BC Human Rights Tribunal Expected to Convict Macleans Magazine Today

[crossposted to another blog of mine] Today is the final day of the hearing in my province, BC, at which Macleans magazine has been charged with fomenting hatred against Muslims. I feel very strongly that this is a dangerous imposition of the government on a fundamental Canadian right: the right to speak and write freely. Because I feel strongly about this, I have given a background post here.

By way of background: this case occurred because some Muslims were offended by an excerpt Macleans ran of one of the #1 bestseller in Canada, America Alone, written by Mark Steyn.

Some important points:

Some Muslims have been offended.
This is true. On the other hand, atheists and Christians have been busy offending each other for decades, yet neither group tries to actively censor the other’s legal right to free speech. To take a prominent example (albeit from America), consider the reaction to the famous artwork “Piss Christ.” Essentially, Christians wrote letters; they did not demand that an artist could not produce art in his own private studio. The reaction of the plaintiffs in this case is completely at odds with the values of our society here in North America.

While some Muslim activists are trying to silence criticism of Islam through this Tribunal, others, such as the Muslim Congress of Canada, are very much opposed to this effort at censorship.
The truly-moderate Muslim Congress of Canada has been ignored by the human rights industry in Canada, and the sign on the courtroom mentions the complaint as being filed “on behalf of the Muslims of British Columbia.”

The plaintiffs adduced many statements from the excerpt that they found objectionable, including one to the effect that Muslims were breading “like flies.”
In fact, many of the most “objectionable” comments were quotations of Muslim clerics, including the “breeding” comment. These passages were taken out of context entirely.

Macleans was accused of favoring only one side (i.e. Steyn’s)
In fact, Macleans published more letters to the editor opposed to the piece than it ever had done in its history. Being a private publication, Macleans is not legally obligated to present viewpoints equally anyway.

The plaintiffs have previously said that they only desired equal space in rebutting Steyn’s article.
In fact, the plaintiffs demanded both money, and a full-length article and cover art produced by them, with little to no editorial control allowed by the magazine. This would have essentially allowed them to hijack the magazine, an inferior option to their simply starting their own publication and including their rebuttals there.

The main plaintiff before the BC Human Rights tribunal is Mohammed El-Masri, the head of the Canadian Islamic Congress.
El-Masri is a notorious anti-Semite. In his role as leader of the Canadian Islamic Congress, he has argued that all Israelis are legitimate military targets of terrorism. Also, El-Masri is not a resident of BC, nor is he testifying before the Tribunal.

The BC Human Rights Tribunal judges refused to allow the defendants to quiz the CIC’s representatives in the trial over the CIC’s anti-Semitic record.
On the other hand, it allowed posts from ordinary bloggers inside and outside of Canada to “show” that the Macleans article produced hatred towards Muslims. In so doing it made the Macleans magazine responsible for a great deal more than should have been the case.

The principal actors in this drama are not from BC.
Macleans is published in Ontario, the primary plaintiff is from Ontario, and almost all of the lawyers are from Ontario.

Macleans planned to call no witnesses.
Oddly, one of the scholars of religion called to witness by the plaintiffs admitted that he liked Steyn’s writing, and thought highly of it(!).

Normal courtroom rules pertaining to admissibility of evidence, libel, procedure, and the like do not apply to the BC Human Rights tribunal.
This has hurt the defense, while the Tribunal appears to be exerting extraterritoriality outside of BC.

In sum, this case should have been laughed out of the coutroom. The BC Human Rights Tribunal judges presiding over this case are out of their depth and appear incompetent. It has been shown that the plaintiffs have lied, and that they are interested only in censoring texts and writers whom they find offensive. Rather than growing up and maturing, they have sought to use the legal apparatus of BC to silence criticism of their religion. It is the efforts of these out-of-touch activists, much more than the original article, that are giving their religion a bad name in some quarters.

In my country, Canada, people have a legal right to express their opinions, even opinions highly critical of religion. This case represents a travesty of justice at every level, from the big picture issues of free speech to the nuts and bolts of courtroom rules and jurisdiction.

Our 1 Year Arrival-Anniversary

One year ago today, exactly, Z and young Telemachus and I arrived back in Canada from Seoul. I’m not really sure where that leaves us at the present time, which brings me to another thought.

Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valour. I have a lot to say, and it’s an effort to hold back here. Much of it, especially about sociological and political trends, is simply too controversial for the moment–although I would like to start writing what I really and deeply feel. Then, too, there’s the feeling that I must, well, reveal rather less of myself here, now that I am back in the North American employment zone. Also, there are so many politics and news blogs that I feel the need for space for something a little more contemplative. Unfortunately, that has yet to emerge here, I think.

Meanwhile, in case you’ve missed it, I’ve blogged everyday for over four weeks, now, at my new blog. This is a source of real pleasure and joy for me; most of what is on there is not politically charged, and I feel free to say most of what I think about most issues that I cover there. There’s also the excitement of staying on top of a field–two, in this case–and finding things to write about. There’s no shortage of material, and writing about old and treasured things and places excites me.

Look for another post here, from time to time, though.

Google Isn’t Everything

A recent post showed how happy I was with iGoogle’s features. Google isn’t everything, though, as this short post relates.

For better or for worse, the powers that be have decided that one of the students I tutor through a local tutoring company should study many poems about death. One of them, written by Robert Frost, is shown in its entirety in the screenshot below. After reading the poem, about a boy who dies because of a construction incident involving a saw, look at the Google ads. (Remember that you can resize the image so that the text is readable by clicking on it after you click on the thumbnail.)

Google just doesn't understand juxtaposition

Two Interesting Tidbits

Saving the best for the last, I’ll start by noting that the owner of the statistics counter I use (for free), Statcounter, has just been named Business Weekly’s young entrepreneur of the year. The article compares Statcounter quite favorably with other counters, including Google Analytics. I’ve been with Statcounter ever since my first blog, so obviously I’m on to something significant and I can now boast of my superior knowledge. Until you hear my actual numbers, that is: at less than 20 visitors per day, this blog is the least-read one of the three I’ve worked on for any length of time.

I’m really enjoying using a Google theme on iGoogle. It’s almost impossible to overstate the pleasure that personalizing this has been for me. I had no idea that one could customize a personal page like this. Check out the screenshot below to see how I’ve made the space my own:

iGoogle Screenshot with Bus Stop Theme

Note the presence of a daily chess puzzle, among other things. The weather in the theme changes to match the weather conditions in Vancouver, which is quite neat.

Bear with us…

…last night the header image was there, and today it’s gone. It’ll take a day or so to work out this bug.

UPDATE: It looks like I got it back up. If you can’t see the header image, I’d be very grateful if you’d drop me a line.

Introductory Notes

The above categories I put in place to indicate a general overview of what I intend to blog about in this site. The title of the blog is half-reflected in the url, and should hopefully mean that when I give the blog a new theme at some hypothetical point in the future, I won’t have to change urls again. If you are looking for my journals on the Iliad, the Odyssey, or the three tragedians, please click on the link in the preceding sentence to go to my old blog.

In the meanwhile, it’s great to be back home in Port Coquitlam, and photoblogging Port Coquitlam and other places is something I’m looking forward to.

COMMENTS: Unlike my last blog, I am not requiring a registration for commenters, but I am going to moderate comments manually, at least for a time. I’m getting about 100 comment spam entries every two days at my previous blog, and I’m now in a process of turning off the comments manually on every single one of the posts beginning with the oldest ones. One thing I was able to do with this blog was to turn on the anti-comment-spam plugin Akismet. Hopefully that will keep the blogging house relatively clean.

LINKS: If I’ve left your link off my sidebar and you really want to appear here, shoot me an email. The links list will certainly get longer, and I also intend to keep up with the so-called K-blogs through the sidebar on my previous blog.

TONE: Despite this post, I may try to reduce much of the “I” and “me” in this email. Blogging for me will be highly personal, but perhaps at times it has been a little too personal.