Mark Steyn says never mind the Order of Canada for himself and Ezra Levant as Senator Jerry Grafstein suggested last night at a booksigning featuring Levant's latest book Shakedown: How our government is undermining democracy in the name of human rights.
Ezra should be the next Governor General said the great Steyn.
"This is a simple and principled issue," said Steyn. On freedom of speech there are two kinds of people, he said: those who don't support the cause because Steyn and Levant are "rightwing bastards"; and those who say "they are rightwing blowhards but . . .in a free society you do not make that a criminal offence."
He admitted they were not appealing victims. He asked the gathering to imagine he Ezra were David Suzuki instead. And he were Margaret Atwood. (!!!!!!)
"You don't get to choose your victims," he said.
Ezra is an "unlikely Ghandi" and he found it strange to be called the "Brigitte Bardot of Canada."
"If you don't believe in free speech for people as obnoxious as Ezra and I are, you don't believe in free speech at all," he said.
He noted that now it seems normal to go to the government to regulate speech. He brought up Carol Churchill's latest 12 minute play about Israel that he described as anti-Semitic and a lousy play. But he saw a letter to the editor in the National Post suggesting a human rights complaint should be filed against it.
He recalled government censorship of television programs in Britain where a government official decided no intercourse could be permitted, but maybe some "heavy petting," and the script had the f-word in it but you can replace it with "crikey said in a vehement way."
That kind of ridiculous oversight was abolished but now so-called progressives want to restore the state's power to censtor plays and novels, he said.
Multiculturalism and progressivism is not progress it is backwards, he said. It must be rejected.
He said life could never be so organized that everyone has to tiptoe around constantly. He quoted Kathy Shaidle who has said what society needs is insensitivity training rather than sensitivity training so that people can "discover the virtue of honest, rough and tumble" debate.
"If we are walking hate crimes, there are an awful lot of Canadians who are accomplices," he said.
"The time is right for the political class to take a stand for freedom of expression," he said.
Steyn said he was surprised members of the Bloc Quebecois were not more supportive of freedom of speech since remarks of separatists after various referendums were controversial and likely to draw the attention of the "thought police."
Though he and Ezra have been described as "controversy entrepreneurs," Steyn said he wanted to draw attentionto the people who have been victimized by HRCs. Alberta Pastor Stephen Boissoin is under a lifetime speech ban and ordered to make a public apology, something Steyn said is the kind of thing done in North Korea or Pol Pott's Cambodia. He called the Boissoin decision "disgraceful" and a "shame" to the province of Alberta.
He pointed out that many people got into trouble for publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed--the French editor who published them was fired by his publisher.
But the only country in the western world where the publication of these cartoons became the subject of an official state investigation was Canada, a "mark of shame on Alberta and on this country."
Welcome Mark Steyn readers!
I have several more posts on the event with more pictures here, here, here and here. On the last one, I have some video of Mark`s talk. Oh yeah, here are some pictures of Ezra`s friends and fellow bloggers.