A Touch of Brilliance on a Sunday Morning

So I’d never actually heard of this fellow Ezra Levant. But I’m roaming the intertubes and I stumble upon a link to this, being a blog containing the video record of his recent appearance before the Alberta Human Rights Commission. It seems that Mr. Levant publishes a righty-leaning magazine of some sort up there, in which, for whatever reason, he chose to publish copies of the infamous Mohammed cartoons in 2006. This irked a few folks, including one Syed Soharwardy, who calls himself the head of The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. Mr. Soharwardy, deeply wounded (wounded, I say), chose to report Mr. Levant’s conduct to the government, which has initiated, through the Alberta Human Rights Commission, an investigation into these depredations, including Mr. Levant’s “intent” in publishing the cartoons. Oh, and Mr. Levant apparently decided to republish the cartoons in his magazine on the day of his appearance.

Levant clearly is a type. And he seems to be way Right. But don’t get all twisted up in that. It has nothing to do with the point. Just listen to this guy completely eviscerate this lumpy little timecard-punching bureaucrat – who is, as Levant points out, a perfect embodiment of the banality of evil. He’s utterly right about everything he says – including his denial of the government’s moral authority to “judge” him on this, and his invitation to the government to presume that he had the worst possible “intent” in publishing the cartoons, a thing that ought to matter not at all in a free society. The poor bureaucrat, undoubtedly accustomed to having her unquestioned way in these sorts of things, seems entirely at sea. In fact, if she weren't so scary in her blank, toneless little way -- and if she didn't have all the actual power here -- I might even feel a bit sorry for her. But it's still damn fine stuff, if you ask me.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for a little ferociously articulate evisceration of the creepy State on a Sunday morning. Makes me feel better about the day.

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Canadian litigiousness

(#74254)

Not terribly on topic, but:

A Canadian woman has successfully sued the dealer who sold her an illegal street drug that put her in a coma.

Sandra Bergen, 23, suffered a heart attack and spent 11 days in a coma after taking crystal methamphetamine.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7180379.stm

Sounds like yet another reason

(#74273)

to legalize, tax, and regulate....

Although I must admit even I'd have misgivings about legalizing meth. That stuff is Bad News. Not, of course, as bad as the media hype machine likes to pretend, but bad enough.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

That Would Be a Strong Law School

(#74266)

hypothetical -- I mean, fraud is fraud, no, and wouldn't (at least under the commercial law of most US states) the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose apply?

That's how it is on this bitch of an earth.

If She Knew It Was Crystal Meth. . .

(#74275)
M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .I'd call it more a case of "functioning in accordance with design." I'm happy that this is one idiotic court decision that the US isn't responsible for.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Ah, but...

(#74292)

...the original sale was when she was merely 18; let's take the hypothetical one further and say that it took place when she was 17, causing addiction. At that point, the dealer could very reasonably be said to be on the hook for misrepresenting the long-term effects of the drug.

It's impossible to debate if people simply hold beliefs that have no grounding in reality.

Really quite satisfying

(#74238)

I watched all the clips and that interrogator deserved the unpleasant experience she got and then some.

... I read a lampoon of this kind of thing awhile back in the children's Harry Potter book series.

Canada could use a primer on the Ministry of Magic.

Totally unacceptable.

Muslims who tolerate dissent

(#74139)

Quite true

(#74160)

and the illiberal nature of contemporary Islam is a serious problem. This makes it doubly important that Western countries constantly prove we are walking the walk as well as talking the talk when it comes to free speech. The strongest argument the imams have against the freedoms and tolerance of the West is if they can tell their flocks that those attributes are just a sham.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

Illiberal=conservative?

(#74201)
mmghosh's picture

I'm not sure what the nomenclature should be. Presumably this person who printed the Mohammad cartoons doesn't see a basic problem with socially conservative Muslim doctrine though - feminine modesty, anti-gay etc etc. Curious symmetry.

"Liberal" In This Context

(#74239)

means something a good bit different than "liberal" for purposes of our contemporary political silliness. To be "illiberal" for stillnotking's purposes means to conduct one's self in a way that is contrary to the fundamentally "Liberal" principles of Western civilization, among the most significant of which is tolerance for the public expression of unpopular, even noxious, ideas.

That's how it is on this bitch of an earth.

Definitely not the same thing

(#74216)

"Illiberal" means narrow-minded and intolerant of free speech. Most American conservatives are not illiberal.

On the topic of social conservatism: I've commented before that Moslem and Christian social conservatism spring from the same roots, but some Christians seem oddly disinclined to agree with this. Moslems who opposed the publication of the cartoons did see them as a direct assault on their traditions and values. The sense of outrage generated was no different than that from "Piss Christ". The response was certainly different, to the great credit of American Christianity, but the impetus was essentially the same.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

Your Second Paragraph

(#74243)

is right on the money. It seems to me that the reactions of both Moslems and Christians to efforts to insult symbols of their faiths do proceed, generally, from the same source -- the instinctive desire to protect that which is considered to be sacred from desecration. But both the threshhold for what constitutes actual profanation, and the practical reactions of the two faiths (at a very high level) to that profanation, are profoundly different, and, I believe, highlight fundamental differences in the way adherents to the faiths apprehend the world.

That's how it is on this bitch of an earth.

Fundamental differences

(#74264)

The differences certainly aren't immutable -- Christians several hundred years ago were doing pretty unpleasant things to heretics and blasphemers. Christianity has grown up to be a functioning part of liberal-democratic society, and tamed its most violent protectionist impulses to reap the benefits of pluralism. Islam, for whatever reason, has not done this.

Theories abound but I'm not sure any of them are accurate. And I'm not sure it matters other than in an academic sense, anyway, because it's questionable how much outsiders can do to influence Moslem politics. What we can do is provide a good example. Everyone wants to imitate success.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

Pie in the sky

(#74668)

tends to lose its appeal when you notice that other people are getting pie in the here and now.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

causes more damage

(#74133)

If people like Syed feel wounded, it's probably good that the government provides them with a place to go to seek satisfaction. We can't all be magazine publishers. It's unfortunate that these commissions have the inquisitorial character they do, but Borovoy and the rest of those who created them are lawyers. That's their bread and butter. The adversarial nature of these commissions probably causes more damage to social harmony.

You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it. - Ho Chi Minh

You really think it's good?

(#74159)

Government redress is, IMO, absurdly inappropriate as a remedy for hurt feelings.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

pistols at dawn

(#74312)

Maybe we could persuade the Alberta government to repeal their ban on dueling, a more traditional way to seek redress. I don't think it'll happen though.

These problems crop up in America too, and their 'solution' doesn't seem to involve the government. When Mel Gibson or Don Imus makes insulting comments, a quasi-celebrity from the targeted group shows up and Mel or Don is put through a kind of self criticism session. It makes for an entertaining spectacle but I don't find it satisfactory. It lacks the necessary gravity and dignity that the issues call for. And I find it misses the point, not addressing the wounds, it is rather a self-serving exercise in promoting celebrity self-aggrandizement. Alberta's alternative has its many faults but it's a step in the right direction.

You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it. - Ho Chi Minh

Your Observation

(#74315)

about the ritual humiliation to which our culture subjects error-making celebrities has no application to the great mass of humanity, American or otherwise. It's just entertainment.

The real question is why you think psychic "wounds," whether legitimate or (as in this case) not, demand state redress in the ordinary case. People have been hideous to each other for as long as there have been people. The state ought to stay out of it and let cultural mores process the problem. As long as no gunfire results, the state ought to stick to what it knows and what it can actually achieve, like building roads and providing for the national defense.

That's how it is on this bitch of an earth.

Reform? Reform? Aren't things bad enough already?

(#74334)

I noticed that you have been against state involvement in these issues and I understand why. Maybe we all can appreciate Wellington's words Reform? Reform? Aren't things bad enough already? But I think ideally at least the state may provide a forum to iron out society's tensions. All citizens, again ideally at least, participate in and are represented by the state as equals. I know that many look to the market to solve our problems, but it's not a place to seek justice, or a place for the weak to seek refuge - it has an inherent bias in favour of the wealthy.

Your solution is to let cultural mores look after things. Well, these human rights commissions like the one in Alberta have emerged in recent years due to such forces. They were created in response to entirely legitimate public pressure. We're probably stuck with them now, state and government being what it is, but perhaps at some point in the future there will be public pressure to reform them and clean them up. I think your insistence that state activity is only valid in narrowly proscribed area like road construction and the military is too crustily tory, and it denies society's ability to act in concert.

You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it. - Ho Chi Minh

Whether you agree with his broad concept of the state's role

(#74356)

or not, the issue at hand is whether it's appropriate to provide legal "remedies" for hurt feelings. I'm as liberal as they come and I think it's an absolutely horrible idea. Greenwald pointed out the reasons why quite admirably.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

I probably agree with you on this

(#74449)

I probably agree with you on this. I am in full support of the powerful when they spread messages of hatred to the public. Where we disagree is that I believe the targets of hatred should be given the means to counteract those hateful messages, and they warrant government support in that effort. I don't know what form exactly this help should take, maybe free access to public airways. I don't think that counselling the targets to ignore hateful words directed against them, or infantalizing them when they protest is a wise course. It seems exactly wrong to me.

You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it. - Ho Chi Minh

Agreed

(#74247)

Government has absolutely no business protecting or providing redress for the wounded sensibilities of anyone, and certainly not the religious. Regulating identifiable conduct capable of inflicting real harm, if motivated by properly-proscribed forms of enmity (racism, sexism, etc) obviously is another thing, and is legitimate if handled very carefully. But the State has absolutely no business worrying about anyone's "feelings" or "self-esteem."

That's how it is on this bitch of an earth.

Ezra Levant's opening statement:

(#74114)

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

I completely agree

(#74112)

So does Glenn Greenwald.

Hate-speech laws are an intolerable infringement, and I find them to be a useful guide for separating the truly liberal from the merely PC or lefty partisan.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

Yeah, that's one of the things the US got right

(#74136)
HankP's picture

anything short of inciting violence should be allowed.

I blame it all on the Internet

You're nuts

(#74135)

but thems the kind of nuts I like.

Totally off subject: Did you go to F&M? Somebody with an "S" name said they did. It was years ago and I can't recall who it was.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Sure did

(#74158)

F&M class of 1993. You?

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

'95 PSU Harrisburg

(#74223)

But I'm from Lancaster County. I've tipped a few mugs at the Grandstand though. No big thing, just occasionally curious on whre paths cross. Say, did you ever make it to "The World's Largest Chicken BBQ"?

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Hmm, no, I sure didn't

(#74256)

I don't even remember hearing about it. I honestly never saw that much of Lancaster, though, because I lived close by and most of my friends were in Maryland & West Virginia.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

Yeah, I support a very few...

(#74119)

...namely the German laws against certain types of pro-Nazi or anti-Jewish speech -- but under extremely confined circumstances with extremely unusual and compelling reasons.

It's impossible to debate if people simply hold beliefs that have no grounding in reality.

I'll tell you why I don't

(#74225)

Free speech aside: I think there is a greater utility in knowing who those folks are than in sparing the sensibilities of the community and the feelings of the subject group.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

I can't even agree there

(#74161)

though I do see that it's an unusual case, IMO there is no situation unusual enough to justify restrictions of speech on the basis of hurt feelings or offensiveness.

Glenn Greenwald pointed out (link above) that speech restrictions of this kind are not only illiberal but totally ineffective -- banning "hate speech" only serves to make martyrs of those sanctioned for such a "crime" and aids dissemination of their hateful views.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.