Ezra Levant Is off the Hook That Never Should Have Been Hung

After a year-long investigation that never should have happened, the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission has rejected a complaint against Ezra Levant, former publisher of the now-defunct Canadian magazine the Western Standard, over his decision to reprint the controversial Muhammad cartoons that originally appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Levant declined to celebrate:

This censor approved what I wrote. His decision is not that I have freedom of speech. His decision is that I have his approval. I'm not interested in his approval. The only test of free speech is if I can write what he disapproves of with impunity. That's what freedom of speech is, to piss off some second-rate bureaucrat like Pardeep Gundara [the commission official who recommended against a hearing on the complaint] and know that you have the right to do so, because you're in Canada, not Saudi Arabia.

Yasmeen Nizam, a director of the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, which brought the complaint, told the National Post:

We thought this was a good way to bring our concerns to the attention of the public. Obviously we didn't want this to continue, so [another goal was] perhaps to discourage people from further maligning our prophet and our religion... We wanted this to have a deterrent effect.

Presumably the "this" she does not want to continue is speech that offends Muslims, and she may get her wish. Even without a hearing or a formal penalty, this sort of investigation, which costs the target time, effort, and money, is indeed apt to "have a deterrent effect." 

Matt Welch noted Levant's case in January. I wrote a column about it in February and followed up in a post a couple months ago.

[Thanks to J sub D for the tip.]

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  • Ironic||

    No Canadian magazine better EVER parody The Flying Spaghetti Monster! I will sue them to protect the honour of MY religion.

  • ||

    "so [another goal was] perhaps to discourage people from further maligning our prophet and our religion..."

    Grow the fuck up. You live in a free society that allows you to go about YOUR business and practice YOUR muslim religion and leaves YOU free malign other religions. How can you reward that society and the freedom it provides you by actively attempting to strip others of the same rights?

    What a bitch.

  • ||

    Should I ever have occasion to meet Yasmeen Nizam, I will inform her that if she is offended by an observation of the obvious, she should work it out in therapy.

    Levant is right.

    -jcr

  • Juanita Wayback Machine||

    "Juanita | October 11, 2007, 11:43am | #

    Of course, this may server well to "make an example" for other kids tempted to break any law."

  • Shannon Love||

    Obviously we didn't want this to continue, so [another goal was] perhaps to discourage people from further maligning our prophet and our religion

    Even if for the purposes of argument we granted that the State had the moral right to prevent the maligning of Mohammed or any other religious figure, why do we think that some sort of objective standard exist for what constitutes "maligning?"

    The entire concept of hate speech tribunals rest on the unstated and unsupported supposition that a consensus can and does exist about what constitutes unacceptable speech. Further it is assumed that even it a consensus did exist, it would be one that history will eventually judge just.

    I think hate speech is an example of Leftist mistaken an hypothetical ideal for reality. They imagine how neat if would be if government could punish and deter those who seek to divide society and then they move from that fantasy construct immediately to making it real without considering all the real world impediments.

  • Juanita Wayback Machine||

    "Juanita | April 4, 2007, 8:51am | #

    I believe laws against "showing drugs in a favorable light" are a requirement of the UN single convention treaty."

  • ||

    What a joke.

    It's interesting to me that Canada and a lot of European countries censor politics but are libertarians about boobies, while American censorship works more often the other way around.

  • Ironic||

    "It's interesting to me that Canada and a lot of European countries censor politics but are libertarians about boobies, while American censorship works more often the other way around."

    Not always . . . .
    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/127969.html

  • ||

    Hey Mohamed, Juanita, or Yasmeen have you seen my balls?
    They're big and salty and brown
    If you ever need a quick Pick-me-up
    Just stick my balls in your mouth...
    Ooh, Suck on my chocolate salty balls
    Stick em in your mouth and suck em!
    Suck on my Chocolate Salty balls
    they're packed full of goodness, high in Fiber
    Suck on My balls!

  • Lafayette Ronald Hubbard||

    Troy, shouldn't you be trying to rehabilitate your thetan"?

  • ||

    What really annoys me about Nizam is that she made that bilious douchebag Levant appear to be on the proper side of an argument, for once in his life.

  • Ironic||

    Bartman, I am not familiar with most of Levant's work. Could you explain? What positions does he usually take?

  • White Anglo-Saxon Heathen||

    I think that the process of the human rights complaint has exposed the Muslims to far more hatred than Ezra Levant could in ten lifetimes. I once had tolerance for all faiths. Islam is now contesting with Christianity for the one I most want to see wiped from the earth.

    Hypocrisy-Ackbar. Amen.

  • ||

    I am not familiar with most of Levant's work

    It's not his work I'm criticizing, but his personality. Anyone who's had to be in the same environment as him will concur - he's not pleasant to interact with. Self-righteous egomaniacal blowhard lawyer/political strategist/tabloid columnist/failed-neo-con-rag publishers seldom are.

    But I thought it was wrong that Keegstra was charged, and it was wrong that Levant was. That's one of the reasons I left Canada, and seldom visit (except for the F1 race in Montreal.)

    TIA.

  • Ironic||

    Bartman,

    Since I gather you once lived in Canada perhaps you would know, isn't there something equivalent to the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment? How is it worded? We have had laws that violated our First Amendment (the most recent being McCain-Feingold) but one of the positive things to come out of the 1960's was a more healthy respect for civil liberties.

  • ||

    No Canadian magazine better EVER parody The Flying Spaghetti Monster! I will sue them to protect the honour of MY religion.

    You just need a significant minority of your followers to be terrorists and/or terrorist sympathizers and you have the "respect" that Islam enjoys.

  • White Anglo-Saxon Heathen||

    Ironic,

    Freedom of speech is defined as a fundamental human right in the Constitution Act of 1982.

    Give me a few minutes to look up the exact wording...

  • White Anglo-Saxon Heathen||

    Fundamental Freedoms
    2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

    (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

    (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

    (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

    (d) freedom of association.


    So there you go. Its one of the fundamentals, straight off the first page, not an afterthought amendment like in the States.

    Now if only our activist judiciary could remember that...

  • ||

    Ironic,

    Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states:

    1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.



    So there is no protection for speech violating those "reasonable limits".

  • White Anglo-Saxon Heathen||

    I would say that the charges brought against Levant fail to be demonstrably justified, given just how much the human rights commissions are getting slagged up here over this whole case. Pretty much every newspaper in at least my part of the country is calling for the HRCs to be abolished.

  • Robert Goodman||

    "This censor approved what I wrote. His decision is not that I have freedom of speech."

    He's not allowed to make the latter decision. Levant got the best possible result. Someone comes with a complaint, what else is he supposed to do, say, "No, I'm officially in today, but not taking any customers."? Even if the censor believes in freedom of speech, all he can do is pretend to approve all speech. Secret non-censorship is allowed, but open non-censorship isn't.

    The entire concept of hate speech tribunals rest on the unstated and unsupported supposition that a consensus can and does exist about what constitutes unacceptable speech.


    No, it just rests on the concept that someone can produce a result. Either way is what it is, consensus is irrelevant. If it's not accepted, then by definition it's not acceptable, for if it were able to be accepted it would've been; if it's accepted, then by definition it's acceptable.

  • Robert Goodman||

    Pretty much every newspaper in at least my part of the country is calling for the HRCs to be abolished.


    That's remarkable, given that the Human Rights Commissions and how they operate so typify Canada.

  • Juanita Wayback Machine||

    "Juanita | January 16, 2008, 1:01pm | #

    This is a travesty of justice. A high level merchant of death like this who is poisoning America's children need life in prison, 5 years is a mere slap on the wrist, this doesn't send a serious enougth message."

  • Juanita Wayback Machine||

    "Juanita | June 26, 2007, 11:26am | #

    I'm all for free speech but it has to have limits. Example, you can't yell fire in a theatre, you can't say the word bomb, regardless of the context, in the vicinity of an aircraft, etc. You do not have the right to question the governments laws, particularly drug laws, this is a fair restriction on free speech in order to be sure the right message is sent."

  • ||

    Somebody had a Juanita fetish. I don't know if I'm intrigued or repulsed.

  • Yahoo Answerer||

    "So there is no protection for speech violating those "reasonable limits"."

    Interesting. So you have free speech except when you don't.

  • Juanita Wayback Machine||

    "Somebody had a Juanita fetish. I don't know if I'm intrigued or repulsed."

    All you have to do is type "Juanita" in the Google custom search box at the top of this page.

  • Anonymous||

    White Anglo-Saxon Heathen | August 7, 2008, 8:04pm:

    So there you go. Its one of the fundamentals, straight off the first page, not an afterthought amendment like in the States.

    You do know that the bill of rights, the amendments to further limit the federal government's power, was required by several states in order for them to agree to ratify the constitution, right?

    Also, it was ratified a couple of hundred years before Canada's.

  • ||

    So there you go. Its one of the fundamentals, straight off the first page, not an afterthought amendment like in the States.

    If Congress was confined to the powers specified in Article 1 of the US Constitution, there would be no need for the First Amendment. Well, I guess you'd need it to keep them from putting religious verbiage on the money they're authorized to coin, but still...

  • the innominate one||

    "Somebody had a Juanita fetish. I don't know if I'm intrigued or repulsed."

    can't it be both

  • Paul||

    I really like this Ezra Levant. Even when he "wins", he still cuts to the quick of the issue: He's not looking for government approval. His point is there should be no approval needed. Sort of like the irony of the ACLU having to get a nod from government bureaucrats lest they violate FEC campaign rules.

    A former member of the Federal Election Commission, Scott Thomas, said the [ACLU] ads would not meet the standard to be considered an improper donation to a federal campaign. "My gut feeling is that that probably would not be deemed express advocacy," Mr. Thomas said. "It does seem to be done in the context of a legislative battle."

  • ||

  • Paul||

    I'm all for free speech but it has to have limits.

    Hmm, how many times...

    Let's see here. I'm all for free speech but...

    The word but here modifies the preceding words and changes them to mean: "I'm against free speech"

  • JB||

    Then don't let it have a deterrent effect. Turn it around and have a deterrent effect the other way.

    I would never be calling this particular bunch of goat-humpers a bunch of goat-humpers, but now with this lawsuit, I am. Stupid Canadian goat-humpers.

    And by goat-humpers, I mean exceptionally retarded Muslims. This does not describe all Muslims, but it does describe some and definitely this bunch.

  • Achmed||

    I would never be calling this particular bunch of goat-humpers a bunch of goat-humpers, but now with this lawsuit, I am. Stupid Canadian goat-humpers.

    Silly Westerner. Goats aren't just for humping.

  • st4rbux||

    "not an afterthought amendment like in the States."

    I know I'm echoing Anonymous above, but Canada didn't get their Charter of Rights and Freedoms until 1982. The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791.

    Which one was an afterthought?

  • ||

    It's interesting to me that Canada and a lot of European countries censor politics but are libertarians about boobies, while American censorship works more often the other way around.

    It is my understanding that, in countries that have laws against "hate speech", or other such things, the prohibition extends to a broad variety of media. In the US, the prohibition on tits and profanity and so forth applies only to publicly owned airwaves.

    I think under the first amendment, there are certain media in which the US government can't prohibit any form of expression as long as a crime is not committed in the act of making it (especially non-commercial publications that are not visible except to those who want to see them). But if anyone out there is an expert in the case law on obscenity or something, correct me if I'm wrong.

  • DADIODADDY||

    All muslims have the inalienable right to kiss my red hairy arse. To every rug kneeling mecca pointing muslim retard who thinks that jihad is good idea, remember the reponse to the question why there were no arabic characters on Star Trek...cuase it takes place in the future

  • ||

    Amendment to my last post:

    I should add to this:

    "I think under the first amendment, there are certain media in which the US government can't prohibit any form of expression as long as a crime is not committed in the act of making it"

    The government can also prohibit it if there is a crime in the distribution (i.e. copyright laws) or something like that. My point is that the crime can not be "offensive" content or ideas or the vulgar mode of expression.

  • ||

    I think under the first amendment, there are certain media in which the US government can't prohibit any form of expression as long as a crime is not committed in the act of making it (especially non-commercial publications that are not visible except to those who want to see them). But if anyone out there is an expert in the case law on obscenity or something, correct me if I'm wrong.

    I do not claim exertise on the subject, but visiting here, here and here should get you started.

    Or just google obscenity prosecution bush administration and have a ball.

  • B||

    "Bartman, I am not familiar with most of Levant's work. Could you explain? What positions does he usually take?"

    The guy has no fucking clue about any other position Levant has taken. He is just a moron making shit up as he goes along. See the quote below for proof of this.

    "It's not his work I'm criticizing, but his personality. Anyone who's had to be in the same environment as him will concur - he's not pleasant to interact with. Self-righteous egomaniacal blowhard lawyer/political strategist/tabloid columnist/failed-neo-con-rag publishers seldom are."



    It sure seems to me that you are criticizing his work, dumbass. And I would be willing to bet everything I own that you have had absolutely no dealings with this guy or know anyone who has had dealings with Ezra Levant. Furthermore, I would be willing to bet you have zero familiarity with Levant's beliefs and his writings. You have probably not even read one word of the Western Standard. That you refer to Levant as a neocon because he is a jew is pretty obvious. In short, Bartman, you are an ignorant asshole.

  • ||

    Let me add Mary Beth Buchanan as a worthy google search if you are fond of freedom of expression.

  • ||

    It's interesting to me that Canada and a lot of European countries censor politics but are libertarians about boobies, while American censorship works more often the other way around.

    joe, if by "censorship" you are referring to our campaign finance laws, I would agree. Except for those, I don't really see any government agencies investigating and penalizing anyone for expressing political opinions, though.

  • TallDave||

    Presumably the "this" she does not want to continue is speech that offends Muslims,

    Can't they just turn the other cheek?

    Oh, right.

  • ||

    J sub D

    I checked those links out and did a bit of googling. I am still not sure of the following: Is a commercial element required for prosecution of "obscenity"? All the prosecutions I've seen descriptions of involved money changing hands. I don't know whether one can be prosecuted for privately producing (and exchanging with other adults) obscene material in a non-commercial manner.

    Of course, even commercial production and sale of obscene material should be legal. As long as its not done in a manner that violates anyone's rights.

    joe, if by "censorship" you are referring to our campaign finance laws, I would agree.

    It is my understanding that even the most restrictive campaign finance law only applies to a narrow range of broadcast media. Courts have prohibited its application to blogs , for example. And even on those media, you can express any opinion or idea you want without running into regulation, except for overt endorsement or rejection of particular candidate(s).

    Which does not necessarily make McCain-Feingold (or similiar laws) right, of course.

  • ||

    That's what freedom of speech is, to piss off some second-rate bureaucrat like Pardeep Gundara...

    Oh, is it?

    I always thought there were principles higher than trolling involved, and that people getting offended by prejudiced, inflammatory speech was an unavoidable byproduct, not the actual goal, of free speech guarantees.

  • ||

    I think Ezra Levant is a self-righteous blowhard and I disagree with much of what I've read from him, but I donated to his cause last year out of principle and don't regret it. For the utopia that many make Canada out to be, I haven't heard a whole lot of outrage about these "free speech counsels" or whatever the Canucks are calling them.

  • ||

    Ditto for Mark Steyn, to a lesser degree.

  • ||

    Ahhhh, the sweet irony of it all.

    Here we have legislation in Canada curtailing free speech, enacted at the behest of the Canadian Jewish Congress and their enabler the Canadian Liberal Party's justice minister of the day one Irwin Cotler with impeccable Jewish credentials...

    Then some backward followers of Islam have the temerity, the unmitigated gall, no the BRAINS, to use these same laws, used by the Jewish community in Canada to curtail any and all discussion and criticism of Israel, to attack a member of their tribe.

    I think Canadians owe the Islamists a large vote of thanks for bringing such shameful legislation to the forefront and attention of the world.

    To you USA citizens, your situation is not much better; after all you are using an anonymous forum to vent your spleen. If you were to do so publicly in front of city hall so to speak, odds are you would loose your job.

    What comes around goes around... Do us all a big favour and contact the Canadian High Commission or the Canadian Embassy and tell them point blank about your disgust with such laws and the use to which they are put.

    Thanks.

    H.F. Wolff

  • ||

    H.F. Wolff

    I agree with you that "hate speech" prohibition is unjust (assholes have free speech rights also).

    But this:


    To you USA citizens, your situation is not much better; after all you are using an anonymous forum to vent your spleen. If you were to do so publicly in front of city hall so to speak, odds are you would loose your job.


    Doubt it. Most people just ignore a single person ranting on a public street. A mass demonstration would get some attention. But very few employers peruse footage of protesting crowds looking for employees who attended so they can fire them.

    And one thing thats great about this country is that the constitution is hard core about free speech - the government can not criminalize the expression of any viewpoint, even a repugnant and/or idiotic one.

    Now....what thread are they hijacking to talk about the Georgia thing?

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