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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mark Steyn's "Lights Out on Liberty" speech



Here's Mark Steyn's recent speech at Hillsdale College , "Lights Out on Liberty", which attempts to sketch out one aspect of the assault on intellectual freedom in the West. He does an excellent job, as readers will see from the excerpt given below.

I do take issue with one aspect of Mark's speech (tailored, after all, for a specific audience). Mark focuses on Muslim-directed assaults on traditional liberties (including free speech and intellectual freedom). But long before any Muslims started to make use of the kangaroo courts and political correctness bureaucracies in Canada, traditional secular groups and some Christian-based religious groups had been using them, often with joyous abandon. Indeed, George Orwell's prescient Nineteen Eighty Four predicts a closed society based on socialism, not Islam - which pretty much tells you who had the upper hand in Canada over the last five decades and put the current system in place.

It is hardly fair to suddenly get one's shirt in a knot because some Muslims decided to come along for the ride, when there was plenty of room on the Anti-Freedom Bus.

Further, the vast majority of Muslims in Canada do not support the politicized Islam nonsense. And they are more at risk from Islamists than most people are - for the same reasons as, years ago, a Christian in Ireland was more at risk from Catholic or Protestant fanatics than a Muslim would have been*. Fanatics destroy their own first.

And when the question comes down to who values intellectual freedom, the divide will go through the human heart, not merely through sociological groups.

Anyway, here's Mark:
Much of the West is far too comfortable with state regulation of speech and expression, which puts freedom itself at risk. Let me cite some examples: The response of the European Union Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security to the crisis over the Danish cartoons that sparked Muslim violence was to propose that newspapers exercise “prudence” on certain controversial subjects involving religions beginning with the letter “I.” At the end of her life, the Italian writer Oriana Fallaci—after writing of the contradiction between Islam and the Western tradition of liberty—was being sued in France, Italy, Switzerland, and most other European jurisdictions by groups who believed her opinions were not merely offensive, but criminal. In France, author Michel Houellebecq was sued by Muslim and other “anti-racist groups” who believed the opinions of a fictional character in one of his novels were likewise criminal.

In Canada, the official complaint about my own so-called “flagrant Islamophobia”—filed by the Canadian Islamic Congress—attributes to me the following “assertions”:

"America will be an Islamic Republic by 2040. There will be a break for Muslim prayers during the Super Bowl. There will be a religious police enforcing Islamic norms. The USS Ronald Reagan will be renamed after Osama bin Laden. Females will not be allowed to be cheerleaders. Popular American radio and TV hosts will be replaced by Imams."

In fact, I didn’t “assert” any of these things. They are plot twists I cited in my review of Robert Ferrigno’s novel, Prayers for the Assassin. It’s customary in reviewing novels to cite aspects of the plot. For example, a review of Moby Dick will usually mention the whale. These days, apparently, the Canadian Islamic Congress and the government’s human rights investigators (who have taken up the case) believe that describing the plot of a novel should be illegal.

See also: "What happens when intellectual freedom dies? "

*Here is a revision of an old joke:
Masked man jumps out from a Belfast alley, menacing a passerby with a gun, and asks, "Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?"

The passerby replies, "I'm ... er ... a Muslim."

The masked man barks, "So? Are you a Catholic or a Protestant Muslim?"
Trust me, the fastest way to wreck a religion is to make it into a political party. People no longer focus on the virtues of the founder but on the vices of the vice-chairman - who turns out to be the chairman of vice, and so forth.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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