Robert Knight

Usually, when a journalist is censored in a Western nation, American news organizations respond with collective outrage.

But as a major attack on press freedom unfolds in Canada, America’s mainstream media are silent. Neither the TV networks nor the major newspapers have reported on hearings last week at what amounts to a Stalinesque show trial in Vancouver, British Columbia.  

Mark Steyn, a Canadian journalist who now lives in New Hampshire and whose column appears in National Review magazine as well as several U.S. and Canadian newspapers, is facing charges before British Columbia’s Human Rights Tribunal.

His crime? Spreading “hatred.”

The evidence? A 5,000-word excerpt of Steyn’s book America Alone that was carried as an article, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” in October 2006 by the Canadian magazine Maclean’s, which is also a defendant. The hearings, which were held June 2-6, amount to a star chamber with the rules of evidence constantly changing according to the whims of the three commissioners. A verdict is expected in September.

Steyn and the magazine are also expected to be charged with a hate crime by the national  kangaroo court, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and another such tribunal in Ontario. Not a single defendant has ever prevailed before the national board in its 31 years of existence. To be accused is to be guilty, Soviet style.

The Canadian press has been all over this story, but it has not registered a blip in the United States, except for an AP brief, an article in The Washington Times and on conservative Internet sites and talk radio.

A highlighted piece of the case was a comment from an imam, Mullah Krekar, that Steyn drew from an interview in a Norwegian newspaper:

‘“We’re the ones who will change you,’ the cleric said. ‘Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU [European Union] is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children. …Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours.’”

British Columbia’s hate crimes law requires only a “reasonable determination that the excerpt did express hatred and contempt toward Muslims, and likely caused it to spread,” according to the National Post.  As evidence, complainants cited postings from two California-based Websites, FreeRepublic and Catholic Answers.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.