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Media Ignore that Gagging Sound from Canada

Usually, when a journalist is censored in a Western nation, American news organizations respond with collective outrage.


But as a major attack on press freedom unfolds in Canada, America's mainstream media are silent. Neither the TV networks nor the major newspapers have reported on hearings last week at what amounts to a Stalinesque show trial in Vancouver, British Columbia.  


Mark Steyn, a Canadian journalist who now lives in New Hampshire and whose column appears in National Review magazine as well as several U.S. and Canadian newspapers, is facing charges before British Columbia's Human Rights Tribunal.


His crime? Spreading “hatred.”


The evidence? A 5,000-word excerpt of Steyn's book America Alone that was carried as an article, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” in October 2006 by the Canadian magazine Maclean's, which is also a defendant. The hearings, which were held June 2-6, amount to a star chamber with the rules of evidence constantly changing according to the whims of the three commissioners. A verdict is expected in September.


Steyn and the magazine are also expected to be charged with a hate crime by the national  kangaroo court, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and another such tribunal in Ontario. Not a single defendant has ever prevailed before the national board in its 31 years of existence. To be accused is to be guilty, Soviet style.


The Canadian press has been all over this story, but it has not registered a blip in the United States, except for an AP brief, an article in The Washington Times and on conservative Internet sites and talk radio.


A highlighted piece of the case was a comment from an imam, Mullah Krekar, that Steyn drew from an interview in a Norwegian newspaper:


'“We're the ones who will change you,' the cleric said. 'Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU [European Union] is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children. …Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours.'”


British Columbia's hate crimes law requires only a “reasonable determination that the excerpt did express hatred and contempt toward Muslims, and likely caused it to spread,” according to the National Post.  As evidence, complainants cited postings from two California-based Websites, FreeRepublic and Catholic Answers.


The hate crime charges were brought on behalf of  a recent law school grad, Khurrum Awan, and the Canadian Islamic Congress's national president, Mohamed Elmasry, and its B.C. director, Naiyer Habib.


The three want to force Maclean's to run an identically long piece from their point of view.  That or contribute $10,000 to a race relations foundation, as Awan admitted under cross-examination, according to the Globe and Mail. Later, speaking before the Canadian Arab Federation, Awan threatened to use civil courts to extract “a few million dollars” from any media company that refuses their demands.


For the record, Steyn and Maclean's are accused of violating B.C.'s Human Rights Code, whose Section 7(1)(b) reads:


“A person must not publish, issue or display … any statement, publication …or other notice that is likely to expose a person … to hatred or contempt.”


“There has never been a case in this country that has had such clear, concise evidence, ever,” said Faisal Joseph, an attorney bringing the charge before the tribunal.  Joseph noted that the magazine had introduced Steyn's piece this way:


“The Muslim world has youth, numbers and global ambitions. The West is growing old and enfeebled, and more and more lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it.  It's the end of the world as we've known it.”


Considerable evidence is mounting, particularly in Europe, that this scenario is a common sense observation.  Muslim populations are growing while other religious groups are declining, thus Muslim influence is increasing. Great Britain's Labour government has even gone to the absurd lengths of describing any Muslim-caused domestic terror as “anti-Muslim” activity because the bombings make other Britons less likely to feel good about Muslims. There is open talk of infusing British law with Islamic Shariah law, an accommodation that the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested would be “inevitable” before an outcry forced him to recant.


But getting back to Mr. Steyn and Maclean's, they are the poster victims of the trend in Canada to suppress the freedoms of speech and press at the whims of special interest groups.


Most Americans are not only unaware of the Steyn show trial but also the many incidents in which Canadians have been hauled before human rights tribunals and charged with hate crimes for merely expressing traditionalist morality in public.


An evangelical pastor, Stephen Boisson, was fined $5,000 by the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal on May 30, 2008 for writing a letter to the editor of a local paper in 2002 critical of homosexual activism in the schools.


A Saskatoon, Saskatchewan newspaper publisher and a private citizen were each fined $4,500 in 2001 for the crime of publishing an ad that listed five Bible verses about homosexuality and had a circle with two stick figures of men holding hands with a line across it.  Three homosexual men had complained that they did not like the ad.


The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has for a decade prohibited the broadcast of any material critical of homosexuality. Stations that carry Focus on the Family and other American radio programs have been warned that they could lose their licenses unless  segments dealing with homosexuality are edited out. 


Many Americans have a warm, fuzzy view of Canada, and have no idea that a totalitarian nation is taking shape, instigated by gay activists and Muslim pressure groups in the name of “tolerance.”


They do not know because America's mainstream media are refusing to cover it. 


Perhaps it will take someone like Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan being charged with a hate crime in Canada to get the media's attention.  But that's unlikely, since celebrities have long understood  that the only group that it is still okay to ridicule is Christians, especially Catholics and evangelicals. And that's not news.


As for Canadian mullahs attempting to use the law to gag Mr. Steyn and anyone else who gets in their way, well, that's just not news either in the United States.


Robert Knight is director of the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.