The truth is not a defense

You Can’t Say That.

A couple of years ago, a Canadian magazine published an article arguing that the rise of Islam threatened Western values. The article’s tone was mocking and biting, but it said nothing that conservative magazines and blogs in the United States do not say every day without fear of legal reprisal.

Sigh – not just conservative magazines and blogs. Why is this so hard to grasp? Islam is not left-wing or liberal. Islam itself is far, far more conservative than most of the conservative magazines and blogs in the US. Islam is reactionary; Islam is in many ways medieval. It is not, repeat not, just conservatives who have strong reservations about ‘the rise of Islam.’ You don’t have to be a conservative to argue that the rise of Islam threatens liberal values – although being a conservative may tend to cause you to call liberal values ‘Western’ values, which is silly and wrong. (Newsflash: one of the values in question is universalism, which means that the values can’t be purely Western ones, and they’re not; they done spread.)

Things are different here. The magazine is on trial. Two members of the Canadian Islamic Congress say the magazine, Maclean’s, Canada’s leading newsweekly, violated a provincial hate speech law by stirring up hatred against Muslims. They say the magazine should be forbidden [to say] similar things, forced to publish a rebuttal and made to compensate Muslims for injuring their “dignity, feelings and self-respect.”

But what if the rise of Islam does in fact threaten liberal values? What then?

[T]he lawyer for Maclean’s, Roger D. McConchie, all but called the proceeding a sham. “Innocent intent is not a defense,” Mr. McConchie said in a bitter criticism of the British Columbia law on hate speech. “Nor is truth. Nor is fair comment on true facts. Publication in the public interest and for the public benefit is not a defense. Opinion expressed in good faith is not a defense. Responsible journalism is not a defense.”

Oh. You can’t say it even if it’s true. That’s interesting.

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