Monday, January 14, 2008

Ezra's Law - The Levant File

It may have amused certain of his cronies to see good ol' boy Ezra Levant ambush, bully and harangue the very unfortunate woman assigned by the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission to investigate the complaints advanced against him.

He did not amuse me.

It offended me as a fellow Canadian.

And as a fellow lawyer.

And as a fellow Jew.

Speaking first as a fellow Canadian, I have learned at least something from the racial enmity my own family endured nearly a century ago, upon arriving in Canada.

The host culture will always produce some whose ignorance and fear will cause them to impede and stereotype new immigrants with lofty and heated pronouncements as to all the imagined evils these newcomers bring with them. While their scripts may change over time, the characters remain the same.

I am glad Canada now provides a legal remedy against egregiously discriminatory provocation and insult.

We do, indeed, protect freedom of speech in Canada as one of our fundamental rights.

By Canadian law, however, as opposed to Ezra's Law, we also enshrine the right to be free from religious discrimination and racial harassment - spoken, written, drawn or carved in rocks.

It is quite unfortunate that Mr. Levant has graduated from being the grandson of immigrants who no doubt struggled through such wrongs to someone who now unrepentantly delivers his own bad-tasting medicine to a modern generation of newcomers.

Why would he do so?

As he put it, he did it because he wanted to. Because he can. To make a point. And because he accepts no law to the contrary.

We published those cartoons for the intention and purpose of exercising our inalienable right as freeborn Albertans to publish whatever the hell we want, no matter what the hell you say... the only thing I have to say to the government is that it's my bloody right to do so. It is my right to do so for reasonable purposes or for unreasonable purposes.

I reserve the right to publish the cartoons to do every offensive thing that [the complainants] claim was in my heart... I have the full right to do everything in here that they accuse me of.

That, apparently is Ezra's Law.

Ezra Levant, one nation unto himself. Under Ezra.

There is nothing new about the hard time that has been afforded Muslim immigrants to Canada by these self-appointed "protectors of the nation." Virtually every immigrant group to this nation has been subjected to some variation of it in its early history.

At long last, in this generation we have decided as a matter of law and public policy it is better to just say "welcome," establish legal boundaries against hatred, and see what we can learn from each other.

It is not necessarily a smooth path. But it is the right path.

........

As a fellow lawyer, I must say that Mr. Levant's conduct before a representative of a statutory legal commission was nothing short of embarrassing.

I understand he was of course, not in the role of counsel in his movie debut.

It is also unclear to me whether he continues to practice law at all.

Nonetheless, after noting Mr. Levant:

I felt it would be useful to review The Law Society of Alberta Code of Professional Conduct.

The Rules below were of interest to me:

Rule 3 A lawyer must not act in a manner that might weaken public respect for the law or justice system or interfere with its fair administration.

Commentary - Rule 3 Society expects that the legal profession will play a leading role in protecting the integrity of the justice system and ensuring that it functions properly. A lawyer's behaviour is incompatible with this role if it encourages
public disdain or disregard for the administration of justice. Examples are deliberate flouting of the law or other flagrant disrespect for an aspect of the justice system; irresponsible or unjustified allegations of corruption or partiality; criticism that is ill-considered or malicious; disrupting judicial or administrative proceedings; and suggesting to a client or other person that evasion of the law is acceptable.

Rule 8. Except under extraordinary circumstances, a lawyer must not record a conversation with anyone, nor enable a third party to hear the conversation, without first obtaining the consent of the person to whom the lawyer is speaking.

Rule 9. A lawyer must not harass any person or discriminate against any person on the basis of race, language, creed, colour, national or ethnic origin, gender, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, age, mental disability or physical disability or otherwise or on the basis of any similar personal attribute.

Commentary: ... Harassment may encompass conduct which:

(a) undermines another person’s dignity by causing embarrassment, discomfort or humiliation;
(b) creates an intimidating or hostile environment for the recipient of the harassment...

...Personal harassment is disrespectful and degrading conduct generally that is not specifically focused within the prohibited grounds. It includes conduct that is rude, insulting, belittling or vindictive (see also Rules #2, #6 and #7 in this chapter and related commentaries). The key in determining whether conduct is harassment is the impact the conduct has had on the complainant, not the intent with which it was done. Harassment is different from offending a person; it involves undermining
another person's personal integrity.

The rule against harassment is a pervasive rule. It applies to lawyers' relations with clients, other lawyers, others who work in the justice system (judges, court officials and staff, the police and prison guards, etc.) and members of the general public.

........

I was perhaps most offended as a fellow Jew whose community was invoked by Mr. Levant in a bizarre, rambling effort to rationalize his own questionable behaviour as harmless by reference to criminal vandalism against the Edmonton synagogue he claims as his own.

There are people out there who do awful things to our synagogues, Mr. Levant. Do I really need to say that this unfortunate reality does not grant us license or in any way immunize us from the consequences of our own hateful acts?

I do not know any Jewish-Canadians (except the one governed by Ezra's Law), who would even consider proposing such an offensive argument.

A synagogue attack by one Muslim does not justify hatred of all Muslims. It justifies criminal proceedings against the perpetrators.

Do what you must Mr. Levant, but do not purport to drag Canada's Jewish community with you into this.

We are a tolerant people, living in a tolerant country. And want to keep it that way.

....

Which brings me to back to a remark I left dangling last week.

..let us not confuse who the "good guys" are here

"Who are the good guys, then Mr. Wise?" one commenter asked.

The good guys, of course, are the thousands of hard-working and determined Islamic immigrants who have come to Canada and America to make a better lives for themselves and their children, as did my forebears.

They have come to escape war or oppression or limited opportunity at home. As did my grandparents.

They are the ones who lived quiet, normal, and largely apolitical lives in their neighbourhoods, did their jobs, prayed in their mosques, and communed with their families and friends.

Until September 11, 2001.

The day our world went crazy. The day some among us decided they were all suspects. The day law enforcement was let loose on them.

Some theorists have gone so far as to suggest Islamic immigrants have arrived, armed with a master plan to convert Canada and America into Islamic outposts under Sharia law, without even noting that most Islamic-Canadian immigrants left their host nations precisely to get away from that form of excess.

So who are the good guys?

They are the ordinary people, the Islamic-Canadian citizens who contend daily with the discrimination and harassment that comes with the pervasive, but false notion that they are somehow, by definition, all aligned with the worst of the worst who happen to share their religion.

To put it more bluntly, they are the victims of guilt by association. One will easily note from a review of the video that in Ezra's World, any wrong committed by any individual Muslim quite naturally must lead to unchecked national hatred of all Muslims. It is all their fault, according to Ezra.

In my view, they need legal protection against discrimination and harassment.

I am relieved to be in a Canada that provides it as a matter of law.

......

Fortunately, the news is not all bad:

Celebrating Canada's multiculturalism

... It is often overlooked that Canada has the highest immigration rate on the planet. However, it was only in the 1960s that Canada abandoned its racist immigration policies and began admitting newcomers according to their skills and qualifications rather than their nations of origin.

...Much has been achieved over time. Once it seemed likely that Canada could never aspire to genuine equality for newcomers, let alone achieve it. How things have changed.

It is noteworthy that 80 per cent of recent immigrants after four years in the country say that if they had to do it again they would make the same decision and come to Canada.

What about Muslims as immigrants? Today they are about 2.5 per cent of the total population, numbering about 850,000. It is the fastest growing religion in the country. The median age of Canadian Muslims is about a decade lower than the median age of the population at large.

Among foreign-born Muslims, about half have come to Canada in the last 10 years. Thirty per cent have been in Canada from 11 to 19 years, and 17 per cent have been in this country for two decades or longer. About 60 per cent of them live in Ontario, 20 per cent in Quebec.

Despite widespread unfavourable comment and some irresponsible alarm, it is clear, says the author, according to his research, that they tend to share important traits with other newcomers to Canada: optimism, enthusiasm for their adopted country, a desire to improve their lives and the wish to be treated fairly.

....


A tidbit from Toronto history will be illuminating as to how Canadian governments have typically responded to racial provocation.

An elderly uncle of mine still speaks with pride of his role in defending the Jews of Toronto in 1933 by being part of the fabled Christie Pits riots. The event is documented online by the Plaque Project as follow:

In 1933, shortly after Adolph Hitler was elected to power in Germany, newspaper articles reached Toronto bringing with them news of the atrocities the Nazis were carrying out against Jews there. Toronto’s anti-Semites became inspired by what they read, and began adopting the swastika symbol. In July of that year a group of residents from the Beaches neighbourhood formed the Balmy Beach Swastika Club. They complained about the crowding, litter and ‘vulgarity’ at the beach, which they attributed to the large number of ‘obnoxious visitors’ who were riding the street cars out to the beach that summer. Many of these visitors were Jewish, and anti-Semitism seemed to be a cornerstone of the Swastika Club; they wore and posted swastikas and they attempted to have Jews and other ‘foreiners’ banned them from the beach. Even though the beach was a public park Beaches residents including the Swastika Club saw it as very much their own, and private. All of this outraged the Jewish community.

...On August 14th huge crowds gathered at Christie Pits for a baseball game, the first game of a tournament between the St. Peters’ team and the predominately Jewish Harbord Playground team. The game took place in a neighbourhood that Jews had just started moving into, and racial animosities were running high. The Harbord Playground team won the game despite the taunting from the crowd and the flying of a swastika banner. The next morning there was a giant swastika and large lettering that read Heil Hitler painted on the top of the Christie Pits clubhouse. This increased tensions and brought even more people out to the next game on August 16th. During that game a group of St. Peters’ supporters raised a white bed sheet with a swastika painted on it. A group of Jews went to tear it down. This ignited a fight, and soon the thousands of spectators had joined the brawl. The two sides violently clashed, battling each other and fighting for the bed sheet. Many residents in the area who were not involved in the baseball game “ came out of their houses with bats and sticks because they were after the Jews”. One Jewish boy was hit on the head and needed to be rushed to hospital, but rumour spread that he had been killed. As news of the riot hit the Jewish areas many more Jews (along with their Italian allies) headed north to join the massive brawl. Metal pipes and baseball bats were wielded as weapons. Pitch battles continued late into the night and spread to neighbouring streets and alleys as police closed down the park.

Only two days after the riot fears of further violence forced city council to ban the Swastika symbol from Toronto’s streets.

Even in 1933, Canadian sensibilities favoured legislation prohibiting the public display of incendiary symbols, as a measure to avoid the foment of racial discord and violence.

Apparently, it worked then.

I do not note any slippery slope toward totalitarianism that has followed.

......

The notion that human rights commissions are somehow "liberal" is worthy of passing comment. Alberta has had Progressive Conseratives in power continuously since 1971. Alberta's first human rights legislation was enacted in 1972. Do the math.

......

America has Skokie. We have Human Rights Commissions.

Either approach works. But I'll stick with ours, thanks.

.....

Finally, I do not see the complaints against Mr. Levant as anywhere near as frivolous as those against Mark Steyn. Mark Steyn may offend some with his theories, but that is clearly not his objective, nor is offense the inevitable result of his work.

Mr. Levant chose, knowingly, to publish and republish deeply offensive cartoons that he was well aware had led to serious upset, outrage and violence after prior publications overseas.

Let us not conflate Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. These are very different cases.

Mark Steyn is a serious, talented writer. We do not have to agree with his views to at least recognize his highly researched, if controversial, efforts to analyze and address the key issues of our times. I have repeatedly stated my view that the complaints against Mr. Steyn are dubious and unlikely to succeed. His conclusions may be debatable, but his freedom to express them should never be.

By contrast, in the impugned publication, Mr. Levant has created nothing. His "big stand" involved copying and pasting. He published a series of inflammatory comic drawings that most of the Western media wisely saw fit to avoid, after observing the great offense taken to them by the Islamic world.

Mr. Levant knew exactly what he was doing. He cries foul, but his is the cry of one who makes the fatal mistake of pretending to be above the law.

Did Mr. Levant cross a legal line by publishing the offending cartoons, or by republishing them earlier this week? Did any of his comments before the Commission, now published on YouTube for the world to see, cross any lines?

Maybe. Maybe not.

That, as a matter of law, is now up to the Commission, and perhaps, appellate courts to decide.

As always, the Commission will fulfil its legislated mandate. That is its statutory role. Some readers get angry with me for noting that reality, but I will note it again, nonetheless.

Let's be clear - the Commission is not on trial here.

What is on trial is Ezra's Law.

........................

UPDATE: January 17, 2008

I appreciate the many comments to this post, many of which are quite thoughtful. I entirely agree with the many persuasive arguments raised in favour of treading very carefully, indeed, with respect to anything that purports to limit freedom of expression in Canada.

Many of the commenter' arguments raised are largely in line with the Supreme Court of Canada's 1990 decision in Canada (Human Rights Commission) v. Taylor, which, to some extent, defined the balancing of interests necessary in the consideration of these kinds of cases. I will again excerpt from the slim majority's ruling:

58 I find it helpful to address the question of whether s. 13(1) minimally impairs the freedom of expression by examining in turn the arguments marshalled by the appellants and the CCLA in support of striking down the section. One of the strongest of these arguments is the complaint that the phrase "hatred or contempt" used in s. 13(1) is overbroad and excessively vague. Specifically, it is said that the wide range of meanings available for both "hatred" and "contempt" extend the scope of the section to cover expression not causing the harm which Parliament seeks to prevent. Additionally, the appellants contend that the process of determining whether a particular communication is likely to expose persons to "hatred or contempt" is necessarily subjective, leaving open the possibility that in deciding whether a complaint is well-founded the Tribunal will fall into the error of censuring expression simply because it is felt to be offensive.

59 When considering the scope of the phrase "hatred or contempt", it is worthwhile mentioning that the nature of human rights legislation militates against an unduly narrow reading of s. 13(1). As was stated by Lamer J. in Insurance Corp. of British Columbia v. Heerspink, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 145, at p. 158, a human rights code "is not to be treated as another ordinary law of general application. It should be recognized for what it is, a fundamental law". I therefore do not wish to transgress the well-established principle that the rights enumerated in such a code should be given their full recognition and effect through a fair, large and liberal interpretation. At the same time, however, the purposive definition to be given a human rights code cannot extend so far as to permit the limitation of a Charter right or freedom not otherwise justified under s. 1.
60 In my view, there is no conflict between providing a meaningful interpretation of s. 13(1) and protecting the s. 2(b) freedom of expression so long as the interpretation of the words "hatred" and "contempt" is fully informed by an awareness that Parliament's objective is to protect the equality and dignity of all individuals by reducing the incidence of harm-causing expression. Such a perspective was employed by the Human Rights Tribunal in Nealy v. Johnston (1989), 10 C.H.R.R. D/6450, the most recent decision regarding s. 13(1), where it was noted, at p. D/6469, that: In defining "hatred" the Tribunal [in Taylor] applied the definition in the Oxford English Dictionary (1971 ed.) which reads (at p. 28):
active dislike, detestation, enmity, ill-will, malevolence.

The Tribunal drew on the same source for their definition of "contempt". It was characterized as the condition of being condemned or despised; dishonour or disgrace. As there is no definition of "hatred" or "contempt" within the [Canadian Human Rights Act] it is necessary to rely on what might be described as common understandings of the meaning of these terms. Clearly these are terms which have a potentially emotive content and how they are related to particular factual contexts by different individuals will vary. There is nevertheless an important core of meaning in both, which the dictionary definitions capture. With "hatred" the focus is a set of emotions and feelings which involve extreme ill will towards another person or group of persons. To say that one "hates" another means in effect that one finds no redeeming qualities in the latter. It is a term, however, which does not necessarily involve the mental process of "looking down" on another or others. It is quite possible to "hate" someone who one feels is superior to one in intelligence, wealth or power. None of the synonyms used in the dictionary definition for "hatred" give any clues to the motivation for the ill will. "Contempt" is by contrast a term which suggests a mental process of "looking down" upon or treating as inferior the object of one's feelings. This is captured by the dictionary definition relied on in Taylor ... in the use of the terms "despised", "dishonour" or "disgrace". Although the person can be "hated" (i.e. actively disliked) and treated with "contempt" (i.e. looked down upon), the terms are not fully coextensive, because "hatred" is in some instances the product of envy of superior qualities, which "contempt" by definition cannot be. [Emphasis added.]

61 The approach taken in Nealy gives full force and recognition to the purpose of the Canadian Human Rights Act while remaining consistent with the Charter. The reference to "hatred" in the above quotation speaks of "extreme" ill-will and an emotion which allows for "no redeeming qualities" in the person at whom it is directed. "Contempt" appears to be viewed as similarly extreme, though is felt by the Tribunal to describe more appropriately circumstances where the object of one's feelings is looked down upon. According to the reading of the Tribunal, s. 13(1) thus refers to unusually strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification, and I do not find this interpretation to be particularly expansive. To the extent that the section may impose a slightly broader limit upon freedom of expression than does s. 319(2) of the Criminal Code, however, I [page929] am of the view that the conciliatory bent of a human rights statute renders such a limit more acceptable than would be the case with a criminal provision. 62 In sum, the language employed in s. 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act extends only to that expression giving rise to the evil sought to be eradicated and provides a standard of conduct sufficiently precise to prevent the unacceptable chilling of expressive activity. Moreover, as long as the Human Rights Tribunal continues to be well aware of the purpose of s. 13(1) and pays heed to the ardent and extreme nature of feeling described in the phrase "hatred or contempt", there is little danger that subjective opinion as to offensiveness will supplant the proper meaning of the section. (emphasis added)

As I noted in my conclusion to this post, I do not know whether Mr. Levant has crossed any legal line. That will be for the tribunal to decide, if the case proceeds beyond this stage. If nothing else, Mr. Levant wishes to test or challenge this very area of law, and he now has his opportunity.

I also will reiterate my thought that Canada will benefit from further definition from the appellate Courts on how the Supreme Court of Canada's comments are to be interpreted in a modern, internet environment. I have said as much in prior posts:

Having reviewed much of what has been written, including Ezra Levant's summary of recent tribunal decisions in the National Post, my impression, however, is that our human rights tribunals have at times been inconsistent and unduly restrictive in deciding freedom of expression cases.

That is probably as much due to the absence of any genuine guidance from the Supreme Court of Canada since 1990's Canada (Human Rights Commission) v. Taylor, as any other factor.

There is a proper, but narrow role for human rights tribunals in dealing with the strongest and most noxious instances of hate speech, as originally intended. That is the law in Canada, as resolved by Taylor, and as a matter of public policy, I believe it to be a justifiable limit, to be employed in extreme, rare cases.

The human rights commissions' terms of reference badly require clarification by the courts to redefine their functions in a modern, internet-based communications universe. The primacy of the Charter of Rights in freedom of expression cases that come before the tribunals would benefit from judicial restatement.

While much of the ongoing discussion of human rights commissions has been devisive and polarized, I continue to view our Human Rights tribunals and Courts as well able to handle the challenge of striking the appropriate balance.

Finally, it has come to my attention that a few writers have inaccurately characterized my comments in the above post as somehow "calling" for specific professional sanction againt Mr. Levant. My post did not take that position.

My comments did, however, underline my sincere view that there is nothing appropriate about calling a Human Rights Commission investigator a "thug" in the midst of an investigation.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

Visit our Toronto Law Firm website: www.wiselaw.net

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34 comments:

Ted S. said...

Ah, thank you, Mr. Wise for answering my question, "Who are the good guys, then Mr. Wise?"* So today's answer turns out be that the good guys are Muslims who riot in opposition to free speech. And the professional victims filing administrative complaints in opposition to free speech. And the fascist tribunals dedicated to controlling speech. And the equivocating lawyers justifying government control of speech. And your own grand self.

Well, it's nice to know which side you're on.

It's hard to top your unintentionally hilarious/tragic comment, "America has Skokie. We have Human Rights Commissions. Either approach works." Skokie is shorthand for the US court decision that "government officials may not impose restrictions ... in order to censor a particular viewpoint or because they dislike the content of the message."

So, yes Mr. Wise, you are correct. America has freedom. Canada has fascism. What is bizarre is that a lawyer publicly accounts the difference between freedom and fascism as if it were a choice between coffee and tea: "either approach works." Bizarre. Really.

Indeed if your objective is for the trains to run on time, then arguably fascism works better. So why be so tepid? The HRCs give you the result you want. Get rid of those messy freedoms that produce results you find so "offensive". Because after all, that is what it is about for you: free expression for innocuousness, fascist tribunals for those who "offend" you. What a mild mannered moderate you turn out to be. But then so were those mid-level Nazi party functionaries who were "just doing their job".

They came for Ezra Levant, but you didn't object because you weren't Ezra Levant..." I think you know where this leads.

Good luck with you continuing excuses for why the Jew Ezra Levant should be persecuted while the Jew Garry Wise is one of the "good guys".

I feel very sorry for you, triangulating away at why you should be spared as your fellow Canadian is sacrificed. Do you really not remember how this game works out in the end?



*Actually, my question was, "OK Mr Wise, so you tell us, who ARE the 'good guys' here?" [see http://wiselaw.blogspot.com/2008/01/free-speech-mark-steyn-and-us-anti.html#c6507779129256635556] It wouldn't make much difference that you misquoted me, except that I thought lawyers were professionally careful about quotations. For this case you seem to make a lot of exceptions, not just in technically misquoting me, but much more grossly in devoting an entire to post to attributing to Ezra Levant claims he never made for himself. Levant reminded the Commissar of Canada's basic Charter of Freedoms, and you describe him as claiming to be a law unto himself. That would be laughable coming from a hack, but coming from an Osgoode Hall lawyer, it is ... disturbing.

bigcitylib said...

"Mark Steyn is a serious, talented writer."

The one blemish on an otherwise wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

I see you have changed your tune on Mark Steyn - in your previous posts you were not at all certain that "his freedom to express his views should never be questioned?"

Im not sure though, other than his arrogance, what you have against Ezra. Wasnt the readership of the Western Standard allowed to see the cartoons that had been the subject of the news for so long?

Should Ezra's publishing decisions depend on what an angry mob does in Europe?

Do you feel that when an angry mob of lunatics rises up we should accept all their demands to calm them down?

If an angry mob of christians, angry at the depiction of Jesus with an erection in NY (not a joke, this is in the news) started rioting and killing people, would you take the side of the christian rioters and advocate for the withdrawal of the exhibition?

I think, that if you're going to judge Ezra so harshly, you should definitely address the above questions.

Mike Brock said...

The only problem with your entire argument Gary, is that Ezra Levant was not acting in his capacity as a lawyer, he was responding as the accused.

And no, it's not Ezra's Law. Section 2 of the charter describes quite specific rights to free speech and the press.

As we have just seen with a lower court throwing out the charges against David Ahenakew, I somehow doubt that a court would achieve a conviction against Ezra Levant for any of these charges.

Since what constitutes legal limits on freedom of speech, especially in regards to the publishing of "cartoons" that are offensive to Muslims, is almost purely open to interpretation. This is not a debate about Ezra's Law vs. Real Law. This is a debate between Ezra's interpretation of the law, and your interpretation of the law.

To mention the Ahenekaw case again: the standards by which real courts have upheld hate speech convictions is incredibly high. And if we were to use jurisprudence in hate speech cases as any basis, we could conclude that no court would convict Ezra Levant.

Of course, the Human Rights Tribunal doesn't apply the same high standards that a court of law does. You prefer this. You're defending the right of Human Rights Tribunal's to apply a completely different standard of proof (a much lower standard).

Certainly a Human Rights Tribunal is a not a criminal court, and cannot impose criminal penalties, but it's process alone is what strains credibility.

As Ezra mentioned in his opening statement, the very people who instituted human rights commissions back in the 1970's have commented that even they believe the tribunals are exceeding their mandate.

So don't try to pretend like you're any more an authority on this than the very people you are debating.

It makes you look dumb.

Anonymous said...

"Some theorists have gone so far as to suggest Islamic immigrants have arrived, armed with a master plan to convert Canada and America into Islamic outposts under Sharia law"

Actually, they arrived with Koran, which is exactly master plan to convert all infidels by coercion, military or demographically conquest to establish Sharia Law worldwide. This is not hypothesis or speculation, is not "theory": this is a statement of fact. Imams proclame this master plan openly, in every madrassa in the world, and in Canada too. Your analogy with Jewish immigration to Canada is ridicule: Jews never were vilent tribe in modern history; Arabs and other Muslims inherently are. Some cultures mix well, as Judaism and Christianity; other do not. Muslim culture demonstrated its inability to mix well with ANY other culture. It is inherently intolerant. So or ban completely any further Muslim immigration, or wait untill Toronto would look like Saraevo or Kosovo in 90es - two or three decades from now.

Nomennovum said...

I love it. Ezra Lavant is hauled against his will before a court (what in Canada is called a “commission”), and you say he “ambush[ed], bull[ied] and harangue[d] the very unfortunate woman [who is the prosecutor and judge of this court]. Next you say you support free speech, but then you say “I am glad Canada now provides a legal remedy against egregiously discriminatory provocation and INSULT” [emphasis added.]

Short version: “Not only do Canadians have no real right to free speech, they have no right even to criticize those who seek to take away this purported right.”

I guess there is a twisted logic to all this, Mr. Wise. After all, Mr. Levant broke a law prohibiting speech. By what right does a criminal criticize the enforcer of such anti-speech codes? Levant is twice violating the law against insulting speech. Throw the un-funny, un-Canadian, ersatz Jew shyster in jail!

In my humble opinion, though, if many Canadians agree with your logic, Canada is screwed.

Anonymous said...

For a lawyer, you have a very poor grasp of facts.
What's before the HRC is the publishing of cartoons, not any other statements or remarks Mr. Levant or others may or may not have made.
Your rambling does not deal in any way whatsoever with the issue at all, which is, why does the government, through the HRC feel it needs to investigate the publishing of cartoons.

Iain said...

Dear Mr. Wise:

You've missed the point. The issue with Ezra Levant isn't some "law" of his own making it is whether the re-publication of some cartoons from Denmark (intended there, by the way, to raise the issue of censorship) create a breach of the Alberta human rights legislation and whether human rights should even cover such matters as "hurt feelings."

I have acted as counsel for a Human Rights tribunal, appeared before them and appealed their decisions on behalf of clients in more than one Canadian province.

The think-tank I direct has, for over 15 years, monitored cases involving freedom of conscience and religion in Canada. I tell you this.

There is a steady and growing group of people in Canada concerned with the kinds of things that human rights tribunals and Commissions do in the name of human rights.

Along with Alan Borovoy, Canada's leading civil libertarian, I believe that human rights tribunals are going well beyond what they should be looking into. They pose an increasing threat to the exercise of genuine civil freedom.

You are, with respect, naieve if you do not see the threat to genuine freedom of expression, the press and other fundamental freedoms from challenges such as this one to Mr. Levant.

What was it Huey Long said? "When fascism comes to America it will come in the name of democracy"?

Well, he wrote that before the new human rights regimes found their feet and decided to put them to use stamping on the freedoms of citizens.

There is a reason that civil libertarians have on more than one occasion in recent years appeared on the same side of legal arguments with religious communities and individuals to challenge developments that in every other way satisfy the claims of the "new Anti-liberals."

We need more people with the courage to challenge error where it appears and fewer lawyers who are insufficiently informed about what is going on in Canada.

Ezra Levant, unlike some others less wise than himself, is not one of these.

Iain T. Benson
Barrister & Solicitor
Executive Director
Centre for Cultural Renewal (Ottawa)

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Brilliant post. Thank you, from an American who chose Canada.

It should also be said that if Mr. Levant wants to live in a society that chooses the Skokie option rather than the human rights commission one, that option is quite open to him without him ruining things for the rest of us.

Mike said...

"Ezra Lavant is hauled against his will before a court "

BZZZZZT. Wrong.

Levant could have answered by sending a registered letter detailing his side of the story. He choose to show up in person, tape the proceedings and rant in front of the camera. This entire thing was orchestrated by Levant, manufactured to make him appear to be a martyr.

Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with HRC's either, but they are not a court (as you say...hell, that they weren't a court was one of Levant's argument's against them, if you had been paying attention) and Levant was in no way compelled to appear.

Indeed, this whole incident points to one of the big reasons I do not like HRC's and such - they give angry bigots like Levant a platform to spout their hate and a cause around which to rally gullible people like nomenovem. It give his nonsense an air of creidibility it does not deserve.

John Milton made that very arguement in 1644 in Areopagitica. Too bad we haven't learned.

passer-by said...

A question with regard to the recording and publication. Ezra, as others have pointed out, was not the lawyer in this case. But apparently his lawyer was present. Has Ezra's lawyer violated the law society rules by participating in this?

Nomennovum said...

Mike,

I had said, ""Ezra Lavant is hauled against his will before a court."

You replied, "BZZZZZT. Wrong. Levant could have answered by sending a registered letter detailing his side of the story."

That, Mike, is called "a distinction without a difference." (But thanks for the early afternoon laugh.)

And thank you for pointing out the obvious to me that the commission is "not a court (as you say...hell, that they weren't a court was one of Levant's argument's against them ...."

Perhaps you missed this from my comment or failed to grasp its meaning: "Ezra Lavant is hauled against his will before a court (what in Canada is called a “commission”)."

Are simple rhetorical devices beyond your ken or was it you who was not “paying attention” and not me?

Finally, please point out the part of Levant’s speech before the commission where he “spouted his hate” (of anything except for the process imposed by his grand inquisitors) or otherwise showed himself a “bigot.” Surely, you are not relying on what other people say about Levant’s purported bigotry. Why, that would be … “gullible.”

Nomennovum said...

Idealistic Pragmatist,

You have evidently made the right choice in where you live, and I salute you for it. Thank you.

Have a nice life. That, after all, is the intent of anti-hate speech laws. “Niceness uber alles.” A little smiley-faced fascism can be quite pleasant – not to mention, pragmatic. No?

Purple Library Guy said...

John Milton clearly didn't believe himself, mind you, or he wouldn't have gotten a job as a censor after his side won.

sgi said...

Mr. Wise, I am patiently waiting for you to file a complaint with the appropriate human rights commissions about the persistent demonizing of the Jewish/Zionist community in Canada by the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mr. Mohammed Elmasry, Montreal Muslim News, Canadian Arab Federation, Canpalnet, the sponsors and signatories to the "Israeli Boycott" campaign, the sponsors and signatories of "Israeli Apartheid Week", the sponsors and signatories of the "Boycott Chapters/Indigo" campaign, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and lets not forget that FaceBook group!

You see Mr. Wise, you can not have it both ways. If you can not support your fellow Canadian Jew Ezra Levant (his Jewishness has nothing to do with it, but since you inserted the issue...) in his vigorous defense of our freedom of expression, then how, as a Canadian Jew, can you possibly tolerate for one more second the deliberate, despicable coordinated campaign to demonize and intimidate your entire community?

I am intimidated, I am frightened, I am "offended" and I am not Jewish.

Eileen R said...

Well, you've certainly blown any idea of yours being the moderate legal opinion out of the water.

Won't be back.

Anonymous said...

On the question of whether or not Ezra was acting as a lawyer: "As a lawyer I've made plenty of closing arguments before, but not for myself…"

Anonymous said...

This entire thing was orchestrated by Levant, manufactured to make him appear to be a martyr.

Riciculous. Good for Levant who used his gravitas and sophistication to shine a light on that Stalinesque charade. He's is a martyr as is any poor shulb trotted before this abominable thought crimes court where acquitals are zero. Check that out.

Free speech includes the chance of being offended. To allow the state to arbitrate free speech is sheer stupidity.

SorenK said...

He did amuse me.

It made me proud as a fellow member of the Commonwealth.

And as a fellow lawyer.

And as an atheist.

This is going to go all the way. All the way to a final result. Either way.
And it's becuase of brave people like Ezra that we will finally get a result.

Bravo Ezra - Allez mon pote.

deepsix said...

Mr Wise,

You make good points about the unprofessional nature of Levant's tone, and his insulting the official in charge of his file. And you are right that Ezra Levant is a publicity seeking clown.

A few thoughts: Levant's tone aside, it IS legitimate to challenge the validity of a section of law, or a law related procedure, by holding it up to other law, including the constitution and the common law tradition. And it is also acceptable to charge jurisdictional overreach in the very court you're accusing of overreach.

However, your comment on "Ezra's Law" makes a good point. Interestingly, conservatives often scream 'judicial activism' when courts strike down laws as violating 'basic principles of justice' or other 'principles' not positivized into actual law. Rightly, they accuse judges as trying to be philosopher king's, trying to discover the 'true meaning' of equality, for example.

Among other things, Levant seems to be doing exactly that - refering to basic principles, ideas of liberty, and 'rights', including some not found in positive law. At very least, his reference is 'principles' beyond the positive law.

Can I infer from your rejection of "Ezra's Law" that Mr Wise opposes "Bertha's Law" (in Bertha Wilson's strange concurrent decision in Morgetaler for example), or "Henry's law" (when Henry Blackmun creates a 'right to privacy') as much as Ezra's?

Sholto Douglas said...

One aspect you miss, Mr. Wise, is the one-sided nature of these commissions. By the nature of these things, they will be staffed with left wing activists who will project their biases accordingly.
So to my knowledge no official body has tried to ban the “work” by Terence Koh of Jesus with an erect penis, nor of Piss Christ, nor of the Virgin Mary covered in dung. These were far more offensive than the bland Mohammed cartoons, but to the chatteroids who adjudicate these matters, with their curious ethnic and cultural self loathing, Christians are just not one of the fashionable groups worthy of protection. Hurt feelings? Tough.
They show neither the respect to refrain from offending anyone, nor the balls to ruffle everyone. To insult those who will not slit your throat, while showing fawning deference to those who will, is contemptible. It could be called Wise’s Law.

Anonymous said...

Levant (and Maclean's) should no-show the HRC proceedings, wait for the outcome & then sue 'em in all in federal court, if necessary. The HRCs can't fine people for cartoons. A real court will determine this and fix the problem.

John B said...

Mr. Wise:

"His "big stand" involved copying and pasting. He published a series of inflammatory comic drawings that most of the Western media wisely saw fit to avoid, after observing the great offense taken to them by the Islamic world."

Indeed, the great offense taken by the Islamic world included murdering a nun in Egypt. The one great benefit of all this may be that it will show whether Canada has a constitution worthy of that name. Either we have freedom of expression (including the press) or we don't. Too bad it's in the hands of politically appointed civil servants and not real judges.

Anonymous said...

Levant could have answered by sending a registered letter detailing his side of the story.

This is incorrect - it confuses (a) the initial response to a complaint with (b) a response to an investigation. The relevant portions of the Alberta act can be read here and here. To summarize: when a complaint is filed, the respondent has 21 days (see section 3 of the by-laws) in which to file a written response (which Ezra did - you can read it here). If the commission elects not to dismiss the complaint at that point (see sections 21 and 22 of the Act), and an investigation is commenced (as occurred in the Levant case), the commission has the power to compel individuals to appear at an oral hearing - a power which is backed by court order (see sections 23 and 24). In short, if an investigator requests an oral hearing, you don't have an option to respond in writing and you don't have an option not to attend - unless you want to get thrown in jail for violating a court order.

Mike said...

"Ezra Lavant is hauled against his will before a court (what in Canada is called a “commission”)."

He was not "hauled" anywhere, he did not have to appear.

He did not appear "against his will", he went of his own free will and accord.

A commission is definitely NOT a court.

This is not just differences in wording, Nov. The generally accepted meaning of the colloquial "hauled before a court" is that one is brought before a judge, in an actual court of law, usually by a cop. "Against his will" is very unambiguous. It implies he had no choice but to appear, when in fact he did. Sending a letter is not appearing. He could have chosen to ignore the whole process.

But then, he wouldn't have got all those juicy Youtube videos.

Don't try to pretend you meant something other than you wrote. You are being dishonest. You know damn well what "hauled before against his will before a court" literally means and in this context implies. And you also know you are wrong.

I'd laugh at your idiocy if it wasn't so sad and obviously partisan.

Anonymous said...

Ezra Levant, one nation unto himself. Under Ezra.

There is nothing new about the hard time that has been afforded Muslim immigrants to Canada by these self-appointed "protectors of the nation."


-It seems you have little idea how a free society works. In a democracy we all share in a covenant to act as guarantors for each other's freedom. We all must appoint ourselves to this task. Actually, you half grasp this idea, clearly wanting to appoint yourself a protector of our nation, and yet you cannot grasp that in our work as protectors of the nation, means do not justify ends. You would use totalitarian methods to guarantee some alleged victim group's freedom. But that can't ever work, because, for one thing, freedoms like freedom of speech are indivisible; we all have it, or none of us have it, except at the will of the powers that be and their passing fancies for who is a deserving victim and who an oppressor. But because you identify with the politically-correct authority of the day, you can't see this. What if tomorrow you have a change of heart and think Muslims are the bad guys? Where will they be then if your idea of prosecuting bad guys prevails?

The times in which we live demand that we learn to recognize that the means are the ends. Thought policing goes nowhere but thought policing.

You remind me of people convinced that communism was a good idea, so convinced they would kill millions before finding out it can't work. And some still don't get it. Ends do not justify means! Liberal ends are always in conflict with the means that would bring them about because institutionalized methods always compromise the liberating end. Such human paradox is a reason for humility, and the rule of law, applied equally to all, not self-righteousness. But how on earth could one ever apply a law againts "hate" equally? Can't you see how subjective is anyone's conception of hate? There is no judge in the land sufficiently wise or disinterested to apply a law against hate equally. Such a law positively requires a judiciary mired in political correctness, which is what we now have.

Have you read the Koran? A book that threatens the unbeliever with great regularity? One could easily make an argument that it is hate speech (it is clearly a resentful reaction to the earlier monotheist claims to be in covenant with the one God, just as Christianity is structurally Judeophobic, such that the task of the good Christian - or Muslim - is to learn to transcend Judeophobia, something that cannot be taken for granted). But it would be insane if we tried to prosecute Islamic preachers. Where would we stop? Where would we draw the line? All people are resentful. It's a universal human fact. You, sir, are mired in it. And all resentment is delusional, to some degree. yes, all humans are delusional to some degree - which is precisely why we need freedom of speech and not self-righteous arbiters of what resentments are good and holy, and which not. Just try thinking rationally about what resentment is - what kind of relationship to the sacred it entails - when you are feeling resentful. It can't be done. We are not fully rational beings when we are working up a steam against our myth-mediated consciousness of enemies, like "right wing fascists". Don't you see how your characterization of Levant is so crudely scapegoating in form? Don't you see that you need to hold up the mirror when railing against that alleged hate monger?

Do you not see that your whole discourse here is not a defense of Muslim-Canadian freedom to be treated as free and responsible individuals? It is a call for them to be treated as victims who can't live with any kind of "offense" to their religion. It is patronizingly to tell Muslims they belong to a group resentment, and do not have the skins to decide for themselves what these cartoons mean. They are not free individuals, in your way of thinking. Because if you granted them freedom as individual Canadians, they wouldn't need you to act as their group protector, at least not in the way you are acting now, which appears to be the only way you know how to act politically. We each need you to act as a guarantor of our individual freedoms, not of oppressive group resentments. It simply isn't true that Canadians are generally out to oppress minorities today in the way you imply. The vast majority of Canadians will defend their neighbor's freedom and security, without need for the kind of totalitarian thought crime police you envision. You create a myth of victimhood, because that is how you understand the world in general.

Just imagine if we tried generally to implement the rule that no one need suffer offense to some aspect of their identity? We'd be in a world where no one could ever say anything.

You cast yourself as a progressive voice, but to my mind you are the perfect replica of the self-righteous "progressive" whites who once championed the White Man's Burden. Just as the liberal Victorian racists were blind to what they were about, due to "progressive" self-righteousness, so are you. You need victims on the scenes of your political and esthetic consciousness to make sense of the world. Your "religion" is victimary, it seems to me. This post makes clear that you have a positive need for victims, which is a form of violence in and of itself - something Judaism has always struggled against.

By the way, every Jewish male of a certain age in Toronto claims/ed to have been at the Christie Pits riots. Such is the allure of the sacred and sacrificial, but it is an allure that wise people eventually learn to do without. That is how we become free individuals.

Anonymous, because I truly live in fear of what people like you would like to do to people who express their opinions about freedom freely.

Nomennovum said...

"You are being dishonest." -- Mike addressing me.

I don't have to lie, Mike. To prove what I meant you need only quote my words that immediately followed "hauled before the court."

What I said was, "Ezra Lavant is hauled against his will before a court (what in Canada is called a “commission”) ...."

Why you twice omit that parenthetical, I can only guess. It is quite important to understanding the meaning of my words. But here's a guess as to why you twice omitted certain of my words: You want to mislead, to create a false impression of what I said. In short, you lie. You lie, Mike. Not me.

Why don't you stop it? Could it be true that you are NOT lying, that you are just too stupid to comprehend the rhetorical device I was using with the phrase "hauled before a court (what in Canada is called a 'commission')? No one else appears to have your problem with the English language. Clearly, I knew when I wrote those words that this was not a "court" in the legal sense of the word. (If you read my other comment on an earlier thread, where I make this explicit for you over-literal bores, you would know this; however, I expect you are too lazy and rabid in your views to bother to find this out.)

Nevertheless, in one respect my logic in calling the commission a “court” is wrong, and I made this distinction in the other thread (that I need to write this for you, Mike, just emphasizes how foolish your accusations are). The commission is not only acting as a court in this case, it is acting as cop and prosecutor also. That is a sinificant part of the crime being committed against Levant’s inalienable rights here. How can anyone defend this abomination?

Next, when I said that your silly, over-technical, and really quite anal distinction between (a) Levant’s being "forced to appear" before the commission and (b) Levant’s option of “writing a letter" to the commission. This distinction is so mind-numbingly absurd, that I can only believe you wish to muddy the issue of the fact that Levant was compelled to answer to the commission the charges leveled against him. By “compel” I mean “force,” Mike. Whether he appears in person or sends a letter affects not one jot the fact that he has been charged with wrong-doing and he may be liable for his actions, which actions deal solely with what he put in print in a magazine. If he refused to appear or write a letter, would the penalties against Levant be any different, Mike? If it chose to write a letter instead of addressing the commission in person, would it make any difference in how the commission decides his case? Did Levant have a choice whether to respond to the commission? No, no, and no. The bottom line fact is that Levant was compelled to answer these absurd charges against him. How he answered the charges makes no difference. The fact that he had a choice in HOW he answered the charges is irrelevant to anything in the case, Mike.

This is the reason I wrote to you that you made a “distinction without a difference." Have you ever heard of this phrase, Mike? Do you have any idea what it means? Even I don't think you are so stupid as not to know exactly what I was saying. I know this because I can see with my eyes that you know how to write in English. The only conclusion we can reach, therefore, is that you intend to mislead the readers here, Mike. You haven’t gotten away with it.

Mike, you have repeated yourself in your attacks on me. I've had to answer you identically both times. I suggest you stop; you are embarrassing yourself and boring me (and probably others). You must be a first year law student. Am I right or are you just a poseur?

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not impressed by what you have quoted in the Update. Judges no doubt like to imagine themselves as the great balancers of competing claims, but sometimes they should know that what they aim to achieve in their flights of metaphysical gymnastics are never going to be readily applied in courtrooms and closed-door "tribunals" of the land, as the history of HRCs has made clear in recent years. For example, why is hatred and scapegoating of "homophobes", i.e. people upholding long religious traditions of criticizing the "sin" (not the sinner), traditions originally designed to overcome cultures of pederasty, evidently more permissible in these "courts" than is hatred and scapegoating of homosexuals?

The question can only be answered by someone who already believes, without a doubt, and in contrast to the established wisdom of 3000 years of Western religion, that "homophobia" is worse than homosexuality. It implies such a certain belief or prejudice, not disinterestedness. Only then can the proper reference for terms like "hatred" or "contempt" be defined. Empirical observation of "hatred" cannot be the starting point, because we - all good thinking people - agree that some things should be hated, like "homophobia".

If the "courts" were capable of the metaphysical gymnastics your judgment suggests, how is it that we have come to the time when a Muslim, apparently less interested in individual freedom than in defending the Sharia proscriptions against blasphemy, can have his claim of victimization heard and paid for, against someone merely republishing cartoons of news worthiness? Is there any evidence Levant hates Muslims as individual human beings? I see the opposite. He loves individual freedom. What he hates is Islam, at least traditional or orthodox Shara-bound Islam. And if we can't have the right to hate what we consider a bad or untrue faith, then we don't have even the beginnings of freedom of thought and speech. This is clearly not a case where some balancing respectful of fundamental freedoms of speech went into the HRC's decision to run Levant through the mill.

But how, in their metaphysical flights of fancy are the "judges" going to distinguish hatred of Islam from hatred of Muslims? I doubt they will find a way to do this transparently or credibly. Even the attempt to distinguish "contempt" and "hate" in the judgment you quote, with its attempt to distinguish hatred of people for having "superior" qualities - obviously aimed at antisemitism - from "contempt" (but surely one can still have contempt for someone whom one deems superior in some ways...), betrays a need to move beyond the knee-jerk moral relativism where everyone has a supposed right not to be hated to acknowledge that humanity is involved in a historical struggle that eventually recognizes which values and beliefs are superior to others.

Empirically, are countries which limit freedom of speech safer for minorities than those that try to uphold the constitutional guarantee of free speech above all else - there is only one, the U.S., and even there there are now limits? I see no evidence. In fact, i think it is when governments and courts start trying to mediate group resentments instead of individual rights to freedom and the tough skin it requires that we see countries where people will no longer stand up for each other as individuals, but decline into tribal resentments. Check out France, or now Britain, for example, where the governments' only response to rising ethnic nationalism and religious supremacism is to enforce more and more politically correct speech codes. It's a losing path, quite possibly ending in civil war.

Hate speech crimes in Canada were first legislated, in the sixties, in response to the Holocaust, with the active participation of people like Trudeau who may well have felt guilty for his pre-war antisemitism. But are Jews and minorities really protected by such laws from a return to a Nazi-like state? Of course not. No Nazi-state would ever pay such a law a moment's notice. Guilt is delusional. The only thing that really protects Jews and minorities is a free society freed from official mediation of group resentments, a society with an emphasis on individual opportunities, and the courage and openness that real freedom requires. Stupid resentments and hatreds don't bother a truly free person. We don't need a culture of victims, once everyone is equal before the law. Such a culture can only lead to violence.

Political and legal gestures that once righted wrongs cannot do so forever. They face a law of diminishing returns as their truths become part of mundane life, their revelatory power thus discounted. Claims of "racism" exemplify this, as they are becoming more and more incoherent in their reliance on innuendo, less able to reveal real truths about humanity, as opposed to our political jockeying. A free person really should have no problem with someone making fun of his religion. It happens to me all the time.

Anonymous said...

I haven't bothered reading through all of this, so sorry if this has been said already, but just in case it hasn't I feel that I need to point this out.

We don't live in some sort of perfect world where everything just falls into place and everyone has rights that don't conflict. For example, as a Jew you have the right not to be discriminated against, right? And a Muslim person in Canada also has the right not to be discriminated against, right? How ironic that it's not possible for Jews and Muslims to be mutually free of discrimination. Why is that? Well, to find out let's take a look at one of the passages of the Qur'an:

"And verily, you will find them (the Jews) the greediest of mankind for life and (even greedier) than those who - ascribe partners to Allâh (and do not believe in Resurrection - Magians, pagans, and idolaters, etc.). Everyone of them wishes that he could be given a life of a thousand years. But the grant of such life will not save him even a little from (due) punishment. And Allâh is All-Seer of what they do." (2:96)

Can you honestly say that passage isn't discriminatory towards Jews? Oh my, according to the anti hate speech laws Islam should be banned from Canada because it spreads hate. But wait, according to the Charter and the Bill of Rights we have freedom of religion, right? Aaaaaand therein lies the problem. By trying to regulate hateful speech the HRC ends up putting some rights higher and some rights lower (hey, all rights equal, but some rights are *more* equal than others!)... and let me ask you this: Is that not the very *essence* of discrimination?

You know what the really sick thing is? I'm afraid that if I don't post this comment anonymously that I might get dragged before a tribunal (with the charge of discriminating the Muslim people) for pointing out a hateful, discriminatory section of the Qur'an. I'm beginning to feel like I'm living in the novel '1984' and it sucks!

Beverly Akerman said...

Dear Mr. Wise, have you ever actually looked at the cartoons that are the genesis of all this fuss? They are not offensive by any stretch of the non-fundamentalist imagination. See for yourself at http://michellemalkin.com/2006/01/30/support-denmark-why-the-forbidden-cartoons-matter/.
It is not up to me to tell anyone what they should and should not find offensive, but these cartoons are innocuous by Canadian standards.Perhaps the Human Rights Tribunal should have looked at the cartoons first and determined whether or not they would offend 'community standards,' similar to what used to be done with respect to obscenity.

Bottom line, no matter what you think of Mr. Levant, these cartoons are within acceptable parameters of Western editorial standards. This is a frivolous case.

Beverly Akerman said...

Dear Mr. Wise, have you ever actually LOOKED at the cartoons that are the genesis of all this fuss? They are not offensive by any stretch of the non-fundamentalist imagination. See for yourself at http://michellemalkin.com/2006/01/30/support-denmark-why-the-forbidden-cartoons-matter/.
It is not up to me to tell anyone what they should and should not find offensive, but these cartoons are innocuous by Canadian standards.Any depiction of the prophet Mohammed would be offensive to some Muslims.

Perhaps the Human Rights Tribunal should have looked at the cartoons first and determined whether or not there was any basis for going farther, whether they offend 'community standards,' similar to what used to be done with respect to obscenity.

Bottom line, no matter what you think of Mr. Levant, these cartoons are within acceptable parameters of Western editorial standards. This is a frivolous case.

Anonymous said...

A little late to the show, I know, but wow, You are one seriously deluded individual, Mr. Wise. And I must say right here that the first comment to your post, from Ted S., is absolutely brilliant. You should read it over and over again, like a lesson, until you get it.

First, let me say I'm an American and I live in America. But I make it a point to pay attention to what goes on in Europe, Canada, and Australia because as Western countries I believe it's only a matter of time when what is happening in any given W. country or region will spread to the next like a disease or a blessing, depending on the matter at hand.

I'm ashamed to admit I heard about the Ezra Levant story for the first time just a couple days ago, but I am utterly appalled and enraged to see what must be the final stretch of road in a rabidly politically correct country obsessed with a culture of victimization and the superceding rights of the minority. As to not offend the sensibilities of one person, the rights of another are squashed. The level of hypocrisy is simply astounding.

Another disturbing trend I'm seeing in western culture is the ceding, bit by bit, of our culture and way of life to appease the vocal (and sometimes violent) minority. Take for example the recent decision by Harvard to disallow males into a campus gym during certain hours-- this to accomodate Muslim women. Ana Veciana-Suarez in The Miami Herald actually defended the decision by pointing out that the gym in question was little used and on the edge of campus (but hey, Czechoslovakia wasn't using the Sudetenland either, were they?). Mr. Wise, you and your kind fail to see, acknowledge, and take action against threats until it is far too late. You think the Nazis sprung up and into power overnight? No, read your history, it took over a decade in a much "slower" world and time. If you bothered to pay attention you'd notice the cyclical nature of history and how it's just the players that change, not the deeds. But in the end, people like you ignore the threat until the blood flows like rivers and another generation is smashed to bits.

But hey, I'm sure I'm being reactionary, so you better get back to defending those who want to replace your Western culture with their Islamic one.

...and you're a Jew too.. simply amazing...

Anonymous said...

You completely miss the point of Ezra's campaign. The HRC's are offensive the the Charter right to freedom of speech. The tactics and lack of rule of law in the HRCs make them irrelevant. Section 13 is by far the most offensive. The tactics employed by some of the HRC Staff are deplorable. Basically entrapment. Let us not forget the illegal methods as well, such as hijacking the internet connection of a neighbor to their offices. Lately, withholding a transcript of the kangaroo court from the defendant, but providing a copy to a reporter. All involved should be FIRED! Any Lawyer that supports this abomination of justice should be disbarred for incompetence.

Blazing Cat Fur said...

Change your last name Garry.