Excerpt from new book about the Rushdie affair:
The kind of censorship of offensive thoughts that the anti-Rushdie protesters demanded was the very kind of censorship of offensive thoughts that imprisoned the anti-cartoon protesters.
Restrictions on speech, the aims of which were supposedly to protect the culture and dignity of minority communities, are now exploited to undermine the civil liberties of those very same communities.
The conviction of the cartoon protesters shows how, over the past two decades, the authorities have used the law both to expand the notion of ‘hatred’ and to loosen the meaning of ‘incitement’. The law is now used to criminalise not just speech that directly leads to harm, but speech that might indirectly cause harm, or which is regarded as morally unacceptable.
All that should ring a bell with Canadians, especially Canadian Jews.
Last night, I went to a going-away part for Ted Belman of Israpundit, who is moving to Israel.
He asked me to give a brief talk about Section 13. I read the relevant section and explained that the “likely” clause made it impossible NOT to violate the law.
Ted added that his fellow Canadian Jews had been the ones who’d wanted this law enacted.
It’s pretty obvious to me, as well, that Section 13 was intentionally written to make it impossible to be found “not guilty” — because Jewish activists wanted to make it impossible for neo-Nazis to be found innocent.
The general feeling in the room was one of agreement with Ted and I, but a worried looking woman approached me later and said:
“But if we get rid of Section 13, they’ll be able to say anything they want about us!”
She just looked at me a bit blankly.
I added, “Then you say something back to them. See how it works? How’s this law working out for you? Do you feel safer under it? How did it help Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn (who never would have been targeted if his last name was ‘Smith’)?”
I sometimes forget, after working on this cause for the last year and a half, that not everyone has taken their thinking to the next obvious level and are still clinging to a poorly reasoned, jerryrigged, unworkable past.