Ezra Levant is No Hero, Even if You Agree with Him
I do not agree with Human Rights Commissions, Hate Crime laws or other such tribunals.
I think they are too easily misused to quash freedom and liberty and can be counter-productive to their stated claim. Like prohibiting anything, prohibiting or punishing certain speech or publication does not stop such speech, but drives it underground. I would rather have them out in the open, so I know who my enemies are. Any government power that can be used against "the bad guys" can easily be used against "the good guys" given the right circumstances.
And I don't trust the government.
So that means that I begrudgingly side with Ezra Levant on principle. He should have the right to publish or say anything he wants, so long as it does not cause harm to anyone else. He should not have to answer to anyone not directly involved, let alone a government commission, no matter how minor or seemingly friendly. If his words incite violence, or are untrue, he should be sued and impoverished. Those that oppose his bigoted views should take him on head on, with more speech, louder speech and ridicule him into oblivion. Boycott his work, his publications or any publication or media outlet that employs him. Hit him where it hurts, in his wallet.
Defending free speech requires more speech, not less.
Despite that, Levant is no hero for free speech. He is, in my opinion*, merely an opportunist, looking for any public platform to spout his anti-Muslim garbage. And the Alberta Human Rights And Citizenship Commission has given him such a platform.
Remember how all this came about. In the middle of Canada's conservative heartland, Alberta, Levant couldn't successfully run a conservative political magazine. In an effort to boost sales, he pulled the Mohammed cartoon stunt. The cartoons, which were easy to find on the internet, were long past being news until Levant whipped up the fury again. Even with that and nuzzling up to the government teat, Levant couldn't keep his magazine going, after some private businesses such as Chapters-Indigo chose to stop carrying his magazine, especially the issue in question.
In other words, it was a stunt to try to make Levant money. And it backfired.
But then Syed Soharwardy handed Levant a gift - he made a HRC complaint.
Now, Levant could have merely answered by sending a registered letter. He was not compelled to appear the other day, he chose to. He could have left it at that and it is very likely the AHRC would have dropped the complaint (as they do with most) because it has no merits.
But he didn't. Instead he video taped it, posted it on Youtube, all after inciting his martyrdom on his blog for days before the event. He is even begging for donations from his followers for something that has yet to cost him anything besides the time he chose to take. He is begging for donations for a case that is not likely to succeed and not likely to actually cost him money. He is promoting himself as a saviour of "free speech" but "call now with your donation, before its too late!" Benny Hinn would be proud.
In other words, it is a stunt to make Levant money.
Every conservative who is donating money and supporting this is doing nothing more than wasting their money and aiding anti-Muslim bigotry.
Of course, from my perspective, all of this was a predictable result of the very existence of the HRC. Indeed, such things were predicted in 1644 by John Milton in Areopagitica. One of the main thrusts of Milton's argument is that by persecuting free speech and freedom of the press, the state gives credibility and credence to positions that would not otherwise merit it. If the government is so worried that it needs to silence an opponent, then they must have something worth listening to. Likewise, he argued, persecutions give those being persecuted a state sanctioned platform for their views, thus causing them, again, to get more credibility than they deserve and to be spread farther then they otherwise would.
Certainly, that is the case here. Levant has used the HRC as a platform to attack Islam in general and Soharwardy in particular. Merely peruse the comments at his blog or at the Shotgun (neither of which will get a link from me - use Google if you must) to see the depths of anti-Muslim hatred he has stirred because of this. He is even getting support from some who would not associate with such opinions under normal circumstances. And of course, this failed Conservative politician and failed publisher is now in the centre of the spotlight again, his face on camera, spouting his nonsense.
Its like giving the madman on the corner a megaphone and a 3 piece suit instead of ignoring him.
Ezra Levant is a lot of things, but, in my opinion*, he is not a hero for free speech.
It appears, if you read Mike Brock's comments in the comments section below, that I had not sufficiently clarified that thinking Ezra was an anti-Muslim bigot was my opinion (for the reasons I give in the comments, as well as those by Dr. Dawg) and not a "statement of fact". In an effort to avoid confusion for Mike and others that may read this, I have updated this post to make it clear that it is my opinion. After all, it seems Ezra, the king of free speech, is in a suing mood and I really want to keep my house.