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Monday, December 07, 2009

Intellectual freedom in Canada: American journalist detained and searched at border - for fear she'd criticize the Olympics

As if there wasn't a lot to criticize about the Olympics ...

Canadian border guards detained and interrogated American journalist Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now on US public radio, because border agents feared she would criticize the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, according to CanWest.

CBC reported that she was asked repeatedly what subjects she would cover at her speaking engagements in Vancouver and Victoria.
Goodman said her car was searched and the officials demanded to look at her notes and her computer," reported the CBC. "I am deeply concerned that as a journalist I would be flagged and that the concern – the major concern – was the content of my speech," said Goodman.
American journalists are apparently in a "tizzy", now that they have had a taste of where their wonderful new "hate speech" laws really lead.
“I could see any country in the world doing this, except Canada,” Lucy Dalglish, head of the Washington-based Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press, said yesterday. “I was stunned by what happened.”
I wasn't.
And the vast, online social media network south of the border, much of it spawned by the Barack Obama presidential campaign, is feasting on the story.

- Rick Mickleburgh, Globe and Mail, December 5, 2009

US journalists, if any are listening: Here is what anti-hate legislation does: It is a huge moral hazard. It attracts to the government payroll a whack of busybodies, social engineers, shakedown artists, bounty hunters, pipsqueak Torquemadas, snoops, sneaks, spies, and fascists. People you would not ever wish to know have unaccountable power over you.

Slowly but surely, we are taking out that trash here. But it takes time, and brave, committed citizens.

And Amy, I would love to have more sympathy for you. But if you can't take it, please don't go home and dish it out, crowing over "anti-hate" laws. I am glad to think that your experience will help you to be a free speech journalist and fight back, as many of us are doing here, despite many obstacles.

See also: The stupidest, smuggest press release I ever read.

While we are here, here's the Writers' Union of Canada's open letter:
December 3, 2009

Dear Premier Campbell,

On behalf of The Writers’ Union of Canada, I wish to record our strong objection to perceived attempts to censor and stifle the right to express dissenting views regarding the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

On November 26, 2009 U.S. reporter Amy Goodman was detained by Canadian Border Services Agency, Pacific Region, while attempting to enter Canada to give a book promotional speech at the Vancouver Public Library. Ms. Goodman was repeatedly interrogated as to whether she was planning to speak about the Winter Olympics. She was photographed, control documents were stapled to her passport, and her vehicle and computer were searched.

This treatment of a distinguished American journalist has damaged Canada in the eyes of the world.

Earlier this year I was compelled to write with regard to intimidating behaviour on the part of the Integrated Securities Unit (ISU) while interviewing Dr. Chris Shaw, the author of Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games. Now, as then, The Writers’ Union of Canada requests a formal assurance that the freedom of writers and journalists to criticize the Canadian Olympics will be respected, as befits the guarantees outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Erna Paris
Chair
The Writers’ Union of Canada
Oh sure. This all sounds very fine, but when Canadian journalists and magazines were under assault last year from extraordinary "human rights" commissions, I heard nothing from the Writers' Union. Which is why I dropped out. If they had to wait till an American was targeted before they noticed, they sure won't get my membership dollar ever again.

Hat tip Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee, also J-Source .

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