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Old 06-05-2008, 10:28 PM   #1
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How Can Canadians Be So Stupid!!!!

WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU PEOPLE
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Whatever formal outcome emerges from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal's ongoing inquiry into the "Islamophobia" of Maclean's magazine and Mark Steyn, our freedoms of expression and publication will have been well served by the attention now being paid to the human rights cadres' ambitious policing of opinion. The BC HRT couldn't possibly have acted any more like a kangaroo court this week if the members had pouches surgically attached to their abdomens. But, really, it might be more accurate to call them a chicken court, given their continual random clucking over what evidence to accept, what witnesses to certify, and what credentials make someone an "expert" on discrimination.

One exchange in the hearing room, however, deserves scrutiny more for its moral aspects than its constitutional ones. On Tuesday afternoon, Osgoode Hall law student Khurrum Awan was on the stand, testifying to the dire effects Steyn's musings on Islam and demography had had on his soul. Mr. Awan is one of the students who have come to be known in the free-speech blogosphere as the "sock puppets": he and three others were the complainants in the failed Ontario human rights case against Maclean's, and the quartet had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a settlement between the Canadian Islamic Congress and the magazine.

Maclean's counsel Julian Porter, given the chance to cross-examine Mr. Awan, immediately brought up the attempt at conciliation between the Osgoode students and Maclean's that took place on March 30, 2007, at the magazine's offices. This was a moment fraught with excitement, because there has been a standing disagreement between the complaining lawyers and the magazine over several details of that meeting, and Mr. Porter had been personally present for it. One thing that the CIC and the Osgoode students have been at particular pains to emphasize is that they wanted their proposed rebuttal to Steyn in Maclean's to be written by a "mutually acceptable" author. Here's a far-from-exhaustive sampling of excerpts from their appeals to the public over the past year:

The complainant group, comprising current students and recent graduates, asked that Maclean's publish a balanced response from a mutually acceptable author (from inside or outside the Muslim community) to the Islamophobic content of 'The Future Belongs to Islam' by staff writer Mark Steyn, published by Maclean's in October 2006. -CIC media communiqué, Dec. 7, 2007.

On March 30, 2007, we met with Maclean's senior editors and proposed that they publish a response to Steyn's article from a mutually acceptable source. -Op-ed by the Osgoode students, Calgary Herald, Dec. 29, 2007.

In our case we have filed human-rights complaints, not because Maclean's published 19 inflammatory articles focused on Muslims, but because it refused to publish a mutually acceptable counter-article on the first occasion that the Muslim community asked for one. -Op-ed by the Osgoode students, Montreal Gazette, Feb. 24, 2008.

We felt that it was time for the Muslim population to play a part in the discussion about Islam and Muslims that Maclean's had started. We therefore went to Maclean's editors. We asked that a mutually acceptable author-so not us, because we're not writers, but somebody that we could both agree upon-would be allowed to author a response to the Steyn article. -"Sock puppet" Naseem Mithoowani in an interview for NPR's "On the Media", Apr. 4, 2008.

The [Ontario Human Rights Commission] statement was the result of human rights complaints filed by my clients - the Canadian Islamic Congress and a group of Osgoode Hall law students - against Maclean's magazine for its refusal to publish a mutually acceptable response to just one of more than twenty Islamophobic articles published between January 2005 and July 2007. - CIC counsel Joseph Faisal in a column for the JURIST law website, May 6, 2008.


The "mutually acceptable" line has not only been pushed incessantly by Faisal and the Osgoode crew, but has become a major talking point for the few online defenders of the group. Unfortunately, when asked about it under oath by someone who had been in the room, Mr. Awan was forced to backtrack. "I suggest to you that you never said 'mutually acceptable' at that meeting," Julian Porter told him. Mr. Awan, by all accounts looking remarkably sheepish, had to admit that his original demand had not explicitly provided room for a "mutually acceptable" author. Mr. Porter was also able to produce a letter written to the president of Rogers Publishing, owners of Maclean's, not long after the meeting: no mention of a veto over authorship for Maclean's was made there, either.

It's certainly true that Maclean's would have refused to print a belated, long-winded reply to the Steyn piece no matter who wrote it. Nonetheless, it appears that the lawyers who created this whole brouhaha have been inventing details in order to create an impression that their original demands were relatively reasonable and benign. Indeed, the Osgoode students' February op-ed for the Gazette leaves the distinct impression that they would not have filed any complaints if a "mutually acceptable" rebuttal had been possible. Now Mr. Awan has admitted they never really got around to asking for one. It goes without saying that this should be fatal to their case in the court of public opinion. And the legal profession they are about to enter has some hard decisions to make about their ethical credibility.
Colby Cosh on Muslims vs. Maclean's: In a heartbeat, the story changes - Full Comment

There is a healthy dose of irony and allusion in the thread title, around many western countries (including Australia) these human rights tribunals are being imbued with far more political purpose, it goes from settling complains about rent applications to fining publishers for offending religious groups. Protecting a religious identity such as Islam by giving critics the run-around is no different than the tactics used by scientologists.

The merits of Steyn's arguments are not relevant to the principle of freedom of speech (he aptly highlights the short term events but his long term argument of Islamic demographic dominance is undercut by declining birthrates after a few generations in the west). Unfortunately absolute free speech isn't explicit and there seems to be stipulations about how far one can go, hence these show-trials seem to be perfectly legal.

By fighting cases like this religious PR groups can effectively silence people by demonstrating that criticism of certain beliefs will cost time and money that just isn't worth spending.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:41 PM   #2
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No, actually these cases are not coming increasingly before Canadian provincial tribunals because of or for "political purposes." It is for the most part because the courts are refusing to hear them or are tending to routinely dismiss them or direct them to the tribunals in order to stamp out rampant Charter litigation (for a number of reasons, one of which being that Charter challenges can in certain circumstances receive public funding).

Aside from that, Mark Steyn is an incredibly intellectually lazy, stupid man. The article he wrote last week where he blamed Hillary's loss on the decrease in white demographics in the West really tells you everything you need to know about him. Seldom have I read news articles so painfully stupid as his. At least Hitchens is intelligent even when he's profoundly wrong.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:48 PM   #3
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We had a case here that was eventually appealed where two Christian evangelists were dragged through a human rights tribunal for giving a seminar on how to talk to Muslims about coming to Christ, that secular humanist and atheist groups helped with a legal defense fund says a lot.

The individuals and groups that make complaints have agendas that I would call political, I did not mean to infer that any political parties are encouraging this or that there was some sort of hare-brained conspiracy.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:53 PM   #4
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Yes, but at the same time, at least here, if the courts are refusing to play the game, then whatever political aims they have are not really being achieved.

These are not big stories in the news.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:56 PM   #5
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:19 AM   #6
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Mark Steyn: Enemy of the State?
By Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry on Mark Steyn on National Review Online
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