Yesterday, Mr. Ezra Levant spoke as an expert witness to the US Congress on the topic of human rights, freedom of speech and their erosion through lawfare and ‘soft jihad’. Here is the link to the entire speech, from which come these following excerpts:
“Canadian human rights commissions, however, are not respectful of the sensitivities of all religions. Less politically correct faiths are regularly prosecuted by them. This May, an Alberta pastor named Stephen Boissoin was given a lifetime gag order, never to say anything critical of homosexuality – not in a church sermon, not even in private e-mails. As well, in what can only be called a Maoist verdict, he has been ordered to renounce his religious beliefs, and to publish a self-denunciation in the local newspaper.”
“By the way, the truth of what you say is not a defence. And at the Maclean’s magazine trial last month, half a day was spent determining whether their jokes were funny. They even had a joke expert.
Don’t laugh – literally. Just three weeks ago, a comedian was ordered to stand trial for telling off-colour jokes in a night club. Warning to Chris Rock: don’t bother coming to Canada”
“Because we didn’t fight for freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for people who were hard to like, now we’re having to fight for those fundamental freedoms for ourselves. It’s always better to fight in the first ditch rather than the last one.
The legal onslaught against freedom of speech and religious pluralism continues. There are 14 human rights commission in Canada, employing 1,000 people, and with an annual budget of $200-million. It’s an industry, and it needs social strife to stay in business. So it positively drums up discontent. This spring in Alberta, 60,000 new immigrants were taught English as a Second Language using a workbook all about how to file grievances, including against un-funny jokes.”
The conclusion of Mr. Levant’s speech is eloquent, and very, very powerful:
So what can Americans do?
1. The first thing you can do is what you always do: continue to monitor the erosion of freedom around the world, including through Congressional committees like this one. Publish annual reports shaming foreign countries for their abuses of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Put Canada on that list, to let our government know what they’re doing isn’t acceptable.
2. And rededicate yourselves to your First Amendment. Understand that the erosion of freedom doesn’t always happen with a bang – it can happen with a whimper. And that, when it comes to free speech, it’s usually unpopular people who are censored first. But if they can go for a neo-Nazi yesterday, it’s Geno’s Steak House today, and then a Christian pastor or a news magazine tomorrow.
I believe in a pluralist society where I can be Jewish, he can be Christian, she can be Muslim, and we all get along peacefully – we can agree to disagree about political or religious matters. The use of our own Western laws to crush such disagreement, and end healthy debate, is a threat to all of us, and the U.S. Congress should be on guard.”
(All emphasis is Mr. Levant’s)
In a related development, the very radical Imam who brought a complaint against Mr. Levant and his then magazine, Western Standard – and thus starting the process which had turned Mr. Levant into ‘an expert’ in this field, may indeed be becoming less radicalized… Unless I am much mistaken, this is the very first radical Imam who has actually become more moderate after exposure to our ‘western’ values and publicly said so.
“Response to recent human rights decisions
by Syed Soharwardy
When I initiated my complaint against Mr. Levant, I saw human rights commissions as a non-violent means of resolving differences among Canadians.
I was not aware of the controversies between the commissions and Canada’s faith communities. I am thinking specifically of my friend Fred Henry, the Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary.
Upon learning about the difficulties he and other faith communities have encountered with the commissions, I withdrew my complaint against Mr. Levant.
One of the reasons I chose Canada as my adopted homeland is because of our country’s great respect for religious freedom.
In Canada, I am free to be good Canadian and a good Muslim. There is no contradiction between the two.
In listening to the experiences of Bishop Henry and Pastor Boissoin, I realized how precious religious freedom is to our country and how easily freedom is lost.
Yes, I have often expressed concerns over Islamophobia.
Some of the portrayals of Muslims in the media have been painful – so much so, that I worried when I set out across Canada on the multifaith walk against violence.
However, the reaction from ordinary Canadians could not have been more hospitable. Canadians of all races, colours, religions, and ages have welcomed me, a Muslim man with brown skin, into their homes, their neighbourhoods and their communities.
They have walked with me, eaten with me and prayed with me.
They have expressed strong concern for preserving our civil liberties – which includes freedom of speech and religion.
They have also expressed a strong desire to end violence in Canada and around the world.
This experience has taught me that we can only end violence when we respect the freedom of all Canadians.
There will always be pockets of Islamophobia in Canada, just like there are still pockets of anti-Semitism, racism and sexism.
However, I have learned that the best way to dispel misconceptions between our various cultures and communities is for us to meet face to face and learn from each other’s similarities and difference.
This can only be accomplished in a society that respects freedom of expression, freedom of religion and all of our other democratic freedoms.”
As ‘they’ say: we live in interesting times!