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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Western Standard sued for publishing cartoons

Earlier this month, the Western Standard was sued in human rights court for publishing the Danish cartoons. It's been ten years since I've graduated from law school, and I've never seen a more frivolous, vexatious, infantile suit than this.

But that's the point -- this complaint is not about beating us in the law. Freedom of speech is still in our constitution; we'll win in the end. It's a nuisance suit, designed to grind us down, cost us money, and serve as a warning to other, more timid media.

The hand-written scrawl and the spelling errors were what first disgusted me with the suit; but the arguments were what really got me. The complainant, Imam Syed Soharwardy, a former professor at an anti-Semitic university in Saudi Arabia, doesn't just argue that we shouldn't have published the cartoons. He argues that we shouldn't be able to defend our right to publish the cartoons. The bulk of his complaint was that we dared to try to justify it.

He argues that advocating a free press should be a thought crime.

Here is a letter I sent out to our e-mail list, explaining our legal situation.

Here is the formal response I shall file with the human rights commission tomorrow.

And here is where you can chip in to our legal defence fund if you want to support us. Our lawyers tell me we'll likely win, but it could cost us up to $75,000 to do so -- and the case against us is being prosecuted by government employees using tax dollars.

We're a small, independent magazine and we don't have deep pockets to fight off nuisance suits, so please chip in if you can.

ADDENDUM: In response to various commenters, unfortunately, even if we are successful in the human rights commission, we will not be compensated for our legal fees. It's not like a real court, where an unsuccessful plaintiff would be ordered to pay a successful defendant's costs. So even if we win, we lose -- the process is the penalty. Worse than that, the radical imam who is suing us doesn't have to put up a dime -- the commission uses tax dollars to pay lawyers and other inquisitors to go at us directly. Human rights tribunals themselves are illiberal institutions. Read my larger brief, linked above.

UPDATE 1: Here is a scan  of the imam's complaint.

UPDATE 2: We are currently working to change our legal defence fund web page to accept donations from outside Canada. In the meantime, please e-mail Rita at [email protected] or phone us at 403-216-2270 and we can help you that way -- thanks!

Posted by Ezra Levant on March 29, 2006 | Permalink


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» Western Standard sued for publishing cartoons from Complacent Nation
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» Western Standard Before Human Rights Commission from small dead animals
The complainant, Imam Syed Soharwardy, a former professor at an anti-Semitic university in Saudi Arabia, doesn't just argue that we shouldn't have published the cartoons. He argues that we shouldn't be able to defend our right to publish the cartoons.... [Read More]

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» Cartoon Jihad: The Canadian Front from Winds of Change.NET
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I will reiterate: Mr Imam can leave on any of the myriad flights leaving North America for Saudi Arabia (why the heck is he in Calgary of all places anyway? I mean talk about picking the wrong city to come and try get "all Muslim-y")

The thing is I guess I've come to realise I am not really all that different than those who rob and mob in the name of Allah. See, the leftoids have been going on about how they are just like us, they're just people too. So I guess that makes me just like them! So as the leftoids would say, I'm gettin' with the program, embracing their values, understanding them better. Hmmmm, nice waves of understanding washing over me.....

So now we just need to know where the a**hole lives, and there we go. We can all have a nice big ole Calgary love-in with our "just like us" Imam!

And by the way, here is some more nice leftoid reasoning: If this maggot was afraid of Ezra Levant's article generating hatred, what the F**K was he thinking pulling a stunt like this????? I mean I'm feeling really provoked. Yes, we've been provoked!! So our imam should go slink off into a corner (leftoid style) and try to wrap his head around the root couses of our hatred for him.

Posted by: bcf | 2006-03-30 11:05:17 PM

Anti-Muslim hysteria?

Or caling them out onto the front lawn to (a) explain EXACTLY what their religion tells them to do about gays, Jews, unmarried women who've been raped, apostates

or (b) get ready to "have it out"

Posted by: bcf | 2006-03-30 11:11:59 PM

Serious is one of many; check the archives if you doubt me.

As for the human rights complaint, it is a trifle; if you take a moment to look at the commission's history of decisions, which is available on their website, you'll see it is fairly difficult to establish that a publication promotes hatred or contempt. Indeed, it's likely that the the only moderately persuasive evidence that the publication of the cartoons promoted hatred is the spew that boneheads like serious post here.

You may also notice that, despite what Ezra implies, commission staff don't respresent complainants at the hearing; if complainants want to hire a lawyer, they have to foot the bill. Staff investigate the complaint and then only if the parties can't resolve the complaint. You may also notice that there are many hoops to jump through before a hearing; if the complaint is indeed without merit, then there are plenty of opportunities to boot it.

But sharing that information wouldn't make people write cheques, would it?

As for Piss Christ, if you're talking about the Andres Serrano photograph, there's no actual urination involved. It's a picture; get over it.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-03-30 11:18:05 PM

For the record, I have no sympathy for the ravings of fundamentalist muslims. Or fundamentalist christians. Or belligerent cracker clowns like you.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-03-30 11:20:27 PM

For someone who lives in his happy little 'tolerance bubble', anything that is said contrary to your beliefs would be deemed as a "veiled threat".
The difference between myself and those fanatical muslims like Sohardwardy, is that I choose to expose them, rather than create them.

Posted by: serious | 2006-03-30 11:21:08 PM

I think Levant is running the risk of being brought up on disciplinary charges before the Law Society here. Not only has he misrepresented the jurisdiction and role of a legitimate administrative tribunal, but he is trying to profit from "legal fees" that haven't even been charged. All of you loyal WS folks really should be informed that WS had not incurred *any* legal fees and will not be charged any such fees until the HRC decides to proceed with the case.

Levant is COMPLETELY misrpresenting the role of the commission by suggesting that it "prosecutes" cases and that it will use the resources of the state to bring a case against his publication. As a lawyer, Levant has a professional responsibility to be forthright and honest about the administration of justice... a duty he seems to have neglected here. Someone should call the Law Society, as I'm sure they would be interested to hear about this little scam.

Posted by: Hmmm | 2006-03-30 11:30:25 PM

Thanks for being honest, unfortunately some feel threatened by that, but they will come out of their piety when a Muslim fundamentalist decides to blow up their family.

Posted by: serious | 2006-03-30 11:35:00 PM

Truewest -
I don't think his chances are as minimal as you do. You are right there is a high standard that has to be met - indeed a double balancing is required with in the section to insure freedom of expression. I think he has established at least a prima facie case of discrimination but it may very well be dismissed in the end if the tribunal follows Quintin Johnson v. Music World - and finds :

The [WS] lacks credibillity and ciculation and is quite unlikely to affect the target group"

Posted by: Nbob | 2006-03-31 12:00:16 AM

I owe everyone an apology (of sorts). The Piss Christ was a picture, not a 3-D model/statue. I was not in Australia when it was published, and took my info from an (obviously garbled) third party source. Er, sorry, grovel grovel.
However, it was clearly an act of selective insult (and I am an atheist).

Posted by: Sholto Douglas | 2006-03-31 12:10:05 AM

Too funny -


So much for the conservatives standing on guard for freedom of expression. Sad to say that the SCC has already decided this Tory MP's little plan is unconstitutional - He can curse Zundel for that one.

Posted by: Nbob | 2006-03-31 3:07:31 AM

I think you're leaping to conclusions if you think Piss Christ was offered as an insult. Then again, you wouldn't be the first. It's a lovely picture, which you can find here: http://www.usc.edu/schools/annenberg/asc/projects/comm544/library/images/502.html
It is good of you to point the beleaguered folks at the WS to helpful case law so early in this process. As they say, as many cases are won in the library as in the courtroom. And since they seem unclear on the process, they probably need the help.
And thanks for the link to the Globe story. Nice to see that Mr. Mayes is carrying on the fine tradition of looniness established by his predecessor, Darryl Stinson.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-03-31 7:37:43 AM

Well here's the thing. My notion of freedom of expression is not pulled from my head or wrapped around in a type of moral relativism. I am telling you that there are limits to freedom of expression in the Charter and that it applies to Government. Freedom of Expresion is not a right to protection from a Muslim who wants to go to a provincial commission and make a human rights complaint.

If you have problems with the beliefs of muslims in terms of their human rights record, there is nothing to prevent you from saying that or writing that.

Obviously muslims have to "respect our laws". It's not like the police are called to investigate a beating and they say "oh you're muslim? it's ok... those rules are only for the rest of the population, have a nice day...go on and continue beating please."

All I am saying is the system is not black and white here in North America regarding freedom of expression. Pretending that it is masks the realities of the sitation.

Any lawyer knows this.

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed".(Isaiah 53:5)

This does not mean I am saying the Jesus art was not offensive. It just seems to explain why Christians don't run around burning things. It's conditioned / one is reminded every Sunday that he died for the sins of the world. Jesus "piss" Christ was just another sin. This may be why Christians let too many offenses against their religion happen.

Overall, I'm saying is that when you do something, you have to be prepared for the fallout. None of your emotional feelings on what should or ought to be change this fact.

Posted by: William McCullough | 2006-03-31 7:48:53 AM

Mr McCullough, you need to do more research into the consequences of "Islam creep". The British police (and other authorities in the UK) have indeed been instructed to "be circumspect" in dealing with among other things, violence against Muslim women. Women in Sweden have indeed been advised to realise that Sweden has changed, and they ought to be mindful of the consequences of their free choices, for example how to dress.

To those who still peddle that nonsense about "with freedom comes responsibility" you'll be interested to know that that was the Apartheid SA government's line all through the 70's and 80's "the Blacks in SA will gain their freedom when they show us they can handle the responsibility that comes with it".

And I'll remember to tell that to some rape victim in Sweden: yeah you got the freedom to dress how you want, but you'll have to just learn to take responsibility when some religious bigot rapes your sorry a**.

Hey Serious: Don't know how you're holding up under the strain of being constantly threatened by Jihadi whackjobs and their sleeper agents, of having my kids lives threatened, of being constantly told that everything my Grandfather stood for, and fought for in WW2 is garbage, but I'm starting to crack a little OK, so gimme some damn slack here a'right!!

Posted by: bcf | 2006-03-31 8:18:23 AM

How about countersuing the Imam for preaching from the Quran, which can be shown to be incidentary and insulting when it comes to non-believers?

Posted by: Imli | 2006-03-31 8:46:50 AM

How about we deport the imam back where he came from and did the same to the rest of the hatemongering imams who have been poisoning our society.

Posted by: Warwick | 2006-03-31 9:31:34 AM

Speaking of freedom of expression, I expect a Shotgun post soon on Colin Mayes comments that journalists should be jailed.

I can see why Harper wants his MP's to pass all of their ideas past him -- there are some real pieces of work in there.

Posted by: Bob | 2006-03-31 11:22:32 AM

"As for the Mohammed caricatures, they're cartoons; get over it."

Posted by: Anne | 2006-03-31 11:23:03 AM

I think the human rights tribunal is bull and should be abolished. This whole thing reminds me to the time when poor Doug Collins was pulled in front of the human rights balloney.

You get the best bang in terms of promo for your paper, if you don't do anything and the the human rights tribunal comes down on you hard! That's the best thing that could happen to you, cause everybody will be on your side and there will be an uproar across the land or maybe even across the whole west!


Posted by: mumba | 2006-03-31 11:26:33 AM

What is funny is that I read that Khomeini came to power in Iran in 1979 with the help of many left-wing groups in Iran. He then promptly had these left-wing groups sent before the firing squads. The sheer stupidity @ moral preening of left-wing groups in the West is clearly pathological.

Posted by: Southern Man | 2006-03-31 12:04:51 PM


I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the legal defence fund will be able to accept donations from outside Canada.

Can anyone tell me the current exchange rate for .01 cent U.S.?

Posted by: A Patriot | 2006-03-31 12:06:02 PM

Ezra, I think you should issue a public apology for offending the sensitivities of Muslims in Canada and across the world. Something like: "we just wanted to report the news but we realize that Peter Mackay was right and we should have have done a puff piece on the new Foreign Affairs Minister instead." Your next issue should explore the evils of "Islamophobia" which is plaguing the country and you should fire Steyn and give the good professor a regular column. Better yet, have him write the sports column. I can see the themes now: "French infidels beat Saudi Arabia 8:0 in soccer showdown: the worst attack on Muslims since the crusades" or "The Great Satan America wins the olympics: but, on the bright side, the Jews lost again."

Posted by: Howard Roark | 2006-03-31 12:24:08 PM

Canadians sold their freedom down the river so that they could feel good about themselves and spit at Americans, and NOW I'm supposed to feel sorry for you?

If you are unfree, grab a gun and fight for your freedom.

Quit whining. That's how you lost your freedom to begin with.

Posted by: KevinV | 2006-03-31 12:35:09 PM

I read the original complaint on line. Some of the attachments used to support the allegations are emails. However they are worded in a strange manner. I assume these are puported to come from Canada as a result of the West Stds's articles. Not only do most of the emails nopt express a "hate" message but they seem to be written by peoiple who are not used to corresponding in English. I mean to say that the sentance structure and grammar are not just wrong but used in such a manner as to suggest that the writers were used to another language. It is only speculation but I think some of these emails may have concocted by the people connected with the originator of the complaint. In other words they are fake and this further erodes the strengt of this complaint since it suggests that this Islamic group did NOT receive hate mail as alleged. I suggest that the originating email address be investigated to determine if the emails come from actual persons NOT affiliated with any Islamic group.

Finally the cartoon attached which allegedly shows Jesus having sex with Mohammed is bizarre. It actually looks like a bad drawing of 2 gale male bikers having sex. I am glad the complaint spelled it out but wish it had put labels on which was Jesus and Mohammed. I am still confused. so long for now


Posted by: ejhickey | 2006-03-31 1:11:50 PM

Still no response about what happens to any unspent amount of the defense fund. Hate to think this is just a scam but the silence would seem to indicate a fleecing in progress. Please tell me I'm wrong !

Posted by: Nbob | 2006-03-31 4:52:14 PM

William (McCullough), I hear what you are saying about taking responsibility for our actions. However, in a western society, we don’t expect a comeback on most things we do. The problem with having a particularly sensitive minority in a liberal land like Canada is that they expect the 'comeback' dividing line to be far nearer the restrictive end than does the rest of society.
After all, there is a lot about our society that they find offensive (and vice versa). We drink alcohol, our women are scantily dressed – the list is endless.
We cannot allow this minority to use the tools of freedom to unilaterally move that line. Where would it end?

Posted by: Sholto Douglas | 2006-03-31 4:52:21 PM

The complaint here is not that people were offended; it is that the cartoons (or the WS's presentation of them) are likely to expose them to hate or contempt. That's not a subjective standard, dependent on the sensitivity of any particular group (although more sensitive groups are obviously more likely to file a complaint). It's an objective standard and, judging from past decisions, the bar is set pretty high. Mind you, judging from the spew that issues forth from the denizens of this board, it doesn't take much to inspire hatred.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-03-31 8:54:09 PM

It is not the case, Truewest, that if A does something objectively reasonable, which causes B to do something subjectively unreasonable, which affects C, that A is morally responsible for C's problems. B is.

In general, I have found those running around claiming that the A's are responsible for all the C's woes tend to be the B's.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-03-31 10:00:43 PM

If you qualify the circumstances with that particular combination of reasonableness and unreasoanblness, you're right. The key word here, however, is "likely", which implies a reasonable foreseeability that hatred or contempt will result from the publication. In these circumstances, that's a fairly high bar, although the anti-Muslim spew that preceded the publication arguably made it more foreseeable that Muslims would be exposed to hate by the publication. Still, it remains a hard case to make.
Incidentally, I think that in this case the Bs actually tend to blame the Cs for the A's woes. Indeed, based on recent experience, the Bs tend to Cs for just about everything.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-03-31 10:30:45 PM

As I said over at Zerb- I think people miss the point of the complaint.

Levant would have you believe that he is standing up for "freedom" and against the oppression that "radical" imans are trying to foist upon us by making us adhere to their laws. But read the complaint - this radical iman sez there would be no problem if it had only been a drawing of the Prophet.

What he objects to is the characterization of Mohammed as a terrorist. That creates a negative stereotype and fosters the notion that all followers of Islam follow a terrorist and are terrorists or supporters of terrorist themselves. That in turn is "likely to expose" them to "hatred or contempt " ( and, as truewest points out, that has in fact happened at the Shotgun)

Would Levant have "guts" if he published a cartoon of a Catholic bishop leading his flock down to their knees (- only they're not praying they're giving oral sex to little boys). Or would we be outraged that a mag would try and stereotype all followers of that faith as perverts. What "guts" if he ran a cartoon of a white man carrying the burden of a fat lipped black on his back ? outrage or defense fund ?

I doubt many people would get their knickers in a knot if someone complained about the the later two cartoons but if someone complains about negative stereotypes of Muslims it is an attack on our western way of life ?

In this land of equality if we think it a good law to stop people from publishing material that is likely to expose Catholics, blacks, women, jews, gays etc. to hatred or contempt then the law obligates us to give that same protection to Muslims. To do otherwise would be discrimination and that is against Canadian law and not some red herring , straw-man Islamic law.

Posted by: Nbob | 2006-03-31 10:46:35 PM

As a general methodology for succeeding in life, Nbob, I would suggest that you would be better off concentrating more on the people who misbehave, rather than on those whom they blame for their misbehaviour.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-03-31 11:00:21 PM

I can assure you that I have a very successful life -in large part because I do, in fact, spend every working day concentrating on the people who misbehave. ;-)

Posted by: Nbob | 2006-03-31 11:32:48 PM


your argument is fundamentally flawed; critiquing a belief, especially one so banal and inane as a belief in fairy tales, is not in and of itself an attack on the people who hold that belief. I disdain Islam, and Christianity, and Judaism, and any other faith you'd care to mention, because they appear to me ridiculous, regressive and irrational. The racial or ethnic identity of believers in these respective religions are irrelevant to such a view, and trying to misrepresent criticism of bad ideas as equalling a racist attack on those who hold those ideas is manipulative, dishonest and deliberately misleading. People need to recognize that the right to hold beliefs is not the same as the right to have those beliefs respected.

Posted by: Simon | 2006-04-01 1:57:33 AM

Forgetting ABCs, isn't the crux of the argument made by Mr. Soharwardy that Ezra and the Western Standard are responsible for any of the negative mail he may have received?

I admit here Ezra I haven't read the article on the Jyllands-Posten cartoons that started this uproar, but the complaint seems to indicate that isn't a problem. I also admit I never listened to you on CBC Radio at 7am, mostly because I couldn't bear listening to the CBC but also in a large part because I don't believe there really is a 7 o'clock in the morning too.

But it seems that the main problem is that you brought up Soharwardy's name. He writes that he was going to attach something (a transcript?) from the CBC/CTV but never did, so I'm going to have to go on a limb here, but you mentioned him. You brought up his opposition to printing the cartoons. Possibly you even mentioned his organization (Islamic Supreme Council of Canada). This outrageous action clearly brought upon the emails.

In short, Mr. Soharwardy is trying to claim that its the media's fault that people _found out about him and his group_ and therefore had the awareness required to send him emails both outrageous and not. (I'm not sure exactly what was so hateful about "You are the most sour, excitable, unrealistic, humourless bunch I've ever seen"... definitely not a ringing endorsement, but its that's hatred then everybody who's ever walked past a group of Jr. High students has been subject to a hate crime)

Naturally, of course, he doesn't indict the CBC in this "suit", but he really shoudl. If Soharwardy truely believes, as it seems, that its Ezra's fault that people knew about his disgust over the cartoons, then the CBC is equally complicit. It seems that Soharwardy wanted to be outraged in secret...or worse, be publicly opposed but not have anybody present any _rallying opposition to him!_

Posted by: Feynman and Coulter's Love Child | 2006-04-01 3:42:33 AM

Conservative MP Calls for Jailing Journalists

In a recent column sent to local newspapers, B.C. Conservative MP Colin Mayes suggested that the public might get more “accurate and true information” if reporters faced the threat of incarceration.

Mr. Mayes later retracted his comments amid considerable public outcry.

Be that as it may, Mr. Mayes’ comments reveal a deep-seated lack of respect for role the media plays in a democratic society. His comments are particularly disturbing considering the number of journalists worldwide who are currently incarcerated for criticizing the actions of their governments. Reporters without Borders cites countries like North Korea, Eritrea, Myanmar, and Iran, as places where journalists simply relay government propaganda without criticism. Surely Mr. Mayes doesn’t espouse that Canada should follow a similar path!

It is ironic that Mr. Mayes is so concerned about journalists distorting the truth, when he himself is being sued for libel for allegedly making disparaging comments about fellow mayoral candidate Greg Husband during the last municipal election in Salmon Arm, B.C.

Although Colin Mayes’ comments are certainly over the top, unfortunately they do not fall far out of step with current Conservative attitudes towards the press corps.

Despite running an election campaign on open and accountable government, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives can barely disguise their contempt for the national media. They have banned journalists from standing outside the cabinet room so that Ministers can easily skulk out of meetings without answering questions, and they have tripled the contingent of RCMP officers on duty to bar reporters from attending photo opportunities.

Canadians have a right to know what its duly-elected government is doing, and the media should be able to report on the government’s actions without fear of reprisal. Freedom of speech is, after all, a fundamental Charter right.

This blatant animosity towards the press leaves Canadians wondering: just what does Stephen Harper have to hide?

Posted by: Wow | 2006-04-01 9:33:12 AM

The animosity toward the MSM isn’t a new thing, I’ve felt that way for decades but I didn’t have a choice, now I do. The MSM is in its death spiral as shown on these graphs that indicate the decline in the stock valuations of 3 major US rags. The New York Times has dropped from $46 a share to $25 over the last 2 years, losing more the $ 3 billion in shareholder value.


The groupthink of the MSM don’t allow for the dissent that has emerged in the North American population since 9/11. Conservatives no longer trust the MSM for their news and subscription cancellations are slowing forcing these old dinosaurs out of business.

A certain percentage of the population are still in denial that the world changed on 9/11 so they will keep buying the kool-aid. But the trend is clear.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-04-01 10:02:31 AM

>This blatant animosity towards the press leaves Canadians wondering: just what does Stephen Harper have to hide?<

No, actually it just leaves, as he well knows, a decidedly left wing press, and people like you wondering what Harper is hiding. If you can't see the tongue in cheekiness and humor in that comment, oh wait, I forgot, you folks have no sense of humor. I suggest you seek help.

While you are at it, get your memory checked as well, It was the Libranos who tried hiding millions in scandals, with more to yet be exposed.

Posted by: deepblue | 2006-04-01 10:25:18 AM

It isn't the cartoons that are 'exposing Muslims to hatred and contempt'. The cartoons are, after all, only a secondary description of reality.

It's reality that is 'exposing the Muslims to hatred and contempt'. When they blow up innocents in hotels, on trains, in restaurants, in buildings -all in the name of their religion - those are real actions. These real actions, carried out by Muslims, are what is 'exposing the Muslims to hatred and contempt'.

To reject discussion and questions about these real actions - in print and in image - would be like saying that printing/making public the Liberal Party's money laundering activities, must be stopped - for it 'exposes Liberals to hatred and contempt'.

Or, like saying that nothing should be said or done about the priestly abuse of children - for that 'exposes priests/Catholics'...etc.

Or, nothing should be written about..anything that has been done that harmed people..for that would 'expose'..etc, etc.

Levant is completely right in publishing those cartoons. They ask legitimate questions, and rather than the Muslim community reject the right to ask questions, it should be engaged in answering those questions. Why are Muslims murdering both non-Muslims and Muslims - in the name of their religion? Or would you rather be a Politically Correct CaveDweller, and think that they aren't doing anything wrong..and 'murder is just fine'.

Posted by: ET | 2006-04-01 10:45:11 AM

It’s like saying that we shouldn’t expose the KKK to hatred and contempt because everybody in the South will feel offended.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-04-01 10:54:26 AM

Freedom of expression aims to prohibit the government from restraining individuals. It is not from restraining one private individual for seeking damages after the fact. There is no law that protects you from being sued when you say something. So anyone claiming that there is this "right", is living in a fantasy world.

The Charter applies to the government. Anything else goes back to "common law".

All your emotional rants on how things should be, will not change this.

All muslims are not killing people in the name of their religion, and blowing up hotels. Not all muslims beat their wives and children, you tell us we are in a bubble....it's just ridiculous to think that you can categorize a billion people. And to say that muslims and "the left" don't stand up against the atrocities is the same as how the West did very little to "stand up to the holocaust". Most people just want to live in peace, keep their job, and raise their family. Isn't that what most of you really want?

That's like me saying, all white people in the west are racist and hate other religions, and want to impose judeo-christian values on Canada, lock up the gates, and intern the muslim community because they are all evil terrorists. I know some of you want that...and most of you don't.

Publish the cartoons if you want, but be prepared for the lawsuit. That's not such a bad thing is it? It's a lawsuit not a death sentence. The magazine probably made more than $75,000 in new subscriptions. The magazine will not lose a lawsuit anyway.

And this is not the same thing as exposing the Liberal party corruption. Corruption is uncovered in Canada far more easily than in the United States. You sit there and say it was the Libranos who were trying to hide the scandal. Obviously that is not the same. If someone is guilty of something, of course they are going to try to hide this guilt.

Why is Harper banning the media from accessing information? This is "restraint".

Basically it seems that while character assasination is not permitted in Canada, it's ok to label one billion people as terrorists.

This is not a rights obsessed society. I have a right to do a lot of things, but ethics tells me not to.

Posted by: William McCullough | 2006-04-01 1:53:15 PM

Having read through this thread with great interest it's hard not to notice certain commenters. Among the most prolific is TRUWEST. He's made some very thoughtful comments along with a good deal of nonsense and sophistry. Also what stands out clearly is his attitude of contemptuous superiority towards those he disagrees with.

I thought it might be fun to summarize. My added comments are in brackets [].

Here goes:

"obvious to anyone with a brain"

"if ET thinks your legal briefs are "very good", consider tearing them up and starting again"

"a bunch of rednecks responding to a complaint"

"publication of these cartoons inspired you crackers to a frenzy of anti-muslim hysteria"
[Insults and nonsense - any anti-Muslim sentiment resulted from MUSLIM RESPONSE to publication of cartoons.]

"adopt some of the other hairbrained schemes"

"Stop doing and saying stupid things and I'll stop laughing."

"as long as you've got folks like weird harold sharing their deep thoguhts, I'm sure there'll be plenty of opportunity for smiles and chuckles and giggles and laughs."

"weird harold, ...... Although "think" may not be an accurate word for what you do."

"As for Piss Christ, if you're talking about the Andres Serrano photograph, there's no actual urination involved. It's a picture; get over it." followed by truewest's offer of an excusal - "if you think Piss Christ was offered as an insult. Then again, you wouldn't be the first. It's a lovely picture"
[Actually, there was urination involved (see Wikipedia) - the artist's in creating the 3D 'art' which he then photographed. Out of curiosity - I wonder, would truewest approve of the publication of a photo of a figurine representing the prophet Muhammad floating in the artist's piss? Would he have a similar 'excuse' for such a work of "lovely picture"?]

"I have no sympathy for the ravings of ...... belligerent cracker clowns like you."

"fine tradition of looniness established by his predecessor, Darryl Stinson."

"judging from the spew that issues forth from the denizens of this board, it doesn't take much to inspire hatred."

[And some of the most vitriolic "spew" comes from truewest]

Posted by: JR | 2006-04-01 2:10:00 PM

InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds has the following entry today: "CANADA'S WESTERN STANDARD is a breath of fresh air on the Canadian media scene. It also needs your help." http://instapundit.com/

Also check out the http://www.coxandforkum.com/ cartoon today. In the followup text, the first two paragraphs of Ezra's message are quoted.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-01 2:13:54 PM

I totally and completely disagree with you, Willima McCullough.

1) The Charter, which is deeply flawed, does not just apply to the government. It applies to all citizens of Canada. Are you seriously saying that its 'fundamental freedoms', which refer to 'everyone has'...applies only to members of the government and not to all citizens?

2) You seem to say that an individual cannot say anything about a belief system, because to do so, necessarily includes ALL followers of that belief system. You are making a fundamental error in logic - of merging the ALL with the Particular. With your mindset, one could not criticize any religious belief at all, could not criticize any political belief, any ideological belief - for to you, to criticize a belief system is ALSO to criticize ALL individuals who exist within that belief system..no matter whether or not they are following that specific axiom that is being criticized.

3) The FACT remains, that terrorism is being carried out, by Muslims, in the name of their religion. These are facts; the terrorists themselves openly claim this relation between their religion and their actions. OK?

Now- if you say that one cannot, therefore, criticize them for these actions, which they justify by their religion - because to do so, 'classifies ALL followers of that religion as ALSO TERRORISTS -well, you've got your logic all in a muddle. You are a ctually using the fallacy of 'affirming the consequent'..I won't go into it, but, essentially, you cannot claim that when a terrorist claims that his actions are justified by his religion - that if we criticize his linkage..that doesn't mean that we are saying that ALL members of that religion, are terrorists.

4) Muslims and the West SHOULD stand up to these atrocities. And they SHOULD have said something about the Holocaust! Are you saying that the West should do nothing about these terrorist actions? Nothing? Silence? Are you saying that moderate Muslims shouldn't say a word against these atrocities??

So, we should all live in our isolate little worlds - and ignore how our fellow human beings are being slaughtered? What if it were us that were being slaughtered? Wouldn't we want someone to care? Or should we follow your way of life - which is to turn away, and rake the leaves on your front lawn.

5) There should be NO lawsuit against freedom of speech and against publishing those cartoons. They are asking legitimate questions - questions which, you, William McCullough, refuse to ask. The questions are - why are you blowing up innocent civilians in the name of your religion?

You don't want to ask these questions. You don't want to ask - why are those cattle cars taking all those people away? Why are there mass graves?
You just want to 'live your own life'. But, what if it were you and your family on those cattle cars? Wouldn't you want someone to care?

And you call your view ethical?

6) No- criticizing the behaviour of SOME people who are murdering others, in the name of their religion, and exorted to do so by their religious officials (you are ignoring this - they are exhorted to kill, by their religious officials)...does NOT mean saying that ALL followers of that religion are terrorists.

Your logic is deeply flawed. And your ethics is equally flawed.

Posted by: ET | 2006-04-01 2:26:07 PM

Power Line reports on a message sent to Weekly Standard subscribers by Michael Goldfarb...

"Here at The Weekly Standard, we occasionally have a laugh at the expense of our Northern neighbors. But America's Conservative movement is not without Canadian allies, especially in Alberta--the oil-rich province that serves as a stronghold for Stephen Harper's recently elected Conservative government. Alberta is also the home of the Western Standard, a magazine with which we have no affiliation other than a vague ideological kinship. Still, the people at the Western Standard are good friends of the United States, and vociferous advocates of the war on terror.

"Unfortunately, our friends now find themselves in a difficult situation. The Western Standard was the only mainstream publication in Canada with the courage to reprint the cartoons--originally published in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten--which sparked riots across the Muslim world. They did this without malice, but, like The Weekly Standard, with the sole intent of providing their readers an opportunity to see the news first-hand and make their own judgment about both the cartoons and the subsequent protests.

"Though the Canadian press enjoys the same freedoms and protections as that in America, a radical imam in Calgary thought the Western Standard's editor, Ezra Levant, should be arrested. According to Levant, "they [the police] calmly explained to him that's not what police in Canada do." So this imam took his case to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. The Commission has taken up the case and filed suit against this small, independent magazine. Though Levant is confident that the suit will be dismissed, he has been forced to appeal to his subscribers for financial support above and beyond the cost of their subscriptions.

"I'd encourage our readers to check out the Western Standard's website. I think you will be delighted to see that not all Canadians hold a dim view of this country."


Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-01 2:27:35 PM

Well stated ET, these people are amazing.

JR, trueleft (as I call him) defines the Liberal mind these days, or lack of one. Although he does possess knowledge and is obviously intelligent, his arguments carry little weight.

So instead he mocks, and is condescending, always assuming he has some moral high ground so is above the mere common man, women, or thinker. He is right, beyond reproach, and you must always be wrong.

And as you have correctly identified, he assumes being a Liberal he is tolerant, and espouses tolerance, and assumes the moral high ground, when exactly the opposite is true.

He is the intolerant one, as is the entire leftist movement. In his, and their world, your view simply is wrong and must be dismissed. It defines their hypocritical stance on almost every issue.

Posted by: deepblue | 2006-04-01 3:01:15 PM

1) 32. (1)This Charter applies

a) to the Parliament and government of Canada in respect of all matters within the authority of Parliament including all matters relating to the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories; and
b) to the legislature and government of each province in respect of all matters within the authority of the legislature of each province.
Exception (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), section 15 shall not have effect until three years after this section comes into force.

APPLICATION OF CHARTER...this does not prevent a private individual from a lawsuit after the fact. So, whether the Charter is flawed or not, this is what we're working with.

2)You CAN say anything you want to say. The law allows for that. And that's as far as it goes.

I didn't say one cannot criticize religious beliefs. But terrorism and beatings are not what Islam is about. All Muslims are not terrorists. Perhaps stick to the term "Islamic Fundamentalists".

3)I am only stating that most people are just concerned with struggling for survival, and not in standing up for very much. The West does very little to stand up against transnational corporations who are exploiting workers in third world countries. No one seems to stand up for anything. It's not about ME it's about the general population. I remember that the population did not seem to care about the shootings in Toronto until a white girl was killed on boxing day. Any time an innocent Black child, or female was shot, it did not manage to consume audiences. Rwanda was another one. Where were YOU then?

I want people to care about terrorism. But I don't think terrorism is going to be solved by publishing idolatrous cartoons that offend many muslims.

Many muslims live in Canada and work peacefully with everyone else. They earn their pay, they go home, they eat with their family, and they go to sleep. Just like we do. Amazing isn't it?

We are a nation of immigrants and try to attract people to come into the country (likely because we are not having enough children of our own). At some point compromise must be reached in a heterogenous society. Liberalism was designed for homogeneous societies (see J.S. Mill). So, yes if you don't want other cultures here don't invite them, and further, stay out of their countries.

Whites are not innocent. Our societies were built by exploiting other races. Remember the Chinese who built the railway? The Japanese internment? Slavery in the US? Our countries became prosperous due to exploitation. No one is innocent in the grand scheme of things.

I also don't think a lawsuit is really that big of a deal. People get sued all the time for things far more petty than this.

I ask questions all the time...but I don't do it in a manner that offends people. It's like saying there is freedom of expression but there is no freedom to be offended and seek some sort of peaceful recourse.

I also was very clear that I was not talking about "should", I was talking about the system and the rules that are presently in place.

Posted by: William | 2006-04-01 3:02:18 PM

I would be interested in knowing, William, how you deal with people who insist on taking offence at your freedom of expression no matter how hard you try to not be offensive?

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-01 3:16:09 PM

Yes JR, Truepest does spew ad nauseam doesn't he/she/it?

Ezra and supporters of free speech, among other human values, have reality on their side. Not to mention truth and justice.

Those who are loudest in their hateful bellering about "hate" seem to be the ones who consistently display it.

Posted by: Javahead | 2006-04-01 3:20:27 PM

The reality is that the only place a private citizen seems to be free to express is with friends. Only those with significant capital or work for a publication can publish.

When I offend people I usually listen to them, and apologize if I find they are visible shaken or hurt by what I have said.

The thing is that when I first responded in the blog here it was to assert the realities of freedom of expression within liberal democracies -- especially in Canada. I don't know anywhere in the free world where individuals or corporations are exempt from lawsuits. I thought the only place was the House of Commons.

Ridiculing religious beliefs is not a good thing to do. That doesn't mean I said it was illegal.

The truth is that almost everyone is a hypocrite to some degree. Every race has been responsible for violence, along with every major religion.

Criticize political beliefs and religious dogmas. Saying you think it's stupid that muslims are offended by idolatry is not going to get you sued. However, it is far better to criticze concrete issues. Criticizing terrorism in the western standard is not going to lead to a lawsuit.

And finally, let's quote Levant so we don't have to keep arguing to death:

"His complaint reads like it was written by a child; his arguments are infantile and vain. It is a nuisance suit, designed to cost us money and time. It's an abuse of power, and an embarrassment to the Alberta government that funds the commission. Soharwardy wants to use that as a weapon. Better that than violence, I guess, which is how many Muslims in other parts of the world expressed their anger over the cartoons.

Fine. I, in turn, will use the commission as a forum, to remind Soharwardy and the rest of the press that Canadian values include diversity of opinion, freedom of speech and the right of a secular magazine not to be subjected to a bullying imam's religious edicts. "

With this kind of confidence...maybe a precendent will be set. If this happens, maybe it won't be a pure "waste of money". Put some money on the line to fight for what you believe in.

"Better that than violence, I guess".

Posted by: William | 2006-04-01 4:01:23 PM

In reply to William

1) I'm aware of section 32, which states that the Charter, as a legal document, is legally functional within the parliament, gov't, legislature. But, the gov't/legislature, sets the laws..and these laws must conform to the Charter.
Therefore, laws dev't by any gov't, legislative body, must permit 'freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication' (2b).

This freedom of speech has nothing to do with section 15 (1), which merely affirms equality before the law. [But subsection 2 denies the validity of equality affirmed in subsection 2).

2) You are misunderstanding my meaning in point 2. I was stating that you were making an error in assuming that criticism of Muslim terrorists is also an affirmation that All Muslims are terrorists'. You are making a logical error.

"I am a terrorist and I am a Muslim" [linking the two as necessary]
Does NOT, NOT, NOT Transform Into
'All Muslims Are Terrorists'.
You are making a logical error in reversing the two phrases (affirming the consequent). And you are also making a logical error in merging the particular (Some) with the universal (All).

When Muslims blow up commuter trains, in the name of their religion, you HAVE to ask them why they have, themselves, set up the link between their religion and terrorism. You are refusing to do that - because you say that not all Muslims are terrorists. Fine; no-one is saying that. But - since the terrorists are, themselves, making that connection - then, the question HAS to be asked!!!

3) Why are you bringing in 'transnational corporations who are exploiting..etc'. What's your point? Are you saying that UNLESS the West ALSO complains about these corporations, THEN, it has no right to complain about Muslim terrorists???
That's yet another fallacy - as I'm sure you know.
And, you bring in Rwanda - again, are you saying that UNLESS one complained about Rwanda, THEN, one has no right to complain about Muslim terrorism?

Don't you realize that such a regressive linearity means that you can't, ever, ever, criticize anything..because..if you go back far enough..you'll find something that you haven't criticized..and so..by your perspective...you can't be allowed to criticize anything. Because you didn't criticize X - in the past. You can't now criticize Y. That's illogical.

4) What's your point about the normative Muslims??? Are you saying that because they are normative and law-abiding, that we AND THEY, cannot criticize the Muslim terrorists?? Why not?? Do you mean that because I am law-abiding, and I know lots of other people who are, that I cannot criticize gangs of drug runners???

5)What does immigration and compromise have to do with terrorism? Are you seriously suggesting that we, both non-Muslims and Muslims, should accept Muslim terrorism...because ...well...because why????

What does 'other cultures' here in Canada have to do with Muslim terrorism? Are you saying that because some Muslims are here, as citizens and immigrants, that, we cannot criticize Muslim terrorism?? Why not? Do you seriously think that all Muslims approve of this terrorism?

6) What's your point about 'whites are not innocent'? What does that have to do with justice? Are you seriously suggesting that the world should sit back, and allow Muslim terrorism to continue, because ..because..whites are not innocent? Is that your idea of justice? What does Muslim terrorism have to do with innocent or non-innocent whites? Do you think that the Chinese people working on the railroads deserved their labour camps because..well, because, Chinese are not innocent?

And, did blacks deserve slavery, because, because,..'blacks are not innocent'.

And whites..deserve terrorism..because..whites are not innocent??

The above is so mindboggling illogical it's beyond critique!

7) Well, good for you; you ask questions, but, you never ask offensive questions. You know what - then, a lot of your questions are irrelevant.
Do you know, that in the science world, it can be very offensive to ask about the validity of the Darwinian explanation of evolution. But, it has to be asked..because there are problems with that answer.

It can be very offensive to ask questions about political doctrine. Try asking a leftist socialist about the value of private property and capital. But, questions have to be asked, or we remain in our cave.

Would you refrain from asking someone why they are beating their wife - because it might offend him?

Would you refrain from asking a Muslim, why, if their religion insists that no images of Mohammed be made - why are there images of Mohammed in various museums, and, why do they expect non-Muslims to follow their religious rule?

Freedom to question can't be confined to questions that never offend. We'd never move out of the Platonic Cave of political correctness in our society. And, in science, that would kill science.

So- I disagree with you completely. What also bothers me, is that you would do nothing to help people being harmed by others. The holocaust - you would do nothing. Muslim terrorism - you do nothing. And you reason, is that people ought to 'not offend'. Huh- I think that killing people on commuter trains is offensive.

And your other reason..is that..you can't criticize one thing, unless you've already criticized everything else before. Nonsense.


Posted by: ET | 2006-04-01 4:12:28 PM

I can quibble with you on some details, William, but I've read your 4:01 non-response (;-) to my question carefully and I don't think I actually particularly disagree with you.

In the past people fought with clubs, or swords, or pistols; now we fight with lawyers. This whole thread is predicated on Ezra's call to arms, as it were.

So that's what we're doing: fighting for our beliefs, just like everyone else does. And, as you allude to, perhaps there will be precendent setting fall-out that positively limits the kangaroo courts known as human rights comissions.

I have a theory that Ezra has a plan that isn't obvious yet, but if you think I'm going to spill the beans here you're sadly mistaken; I'm on his side.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-01 4:43:48 PM

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