“A journal is free to print what it considers right as long as it also prints what it may consider wrong, according to sub-liberals. They wouldn’t have complained to the Human Rights Commission about Mark Steyn writing in Maclean’s that many Muslims are ‘hot for jihad,’ say Nasseem Mithoowani and three fellow complainants, had Maclean’s agreed to publish a rejoinder ‘from a mutually acceptable source.’
“No, this wasn’t an offer to invest in the magazine or to buy ad space, but an exercise in free press, Islamic-style. ‘If Maclean’s wants to publish articles alleging that many Muslims are “hot for jihad,”‘ explain Mithoowani & Co., ‘it has to provide an opportunity to respond.’
Has to? Well, actually no, not in this hemisphere. At least, not yet.
“In the West, ‘free’ means that if Maclean’s wants to publish articles alleging anything, it publishes them. If it then wishes to publish other articles alleging the opposite, it does that, too. C’est tout. End of story. That’s what press freedom means in both official languages. If it loses something in translation into Arabic, Urdu, Persian or Human Rightese, too bad. For the time being, English and French govern.
“If defamatory, a paper gets sued; if seditious, it gets charged; and if wrong, it has egg all over its face. A free press may offer a space to respond — most papers do, including Maclean’s — but it’s not obliged to rebut itself. If it did, it wouldn’t be free.
“I must admit, though, it’s a novel approach: the Human Rights Commission as a literary agent. Ingenious. Maclean’s is a hard market to crack and Steyn is tough to compete with, but perhaps if I get my agent a pair of jackboots and turn her into a Human Rights commissar…”