“F” stands for “Free Dominion”.
That is what Dr. Michael Geist wrote in his ‘internet freedom countdown’.
“F” could just as easily could have stood for “Fournier” – as in Connie and Mark Fournier, who have done more for the freedom of speech and freedom on the Internet than any other Canadians. And this time, I am not using hyperbole!
20 years to the day and in the very building I had signed my marriage license, I came to observe and blog about a court case involving Free Dominion: Connie and Mark Fournier. It was a civil case involving anonymity on the internet and both the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Dr. Geist’s Electronic Frontier Foundation were intervenors in the case. Having heard of the latter two and considering any court case they both thought important enough to intervene in to definitely have a significant impact on my own internet and speech freedoms, I came to spectate. (OK – I have to admit – I am a Geist ‘acolyte’.)
While following this particular case and many, many more, I came to deeply admire Connie and Mark. Over the years, they have made significant impact on the evolution of our speech and internet rights, always from a deeply principled perspective.
Now, before you get the idea that I agree with Connie and Mark’s political views, let me stop you right there. They are social conservatives who come from a Christian perspective. I am a libertarian, just this side of turning into an-cap. And a militant ignostic as well as a registered Kopimist.
Despite the greatly different views we hold on a myriad of topics, I came to like and deeply respect the Fourniers. Even when we discussed topics we disagreed on, they were respectful and principled and debating things with them has always been a pleasure.
Full disclosure: the one principle both the Fourniers and I completely and totally agree on – and it is perhaps the most important principle of them all – is the importance of freedom of speech.
I came to understanding the true and essential need for freedom of speech as the cornerstone of our civilization and the internet as the vehicle through which it is anonymously and effectively delivered because I was not only born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, I was also born the daughter of a political dissident. Perhaps because of this, I learned early on that without the freedom to criticize and ridicule political and religious ideologies and figures, you lose the means of defending all your other rights and freedoms. And while I don’t know the route that brought Connie and Mark to the same conclusions, it is a demonstrated fact that they have not only lived by that principle, they have sacrificed all to preserve freedom of speech in Canada (and, by extension, all Magna Carta countries) and have put their financial and physical security – their very well being on the line to protect anonymous speech (in their case, on the internet), which is so very crucial in preventing the abrogation of free speech in public spaces.
OK – I have now sketched in the background so that you, my dear reader, are aware of what I know, think and whatever prejudices I may have regarding my review of Connie Fournier’s new book: ‘Betrayed! Stephen Harper’s War on Principled Conservatism’.
One more thing before I start: here is a most excellent review of the book by Jay Currie (and, no, I did not read his review before I had made my own mind up). The comments are excellent!
‘Betrayed! Stephen Harper’s War on Principled Conservatism’ by Connie Fournier is a truly scary book.
Connie Fournier is both intelligent and eloquent and has the skill to line the little pearls up, one by one, till they form a brilliant necklace – or an effective noose…
Yes, I saw a part of the journey that Connie so accurately describes in her book – but I truly only saw a small part. Yet, step by step, event by event, convoluted happening by convoluted happening, she lights the path and puts forward some very convincing evidence that points not just to the corruption of our ‘progressive’ leaning bureaucracy but also demonstrated how the Harper ‘iron fist’ is affecting things behind the scenes (whether through direct action or through carefully selective inaction). Limited by the legal rulings still muzzling her, she succeeds in getting the important points across in a logical, accurate and believable manner.
This book has bought into focus the consistency with which the Harper government has sought to control, regulate and stifle internet communication. The book stops before the Trans Pacific Trade Treaty – again, a Harper government ‘baby’, the leaks about which prove the veracity of everything else written in the book.
Yes, I would recommend it as a read – even though I disagree with Connie’s conclusion that the Green Party would be the natural place to cast a protest vote for. No – I think the Pirate Party of Canada is a much better candidate, as their abid opposition to Bill C-51 is coupled with opposition to copyright consumer right abuses that the TPTT imposes as a supra-national law. If there is no Pirate Party candidate in your riding, please, do consider running for them. If my health were better, I most certainly would do my best to try to run for them!
But, again, I digress…
This is an important book to read for everyone who understands the crucial role freedom of speech plays and who would like help navigating the legal jungle of bills and attempts to deny it to us, the citizens – especially as it relates to the electronic medium.
Whether neo-Con or not, this book will open your eyes to the systematic process that is already in place to persecute political foes of the party in power and is written in such an accessible way that even non-techies will understand the implications of the proposed muzzling legislation coming from Harper’s ‘Conservative’ government.
Everyone of my relatives and friends will be getting a copy from me!
We are all children of the Magna Carta!
OK, being an immigrant to The West, I am an adoptive child of the Magna Carta – and that much more appreciative of her!!!
John Robson is making a documentary on the Magna Carta, just in time for her 800th anniversary.
And not wanting to be beholden to any pressure from potential funders, he is crowdsourcing the funding – through Kickstarter: the kicker with Kickstarter is that unless you raise the full amount, you get nothing…
So, please, if you can, do support this most worthy enterprise!
This project will only be funded if at least $75,000 is pledged by Mon, Mar 16 2015 2:29 PM EST.
We tell the story of Magna Carta, foundation of our rights: freedom’s unlikely origins, remarkable triumphs and modern challenges.
And as a bonus, here is Professor John Robson on the Magna Carta – starting with the story of Alfred the Great:
General warrants, anyone?
This does not even address the problems inherent in breathalyzer tests.
In other words, if we refuse to submit to a test with an instrument we know is likely to give an artificially high reading and against which there is no defense (as the analyzed sample cannot be retained for more accurate re-testing), we are automatically deemed guilty.
Please, don’t get me wrong: I do not advocate drunk driving. As a matter of fact, I will not drive after having had any alcohol – and will abstain from drinking alcohol if I expect to be driving. Even if I were well under the legal limit, if I were to get into an accident and harmed someone, knowing my reflexes might have been impaired by my irresponsible consumption of alcohol, I would have a hard time living with myself. So, I always drive sober!
In other words, the inaccurate readings of the breathalysers are not likely to ever affect me in the least and I truly ‘have nothing to hide’ – as the video stresses! It is not about ‘hiding something’ – it is about the principle involved!!!
How can so many of our ‘best and brightest’ be so dense?
A few days ago, I posted on the 2nd Amendment and a pro-gun ownership ad. After a short comment exchange, I received this response from CodeSlinger which, in my never-humble-opinion, deserves a full post of its own.
It is that important!
And this ramifies into the whole issue of the source and nature of rights and morals.
By claiming that rights are conferred by the state and morals are a matter of consensus, the neo-liberals utterly destroy the concepts of rights and morals. They reduce rights to the status of mere privileges, and they reduce morals to the status of mere laws.
In this way, neo-liberalism is no better than the religions it denigrates. Neo-liberals claim that rights and morals are handed down by the state, while religious people claim that rights and morals are handed down by God. They do not recognize that a man has rights simply by virtue of existing, nor do they understand that right and wrong are determined solely by what kind of creature a man is.
A man is a living creature capable of reason and compassion. From this it follows immediately that his inalienable rights are life, liberty, privacy, property, self-defence and self-expression. It also follows directly that whatever causes a man harm by violating his rights is wrong, and whatever is not wrong is right.
Recognition of these principles places strict limits on the rightful power of the state vis-à-vis the individual, much the same way that the American Constitution was intended to do, only more so. It leads to the understanding that the only legitimate purpose of the state is to equally protect the equal rights of each and every individual. Everything the state does beyond that causes more harm than good.
And, of course, this flies in the face of everything the neo-liberals want, which is why they hate the Constitution and the principles of inalienable individual rights and universal morality on which it is based.
These principles give them freedom to do as they please, but also burden them with responsibility to take care of themselves — all without violating the rights of such others as have not violated theirs.
But neo-liberals would rather give up their rights and freedoms and bow down to the state, which they want to make all-powerful, because they foolishly think an all-powerful state will take care of them. This desire is hopelessly unrealistic and childish, and it is exactly what religious people want from their God.
Thus when neo-liberals call themselves citizens of a state, they mean exactly the same thing that religious people mean when they call themselves children of God. In this regard, religious people are more honest than neo-liberals, because they acknowledge that being taken care of by an all-powerful entity reduces them to the status of children — or chattel, which they acknowledge when they compare themselves a flock of sheep.
Neo-liberals seek to spare themselves this admission by secularizing their beliefs and values. But a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.
The cultural Marxists who created neo-liberalism, complete with its politically correct self-sacrificial secular Edenism, were highly accomplished psychologists and sociologists. They knew perfectly well that this would happen. If they tore down traditional religious and family values and created widespread conditions leading to arrested emotional development, there would be only one possible replacement that could meet the subconscious psychological needs of the resulting post-modern tribe of hopelessly lost adult children: the apotheosis of the totalitarian state.
That’s right, neo-liberals worship the totalitarian state, even while they fancy themselves to be oh-so-sophisticated and secular.
This is what really underlies their rabidly relentless attack on the Constitution and the principles it is based upon.
Last Saturday, there was a ‘multi-faith’ protest against the blasphemous movie, ‘Innocence of the Muslims’.
In so many parts of the worlds, these protests have been extremely violent and, well, deadly. And not just from the primary rioting: in many places of the world, Muslims who were not deemed to be sufficiently ardent in protesting have faced violence. In one famous example, a man who declined to close his shop in order to join the riots in Pakistan has been charged with ‘blasphemy’ and is facing life in jail or a death sentence. In another example, journalists whom the rioters suspected of not giving their riots sufficient coverage (or casting them in positive enough light – depending on which sources you read) were violently attacked and barely escaped with their lives.
So, I am very happy to report that the Toronto protests were all peaceful.
Well, peaceful in the sense that the people protesting did not riot – and that is a good thing. That some of the protesters called for violence – and even the death of the moviemakers – that is less good.
Here are some videos of both the protest and the coverage thereof by Sun Media:
Ezra Levant with Raheel Raza:
If you’d like to check it out – Muslims Facing Tomorrow website is here.
Michael Coren’s (who made it to the protest personally) coverage is here:
BTW – I oppose the laws that forbid the denial of the holocaust. Not because I don’t thing it happened – my mother, as a small child, guided by her mother – actually sneaked food to Jewish concentration camp inmates when they were on a work detail in her neighbourhood. My grandmother saw, with her own eyes, a prisoner, dive onto a compost heap to eat some potato peels – and how, for this, he was beaten to death by his guard…using a beam with a nail in it… Yes, I know it happened and I have heard 1st person testimony of just how nightmarish it was. That, of course, is not the point: even if they are vicious lies, people must be free to say them, and say them publicly. To me, freedom of speech is absolute.
BlazingaCatFur – who was also there – asks some very basic questions:
SDAMatt2a, who also attended the event in order to report on it, captured the protester’s assertion that ‘Islam condones racism’. In case you think this is a linguistic error, please, do consider that the Koran itself considers the supremacy of Arabs over other races (and the Qureshi tribe is given supremacy over other Arabs) and that under Sharia – even today, it is not just illegal for any non-Muslim men to marry a Muslim woman, it is also illegal for non-white Muslim men to marry white Muslim women, it is illegal for non-Arab Muslim men to marry Arab Muslim women and it is illegal for non-Qureshi Muslim men to marry Qureshi Muslim women. That is recognized by ALL the ‘schools’ of Sharia and women whose wali (legal guardian) who agrees on their behalf to a marriage contract (as women cannot agree on their own – that power is reserved for their guardian alone) to a man in contradiction of this race-based rule have the right to sue for divorce on the grounds of having been married ‘below their racial status’. All schools of Islamic jurisprudence recognize this and side with the race-based ‘status’. I personally think this is wrong – but I do not have any influence over Sharia…
What is the cost of freedom?
Many have bought it for us, their descendants, with their lives.
Still, in our everyday life, most of us do not have to ask ourselves just how much of our income we would be willing to spend to protect our freedom of speech – in the public square as well as on the internet.
But, not everyone has that luxury.
Consider the case of Costance and Mark Fournier who run the Free Dominion forum. They have become targets of a serial suer, Richard Warman, and his minions.
From setting a legal precedent for protecting online privacy to proving that linking to online content does not constitute copyright infringement, they have done it. And more.
They have had to decide if they should comply with what they considered to be abuse of our (or, their subscribers) civil liberties or if they are willing to pay the money to defend themselves in a lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit…
If you hang out on the internet and comment on things or click on links, you are directly benefiting from the battles the Fourniers have fought and paid for on behalf of all of us!
(And not just in Canada – because of the related nature of our legal systems, Canadian legal precedents are quoted and considered in US rulings and vice versa….after all, we are all children of the Magna Carta!!!)
Yes, the Fourniers are just celebrating a victory in a lawsuit where they had to represent themselves.
Yet, they are still facing more lawsuits against them!
They have launched a fundraising campaign to replenish their war chest.
All of us who love the freedom we enjoy on the internet, we need to ask ourselves: as smart as Connie Fournier is, do we really want a layman or a professional lawyer to argue cases that will decide what we may and may not do on the internet?
Give generously, please!