Maybe Canadians* are so friendly because it’s against the law not to be. Canada’s national magazine MacLean’s is currently on trial in British Columbia over an article it published last year called “The Future Belongs to Islam,” which itself was an excerpt from a book by Mark Steyn (he also writes a column for the National Review) called “America Alone.” The court will be ruling in the next few days on whether the magazine violated a provincial hate speech law by “stirring up animosity toward Muslims.” Canada, it seems, along with most of the Western world, has strict hate speech laws.
In much of the developed world, one uses racial epithets at one’s legal peril, one displays Nazi regalia and the other trappings of ethnic hatred at significant legal risk and one urges discrimination against religious minorities under threat of fine or imprisonment.Not so in the United States! We can say anything we want (sort of) it’s called “freedom of speech” wherein every last nutjob is protected no matter what the crazy hate speak is they may be spewing (or until MediaMatters takes offense). Anyway, the NYT is wondering if maybe we should “relax some of the most stringent First Amendment protections.” We think this is a bad idea: who would be left to run the internet? Also, waiting to see what racially offensive, ripped from the front page of The Onion (except it’s not) remark Fox News comes up with next is too good to pass up.
*I happen to be Canadian and have also written for MacLean’s.