Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ezra Levant AHRC case dropped!!! (National Post Article, Levant Press Release and more...)

 

Ezra Levant: How I beat the fatwa, and lost my freedom

 

 

NATIONAL POST | August 6, 2008

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/08/06/ezra-levant-how-i-beat-the-fatwa-and-lost-my-freedom.aspx

 

Some 900 days after I became the only person in the Western world charged with the “offence” of republishing the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, the government has finally acquitted me of illegal “discrimination.” Taxpayers are out more than $500,000 for an investigation that involved fifteen bureaucrats at the Alberta Human Rights Commission. The legal cost to me and the now-defunct Western Standard magazine is $100,000.

The case would have been thrown out long ago if I had been charged in a criminal court, instead of a human rights commission. That’s because accused criminals have the right to a speedy trial. Accused publishers at human rights commissions do not.

And if I had been a defendant in a civil court, the judge would now order the losing parties to pay my legal bills. Instead, the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities won’t have to pay me a dime. Neither will Syed Soharwardy, the Calgary imam who abandoned his identical complaint against me this spring.

Both managed to hijack a secular government agency to prosecute their radical Islamic fatwa against me — the first blasphemy case in Canada in over 80 years. Their complaints were dismissed, but it is inaccurate to say that they lost: They got the government to rough me up for nearly three years, at no cost to them. The process I was put through was a punishment in itself — and a warning to any other journalists who would defy radical Islam.

The 11-page government report into my activities is a breathtakingly arrogant document. In it, Pardeep Gundara, a low-level bureaucrat, assumes the role of editor-in-chief for the entire province of Alberta. He went through our magazine article and gave his own thoughts on the cartoons, and pronounced on our magazine’s decision to publish them. The government’s wannabe journalist makes a spelling error, he gets facts wrong and he’s obviously not good with deadlines. We’d never have hired him at our magazine. But the laugh is on us — he’s apparently our boss, and the boss of all journalists in Alberta.

In his report, Gundara presents as “fact” his personal opinion of the Muhammad cartoons. He says they’re “stereotypical, negative and offensive.” That’s one viewpoint. Others have a different view. Why should anyone care about Gundara’s personal opinion? Do I need permission from him — or anyone other than my conscience — before I publish things in the future? Is this column okay by him?

Gundara forgave me and the Western Standard our sins because, according to him, the offensiveness of the cartoons was “muted by the context of the accompanying article” and we ran letters both for and against the cartoons in our subsequent issue. He also acquitted us because “the cartoons were not simply stuck in the middle of the magazine with no purpose or related story.”

Let me translate: You’d better be “reasonable” in how you use your freedoms, or you won’t be allowed to keep them. You’d better not run political cartoons “simply stuck in the middle” of a magazine. You’d better have a “purpose” for being “negative” that is approved by bureaucrat, when he finally gets around to it three years later.

That is not acceptable to me. I am not interested in Gundara’s views about the cartoons. I’m not interested in learning his personal rules of thumb for when I can or can’t express myself. This is Canada, not Saudi Arabia.

My dismissal is not a victory for freedom of the press. Because Alberta’s press is not free — it is now subject to the approval of the government. But Canadians have the right to a free press in spite of the government. We have the right to break every one of Gundara’s petty and subjective rules.

 

 

Rest of article at:

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/08/06/ezra-levant-how-i-beat-the-fatwa-and-lost-my-freedom.aspx

 

 

 

Also See:

Ezra Levant.com: (Punish First, Acquitted Later)

http://ezralevant.com/2008/08/punished-first-acquitted-later.html

 

NewsWire: (The Danish cartoon investigation has made Alberta's human rights commission an international embarrassment)

http://newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/August2008/06/c2112.html