It’s been an odd experience working on my story that appears in this week’s print edition of Maclean’s. Some of the Canadians I have talked to about his incredibly important subject — freedom of expression — seem to lose their love of freedom and their s**t their cool when confronted by two words: Ezra. Levant. I spoke to one intellectual luminary whose ability to make a rational argument not to mention his sense of decorum suddenly deserted him and the best he could muster at the mention of Levant was to compare him to a walking piece of male anatomy. Fine. I get it. A lot of people don’t like Levant and a lot of people disagree with him and a lot of people are offended that he published the Muhammed cartoons in his magazine. How can I put this simply? With apologies to the band: This.is.Bigger.Than.Ezra.
So much bigger.
When you read the story — and it’s long and complicated — please note the comments of Louise Arbour, as well as those of the UN rapporteur on free speech. This is not a right wing or left wing issue.
In a nutshell:
“…Pakistan and the other nations that have banded together in the Organization of the Islamic Conference have been leading a remarkably successful campaign through the United Nations to enshrine in international law prohibitions against “defamation of religions,” particularly Islam. Their aim is to empower governments around the world to punish anyone who commits the “heinous act” of defaming Islam. Critics say it is an attempt to globalize laws against blasphemy that exist in some Muslim countries — and that the movement has already succeeded in suppressing open discussion in international forums of issues such as female genital mutilation, honour killings and gay rights. …”
Maclean’s: Stifling Free Speech Globally