Wednesday, May 07, 2008

ThoughtCrime Update

illo: America Alone, by Mark SteynI'm adding a new link to the template: SteynOnline, the home page of Mark Steyn. Not only is Steyn an entertaining writer, he's also managed to become the target of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, for the unspeakable thoughtcrime of writing this book. For you see, while Steyn now lives in the U.S., and this book was written in the U.S., and it was even published in the U.S., an excerpt from it was reprinted in Maclean's, Canada's leading newsweekly, and it seems that in Canada it is now a hate crime to actually quote in print the actual words spoken by certain of the more unpleasant and homicidal representatives of the Religion of Peace™.

Yeah, I know, there is a strong temptation here to write this off with, "Oh, those wacky Canadians. What'll they think of next?" After all, Canada does have roughly the same population as California, albeit spread out over a much larger and colder area, and it is easy to think of the inhabitants of the Great White North as being Californians, once removed.

But American writers should be following this case with great interest for two reasons. The first is that , despite the efforts of certain parties to make defendants and plaintiffs of enemy combatants, the Bill of Rights does not extend outside the U.S. borders. In particular I know of one American writer who went to a conference in Toronto, sat on a panel and expressed himself with the same degree of pugnacity and pungency he was comfortable using in the U.S., and was most unpleasantly surprised to find himself hauled before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and charged with committing hate speech. Canada is a different country. They do things differently there.

The second is that, while much of the Bill of Rights is still operative within American borders, ideas travel, and others are learning from observation. In parts of this country it has already become a near-ThoughtCrime to criticize, say, the National Council of La Raza or MEChA, and while we still cling to the larger tatters of the First Amendment, there are plenty of people in the political sphere who are eager to bend over, grab their ankles, embrace diversity right up to the sigmoid, and call for "reasonable limits" on free speech in the name of multiculturalism and the [insert subculture name here] vote.

I'm watching the progress of Steyn's case with great interest. I recommend that you do, too.