Monday, June 9, 2008

Tell Us What You Really Think

Khurrum Awan can't seem to figure out that he lives in Canada, not Zimbabwe. At a forum on free speech and the curtailment thereof at the Canadian Arab conference he called on Canadian muslims to demand a right to participate in the media. The problem is that Mr. Awan lives in a liberal western democracy. You don't just get to demand things, especially not of private companies or individuals. I guess Mr. Awan "demanded" a sick day when they taught that at law school. But it gets better, or rather, worse:

"And we have to tell them, you know what, if you're not going to allow us to do that, there will be consequences. You will be taken to the human rights commission, you will be taken to the press council, and you know what? If you manage to get rid of the human rights code provisions [on hate speech], we will then take you to the civil courts system. And you know what? Some judge out there might just think that perhaps it's time to have a tort of group defamation, and you might be liable for a few million dollars," (Awan) said.

Does Richard Warman know this kid is cutting into his racket? For a supposed lawyer, Awan is being pretty candid about shopping around for an activist judge. Then again, Awan doesn't strike me as worried about that whole "gross miscarriage of justice" thing western legal systems have been trying to avoid since the Magna Carta. I hope wider Canada is fully awake to this now. I hope America too is paying attention to recent happenings in the Great White North (oops, did I just commit a hate crime?). Our courts have a troubling habit of citing foreign cases as precedent. Thank goodness our tort system isn't prone to giving out obscene judgments on ridiculous decisions. I'm sure John Edwards wouldn't jump at the chance to represent a minority group in a class action against the rest of society for not liking them.

Thankfully - for me at least - this nonsense is still confined to the Canadian half of North America. However, if Mr. Awan and his islamist ally Mr. Elmasry succeed in revising the list of Canadian rights then Canada will have proven itself to have a European style spine and the list of potential American allies in a fight gets that much smaller. The friendly, easygoing neighbor we've taken for granted is starting to fade away. In the updated version of "Canadian Bacon" Dan Akroyd doesn't make you write all the obscenities on your truck in French, he hauls you off to Barbara Hall for summary judgment.

I make light of this and have a chuckle where one is due, but some of what Mr. Awan says is truly terrifying.

He said that the argument for limitless free speech "is really a far-right Republican argument that is being imported into this country."

So freedom of speech is just a scheme cooked up by the evil Republicans and George Bush over in the States? For what end? Just to defame muslims? I guess we'll just disregard the last thousand years or so of western history. Its unimportant that the ideals like freedom of speech that America was founded on weren't conceived on our continent. The American "experiment" was the best opportunity yet to put into action ideas that Europe had been mulling over for a few centuries. Mr. Awan doesn't seem to understand that America is a product of the enlightenment, as is the rest of the west, Canada included. He doesn't understand that the concepts of liberal democracy and freedom of speech were developed at the same moment in history, that they go hand in hand and cannot exist separately. Worse though, Mr. Awan doesn't see the need to understand this. As far as he's concerned it never happened. Its all a recent, really
"far-right Republican argument". I pray that I don't live to see the day that freedom of speech is only advocated on the extreme right wing.

Its cliche to call this Orwellian, but its a perfect example. Mr. Awan is just making up the past as he goes to fit the situation. Soon Common Law will be a recent GOP invention. The whole HRC process is already an affront to western legal tradition. "Of course we can have a separate sharia law for the Umma, one law for everyone is an intolerant American notion". What will be next? Freedom of Assembly? Representative Democracy itself? I may be spouting extreme worst case scenarios, but once you throw out one supposedly universal human right, aren't the others up for debate?

What Mr. Awan truly needs to understand is why we fear him and his ilk. Its not his religion that gives me pause, its his secular views on the role and power of the State in society. Totalitarianism is totalitarianism, regardless of who you pray to. What he's really doing is hiding behind Islam and his minority status so he can claim any vitriol directed toward him is actually directed at his religion. I don't believe Mr. Awan is an islamist, terror supporter, or an anti Semite like his pal Elmasry, but I do believe he's a Statist, and to me that's just as damning.


Blazing Cat Fur said...

Well said. I wonder if anyone will ever hire him, as a lawyer I mean rather than as an Islamist spokesman;)

A Missourian said...

I don't think Mr. Awan sees the difference.