Friday, May 02, 2008

National Post to Jack Layton: to hell with your hatred of freedom

National Post Editorial Board: The fight against censorship; Maclean's Magazine vs. the Canadian Islamic Congress:
Only a handful of left-wing radicals — including Jack Layton, whose letter of support was read out by Mr. Joseph at yesterday’s press conference — are defending the CIC-Maclean’s fight as a natural, acceptable event in a mature democratic civilization. It can only be a matter of time before they get together and form some George Galloway-style group called Leftists Against Press Freedom (they can call themselves the LAPF-Dogs).

And let us make no mistake: It is core press freedom that’s at stake. The history and jurisprudence of anglophone countries (do they still do the Alberta Press Act Reference in law school?) teach us that for governments to make the publication of certain material mandatory is an infringement of that freedom, just as much as it is to prohibit it.

In a certain sense, it is worse: A censored publisher, after all, is ordinarily left to fill the vacated space according to his own judgment, but one who is positively and coercively required to print something is effectively having his printing press seized and used toward ends of which he may not approve.

Publishers of general-interest organs generally offer space for rebuttal as a matter of courtesy — which is possible only between parties that are acting freely — and in deference to the extralegal ideals of robust discussion and intellectual humility. Maclean’s offered plenty of that space, printing literally dozens of letters opposed to Mr. Steyn’s article. The CIC cannot argue that contrary views were never aired: It can only argue that its particular views weren’t with the level of stridency it sought.

Forget the details of the law for a moment. What ethical principle or social norm can possibly require any private publisher to offer free advertising to the CIC? Or to anyone else? Even if they were factually right about Mark Steyn being a Muslim-basher, wouldn’t this concept still be both odious and impractical?

In a free country, no publication should be required to turn over its presses to its critics. We hope and expect that Maclean’s will follow this principle as it considers its response to the CIC’s latest gambit.
Let us not forget Layton's words, in his attempt to charm the enemies of press freedom, which I read as a thinly-veiled attack on that bete noire of the Islamists, the (you know, lobby-controlled) Western media:
The NDP appreciates the battle you are waging against mainstream media’s portrayal of Muslim Canadians and the intolerance and hatred against other communities such as Arabs and South Asians.
I think Mark Steyn is altogether too charitable in response:
I wonder if Jack Layton, apparently auditioning for chief eunuch of the new caliphate, even read the dossier of Maclean's systemic Islamophobia before giving Elmo the tongue bath.
I think Layton and the NDP know full well what they are doing. As Terry Glavin has noted, there have been many signs already.

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