Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Thoughts on seeing a human rights tribunal in action

I have been reflecting on a little time spent at the British Columbia Human Rights tribunal on Monday, mostly spent listening to the testimony of Khurrum Awan, the young man largely responsible for starting the ball rolling on what became the Mohamed Elmasry/CIC complaint against Maclean's.

The hearing continued today. Andrew Coyne and Ezra Levant live blogged the event for those interested. Jay Currie has a good synopsis of their posts. It seems as if Awan and the Canadian Islamic Congress had an especially bad day. Under cross examination, Awan had to admit that he previously misrepresented the demands he had made on Maclean's, in regard to the article he wanted them to publish, and had sought substantial money (whether for personal gain or as some kind of charitable donation I don't know). I end this post with some preliminary thoughts on how the present farce of human rights "justice" might be remedied in future.

Many people have complained about how the human rights tribunals operate. The litany of problems is probably now well known to any readers of this story and I will not attempt to repeat them all. I came out of the tribunal on Monday dwelling on two overriding issues:

1) that the truth of one's public statements is not a defense against the charge of exposing someone to hatred or contempt, or the mere likelihood thereof. This makes it nearly impossible to have a productive exchange of differences about the reality of the world that those accused of promoting hate or contempt may be trying to represent; thus, any decision the tribunal takes is profoundly political and has nothing about it of the disinterestedness we (used to) associate with the rule of law or that we would like to see in the human sciences more generally. (I'm not moved by postmodern arguments that disinterestedness is not really possible in any context.)

2) that the original and implicit (though not fully-stated) purpose of the human rights tribunals have been established by legislatures in a way that is just not productive of much that is worthwhile. As everyone knows, the Tribunal operates so as to publicly identify the "victims" of our society, and to impose sanctions on the victimizers. Does this punitive model, in the context of politicized decisions as to truth, do much to defer anyone's resentment (such deferral being the anthropological purpose of all culture, not least the law)? I doubt it. A quick and easy "judicial" scapegoating and a few thousand bucks won't go far in deferring the tensions of our resentful age, even among those with simple conceptions of justice. On the other hand, the politicization of justice pisses a lot of people off.

After witnessing Khurrum Awan give testimony on Monday, my first impression was that the problem represented by this young, basically polite, deferential, significantly Westernized (in appearance, but also I believe in much of his thought), though somewhat insecure young man, is perhaps not that which some writers focussed on various Islamist stragegies for subversive "lawfare" might suggest. The matter may be quite different with the official complainant, Mohammed Elmasry, the man with the p.r. problem who did not show up to the hearing. But whatever uses to which others may or may not be putting him, Khurrum Awan does not come across to me as someone particularly conscious of being engaged in "human rights" claims just in order to undermine Western self-confidence or culture. If I'm wrong and that's what he's doing, he is one of the more subtle players of the game.

No, it seems to me Awan is a little too sensitive and modestly Canadian - he is frankly just a little too much like me - to imagine as a hard-core Muslim Brotherhood type, not that I really know any hard-core MB types other than those I see on tv documentaries; and I'm sure even they display a certain, ahem, "diversity" in their humanity.

Despite his slight accent, Awan comes across as a typical product of the postmodern Canadian academy, i.e. someone immersed in a decidedly Western form of victimary thinking. I would go so far as to say, on first appearances, that this postmodern religion has become the primary cultural identity for his public persona. He is not some Islamic tough guy. He feels deeply that he and most Canadian Muslims have been victimized by Mark Steyn and Maclean's and he thinks it appropriate that there be laws of political correctness that give powers to bureaucrats to recognize and punish the victims of published articles.

To try to pull his somewhat disjointed testimony into a little story....

One day in 2006, Khurrum was reading Mark Steyn's article "The future belongs to Islam" and it freaked him out. After 9/11 he had become concerned with civil liberties for Muslims, feeling essentially that it was wrong that Muslims in general were being represented in the media and by certain government agencies as a potential threat to the West. All of a sudden the West had become hysterical about Islam and didn't appreciate that it was only some radical fringe that was causing the terrorist problem.

Thus Muslims in Canada were being victimized by the suggestion that there was some kind of war between the West and Islam in general. The possible reality that, whether most of us like it or not, some kind of war - not just isolated terrorism - does exist in this world, was not something Khurrum seems to have allowed.

After 9/11, Khurrum gave testimony to the Senate Committee on anti-terrorism laws; he became President of the Canadian Islamic Youth Congress, and he wrote a paper on Canada's processes of threat evaluation, arguing that thanks to Islamophobic media, the majority of Canadian Muslims were being misrepresented as somehow incompatible with a democratic society.

Then on the day he picked up the Steyn article, he came face to face with what he took to be the essence of this Western Islamophobia.

While various passages of Steyn's article were highlighed by Khurrum for the BC Human Rights Tribunal, in order to display its allegedly consistent hatefulness, the passage that apparently was the most outrageous to Khurrum and his friends was this:
On the Continent and elsewhere in the West, native populations are aging and fading and being supplanted remorselessly by a young Muslim demographic. Time for the obligatory "of courses": of course, not all Muslims are terrorists -- though enough are hot for jihad to provide an impressive support network of mosques from Vienna to Stockholm to Toronto to Seattle. Of course, not all Muslims support terrorists -- though enough of them share their basic objectives (the wish to live under Islamic law in Europe and North America) to function wittingly or otherwise as the "good cop" end of an Islamic good cop/bad cop routine. But, at the very minimum, this fast-moving demographic transformation provides a huge comfort zone for the jihad to move around in. And in a more profound way it rationalizes what would otherwise be the nuttiness of the terrorists' demands. An IRA man blows up a pub in defiance of democratic reality -- because he knows that at the ballot box the Ulster Loyalists win the elections and the Irish Republicans lose. When a European jihadist blows something up, that's not in defiance of democratic reality but merely a portent of democratic reality to come. He's jumping the gun, but in every respect things are moving his way.
For Khurrum, it is simply unspeakable to suggest that any significant part of Islam in the West is at war with the West, and at the same time to suggest that Muslims who integrate themselves into democratic life are a threat because they will not respect an open democracy but use the vote to undermine Western culture. For Awan, reading Steyn, it's like the Muslims are damned if they do (vote) and damned if they don't (i.e. bomb).

Now I disagree with Steyn's suggestion in the offending passage that the jihadi (suicide) bomber is a portent of any sustainable reality to come, democratic, Islamic, or otherwise, since I think the postmodern jihadi isn't bombing on behalf of any kind of coherent vision, or in the name of any potentially realistic nation, empire, or state of the future. I believe today's jihadi suffers a deeply resentful and incoherent reaction to modernity (however much his resentment is rooted in or mediated by traditional Islamic ideas and values); and he suffers from a vague idealism promising some return to the medieval Caliphate and universal Sharia law, a return that would require so much destruction of the modern world (e.g. the scientific spirit), including the world's population, that I doubt most Muslims would want or allow it to happen. Still, that's not to say that widespread resentments can't first do horrific damage before their delusional basis is clear to enough people.

Anyway, as I see it, a larger point for some reflection on the role of the human rights tribunals is that while Steyn has gone some distance intellectually, neither Mark Steyn nor Khurrum Awan is deeply interested in figuring out ways to reveal to us what Muslims today, in a country like Canada, really believe. In other words, they are not deeply interested in talking about how we might stage tests or shape events in ways that would help us find out.

Steyn tries to straddle the fence in a few words by portraying a world in which radicals can be hidden by a mostly passive but not firmly antagonistic-to-jihad Muslim mainstream. Meanwhile, Khurrum comes to tribunal showing little sense that it might be appropriate (and I doubt it would be appropriate in the tribunal's eyes) that he counter Steyn by offering an account of Muslim or Islamic realities. Nor in any of the testimony I heard (or read about) did he suggest that he has previously made attempts either to study seriously for himself, or to portray to others, what Muslims today in the West or elsewhere really believe, when push comes to shove in contests between competing visions of the future. The impression he give is that in his advocacy work he has been studying how Islam and Muslims are portrayed by non-Muslims. And, in his implicit view, any truth in their/our portrayals is not a defense against a generally negative portrayal.

Like all of us, Khurrum Awan has his personal experience to go on; but no one's experience comprises anything but a tiny fraction of reality. We all rely on weighing and testing other people's representations of reality. At least we would so rely in a sane world where instead of trying to "criminalize" or otherwise ostracize representations we found objectionable, we would try to open ourselves to whatever truth they carried and/or reject them by superior evidence and reasoning.

Maclean's' lawyers made various objections to the tribunal, wondering what points of law Awan's testimony could speak to, objecting that as a resident of Ontario he should not have a say on the point they felt was most relevant to Section 7 of the British Columbia Human Rights Code: the subjective responses of Muslims in British Columbia to Steyn's article (many of BC's Muslims, by the way, are Ismailis and I wonder if they're not a little miffed at Mohammed Elmasry's claim in filing this complaint that he can speak for all Muslims in BC).

But these objections seemed to be of little interest to the tribunal who, it seems, want to hear any and all evidence of hurt feelings and offensiveness. Both Awan and the Tribunal implicitly take the young person's view that conflict is a product of not treating people with respect; and they shows few signs of delving into the realities for which we are being asked to have respect, as if the world were not a tragic battlefield of competing and sometimes incompatible understandings of what is sacred, of what we can or should respect.

What he and his friends demanded of Maclean's is that they be allowed to take editorial control of an issue in which their chosen author was allowed to counter Steyn. Khurrum does not portray himself as an intellectual with a strong sense of his own mind. He started the proceedings that led up to these human rights complaints because he had been offended by Steyn's articles, not because he was rebuffed in attempts to know and publish his own thoughts.

Anyway, to continue the story that unfolded with his testimony: Khurrum is just an ordinary Canadian guy who went to law school and one day was struck dumb by the Steyn article; he showed it to his non-Muslim boss at the Parkdale legal clinic for low income people in Toronto, and received from her a sympathetic response of shock and outrage. The boss immediately started talking to people and looking into whether this article could be considered criminal hate speech. Heh, that's Parkdale for you...

Long story short, Khurrum and his other friends from law school studied all the relevant Canadian laws and decided that their best response was 1) to demand that Maclean's publish their chosen author and make a cash donation; or 2) they would look into legal remedies. It turned out that the test for criminal hate speech is quite demanding, and so they settled on laying a series of human rights complaints, after asking for and getting the support of Mohammed Elmasry and the Canadian Islamic Congress to give them some kind of institutional legitimacy. (Many bloggers argue that, in turn, Elmasry is using the young lawyers as his own "sock puppets" in some kind of lawfare.)

At the BCHRT, Khurrum went on, despite the protests of Maclean's lawyers that this kind of testimony should be inadmissible, to tell of how much personal heat he and his fellow complainants took in response to their laying of human rights complaints. He spoke of attacks on religious belief, and accusations of terrorism coming from the blogosphere.

It soon became clear that the strategy of the CIC lawyer, Joseph Faisal, is to expose the BC Human Rights Tribunal to the resentments that Canadian bloggers have directed towards the sock puppets, as a way of proving Maclean's guilty by association, a strategy the Tribunal seems to be allowing in their procedural rulings, if my reading of the ongoing reporting from the Tribunal is correct.

In complaining about how much personal heat the complainants have taken, Awan made an explicit comparison to the experiences of Jews, Blacks, and aboriginals who have previously used the human rights tribunals. The alleged fact that previous complainants of "hate speech" received much less public criticism was proof of the "Islamophobia" that Maclean's has stoked.

Now leaving aside that most of the heat Khurrum has felt has come from the nascent Canadian blogosphere, a historical innovation of which we're all a little proud - and who knows how bloggers would respond to a 2008 version of the infamous BCHRT prosecutions of Doug Collins and the North Shore News for Judeophobia - here Khurrum Awan has a point, not that it should be used in defense of the tribunals' existence.

It is true that Canadians are only now waking up to the offensiveness of these human rights tribunals passing judgment on freedom of expression and other matters. It is true that Canadians were previously more willing to buy into a certain narrative of victimization, one founded (as are the human rights tribunals themselves) in the postmodern response to the Holocaust. And it is indeed the (unwelcome) fate of Muslims in Canada that it is partly in response to the actions of some of their co-religionists globally that the postmodern victimary ideology is under attack and crumbling.

If formerly (in the 1980s and 90s) Westerners were generally loathe to pass judgment that suggested one group or culture was better than another, the appearance of (suicide) bombers and radical mosques and Islamist organizations in Western cities (and of those who either applaud or refuse entirely to condemn jihadi violence), in what appears to be a desire to defeat a decadent modernity and return to the order of the Medieval Caliphate, forces us once again to make value judgments that certain kinds of culture are better than others.

What this show trial at the BC Human Rights Tribunal is ultimately about, it seems to me, is the sustainability of making claims on the founding revelation of the postmodern age. The ultimate sins, in response to which the post-Holocaust "human rights" world view exists, are "discrimination" and "dehumanization", words that sum up the memory of massed starved, naked, and dead corpses stripped of all distinguishing marks of individual identity save some implied stain of (Jewishness).

Indeed Khurrum Awan's testimony mentioned that Steyn's article created the distinctly unsettling impression of an apocalyptic world view in which a repeat of the Bosnian massacres, and genocide more generally, was felt to be a real possibility for Europe in future if relations between Muslims and aboriginal Europeans continue on their present course.

And while the Holocaust is the central symbolic tool in postmodern politics, it has one horrific and ultimately fatal feature: just as the Nazis destroyed the individuality of their victims, the use of the Holocaust in postmodern victimary thought destroys our ability seriously to distinguish empirical realities. Once we get in the habit of calling each other Nazis, what is there left to say, what reality is there to further qualify and divide up? One cannot seriously contest that the Jews really were completely innocent of anything that could have justified the Nazis' genocidal rage. It is one of those very rare moments in history where there is an absolute clarity about right and wrong, except for those caught up in the delusional fury of extreme resentment; and in the case of the terminally resentful, their ultimate error is only to pin the label of absolute victim and victimizer on the wrong people.

Now when most of us remember the absolute victimization of the Holocaust it comes in figures of state officials doing the evil of preparing and carrying out the "Final Solution". Now often these memories are of nothing much in particular save vague, half-formed images of the "banality of evil" as Hannah Arendt famously characterized the ordinary German bureaucrat. It was not the lone journalist or magazine that carried out, or instigated, the Holocaust; it was precisely the modern state in its full, almost forgettable, "glory" that did.

So it is impossible for a person like myself to sit in front of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal - where testimony is being given that a mere individual, Mark Steyn, gives off signs in his writing that could re-instigate the Nazi evil, signs of which the complainant is an indubitable victim - and not look at the tribunal "judges" and not to have momentary intuitions one might express as: "G-d, it's these bureaucrats appointed to the ultimate postmodern cause - "human rights" - it's these who are appointed to save us from neo-Nazis who may perhaps themselves be the neo-fascists."

After all the "neo-Nazi" in postmodern popular culture has come to have exactly the same scapegoat role that the "Jew" had in Nazi propaganda. In a world where empirical distinctions give way to a more pressing need to remember the horrific revelation of the Holocaust, the possibility of an absolute victimization of an entire population, it is easy to turn the symbolic tables and forego a larger reality.

Now in all seriousness, I know that such an "intuition" would fall apart under any kind of serious empirical examination. After all, these bureaucrats can only fine Maclean's or impose some kind of order telling them what or what not to publish, a ban that could lead in future to charges of contempt of court and imprisonment for anyone guilty of breaking such a ban. Furthermore, these bureaucrats can only pick and choose their victims as complaints are laid; they cannot go out and find an army to round them up (nor can they use the "entrapment" methods of the Canadian Human Rights Commission!). What's more one thinks of a certain sure-footed, methodical "genius" among the banal Nazi bureaucrats; and such was not the impression I gained from looking at the faces of the three members of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal sitting in judgment at the Maclean's hearing.

I am someone interested in the masks we wear and interested in seeing if people are or are not at home in the roles they have to perform in the professional world. I might reflect, for example, on the Christian idea of a person that has evolved from the classical Roman idea of a "persona" (i.e. the mask one wears in a religious ritual) such that a Christian is someone who has become well adjusted to following the post-ritual model that Jesus laid down for "sons" and daughters in homage to God the Father. When I see a successful Christian I tend to see someone so at home in his "mask" that there really isn't much sense of a struggle between the "mask", or Christian person, and its uncertain initiate/performer.

At the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, I had the impression of people wearing their masks with some discomfort, of people still in the early stages of their initiation into the halls of justice. One of the panelists in particular had the habit of making what to my mind appeared to be rather exaggerated facial expressions, in an attempt to show the appropriate emotions of seriousness, concern, empathy for Khurrum Awan, etc. One of the most telling points in the proceedings came when the cell phone of CIC lawyer Joseph Faisal rang loudly. He jumped to turn it off and apologized profusely that this was the "first time in 25 years that's happened". The Chairwoman of the tribunal replied "Make it the last!". The way she said this seemed to me awkward, theatrical, a somewhat exaggerated reaction to a feeling of "what do I say to this?", as if the appropriate way to assert authority in this situation were not, as it were, bred in the bone. An experienced judge, one might imagine, would have sufficient worldly wisdom to be inured to the nuisances of our now inescapably networked lives, such that a certain sardonic humility about human imperfections in attention that cannot be commanded away would enter into any warning.

So, I sensed quite a distance between the mask and the performer at the BCHRT, while I tend to imagine the Nazi - thanks to photos like these - as rather more at home in the banality of bureaucratic evil. There are bloggers effectively calling the human rights commissions and tribunals "fascists"; I would demur slightly: in doing this, bloggers start playing the "human rights" game where everyone is either a fascist or a genuine victim; this may be a useful ploy in beating the victimary world view at its own game, but it is also a sign of the thinking we need to move beyond.

To conclude, what I saw missing in the whole performance of "human rights" at the BC tribunal was a sufficient regard for details, for differentiations that might teach us something about the reality out there in the real world. Instead there is a great search for (false) moral equivalences.

What stood out for me was Khurrum Awan's sense of injustice that he had taken much more personal and Islamophobic heat for claiming victim status than have Jews, Blacks, or aboriginals. Khurrum has gone to university and studied like everyone else; so he has learned and adopted the unofficial postmodern Canadian secular religion - what some call Trudeaupia - and accordingly figures he is not being treated as one should.

Now it seems to me that there might be use for "tribunals" that could help us find a way out of the morass that our post-Holocaust "human rights" world view has put us in, with unelected bureaucrats being placed in a position - by our legislators who are all too keen to have unelected bodies where controversial and difficult matters can be referred, allowing politicians to avoid necessary and properly political discussions - to make orders about what can and cannot be published in Canada.

After all, what should rightly be done with people like Khurrum Awan, young people whose initiation into Western culture is well under way but not yet entirely complete, and who understandably thus feel shocked, personally threatened, by publications that paint members of their religion as a threat to Western civilization?

Surely in a civilized society, we need to open such matters to discussion in a search for better understanding of the realities alleged. Exactly so, say many pro-Maclean's bloggers: those who find Mark Steyn wrong or repugnant should have to engage him in public debate, and not try to silence him.

But then we have to remember that we have a whole generation of young and now middle-aged Canadians with a limited ability to think of society in anything other than victimary "Nazi-Jew" terms, terms that involve a flight from empirical distinctions and from a politics that would find ways to test reality rather than always seeking to pass "final" judgment on it.

Even though Awan is himself a Muslim, I can't imagine a serious and useful debate between him and Steyn on just what are the realities of the relationship between Muslims and Europeans, and just what is it that Muslims (or Europeans) really believe. For that matter, what do any of us really believe when put to the test of having to make important decisions about values and actions, when the difference between our idealized ends and real world means start to come in conflict once we begin to act?

My point is that in the postmodern world, where we collectively avoid taking any kinds of risky actions or decisions that might contravene the religion of "human rights" - that might create some imbalance, some asymmetry between people, some "victim" - very few of us have had a chance to know, by our actions in historical events, what we "really believe". For example, how many of Khurrum Awan's alleged "Islamophobes" in Canada would really carry through on their Islamophobia if one dark day the Canadian government recommended we separate from their hijabs the kind of polite and sincere young Muslim girls some of us talked to outside the Tribunal hearing room, all in the name of confronting Occidentophobia. Would people really come forward to enforce what such a government proposed? I don't know. How can I know? One can take an opinion poll, but that won't tell us how people will act in the heat of real-time events where competing moral imperatives become more evident.

But perhaps we will defer ever making such difficult decisions precisely by having the courage, like Mark Steyn, to talk about them. Would discussing - if one could discuss such matters without fear of being dragged to the Human Rights Tribunal -the possible events and demographic trends that might engender fears that might lead, one dark day, to a Canadian government that would propose strong actions for or against Islam, help lead many Canadians, Muslims and not, to new kinds of discussions about what should be common Canadian values, discussions that could allow us to define, relatively non-violently, and to apply relatively non-coercively, the new forms of reciprocity that will allow us to overcome the kind of nihilism and (poorly disguised, post-Holocaust) fear that often attends our expressions of "multiculturalism"?

We can imagine such a free and open discussion in Canada; yet it is impossible to imagine a world where our representative government has no role whatever in regulating the exercise of our shared freedom. So, to return to the problem of what an open and just society should do with someone, like Khurrum Awan, who has been deeply disturbed by what a national magazine with large circulation can publish about his people....

Perhaps his problem could be well handled if we had "human rights" tribunals whose only job was to make careful findings on statements of fact, on hotly disputed media claims; and then, without being definitive or unduly authoritative, they could pass non-binding moral judgments on who has been unfairly characterized. The tribunals would have no power to sanction anyone. They would only be listened to as long as they were interesting, as long as they could make a real contribution to the public debate, as long as they maintained intellectual and moral credibility and could thus help institutionalize certain understandings of reality, as long as they could find ways to test and signify new realities as they came into existence.

So, for example, Mark Steyn thinks the reality in Europe is xyz; and saying this sends shivers down the spine of Khurrum Awan. Well, instead of putting on an expensive trial with punitive intent, as if that's the only way to change minds and retrograde behaviours, why not, when cases merit it, put on a trial whose intent is simply discovery and better articulation of our shared reality? That would be productive because it is only when we all become more capable of articulating our shared national and global realities that we - the free and productive people who make a complex market-driven society work - will discover the forms of reciprocity suited to deferring the violence that both Mark Steyn and Khurrum Awan rightly fear.

It is wrong to impose on the private property of publishers and tell them what they can and cannot publish. But still, it may be right that someone like Khurrum Awan who can't fully take care of his own needs in public debate, have a chance at asking someone else to take up his case for him. Of course, if a state agency, this someone else would have to pick and choose complainants carefully; but the more careful, honest, and transparent the process, the more legitimacy it would have. In fact, it could only sustain itself by sustaining its legitimacy without recourse to the primitive ritual power to label "bad guys" that we presently give the "human rights" tribunals.

A party of truly disinterested judges sitting as a tribunal could help bring into public debate subjects and understandings that our politicians are presently scared to touch. Or, alternatively, such a tribunal could help (they would never have the final say in a democracy) to institutionalize understandings that are already well discussed in public, but to a point where resolution or action is not possible because no one really knows enough of the truth of what is being discussed.

We need ways to measure and signify the new realities of life in Canada in the 21st Century. If we don't have these, if we allow all our human sciences and "human rights" debates to get stuck in the mire of symbolic contests over the horrific legacy of the Holocaust, our culture will sink deeper into infantalization and primitive responses to perceived sleights. If we do develop new ways of measuring and signifying our shared reality, we can look forward to developing new forms of reciprocity that will keep Canada's future open.


glasnost said...

“…if we had "human rights" tribunals whose only job was to make careful findings on statements of fact, on hotly disputed media claims; and then, without being definitive or unduly authoritative, they could pass non-binding moral judgments on who has been unfairly characterized…”
“…why not, when cases merit it, put on a trial whose intent is simply discovery and better articulation of our shared reality…”
“…if a state agency, this someone else would have to pick and choose complainants carefully…”
“…such a tribunal could help (they would never have the final say in a democracy) to institutionalize understandings that are already well discussed in public, but to a point where resolution or action is not possible because no one really knows enough of the truth of what is being discussed…”

And of course you, TRUEPEERS, would necessarily be chosen as a tribunal member/judge. After all, who else could we better appoint to pick and choose complainants carefully, discover and better articulate our shared reality, and pass moral judgments which would institutionalize your understanding? Please forgive my sarcasm; I’m just not convinced that any unelected person should wield even highly limited powers in that realm.

Anonymous said...

I too was at the first day of the "trial". Unfortunately I didn't stay for the afternoon session although I liked the "flavor" of it I got from Coyne and Levant. I was disgusted with the accommodations or lack thereof, the officious nature of the "armed" court clerks (you HAVE to leave the room because WE need a break-from WHAT,you didn't do anything)and the total unprofessionalism displayed by the "court".

On reflecting on my limited attendance and reading Levant and Coyne it reminded me of trials I had seen glimpses of in China and communist Russia.And I think that it was quite similar to the Mexican treatment of Brenda Martin which the MSM went so berserk over just a month or so ago.

As for Awan my simplified view of him is that he is a very naive person who has drunk the Kool aid and is not unlike the terrorist bombers in that while they were promised 91 virgins(or whatever the number is) he also sees a reward for his performance.

It all well and good to say that the majority of muslims in Canada don't subscribe to the thoughts of the radical elements but when you have radical imans (that Tarek Fatah refers to) its only a matter of time before the majority are indoctrinated into that way of thinking.

Horny Toad

Mark Buehner said...

A party of truly disinterested judges sitting as a tribunal could help bring into public debate subjects and understandings that our politicians are presently scared to touch

Ahh, but there is the rub. By its very nature, no such tribune can ever be disinterested. Its outside the scope of human nature. I'm sure the current trio at work today feel strongly they are a disinterested, neutral party.

This is a political question. Like any such question, it would be great if some computer like system could give us answers we could all live with, but that cant happen. To take your interesting point to its logical conclusion- any attempt to do so is bound to betray itself no matter how open and honest its set up to be. Either it will be hopelessly at odds with itself, or it will be a politically slanted sham like this one. If our electorate is so polarized, how could it be otherwise? Taken to a larger scale, this proposal is no different than suggesting a beneficent tyrant to run a country fairly. That is the mask in question, and that is the mask that makes fascism so alluring. Few sign up for gulags and killing fields for their own sake. Its the illusion of order and fairness backed by (ruthless) efficiency that makes tyranny a perpetual temptress.

truepeers said...


I guess my basic question for you is whether you believe it is possible for any student of humanity to have an approach that one could call "disinterested"?

I wouldn't describe the disinterested observer as someone who tries to be a blank slate, with no identity of his own. BUt I think it is possible to respect the realities of conflict and to weigh the representations of competing parties in ways that would appear to many as intellectually honest, as honestly engaged in trying to find a new kind of understanding, agreement or compact, an honesty which is anything but the final say, but is rather something around which a whole new kind of productive conversation or market can develop.

Do you think, say, stock market regulators are usually and mostly disinterested (with only occasional wrong doing?)

If you can answer that in the affirmative, why not imagine a similar kind of "regulator" in the free market of religious and political ideas?

Now maybe you're right that any such regulator or tribunal member should be an elected person. We could have a reasonable discussion about that.

Just keep in mind that when I say "institutionalize" something, I dont mean "have the final say"; i mean do something that can open up new possibilities and freedoms in the system.

Anonymous said...

Long well written article, but I disagree. I would recommend John Stewart Mill's "On Liberty", where he advocates freedom of speach.

What I see in Awan's legal charade is an effort to make it illegal to say anything negative about muslims in Canada. What I have never heard him do is talk about what is demonstrably and empiracly wrong with Islam and generally all Islamicly based societies.

I am a white male (47) and fat. Take a look at current trends in advertising, popular culture and intellectual life.....it won't take you long to discover that I am the cause of all racism, sexism, world hunger, colonialism, war, discrimination, and Bushitler.

The varagies of the HRC's and the complete lack of due process (not to mention the incredible abuse of process the defendants are undergoing) are an appalling testament to the lack of freedom in Canada.

Awan's real problem is that he hasn't in any way proven that what Steyn or Maclean's published to be wrong.

He and his allies have had more chances to challenge Steyn's writtings than anyone, yet he has not done so.

What you don't understand is how much blood had to be shed to get the 1st ammendment in the first place.

The only feeling that I can have for some one who advocates censorship is utter and complete contempt, what ever their religion.

truepeers said...


"I'm sure the current trio at work today feel strongly they are a disinterested, neutral party."

-I'm not so sure; I imagine they tend to see themselves as being advocates for the under-privileged in society; in any case, the test of disinterestedness is what others think of you.

And if you're in a situation where your only credibility lies in finding ways to appeal to the more generous instincts of competing sides (assuming both sides have an argument that numerous others take seriously), if you're only legitimacy lies in your ability to help defer the tensions of a polarized electorate, then you will either succeed or fail.

But I just don't think it's true that we never go before a jury in, say, a debating society, and feel happy that they truly judged the debate on its merits and not on their own pre-conceptions. I think disinterestedness is something that in some contexts, not all, is a real possibility. It's a real possibility because however divided we are, we ultimately have the same shared human reality with the same common interest: survival; and the greatest threat to our survival is not Mother nature, but our fellow man. At the end of the day we all have to face down the imperative to come to terms with him. Disinterestedness is a wisdom that comes from attending to this imperative.

As for your idea of a "beneficient dictator", while I am not a defender of dictatoships let me remind you that some dictators are better than others. How so? And furthermore, I'd question the popular notion that political power is ultimately a question of who controls the means of raw violence. I think it is ultimately a question of who is on top of public opinion. Even in a dictatorship, the dictator relies on the good opinion of those who will carry out his dictates. Even in a dictatorship there is a market in opinion and as with every market, there are ways to make it more effective and ways to freeze it up with violent consequences.

How do we make our free speech market more effective? Well, let's think of ways to get people more interested in the game, in the ideas and reputations at play in any market. Part of what we play for is reputation; and I wouldn't be opposed to some elected "tribunal" with no power other than to pass informed judgments on whose reputations are deserving - because they belong to people who really struggle to measure, understand, and develop our shared reality by helping create new forms of reciprocity.

truepeers said...

white male (47)

-I'm not sure I disagree with you. I certainly am not defending the HRCs or what Awan is doing. As to who he really is and what he's doing, that has to be something of an open question.

Let me also say that I have some idea how much blood was shed to get the 1st Amendment. Some of my ancestors were on the losing side and had to come up to the cold dark north from their home in the Carolinas. I like to remind my AMerican friend that the US nas had two bloody civil wars; but that's not the way he likes to look at it...

truepeers said...

And to further my analogy to the debating society in the comment above: having a debating society with rules and boundaries doesn't usually limit free speech (one can always step outside the society if need be) but rather it creates interest in free speech, something in the public eye. Having such rules and judges doesn't strangle conversation, it encourages us to have more. We need arenas, not just constitutional freedoms.

Should the state-regulated voices of intellectual integrity be limited to university professors and the CBC in Canada? I don't think so; we need to think of ways to validate other kinds of free speech authority. we own the state; the people should feel in democratic control and not fear it.

glasnost said...

Just keep in mind that when I say "institutionalize" something, I dont mean "have the final say"; i mean do something that can open up new possibilities and freedoms in the system.

Herein lies one of the problems with attempting to establish a tribunal as you notionally propose. The problem is language. Any such body would need to be formally guided by written terms of reference, and it would be necessary to take the kind of principles that you eloquently describe in academic-speak, and enshrine them in legal-speak. I understand where you’re coming from (I think), and I trust you would do a good job on such a tribunal, but how can I be assured that every other tribunal member understands the nuance of any enabling legislation or guidelines that attempts to describe the underlying principles? It seems that this is exactly why we’re so off-track with the existing HRCs – the legislation sucks, and no wonder because it’s impossible to incorporate these complex social values in legal-speak.

So to answer your question about disinterest: I agree that many intellectually honest people could act as disinterested arbitrators in the kind of debate we are contemplating; it’s not them I’m worried about.

truepeers said...


you're right that the hrcs are off the track and you're right to be suspicious.

But I'm not proposing to give my tribunals any power other than the power to make of themselves and their reports a target that can help further the discussion. A lot of the time they would fail; but that's ok if they can succeed in opening up new conversations and possibilities from time to time.

THey would have to be governed by laws of libel, i think.

truepeers said...

horny toad,

"It all well and good to say that the majority of muslims in Canada don't subscribe to the thoughts of the radical elements but when you have radical imans (that Tarek Fatah refers to) its only a matter of time before the majority are indoctrinated into that way of thinking."

- I'm not sure it is inevitable if Canada again becomes a confident nation willing to stand up for its values in a way that can appeal to newcomers. One of the things we have long arguments about at this blog is how or if it will be possible for Western culture to engage Muslims and integrate them into a free and democratic society, or, alternatively, how we can make Muslim countries more open and transparent and less of a threat to us.

These are difficult questions, I share this blog with someone who doesn't see fully eye to eye with me, and I won't try to recapitulate all the arguments now. But why not look at someone like Khurrum Awan as a person who is "in play"; he may well one day fall prey to radical preaching; for all I know he may already be going that way. I have no idea beyond the first impressions I wrote about in the post.

Anway, I think you're right that we have every reason to worry about radicalization. THat's why I think we need to think of ways to make our stakes in the conversations going on in the minds of people like Awan more prominent. We should provide him an arena where he can learn more about himself and our culture, or else he may well find his identity elsewhere.

We have to be able to openly debate with Muslims the meaning of their religion today in Canada. We need for them to fight for their religion in the context of a free speech environment, just as we have to fight for a free society.

The very young idea I've advocated in this post is just one way we might think of how to engage people...

glasnost said...

OK, as long as the tribunals don't have any legislated powers to force citizens to act; but aren't there any bodies like that in existence now?

truepeers said...

"but aren't there any bodies like that in existence now?"

-well we have universities, the CBC, things like that where ideas can be debated. But as we all know these have their limits and have failed often of late due to a loss of the spirit of real thinking. So we need continually to think of ways to open up the conversation.

-one of the things I did not mention in the post about Awan's testimony is that he said one of the first things they did in trying to figure out how to contest the Maclean's article was that they looked into whether Maclean's was a member of any press council that would slap them on the wrist and make a public statment (if it saw fit). Maclean's was not a member of any, and so they moved on to the HRC/Ts.

If they had some council where they had been forced to make their case in open debate, it would have saved them from the kind of mockery they are presently receiving in the blogs as the kangaroo hearing in Vancouver unfolds. THat might have been helpful.

Mark Buehner said...

The debating jury analogy is interesting, but here it the problem- if it doesnt have any power it will lack any real gravitas. In other words, one side or the other (or both) are likely to treat it as the toothless white glove society that it is. With enough apathy, its likely to drift politically for just the reasons you outlined (if no-one really cares no-one is watching very closely).

I would equate this with public broadcast here in the US. Theoretically it does much of what you are suggesting, but in practice it is something of a joke and certainly has become idealogically charged over the years.

Ultimately its a market problem. Citizens really just arent that interested in that kind of speech, and by your system they are really the only ones that can empoyer such a panel in any meaningful way. So in order to make the panel nontrivial, they would have to be granted power of some sort, and away we go.

truepeers said...


if not legal power, any such council would at least have to have status and prestige.

So, maybe it would have to be democratically elected in general elections; or maybe there would be some test of public and professional achievement to get nominated by the governments of the day. Maybe representation could be achieved by appealing to more local bodies for nominees. In any case, it would have to be something that enough people wanted to do that it would not be just another bureaucratic job but some kind of public honour that those who enjoyed it would not want to abuse.

But at the end of the day, it is as you suggest a question of whether enough people care about the health of their society to take remedies seriously. Sometimes that takes a sense of crisis; such a time may not be far off, or maybe the present system will continue to grind on for years....

Dag said...

I cannot find a flaw in Robert Michel's "Iron Law of Oligarchy." There might be many that I can't see. I live with what I know and act on that as f it were real until I find out better. That leaves me to think that any group will eventually become oligarchic. Regardless of ones democratic or anarchistic leanings, life tells.

"[I]f we had "human rights" tribunals whose only job was to make careful findings on statements of fact, on hotly disputed media claims; and then, without being definitive or unduly authoritative, they could pass non-binding moral judgments on who has been unfairly characterized...."

I like to think we have such tribunals already and that they are solidly oligarchic and harmless to a great degree: they are television shows and radio programs, perhaps even churches, and maybe nuclear families. There could be such things as impromptu tribunals at a bus stop, for example, if only people would free themselves of the slavish devotion to official authority that lingers from the feudalist heritage here in Canada. Yes, any number of bus-riders could speak up and tell. That would be a deference to individuality and responsibility rather than to the assigned officialdom. But that would fundamentally change the fabric of Canadian culture. Are Canadians in favor of such a thing?

I have argued elsewhere, as yet unposted, that the HRC and its current players are doing the exactly Canadian thing by conforming to the Canadian preference for official intervention into disputes between people who should and otherwise would settle such disputes between themselves. Further, it is a Canadian trait to exaggerate the need for politeness to the point that one must argue at an official level that some are not polite, thereby creating a conditioning drama, a moral dilemma, and a catharsis to reify Canadian culture.

I suspect the sock-puppets of being ultra-Canadian, of adopting personae as "Muslims" for the sake of taking place in the great Canadian play of being deferential. They, by showing to the nation that some "un-Canadian" actors were impolite can express their personal politeness and therefore their Canadianness to a maximum degree by being offended. And it's all given to the authority of the state to bless this drama as legitimately national in origin and at the cultural root level. The sock puppets are adopting a mask of "Muslimness" only insofar as it it necessary to be aggrieved for the sake of the nation and their places within. Thus:

From what I can see, none of the Muslims complainants knows the first thing about Islam. Their adoption of the personae of Muslims is to present a mask of stock character in a drama for the sake of a wide audience of Canadians, to show that they, the "Muslims," are Canadian too, and conformists like all others. In that sense I applaud them as good citizens. However:

Nevermind the problem of this whole drama in its own, this dangerous objective correlevative of Canadianism: one sees the guiding hand here of Elmasry, a man whose presence in this proceeding is harbinger of greater gloom.

The stage mask of Islam worn by the sock puppets is taken off at will, and even now makes not a bit of convincing costume for those who don it before a less than sophisticated audience here. It's a thin mask, and it wouldn't fool a fool elsewhere. The "Muslims" are not legitimate Muslims in any legitimate Islamic sense. These people are Canadians of a Muslim background for purposes of cultural identity only. The true menace here is the one who is a genuine Muslim directing the puppets.

Ask why we are consistently amazed when, for example, medical students and doctors suddenly go berserk and attack London's nightclub district and car bomb Glasgow's aeroport. It is because they have suddenly come to understand the difference between being a nominal "Muslim" and being a true and believing-- practicing Muslim. That is the tragedy of this proceeding at the HRT, if the demolition of free speech weren't harmful enough. The sock puppets and their fellows are being groomed for jihad. Until and unless it it right and practical for the Canadian experience to refuse to defer to this polite madness, the jihadis will continue to push and pretend grief and demand official protection for their jihadi agenda. The drama queens of this HRC kindergaarten performance will continue to play at infantalizing the nation for its own good, and the jihadis will continue to complain till they do, as Steyn writes of, take over entirely.

Truepeers' solution, of pubic tribunals, is right insofar as we hold them on every corner at every hour of the day. Where I come from, it's called citizenship. We have fought two wars over this issue, the first to achieve our national independence and the right to govern ourselves a free adults before the law; the second to ensure that all men are free before the law, regardless of the masks they choose to wear in public or identities assigned by forces outside the person. We fought for these things. The rights we won by blood are rights Muslims have as well as anyone else. Canadians, if they care to have such rights too, must at least find the courage to speak out in public, regardless of offenses against politeness. The polity will not suffer from incivility. Elmasry will simply have to find followers elsewhere. He won't be tolerated here. Everyman a tribune whose public life is to make careful findings on statements of fact, on hotly disputed media claims; and then, without being definitive or unduly authoritative, they could pass non-binding moral judgments on who has been unfairly characterized at any busstop. No government involved. A nation of adults.

Brenda said...

For me, it really doesn't matter why Elmasry and Co. are doing what they are doing. And I don't really care if someone's feelings were hurt when they read Steyn's article. Either we have freedom of expression and the press or we don't If Maclean's loses this case, which they probably will, I guess we won't have those freedoms anymore, at least not in any real sense. I am a Catholic and my religion is insulted and vilified on a regular basis both in the mainstream press, the Arts community and on University campuses across this country. As much as it may hurt sometimes to see things like dung Mary or piss Christ I am grown up enough to know that in a free and democratic society freedom means you may see and hear things you don't agree with and sometime it hurts. Awan just doesn't seem to be able to grasp what it means to live in a free and democratic society. Mind you, neither do most politicians on the left of the political spectrum (are you listening Dalton McGuinty?)

Eowyn said...

Truepeers, a very well-written essay on the whole, and one with which I agree.

I do take issue, however, on this:

"Khurrum and his other friends from law school studied all the relevant Canadian laws and decided that their best response was 1) to demand that Maclean's publish their chosen author and make a cash donation; or 2) they would look into legal remedies."

That's extortion. They're lucky if Maclean's doesn't pursue criminal charges.

Secondly, Awan has recourse to publish his side of the story any day of the week, in letters to any editor of any publication -- indeed, including Maclean's. If he's not able to find his own voice (or whatever -- the kid DID go to college, didn't he?), then he can get his pals to do it for him.

In a pluralistic society with common-law heritage, you don't shake down free speech because you're insulted by something. Period.

Now, your points as to misunderstanding among cultures is well taken. I would submit, however, that Western civilization has bent so far backwards to accommodate Muslims (foot baths in public schools, separate swim times for women, etc. etc.) that it is annoyed to continually be told it isn't "tolerant" enough -- and so it expresses itself in print. Nowhere do you see gangs of American youths torching hundreds of cars in cities; nowhere do you see Canadians bombing subways (unless they're of Muslim descent!). These are, as you say, empirical realities. (You also won't read Steyn advocating going out and attacking Muslims willy-nilly. He's simply voicing what's on his, and many, many others', minds.)

There IS need for discussion; however, given the stark differences been traditional Muslim societies and traditional Western ones, it's going to take time. It must not require the host civilization to put up with cultural habits it finds offensive. (If that bothers the immigrant, do these things in private, or go home.) And it MUST NOT INCLUDE censorship of speech.

The First Amendment (and its equivalent in the Canadian Charter) is the BEDROCK on which all other freedoms rest. Once you compromise it -- except for yelling fire in crowded theater situations, which are clearly criminal -- you compromise the whole of civilization as we know it.

truepeers said...


I basically agree with you; but there are some things that small groups of bus riders alone cannot do.

Even in a world where we rightly advocate individual responsibility and decentralization, some representations will have higher status or greater circulation than others. And why not create the opportunity for people, with good cases, to get a little attention in fighting the representations that, say, the CBC, the GLobe and Mail, or the academy, is circulating? Why not make the MSM have to report on its own public critics?

By creating more institutions we don't necessarily create more centralized authority and deference to authority; in fact we might create more competition which would be a good thing.

THere is a process by whcih anything new comes into the world; at first it starts in a very small and lonely ways before, if it's lucky, it's circulation grows, it is traded and developed, and eventually gets wider recognition, to the point where political leaders talk of it as if it were common sense. THis involved process can't happen in complete innocence, without centres of power being involved at some point. And when existing centres of power aren't doing a good enough job of representing the needs of a free society, we need to start thinking about how to do end runs around them.

In a democracy we defer to representative government; that doesn't make our parliament something at odds with the person on the street. It is a question of how we articulate our society through a series of legitimate centres of authority. It may well be useful to have more not fewer centres.

Where can we stage a serious conversation about what Muslims really believe? No, the blogs are not good enough, because there will be no decision made there that will really be contested by Canadian Muslims. And so nothing will move forward in assumptions made at the highest levels of our representative democracy. If we want them to tell us what they really believe, and vice versa, for people to make public oaths, promises, etc., to explain frankly how they see the world (so that someone like Elmasry could be called out as a liar, if he ever were, or simply made to reveal himself in ways he can't fully control) there has to be a public status worth fighting for. Who is going to take on the task of creating an arena for the conversation we can't seem to have in existing arenas?

I cannot entirely follow you in your way of thinking. I do not believe that Islam has to be what doctors who turn into bombers think it has to be. But we have had this argument several times already. The point is, not enough people are ever going to care about our argument. You seem to want to defer to Elmasry's view of Islam. FOr me, nothing human can be written in stone; no one can live up to some ritual code, even the strictest (and Islam is certainly not the strictest that has ever been), without interpreting and developing it in new ways. But ultimately it's not really about what "Islam" really is (an impossible thing to pinpoint, as with any religion); it's about how "Muslims" are going to live with the rest of the world. And we either engage the fight for minds, or we risk great violence...

Islam cannot just be Islam as long as "Muslims" have to come to terms with Dag and much else in the modern world. YOu can't (with reason) say that a complex system full of all kinds of information is nonetheless reducible to its core structure, as if all the information in the system were irrelevant epiphenomena. THat is to deny human reality in favor of some idealized key. It is to think like a GNostic. CHristianity cannot be reduced to CHrist, even though it is genetically related to him.

truepeers said...

Brenda, Eowyn,

I basically agree with you. Westerners have always had to fight for their values over the course of Western history. We are now in a new era of history where major civilizations have to come face to face in the global village where there is now really only one global economy and hence in some sense only one civilization composed of many different political entities. Anyway, in this global world, we should not be interested in protecting anyone from conversation or criticism. Rather, I think everyone is going to have to learn to be a better fighter for their ideas and be willing to throw away what can't be defended in the face of debate and open conflict with the other. We need a greater deference to a truth common to all of humanity. We can't given any religion or culture a free ride because it seems weak or somehow a victim. "Victims" have to be integrated into what works or what can be reasonably argued to be be workable in future

son of gaia said...

Thank you for your thoughtful commentary on what you had personally witnessed. I can't express how helpful that is to me.

I'm not sure how these revelations might have affected me when I was an angry young anti-racist activist on the streets of Edmonton years ago. Perhaps a little, perhaps not at all - I dunno.

All I can say is, I have to admit that I was ignorant of the reality of what really takes place from the time a complaint is filed with an HRC office through to the time that an HRC tribunal announces its ruling. I thought I understood, but now I confess my professed support for these HRCs was based on ignorance & suppositions.

That's not an easy thing to admit, but I think it is important to do so, and publicly - so that others don't continue to defend these meaningless processes just to cover their embarassment about their own ignorance. I'm saying: "I've faced my embarassment and let it go, so can you. Let's move on and build something we can actually be proud of out of the wreckage of the HRCs as they currently are".

Roy Harrold

truepeers said...

Thanks ROy,

I'm off to watch a hockey game.

Hopefully others will carry on the conversation...

Eowyn said...

Truepeers, I was inspired to write my own blog post thanks to you, so I linked to you :o)

Anonymous said...

And where shall we find a "party of truly disinterested judges to put on a trial whose intent is simply discovery and better articulation of our shared reality."?

There are no "truly disinterested judges" and I'm not sure we have "a shared reality."

For example, during the debate leading up to the legalization of gay marriage, as a leader of a pro-family organization, I frequently spoke out against the concept. As a result, I had many messages, including death threats, left on my message machine. I had homosexual pornography left in my mailbox and I had the front window of my car smashed in twice.(I only called the police for the last two incidents since they were criminal code offences.)I think it's safe to say that I was hated.

Now, I could have taken the perpetrators to the HRC. The messages were hateful and threatening. I did not do so because I realise, as should all Canadians including the "sock puppets", that when you speak out on a controversial issue of public policy there will be people who disagree and who will articulate that disagreement in the strongest possible terms, terms that may be offensive to you.

Editorial writers and authors will write books and editorials which offend you. Either don't read them or challenge them by debating them in any of the many public fora available to Canadians.

Unless those with whom we disagree commit a criminal act and the criminal courts get involved, the best we can hope for is to live in peaceful coexistence with those with whom we disagree.

That's what Canada has been about. That's our "shared reality." Each wave of new immigrants, of which I am one, has learned this. It is to be hoped that recent immigrants of the Islamic faith will follow suit.

What Mark Steyn is pointing out is that not all Islamics have done so and that is worrying.

That is the message that should be coming out of Vancouver this week.

In every other repect your article is excellent.

Helen Dickson

maccusgermanis said...

Everyman a tribune... No government involved. A nation of adults.

Precisely. One of the absolute worst things that a well ordered tribunal, that is carefully sanctioned but not empowered by government, would create is complacency. Information is already available, but the people that Truepeers would hope to influence by his esteemed, but powerless, councils would simply have another thing to politely ignore, as conversation at the bus stop turned again toward enjoyable diversions.

There's really no getting around it. We can't defer to experts and professionals any longer. We must be the assholes at the bus stop, that discuss the impolite things.

And as a concession to Truepeers, Please feel free to discuss impolite matters as politely as you like.

Whomever's ideas win at the bus stops, needn't worry overly much about "status and prestige."

Anonymous said...

I attended the Tuesday session and will be there, Thursday morning. I have to say that the live bloggers got it wrong on Dean Andrew Rippin's (U Vic) testimony. The Tribunes took copious notes when he told them that Steyn's column of reference, served to sustain the creation of the "other," which has been a bogey of the left since the anti-Orientalist wars, waged since the sixties. Rippin said findings that Islam is aggressive and globalist, manufactures danger perception, which leads to anger, cum hatred against the targeted class: Muslims.

It is true that Rippin was forced, under cross-examination, to admit that violent elements exist within Islam. His own opinions on the Wahabi sect supported Steyn's thesis. However, it was my perception that the Tribunes remained fixated on complaint claims that Steyn over-generalized, leading to the effect of production of hatred against Muslims. Be aware that INTENT is irrelevant; if said effect is proven, then malice can be inferred.

The attornies for Macleans seem prepared to take this rubbish into Judicial Review, where an adjudicator with some competence - and absolute jurisdiction - over Defamation, will toss this junk. As Steyn himself once wrote, the HRC substantiates nearly 100% of complaints. Why? Because they want to produce rulings that will have a ripple effect across society. Isn't that what "show trials" do? Steyn defines the process in exactly those terms.

Are Muslims political predators? They are bound by the doctrine of "sunna" to emulate their self-proclaimed "prophet." According to the first bio ("The Path of the Messenger of God", ibn Ishaq), Muhammad participated in no less than 59 military campaigns. Only 1 killing by same is recorded and that was of a captured prisoner. Only 1 of said campaigns - Battle of the Trench - can be deemed defensive (and that is debatable). The first campaign - "Tabuk" - against Christians was conducted without provocation, and any pretext other than naked aggression. I believe that, being weak, Muslims are relying on immigration and breeding, to increase numbers outside the Muslim majority states. In Europe, they are using politics. Within 2 years, Malmo, Sweden will become the first old European city to have a Muslim majority. Already, universal rights accorded to all Swedes are NOT respected in Malmo. Where Muslims are a majority, there will be Shariah. Steyn presented a thesis; the Malmo case proves it.

cantrecant said...

Khurrum may be a standard issue product of the Canadian multi-cultural happy face spiritual vacuum with no particular intentions for world domination. I don't know. I do know that he is working to destroy one of the key fundamental freedoms that make western culture superior to the numerous examples of dystopian Islamic culture, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and many more.

We must continue to defend our western freedoms so that cunning extremists cannot use people like Khurrum as tools (assuming Khurrum is not party to the schemes of the disingenuous, misogynistic, and antisemitic Elmasry) to little by little turn Canada into an Islamic or any other dystopia.

Once freedom is gone, you are a prisoner of the state with no power to protest on pain of imprisonment or worse.

Never in Canada you say? Tyranny has already been encroaching for years as the overweening HRCs harass and silence people whose opinions Richard Warman disagrees with. And the HRCs are hungry to expand their reach.