He begged them to convict him, which is precisely why he was acquitted. So effective was he in exposing the Orwellian nature of the “human rights” process that he simply became more trouble to them than he was worth. There’s nothing I can say to improve on his blog announcement or, especially, his op-ed in today’s National Post, but in case you don’t have time to read them, it boils down to this: This is no more a “victory” than it’s a victory when mafia thugs work someone over to send a message but let him live. He and his magazine lost $100,000 on legal fees, are still facing lawsuits from a dozen parties, and earned nothing more substantive from the state by way of an apology than a declaration that the cartoon he printed were “stereotypical, negative and offensive,” albeit ultimately not actionable. But he’s still in one piece — sort of. Victory.
Gundara [the state inspector] forgave me and the Western Standard our sins because, according to him, the offensiveness of the cartoons was “muted by the context of the accompanying article” and we ran letters both for and against the cartoons in our subsequent issue. He also acquitted us because “the cartoons were not simply stuck in the middle of the magazine with no purpose or related story.”
Let me translate: You’d better be “reasonable” in how you use your freedoms, or you won’t be allowed to keep them. You’d better not run political cartoons “simply stuck in the middle” of a magazine. You’d better have a “purpose” for being “negative” that is approved by bureaucrat, when he finally gets around to it three years later.
That is not acceptable to me. I am not interested in Gundara’s views about the cartoons. I’m not interested in learning his personal rules of thumb for when I can or can’t express myself. This is Canada, not Saudi Arabia.
It was Canada. He’s still $10,000 in the hole, so if you’re able, follow the link and avail yourself of the donation button. Exit quotation: “I haven’t been given my freedom of the press. I’ve simply had the government censor approve what I said. That’s a completely different thing.”
Update: I sure am glad at times like this that the toxic mix of extortion and extreme political correctness isn’t being used to silence anyone in the United States.
Starting in 2002, Spokane, Wash., journalist Sherry Jones toiled weekends on a racy historical novel about Aisha, the young wife of the prophet Muhammad. Ms. Jones learned Arabic, studied scholarly works about Aisha’s life, and came to admire her protagonist as a woman of courage. When Random House bought her novel last year in a $100,000, two-book deal, she was ecstatic. This past spring, she began plans for an eight-city book tour after the Aug. 12 publication date of “The Jewel of Medina” — a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet’s harem.
It’s not going to happen: In May, Random House abruptly called off publication of the book…
After consulting security experts and Islam scholars, Mr. Perry said the company decided “to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel.”