Kangaroo court is now in session
At the Canadian Human Rights Commission, it all comes down to double-sided faxes
MARK STEYN | March 26, 2008 |
"If anything I said above upsets you, please lodge a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission," Kevin Baker advised his readers the other day. "You pay nothing. Filing is risk-free." The National Post columnist had penned a gloriously insensitive opening paragraph suggesting that Ontario's polygamous welfare deadbeats collecting individual dole handouts for each of their wives might like to corral their better halves (better eighths?) into a Muslim curling team. Mr. Baker proposed this because he's decided he wants a slice of the human rights action, such as yours truly and Maclean's have been enjoying these last three or four months. "I want to be a free-speech martyr, too. Give me some of that CHRC hate-speech love." The big bucks are in getting your ass sued off for "flagrant Islamophobia."
As Mr. Baker sees it, before I became the metaphorical Nelson Mandela metaphorically tasered into metaphorical submission by the metaphorical Gestapo of the sadly non-metaphorical Canadian Human Rights Commission, I was an amusing fellow prancing gaily through the flotsam and jetsam of the culture, twittering merrily on such weighty topics as Princess Margaret, Liza Minnelli and John Ralston Saul's pre-viceregal fondness for the nude beaches of the CÃ´te d'Azur. Ah, those were the days. As they say in Casablanca, I remember it as if it were yesterday. Liza wore black, John Ralston Saul wore, er, nothing. But I've put that flesh-coloured see-through thong away. When the CHRC thought police march out, I'll wear it again, even if he won't.
While the career benefits of free-speech martyrdom are perhaps not quite as lucrative as Kevin Baker assumes, I do take a quiet satisfaction in knowing that, publicity-wise, the last three months have been the worst in the entire existence of the "human rights" commissions. When news of the lawsuit against Maclean's broke in early December, those who spoke up for the right of privately owned magazines to determine their own content were what one might call (Casablanca again) the usual suspects: George Jonas, Barbara Amiel, David Warren. No disrespect to my eminent comrades, but I had the vague feeling we might end up holding the big capacity-only free-speech rally in my Honda Civic. For a while, there was more interest abroad than at home, with the New York Post, the Australian, The Economist and the BBC taking up the story, while the Toronto Star et al. stayed silent. But then Liberal MP Keith Martin embraced the cause and proposed abolishing the grotesquely mismanaged Section 13 of the Human Rights Code, and the Canadian Association of Journalists and PEN Canada (i.e., all the CanCon lefties, and headed by nude playboy John Ralston Saul to boot) decided to sign on. The Globe And Mail eventually came out against the speech police, and so did CBC colossi Rex Murphy and Rick Mercer, and even Noam Chomsky. And by the time the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was obliged (after a court motion filed by Maclean's) to open its doors to the press and public, the presiding judge Athanios Hajdis uttered words rarely heard in the Canadian "human rights" biz: "Nice to see you all," he offered the crowd. "More of an interest than there was before."
I'll say. Meanwhile, you can't but notice how few friends the "human rights" racket has. Almost everyone who speaks up for a system that drags Canada's biggest newsweekly into court for thought crimes turns out to be either a current or former beneficiary of the aforesaid system. Take, for example, our own letters page the other week. Bill Baergen of Stettler, Alta., wrote:
"I take exception to Mark Steyn's unfounded allegation that the human rights racket is a disgrace. I am proud to say I was one of seven commissioners on the Alberta Human Rights Commission from 1995 to 2006 and never felt I was part of a racket, much less a disgraceful one. Nor do I accept the kangaroo court epithet thrown around by the erudite generalization-manufacturer, Steyn.
"First, why does he place 'human rights' in quotation marks? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, forged by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 uses the phrase, so it needn't be treated as something foreign to most people."
Well, since you ask, I put "human rights" in scare quotes when I refer to, say, the Alberta "Human Rights" Commission because the "human rights" commissions' notion of "human rights" has nothing to do with real human rights such as those adumbrated in the UN declaration. Indeed, Canada's scare-quote "human rights" — the "human right" to a labiaplasty or to smoke marijuana in another guy's doorway or to not be called a "loser" in the hair salon — explicitly trample over several of the real human rights in the Universal Declaration, notably the right to the presumption of innocence. That's why there's a 100 per cent conviction rate for federal Section 13 cases. So Bill Baergen's pals are in sustained systemic breach of the UN declaration.