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Voltaire, Mill and Steyn

June 10th, 2008

Via Ken Parish at Troppo it appears that well-known bigot and war advocate Mark Steyn is being prosecuted under Canadian hate speech laws. At this point it’s customary to (mis)quote Voltaire about defending to the death his right to say things. It’s much better, in general, to point to John Stuart Mill whose works such as On Liberty provide an overwhelming case against restrictions on the freedom of speech, and particularly political speech.

In this case, there’s no need to go through Mill’s arguments in detail. A case like this is obviously going to turn out badly whether Steyn wins, and gets an undeserved triumph or loses and gets to paint himself as a martyr. It will certainly do nothing to refute his claims. Rather it’s better to point out his fraudulent bigotry, starting with this ludicrous 9/11 conspiracy theory. I had a few goes at this back in the day, when people other than RWDBs took Steyn seriously. At this point, refuting Steyn is scarcely necessary (or wasn’t until this silly prosecution gave him oxygen).

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  1. smiths
    June 11th, 2008 at 14:53 | #1

    MHayes that is a very good point and should be taken seriously,

    my cat who faces towards the east at least five times a day and appears to lean forward repeatedly,
    also foretold the event when the twin towers post card i had on my fridge fell down on september 10th
    and the cat vomited on it and it looked just like an explosion… or collapse… or what was the actual cause again?

  2. MHayes
    June 11th, 2008 at 15:11 | #2

    smiths,
    I’d get rid of the cat. But if it actually pointed to the buildings in question and accurately said (or meowed)that they won’t be there in a week’s time, then I’d pay more attention. Ahem, but that’d be “ludicrous”, wouldn’t it?

  3. jquiggin
    June 11th, 2008 at 16:29 | #3

    MHayes, perhaps you’re unaware of similar claims that members of another religious group were warned not to turn up at work on 9/11. As far as I know, these claims (like most conspiracy-theoretic claims) have never been refuted (at least not not to the satisfaction of those putting them forward).

  4. jquiggin
    June 11th, 2008 at 16:34 | #4

    #49 Reuben, it appears from your comment and others that this is indeed a vexatious complaint reflecting an abuse of the system in the jurisdiction concerned. That’s a significant problem for British Columbia. But I don’t see any need to change the description of the case as “stupid”.

  5. David
    June 11th, 2008 at 17:08 | #5

    SATP @ 50, the disconnection from reality is obvious by the third sentence. He seems to be in some alternative universe where Clinton gathered more delegates than Obama, and hence should be the Dem candidate for the presidency, and it’s only Obama’s Teen Appeal with the media that got him over the line. At least I think that’s what he’s implying. The whole piece is pretty confusing.

  6. wilful
    June 11th, 2008 at 17:28 | #6

    yeah I bothered to read the Steyn link in The Australian (you owe me two minutes David) and it’s complete horseshit, full of internal contradictions. Don’t know why the OO bothered to print it, but it’s par for the course for their opinion pages.

    of course, had Clinton won, it would have been equally meaningless drivel.

  7. June 11th, 2008 at 19:13 | #7

    John, I brought your comment up into the main post. As I indicated there, I will respond properly at the weekend.

  8. June 11th, 2008 at 19:18 | #8

    “Nowhere is Islam’s general apologia more see through than its treatment of its own Ahmadiyya sect. Truly there it shows its general intolerance and earns its rightful nickname-The Religion of Peace.” – Observa

    WTF?

    Need to get your facts straight.

  9. observa
    June 11th, 2008 at 22:48 | #9

    Deleted. This seems to be veering into Steyn’s own territory, observa. I suggest we call a halt to this one, and discuss any relevant issues in another thread

  10. Spiros
    June 12th, 2008 at 09:52 | #10

    I reckon if there was anything in the school kiddies story that Steyn and MHayes find so compelling, the 9 11 Commission report

    http://www.gpoaccess.gov/911/Index.html

    might have had something to say about it.

    But they didn’t. Perhaps they were in on the conspiracy.

    Not to mention all of the world’s media.

    Perhaps it’s the same conspiracy that faked the Apollo moon landings.

  11. smiths
    June 12th, 2008 at 10:56 | #11

    it is my contention PrQ
    that by mentioning the other group that you did not actually mention in relation to 9/11,
    you have engaged in acts against people of a certain language group,
    which therefore puts you squarely with that very bad gang,
    which automatically means you have now violated godwins law as well

  12. observa
    June 12th, 2008 at 17:30 | #12

    “I suggest we call a halt to this one, and discuss any relevant issues in another thread”

    OK John but it is a pretty sad indictment of where things are at and they seem to be getting worse by the increasing frequency of such reports. I’d even pat Islam on the back if it could give them some decent structure and purpose and that’s really saying something.

  13. gerard
    June 12th, 2008 at 21:21 | #13

    I’ve heard some ripping 9-11 conspiracy theories, and I’ve got to say Steyn’s effort is pretty weak – I’d give it one and a half stars at best. I know where he got the story from because I’d seen it before – the centre for cooperative research’s 9-11 timeline. But he’s clearly picking and choosing, because believe me they’ve got much better material than that.

    here’s the timeline by the way. it’s a doozy.
    http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=complete_911_timeline

  14. MHayes
    June 13th, 2008 at 13:17 | #14

    I’m wondering if anyone actually read the so-called ludicrous conspiracy theory from Steyn. All he did was to relate (as interesting) a well sourced story that one Muslim child had told his teacher a week before the attacks that the buildings wouldn’t be there next week. JQ wants to make that the equivalent of the Jews-did-it story. I guess anything necessary to dismiss anything Steyn writes is fair game.
    But just remember that there was indeed a conspiracy here – a conspiracy among 2 dozen or so fanatics. The only question is the number involved.

  15. jquiggin
    June 13th, 2008 at 13:50 | #15

    The equivalence between the two is obvious – the only information that’s been added is that people like you are still pushing this conspiracy theory.

  16. Ian Gould
    June 13th, 2008 at 18:28 | #16

    Mhayes have you investigated the “The Jews Did it” story?

    If not, why do you reject them out of hand?

    Why is one conspiracy theory credible and the other not?

    sixty years ago, Mark Steyn would probably be urging people to keep their children in doors over Passover because, well, the Jews PROBABLY wouldn’t abduct them, rape them, murder them and feats on their flesh in an unholy mockery of the Christian Eucharist but why take the chance?

    Forty years ago he would have been muttering about the undefined dangers of white girls going to the same public swimming pools as black boys.

    Twenty years ago he would have been explaining how Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu were blood-crazed savages who couldn’t wait to start murdering the Boers in their beds.

  17. June 13th, 2008 at 19:18 | #17

    John, I hope you don’t agree with John Stuart Mill. I detest Steyn, but the very LAST thing that I want to surrender to the government (and to petty bureaucrats concerned chiefly with extending their own mandarinates) is my ability to say (and publish) exactly what I think.

    Let me point out that the US and all Commonwealth countries have private remedies under common tort law for slander and libel for individuals who can establish that they have been personally harmed by false statements.

    Let’s hope someone with some sense along the line here – the commission, the courts or Canadian legislature – decides to put an end to this nonsense.

  18. jquiggin
    June 13th, 2008 at 19:35 | #18

    “John, I hope you don’t agree with John Stuart Mill”

    TT, can you clarify? Few if any writers have defended free speech more cogently than Mill, and in agreeing with him, I’m obviously opposed to the current proceedings against Steyn

    About the best that can be said is that it appears to be the unintended result of allowing private prosecutions under very dubious laws, rather than a serious state attempt at silencing speech.

  19. gerard
    June 14th, 2008 at 07:28 | #19

    what was your opinion on the David Irving prosecution in Austria a few years back John?

  20. Toby
    June 19th, 2008 at 05:26 | #20

    Steyn once published a maudlin article about Terry Schiavo the controversial brain-dead American woman and her right to life.

    A few weeks later, he published another article claiming Iraq qould be a peaceful place (like Germany and Japan under American occupation) if the 2003 war had included a Dresden or a Hiroshima. Whatever about Terry Schiavo, nuking Tikrit and frying thousands of Iraqi babies would have been all for the greater good.

    I had half-admired Steyn for some quite good pieces before that, but it is clear the man’s brain has become congealed and rancid with hate. He is the obverse of a Holocaust-denier. His Eurabia idea depends on European Muslims breeding like rabbits in ten years, while the rest of us go childless.

    But, that being said, I hope he wins this case for the greater good.

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