This blog provides stories that Denyse O'Leary, a Toronto-based journalist, has found to be of interest, as she covers the growing intelligent design controversy. It supports her book By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg 2004). Does the universe - and do life forms - show evidence of intelligent design? If so, Carl Sagan was wrong and so is Richard Dawkins. Now what?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Intellectual freedom in Canada: News roundup
Follow these links to stories below:
Intellectual freedom in Canada: Think together, stink together ... or sink together? Zerb vs. Blazing? All I know is, I don 't want anyone censoring either paper, in the interests of "human rights", "multiculturalism," "diversity," "fairness," or "localism." I prefer to read and decide for myself.
Intellectual freedom in Canada: McMaster University sues American journalist for reporting links to al Qaeda - meanwhile, McMaster jihadi is sentenced to 12 years
Intellectual freedom in Canada: It's what they don't want you to read that you had better read (Freedom to Read Week coming up)
Further quick notes
Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.
Intellectual freedom in Canada: Think together, stink together ... or sink together?
This story, about Toronto Star writer Antonia "Zerb" Zerbisias demonstrates why freedom of the media is essential. Zerb believes that the National Post perpetuates falsehoods - but many say the same of her own paper, the Toronto Star.
All I know is, I don 't want anyone censoring either paper, in the interests of "human rights", "multiculturalism," "diversity," "fairness," or "localism." I prefer to read and decide for myself.
Hat tip: Blazing Cat Fur
Intellectual freedom in Canada: McMaster University sues American journalist for reporting links to al Qaeda - while McMaster jihadi sentenced
An American reader writes to wonder whether I know about the case of Paul Williams, an American journalist who is being
sued by McMaster University for reporting that McMaster harbours al-Qaeda operatives. Yes, I do know. And there seems to be considerable evidence for his view.
Here, for example:
TORONTO—Yet another member of the “Toronto 18” terrorist group has admitted he was involved in a plot to detonate bombs in Ontario to pressure Canada to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.
Saad Gaya, 21, a McMaster University student, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of “committing an indictable offence in association with a terrorist group,” namely activities intended to cause an explosion.
“It is not contested that the plot to acquire substances and cause an explosion or explosions was for a religiously-inspired political purpose,” reads the 35-page agreed statement of facts.
“In other words, the motivation of Gaya was to pressure Canada into withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the religious aspect being to protect a Muslim country from attack.”
Gaya was one of 18 Toronto-area men charged in 2006 with planning terrorist attacks in Toronto, Ottawa and at a military base. He is the third to plead guilty so far, while a fourth was convicted after pleading not guilty. Another seven defendants are awaiting trial.
(- Stewart Bell, National Post, September 28, 2009)
I was at McMaster many years ago, and left without taking a degree. Even back then, it was becoming a home for just the sort of political correctness that prevents reasonable discussion of such issues. If Williams is totally off base, why sue him? If he isn't, why not deal with it?
This is just the sort of tactic that institutions adopt when they don't have a good case or don't even know what their case is and are afraid to find out. This sort of "lawfare" can be a powerful force for censorship. Few writers can lawyer up the way a university can - and remember, if you read the links - if you are a Canadian, your taxes are paying for McMaster's side.
The worrisome thing about this sort of story is that it shows up mainly on the blogosphere - which doesn't prove that there is no substance to it, rather that legacy mainstream media may be afraid to address it. They are already in deep financial trouble, and cannot afford lawfare. Bloggers have less to lose. Here's Williams's defense site.
More on lawfare (derived from "warfare", not "welfare" - but in Canada. The two are often the same because the taxpayer funds the lawfare case, but the accused person must [ay all his own expenses.)
Hat tip Blazing Cat Fur
Intellectual freedom in Canada: It's what they don't want you to read that you had better read
Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee notes,
Mark your calendar for the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom to Read Week event on February 23, 2010!It's a free event, held at the Gladstone Hotel, and lasts year was standing room only. I went last year, and it was fun.
It's great to see that so many otherwise normal people care about the freedom to read. That may be an outcome of recent events around here. Register here.
Intellectual Freedom in Canada: Further quick notes
- An exceedingly brave Ontario Catholic school board pulled Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (scroll down), after a parent complained about a racial epithet. Everyone knows that the best way to deal with evil is to never mention it.
The worst part is that the two books replacing Mockingbird are these:
The books raise issues such as racism, inequality, hate, violence, culture, religion, feminism and the causes of war. Exploring these literary themes are part of the curriculum goals expected in Grade 10 academic English classrooms.In other words, they are either politically correct sludge or else - in fairness to the authors - the administrators assume that they are so, and will therefore give no offense and teach nothing.
“These books augment the Grade 10 English Academic level text list, and are currently being used to supplement existing learning resources,” said Campbell.
Hat tip: Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee.
- The Canadian "human rights" Commission has decided to appeal the decision that found their Section 13, which criminalizes opinion, - unconstitutional. These people don't learn quickly, do they? Hadjis is, by all accounts, not a brave judge, but he sensed the gathering storm.
- Carter also notes the following stories:
In Vancouver, independent bookseller Duthie Books prepares to close its doors. The store was once active in Little Sister's legal struggle against the censorship of Canada Customs. (Independent bookstores should be given endangered species status.)
People's Co-op Books has endured blacklists and RCMP surveillance to become the oldest bookstore in the city. (So much for censorship persuading people that an idea must be wrong.)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) plans to monitor the Vancouver Olympics for abuses to free expression rights.
(Good idea! It is just the sort of venue where people would feel it their duty to suppress speech that "does not reflect well" on Canada.)
- Librarians are told to use only sponsors of Olympic events as sponsors for local events.
"Do not have Pepsi or Dairy Queen sponsor your event," read guidelines sent to VPL branch heads and supervisory staff last fall. "Coke and McDonald's are the Olympic sponsors. If you are planning a kids' event and approaching sponsors, approach McDonald's and not another well-known fast-food outlet."
(See what I mean? I haven't talked much about economic pressures that result in censorship [one little hack can't do everything]. Sometimes, economic pressure is overrated by leftist sources = no one is forced to eat at McDonalds, but the whole picturre changes when government has made a substantial investment - as in the Olympics.)
- The Beaver, Canada's history magazine, is changing its name after 90 years because the title is too often censored by online porn filters. (I don't know why and don't want to - but the Search function can lead to soime strange results. Would calling the magazine the Black Fly help? No! No! How about - The Porcupine?)
- In Montreal, Cinema Politica faces a defamation lawsuit if it screens The Coca-Cola Case. In The Dominion, Tim McSorley reports.
- Also, from Blazing Cat Fur: a rabbi who is not afraid of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Good. I am so sick of those who are. Judas Maccabeus, please come back from the dead.