But we were getting along so well!
Geez, these days I don't seem able to step out of the house without committing a hate crime
MARK STEYN | June 4, 2008 |
The charge levelled against Maclean's by the Canadian Islamic Congress is that, in publishing an excerpt from my book, this magazine exposed Muslims to "hatred and contempt." Alas, at the first day of the Great Maclean's Show Trial at the British Columbia "Human Rights" Tribunal, the well of my book excerpt's "hatred and contempt" pretty well ran dry in the first hour. So Faisal Joseph, counsel for the plaintiff Mohamed Elmasry, was forced to bus in a huge pile of miscellaneous generic "hatred and contempt" from all kinds of other sources. And even then much of it seemed less like "hatred and contempt" than "mild offhandedness and the occasional droll titter." A lot of it was from me, of course. Mr. Joseph started with my article, but quickly moved on to my book, my columns, my sitcom review, my lame jokes, and no doubt (by the time you read this) my casual asides while muttering to myself on top of Mount Logan during a windstorm. At the end of the first day, m'learned friend was complaining that I had been rude to the three Osgoode Hall law students who've been fronting for the strangely shy and retiring Dr. Elmasry these last six months. Not rude to them in the article in this space that triggered the complaint. No, apparently I was rude to them at TVOntario last month. Not rude to them on-air (although it was a somewhat raucous show), but rude to them off-camera. Geez, these days I don't seem to be able to step out of the house without committing a hate crime.
Just for the record (and before it becomes chiselled in the granite of British Columbia "human rights" jurisprudence), I wasn't aware I was being rude to my accusers after the TVOntario show. The very last words on air were me saying, "You wanna go to dinner?", and Khurrum Awan yelling back "No!" But, as the host Steve Paikin and his producers reported at some length on their website, Khurrum and I and the two gals stuck around for an hour of relatively civil conversation. In fact, I got the impression one of the ladies was growing rather fond of me, which, to be honest, was the main reason I hung about. But, now I come to think of it, that was the way it went at high school. You figure you're doing great and then next morning you overhear her telling her best friend by the lockers that she thought you were a dweeby limpet with halitosis. Unfortunately, in today's fractious legal environment, if Khurrum Awan thinks you're a dweeby limpet with halitosis who can't dance and has dried sweat rings under his cheesecloth shirt, he can add it to the long list of actionable "human rights" grievances to be laid before multiple tribunals and commissions.
Even so, after six months of assurances from Canadian "human rights" commissars that if we don't police hate-mongers like Steyn a new Holocaust will be upon us, I think witnesses were expecting a bit more red meat than the assertion that I can be a bit boorish over the green-room Perrier. As legal scholars who'd attended the "trial" under the misapprehension that it bore some dim resemblance to conventional legal proceedings observed, it was hard to see what the post-show chit-chat after a television broadcast in 2008 had to do with a 2006 Maclean's cover story, which is, after all, supposed to be the hate crime under investigation. But it's even harder to see what any of this has to do with British Columbia or the "British Columbia Muslim community," on whose behalf this "human rights" suit is being brought. TVOntario is, despite its deceptive name, a TV network in Ontario. It is not broadcast in British Columbia. Khurrum Awan, the Osgoode Hall law student on the witness stand, is an alumnus of the Osgoode Hall in Toronto, not some entirely different Osgoode Hall at Fort Nelson. He lives in Mississauga, which is a suburb of Buckinghorse River. Whoops, my mistake. I mean Toronto. He works in Ontario, as an employee of the very barrister examining him in that Vancouver courtroom, fellow Ontario resident Faisal Joseph. Indeed, it is unclear whether Mr. Awan had ever set foot in British Columbia until he and Mr. Joseph and the rest of their vast Ontario delegation flew out to the coast to testify to the pain and suffering of the British Columbia Muslim community they claim to represent. When the Ontarian Mr. Awan and his fellow Ontarians agreed to appear on an Ontario TV show, there were no members of the British Columbia Muslim community present, either in the studio, the makeup room or the men's toilet (I cannot vouch for the ladies'). As they'd say in Hollywood, no members of the British Columbia Muslim community were harmed in the making of this program.