Jonah Goldberg

And what about free speech? Dean Steacy, an investigator for Canada's national commission, explained it nicely: "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value." He gets points for honesty.

If Maclean's (and Steyn) lose, it could face unspecified fines. Even more troubling, according to Canadian law and tribunal precedents, Maclean's could be ordered to publish something it doesn't want to publish, and be barred in perpetuity from publishing anything the human rights commission deems "Islamophobic."

It might be easy for some to dismiss all of this. After all, we're talking about Canada.

But this is just the latest in a long parade of assaults on free speech, including the aftermath of the Danish Muhammad cartoons and the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Sometimes it seems like a lot of people see free speech as "an American concept," thus in need of rethinking.

As the Atlantic's Ross Douthat observed, the New York Times' only story on the case suggested "that the 1st Amendment is a peculiar and quite possibly outdated feature of the American political system, along the lines of, say, the electoral college or the District of Columbia's lack of congressional representation." By implication, it also lumped Steyn in with rabid Nazis and Holocaust deniers.

Without outlining what Steyn wrote, the Times launched into a discussion of how "hate speech" is treated in the U.S. and elsewhere. Quoth the Times: "Canada, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France."

Left out of this fascinating tour of speech-control laws around the globe: Mark Steyn is no Nazi, and whatever one makes of his arguments, it is disgusting to insinuate otherwise. If Steyn were in the crosshairs for defending abortion rights, I suspect the New York Times would be more careful about leaping to Nazi comparisons.

But it seems that throughout the West, "leaders" are willing to accommodate those who would stifle, intimidate or, ultimately, ban free speech, all in the name of "tolerance." You could read all about it in Steyn's book. It's not banned -- yet.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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