I wasn’t aware I was being rude to my accusers after the TVOntario show. The very last words on air were me saying, “You wanna go to dinner?”, and Khurrum Awan yelling back “No!” But, as the host Steve Paikin and his producers reported at some length on their website, Khurrum and I and the two gals stuck around for an hour of relatively civil conversation. In fact, I got the impression one of the ladies was growing rather fond of me, which, to be honest, was the main reason I hung about. But, now I come to think of it, that was the way it went at high school. You figure you’re doing great and then next morning you overhear her telling her best friend by the lockers that she thought you were a dweeby limpet with halitosis.
At the opening of Tuesday’s proceedings, Faisal Joseph announced that he wanted to devote that day not to me or Maclean’s or the substance of my article but to the media and blogospheric reaction to the complaints. In other words, he was explicitly confirming Porter’s point — insofar as anything has exposed Khurrum Awan to “hatred and contempt,” it’s not the Maclean’s cover story but his own lawsuit.
Whether or not it is appropriate (or even legal) for Canadians to be “contemptuous” of the Canadian Islamic Congress’s thuggish assault on ancient liberties, the fact is Mr. Awan’s lawsuit has earned him far more “contempt” than anything in my article. He should be suing himself.
For six months, Mr. Awan and the gals had been telling readers of the Globe And Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star, the Ottawa Citizen, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and many other media outlets as far afield as the BBC, that all they wanted was an opportunity to “start a debate” with the Islamophobe Steyn. So we had a debate on TVOntario and now that turns out to be just the latest charge on the indictment. One can’t help feeling that, if Maclean’s had acceded to their demand for their own five-page cover story in the magazine, some perceived slight from the receptionist (“Sorry, we only have two per cent milk”) when Mr. Awan turned up to issue his instructions to the printers could easily have triggered a fresh round of litigation.
By the way, I see I’ve been nominated for a National Magazine Award, to be handed out later this month. By then, Mr. Joseph will have succeeded in getting the B.C. troika effectively to ban me from Maclean’s and from all Canadian journalism. An impressive achievement. My book was a No. 1 bestseller in Canada, and the new paperback edition was at No. 4 the other day, and President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Jon Kyl and (at last count) six European prime ministers have either recommended the book or called me in to discuss its themes.
But in Canada it’s a hate crime.
One thing I’ve learned these last few months is that it’s always worse than you expect. The willingness of the B.C. troika’s social engineers to trample over every basic rule of English law has embedded at the heart of Canadian justice a soft beguiling totalitarianism. I’ll be the first No. 1 bestselling author and National Magazine Award-nominated columnist to be deemed unpublishable in Canada.
But I won’t be the last.