Free to speak

Human rights commissions are undermining the fundamental Charter rights of all Canadians. Protest while you still can.

FROM THE EDITORS OF MACLEANS

On Oct. 23, 2006, Maclean’s ran a cover story by Mark Steyn, entitled “Why the Future Belongs to Islam.” The piece, excerpted from Steyn’s acclaimed book, America Alone, argued that Western legal and political traditions are being eroded by radical elements in the Islamic community who want our societies to more closely reflect Muslim religious values.

We published that story because we felt it was a compelling perspective on significant world events, from one of Canada’s most interesting and celebrated journalists. Besides Maclean’s, Steyn’s work has appeared regularly in the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Telegraph, and The Atlantic monthly, to name just a few. His book was an international best-seller, and its author remains a highly sought public speaker all over the world.

Not surprisingly, the article generated enormous reaction from our readers. In the weeks following publication, we printed 27 letters to the editor, reflecting a broad range of opinion on the merits of Steyn’s thesis. This is more letters than we’ve published on any other subject in recent years, and several of those we did publish were part of a campaign run by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington and its affiliate in Ottawa. But six months after the story appeared, and long after we believed the debate had subsided, we heard from a group of law students angry about the article, and demanding a meeting. Normally we wouldn’t meet with aggrieved readers regarding a six-month-old story. But because it involved sensitive issues, we agreed to sit down with them and to discuss their concerns.

The students complained that the story and the cover image we used, presented a prejudicial and sinister image of the Muslim community and stoked unreasonable fears of a Muslim conspiracy to take over the world. To bolster their complaints they selected a handful of other articles from the magazine that they felt presented an unfair and negative portrayal of Muslim people.

We answered that Steyn’s article was an interesting and well-researched essay expressing the opinion of the author. We pointed out that nowhere does it suggest there is a plot for global domination involving the entire Muslim community (in fact, he distinguishes between various factions in the Muslim world, moderate and radical). Furthermore, we had already printed many letters dealing with precisely the same counter-arguments the students were raising. We demonstrated that our magazine is staunchly supportive of peace-loving, law-abiding Islamic-Canadians. Indeed, we have taken several editorial positions explicitly in support of the Muslim community, including the right of Muslim women to wear whatever religious garments they choose, and the merits of public funding for Muslim religious schools. Finally, we explained that Maclean’s is dedicated to asking provocative questions and fostering debate on important public issues.

This did not satisfy the students. They demanded the right to respond with an article of equivalent length, by a writer of their choosing and with a cover of their own design. The editors of this magazine would have no opportunity to edit the article except for spelling and punctuation. According to their terms, they would be free to write anything they wanted, however inaccurate or unreasonable or offensive or libelous or criminal or otherwise unsuited for our publication.

They also wanted a substantial sum of money donated to a charity of their choice. If we refused any of their terms, they said they planned to bring a human rights complaint against us. They said they were also contemplating a criminal action against us.

We told them that we couldn’t possibly meet their demands. No publication could. It would violate an editor’s responsibilities to his publication, his readers, and his profession. We told them we would rather go out of business than to give over complete control of space in the magazine to anyone on such terms. We stand by that decision. Faced with their ultimatum, we asked if there was anything else we could do to satisfy them. They said “no” and smiled.

Since that meeting, the students have been communicating an inaccurate version of what transpired. For example, it’s not true, as they claim, that we said we would rather go out of business than allow them right of response; we said we’d rather go out of business than allow them to respond entirely on their terms. They claim now that they would have settled for a reasonable right of response; we asked if they were firm in their position, and they said “yes.” We were prepared to give them an opportunity to have their say, but they gave us no opening for reasonable conciliation. Several weeks later, we learned they had complained to federal human rights authorities, and to similar commissions in British Columbia and Ontario.
CONTINUE

April 20, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

2 Comments / 2 Comments

  1. Traitors and sell-outs to the enemy are members of these human rights committees.

    We demonstrated that our magazine is staunchly supportive of peace-loving, law-abiding Islamic-Canadians. Indeed, we have taken several editorial positions explicitly in support of the Muslim community, including the right of Muslim women to wear whatever religious garments they choose, and the merits of public funding for Muslim religious schools.

    Even this publication is given to dhimmitude. There should be no public funding of muslim schools.

  2. MacLeans with its following words undermines its own credibility in an otherwise well reasoned defence and attack on Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, Barbara Hall, chief commissioner for The Ontario Human Rights Commission and against our Federal and Provincial Human Rights Commissions generally for the damage it does:

    “six months after the story appeared, and long after we believed the debate had subsided, we heard from a group of law students angry about the article, and demanding a meeting. Normally we wouldn’t meet with aggrieved readers regarding a six-month-old story. But because it involved sensitive issues, we agreed to sit down with them and to discuss their concerns.”

    Macleans by these words reveals its sensitivity to the insensitivity of many Muslims to any comments that are or which they perceive as being critical, not just of individual Muslims, but Muslims generally.

    In this case the article that generated so much anger amongst the Muslim community against MacLeans, was Maclean’s publication of an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s book, America Alone. What was revealed when these Muslim law students belatedly took issue with Macleans, was that they were specifically offended by Steyn’s words that turned out not to be his, but rather the quoted words of a Muslim radical that Steyn quoted.

    By treating the issues arising from the publication of the extract from Steyn’s book as being sensitive, Macleans reveals its own dhimmi attitude to accord Muslim sensitivities a level of respect and regard that they do not deserve and which they do not accord to any other person or group in Canada.

    Macleans submissive sensitivity and tolerance for the intolerant Muslim law students can be found in MacLean’s recitation of the facts as to what was said during their meeting with those Muslim law students.

    While self righteously reporting that they refused the unreasonable demands of the Muslim law students, Macleans reveals that they were still ready, willing and able to try to appease these unreasonably aggrieved, unduly sensitive and intolerant Muslim law students when they report:

    Faced with their ultimatum, we asked if there was anything else we could do to satisfy them.

    Finally MacLeans in yet a further act of submissive sensitivity to the insensitive, intolerant and demanding Muslim law students, MacLeans characterizes the Muslim law students’ version of what transpired and was said at their meeting with MacLeans to put forward their demands as follows:

    Since that meeting, the students have been communicating an inaccurate version of what transpired.

    MacLeans, instead of resorting to euphemisms, ought to have stated the truth, plain and simple that these Muslim law student’s are outright lying about what transpired at their meeting with MacLeans.

    MacLeans ought to have refused to meet with these Muslim law students in the first place.

    In failing to do that, MacLeans should have booted these Muslim law students out the door when they unveiled their outrageous demands.

    In failing to do that, MacLeans ought to have honestly characterized these Muslim law students for what they are and that includes calling them liars for what they claim transpired in the meeting with MacLeans.

    By these failures, MacLeans reveals that when it comes to dealing with issues involving Muslims and Islam, MacLeans has become dhimmified by bending over backwards to be sensitive to, tolerate and appease those Muslims in the Muslim community who are insensitive and intolerant to our own Western cultural norms including in particular, our cherished Western freedom of speech.