The continuing assault on free speech in Canada and the U.S., and what it tells us about the presidential election
Mark Steyn’s year-long harassment at the hands of several human rights commissions in Canada seems to have had a salutary effect on him not unlike the (temporary) effect that the 9/11 attack had on New Yorkers: it’s knocked away some of his frivolity and perhaps cynicism and made him more serious about the world, or at least about that part of the world of which he still is a citizen, and that part of the world where he spends most of his time. He clearly sees that Canada is not a free country, and that this is no joke, and he worries that the same could happen here. He links to columnist David Warren, who writes that the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) is planning to start regulating the Internet, which up to this point has been left alone by Canada’s leftist controllers. Warren says the only way to free the Canadian broadcast media and to prevent the further silencing of Christians and conservatives is to dismantle the CRTC.
That’s exactly the kind of thing we need to hear throughout the West. In my view the number one target is the anti-hate-speech laws. They must be repealed if the Western countries are to be free.
Steyn also discusses an editorial in the Calgary Herald, which says that notwithstanding the acquittal of Steyn and Maclean’s, Canadians remain “a censored people,” with each province and the national government having its own human rights commission that can bring any person up on charges for his words. Steyn and Maclean’s were acquitted because they are prominent. But people with less fame or money get prosecuted and punished all the time. The evident logic of the editorial is that the human rights commissions should be dissolved, but the editorial doesn’t say that. It calls for “reform.” Perhaps the editors believe that the commissions have legitimate functions apart from policing speech.
Steyn writes: “If Obama wins and has Congressional coattails, I would expect a new ‘Fairness Doctrine’ to be one of the first things the liberal supermajority will pass.” The Fairness Doctrine would basically kill conservative talk radio by requiring all stations to have an equal balance of liberal and conservative programs. But why should the election of McCain be any guarantee that the Fairness Doctrine would be stopped? McCain loves liberal Democrats (remember how he glowed at the Al Smith dinner?), he would want to get along with the Democratic Congress, and, given his background as the co-sponsor and passionate promoter of the blatantly unconstitutional McCain-Feingold Act, controlling political speech is his cup of tea.
Indeed, many anti-Obama arguments assume that a President McCain with an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress would be different from a President Obama with such a Congress. That assumption needs to be examined. On many issues, McCain would probably swim with the Democrats.
And that is why, as bad as Obama is, I still can’t get behind voting for McCain. With Obama as president, the right half of the country would be passionately united against his leftist program and might be able to stop it by better arguments and sheer force of will, as happened with the Clinton health care plan in 1994, when, I would remind you, the Democrats controlled both Houses. With the “Republican” McCain as president, especially given the conservatives’ love affair with Sarah Palin, there will be much less conservative resistance to whatever liberal or leftist moves McCain makes in concert with the Democratic Congress.
What? You don’t like either option? Did you think I was kidding when I said that We’re Screwed ‘08?
I don’t want my initial remark in this entry to be misunderstood. As I have been saying for years, Steyn, deep down, is not a serious person. He’s a humorist. When he professes to be making serious statements about a serious topic, e.g., Islam, he should be looked at askance. And, as I’ve shown in many articles, when people take him seriously on a serious topic, as conservatives took him serously on Islam, they go very badly astray.John Hagan writes:
I’m sure after his very own Kafkaesque experience Steyn glimpsed, if only for a moment, the ugly future that awaits us all if we keep traveling down the road we are currently on.
My above clarification about Steyn’s lack of seriousness was set off something John Hagan said, in the following exchange.
I forgot to mention to you that last week Governor Palin spoke in central NH. The speech was so close by my house that I walked over to see it, and as I was standing there I could have sworn that I saw Mark Steyn, or his twin. Came to find out it was Mark Steyn And then I remembered that he lives about an hour and a half north of me, and just drove down for the day.LA replied:
How was Palin?JH replied:
She was just as scripted in person as she is on TV. She spoke for about 30 minutes, and said almost nothing spontaneous. Still, she has incredible charisma! In person, she is quite beautiful. Seems like the McCain people have her on a very tight leash.LA replied:
> In person, she is quite beautiful.JH replied:
She really is stunning. Movie star good looks. What intrigues me is that she has an incredible ease, an almost unnatural natural way that she inhabits her body.LA replied:
Yes, she’s exceptionally together.JH replied:
Steyn really is in this for the fun. Reminds me of P.J. O’Rourke. Intelligent, but so damn quirky that it’s difficult to take either one of these gentlemen seriously.LA replied:
Steyn also made jokes about how he immigrated (did he?) to the US in order to pick up moose-hunting chicks like Sarah. Stupid.Mr. Hagan replied
Steyn has been on our local radio show with my associates as of late. He’s often not very serious. Seems to love to drift off on tangential subjects that have very little to do with the original topic of the show.October 21
Spencer Warren writes:
When the fairness doctrine was first imposed, it was justified on the ground there were a limited number of broadcast outlets—all over the air. This was said to justify the government’s authority to mandate “fairness.”Sage McLaughlin writes:
I’ve noticed some similarities between the Fairness Doctrine and Title IX. Both of them seek to impose an equality of result that cannot plausibly be expected to occur naturally, and the absence of which is not obviously the result of malice or injustice of any kind. The effect is to destroy more than it creates. At one time a thinking person could chalk this up to “unintended consequences.” No longer.Ron K. writes:
Embracing the Fairness Doctrine to squash talk radio would fit in with several other examples of a disturbing “modus Obamarandi” with a whiff of totalitarianism:
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 20, 2008 11:37 PM | Send