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Monday, October 12, 2009

Intellectual freedom in Canada: News roundup

I haven't been posting recently, due to computer failure.

But, catching up, let me begin by talking about recent events in the fight for free speech in Canada.

Here's an update on Jennifer Lynch, who - I cannot believe - still works for the federal government.

I have no time for any racist, anti-Semite, Nazi, or Holocaust denier, but in her department, people pretended to be such persons (or actually are such persons and are hiding out there?). This much I know is true: Many people will not give money to the Conservative party (which currently forms a minority government in Canada) until both she and the legislation that enables her are gone with the wind.

Government needs principle as much as it needs power.

Meanwhile, hat tip, again, to the excellent Franklin Carter of the Book and Periodical Council of Canada:

More stupid kvetching around To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel about racism in the southern United States that contains some offensive terms (as if you could write a novel about racism that did not contain any offensive terms). A sociology paper, maybe. Not a novel.

Since October 5, when the story broke, several journalists have filed news stories about the latest parent challenge to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in public schools in Toronto.

For the Toronto Star, Kristin Rushowy reports; For the National Post, Natalie Alcoba reports; For the Toronto Sun, Don Peat reports here and here.

Just in: More context here. Why don't parents just tell their kids to get good marks and fight later?

Run out and buy the book, okay, before it ends up on a censor's index of non-government-approved ideas, even though it is a heartfelt plea for racial equality.

Just because some parent can't bear accurate dialogue or cultural context? Or maybe thinks his kid is too stupid to understand? Hey, we do provide remedial education here. We have a budget for that. You don't even need to tell the teacher. Chances are, the teacher's assessment is more accurate.

Here Carter tells me that the Toronto School Board is NOT going to kill a Mockingbird after all. Buy the book anyway.

With respect to racism, a friend asks me to remember Flannery O'Connor, and I do so now.

Carter also covered the recent appearance of Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in the House of Commons on the scandals associated with infamous Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Yes, yes, the scandals surround Canadian government's house Nazis and all that. Golly, the safest place you could be in Canada if you really were a Nazi would be the Canadian Human Rights Commission, where you could even get a salary and benefits. All you need do is say you didn't really mean it, but heck, that would be just as wise on the street in my own neighbourhood (though we can't offer a salary or benefits. Maybe a paramedic, though.).

CBC News reports; Janice Tibbetts for the National Post reports. Videos from radio host Rob Breakenridge ( Calgary, CHQR) provides videos of Steyn's and Levant's opening statements to the committee and a podcast of an interview with Steyn. Comments from Andrew Potter for the Ottawa Citizen and John Geddes for Macleans.

Here are links to Steyn's and Levant's testimonies.

Wait, there's more:

Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard recently visited Canada and talked about his most famous cartoon (the turban with the ignited bomb), the importance of free expression, and the threat he faces from Muslim fanatics. In the National Post, Adrian Humphreys reports.

So far as I can see, lots of folk these days are wearing turbans with ignited bombs. Too bad the bombs so often go off in their own homes, harming or killing their families and friends.

By the way, speaking of real issues, here is one: An American journalist wrote to me wondering where constitutional rights had got to in Canada. He is being sued by McMaster University for his revelation that about 80 kg of nuclear material is missing.

I am glad the CN Tower isn't missing yet. I understand that it is on the behead list and I have a great view of it from Avenue Road.

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