Deborah Gyapong: February 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Harper's publishes extract of CIC tract

Well, you know how Harper's magazine often republishes without comment interesting and odd tidbits from around the Anglosphere.

It published part of the Canadian Islamic Congress' case study against Maclean's Magazine and Mark Steyn in the latest issue.

That has some jerks crowing that Harper's is quoting Mark Steyn as an Islamophobe.

No Bozos, it is quoting a document full of fabrications, missing quotation marks and misconstrued, out-of -context remarks.

Harper's ironic quotation marks in the top paragraph should have tipped them off to what the editors of the magazine actually think of this screed. Some readers though are obviously too dumb to get the irony.

The intent of the CIC document is to shut down freedom of speech by abiding by the old adage of giving a dog a bad name to hang it. Harper's has lifted it up to the light of day for intelligent readers who know how to read punctuation.

Some do "get it," but choose to misconstrue as a deliberate tactic.

Their dishonesty is breathtaking.


Rob Breakenridge slices and dices the misconstrued bogus "quotes" here.

Did Mark Steyn say that? Let's review what he actually wrote (emphasis added):

"We're the ones who will change you," the Norwegian imam Mullah Krekar told the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet in 2006. "Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children." As he summed it up: "Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours."


Beyond that, though, what about the "sheep-shaggers" remark? Again, let's see what he wrote (emphasis added):

Ayatollah Khomeini's "Blue Book" and its helpful advice on romantic matters: "If a man marries a minor who has reached the age of nine and if during the defloration he immediately breaks the hymen, he cannot enjoy her any longer." I'll say. I know it always ruins my evening. Also: "A man who has had sexual relations with an animal, such as a sheep, may not eat its meat. He would commit sin."

(...) enjoy the don't-eat-your-sexual-partner stuff as much as the next infidel, but the challenge presented by Islam is not that the cities of the Western world will be filling up with sheep-shaggers. If I had to choose, I'd rather Mohammed Atta was downriver in Egypt hitting on the livestock than flying through the windows of Manhattan skyscrapers.

Jason Cherniak: ethicist

Legal expert and theologian Jason Cherniak now muses about ethics. He is against mercy killing, but ....

However, I also believe that a person has a right to go to a man like Jack Kevorkian and ask to be killed because he or she does not want to go through a terminal disease. I would personally never make that choice and intend to cling to life as long as I am capable of doing so, but I have no right to force others to do the same. I don't think it is reasonable to hold people like Mr. Kevorkian responsible for the personal decisions of his clients.

So I'm still left undecided about Robert Latimer. Is he a murderous child killer, or is he a compassionate euthanizer? In the former case, he deserves to be punished. In the latter case, he deserves forgiveness. Whatever the answer might be, I hope the courts have made the right decision in his individual case. Going forward, I'm sure that they will continue to apply general legal principles in a fair and impartial manner.

At least the great legal minds and the jury of Latimer's peers determined rightly that he was a child killer. So did the first parole board hearing.

Now Robert Latimer is free to come to Ottawa to campaign for his cause. He thinks he did the right thing and he wants public recognition of that, perhaps in the form of clemency.

As Michael Coren said the other day, Canada is much less safe for disabled people because of the narrative that has grown up around "hero" Robert Latimer and his daughter Tracey, who traveled to school on the bus with her siblings the Friday before she was killed, who was not the human vegetable in intractable pain oft portrayed by the media.

Conservatives--making the perfect the enemy of the good.

In conversation with Hugh Hewitt, Mark Steyn says:

But the fact is, though, you never get the ideal candidate. You know, conservatives are great people for making the perfect the enemy of the good. In other words, every couple of years, every couple of Novembers, we moan that this candidate isn’t pure enough and that candidate isn’t pure enough.

AH: Sure.

MS: But the fact is, you can’t build a movement that way. You can’t just be an ideological purist, and he understand that, that in a sense, you’ve got to be driving the movement with the ideas, but there have to be people running for election on the ballot who can get elected.

Chuck Cadman and the vote that lost marriage

Back in the spring of 2005, the same-sex marriage debate was raging. It had not yet become law.

Chuck Cadman's vote, in my opinion, prevented Canada from having an election over marriage.

Maybe, just maybe, if Chuck had voted with the Opposition, the majority of Canadians who wanted to keep the traditional definition of marriage, might have prevailed.

Instead of redefining marriage and eliminating father and mother from every law on the books and replacing those biological definitions with a legal construct, paving the way for polygamy and group marriage, we might have followed in France's footsteps, given the matter the in depth study it deserved, and realized that redefining marriage would hurt the rights of children to know and to be raised by their biological parents.

Chuck was dying. Had there been an election, he would have lost the insurance protection that comes with being a sitting MP.

I recall there was some question at the time whether he made the decision to vote the way he did out of concern for security for his family or out of principle. I don't know the answer to that. I would assume on balance it was probably principle because Chuck was that kind of guy.

The principle in that case was wrong. That vote lost us marriage and generations are going to pay for the grievous way the Liberals under Paul Martin shoved Bill C-250 through the House and the Senate that June and July.

It's offensive to see the Liberals in such paroxysms of judgment when at the same time they lured Belinda Stronach to cross the floor by giving her a cabinet post.

I am so tired of the focus on scandals. Where is the attention to the real issues that matter.
Like the erosion of our civil liberties? No wonder people get cynical about politics.

It's also unlikely that this highly partisan committee would do justice to the freedom of speech issue. They're too focused on Mulroney/Schreiber and now Chuck Cadman.


Hezbollah conversion story

Listen to this incredible story.

I guarantee it will make your day.

H/t Christian government

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Freedom of speech could be an election issue

Spoke to Keith Martin again yesterday. We talked about whether his Motion-446 to gut the thought crimes/anti-freedom of speech section of the Canadian Human Rights Act could become an election issue.

"It could be, if people want it to be."

Of course, it looks like an anticipated spring election is not going to happen. So that means "the people" have about six months to make this an election issue.

In the meantime, I asked Keith what can be done about his motion, seeing as his rank in the private member's lottery is in the 200s. That means there is little or no chance of M-446 ever hitting the floor of the House of Commons . . .unless.....someone who pulled a lower ranking is willing switch with him.

"Nothing prevents the government or a committee from dealing with it," he said, noting that an open, transparent review of the Canadian Human Rights Act is the intelligent thing to do.

"That could be done tomorrow."

The other alternative, he said, is that a House of Commons committee could decide to open up an investigation into this on their own.

Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe says it will be a pleasure to answer it

I asked Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe this today: "Mr. Duceppe, do you have any
concerns about Human Rights Comissions being used to shut down freedom of speech?
You heard about the complaints against Macleans magazine for Mark Steyn's article?

Gilles Duceppe: "I didn't hear, I didn't hear about that. If you come
back, I won't be here tomorrow but we could answer the question next
week. It would be a pleasure to answer it."

Mr. Duceppe, thank you! I will check back with you next week.

Apartheid fuelled Caritas executive’s passion for equality

From this week's Western Catholic Reporter, my profile of the Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight:

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight sees her election last June as a “historical moment” for the worldwide confederation of Catholic development agencies.

Not only was Knight the first woman to be elected to the high-profile Vatican-based position, but also she was the first female candidate.

In an interview in Ottawa Feb. 18, Knight said the General Assembly’s vote represented a “coming of age” for Caritas Internationalis because it reflects the importance of the key involvement of lay women, especially in Latin America, Africa and Asia in the confederation’s work.

Now living in Rome with her husband, Knight, 52, often finds herself the only woman at meetings heavily represented by cardinals and archbishops. Unfazed, the married mother of two grown children exudes quiet confidence from her more than 25 years experience in international development work.

The Master's Artist gets high profile mention

For several years now, I've been blogging with a group of mostly American Christian writers at The Master's Artist. We are a diverse group, but we are united by a desire to combine a desire for excellence in the craft of writing with a wholehearted submission to Jesus Christ.

These days the adjective Christian applied to fiction, music, movies and other visual arts, has become a pejorative label, an indication that the product is inferior, derivative, and at best mediocre. The Master's Artist is a community that is working hard to change that state of affairs, through encouraging Christian artists to strive for that excellence, working on our own craft, and through not losing sight of the one we desire to serve, Jesus.

We also hope to provide an antidote for the many writing-related websites, blogs and writing conferences that tell you how to get published, how to write query letters, how to market your book, how to create a product. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But some Christian writers are out there who are called to create works of art, work that may not fit into the product mold, and we want to encourage that.

Today The Master's Artist got a wonderful plug in Christianity Today's live blog from Gregory Wolfe, the editor of Image Journal. He writes:

The Master’s Artist
This site is an excellent example of a group blog, a true community of like-minded but highly individual writers. As they put it, they are “united by the blood of Christ and a love for language.” Topics range from the state of Christian publishing to craft issues to lyrical meditations on writing as a spiritual discipline.

I'm proud to be associated with this wonderful group of dedicated Christians who want to bring the best they have to the stories they tell.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Whoa! Friendly fire alert! Janet Epp Buckingham is one of the good guys!

I have known Janet Epp Buckingham for about 15 years. When she was the director of law and public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada up until 2006, she was on the forefront of the battle for freedom of speech, for freedom of religion and for traditional marriage. She's bright and talented and I think highly of her.

She has done some excellent work and has been engaged in the battle for far longer than most of us. So please, hold the friendly fire!

She is on the side of the angels, even though I disagree with the column she wrote for Christian Week. That column is not consistent at all with her excellent contributions to the fight, so please don't judge her based on that alone. Sure, criticize the ideas in that column, but don't jump to conclusions that it represents a body of work and don't attack her character. She's terrific, even if I disagree with her from time to time. That column is one of them.

Like Denyse O'Leary I found aspects dismaying. Given my knowledge of the great work she has done, I found it surprising.

Denyse writes:

In the “hrc” hearing that Janet Epp Buckingham thinks is just a “pain”, I’d be paying a lawyer who couldn’t really even tell me what to expect to happen - because, so far as I can tell - the “hrcs” basically make it up as they go along. Not like a usual court where your lawyer can really advise you.

Yes, it’s bad enough that I must lose my savings or my home to pay a lawyer, just to go on doing my job. The Bible would say that was an injustice, but … who, oh, cares about that?

Well, I care. And I'm sure Janet cares too, despite the casual wording of the column.

Janet could easily rattle off a litany of human rights commissions abuses of freedom of speech and conscience because she has fought against them. I think she meant to say that there can be a proper role for human rights commissions and that, within their workplace purview, they do sometimes benefit Christians. (Though I know of two Catholics who the Canadian Human Rights Commission has refused to hear concerning genuine workplace discrimination by their union).

People like Alan Borovoy, Iain Benson and other critics of human rights commission abuses have both said they don't want them dispensed with entirely. They still think the original intent of having an administrative, low-cost, mediation-oriented approach to complaints of discrimination concerning housing and jobs is a good idea. For me the jury's out on that. Seems the whole system needs an overhaul.

In Janet's reply to Denyse's post she says:

As for the concern that Denyse O’Leary has about facing a human rights complaint at any time, I am one who vigourously defends freedom of expression. We must work together to make sure that journalists do not have to face spurious complaints. The Ontario Human Rights Act was recently amended to make it even easier for people to make complaints. I was one who made a submission to the Ontario government opposing this amendment.

But where was the Christian community on this? I felt that I was the lone voice. That was the time to have a major push for reform but I certainly did not hear it.

My commentary was arguing that human rights commissions serve a useful purpose in society. While they may need reform, they still have an important function.

She's right folks. Where was everyone when she was making that submission to the Ontario government? Lots of people are concerned now that the abuses of human rights commissions have become so outrageous, but where has everyone been for the past decade when one Christian after another has faced complaints? Some of you have been on it, and good for you. Some, like Mark, were defending freedom of expression before that. But certainly PEN or the CAJ didn't come out against human rights commissions when Christian were targeted, but Janet and the EFC were doing their thing opposing them, along with other excellent groups like the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Christian Legal Fellowship, REAL Women of Canada and others.

If the complaints are suddenly dropped against Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, how many will forget about this issue? This battle could be a long one. Though Janet is not engaged directly in the fray anymore, she deserves some respect as a veteran, at the very least.

As for reaction to her article, Janet has to expect that a public commentary will be answered with public speech. In this era when even mainstream publications like Maclean's Magazine are facing human rights complaints, no wonder Denyse hit the roof. She had every right to respond the way she did. I hope we can refocus on the real enemy at hand--those illiberal forces from all side that want to take away our God-given rights.

Thanks for buying my book

Last week, when The Defilers was plummeting past the 1.4 millionth rank on I sounded the alarm and FreeMarkSteyn and Kathy Shaidle came to the rescue.

Thanks to the people who bought my book, my ranking has skyrocketed to 194,480 and was even higher for a time last week. That means perhaps about 12 people bought books, as it does not take much to pump the rankings up. I see today that people are also buying my book along with Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Facism.

How cool.

The Defilers tends to do better in Canada. It is at 73,183.

I am never going to get rich on this book. But I did put a lot of time into it--years and years---and while I don't claim that it is great literature, I think it is a story that could make a long plane ride zip by while you are transported to an engrossing fictional world. It has a Christian worldview but it doesn't sacrifice good storytelling to preach.

Go on over to FreeMarkSteyn or Kathy's site and use their Amazon buttons to buy the book, that way they can earn a little money, too. I haven't figured out how to do that yet over here.

And thanks for your support!

A sad, sad case of the brain drain to the United States

Donald DeMarco used to teach in Canada. What a loss to this country's academic establishment that he has gone to the United States.

Read this amazing essay When Tolerance Trumps Truth and weep for Canada that he no longer teaches here.

He writes:

For example, there can be no justice without truth. In the absence of truth, no verdict (verum + dicere — to tell the truth) can be delivered that separates the guilty from the innocent or justice from injustice.

It is a profoundly sad irony in the modern world that people are willing to ignore the very means that is indispensable for producing what they most ardently desire. They shun truth and expect justice to flower in a barren desert.

Marcello Pera, a non-believer, describes the present situation in the West as anything but the tranquility that arises from mutual tolerance, but as a “prison-house of insincerity and hypocrisy known as political correctness.”

People live in constant fear that any gesture or statement suggesting that one thing might be better than another is not only not tolerated, but met with scorn, derision and often severe reprisals. As Pera avers, “The adjective ‘better’ is forbidden.”

Philosophy, it should be emphasized, is not a luxury for the elite or an idol game indulged in at universities. Philosophy, because it is properly concerned with truth, goodness, beauty and other fundamental verities, is indispensable in providing the basis for civilization and all the benefits that flow from it, including unity, civility, justice, peace, art and science.

By setting tolerance above truth, tolerance degenerates into intolerance, while truth is abandoned altogether.

A system that--on the balance--works?

I had been told on good authority that B'nai Brith was beginning to question its support for human rights commissions because of the way they suppress freedom of speech and are now being used by illiberal forces. Then I saw this letter to the editor in today's National Post from its national counsel Marvin Kurz.

He writes:

The data collected annually by the League for Human Rights in its Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents shows not just ongoing prejudice, but outright harassment, vandalism and even violence. In Mr. Kay's worldview, the perpetrators would presumably be dismissed as kooks, with no connection to mainstream Canada -- except that this is the society that bred them and shelters them. And these kooks, far from being on the fringe, have a disconcerting way of cropping up in a variety of mainstream situations, such as the workplace, schools and in civil society.

It ruined my morning. Why?

Go and read the audit of anti-Semitic incidents Kurz refers to (I have highlighted some of the scariest examples):

In 2006, as in previous years, the single most documented group carrying out the reported antisemitic incidents was those who identified themselves as of Arab origin. The 68 such cases in 2006 represents a 21.4% increase over the 56 incidents in 2005. Other ethnic groups who self-identified in the year's total incidents were Hungarian (10), Russian (5), German (3), Aboriginal (3), Pakistani (2), Chinese (2) and Ukrainian (1).

3. Examples of Incidents


Toronto, ON ­ During "Israel Apartheid Week" on campus, an invited speaker alleges that Jews are killers who use their wealth to control the world.

Charlottetown, PEI - A Jewish student is taunted at school and referred to as a "dirty Jew".

Toronto, ON - Two boys parade through the Jewish community waving a vintage Nazi flag from their car.

Vancouver, BC - The campaign manager of a losing candidate blames the 'Jewish-owned media' for his defeat.

Toronto, ON - A social worker gives a Heil Hitler salute and complains to a colleague: "All Jews must die".

Montreal, QC - Several Arabic-speaking men use rocks and bricks in an attempt to force entry into a kosher restaurant via the window. They then throw a lit firecracker inside.

Toronto, ON - A community college teacher tells her students that the media is under the control of the Jews and that "the media make things up like the Holocaust".


St John, NB - The words "die Jewish scums" [sic] are found on a soccer message board.
Halifax, NS - Israeli Ambassador to Canada, Alan Baker, is heckled with antisemetic remarks while visiting Dalhousie University.

Toronto, ON - A school principal singles out and harasses the two Jewish teachers who work at his school.

Montreal, QC - A crowd of Arabic-speaking teenagers swarms two women, calls them "dirty Jews", and assaults their male friends outside a restaurant.

Ottawa, ON - Antisemitic insinuations are made repeatedly during a meeting sponsored by the federal government and attended by Canadian NGOs.

Richmond Hill, ON - A child is bullied at school and taunted about his Jewishness.

Montreal QC - A synagogue is vandalized on three separate occasions.


Montreal, QC - The owner of a kosher restaurant is threatened by a caller who warns: "You f**king Jew, we got you once, we'll get you again and this time we'll kill you."

Toronto, ON - A swastika and the message "gas the Jews" is etched inside a downtown facility.

Montreal, QC - Swastikas and the SS insignia are spray-painted on the wall of a synagogue.

Toronto, ON - The Holocaust memorial site at Earl Bales Park is vandalized and defaced with graffiti twice over a three-day period.
Regina, SK - Jewish residents are sent pamphlets telling them they will rot in hell if they do not convert to Christianity.

Toronto, ON - The entrance of an apartment is vandalized and painted with swastikas and slogans including "Die Jewz", [sic] "bitch", and "cunt".


Montreal, QC - Five teenagers throw rocks at a visibly Jewish man and shout "go back to your country" and "Allahu akbar".

Ottawa, ON - A house with a visible mezuzah is vandalized twice.

Toronto, ON - A supporter of white supremacist Tomasz Winnicki addresses a message to B'nai Brith: "Why don't you dumb-f**k kikes leave this guy alone? Besides you hook-nosers aren't even real Jews. You're just a bunch of Khazars".

Calgary, AB - Swastikas are etched onto two portable classrooms at an Orthodox Jewish day school.


Montreal, QC - Two Arabic-speaking men throw rocks at a visibly Orthodox Jewish woman as she sits in her parked car with her infant daughter.

Ottawa, ON - A prison guard taunts an inmate, calling him a "dirty Jew".

Toronto, ON - A mental health patient is harassed by a nurse and labeled a "bad Jew".

Toronto, ON - A Jewish woman living in a social housing project is harassed by her neighbors who carve swastikas onto her front door and make anti-Jewish slurs

Winnipeg, MB - Thirty-one windows are smashed at a synagogue.

Victoria, BC - A white supremacist group distributes antisemitic and anti-immigrant flyers.


Montreal, QC - A visibly Jewish teenager is riding on the bus when three teenagers throw peanuts at him and yell, "Jew, Jew, dirty Jew".

Toronto, ON - A Jew driving downtown is physically assaulted by the driver of another car, who hurls a bottle at him, spitting and shouting that a "pig-nose Jew should not be driving," and threatening that he will "kill you like my grandparents killed yours".

Winnipeg, MB - Antisemitic leaflets are handed out to the audience at a concert hall.

Toronto, ON - A hate rock festival promotes anti-Jewish and anti-Black propaganda.


Montreal, QC - A Jewish family discovers a decapitated pig floating in their backyard swimming pool.

Toronto, ON - "Death to Jews" is scrawled on a street sign in the North York area.

Montreal, QC - Three men throw rocks at a group of congregants waiting outside their synagogue, shouting "this is revenge for Lebanon".
Ottawa, ON - While walking to the Jewish community centre, a visibly Jewish man is verbally harassed with antisemitic slurs by occupants in a passing car.

Montreal, QC - At an anti-Israel rally, where open support for the terrorist group Hezbollah is expressed, a Jewish bystander is physically assaulted and a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) is publicly desecrated.

Winnipeg, MB - Nazi-themed graffiti is spray-painted over a 50-foot stretch on a public park walkway.

Montreal, QC - B'nai Brith Canada receives a message reading: "The Jews are murderers just as bad as Hitler. We should have exterminated them when we had the chance".

Vancouver, BC - Antisemitic graffiti and swastikas are found on 12 different sites across the city.

Toronto, ON - A "Call to Arms" from a white supremacist group is circulated via e-mail calling for violence against the Jewish community.


Toronto, ON - While walking in Earl Bales Park, a visibly Jewish man is approached by two men claiming to be Palestinians looking for work. They ask him if he knows any "rich Jews in the area" because they want to work for "religious idiots". The two men strike the man and knock off his kippah before walking away.

Toronto, ON - A rabbi is attacked and accused of "wanting to start wars".

London, ON - A security guard in the mall shouts at kids fighting with one another to "stop acting like Jews".

Toronto, ON - A house with a mezuzah is smeared with feces.


Montreal, QC - An Orthodox Jewish school is firebombed in the early hours of the morning.

Toronto, ON - A synagogue in North Toronto receives threats by mail.

Montreal, QC - A glass bottle is thrown at a rabbi's home, shattering his window.

Winnipeg, MB - Antisemitic graffiti is scrawled on the walls of a synagogue and windows are smashed.

Montreal, QC - Several teenagers outline a Star of David on the ground using tape, spit on it and invite other passersby to join in and do the same.


Montreal, QC - B'nai Brith's Quebec Region office receives a message stating: "You are cowards and child killers."

Ottawa, ON - A swastika and the message "F**k Jews" is spray-painted on public property.

Toronto, ON - Organizers at a major downtown venue receive death threats against a Jewish performer days before her appearance in a concert.

Montreal, QC - Several men verbally harass a young and visibly Jewish boy, taunting him and ridiculing his head-covering, shouting "why are you wearing that piece of shit on your head?" Toronto, ON - Jewish community signs and property are defaced with swastikas, pictures and the message "F**k Jews".

Brampton, ON - The message "Die Jews" is outlined in the sand of a public park.

Toronto, ON - A Holocaust survivor who uses a transportation service designed for handicapped users overhears the driver making Holocaust denial remarks.


Montreal, QC - A Jewish organization receives the following message "If you are not happy with Quebec or Canada policies [sic], you have only to return to Israel and continue to kill your neighbours".

Toronto, ON - The elevator of a downtown building is repeatedly defaced with the words "Jew Killers" and swastikas.

Winnipeg, MB - "F**king Jew" is spray-painted on a vehicle.


Toronto, ON - A hotel receives a message from a caller threatening "to kill all the Jews." The caller inquires "how many Jews do you have?"

Montreal, QC - Delegates at the Liberal Leadership convention are urged not to vote for Bob Rae because his wife is Jewish.

Toronto, ON - A menorah displayed in a Jewish neighborhood is vandalized.

Victoria, BC - Anonymous hate mail targets a member of the Jewish community who authored a letter to the editor of a local newspaper protesting the Holocaust denial of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Toronto, ON - A young man is repeatedly taunted with the slur, "Jew Boy," as he walks along the sidewalk.

This is an alarming report. Anti-Semitic incidents are way up. Look at the violent incidents. The vandalism and death threats and vile graffiti are disturbing, but the outright violence is much more terrifying. I was tempted to highlight all of the incidents, so don't assume because I did not highlight some property attacks, I don't take them very seriously. If I were Jewish, I would be deeply disturbed by these trends.

Why does Mr. Kurz letter avoid mentioning where the rise in attacks are coming from, as if it is only the old-fashioned neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers and white supremacists who are responsible? Why does he seem to have no concern at all that the very human rights commissions that he thinks protect Jews from anti-Semitism are being used to silence those who are most vocal in describing the new threats against Jews?

Which was Jonathan Kay's point.

Except I disagree with Kay when he says Anti-Semitism had been banished from the mainstream. I think hatred against Jews has become fashionable, only the word Jew has been replaced with "Zionist" or "Israel." Yes, Kay is right, the old-fashioned neo-Nazi type Holocaust denier has certainly been made persona non grata. But a different variant of Anti-Semitism has mushroomed, most visibly on college campuses that hold Israel Apartheid weeks, that equate Zionism with Nazism. I know Kay sees this, so perhaps it's a case of semantics.

New victim groups are becoming more chic to champion than Jews. Anti-Americanism is a cousin of the new fashionable brand of anti-Semitism.

What's a human rights commission to do about the activities that shut down the appearance of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Concordia University in 2003.
Can human rights commissions be counted on to do anything about Israeli Apartheid weeks?

Does Mr. Kurz have any concern about the collateral damage that Christians have suffered via human rights complaints for merely expressing their religious beliefs in the public square on hot button issues? Does he think the state support of rising Christophobia is an acceptable cost? Is Christian religious freedom of any concern to him at all? Yes, some Christian jerks wrote a pamphlet that made it into the list of incidents above. I renounce that pamphlet. Will you not renounce the attacks against us? Or, because they are state sanctioned, they are okay?

Kurz writes:

However, until we are in the enviable position of being able to relegate anti-Semitism -- and racism in general -- to the dustbin of history, we cannot afford to abandon a system that on balance works. To do so would not just be shortsighted but woefully negligent.
How can the state banish anti-Semitism and racism? What kind of police state apparatus would do the trick? Obviously our human rights commissions are failing if anti-Semitic incidents are higher than they ever have been since B'nai Brith started keeping track. If human rights commissions are working, then it would seem we need them to proliferate to cut this rise in incidents, right? No, I think the rise is proof these commissions are not working. Maybe they have contributed to the problem.

European countries are much more "evolved" in their suppression of speech that criticizes any religion, but are Jews safer in places like France? I don't think so. Jews are still safest in the United States of America where freedom of speech is the most robust.

Is the state responsible for teaching virtue? I'd hate to see what that catastrophe will look like, when tolerance becomes the one and only virtue and everything else, especially truthfulness and courage become the source of state sanctions.

Does not civil society--the family, religions, and civil society groups play the much more important role? Or has the state become mother, father, god and police officer all in one?

Yes....I think there is a limited role that the state can play in stopping the deliberate, systematic, hate-filled lying about racial groups or religions that dehumanizes them and incites violence or genocide. But as Irwin Cotler told me yesterday, the bar must be very high before state should prosecute these matters. Freedom of speech is too precious a right. Truth must be a defense.

Or have we in Canada become so post-modern that we don't believe there is any truth anymore, only power? Then why shouldn't other groups with grievances use the same levers of state power to silence their critics as Jews have used to silence anti-Semites? Fair is fair, no? The size of the police state needed to keep anyone from ever being offended would have to be pretty massive. Jews have a case, for sure, when it comes to defamation because Holocaust denial, blood libels and conspiracy theories are blatant lies. But if the truth is no longer a defense, then what? If the rules of evidence don't apply, if a fundamental right like freedom of speech is deemed to be an American concept by one of our human rights commissioners, then what are we coming to?

Mr. Kurz, the system is broken. The people who are doing the most to raise awareness of the threats Jews face are being targeted and in danger of being silenced by these commissions as are a host of innocent bystanders from my faith. Can you not hear the alarms being sounded by PEN, by the CAJ, by columnists and editorial writers across the country?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Irwin Cotler---Canada's Brandeis? Stay tuned

I spoke with former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler today. He had just returned from the Middle East and said he had a stack of materials on his desk to read to catch up on the raging human rights commissions controversy.

He also told me he ran into Richard Warman on the plane. He praised him as someone who has worked pro bono to defend against hate speech in Canada, while he holding down a full time job. He said Warman was going to be sending him materials to bring him up to date with the latest in the ongoing debate, but he also said he would be interested in receiving material from others as well.

Then he mentioned a recent op ed by Jonathan Kay in the National Post in which Kay writes:

The creation of human-rights tribunals and Canada's hate-speech law -- Section 319 of the Criminal Code -- were both cheered by the Jewish legal and activist establishment. In the seminal 1990 case of R. vs. Keegstra, which upheld the validity of Section 319, the intervenors included not only Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith, but also InterAmicus, a think-tank then headed by renowned inter-national-law expert (and future federal justice minister) Irwin Cotler. (Read the Supreme Court's Keegstra judgment and you will find chunks lifted straight from the InterAmicus brief.)

At the end of the piece, Kay posed a question to Cotler:

It is a fight between those Jews who support free speech, and those who support censorship; between those focused on the new threat of militant Islam, and those still worried about neo-Nazi kooks; between those who want Jews to take a vocal leadership role in the defining ideological battle of our time, and those who see themselves as passive victims who require protection from a nanny state.

I know what side I'm on. But ink-stained journalistic yeggs such as me and Ezra can take this battle only so far -- even with righteous gentiles like Keith Martin on our side. What we really need to lead this movement is a Canadian Brandeis. Mr. Cotler, what do you say to switching teams?

Cotler mentioned that Kay used to be his research assistant. He is planning to write a response to Kay's column, so stay tuned. He mentioned the "switching teams" question to me and indicated that he is fully onside with freedom of speech, except for narrowly defined racist hate speech that must meet a high threshold.

He said the case of the Alberta Pastor Stephen Boisson, for example, should never have come before a human rights commission. He said the determination of hate speech should have a "narrow construction," include intentionality and the truth should be a defence, as it is in the criminal law he helped draft. The criminal law threshold also includes the requirement that the attorney general approve prosecutions for hate speech.

He stressed he does not want to see freedom of speech hindered in Canada.

He also expressed concern that human rights commissions, which were supposed to provide a low cost, administrative, mediated solution for disputes, have evolved into a court-like adversarial process. Perhaps funding those facing complaints as well as complainants might be one solution.

Frivolous or unfounded complaints should not be allowed and the truth and intent should be a defence. He seemed fully onside for looking into reform of human rights commissions. He may have some more specifics in his upcoming op ed.

Cotler is also against SLAPP suits--strategic litigation to shut down political debate.

"The first point of departure has to be the importance and the protection of free speech," Cotler said, calling it a "baseline" that must be protected.

Freedom of speech is intended to protect the autonomy of truth. The free marketplace of ideas is the best way to contest unpopular ideas, he said. Hate speech has a narrow genre: it must be hateful and assaultive.

I'll be watching for his op ed.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Ezra Levant is "going to fight like hell"

Ezra Levant faces a defamation lawsuit and he promises to fight like hell.

Based on experience and observation, I estimate that fighting this suit will cost $100,000 and fighting it like hell – that is, going on the offence, and taking the battle right into the heart of the commission itself – could cost more than $200,000. That sounds like a lot of money, but if that discredits the commissions so badly that they either abandon their section 13 witch hunts – or, more likely, that the federal government is finally embarrassed into action – then it’s worth it. I don’t know, but I’d guess that Maclean’s magazine itself will wind up spending close to that much merely defending itself and Mark Steyn in the three(!) human rights commissions it has been dragged into.

Find out the details here.

Spread the news.

The stories get more and more outrageous

If you owned a restaurant and someone started smoking marijuana on your doorstep and you asked that individual to butt out, would you expect to have to fight the Ontario Human Rights Commission for the next three years?

The Toronto Sun unearthed the grueling tale of Ted Kindos:

The confrontation between Kindos and his customer three years ago may be the catalyst to change national laws, or it could ruin him.

Kindos has already spent nearly $20,000 of his own cash, and estimates he could spend upwards of $150,000 more fighting an Ontario Human Rights Commission complaint launched by Steve Gibson, who is licensed to smoke marijuana by the feds to manage the chronic pain of a neck injury that has kept him out of work since 1989.

Fighting the case, which will be heard by the province's Human Rights Tribunal in May, could send Kindos' business into bankruptcy and is playing hell with his health, he said.

"If this thing goes to the tribunal, that's it, we're done. Our restaurant is done," he said. "We've already been told we can't win.

Pete Vere comments on the Sault Ste. Marie Today website:

Just when I thought the Ontario Human Rights Commission had plumbed the sewers of political pandering to their lowest depths, Ezra Levant brings to light the plight of Ted Kindos - an Ontario restaurant owner who is being investigated by the commission for asking a pot-smoking customer to butt out.


Nevertheless, I find it eerie that the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which refuses to investigate seniors allegedly being left in soiled diapers for 24-hour periods at a time, not only found the time and resources necessary to investigate this case, but referred it to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for a hearing.
I dunno. No wonder the tide of public opinion is becoming a tsunami against these kinds of abuses.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A left-coast friend muses about taking title Mr. President

Does this situation imply that the title "Mr. President" is no longer spoken for and I can now use it to advance my own social standing at cocktail parties? While moving up the political ladder, I will be accompanied by a Marylin Monroe impersonator with a 5 o'clock shadow who will sing " Happy birthday Mr. President". It's all part of the master plan to walk gallantly in reverse across the White House lawn, past security, and assume permanent residence.
Delightfully creative and amusing post continues here.

Kate McMillan blasts media hypocrisy on global warming "crisis"

How does one convinced of impending planetary doom get up in the morning to work in the industry they do - an industry that employs vast numbers of people to travel the country via commercial jet and automobile, that sustains huge media complexes clogged to the ceilings with electricity consuming CO2-belching technology, that hauls tons of satellite equipment to produce on-the-scene reporting?

That indulges in the broadcasting of sporting events? And entertainment "news"?

"We interrupt this report on the last remaining meter of Arctic sea ice to bring you live footage of Britney Spears' entourage leaving the hospital ... John, you're in the helicoptor, what can you tell us?"

When it comes to curtailing wasteful practices and excessive C02 emissions, shouldn't they be among the first to go?

It's beyond absurdity, beyond hypocrisy. It's nothing less than blatant dishonesty, gross laziness, professional malpractice - or most likely, all of the above. Every one of these so called "journalists" would, if they belonged to any other profession, be called before an industry ethics board to explain their conduct - if their industry entertained such notions, or bothered itself with silly notions like "ethics".

There's lots more.

Why the Unborn Victims of Crime Act makes sense

When Gerald Baker murdered Olivia Talbot, he also murdered her unborn baby Lane Jr. He told the court he took three shots to make sure he got the baby. Yet the killing of Baby Lane is not a crime in Canada. What if Olivia had survived and only Baby Lane died? Then Baker would be serving a short sentence for aggravated assault or something.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why not a federal election issue?

The Calgary Herald's Licia Corbella has a call to arms to make freedom of speech an Alberta election issue. (H/t FFF)

Could it become a federal election issue, too? Who would lead the charge? The Tories? Liberals? Or will there be some bi-partisan convergence as has happened on Afghanistan?

I haven't a clue what the Bloc thinks on this, but maybe this week I'll find out. The NDP? Well, last time I asked Jack Layton he said he'd get back to me and suggested I talk to his human rights critic. NDP justice critic Joe Comartin thinks we need to improve the appointments process, make sure they are not ideological or patronage positions, and get rid of the backlog, but he supports keeping the laws as they are. He remains concerned about group defamation and trusts the commissions and tribunals to arrive at good decisions.

I wonder what Elizabeth May thinks.

Liberal MP Keith Martin says he's got "huge" support on both sides of the aisle, but so far, not from his boss, Stephane Dion. I wonder if Keith Martin will eventually throw his hat into the ring in the next race for Liberal Leader. Wouldn't that be interesting? What does human rights expert Michael Ignatieff have to say about freedom of speech? Bob Rae, whose Jewish wife was targeted in the last Liberal leadership race?

Meanwhile the federal Tories keep appointing people to human rights commissions and intervening on behalf of the thought-crimes Subsection 13(1). Conservative MPs, except for Jason Kenney, have been mum, at least publicly. The Justice Minister has issued talking points to keep MPs from talking about it.

The prime minister has his priorities. Could this become one?

Stay tuned.

"The Defilers represents a major breakthrough in Christian fiction"

"The Defilers represents a major breakthrough in Christian fiction"

Thanks to Kathy Shaidle's kind words yesterday and this link at my plummeting ratings skyrocketed from 1.4 millionth to 198,738th this morning. That means several of you clicked through and bought a book.

I started writing The Defilers about 15 years ago, while I was still working for the CBC as a television producer. One summer, I was looking for a vacation read--you know, something I couldn't put down, something that would effortlessly draw me into a fictional world. I went to a drugstore rack and checked out several paperbacks and found the level of graphic violence and sex off-putting.

Around that time, a bestselling Christian book was being passed around at my church. When it came my turn, I forced myself to read the thing. It was hard slogging, because one hundred pages in, nothing had happened. No conflict to make you want to find out what happens next. Yes, there were some nice people, nice settings---sort of like a Thomas Kinkade painting, or an embroidered sampler on the wall, but that was about it.

"I can do better than this," I thought to myself. So I started writing the novel on my weekend and vacations. It was a lot harder than I had thought, even though I had been writing professionally for more than 10 years. But I wrote and rewrote, read writing books and took courses, and tried to bring some good storytelling craft to my work. I aimed my novel at the contemporary Christian market in the United States. As my work became more polished, I started to get "in the door" with editors and agents, some of whom have become friends, but I was told The Defilers was too dark, too Gothic. That it would never sell. I was told that I was obviously a talented writer. Did I have anything else? Something a little safer?

My work finally did get published because Canadian publisher Larry Willard at Castle Quay Books had a vision for promoting Canadian Christian writers who did not fit the mould. He offered a contest for first-time authors, administrated by The Word Guild. The prize includes publication.

The first year of the contest, I didn't apply because I was still an American citizen. Paul Boge won that year. His novel The Chicago Healer has done quite well, and even been translated to sell overseas. He has gone on to write a sequel The Cities of Fortune. The next year, I came in a close second to Angelina Fast-Vlaar's wonderful Seven Angels for Seven Days, a spiritual memoir about a dream vacation to the Australian Outback that turned tragic when her husband died. It has gone on to be a best-seller and Christian book club selection in the United States.

I won in 2005. In 2006, a non-fiction title won. And last year, Marcia Lee Laycock, an Alberta-based writer, won for her novel One Smooth Stone. I haven't read it yet, but I've read her other work, so I trust that this novel is good.

All this to say, I am not alone. Canada is home to a number of breakthrough, award-winning Christian writers whose work stacks up against anything you'll find in the drugstore rack, except it has a Christian worldview. But how to get the word out?

Other more established Canadian writers who are Christian have an excellent body of work.

There is Linda Hall, who is one of my favorite mystery writers. I've read about everything she's written. Her work is wonderful.

There is Keith Clemons whose latest novel Angel in the Alley is a page-turner that takes place in a future North America where freedom of speech is history, and preaching the Gospel is a crime. His dystopia seems prophetic in light of the human rights complaints against Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn and Catholic Insight Magazine. In previous award-winning novels, Clemons has used human trafficking, euthanasia and Hollywood corruption as backdrops to his lyrically-written contemporary novels.

There is N.J. Lindquist who has written two mysteries in the cozy vein. I especially enjoyed her latest Glitter of Diamonds, that takes you into the celebrity world of professional baseball and involves a murder in the Skydome. Wonderful characters, great pacing.

And Lindquist is a visionary who co-founded (with Wendy Nelles) The Word Guild, a growing association of writers and editors who are Christian to provide networking, support, mentoring and encouragement. The Word Guild sponsors awards that have become increasingly glitzy, in an effort to promote our work.

That's because it is extremely hard to get noticed. Even Christian bookstores have been a hard-sell. Most Canadian Christian authors have to get published in the United States and change their settings to American cities and states to get onto bookshelves in Canada.

Larry Willard wants to get Canadian stories out there. The Defilers is set in Nova Scotia. But Castle Quay is small. There is no big publicity budget, no money for cross-country tours.

The mainstream media pays scant attention if any to what we are doing. Thankfully, through the efforts of The Word Guild, the message is getting through to Canadian Christian bookstores--Mitchell Family Books ran a big promotion last December for Canadian authors, offering 16 of us simultaneous book-signings in all their Ontario stores. 100 Huntley Street and other Christian media have covered us.

All of this to say is that there is a growing movement in Canada of writers who are honing their craft, writing their vision, answering the call to transform our culture through stories.

Come and see.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hey weren't you the guy . . .?

John Pacheco writes:

Boy, if you have been a cheerleader for the CHRC and S.13 for the past month, you must be feeling really stupid right now.

How are you going to live it down?

Can you imagine what they will say to you at your next champagne party?

Hey, weren’t you the guy who supported the jackboots at the CHRC?”

CAJ joins PEN in calling for changes to human rights acts

Time to renew my long-lapsed membership in the Canadian Association of Journalists. Suddenly, I am proud of my profession. It's as if I am witnessing the collapse of a Berlin Wall of political correctness right before my eyes. Is anyone reporting on this yet?

Here's an excerpt of the fantastic statement the CAJ issued today:

OTTAWA, Feb. 22 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists is
calling on federal and provincial governments to amend human rights
legislation to stop a pattern of disturbing attacks on freedom of speech.
Two recent cases spotlight the dangers of allowing state-backed agencies
to censor speech based on subjective perceptions of offensiveness - MacLean's
magazine, which is facing complaints in two provinces and nationally for an
article by syndicated columnist Mark Steyn, and Ezra Levant, the former
publisher of the Western Standard who is now before the Alberta Human Rights
Commission for his decision to publish the Danish cartoons of the Islamic
prophet Muhammad.
"Human rights commissions were never intended to act as a form of thought
police," said CAJ President Mary Agnes Welch. "But now they're being used to
chill freedom of expression on matters that are well beyond accepted Criminal
Code restrictions on free speech."
The CAJ supports Liberal MP Keith Martin's private members motion to have
section 13(1) of federal human rights legislation, the clause dealing with
published material, repealed. Similar provincial legislation should also be
amended as required.
Read the rest here.

This follows Ezra Levant's stunning news yesterday of PEN's support.

Commentary on it from Mark Steyn and Stanley Kurtz at The Corner.

Kurtz writes:

Mark’s post on the rallying of liberal Canadian opinion-makers against abusive Human Rights Commissions is the most important and heartening development I’ve seen since this whole shameful case began. The dangers to Steyn — and all of us — are still great, yet an opportunity is now present for a truly landmark achievement on behalf of free speech. Stand with Steyn: Abolish Canada’s Human Rights Commissions! Up to now, Mark Steyn has been losing. But maybe, just maybe, he’s now on track to a genuinely historic victory.

Eeeek. My book's Amazon numbers are plummeting

The ranking for my novel The Defilers over at has plummeted past the 1.4 millionth mark. Agh.

When I revived this rather moribund, tiny blog to write about the freedom of speech controversy, the ranking spiked briefly up to the 200,000s. Still not great. Means someone bought a book a couple of weeks ago.

The book does better in Canada, but still not well enough to bring me any royalties that could compensate for, say, the amount of gas I had to buy to drive to my last booksigning in Kingston, Ontario. Oh well.

But I did make the effort to try to change the culture through fiction. As Kathy Shaidle has written when Christians get up in arms about some movie or book, we must write our own stories, make our own movies instead of running boycotts or complaining.

So I wrote The Defilers to be a counterweight to pernicious fiction like The Da Vinci Code. I don't make any claims that my novel is great literature. It's an airport novel. I'm not a great stylist. But I do know how to tell a story and it's a far better read than The Da Vinci Code, which is a preachy, crappy book full of cardboard characters. The worldview in The Defilers is Christian but not sicky sweet and likely to give you spiritual diabetes.

Go to Kathy Shaidle's site and use her Amazon button to buy my book. There is only one copy left. They say more are coming. And don't be alarmed. From the very beginning Amazon has depicted a misspelled version of my cover. It says The Defileres. Oh well. The stories I could tell you about how arduous and difficult it has been to get published and get the book any attention.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another Catholic Register editoral on freedom of speech

The Catholic Register with yet another great editorial on freedom of speech. Find the whole thing here.

But not all of society’s problems can be handled through the courts. Nor should they. In fact, in these particular cases, the “problem” is that certain individuals and groups have been insulted by the claims of other individuals and groups. But in a free and democratic society, being offended by the ideas and words of others is inescapable. The free exchange of ideas makes for a sometimes nasty public debate. That comes with the territory, though; while civil and respectful discourse is the ideal we should all aim to achieve, this doesn’t deny the value of ideas couched in sometimes rude language.

The danger in letting quasi-judicial tribunals arbitrate disputes over language and ideas is that everyone loses. Today, it is Mark Steyn and Catholic Insight. Tomorrow, it is the Roman Catholic Church in Canada.

Some matters are best left to be thrashed out in the court of public opinion. There’s a better chance justice will be achieved there than in the hands of a government tribunal.

Kidnapped and held hostage --yet finds spiritual freedom

I love the work I do because I get to hear and pass along some pretty amazing stories. Like this.

Bosco Gutierrez Cortina found spiritual freedom during the nine months he was held hostage in a tiny cell in Mexico City.

The Mexican architect travelled to Ottawa Feb. 9 to tell how God used his plight to deepen his faith in the hope his story would strengthen others’ belief

“We are safe if we put ourselves in His hands,” he told a packed auditorium at the University of Ottawa at the event sponsored by the Neejee Association for Women and Family. “It is time we realize this truth. On this lies our happiness here on earth, and our eternal happiness in heaven.”

Except for an endlessly repeating cassette tape playing a radio station’s music and ads, he never heard a human voice or saw a human face for those nine months 18 years ago.

PEN issues statement--political landmark says Levant

Ezra Levant writes:

PEN Canada has issued a statement calling not only for the immediate dismissal of the human rights complaints against Mark Steyn and me, but calling for an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act to excise the abusive Section 13 -- the thought crimes provision.

I would call PEN's statement a political landmark on par with the Globe and Mail's breakthrough editorial on the subject, and with Keith Martin's private member's motion.

Take a moment and look at PEN's roster of directors. Its honorary patron is John Raulston Saul; its past presidents include Margaret Atwood, June Callwood and even Haroon Siddiqui. For a month or more the movement to rein in the human rights commissions had support on main street; then it moved to Front Street; now it's positively taken over the Annex and Rosedale. This is the fanciest and politest of social circles in Canada, the most utterly fashionable and politically correct artistes in the country. John Raulston Saul, for crying out loud!

One front in a much, much bigger war--and buy my book

The human rights complaints against Maclean's Magazine for Mark Steyn's book excerpt and Ezra Levant's publishing of the Mohammed cartoons form merely one front in a much bigger war, a war for the very survival of Western Civilization. It's not us against any group, it's mostly an internal struggle because we are imploding.

Our greatest enemy is ourselves, not immigrants from Muslim lands or Jihadis elsewhere. If we had some certainty about who we are, our own culture, our own faith, we could afford to be generous because we would know what we expected of newcomers and what principles we would insist they accept if they want live here. Polygamy, honor killings, female genital mutilation, and beheading our prime minister would be non-starters. Nor would rewriting the Lord's Prayer or forcing us to substitute Season's Greetings for our holidays. But we could be generous about accommodating the religious practices of others as long as those who practice them are free to leave that faith without fear and nothing criminal goes on inside their religious institutions.

I can think of many Muslims who have made us richer for their presence. I would hate it if Canada became the kind of place that would turn away Irshad Manji's family after Idi Amin expelled non-blacks from Uganda. Or refused to accept refugees from Darfur or Iraq simply because they are Muslim.

But if we do not revive a strong sense of who we are by nourishing the roots of our culture---the roots from Jerusalem, Athens and Rome--we will no longer recognize our society in a generation or two. We will not like what we see, whether we have become dhimmified through fear, or fascist through hate. If we become more and more Islamified, non-Muslim women may feel a need to cover up just to protect themselves from roving gangs who think uncovered women are slabs of meat who deserve to be violated. No one will dare criticize Islam or the behavior of Islamists. Gay people will start getting beaten up if they show public affection as they are increasingly in the Netherlands. Our freedoms will be gone.

Or the West could respond with violent crackdowns, internment camps, and expulsions. Canada could start repelling boats like the St. Louis--except they would be full of Muslims instead of Jews--from our shores, because decent Muslims are experiencing the brunt of the threat from extremists who murder and terrorize in the name of Islam. If our country turns in that hideous direction, I would hope the handful of remaining Christians would then start hiding Muslims in their attics. If there is suppression of fact-based reporting, the hate elements could grow. That's a big concern of mine. I am uncomfortable with some of the rancor in the comments sections of some of the anti-jihad blogs. Of course, we don't know if some of that rancor is planted, but I admit, the tone troubles me. We become like what we hate. Beware. If you feel hate, renounce it, confess it and resist it.

We MUST avoid both hate and fear. Either course would be shameful and mark the death of Western Civilization. I would not want a society dominated by either. There is a better way. Jesus showed us that way on the Cross. That's why I love David MacDonald's new song about freedom of speech. I hope this song becomes an anthem for revival. Jesus also showed us a better way by telling us to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's, setting firmly in our overarching narrative the proper relationship between Church and state, the heavenly city and the earthly city (though, granted it took a long time for His revelation to work itself out in practice.) Jesus gave us the basis for understanding the difference between the secular and the eternal.

I think back to a high school history course that looked at the Opium Wars in China. The British had probed the weakness of China and its backward-looking ruling dynasties. They exacerbated it by shipping in lots of opium, creating debilitating levels of addiction, further crippling China so the Brits could carve out their spheres of influence and plunder its riches. The Islamists have probed our weakness in the cartoon wars and the West failed the test. Most mainstream media capitulated to fear, no? So much for our hard-won rights to freedom of the press.

Where does most of the world's opium come from now? hmmmm?

Look at the drugs flooding the streets of North American and European cities. Look at the huge amount of credit card scams and other financial fraud. I recently heard a computer crimes expert talk about how much of the proceeds is going to support terrorism. He said that many of the credit card scams are run by groups who are siphoning off millions but lead very simple lives in Canada because they are shipping all their money back home to the likes of Hezbollah.

Then we have various attempts at lawfare to chill any writing about radical Islam, using the generous mechanisms of our liberal, multicultural and sickeningly soft society to keep us asleep, as Mark Steyn wrote in this Maclean's piece. We are in danger because of our weakness, our greed, our lack of virtue, our unwillingness to have children, our dependence on government, our denial, our self-hatred and our eagerness to blame Bush for the state of the world rather than look at ourselves honestly and then do the hard work it takes to change. But thankfully, we can have help from the Holy Spirit to change if we desire it wholeheartedly.

One of the many disturbing items in the documentary Indoctrinate U was the level of Saudi funding of Arab and Muslim studies departments in American universities. Of course there is no reciprocal funding of Christian studies in Saudi Arabia, right? Some American Universities have stopped flying American flags because it might offend foreign students. It's enough to break your heart. When will we start seeing moves to remove crosses from public display even from church property?

So....what can we do?

It was gratifying to me to see that a few people did click through to find out what an Alpha Course is or to read the link on Oriana Fallaci the Christian atheist from yesterday's post. I hope some of you go to church for the first time in years this Sunday, even if you go only to educate yourself about our heritage.

You can support alternative media like the growing Catholic and evangelical media networks that provide much more in depth coverage of moral and philosophical issues at stake in politics. Get a subscription to the Catholic Register, the Western Catholic Reporter, B.C. Catholic, Christian Week or Faith Today magazine. Subscribe to Catholic Insight and see what you can do to help them defray their legal costs in fighting their human rights complaints. Support the hope-filled, informative new Catholic network Salt and Light TV and the CTS Television Network, which brings us the Michael Coren Live, Listen Up and wholesome evangelism on 100 Huntley Street. Support your local Christian Radio stations. Join the Catholic Civil Rights League. You don't have to be Catholic. Get involved and commit for the long haul.

Subscribe to LifeSiteNews and CERC and support these free services with your donations.

Buy Kathy Shaidle's e-book Acoustic Ladyland and Mark Steyn's America Alone. Hit the tip jar over at Ezra Levant's site and that of others who are giving up their time to keep you informed.

And if you want to help me, consider going to Kathy's site and buying my novel The Defilers through her Amazon button. My novel is about freedom of another sort: freedom from spiritual darkness. Here's what Kathy said about it:

"Deborah's debut, The Defilers, is the first fiction book I've read in years. When she sent it to me, she described it as "an airport novel", and indeed, some smart mass market paperback publisher should snap it up. This police procedural has it all: exorcisms and the occult, murder, cultish kiddie p*rn, romance -- but Deborah didn't win this year's Best New Canadian Christian Fiction Award for nothing. Believe it or not, she manages to tell this twisted mystery tale without graphic sex scenes -- or even swearing -- but this isn't "goodie goodie" tacky "Christian" fiction, either.

Each chapter is a cliff-hanger. It was a fun, yet reverent read, with lots of unexpected plot twists (and characters who aren't who you think they are...) to keep you guessing. I think most of my readers would be quite touched by the angry heroine's faltering journey back to the faith.

Deborah's own faith history is harrowing in its own way. She has more about the book, including reviews, at her site."

And keep an eye out for the great new anthology published by That's Life Communications featuring Canadian authors from The Word Guild, a wonderful association of writers and editors who are Christian. An expanded version of my conversion story that appeared in the National Post will be part of Hot Apple Cider.

It's going to be a beautiful book. So many gifted writers. But we don't get government grants and the news media pays us scant attention. I'm proud to be among them. Here's one of the endorsements:

Imagine a group of Canadians circled around a campfire. They have two things in common: They’re serious Christians and committed writers. “Let me tell you my conversion story,” calls out Deborah Gyapong. Keith Clemons reads a short story and Brian Austin recites an original poem. Grace Fox shares a devotional piece. As the fire crackles and they sip their cider, all 30 speak from their hearts. That’s the concept of Hot Apple Cider—and it’s a good one.
Cecil Murphey, author and co-author of more than 100 books, including Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story and the New York Times best-seller 90 Minutes in Heaven

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sing about freedom, freedom of speech!

Get ready to sing this song in Ottawa on April 12.

Why I am proud to be an Anglican Catholic

My bishop, the Right Rev. Carl Reid, Suffragan Bishop for Central Canada in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, has an op ed in the National Post today. I am so proud to have him as my bishop. So glad that our little Anglican refuge has been safe from the gut-wrenching ordeal tearing our Canterbury brothers and sisters apart over these many years.

Bishop Carl writes:

The Traditional Anglican Communion left the cafeteria long ago and has grown tired of the wilderness. We want the full course meal served by the Communion of Saints from the very beginning of the church. Quite aside from our desire to remain steadfast to traditional Anglicanism, we desire just as strongly to do whatever small part we can in terms of healing the broken Body of Christ, His Church, to seek unity rather than division. That's why we have asked to come into full sacramental communion with the Catholic Church, with the Book of Common Prayer, married priests and our Anglican identity intact. At their invitation, we made our formal request in early October and await a reply from the Vatican. As our primate, Archbishop John Hepworth, stated - based on our Lord's Prayer on the night before His crucifixion "that they may be one" - "Unity with Canterbury is a pleasant device. Unity with [the Catholic Church] is an imperative."

Though I was baptized Russian Orthodox, I never learned Russian so the liturgy didn't make sense to me. My father sang as a hobby and used to get paid to sing in some of the best Episcopal Church choirs in the Boston area. While I was growing up though, he didn't take the faith as seriously as he came to later in life. He described himself then as a "mercenary Episcopalian" who would sit in the choir loft and read the Boston Globe sports page during the sermon. We were nominal Christians, and identified as Americans from a Slavic background.

When I experienced an adult conversion, I found my first Christian home in a wonderful Baptist Church. Then I discovered the little Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa about eight years ago. It fed a need to return to my more liturgical roots. It has helped me learn more about the Orthodox faith of my ancestors through similar rites in English. I have received great teaching here and a family-like sense of fellowship. The Book of Common Prayer, like the King James Bible, is one of the great works of English literature. Both were written for the ear and their poetry and musicality enhance the spiritual riches within. They are living heirlooms. It causes me great grief to see them in the dustbins even of most Anglican churches these days.

Every Sunday I'm having my faith renewed and deepened. I'm also receiving an education, the kind of education that leads one to wisdom and helps cut the bonds of sin and death, as one of our parishioners said in a commencement address at Augustine College not long ago.

In my church, the priests believe the Creeds. They revere the liturgy and help us realize we are standing in heaven during the Eucharist. They are all gifted men who, had they been ambitious in a worldly sense, could have had big churches with endowments and all the problems dogging the Canterbury Anglican world.

Instead they have opted for faithfulness. And that has meant obscurity and sacrifice and little earthly return for their trouble. But what a glorious place our humble little cathedral is on Sundays, when we chant the Mass in plainsong, when the air is blue with incense, and we sing our old-fashioned, theologically sound hymns in four-part harmony. And one day, we hope soon, we will be in communion with the See of Peter, part of One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, but with our Anglican liturgy and married priests.

If you want to find out more about the Traditional Anglican Communion's request to come into communion with the Holy See, you can read this article, and watch this beautiful video put together by David Naglieri and the good folks over at Salt and Light TV.

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Deliver us from Mark Steyn --who will get the joke?

I have been reading Kathy Shaidle's blog for years now. Most of the time she provides a great portal to some of the most interesting and outrageous material on the blogosphere. Every now and then she says things make me cringe, that I wish she wouldn't say because they give her enemies ammunition against her. But most of the time, I admire her courage, her willingness to be herself, whether she is venting her anger, or telling us what she really thinks in a way that shatters the often absurd fortresses of political correctness.

I don't know Kathy well--a couple of meetings over lunch in Toronto, some telephone conversations, some of which led to this profile. But I know her well enough to dismiss the accusations that float around that she is a racist or hates Muslims, even if she hates certain behavior carried out in the name of Islam. I abhor racism of any kind and if I knew Kathy judged people on the basis of their skin color or background and not the content of their characters , I would shun her.

I think Kathy Shaidle is among the most gifted Canadian writers alive today. Those who read her blog regularly, and there are thousands of us, are only getting a glimpse of her prodigious talent. In other words, if you have enjoyed FiveFeetofFury or Relapsed Catholic, then you will be blown away by her e-book Acoustic Ladyland or her earlier book God Rides a Yamaha. Her essays shine because they are written by a poet. Their images will stay with you. They will entertain you, perhaps shock you and make you think. They will help you to see with an artists eye yourself. If you are a writer, they will spark a good envy that makes you want to try harder to be a better writer yourself.

Over the years, Kathy has held down a full time job while delivering one of the most interesting, creative blogs I know of. I imagine her providing all her great links with one hand one the keyboard and the other combing her hair, putting on a little mascara, or fishing for those tiny subway tokens needed for her long commute. In other words what you see on the blog is Kathy "off the cuff," not Kathy the perfectionist poet, who chooses her words with devastating precision and polishes her work until it gleams. She can't focus totally on her writing even today, because she is job-searching. If you are a daily reader of her blog, you owe it to Kathy to regularly contribute to her tip jar and buy her books, not only for yourself, but for your friends. Kathy's never going to get a government grant to allow her to write full time. It's up to us to make it possible.

Kathy has the mind and the heart of an artist. She sees things that others don't see, or, if they do see them, lack the ability to articulate it. She has the craft to draw us into her vision, and make us go, "aha!" "yes!" And like all great poets, she is a lover, not a hater. When she is angry, it's because she is brokenhearted by a sense of betrayal. Betrayed love.

She's the kind of friend who will tell you the truth if you ask her, "Does my butt look fat in this dress?" On a more serious level, she's friend enough to tell you if your ideas are stupid and will lead you to terrible consequences down the road. Friend enough to risk losing your friendship with hard truths, no matter what your race or religion. When the shoe fits, she is as hard on her own Catholic Church and her working class background as she is on Islam or Scientology or silly New Age beliefs.

She can come across as a rather equal opportunity misogynist---but it's love that motivates her. Not the sickly sentimentality masquerading as love that leaves Teddy bears at shrines for celebrities, but a love that has been tested through great suffering. Kathy has suffered in ways that most of us can only hope we will never have to. She's earned the right to speak to us the way she does, especially when she blasts away at foolish self-pity and today's cult of victimhood. Her suffering has made her deeply compassionate, though you might miss that if you see only her prickly exterior. She would be the first to put out a call for prayer if something tragic struck even one of her her enemies on the blogosphere.

She looks at her church, her country, her culture, her political leaders and "minds the gap" between how things should be and how things are. She's not afraid to point out those "third rail" issues that few people dare write about. But she knows that change won't come until there is an acknowledgment of what's wrong, until we are face head on the truth about how we are ready to get on a train to a terrible destination. She is trying to blow up the tracks for our handcarts pumping merrily to the hell. She is dynamite for the roads to hell that misguided good intentions have paved.

Which leads me to the reason why I started this post. Frequently, I find Kathy laugh-out-loud funny. Dangerous for your keyboard if you are drinking coffee at the same time. You do, however, have to be able to get the jokes. Or understand some of her seemingly outrageous headlines. Sometimes that means clicking through the links. And more often it requires a degree of awareness and literacy.

Several days ago she drew one of those laughs with this headline:

"...and blow up all Israeli citizens, and deliver us from Mark Steyn -- oooops, did I say that out loud??"

The sheer nerve and god-like genius that is Mohammed Elmasry strikes again.

To get the joke you would have to know who Elmasry is and what he said on the Michael Coren show about all Israeli Citizens over 18 being legitimate targets for attack. You would also have to know that Elmasry's the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress and the author of the human rights complaints against Maclean's Magazine for running an excerpt of Mark Steyn's book America Alone.

But there's more. You would have to know that Elmasry provided a new prayer to replace the Lord's Prayer that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty seems to think must be removed from the confines of Queen's Park. You also have to know the Lord's Prayer, which is why the "deliver us from Mark Steyn" line is so funny.

I had a sobering thought though. How many people 30 and under in Canada know the Lord's Prayer? How many would see how funny Kathy's riff is? If I had the time I would go out and do one of those surveys they do on television and ask some young people to say the prayer and see what happens.

When I went to public elementary school in the United States back in the 1950s and early 60s, we still said the Lord's Prayer every morning. My fifth grade teacher Miss McDonough, a scary spinster with a balding egg-shaped head, used to read from the Bible every day. I could not wait to get to school the day Moses was going to see God for the first time. What happens now? The greatest work of literature in the world is in effect banned from public schools. The overarching Story that defines our civilization is scarcely even taught in many churches these days.

The vast majority of Canadians self-describe as Christians, but most probably do not know what the Christian faith teaches if Jason Cherniak is any example.

I've got some homework for all of you. Even if you don't believe in God or Jesus, if you live in North America or Europe or the United Kingdom, find out about the Christian faith. Take an Alpha Course. Go to a Bible-believing church this Sunday even if you feel like a cultural anthropologist. Keep checking churches out until you find one that you feel could teach you something about the underpinnings of your culture. Acquaint yourself the The Bible. The whole Bible, and not just the feel-good, health and wealth stuff. The Old and New Testaments. The least you can do is be a Christian atheist like the late Oriana Fallaci.

And today, I'd like you to read Pope Benedict XVI's Regensburg address.

The pope said:

In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was an initial inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not simply false, but it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvellous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is - as you yourself mentioned, Magnificent Rector - the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of the Christian spirit. The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically falsifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.

Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought - to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: "It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being - but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss".[13] The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time.