UPDATE: Meryle's e-mail is fixed.
I've got a couple of speeches about freedom of speech and the threat of human rights commissions coming up that are open to the public.
On June 16, I'm speaking to the Canadian Jewish Civil Rights Association, at the Ontario Bar Association office on 20 Toronto Street. Tickets are impossibly inexpensive at $20 and include lunch. E-mail Meryle if you'd like to buy a ticket. The National Post's Marni Soupcoff will be the emcee.
My speech at the Fraser Institute in Vancouver last Tuesday was well-received; I think they're going to upload a podcast of the talk. I'll link to it when they do. Here's a news report of that event.
The Institute has asked me to do a larger event in Calgary later this year. I'll link to their sign-up page on their website when it's up.
I'm looking forward to all of these events very much. But the Jewish Civil Rights Association will be particularly interesting from the point of view of Jews and censorship. For decades, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and to a lesser extent the B'nai Brith, have claimed that Canadian Jews are Woody Allen caricatures, so wobbly in our self-esteem, so downtrodden in society, that we would perish without laws that censor words our tender ears can't bear hearing. The CJC, B'nai Brith and the Simon Wiesenthal Center actually swore an affidavit claiming that Jews rely on the government's censorship for our "psychological security".
Other than the race-hustlers and grievance mongers who make their living off of "fighting hate", I actually haven't encountered a single Jew in Canada who believes that tripe. But that shouldn't be surprising. When Bernie Farber and the rest of the lobbyists at the CJC say they represent Canadian Jews, it's sort of like when Jesse Jackson says he represents American Blacks. Uh, whatever you say, boss.
Jews that I know love freedom of speech -- more than most cultures, we seem to be drawn to expressive pursuits. Censorship is anathema to how Jews life their lives, and even to theological Judaism itself.
I attended Mark Steyn's speech at a Jewish fundraiser in Vancouver last Monday, for Hillel. (That's the Jewish youth group that Bernie Farber's friend, Richard Warman of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, disparaged on a neo-Nazi website.) Steyn was very tough on the CJC and their quest to eradicate, in his words, "the last three Nazis in Saskatchewan" while ignoring the real threat to Canadian Jews posed by radical Islam. In a room jammed full of Vancouver's Jewish leadership, I didn't detect a twitter of disagreement when he made his points very firmly; nor were any questions on that matter raised in the Q & A session that followed his talk.
I'm told by my host that there were indeed senior West Coast CJC members present. It's possible that they were just being polite to their guest speaker -- but I don't know many Jews who self-censor like that.
I think that Steyn encountered what I expect to encounter at my upcoming speech to the Jewish civil rights club: that "severely normal" Canadian Jews find human rights commissions' censorship adventures offensive, and they find the CHRC's own online anti-Semitism abominable. And unless, like Farber and company, they're actually getting a paycheque for holding censorious views, they're in synch with the freedom-loving Canadian mainstream on this. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.