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Thursday, January 28, 2010

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

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