Aug. 7, 2008
Via NRO I see that Ezra Levant, a Canadian magazine publisher, has been acquitted by the kangaroo Human Rights Tribunal that had been investigating him. His account of the acquittal-and further denunciations of his inquisitors is here. I once heard Levant speak here in Washington and he was just as full of justified indignation then as he seems to be now. In Canada these tribunals have been used by radical Muslims to silence critics of Islam and by homosexual activists to silence religious speech they find offensive.
On the Islamic side, the experiences of people like Levant are dangerously close to the experiences of those who live in Muslim countries and have to face "blasphemy laws." These blasphemy laws are a growing problem in many countries, since they are often used to repress religious minorities and to silence political opponents. They also are part-and-parcel of a growing problem at the international level, namely the ten-year effort to establish "defamation of religion" as a prohibited action by customary international law. In other words it would be a blasphemy law as an international norm. (The Becket Fund has been watching this issue carefully, especially as it would affect established religious liberty.)
On the Christian side, the Canadian tribunals might be a forerunner of what we might see in the United States with expanded hate-crimes laws and same-sex marriage. As Levant mentions in his piece, one Canadian man of the cloth has already been forbidden to discuss certain tenets of his faith. In Sweden, Pastor Ake Green was also brought up on charges for denouncing homosexuality (see our brief in the case here). At least in Green's case, however, he was tried in standard courts, and acquitted. As Levant points out, these tribunals are far murkier and less accountable for their actions. ("The process is the punishment," I heard him say.) Their slow importation into the United States poses a serious threat to religious liberty, as we are already learning in places like New Mexico.
So congratulations to Ezra Levant, but we should pay close attention to his story, lest it just be a prologue for similar petty tyranny here in the United States.