Last week I received a curious Email from the Canadian magazine The Western Standard. The publisher, Ezra Levant, was asking for my personal help by sending out a form letter in a mass Emailing.
And what was troubling TWS? It seems that Mr. Levant published the Danish cartoons that have offended so many Muslims of late, and retailers across Canada were refusing to stock the magazine. Not only that, but a ďCalgary Muslim leaderĒ (as Mr. Levant puts it) reported the magazine to the police and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, accusing Mr. Levant of hate crimes.
Publishing a periodical, generally speaking, is a risky business. A few months of weak sales and the advertisers will start to turn to venues that have the attention of the consumers, and then there is nothing left but a downward spiral into oblivion.
This is no doubt terribly unfair for the people employed by the magazine, but I can also see the retailersí POV. TWS might face economic ruin if they canít sell their magazine, but the owner of a mom-and-pop newsstand is probably more concerned with a Molotov cocktail smashing through the window and spreading flaming death between them and the only exit. You simply canít expect the average citizen to risk their life for Freedom of the Press when trained government agents run away just as soon as they hear the sound of a little gunfire.
Mr. Levant personally asked me and everyone else on the mailing list to do two things. The first was to send him an Email of our own and let him know if we support his decision to publish the cartoons. The second was to subscribe to TWS and help support the magazine financially.
The first request was easily granted. I started to write a brief note of support that soon turned into a 700 word missive. (Hey, I donít blog because Iím a retiring and taciturn sort of fellow!)
The main point in my return Email was that I support Mr. Levantís decision completely, but thatís because he has stood up for principles that we revere in the United States. I told him that Iíd stand next to anyone who stood up for those values, which I thought was a nice turn of phrase even if it was heartfelt.
Subscribing was a bit more problematic, since the cash used to buy 12 months of the magazine could be put to better use. I run a personal charity self defense course for victims of violent crime, and for the price of a 1 year subscription I could teach three people the basics of firearm safety and use. I told Mr. Levant that I wasnít about to turn away three people who didnít have anywhere else to turn, which might have been put a bit too whimsically since it reveals the convictions which have shaped my life. Just as protecting the free exchange of ideas has shaped Mr. Levantís life, I suppose.
I recognize the echoes of a kindred spirit in Mr. Levant even though weíve never met. Heíd probably be a fierce and unyielding curmudgeon if he thought he was standing up for something that mattered to him.
If the freedom of the Canadian press matters to you then youíll click on this link and send a message of support to Mr. Levant. If you think he did something he should have left undone then youíll still click on that link and let him know how you feel. If you want to subscribe to the magazine, if only to burn it every month in symbolic protest, then you should click on this link and follow the instructions.