Worth 1,000 words
I refer in the first case to Bruce MacKinnon, the award-winning political cartoonist of Atlantic Canada’s largest newspaper, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. MacKinnon drew the cartoon, at left, depicting Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal, a Gentile convert to radical Islam, whose husband had been arrested, and then let go, on suspicion of terrorist activities. Jamal demanded "millions" of dollars in compensation. She's perfectly combined the Canadian trait of entitlemania with her newer jihadi tastes for belligerent "demands". What a perfect personification of the new phenomenon of Islamic "lawfare".
Jamal didn’t sue MacKinnon or the Chronicle-Herald for defamation. Such a suit would surely fail; the cartoon was fair comment in every way. Local imam Ziaullah Khan -- an officious intermeddler, a busy-body, a trouble-maker, a complainer of opportunity, a man with no legal standing, a vexatious and frivolous litigant, a man who, in a saner time would be himself sued for the tort of champerty -- has taken the Chronicle-Herald to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, thereby committing the taxpayers' funds and the government's bureaucrats and lawyers to the prosecution of a religious fatwa. So much for the separation of mosque and state.
(The fact that police were initially involved in the investigation is outrageous. It was clearly a political act of intimidation, and a deviation from the required neutrality of officers of the state. It was, in essence, the first toe-hold of the return of Canada's old blasphemy laws. Not to prosecute anti-Christian blasphemy -- but to enforce sharia law. Internal Affairs should investigate this vulgar flexing of police muscles, and the police chief should issue a statement re-committing his force to the neutral application of Queen Elizabeth's laws, not Mohammed's.)
Khan's complaint is legally incoherent -- but that's never been an obstacle to human rights commissions before. He argues that the cartoon discriminates against Jamal because it depicts her as a Muslim, and therefore implies that Mulims are terrorists. Well, some of them are -- but truth is not a defence in human rights "courts". More to the point, look at the photo of Jamal, at left, and ask yourself how else MacKinnon could have rendered her image, other than as he had done. When you walk around in a one-woman prison -- distinguishable only because of your blue eyes and skewed 1980's wire-frame glasses -- that's pretty much all you've left a cartoonist to work with.
The trial of a cartoonist is a hybrid of some of the Islamic lawfare we've seen in Canada to date. Like the Canadian Islamic Congress's three human rights complaints against Mark Steyn and Maclean's, it attempts to silence political criticism of radical Islam, and even of specific radical Muslims in the news. But, like the upcoming B.C. trial of Guy Earle, the comedian charged with making unfunny jokes about lesbians at an open-mike night, it seeks to have the state as arbiter of what satire is allowed or not. It is the beginning of the criminalization of jokes themselves. That would be fine with Ayatollah Khomanei, who said:
Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.
That just doesn't work. It's contrary to human nature. And it's also contrary to our cultural traditions, least amongst them our laws. We're allowed to make fun of people in Canada -- especially public figures, especially odious ones like Jamal and her husband. Human rights commissions now seek to tell us not to laugh at funny jokes (as in MacKinnon's cartoon) or positively to laugh at unfunny ones (the CIC complaint against Maclean's included the grievance that Steyn thought the CBC's sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairies, wasn't funny).
Sorry, that's just stupid.
I'm looking forward to this speech very much. Who doesn't like cartoonists? Not only do they have to have the wits to come up with a political comment every day -- that's a heavier workload than most newspaper column-writers bear -- they have to do so in a single image, not 1,000 words. And they've got to be funny. That's a tough job.
I think we like cartoonists because they're allowed to -- they're supposed to -- retain a youthful insouciance and irreverence towards heavy political subjects. They're allowed to be silly; to poke fun at things that we're not supposed to do in other venues -- like emphasizing physical eccentricities of newsmakers. They get to have fun for a living.
I can hardly wait to hang out with them for an evening -- I bet they're a fun, and funny, crowd. The fact that they are now being targetted by Canada's human rights commissions tells you just how far off the rails the HRCs have gone. I hate that MacKinnon and others must go through the legal abuses I've suffered at the hands of Alberta's HRC for the past 875 days. But, in a selfish way, I'm glad they've been conscripted into the battle against such illiberal censorship.
If there was one group in the world I wouldn't want to mess with politically, it would be Canada's political cartoonists. The fools at the HRCs couldn't have picked more influential -- or better loved -- victims.