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Two more articles appeared on Canada and Free speech. The first comes from the Ottowa Citizen ( reproduced on Real Clear Politics ). The author, David Warren, reviews some of the recent cases before the human rights commissions, then highlights the surprising acceptance among journalists at the revocation of the freedom of expression:

Among the spookiest aspects of these cases is the silence over, and indifference to them, on the part of journalists whose predecessors imagined themselves vigilant in the cause of freedom. As I’ve learned first-hand through email, many Canadian journalists today take the view that, “I don’t like these people, therefore I don’t care what happens to them.” It is a view that, at best, is extremely short-sighted.

The second article comes from the New York Times . It highlighted how America protects the freedom of speech more vigorously than any other Western nation. But it wasn’t clear that this is a good thing. The underlying question for much of the piece seemed to be whether or not we should allow the hate-mongering conservatives to express themselves.

I agree with the Times that the tone of much of Steyn’s piece was not respectful of Islam, and was not ideal for a serious examination of the rise of Muslims in Europe. But the content of his article is a far cry from the words of the KKK and neo-Nazis, a distinction that the Times seemed to blur. It would also be interesting to see whether those who advocate restricted freedom of speech would extend their prohibitions evenly. Would Ward Churchill calling the victims of September 11 “little Eichmanns” constitute hate speech? Would disparaging remarks made against Christianity, people of European descent, or heterosexuals?

It all begs the question of who gets to decide what is acceptable criticism or analysis and what is not, and on what grounds those decisions will be made. The cases of Steyn and the others Warren names make it clear that the Canadian process is anything but objective and fair. As the Times wrote:

Mr. Steyn, the author of the article, said the Canadian proceedings had illustrated some important distinctions. “The problem with so-called hate speech laws is that they’re not about facts,” he said in a telephone interview. “They’re about feelings.”

“What we’re learning here is really the bedrock difference between the United States and the countries that are in a broad sense its legal cousins,” Mr. Steyn added. “Western governments are becoming increasingly comfortable with the regulation of opinion. The First Amendment really does distinguish the U.S., not just from Canada but from the rest of the Western world.”



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