Punished first, acquitted later
My lawyers have just received a copy of a letter from the Alberta Human Rights Commission dismissing the complaint of “discrimination” filed against me by the radical Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities. They had complained that by publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in the Western Standard in February 2006, I had engaged in an illegal act.
Their complaint was identical to the one filed earlier by an anti-Semitic imam named Syed Soharwardy. Soharwardy abandoned his complaint this spring. You can see Soharwardy’s complaint here; it named both me and the magazine. The Edmonton complaint named just the magazine. My initial legal response is here.
The two complaints cost Alberta taxpayers in excess of $500,000 and, according to access to information documents, involved no fewer than 15 government bureaucrats. What a scam – on the part of the complainants, who were able to wage “lawfare” against an infidel without paying a cent; and on the part of the HRC, as a make-work project.
Fire. Them. All.
You can see the Notice of Dismissal here.
You can see my press release on the subject here.
I’ll have an Op-Ed in the National Post, and it should be available here.
Is this a victory? I suppose, in a narrow technical sense, it is. I’m off the hook now for both of the HRC complaints. That’s two legal battles done – though I’m still up to my eyeballs fighting defamation suits and other legal actions that the human rights industry piled on top of these complaints.
But I’ve read the dismissal letter three times now, and each time it makes me more angry. Because I haven’t been given my freedom of the press. I’ve simply had the government censor approve what I said. That’s a completely different thing.
Pardeep Gundara – a second-rate bureaucrat, a nobody – had to give me his approval for me to be allowed to go back to my business. For 900 days I was in the dock, waiting for this literary giant to pronounce his judgment on me. And I found favour in his eyes – but barely.
Sorry. I don’t give a damn what Gundara or the HRC says. Getting his approval is not a success. I won't legitimize his arrogant "authority" by saying "thank you, master". I'll say: "who the hell are you? Besides a busy-body bureaucrat?"
Look at his rationale for acquitting me: because the Western Standard met Gundara’s home-made tests of reasonableness. We published the cartoons in “context”; we published letters that “criticized” them; and my favourite, the cartoons weren’t “simply stuck in the middle” of the magazine. Gundara must have thought for ten whole minutes to come up with that list of journalistic do’s and don’t’s. And – phew! – he likes me. He really likes me!
Sorry again, I don’t give a damn if he likes me. In fact, it rather creeps me out that a whole squad of teat-sucking bureaucrats spent 900 days inspecting me and the Western Standard. I positively want to offend them. In fact, that’s pretty much the only test of my freedom: can I do exactly what Gundara says I shouldn’t? I’m not interested in publishing recipes or sports scores. I’m interested in bothering the hell out of government.
I will have more to say about this in the days ahead. But for now, let me try to put this in perspective.
1. I’m obviously glad to be acquitted – though, with a dozen other legal actions filed or pending against me by the same group of people, I’m not exactly free.
2. Two months ago, Rev. Stephen Boissoin was given an outrageous sentence by the Alberta HRC for doing the same thing I did. Rev. Boissoin even met Gundara’s goofy tests. Why was I acquitted and Rev. Boissoin convicted, sentenced and humiliated? Because I’m a pain in the neck to the HRCs, and I have been embarrassing them ever since I YouTubed their interrogation of me. They wanted to avoid the PR disaster of a trial. Rev. Boissoin is more their style: a quiet man they can beat up with impunity.
3. I suppose an optimist would say this is a sign of progress: the HRCs are now vulnerable enough to public opinion that they thought they’d throw me back in the ocean – like the Canadian Human Rights Commission recently did with Mark Steyn and Fr. Alphonse de Valk. They’re in damage control mode. That should give us encouragement.
4. But we shouldn’t be too giddy. Because look closely at what Gundara has said. He didn’t say I was free. He said I merely met his censorship standards, so I may go. Those are two completely different things.
5. Let me close this blog post by thanking you, my readers and legal defence fund supporters, for helping to carry me through to see this day. I’m not done fighting; I still have the other nuisance suits coming at me. And I intend to keep writing and talking about these abuses of process until all of us are free from these menaces – not just the squeaky wheels, like me.
I've been keeping up with my legal bills pretty well, but I still owe McLennan Ross about $10,000 for their work.
If you're able to help chip in, please do.
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