Freedom of the press is on trial in Canada.
The trial is before a court with the Orwellian title of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. The accused are Maclean's magazine and author Mark Steyn. The crime: In mocking and biting tones, they wrote that Islam threatens Western values.
Had Steyn written that, given the Crusades, colonial atrocities in Africa and the slave trade, Christianity had been on balance a curse, he would not be in the dock. In the United States, these charges would have been tossed out by any federal judge, who would have admonished the plaintiffs that, here in America, we have a First Amendment.
The United States, however, is an isolated exception, as Western nations seek to impose wider restrictions on what has come to be called "hate speech."
Questioning the Holocaust is a crime in Canada and Europe, as British historian David Irving discovered when he was sentenced to prison in Austria. To say the Armenian massacres of 1915-1924 were an attempt at genocide is a crime in Turkey.
In France, animal rights champion Brigitte Bardot has been fined $23,000 for provoking discrimination and racial hatred by denouncing Muslims who slaughtered a sheep in a religious ceremony. Bardot had been punished five previous times for her statements.
Censorship is making a comeback. Outside the United States, it is considered an acceptable price to pay for the new diversity Western Man seems now to value more than the old liberty.
In 1990, writes Adam Liptak of The New York Times, Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court Brian Dickson wrote, in upholding the conviction of one James Keegstra for anti-Semitic slurs:
"(T)he international commitment to eradicate hate propaganda and, most importantly, the special role given equality and multiculturalism in the Canadian Constitution necessitate a departure from the view ... that the suppression of hate propaganda is incompatible with the guarantee of free expression."
There you have it. Canada's commitment to multiculturalism and the equality of all religions, races and cultures requires the silencing of those who do not believe all races, creeds and cultures are equal.
The dogmas of the Diverse Society dictate that the cherished rights of the Free Society be sacrificed on the altar of social tranquility.
What has caused this reversal of the advance of freedom?
Western Man has come to believe there are more important values than freedom, if men use their freedom in ways our new Lords Temporal find unacceptable.
Nor is this anything new. Censorship has always had powerful patrons and not always benighted backers.