It is often said that 'free speech' is one of the hallmarks of Western democracy - but don't you believe it. Free speech only exists in the United States, and nowhere else. Europe just doesn't get the whole free speech concept, by banning religious dress in places like France, and the criminalization of Holocaust denial and 'revisionist' history in places such as Germany and Austria. Britain is one of the worst offenders. They have chilling defamation laws that make the free exchange of information and opinion completely impossible, they have no written constitution that protects free speech, and their television news is state-run.
Canada is no better. Mark Steyn is being hauled before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission for alleged 'hate speech' in his book 'America Alone'. This is the gist of the problem:
After the Canadian general-interest magazine Maclean's reprinted a chapter from the book, five Muslim law-school students, acting through the auspices of the Canadian Islamic Congress, demanded that the magazine be punished for spreading hatred and contempt" for Muslims.
The plaintiffs allege that Maclean's advocated, among other things, the notion that Islamic culture is incompatible with Canada's liberalized, Western civilization. They insist such a notion is untrue and, in effect, want opinions like that banned from publication.
Only Americans, the inventors of free speech, understand it and cherish it. The rest of the world pays lip service to it, but when politicians throughout the rest of the world are confronted with the clash of free speech with identity politics, political expediency wins every time. No other nation in the world has enshrined free speech as a sacrosanct principle, and so such mischief often occurs.