My new book about Canada's abusive human rights commissions, called Shakedown, will officially be released on March 24th.
I'm pretty excited about it: the informal feedback I've received from book reviewers who received early copies is pretty positive. It was a pleasure to write the book -- it's part of the fight to denormalize HRCs by winning the argument in the court of public opinion. The HRCs hate that: they prefer to operate in darkness, punctuated only by occasional cheerleading stories written about them by ideological dupes in the mainstream media. That era is over.
I'm particularly glad that Shakedown is being published by McClelland & Stewart, one of Canada's most prestigious publishers. Of course, going with a publisher like them will they ensure the book receives a wide distribution and strong publicity (I'll blog about the details of my international(!) book tour soon) so it will be read by "severely normal" Canadians, not just political junkies who surf the conservative blogosphere. That's important: this story has to break out from the political class and capture the imagination of Canadians in general.
It also says something about what's normal and what's not in Canada these days that someone with my strong views -- I believe in abolishing HRCs, not just reforming them -- is now normal enough to be published by the same publisher as Margaret Atwood and Mel Hurtig. It's not that M&S "agrees" with me; it's that they recognize my view is a legitimate one. It's the HRCs who are the extremists, the violators of civil liberties. I'm the liberal now.
It has been a challenge to refrain from blogging about so many of the stories and anecdotes I put in the book, but I showed that discipline so that regular readers of this blog would find the book new and worthwhile. Of course, the basic themes are ones that I cover regularly, but the stories and the details are new. I'm pretty excited about it. There are some absolutely crazy cases that will shock even regular readers of this blog, who are now surely numb to whatever new stupidity is cooked up by the HRCs.
The first person in the country to receive a review copy was Dan Cook, who besides blogging here, had me on the radio in Montreal. You can see a transcript of that talk on Roy Eappen's blog, and you can hear the audio here.
The first "official" book review in a newspaper of record is tomorrow's review in the Calgary Herald, by Nigel Hannaford. Attentive readers will know that Nigel has been fighting against the censorship powers of HRCs for a long time -- long before I ever became entangled in them.
Here is Nigel's blog, which contains a sneak preview of tomorrow's Herald review. Here are some of my favourite excerpts:
...Taking on the pugnacious Ezra is like wrestling with a hog: You both get dirty, but the hog enjoys it.
Anyway, Levant was duly charged with the boilerplate "publishing something likely to expose a person or class of persons to hatred or contempt etc."
Shake Down is about what happened next.
Anybody with a western understanding of fair play will see red over what Levant reports: Politicized tribunals presided over by commissioners who, like Calgary alderman Diane Colley-Urquart, float freely across the borders between elected office and HRC panellist; state-paid prosecution of hapless defendants by complainants who never face the possibility of costs; no right of counter suit for malicious prosecution; no common-law defences allowed, no rules of evidence.
...The nub of the matter is in a foreword by Mark Steyn, himself no stranger to the political courts of Canada’s two-tier-justice system. Remarking on the now-famous encounter between Levant and a so-called human rights agent of the AHRC, (see YouTube,) Steyn writes, "At one point in her inquisition, after listening to Ezra’s musings on the outrageousness of what was happening, Agent McGovern looked blandly across the table and shrugged: ‘You’re entitled to your opinion, that’s for sure.’ If only."
Quite. If an Albertan is entitled to his opinion, why does he have to answer for it to a government agency?
...But, why "Shake Down?"
Well, I admit here at the Herald with our professional free-speech emphasis, actually a small part of what human rights commissions do, we sometimes overlook their staple trade; garden-variety opportunism. However, Ezra doesn’t and in a cross-country checkup, reveals such eye-rollers as a transvestite who won the right to counsel female rape victims, and a complaint by a Calgary hair stylist who complained to the AHRC that the girls he worked with called him a "loser" — not, to my knowledge, a prohibited ground of discrimination — and a quick review of Alberta cases shows severance agreements are creeping in.
...Shake Down. Read it. Get mad.
It's great to get a strong review like that. And it will be great to have hostile reviews by the three or four usual suspects in the HRC industry who still are unembarrassed to publicly defend these medieval-style star chambers.
A year ago I made the decision not to let the "lawfare" being waged against me turn me into a sour crank. I knew if my readers could help me cover my enormous legal bills, I could stay positive, knowing I had public support and that if we just kept writing the truth about the HRCs, we'd win in the court of public opinion in the end. My goal was to be, to borrow the title of Mark Steyn's column in National Review, a "happy warrior".
I think I've got that tonal balance in Shakedown. There's a good helping of outrage in there. But I think Canada's HRCs are even more laughable than they are outrageous. Frankly, it's easy to mock them.
My goal is to get the whole country laughing at them, destroying their false respectability, and pressuring governments to act to reform or repeal them.
I think it's going to work. (I predicted that 2009 would be the year when the first political reforms to HRCs would happen, and I stand by that prediction.)
You can get your copy of Shakedown from Amazon here, from Chapters here, and from Mark Steyn here (signed by him). Mark was kind enough to write a powerful introduction to the book. That introduction itself is worth the cover price itself.
If you do buy the book, drop me a line to let me know what you think of it. I'd love the feedback.