Is everyone up to speed on writer Mark Steyn’s troubles up in Canada? If not, you can get a pretty good take on the basics by reading this.
Lots of pundits have weighed in on the fracas, most of whom have very little to say which is interesting or insightful. But I keep reading them because they can sometimes be unwittingly and unintentionally hilarious.
Case in point is this overly long analysis of some of the legal issues involved by a (GASP!) real live lawyer. I found the bulk of it to be just like the same-old same-old that has passed before, until I got almost to the end and found….
“Sometimes, I think a statement or a publication can go too far, and in that case, the right to be free of vilification will outweigh the right to freedom of speech.”
I have little doubt that the majority of you who hail from the United States and who just read the line above greeted it with a snort of derision, or at least a roll of the eyes to go with that moue of disgust that rose unbidden to twist your expression. I also have no doubt that most of you who were nurtured in foreign climes are wondering what we could possibly see as wrong.
Americans live in a country that contains every culture, tribe, nationality, race, creed, and philosophy that exists. The only way for anyone to have a “…right to be free of vilification…” is if the culture is completely homogeneous. If there is an absolute code of behavior, values, and mores that everyone is obliged to follow, then it might be possible. But in a place where two or more cultures rub up against each other?
That is why we are snorting and making moues at our keyboards.
Follow the link above to the source of the quote and you will see that the author is a native of Australia who is currently studying in England. You would think that she would have realized by now, considering how the decisions that shaped her life has caused her to hop continents and experience other climes and cultures, that the statement that a “…right to be free of vilification will outweigh the right to freedom of speech…” is risible. But I also noticed that she started her blogging career writing for a Libertarian blog, and it doesn’t seem to have occurred to her that the very idea of someone being banned from saying insulting things about others is hardly in line with Libertarian philosophy.
I mean, where exactly does the concept of “liberty” come into play in such a case, anyway?
The point to all this (and there is a point for all of you who came down this far in the post), is that this is yet another illustration as to why Americans are more sophisticated than the rest of the world is willing to admit. The government in Canada is so worried about the self esteem of a select few that they have decided to force people to shut up, even though the speech in question is harmless and factual. A law student who has spanned a fair amount of the Earth’s surface seems to think that this is a good idea, only grudgingly ceding that maybe they are going just a touch too far in the Great White North.
But down here in The Land of the Free we realize that the path to advancement is to complain, grumble, and gripe about everything! We know, better than any other people in history, that the only way to see anything clearly is to hold it up to fierce and unrelenting scrutiny. Both truth and falsehood will become apparent in short order, and we trust people to make the right decision as long as the heavy hand of government doesn’t filter the debate.
How can you be more sophisticated than that?
(Hat tip to Mark Steyn.)
It has been pointed out that I made a mistake. The blog I linked to above is a team effort, and the person who wrote the post I commented on is not the Libertarian at the site. Their take on the subject is here.
Click on that last link and scroll down to the bottom to see that they linked to my own post. That was very kind of them, but it seems they were a might peeved over the identity confusion.
“A bunch of very smart economists who should know better have managed to confuse Legal Eagle with me. Mark Steyn didn’t make the same mistake, linking to both posts and noting the difference. Which if nothing else suggests he’s a very careful writer.”
Except that I’m hardly an economist. In fact, few of the writers here are. My own background, for example, is in law enforcement and the civilian use of armed self defense. Whether or not I’m smart enough to have known better I’ll leave to my readers to decide.
I suppose this illustrates the fact that it is easy to make a mistake concerning the identity of someone on a group blog, particularly when that blog doesn’t place signatures on the posts. (Just glance at the line under the title of this post to see what I mean.) Unless you have actually been reading the site for awhile, it would be easy to become confused as to who authored what.