Rich Lowry

In British Columbia, the Steyn hearing proceeded with all the marsupial ungainliness of a kangaroo court. No one knew what the rules of evidence were. Hilariously, one of the chief complaints against Steyn was that he quoted a Muslim imam in Norway bragging that in Europe "the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes." If that insect simile is out-of-bounds, the commission should swoop down on Norway and execute an extraordinary rendition of the imam.

The hearing has appropriately exposed the commissions to ridicule -- and maybe some hatred and contempt (if that's allowed). There are calls to strip them of their power to regulate the media. This would limit the damage, even as free speech is endangered elsewhere. In Europe, saying the wrong thing about gays or Muslims is routinely sanctioned by the state. In France, the bombshell-turned- animal-rights-activist Brigitte Bardot just collected her fifth fine, for complaining about how Muslims kill sheep.

Free speech is a very clean, neutral concept -- "Congress shall make no law ..." Once a government begins policing offensiveness, things get much murkier. It has to decide which groups are protected and which aren't -- the "who/whom" of Lenin's power relations. So, even though there are plenty of fire-breathing imams in Canada, no one ever pesters them about their hatefulness.

It is the genius of Muslim grievance groups to leverage Western anti-discrimination laws to their advantage. In his Maclean's essay, Steyn noted how in much of the West, "the early 21st century's principal political dynamic" is whether something offends Muslims. Indeed -- but in Canada, truth is no defense.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Rich Lowry's column. Sign up today and receive daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.