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Free Speech Challenged in Canada.--

In what could become the most important free-speech in Canada in decades, a group of current and recent law students from Osgoode Hall have spearheaded an attack on 19 magazine articles and columns critical of radical Islam (and in some cases, of moderate Islam as well) that were published in Maclean’s, Canada’s leading news weekly. First, the students published a report under the auspices of the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) on the articles that offended them: Macleans Magazine: A Case Study Of Media-Propagated Islamophobia.

Then the CIC filed a human rights complaint with federal and provincial authorities against Maclean’s for one article published last year, "The Future Belongs to Islam," an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s book America Alone.

Both the Canadian federal and the British Columbia Human Rights panels have agreed to hear the complaints.

I have been unable to find a copy of the complaints online, but the Report that preceded the complaints is available. The Appendix to the Report quotes substantial passages from Steyn’s article that the CIC report found offensive. Most of the last few paragraphs of Steyn's article were singled out by the CIC, so here they are in context:

wisconsindoug (mail):
Thank you Bill of Rights
12.9.2007 8:30pm
Enoch:
It explicitly and implicitly states that this influx poses a threat to the fabric of Western society, to democracy, and to human rights due to the religious identity and beliefs of Muslims in general. Another significant theme contained in the article is that there is allegedly an ongoing war between Muslims and Non-Muslims, that Muslims are part of a global conspiracy to take over Western societies, and that Muslims in the West need to be viewed through this lens as the enemy.

Is truth a defense against human rights complaints?
12.9.2007 8:42pm
Russ (mail):
Another reason to thank God I'm not a Canadian.
12.9.2007 8:46pm
neurodoc:
What a fantastic opportunity this presents for the Canadian federal and the British Columbia Human Rights panels to do figuratively here on the North American continent what Charles Martel literally did almost 1300 years ago at Tours on the European continent! But are they up to the task?
12.9.2007 9:09pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
The Canadians are completely vulnerable to American pressure here, including private pressure in the form of boycotts.
12.9.2007 9:15pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Well that sounds great, T.H., but I can't go without my Shatner fix...
12.9.2007 9:19pm
wm13:
I presume that Prof. Lindgren's libertarian friends will instruct him that it isn't our job to fix up other countries, and, if the Canadians don't want this sort of thing published in Canada, it isn't our job to change their laws. Meanwhile, Prof. Lindgren's fellow law professors (not to mention a few Supreme Court justices!) will be explaining how much we can learn from the laws of other countries. (First Zimbabwe, now Canada.)
12.9.2007 9:37pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
Guido Demoor: clearly not a real person.
12.9.2007 9:51pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
And this is from law students no less . . .

At the very least, they should be blackballed from the ever practicing in the United States.
12.9.2007 9:57pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Oh my god, the authors (or at the least the site where the complaint is listed) are complete NUTJOBS!

From the "About" Page, "This site is dedicated for my Beloved Muslim all around the world, who most of them are mistreated, today. I will present the truth, honest, and fair information about islam and muslim in suffer. Moreover, the information and fact from the west news media itself. Also, this site is counter measure of bias information from The West Mafia News Media, which already been dominated by JEWISH &CHRISTIAN Mafia."

Seriously . . . Can someone file a hate crime complaint against them?
12.9.2007 10:00pm
Hoosier:
Humble Law Student: "I will present the truth, honest, and fair information about islam and muslim in suffer."

With writing of that quality, what would YOUR law school grades look like? I wonder if the author of those lines will claim bias prevented him from landing a sweet job after law school.

--Arrogant History Professor
12.9.2007 10:08pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Hoosier,

Those damn Jewish and Christians news mafias! Wait, I thought it was a Jewish cabal . . . or was it the Israel lobby? Ahhh, getting confused on my conspiracy theories!!!
12.9.2007 10:12pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Humble Law Student... I think actually that's one thing which decent people need to do with this sort of thing. Every time some whacko Muslim speech restrictionist files a "hate speech" complaint, then we should scrutinize the complainant and his supporters and file similar, mirror-image complaints against them. I guarantee you for anything that's remotely anti-Islamic in Western writings, we can find 10 anti-Semitic slurs in the average writings of the sort of people who file those complaints.
12.9.2007 10:18pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
"Chapter and verse [Mark Steyn]

Anyone interested in reading in full the Canadian Islamic Congress' case against me and my Maclean's colleagues can find it here.

If convicted, I promise to re-publish the offending pieces in a special all-Islamophobic anthology. Of course, we'll have to do that this side of the border, but I'll use the old bootlegging runs around Lake Memphremagog to smuggle it across the Maple Curtain into Canada. Look for me selling it off the back of the pick-up in the parking lot of La Belle Province at Ange-Gardien, alternate Tuesdays. I'll be wearing a false beard over my real beard."
12.9.2007 10:29pm
neurodoc:
But PatHMV, if very many people were to do what you propose they do, wouldn't that tie up those well-meaning Canadian federal and state human rights panels, keeping them from do the good work they are so intent upon doing? And not wishing to see that good work go undone, might not the Canadian government devote even more resources to the fight against "intolerance", hiring still more panelists, investigators, monitors, trainers, etc?
12.9.2007 10:38pm
Hoosier:
Humble--Don't spend too much time trying to sort the conspiracies out. Do what the 9/11 nutters do and just lump them all together. Even the ones that conflict with the other ones.

Throw in some numerology, too, for good measure.

PatHMV--You, my friend, have hit upon the answer. I wonder if there will be any takers in KKKanada.

(Can I call it that now?)
12.9.2007 10:41pm
Hoosier:
neurodoc--But that's the beauty of the plan. When the Oppressed Minority Emotive Coddling Services budget reaches 40% of GDP, even the KKKanadian kkkultural Left will get the clue.
12.9.2007 10:45pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Thomas_Holsinger:

I'll be wearing a false beard over my real beard.

My God, the man is either sublime or accident prone. Les Barbouzes (the False Beards) were the rightist anti-Muslim forces in the Algerian Civil War of the 1960s.
12.9.2007 11:43pm
Brian K (mail):
Adopting a fear mongering tone

while the lawsuit is clearly a bad idea, CIC's description of the article fairly accurate.
12.10.2007 3:06am
Wayne Jarvis:
Punting on third down and now this? Get it together, Canada!
12.10.2007 9:35am
neurodoc:
while the lawsuit is clearly a bad idea, CIC's description of the article fairly accurate.
"Accurate" can only pertain to objective "facts;" it can no more pertain to the purely subjective or to "opinions" than can "happy" characterize and inanimate object like a rock. The CIC report appears to consist largely of the opinions of its obviously partisan authors rather than factual assertions, that reflected even in the title they chose, "MEDIA-PROPAGATED ISLAMOPHOBIA (sic)."
12.10.2007 5:28pm
Brian K (mail):
that's not true. an opinion is an interpretation of a set of facts. some interpretations are more accurate, i.e. they conform to the facts better than others. this is evident in the debates about judicial opinions that frequently occur on this site.

The CIC report appears to consist largely of the opinions of its obviously partisan authors rather than factual assertions,
as does Steyn's "article". I don't see your point.
12.10.2007 7:10pm
neurodoc:
Brian K: that's not true. an opinion is an interpretation of a set of facts. some interpretations are more accurate, i.e. they conform to the facts better than others. this is evident in the debates about judicial opinions that frequently occur on this site.
Wrong. "Opinions" according to my desktop dictionary are "a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter...belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge." They may be seen by others as "well-founded" or not "well-founded;" they may be seen by others as "intelligent" or "unintelligent"; they may be seen by others as "useful" or "unhelpful;" and so on, but in the end what those opinions are is a matter of "opinion," i.e., subjective assessment of others ("may be seen by others as..."), not "facts" as such that can be proven right or wrong, and hence cannot be either "accurate" or "inaccurate." ("Accurate: conforming exactly to truth")

When have you seen any of the bloggers or commenters here, at least any informed one, characterize a judicial opinion as "accurate." Can you point to such (link, please) in any of "the debates about judicial opinions that frequently occur on this site"? "Interpretations" don't "conform to the facts," they are attempts at explanations.

Those who testify in court are divided into "fact" witnesses and "expert" witnesses. The latter are allowed to give their opinions, and that is often why they are there;" the former are not. The distinction between "fact" and "opinion" is an important one for purposes of courts, and that distinction is clearly reflected in the rules of evidence.

If you can find someone educated in the law who agrees with you that opinions can be "accurate" or not be "accurate," please bring them forward and have them explain their reasoning. I don't believe you can find such an authority.
neurodoc: The CIC report appears to consist largely of the opinions of its obviously partisan authors rather than factual assertions,
Brian K: as does Steyn's "article". I don't see your point.
My point is the same one I made before and just repeated - "opinions" cannot be "accurate" or "inaccurate" any more than a rock can be "happy," the color blue be "slow," etc. I am in accord with much of what Steyn says, little of what the CIC law students say, but that is not the same as an assertion that Steyn's opinions are "accurate," the CICers' opinions "inaccurate." The "facts" they adduce in support of their respective cases may be "true," and hence "accurate" (comport with that which is objectively true), or "false," and hence "inaccurate," but that's their "facts," not their opinions or "interpretations."
12.11.2007 12:20am
Brian K (mail):
Steyn presented a series of facts and then his interpretation/explanation/opinion concerning them. His interpretation can be right (accurate), it can be wrong (inaccurate) or it can be partially right.

opinion: "An opinion is a person's ideas and thoughts towards something. It is an assessment, judgment or evaluation of something. An opinion is not a fact, because opinions are either not falsifiable, or the opinion has not been proven or verified." (emphasis added)
what is that something? in this case it is facts as presented by Steyn. if we have 2 cds and i tell you cd A yields 6% interest for 1 year and cd B yields 5% interest for one year (all other things being equal). if i ask which cd i should put my money in and you tell me B is the better bet, then your opinion is wrong/false/inaccurate because it does not conform to the facts.

You seem to be playing with words quite a bit.
"Interpretations" don't "conform to the facts," they are attempts at explanations.
explanations of what? the facts. a correct interpretation must "be in line with" (the definition of conform) the facts as presented. if it is not, then it is an inaccurate (not conforming to truth) explanation. from the context of the editorial we know that Steyn's interpretation is his opinion. his interpretation is not a fact. hence his opinion is inaccurate (or accurate) based on whether or not they conform to the facts. note that there are degrees of accuracy. saying the speed of light is 3x10^8 is true/accurate/correct for a high school physics class, but it is highly inaccurate for someone using light to design a highly precise clock. (if you want an appeal to authority, my engineering professors have used "accurate" in similar contexts)

If you can find someone educated in the law who agrees with you that opinions can be "accurate" or not be "accurate," please bring them forward and have them explain their reasoning. I don't believe you can find such an authority.
and i believe that appeals to authority (even if they are a negative appeal) are a logical fallacy. nor are we in the realm of law here. we are not judges. steyn is not a lawyer. nor we are using legal terms of art. so your appeal to "law" is not relevant.

The distinction between "fact" and "opinion" is an important one for purposes of courts, and that distinction is clearly reflected in the rules of evidence.
you seem to be assuming here that i said facts and opinions are the same. i said no such thing.
12.11.2007 3:15am