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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Freedom to Read Week

I've just spent some time poking around the Freedom to Read website -- sponsored by the federal government, by the way.

I can't find a word about the cartoons. But, boy, they sure are standing up for freedom of speech with a planned public reading at -- where? The Danish consulate? The Western Standard?

No, silly. At a lesbian bookstore that many years ago had a squabble with customs about some pornography. I mean, if you're not even pretending to care about freedom speech anymore, why not keep your government grant, but at least shut down your website?

Posted by Ezra Levant on February 21, 2006 | Permalink


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With the state of education in Canada, shouldn't that be Freedom to read Weak?

Posted by: Duke | 2006-02-21 8:59:48 PM

But wait ... let's save the adverbs along with the environment ... that would be ... 'Freedom to read weakly"

Answers the question 'how do they read?'

Posted by: Duke | 2006-02-21 9:01:24 PM

Ezra- You weren't honestly expecting consistency were you? Moral relativism allows you to play pickseys-choseys, which is convenient.

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-21 9:03:00 PM

Duek: do yuo hvae a prbolem wiht publik skools! I am be a produck of dose skools, wehre I leanred how to tpye and splel.

Seriously, when it comes to Canadian history and culture, is there anything worth reading?

Posted by: Scott | 2006-02-21 9:04:03 PM

Scott - We had quite a showing in the WWI and WWII actually. Canadians were noted for professionalism and bravery.

I think it was after that things started to go swirling...

Let's see. Then there was ....

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-21 9:07:02 PM

Duke, I'm not sure. I'm a parent. I do not believe for one instant that it is up to a school to teach my children to read. That's their job and MY responsibility. Too many parents expect the school to do everything. Parents are not absolved of their responsibility. I read to my son every single day.

But then again, that's how I was raised. I was reading Reader's Digest at six.

Posted by: Heather Cook | 2006-02-21 9:24:15 PM

Just another of the gifts yhat keep on giving from the reptilian Liberal crowd ; Irwin Cotler Anne McClelland , Paula Martin , the usual nasty friends of the fudge packers crowd. FFP for short. It`s going to take a decade to fumigate this infection , maybe longer , just look at bilingualism as introduced by the master of perversion , PET.

Posted by: daveh | 2006-02-21 9:35:35 PM

Prometheus: in WWI that reputation was purchased at enormous cost. In WWII, the Cdn Army was poorly led and trained, resulting in hopeless battles in Normandy against much smaller German forces. The Cdn Army in WWII was a shadow of its WWI counterpart. Only national prejudice and flawed historical interpretations can account for it.

Someone should write a deconstructionist interpretation of Canadian military history to see just how fictional it really is.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-02-21 9:44:56 PM

I would recommend anything by George Grant or Professor H.D. Forbes. There's also a book called a History of Wealth in Canada by Meyers. That's some good Canadian writing.

Here's something interesting - up until a few days ago I had no idea that Michael Ignatieff is actually related to the late George Grant. I'm surprised he doesn't mention this at every opportunity. Maybe he will when he runs for the leadership.

Posted by: Howard Roark | 2006-02-21 9:50:40 PM

I`m sure that will make Ignatieff much more unobsdure than he is now. I sure can`t wait for this towering genius to deign to utter his profundities in parliament. I`m sure we will be waiting with bated breath , hanging on each syllable .

Posted by: daveh | 2006-02-21 9:57:26 PM

An article today states Canadian companies are looking for employees who can read - these people should apply.

Posted by: simpleton | 2006-02-21 10:42:14 PM


It's wonder that your parents were Mr. and Mrs. Clever. My parents barely knew I was alive. Most people I know, including my wife did not have ideal upbringings. We had to rely on schooling to learn to read, write and do basic math.

Once I had those skills I was able learn anything else I needed on a need-to-know-basis. My two brothers and I all managed to become succesful in our lives and are better for it. We were not babied as so many kids are today. We had to learn to learn.

The courts weren't as liberal as they are today so we knew that we had to stay out of trouble. Deterents do work for most people.

We were blessed to not be plagued with psychologists telling us all we need to be on drugs because we were normal. Nor did we have to deal with political correctness. We could call a spade a spade and therefore didn't get too confused about what was what.

Because our nation was a more 'real' place back then we had a chance to become normal adults without any major hang-ups.

Thakfully, I went to a school that made sure you didn't piss around and that you actually learned what was being taught with no excuses. I remember my toughest teachers most fondly.

We are now screwed! I know, because I pay attention.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-02-21 10:44:26 PM

Scott: Primary sources, man. There's a few books here and there, mostly written by retired officers, about what Canadians did what, when, in the Wars.

If you really feel the need, you can just pop by your local library and ask to see the newspaper records, or if you're in a small town, the museum, which will have all sorts of historical flotsam and jetsam.

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-02-21 11:02:50 PM

Someone stole Ezra's spotlight! And, to add insult to injury,they were lesbians!

Just a reminder to all you people who think people calling you names and filing human rights complaints is a threat to freedom of the press - the Charter guarantee of freedom of the press protects us from government action, not from pickets or protests or people who call us nasty names.

Unlike your beloved Western Standard, which has milked this controversy for subscription, the "lesbian bookstore" in question, Little Sisters, has fought Canada Customs in court for more than a decade over the right to import books -- some of which can be found in your local library (and some of which definitely can't).

If that whinging post does't expose the shallowness of Ezra's devotion to free speech, then you guys are a bigger bunch of sheep than I thought you were.

What a putz.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-21 11:14:24 PM

So, are we to infer from your rant that you are bitter or better because of your up bringing?

Or, is it that you feel it's better to be bitter?

Or, is your level embetterment directly proportionate to your level of bitterness?
Your choice.

Posted by: chandra | 2006-02-21 11:21:48 PM

This has been one of the darker few weeks for free speech in this country. Instead of standing up for the west's right to comment and to satirize, our major media's response to violent threats coming from Islamists has been to run away.

But the worst part, or at least, what's really been putting a knot in my stomach, is that even as our various media were buckling and betraying all that our veterans fought for, they actually had the gall to attack the one outlet -- the Western Standard -- who stood on solid ground and refused to bow to such thuggery.

This is not a likeable country at the moment. That "Freedom to Read" website Ezra links us to, while commendably addressing such troubling episodes as the raid on the home of reporter Juliet O'Neill, and the seizure of books by faceless customs officers, is utterly silent on the greatest threat to that which the website receives grants to "protect".

It would be impossible, considering their mandate, for them to forget recent events. And considering their laudatory, back-slapping, award-awarding tone, their failure to mention the WS or it's recent historic stand is obviously a concious decision. That's pretty clear. Yet this little website, sponsored by the Canadian Council for the Arts with real money, not play money, asks us to remember their noble mandate:

"Let's use this week to think about the challenges to our freedom to read".

Okay. Let's hide under our desks and think about that.

Posted by: EBD | 2006-02-21 11:47:10 PM

Tozetre - Thank you. My intended point. The actions of are men were the finest, despite the issues Scott has accuratley brought up.

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-22 1:14:24 AM

How seriously do Canadians take their history?

Five words: "The Valor and the Horror", the official undisputed government interpretation of Canada's WWII experience. It was after all funded by the taxpayer and (mis)using the latest research. It is beyond question as it comes from the CBC and the NFB.

However, if the US taxpayer was on the hook for a similar piece of trash, the elected representatives of the American people would have shut it down permanently for its spiteful disrespect of the veterans.

What a pity "Canada" won't do the same. To them, veterans are just old people representing an evil past, not the surviving members of a generation that fought evil and won.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-02-22 1:30:11 AM

I think that it's extremely important to keep commenting on the socialist-left, politically correct, postmodernist infrastructure of these granting agences (Canada Council, SSHRC) and our universities (Social Sciences and Humanities).

A key reason for the relativism and isolationism of academic thought in Canada is that so much of our university faculty are made up of Vietnam era 'draft dodgers' from the US - and these people are, almost all, postmodern relativists, steeped in the (to me) nonsense of Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, Lyotard and blah blah..And, our universities have made a university career relatively easy for them, with far fewer publishing requirements than in the US.

Our governmental bureaucrats, raised in this atmosphere, are a homogeneous nest of bureaucrats, very in-grown, self-defining, self-praising - and mentally completely closed. They live, I'd say, still in the 1960-1980's - promoting tired and irrelevant themes of feminism, 'equality of all', anti-science, relativism, postmodernism, anti-logic. And of course, obeying their professors, anti-USA.

And, since these government agencies are the sole source of funding in Canada, they are a major reason why Canadian research in both content and quantity, is so dismal and directionless.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-22 7:44:37 AM

The Canadian battalion on the Normandy beaches were know for their braveyas far as I know. Of course I was not there. My impression is that Canadian soldiers were known as tough fighters.

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-02-22 8:08:57 AM

Aparently, in Canada the freedom to read only extends to minorities....by logical extention the freedom to censor also only applies to minorities.

Posted by: WLMackenzie redux | 2006-02-22 8:34:45 AM


you should qualify that and say it applies to the Humanites. Grants from the NRC and INCERC (sp?), the two grant agencies of the feds for Pure Science research use profs to chose who gets grants. Although not perfect either, the grants are based on peer review. This of course would make matters worse in the Humanities where groupthink and cliques are the problem, but in the sci's, it takes grant power out of the hands of the government mandarins.

Our Science research is very good. The humanities have been ruined.

Posted by: Warwick | 2006-02-22 8:42:09 AM

The internet strikes again. You can get almost anything you want online, so if you have a computer and a modem, you're free to read just about anything.

John Locke's 'Two Treatises of Government', which is online at


Adam's Smith 'Wealth of Nation" available at


FYI, Project Gutenberg has thousands of books that can be downloaded as either text or audio.

Posted by: Kathryn | 2006-02-22 9:00:54 AM


Embetterment is not a word ... but I know what you meant.

I am not bitter about my upbringing, rather now that I am an adult, I appreciate that I had a cirmstance that demanded I develop character and do whatever I must to grow up and be a decent and successful human being.

My point was that (contrary to common belief) most people don't have great parents and it would seem that those who do ... grow up to be narcissistic babies and most are found on the left of the political spectrum.

I don't resent my parents, they simply didn't know how to raise kids and had problems of their own. They were not cruel and they did provide a clean home with food, but we didn't get the bedtime stories with cookies and milk. In short, they fed and housed us and we raised ourselves. It's amazing how self-reliant one becomes when all other options are unavailable.

My point is, that it's worse nowadays where parents are far too busy to raise kids even if they want too. Why else is there such an outcry for day care? Why are so many kids on drugs, having sex at too early an age, and behaving so violently?

Why are so many kids graduating our educational system without the basic skills of reading, writing and mathematics?

You see, Chandra, I wasn't attacking anyone, nor expressing any 'embitterment'. I was merely pointing out that kids are in trouble nowadays and we will pay big time for the failure of our systems to do what we overpay them to do ... Educationally, Judicially and dare I say, healthcare-wise too.

And finally, does your boss know that you are reading and posting on blogs from your workplace at the Calgary Health Region Office? Or, is the health care system over-paying you to attack me for commenting on an issue that had nothing to do with you and that attacked no one?

It would be better if you make a comment with a point. That's the purpose of these blogs.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-02-22 10:03:10 AM

Thank-you Kathryn for that website, I did not know that it existed. Thank-you EBD and Duke and Scott for stating some true facts and thank you Ezra for exposing, one again, the fanatical agenda of the 'control freaks' in this nation. They want the history and people of our country to be 'soviet puke grey/green'. The WS has been making Canadians feel proud of themselves and Canada - there is no greater sin than that to the communist elitists that have been running the show here since turdo days.

Posted by: jema54j | 2006-02-22 10:06:24 AM


One more thing. Since you completely missed my point and inferred something entirely beside the point, am I to 'infer' that you are a product of the educational system that I stated ... doesn't do a very good job of teaching people to read???

Tip: reading the words if one thing ... understanding what they mean, is another.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-02-22 10:11:50 AM

Warwick - I refer only to the social sciences and humanities - Canada Council and SSHRC. Not NSERC.

However, there's peer review in all three - and, since Canada has a small research population,AND, the reviewers must be bilingual, you get a small, small and very incestuous Band of Reviewers. Their mindset is all 1960-80's; feminist postmodern specious empty junk, in my view. Some of the stuff done is really - well, I'd rather not comment.

The natural sciences are better, only because natural science is not caught in the trap of postmodern empty 'say-whatever-you-want' blather. Science has to be grounded in empirical, observable, repeatable data. BUT, again, the problem is - the peer reviewer base is extremely small; the reviewers are required to be bilingual..and..you get a narrow focus of interest.

In my own field of information dynamics in physics, biology and social systems, I can't get Canadian researchers; the modern, forward focused research is in the USA, Brazil, Australia and Europe. It's almost impossible to find Canadian research in this area. They are, in these areas, operating mostly in accepting basic axioms (rather than exploring and critiquing them)..and simply designing applications of those axioms. Nice, but not innovative.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-22 10:23:31 AM

Warwick - You've hit the nail on the head. The morass in the humanities leads to the morass in the government: it's these fields that tend to feed the civil service and the politicians' farm teams.

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-22 10:29:03 AM


I got your point, no worries. But no - my parents weren't the Cleavers. In fact they divorced when I was five and fought bitterly until I was about 17 years old. But my mother sat with me to read books almost every day until I decided that she read to slowly.

My point was that I don't rely on the schools to teach my children. (Although I do NOT and will not homeschool.)

Posted by: Heather Cook | 2006-02-22 11:25:48 AM

I guess no-one else noticed the quote that is promininently featured on the Freedom to Read website. I think I'll give them the benefit of the doubt as where they stand on the cartoon issue.

"The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas – Uncertainty, Progress, Change – into crimes."

— Salman Rushdie (b. 1947), Indian-born British author, in a lecture entitled "Is Nothing Sacred?" published in Granta 31 (1990)

Posted by: TimR | 2006-02-22 11:49:37 AM

Duke, I suspect Chandra may have just been trying to be 'punny'.

Posted by: JR | 2006-02-22 1:02:15 PM

JR understood perfectly what I was trying to do.
Speaking of "Attacking", guess what pot? You are black to.
Oh, and if that wasn't clear enough for you,
maybe you should have another "READ" at all of the blogs you have posted, and see if you have the right to judge.

Posted by: Chandra | 2006-02-22 5:12:28 PM

Ezra, McNalley Robinson is also having a freedom to read event this saturday.


They are officially the problem,

Posted by: ghollingshead | 2006-02-22 7:22:52 PM

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