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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Intellectual freedom in Canada news roundup, with comments

Here's how Focus on the Family edits its content for Canada, to avoid "hate speech" laws. I always found the group totally boring myself; I doubt they could do hate if they tried.

Meanwhile, Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee writes to tell me, in Saskatchewan, convicted murderer Colin Thatcher appeared in court to defend his right to make money by writing a book about his legal case. Angela Hall reports for the Regina Leader-Post (and the Ottawa Citizen).

From Denyse: It's a complex issue to be sure. Once, two dogs' ages ago, I was almost going to edit Thatcher's first manuscript but the company never signed the book, or something, and then went bust. My own view is that if a guy doesn't have unpaid fines, the government doesn't have any business stopping him from making money. Of course, the government could always assign a big fine to him, in which case ...

Other items on the same story: Canadian Press; CBC News.

On to the next story:

He tells me, in Ontario, a court sentenced Michael Jay Thomas to 14 days in jail for writing sex and incest stories about adults and teen girls. Megan Gillis reports for the Ottawa Sun. See also Andrew Seymour for the Ottawa Citizen.

Look, that all sounds pretty disgusting to me too. But I wish governments would pay far more attention to real issues like prostitution of migrants and underage girls, and also forced marriage of girls who are citizens - and less attention to people who are just writing fiction - however foolish and vile the fiction may happen to be.

Look, you needn't give the fiction any notice. If it's in the library, do not check it out. If it is on TV, change the channel. If it is on the radio, twiddle the dial. If it is on the Internet, use your back browser button. That sort of freedom - which would guarantee the disappearance of much garbage - is more than one can say, unfortunately, for the fate of many women and girls.

And now for the mighty civil rights lawyer Ezra Levant, the fearless leader of the Canadians who fight back against the psychotic Nanny State: In a synagogue in Montreal, author and activist Ezra Levant spoke against HRC censorship in Canada. David Lazarus reports for The Canadian Jewish News.

I hope Jews are listening. In general, they will not benefit from the growth of a "human rights" system used by Islamists against Jews (= Ezra Levant) or people believed to be Jews (= Mark Steyn).

He also tells me,
In the United States, Scholastic reversed its decision to censor Lauren Myracle’s Luv Ya Bunches from school book fairs and will make a sanitized version of the title available at middle schools in spring 2010. But the novel won’t be for sale at elementary fairs—even though it targets that age group. In School Library Journal, Rocco Staino and Debra Lau Whelan report. Also, Zoe Whittall reports for Canada's Quill & Quire.
In my view, the question of what books should be offered to teachers should be made by curriculum developers, with key input from the teachers themselves. Any kind of lobby is, in my experience, basically just a pest. Lobbyist, if you want to get involved, either teach for a living or be a textbook editor, not just a lobbyist. Otherwise, get lost.

Oh, and one last item: In Ontario, a Roman Catholic school board is considering a "novel" idea to prevent book-banning controversies. Stuart Woods comments in Quill & Quire. Again, I think a distinction must be made between material available to the adult public and material that can reasonably be put on a curriculum for minors in a tax-funded school system. In the latter case, I think teachers usually know best what they can effectively teach, though one must always guard against ideologues and cranks tampering with the process.

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