Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mark Steyn's Post Trial Thoughts

Normally I would never copy & paste an article in its entirety but for personal reasons I'm going to make an exception this time. I'm confident Mark Steyn will understand why and forgive me. Here's the original, while it remains on his site.

Notes on a show trial Print E-mail
Sunday, 08 June 2008

I don't have a lot to add to what Andrew Coyne, Ezra Levant and others have written on the British Columbia "Human Rights" Tribunal. Readers of this site have lived with the issues for six months and know most of the arguments - better, indeed, than the pseudo-judges in Vancouver. On Friday, the intervenor for the Canadian Association of Journalists referred en passant to constitutional challenges to Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Code, and Chief Commissar Heather McNaughton asked whether any such challenges were currently proceeding, and he replied: Yes. Warman vs Lemire. Most SteynOnline readers would be aware of Mr Lemire's constitutional challenge to the core "hate speech" weapon in the "human rights" armory, and know that it's intimately entwined with the Maclean's case. But Heather McNaughton, British Columbia's chief "human rights" inquisitor, apparently wasn't.

Other than that, here's just a couple of observations:

1) When I arrived at the courthouse, an officer of the BC Sheriff's Department, said because of "security threats" he'd be sticking by me everywhere I went in the building. I found this rather reassuring for about 90 seconds until it occurred to me he almost certainly meant not that the court had been apprised of security threats against me but that I myself was the security threat.

2) Tuesday was devoted in large part to discussion of my review of the CBC sitcom "Little Mosque On The Prairie" and to in-depth joke exegesis by Chief Sock Khurrum Awan. To the best of my knowledge, he was not sworn in as an expert witness, a Professor of Humorological Studies from the University of Saskatoon or whatever. But he clearly felt many of my jokes were not funny, and actionably so. In my "Loose Ends" days at the BBC, we occasionally used to do the show on the road from Edinburgh, Belfast and so forth, and I'd find myself checking in to hotels with my pals Carol Thatcher, Craig Charles and co. And Craig was occasionally wont to say to the fellow at reception things like, "I pre-booked a couple of hookers. Can you have them sent straight up?" And the clerk would give him a frosty stare, and Craig would turn around and say to us: "Uh-oh! Humour bypass operation." I never thought it was the greatest line, but it seemed oddly apt by the time Mr Awan and Faisal Joseph were done discussing my "Little Mosque" review.

3) I was very touched by the number of folks who came up to me in Starbucks, HMV and other Vancouver emporia and expressed support for me. On my first day at the hotel, I went into the elevator with two ladies, one of whom looked at me and said, "You're that dastardly troublemaker Mark Steyn!" They told me to stick it to the kangaroos and got off a couple of floors ahead of me. Whereupon the Eastern European bellman, intrigued by the conversation, said, "So what brings you to Vancouver, sir?"

I replied, "I'm on trial at the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for crimes against humanity."

"Oh," he said, with a nervous laugh. "You must lead a very interesting life." (Not lately.)

4) Finally, skedaddling out of Vancouver on Saturday, I got to the airport to find my flight had been delayed two hours. So I did what I normally do in such circumstances - went to kill time by heading to the gift shop to buy some crummy souvenir knick-knacks for my kids. And, as soon as I got to the first amusing "Beautiful BC" T-shirt, I thought: Why the hell would I want any souvenirs of the lousy jurisdiction that's about to end my career in Canada? So I put the bills back in my pocket and made a mental note to buy a couple extra "Live Free Or Die" T-shirts back in New Hampshire.

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