Friday, June 6, 2008

"Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”

Mark Hemingway at NRO gives an overview of the trial of Mark Steyn and Maclean's in Canada by an Orwellian "Human Rights" tribunal. Hemingway begins his piece with the following quote:

"Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.” —Canadian “Human Rights” Investigator Dean Steacy, responding to the question “What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?”

I don't know how widespread this attitude is in Canada but it seems there is enough political support for the human rights commissions for them to continue operating without much apparent opposition. But this is just one more example of the many threats to freedom of speech and freedom of the press throughout the West. We should not think of these as isolated examples, but rather part of a decades long political war against individualism and its fundamental belief that all individuals have equal rights that governments are instituted to protect. We can't be complacent about this. It's become clear to me that we have to wage a campaign to educate people about our rights and why they are important. We can't assume that they know. Fortunately there are organizations like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, but ultimately there needs to be a larger movement. I've been thinking that as soon as I'm in a financial position to do so I'd like to produce something like a series of audio and video lectures or maybe short documentary films on freedom of speech and the press and other rights.

I'll leave you with this quote from the Supreme Court decision in TINKER V. DES MOINES SCHOOL DIST. (found at Countercolumn):

But, in our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression. Any departure from absolute regimentation may cause trouble. Any variation from the majority's opinion may inspire fear. Any word spoken, in class, in the lunchroom, or on the campus, that deviates from the views of another person may start an argument or cause a disturbance. But our Constitution says we must take this risk...and our history says that it is this sort of hazardous freedom - this kind of openness - that is...the basis of our national strength and of the independence and vigor of Americans who grow up and live in this relatively permissive, often disputatious, society.

MORE on the The Human Rights Commission Jihad (via Instapundit):

It isn't too difficult to argue that the single-most important human right is the right to argue and debate about everything. Any attempt to limit this right is to place every other freedom in serious jeopardy.
If our Human Rights Commissions are serious about human rights at all; their only logical reaction to the complaints against Ezra Levant or against Maclean's and Mark Steyn would have been to immediately dismiss them as being totally without merit. As they have refused to do this, it is clear that they require urgent and serious reform and a dramatic overhaul in their personnel… or else mandatory remedial training in civics and history. Until these happen, Ezra Levant and Steyn's defiance are only the beginning.


Purpleslog said...

I think/hope that the "Human Rights" tribunal has gotten too bold and overstepped itself. I expect a backlash from regular Canadians against the Tranzis.

phil said...

I hope you're right. I have to admit though that I'm becoming very worried and pessimistic.