Monday, February 18, 2008

The banality of evil

Not every Canadian is willing to accept Canada's abolition of freedom of speech. The Western Standard magazine published the infamous Mohammad cartoons two years ago. Consequently, the Orwellian-named Alberta Human Rights Commission is prosecuting its publisher, Ezra Levant. They held their hearing on his case last January 11. For some reason, they allowed Mr. Levant to video-record the hearing. He did and it is now on youtube. In the sample below,
the inquisitor, Shirlene McGovern, asks him for his "intent" in publishing the cartoons. Her dry bureaucratic approach in asking about thought crime, reminds us of Hannah Arendt's comment about the banality of evil:

Ms. McGovern has since resigned from the case, reportedly because she was surprised by the strength of the public reaction against such interrogations over alleged thought crimes.

Canada's Human Rights Code forbids, for example, any publication that "is likely to expose a person or a group or class of persons to ... contempt." Contempt is a quite vague concept. (Under Canada's interpretation, as expressed by Ms. McGovern, the issue of contempt is somehow tied into someone's subjective concept of the publisher's "intent.") Nearly any expression of a political opinion can be interpreted by those on the other side as 'exposing them to contempt.' Consequently, to the extent that Canada is willing to enforce the code, it really is the end of free speech.

For instance, the Hadith reads "The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: `The time [of judgment] will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!' Sahih Muslim book 41, no. 6985." It seems that any discussion of that passage at all would offend ("expose to contempt") one side or the other and thus be illegal in Canada.

PREVIOUSLY, Canada's liberal party rejected a proposal to restore freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

UPDATE: Deborah Gyapong has much more on abuses by Canada's Human Rights Commission.

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