Civil Liberties

What's All This I Hear About Freedom of Speech?


As  a couple of commenters have noted in response to my column today, the National Post reports that Muslim activist Syed Soharwardy plans to drop his "human rights" complaint against Ezra Levant over the latter's decision, as publisher of the Western Standard, to reprint the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. This is how Soharwardy explained his decision:

Over the two years that we have gone through the process, I understand that most Canadians see this as an issue of freedom of speech, that that principle is sacred and holy in our society. I believe Canadian society is mature enough not to absorb the messages that the cartoons sent. Only a very small fraction of Canadian media decided to publish those cartoons.

By his account, then, Soharwardy had not heard of this whole freedom-of-speech thing until after he filed his complaint with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, and it took him two years to fully absorb how important it is to Canadians. During that time, he also took the measure of Canadians and judged them "mature enough" to look at cartoons depicting Muhammad without going on an anti-Muslim rampage. I think it may take a few more years for Soharwardy to get the concept at stake in his tiff with Levant.

Levant, for his part, says he plans to sue Soharwardy for wasting his time and money. I understand the sentiment, but I'm not sure it's a smart P.R. move. 

The Western Standard comments on Soharwardy's announcement here.