Over the weekend I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker at the Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists, in Banff. I don't think I'd normally be invited to speak at such a gathering, but over the past three years I've talked about editorial cartoons almost every single day. Of course, it's not just the Danish cartoons that we republished in the Western Standard that were subject to human rights complaints; Bruce MacKinnon of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald is currently being hounded by the Nova Scotia HRC, for publishing this work, at left. (Here's more information about that cartoon, and its would-be censors.)
Cartoonists will naturally be targeted by political censors, as it is in the nature of an editorial cartoon, particularly a one-panel editorial cartoon, to communicate without the euphemisms of political correctness that can water down the meaning of, say, a 700-word Op-Ed. Radical Muslim Cheryfa Jamal, pictured in MacKinnon's cartoon, cannot be drawn without her one-woman prison, though an Op-Ed could omit her strikingly misogynist personal appearance. How could any honest cartoonist not draw her in the manner MacKinnon did?
But enough about Jamal. Here is a friendly report from Patrick Lamontagne, the outgoing president of the cartoonists and the host of the convention in Banff:
Ezra Levant turned out to be quite an interesting speaker, and not the reactionary grandstander I had incorrectly assumed he would be. I had the pleasure of dining with him before the speech, I found him to be a likable, well-informed individual with some excellent and frightening points. Turns out that Canadians looking down on the US for the freedoms they've given away to The Department of Homeland Security should take a long hard look at our own Human Rights Commissions. No qualifications, auditors, oversight committees or warrants necessary for these folks. All it takes is an accusation, and you're guilty until proven innocent. One step removed from Big Brother, and a short step at that.
I'm always pleased when I enter a room as a reactionary grandstander, and leave as a likeable, well-informed individual!
I'm just kidding -- Lamontagne and the entire group were incredibly kind and friendly, and seemed genuinely concerned by the erosion of freedom of speech in Canada. I sensed that some of them were not fully familiar with the story of the Danish cartoons, such as the fact that the Danish imams who went on their world-wide "hate Denmark" tour added in three vile cartoons of their own fabrication to stoke anti-Danish feelings. The wikipedia page is excellent, for those who'd like to know more.
I give a good number of speeches in a year, but I have never received as fitting a present as I did from the cartoonists: a caricature of me wearing a Danish cartoon-style turban! It was painted by Lamontagne himself, and I was truly astonished that he would put so much time and talent into a thank-you gift. And what a perfect gift! You can see a picture of it, above.