 2008 3:47 PM

I seem to remember you opposed the publishing of the Mohamed cartoons, but have you seen the youtube videos of Weekly Standard publisher Ezra Levant being interviewed by the Canadian HRC responding to charges of hate speech for publishing them? It's great fun, even if you disapprove of what was published.

Posted by: Patrick H at January 31, 2008 5:44 PM

To the contrary, I support their publishing the cartoons if they're willing to be van Goghed. Free speech should have consequences.

Posted by: oj at January 31, 2008 9:15 PM

Yes OJ, we really need to bring back duels. The cartoons had the air of the bullying of the teacher's pet.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at January 31, 2008 10:09 PM

He must be willing. He's got no more protection than Van Gogh, and he's not backing off or disassociating himself from the insult.

Why are Christians not as zealous as Islam in punishing mortal insults? Is it that they're so dominant in America that they can brush it off?

Posted by: djs at January 31, 2008 11:49 PM

Because the Christian exemplar turned his cheek and loved his enemies, while the Islamic exemplar whacked their heads off?

Posted by: Gideon at February 1, 2008 2:21 AM

Christianity grew up.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at February 1, 2008 6:46 AM