The Jihad of the Word
The latest CHRC sally into the theater of the absurd is its prosecution of a former member of Parliament, Jim Pankiw, who was harshly critical of the high First Nations crime rate in his home province of Saskatchewan. One of the commission's sock puppets, Derek A. Smith, an assistant professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, found that the color of ink used in the MP's correspondence indicated discrimination and latent racism. Pankiw has now learned to his cost that black and red ink on white paper constitutes a mockery of aboriginal iconography and is tantamount to a cultural offense. "One could hardly claim," Smith charged, "that the symbolism in this pamphlet is not inflammatory." Monty Python could scarcely do better. That particular parrot is surely dead.
Thankfully, several high-profile cases were recently aborted. The imam who lodged a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission against the editor of the Western Standard, Ezra Levant, for republishing the Danish cartoons, thought better of it and withdrew his claim, though not until Levant, harassed for almost three years, was $100,000 out of pocket. The Muslim-instigated case against political writer Mark Steyn and Maclean's current affairs magazine, which ran an excerpt from Steyn's brilliant America Alone, was dismissed by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, after much adverse publicity, on the flimsy pretext that it lacked jurisdiction over printed material (which did not prevent it from issuing a statement that it "strongly condemns the Islamophobic [sic] portrayal of Muslims").
Further details regarding these ludicrous proceedings, which I have only sketched out here, can be gleaned from Levant's new book Shakedown: How Our Government Is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights. More recently, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, which spent five years investigating a hate speech complaint against B'nai Brith Canada, prompted by an anonymous and absent tipster and based on the secret report of an equally anonymous "expert," eventually concluded there was "no reasonable basis in the evidence" for the case. In this way, our so-called Human Rights Commissions cut their losses in order to live and persecute another day.
Clearly, considerable and entirely unnecessary damage is done by so skewed a parallel legal system, essentially a form of secular Sharia. These tribunals continue to stress that group rights retain precedence over other human rights and do not recognize that freedom of expression is a Charter value. Nothing daunts a Human Rights Commission. Its latest bit of mischief is the attempt to influence the courts to accept a Muslim woman's right to be veiled during a judicial proceeding. It has no compunction allowing a masked plaintiff or witness to trump the Charter right to a fair and open trial.
We are truly in danger of losing many of our cherished rights and freedoms in this country. A working group of American university and college professors, members of the American Political Science Association, think so too. They have objected to Toronto as the site for the Association's 2009 conference, having come to believe, in the words of spokesman Bradley Watson, "Canada to be a problematic destination." Cognizant of the "Canadian attacks on freedom of speech," he feels it is "unacceptable ... to risk exposing [our] members to them."
"In the hands of barbarians," writes Andrew C. McCarthy in Willful Blindness, the law "is an offensive weapon." As brandished by "our swelling nomiocracy," it has become a dangerous liability. "In the war against radical Islam," he warns, if we fail to understand how the law can be manipulated to our disadvantage, "we are shrinking from our highest duty: to protect lives." And, as it should go without saying, to defend "the core aspects of Western liberalism: self-determination, freedom of choice, freedom of conscience, equality under the law."
Similarly, when asked in an interview what radical Islam portends for America, Joseph Hakim, vice president of the International Christian Union, replied: "Radical Islamists will never be integrated into American society. They will grow like a cancer, but let us not be fooled by them. They are well educated and lavishly funded. And they know when to wear suits and pretend to conform while seeking to destroy our economy [and] to exploit our system of government." Hakim knows whereof he speaks, having observed firsthand the systematic abuse of Christian populations in Arab lands and the various methods by which radical Muslims are able to infest the body politic. According to this authority, what is at stake is the integrity of government and the health of the economy, but these are undermined most effectively through the subversion of our judicial system.
The conclusion is self-evident. Not until our legal institutions can properly calibrate the balance between human rights and freedom of speech and thought -- and in the process remember that free speech is a primary human right -- will so rudderless a society as ours make any real headway against the Islamic jihad and those who would stifle our ability to think, speak, and act.
Indeed, if we do not move to annul the jihad of the word, the jihad of the hand may no longer be necessary.