Back, for a day, to the lifestyle of a magazine writer: interviews in the morning, a two-hour lunch with editors, a nice, slow afternoon writing and talking to people.
I can't do this tomorrow. I'd feel too guilty. I have a bunch of lectures to write and a pile of stuff to mark.
But I think I can make it through the rest of today without too much regret.
I've been thinking a lot about the Human Rights publication cases. I disagree with using the HRCs as a way of disciplining the press (for reasons I've made clear below). Canada's libel laws are the toughest in the world. Our hate crimes laws are far more than we need to dampen down any wanna-be Nazis -- and I agree with Jonathan Kay of the National Post that neo-Nazis are a non-threat. I've gone head to head with Zundel (talking to him after he was banned from holding a press conference on Parliament Hill) and found him to be a goon and a fool who is famous because of his prosecutions. I've also been able to thank my friend Keith Martin for having the courage to be the MP to move a motion to drop Sec. 13 of the Human Rights Act. I'm a firm believer of requiring the committing of an "overt act" before the state comes down on an individual. Talk, whether it's a bunch of skinheads, Trotskyites, Zundelites, Orangemen or Orleanists sitting around shooting the shit, is cheap and of no worry to anyone. When that talk turns into actions like vandalism, assault, mail box bombing or whatever, we have laws to deal with that. I'm a firm believer in keeping martyrdom to a minimum.
I am, however, concerned about all the snakes that have crawled out from under so many rocks. I wish the complaints to the HRCs had been brought by groups other than Muslims so that the anti-Muslim haters, many of whom cross the line of racism posting comments at smalldeadanimals.com weren't so involved in the fight. Talk of "vermin" and "extermination" has overtones that I want nothing to do with.
These are, by and large, the same people who wanted David Ahenikew stifled for his senile and stupid remarks about Jews. They are also the people who successfully demanded the CRTC -- certainly as undemocratic and arbitrary a body as any HRC -- keep al Jazeera out of Canada while decrying the same worthless body's decision to effectively ban Fox News.
I believe in pushing free speech as far as possible -- for Ahenikew, for Zundel, for Levant, Steyn, for all of them. I doubt any of them feel the same way about each other. Did Levant offer pro bono work to Ahenekew when he was charged and convicted for saying something drawn out of him by a reporter? Did Steyn stand up for al Jazeera, noting, as I did, that it might be good for a laugh and probably poses no threat whatever to the Canadian state and society? (Though I must thank Steyn for his moment of support when our mutual friend Kinsella launched a SLAPP suit against me, and wonder where Levant was back then). And there's my problem with all this. I know I might feel differently if I had strong religious views or felt discriminated against because of my color. But I live in a society where secular middle-aged short, fat, bald white male Irish Catholics are utterly fair game (as per every St. Patrick's Day) so I suppose I have developed a thick skin.
Anyway, I'm still mulling this stuff over. I'll write more later.
Update: If I knew you were coming I'd have baked a cake*
I see Steyn, whose work I enjoy, and whose book I bought, has linked to me. I hope he knocks the HRC complaint out of the park. I suppose my appreciation of him is not returned and he can mock the fact that I call myself a "magazine writer". OK. But to Mark and his readers, I say this: are you becoming a mirror image of the thing that you say is a threat to our civilization? Unlike Steyn, I've actually studied censorship and fascism. My PhD thesis is on wartime censorship. I'd like to remind Steyn that it wasn't just the Nazis who undermined Weimar. It was the fight between the Communists and the Fascists that drowned out all reasonable and democratic discussion. The weak and fledgling German republic couldn't take the punishment. That's what I see here: Islamic fascism and the reaction to it attempting to polarize society and hollow out the core. And that's what worries me most.