On Wednesday night I caught a segment on O'Reilly's show where he interviewed a reporter from Canada about Ann Coulter's attempt to give a talk at the University of Ottawa. It was indeed interesting to listen to the differences between the concept of "freedom" -- specifically freedom of speech -- in Canada and the US. Us Yanks have to keep in mind that to our north (and over in Europe, too) there is no First Amendment-like right to free expression.
It should be stupefying to us Yanks that the provost of the University of Ottawa had threatened Ann Coulter with prosecution before she had even entered the country. As Coulter said of her trip:
This has never, ever, ever happened before — even at the stupidest American university... Since I've arrived in Canada, I've been denounced on the floor of Parliament — which, by the way, is on my bucket list — my posters have been banned, I've been accused of committing a crime in a speech that I have not yet given, I was banned by the student council. So welcome to Canada!
François Houle, the idiot aforementioned provost, had written a letter to Coulter about "educating" herself on Canada's domestic laws (regarding speech). Dean Steacy, lead investigator of the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission, said he didn't give the [American] First Amendment "any value." Canadian feminist Susan Cole said that Canadians don't have "the religion of free speech" that Americans have. So, it shouldn't be a suprise that Guy Earle, a Canadian comedian, was charged with "homophobia" by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal after he reacted to two hecklers with some "lesbian jokes."
Across the pond, remember those Mohammed cartoons? (I know, who could forget?) Why was that even an issue in Europe? Well, like the Canucks, the Euros don't have the equivalent of our First Amendment:
When it comes to hate crime and defamation laws, there is no homogenous approach in Europe. Britain, for example, has long had a more tolerant approach to free speech than countries like Germany, France, and Austria, where Holocaust denial is a crime. "It's a mixed bag, a patchwork of practices and experiences in Europe," says Agnes Callamard, director of Article 19, a global freedom-of- expression campaign group. "It's very difficult to pretend there is a common position on hate speech."
But Europe is generally warier of free speech than is the US, with its First Amendment. Laws against inciting hatred and violence have sprung up in countries such as France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, resulting in criminal cases, convictions, and, in the case of foreigners, expulsions. (Source.)
Britain refused to allow Geert Wilders of the Dutch Parliament to show his film "Fitna," about the Islamization of Europe and terrorist-supporting aspects of the Koran. Holland itself ordered his criminal prosecution. In Austria, Susanne Winter was similarly prosecuted for the "crime" of saying “in today’s system” the Prophet Muhammad would be considered a “child molester.” And who can forget Oriana Fallaci in Italy, taken to court for daring to write that Islam “brings hate instead of love and slavery instead of freedom.” And further,
in France, novelist Michel Houellebecq was taken to court for calling Islam “the stupidest religion.” He was acquitted in October 2002. More recently, animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot was convicted in June 2008 by a Paris court for “inciting racial hatred” for demanding that Muslims anaesthetize animals before slaughtering them.
Europe and Canada have myriad laws that limit speech and expression. And yet, it was these very same countries that were loudest in their complaints against the Bush administration's efforts in the War on Terror, clamoring for going beyond the actual text of things like the Geneva Conventions in their desire to "show" how "civilized" and "dedicated to the rule of law" they were. (Even our own Supreme Court majority, slim though it may have been, agreed with some of this.)
Now think about this: The Canadians and Euros go to lengths to criminalize voiced opinions -- opinions that some may find offensive -- yet at the same time demand that detained terrorists be given rights and privileges beyond that which have already been agreed to. The Yanks, on the other hand, cherish their First Amendment and most would find abhorrent the notion of jailing someone who might say something like "Islam sucks." And despite the constant bluster from the Left and the MSM, the Bush administration's efforts against terrorism since Sept. 2001, controversial thought they may have been, did attempt to utilize every available legal basis.
Which sounds more "free" to you? Which is truer to the Western tradition?
Also think about how the West, excepting the US (though maybe not currently as Obama seems to be "Euro-izing" our approach), largely treats Israel. It doesn't matter that the Jewish state itself was founded -- legally -- by that entity so beloved by the Euros, the United Nations. It doesn't matter that Israel's neighbors have attacked it three "major" times, with many more "minor" instances. It doesn't matter that Israel's attackers have one thing in mind -- total annihilation. No, what matters to the "progressive" Euros and Canadians is that Israel must give back land it rightly acquired in a defensive war. Not to mention that Israel is somehow to blame for the plight of the Palestinians even though it was Egypt and Jordan that promptly gobbled up the land set aside for the Palestinians in the original UN Partition Plan.
Aside from the aforementioned freedom aspect (or lack thereof), there is this bordering-on-the ridiculous predilection of "progressives" to "root for the underdog" no matter the basis in reality. Or morality, for that matter.
For "progressives" the absolute certainty of the rightness of their beliefs and actions overrides all.
Recently, related here back at home, our "progressive" politicians and their more-than-willing accomplices in the mainstream media are aghast -- AGHAST! -- at the incidents of violence against some members of Congress that voted in favor of the ObamaCare bill. Time's Alex Altman wrote that Republicans "implicitly validate the anger spurring these incidents" ... because they've spoken out against ObamaCare. CNN's Rick Sanchez asked on his Twitter account "are our fundamentalist zealots different than the ones we fight in afghan and iraq?" The day before he blamed conservatve talk radio for the violence against Congressfolk who voted for the health care bill. The list goes on and on and on.
But the double standard the MSM applies is beyond blatant.
ABC's "Good Morning America" highlighted recent threats against Rep. Bart Stupak, but didn't seem to care when before his pro-ObamaCare vote he received threats from the other side. CNN (aside from Rick Sanchez) has been vigorously covering the recent lawmaker threats; however, "over three years earlier helped promote a controversial 2006 movie which forwarded an imaginary assassination attempt against then-President George W. Bush." MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz both have "joked" (ha ha) about hypothetical violence against conservatives -- Matthews about Rush Limbaugh ("at some point somebody's going to jam a CO2 pellet into [Rush Limbaugh's] head and he's going to explode like a giant blimp"), and Schultz once posited that he'd like to urinate on [conservative talker/blogger] Hugh Hewitt, not to mention desiring the death of Dick Cheney. The Washington Post's Courtland Milloy wrote that he'd like to "knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of [the] Cro-Magnon heads" of ObamaCare protesters. The New York Times' Paul Krugman ridiculously denounces as "far beyond politics as usual" Sarah Palin using the term "target" for Democratic politicians whom the GOP ought to seek to challenge in November (get it? "Target" means someone might actually target them in, say, a gun scope!), yet he wrote this back when CT Senator Joe Lieberman defected from his old party: "A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy.” And hey -- don't have an actual story about conservative violence against pro-ObamaCare politicians? Just make one up!
There are many, many more such stories at the always-vigilant Newsbusters site.
Again, is this what the West wants? Is this the Western tradition? Where actual hardcore terrorists are given the same rights as common, law-abiding citizens -- yet your speech can get you jail time because it may offend some government bureaucrat's sense of what is "right?" This is how the American mainstream media is emulating the Euros/Canadians: They attempt to relate, or at the worse equate, legitimate political speech to actual violence ... and they do it selectively -- as in only against conservatives/Republicans.
Y'know, I thought "progressives" would have tried to determine the "root causes" behind the anger of the Tea Partiers and others upset with the passage of ObamaCare. Isn't that what they do with groups like al Qaeda and other such terrorists? "Why do they do what they do?" "progressives" ask. "Why are they angry?" And isn't usually something WE have done to "provoke" their hatred and/or terrorism? "The US is too beholden to Israel." "It's the US's and Israel's fault because of what they 'do' to the Palestinians." "The US shouldn't be in Islamic countries" (even if they've, y'know, invited us). Etc. You see again the preposterous moral ineptitude these "progressives" demonstrate. Heinous, barbarous killers' actions have to be understood in the context of how the West "caused" them; however, sending a harmless white powder to a representative's office is just "pure political hatred" that's fostered by disgruntled minority party politicians, and which has to be stamped out at any cost. There's no "understanding" the motives of these folks (continual, massive expansion of the federal government, loss of freedoms) nor would there be any "understanding" if the action was merely the prank of a jokester.