Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ezra Levant: That Was Then, This Is Now

From his 2004 Calgary Sun Article, "Preacher of death, Hatemongering Muslims must be prosecuted"

Not charging the handful of Muslims who are haters is like not charging the handful of Italians who are part of the Mafia -- it is a misguided act of political correctness. The majority of Muslims -- we hope -- do not support [Younus] Kathrada. He should be made an example of, not have excuses made for him. Justice calls for it.

Islamofascists should be charged with hate speech, but Nazis shouldn't? I must have missed some nuance in Ezra's reasoning.

h/t to the poppinjays.

PS. But, someone might argue, you are attacking the man for his hypocrisy rather than his arguments for soundness. Perhaps, but it is part of MY argument that, since when you scratch a free-speech absolutist like Ezra you invariably find a secret censor, there is simply no point in pretending that free speech absolutism is a viable position. Once you realize that, it becomes possible to move on to a real debate about where the limits of speech should be located.

45 comments:

Justin Socie said...

Consistency is obviously not his strong suit.

Good catch.

I'm an enormous fan of free speech, but Levant is not a credible advocate for it.

Tory@York said...

Do you not see the enormous difference between actively advocating the death of certain people, and criticism of a religion? I think we all know that free speech has its limits when it comes to advocating violence, wouldn't you agree?

bigcitylib said...

Tory,

Terrence Cecil Tremaine made similar remarks with respect to the Jews, and Ezra seems quite miffed that he was charged.

Tory@York said...

My mistake, I hadnt realized that. In my view anyone who calls for violence against anyone should be prosecuted, so I am a bit surprised that ezra feels that way about tremaine.

Matt said...

Still missing the point. So what of what Ezra said. It still doesn't change the argument. All people are two-sided hypocrites. Dig deep enough and you'll find it with anybody. Why aren't those muslims prosecuted anyways, when we prosecute Ahenakew? Even though he did get off, he still had to endure the courts.

Anonymous said...

The leap in logic from equating Human Rights Commission witchhunts to libel and hate speech crimes under criminal and civil courts is astounding.

But, don't let facts get in the way of attacking someone's reputation!

Holly Stick said...

"...All people are two-sided hypocrites...." The rightwingers' creed. It is impossible to have a reasonable argument with people who lack all integrity and who assume that everyone else is as dishonest as they are themselves.

Ti-Guy said...

Jesus Christ...sensible people have ceded so much ground to fundamentalists of all types (the latest being the free speech fundamentalists) that most of us don't even know where to begin having a sensible discussion about this stuff anymore, let alone discussions that really matter.

Which is why I recommend internment and/or re-education camps over the next while, just so the rest of us can have a good problem-solving (if there are indeed problems to solve) discussion without having wingnuts, retards and self-righteous ideologues to contend with.

I guess it's a given that lil' conserva-boys and gals and "fwee speach wibertarians", who weren't around when the hate propaganda laws were first instituted, have to go through a long learning process that ends with the inevitable realisation that no one at all honestly supports unfettered free speech. Certainly not self-agrandising hypocrites like Ezra Levant, and certainly none of the honest-to-goodness nazis and fascists who've been making this their cause célèbre.

If they all read more, got more varied experience and weren't all so damn gullible, they'd probably come to that understanding a lot sooner and spare the rest of us the migraines in the meantime.

Now...my approach to free expression has generally been this:

Anon: The leap in logic from equating Human Rights Commission witchhunts to libel and hate speech crimes under criminal and civil courts is astounding.

Response: Shut up, stupid; you're off-topic.

MK said...

Yaawwnn....

From one popinjay to another I find it more than interesting how quickly you'd like to move on a more generalized debate about free speech when if we were to really get to the grist of it we'd be discussing a publishers right to print what is legal today and not what might be illegal tomorrow.

The maxim for liberals in this country ought be "I may not like what you have to say but....um, I just don't like you, soooooo......" or maybe "...we hold these truths to be ephemeral and thin as gossamer..."

Ti-Guy said...

Why is that whenever these righties comment, the experience is far more like staring at a mandala than reading text that is supposed to communicate something?

Not only can they not write...they can't even think.

I never wanted to have a discussion on free speech, personally. I just wanted the liars and the haters to vacate public discourse, where they are not welcome and for which they provide nothing of value.

Mark said...

So if you believe in free speech you have to accept death threats? Seems a completely reasonable liberal viewpoint.

Ti-Guy said...

So if you believe in free speech you have to accept death threats?

Death threats or calls for genocide? Because the righties (defended by the free speech warriors) engage in the latter all the time.

Death threats are criminal when issued against identifiable people and which communicate an intent to murder. So, my saying "I wish Mark Steyn would choke to death on his own bile or Conrad Black's penis" is not a death threat.

By the way, the Imam in question, Younus Kathrada, was investigated by the RCMP and no charges were laid.

MK said...

"fwee speach wibertarians"

What is it you value? Warner Bros? Or did Elmer Fuhd publish a book and the valuable information you're communicating to me is that you've read it?

Now, Ti-Guy this applies to you and you alone I wouldn't besmirch your fellow lefties, but you should learn to read comprehensively.

I was addressing the author of this blog. Whether you care to have a larger debate about free speech, frankly, I could care less. The question wasn't addressed to you or any other poster here. Of course you're free to comment but you should write in such a way so that you don't come off as the author of a blog that your are not the author of. You know:

"I can't speak for BigCityLib but,...". Use whatever prose style you like. As for me, as long you understand me then we're crytal clear. Aren't we, hunnybunny?

Ti-Guy said...

You shouldn't have wasted all that energy on such withering hauteur, MK. I knew who you were addressing. I was just jumping in. Your comment wasn't very clear.

"Fwee speach wibertarians" is my shorthand for all the possessors of lower-tier minds who spout platitudes about freedom of expression without understanding the first thing with regard to how expression is controlled, censored or encouraged to wallow in a cesspit of irrelevance.

MK said...

""Fwee speach wibertarians" is my shorthand for all the possessors of lower-tier minds who spout platitudes about freedom of expression without understanding the first thing with regard to how expression is controlled, censored or encouraged to wallow in a cesspit of irrelevance."

Oh, I see, libertarians wallow in irrelevance because we don't understand that "freedom of expression" is "controlled, censored" or are you saying that becuase other forms of speech wallow in irrelevance it mitigates their control and censure?

The hauteur is free and on tap, laddy. I'm a generous man.

Ti-Guy said...

...libertarians wallow in irrelevance...

Read my comment again. I never asserted that.

I don't argue for a negative freedom like free speech absolutism because it, by nature, doesn't present anything worth spending time arguing about. Sure, it's an interesting intellectual exercise, but pragmatically, it doesn't offer much.

The issue I'm interested in, and have been since the Iraq invasion and the conspiracy of lies (involving state, corporate and individual agents) that promoted it is the value of unfettered freedom of expression when, under its guise, the citizenry ends up believing things that are not only untrue, but against its own interests.

That's something everyone, especially libertarians should be concerned about, since these are issues that have impact on the much more fundamental freedom of thought and conscience and the exercise of free will.

MK said...

"Which is why I recommend internment and/or re-education camps over the next while, just so the rest of us can have a good problem-solving (if there are indeed problems to solve) discussion without having wingnuts, retards and self-righteous ideologues to contend with.
"

"If they all read more, got more varied experience and weren't all so damn gullible, they'd probably come to that understanding a lot sooner and spare the rest of us the migraines in the meantime."

"Response: Shut up, stupid; you're off-topic."

We should all just trust the likes of you, huh? But, at least you don't have to worry about me silencing you, eh? Wow, if I didn't believe in free speech, I believe I might be able to sue you for that crack about retards and wanting to have the "fwee speach wibertarians" held in camps.

Ti-Guy said...

Go for it. Silence me!

God, these people are so humourless. One thing the re-education camps will have is Satire For Wingnuts seminars.

Möbius said...

We should all just trust the likes of you, huh?

Nah, he's just an idiot savant, without the savant part.

Ti-Guy said...

Oh, God...hissy bitch Möbi is stalking me.

What's wrong? Taking a break from the anti-Muslim pogrom over at KKKate's?

Möbius said...

"Satire for Wingnuts" forced me to respond!

You're the biggest Wingnut I know.

bigcitylib said...

Comments moderation will be off until tomorrow about 10:00 am. Get yer xxxtra-stupid licks in now.

Möbius said...

BCL blows dead bears!

Matt said...

Left wing typew are still way off topic. This isn't about Ezra or Steyn or even muslims. It's about the state making inursions into our lives.

Hey Ti-guy, aren't you always talking about the "brown people?" You're a hypocrite and a racist.

Möbius said...

Don't they have "spell-check" here?

Ti-Guy said...

Möbius is a hömö.

Möbius said...

Getting under your skin, aren't I?

Ti-Guy said...

Not really. I don't despise like I do most other righties.

Anonymous said...

Ti-Guy has been a racist ever since he and "F*CK THE JEWS" Mclelland began touching each other in their happy places.

Like STD's, the racist views always rub off.

Matt said...

"I don't despise like I do most other righties"

That sounds like I makes sense? Ok, comrade.

Ti-Guy said...

Sorry...that should have been "I don't despise the as much as do most righties."

Matt said...

That really clears it up.

Anonymous said...

Ezra's OPENING STATEMENT before the HRC specifically mentioned advocating/inciting violence as not covered by free speech.

The "progressives" will do anything in their power to punish Ezra in his fight for free speech, including drawing false parallels and rediculous moral equivalents.

To the fascists he's committed a carnal sin.

BCL is doing his best to hold him to account for such sins.

Anonymous said...

Ouch. BCL gets OWNED by levant along with the rest of the liberal twittery.

Mental midgets shouldnt wrestle with a real lawyer.

agnostic said...

Neat trick, BigCityLib.
A good chance that less attentive readers - and virtual certainty that the willfully blind - would miss this one minor detail:
Did Ezra Levant call for Younus Kathrada to be dealt with by some of the Human Rights Commissions, or by a regular court?
There is a difference between prosecution by a court respecting presumption of innocence and considering factual correctness as relevant, and persecution by an HRC where those principles are not adhered to.

Demosthenes said...

Er, BCL, get off it. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that "free speech absolutism" can't exist. I hate to raise the spectre of Voltaire, but he seems to loom large here, and there are any number of internet wags who are very much free speech absolutists even IF they think you're acting the idiot.

In fact, in many venues, they probably outnumber the "secret censors".

I realize it sucks how Liberal blogs get swamped by idiot conservatives, and I know links from Warren Kinsella are oh so very tempting, but don't sully an otherwise fine site with this censorious nonsense.

As for the "fwee speech wibertarians"... do you have any room there for "fwee speech wiberals"? Because I'll match my wiberal cred against anyone, and I'm becoming a little bit more of a supporter of "fwee speech" with each reactionary, censorious, knee-jerk comment I read.

Canadian wiberals, and Wiberals, are better than this.

Demosthenes said...

(This isn't to say that Ezra isn't a hypocritical ass. He is. He's in fine Tory/Republican form that way. But that doesn't mean the principles aren't worth defending, just that said con is a choad.)

Ti-Guy said...

I'm becoming a little bit more of a supporter of "fwee speech" with each reactionary, censorious, knee-jerk comment I read.

Will it get so bad that you'll have to start publishing genocidal screeds, because some censorious liberal fascist (such as myself) thinks free speech absolutism is a solution in search of a problem?

That is in fact free speech absolutism's raison d'être; without genocidal screeds, we'd never know just how free we are to express ourselves, would we?

The Nazis had it right..the Völkischer Beobachter was the manifestation of true freedom. We are much diminished in its absence.

bigcitylib said...

Ezra's post is full of crap. He does in fact call for the laying of charges in that column, AND several of the Nazis he has defended (Terry Tremaine for one) DO seem to have called for violence against Jews.

Demosthenes said...

Ah. So, apparently, the only reason to support freedom of speech is one's lust for genocide, is it?

Nevermind Voltaire's defense on principled grounds, or Mill's point that you need to allow outrageously wrong thought in order to remind people why it's wrong through its refutation...

...no, it's all about desperately wanting to be Hitler, hmm?

I'm not normally one to call "Godwin", but Sweet Zombie Jesus is it warranted here.

(Even if it weren't an ad hominem. Which it is.)

In any case, the problem is not the perspective, but a statement of fact that has no justification whatsoever. You can support freedom of speech without being a censor in disguise, or being some tiresome teenager who read too much Ayn Rand and now thinks he doesn't need to pay his taxes.

You just have to know that your argument is better than theirs, and that censorship simply forces poisonous rhetoric underground, where it will fester in the minds of zealots long after you've forgotten it. And if it isn't better, you've got bigger problems than a toad like Ezra Levant.

Demosthenes said...

(I believe my last post disappeared, so I'll summarize)

I wasn't aware that John Stuart Mill, Voltaire, Oliver Wendell Holmes, the EFF, and the ACLU were genocidal Nazis, Ti-Guy.

Got a source on that?

Ti-Guy said...

and that censorship simply forces poisonous rhetoric underground

Ah. You're confusing limits on freedom of expression with censorship...which goes on a lot in Canada and the United States (where it is in fact very pernicious, since it's facilitated by very complex legalism), and which I firmly oppose.

I've heard all your other arguments before. I've been hearing them for decades and they have failed to persuade me.

A real bonus in this whole affair is that we're finding out just to what degree of libel/slander and bold-faced lying the various free speech warriors will go, and how generally hate-filled they are. I think that's very useful information for the Canadian polity.

Anonymous said...

"...possessors of lower-tier minds who spout platitudes about freedom of expression without understanding the first thing with regard to how expression is controlled, censored or encouraged to wallow in a cesspit of irrelevance"

Well met, Herr Goebbels.

mhb23re

Demosthenes said...

Ah. You're confusing limits on freedom of expression with censorship...which goes on a lot in Canada and the United States (where it is in fact very pernicious, since it's facilitated by very complex legalism), and which I firmly oppose.Well then, by all means. Explain the difference. In simple terms, so everybody can understand.

I've heard all your other arguments before. I've been hearing them for decades and they have failed to persuade me.Perhaps, but modern science has also failed to persuade some people that the earth is round and humans share a common ancestor with other primates.

(Several of them are probably responsible for all this trolling.)

The question is whether you, unlike those people, can actually defend your own position...or whether this failure of persuasion is akin to placing one's fingers firmly in one's ears and singing as loud as you can.

Anonymous said...

Methinks Ezra would squash you in a debate. Its interesting to note that his point about freedom of speech is being attacked by the left. High and mighty censors like yourself deserve to be heard but definitely not supported.