Canadian Muslims versus Mark Steyn

The Canadian Islamic Congress has decided to use Canada’s hate speech legislation to go after the Canadian magazine Macleans for publishing an extract from columnist Mark Steyn’s book America Alone.

Here’s a video of Steyn himself talking about the issue on Canadian television:

Glenn Greenwald has some interesting thoughts on the subject in Salon magazine:

People like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant are some of the most pernicious commentators around. But equally pernicious, at least, are those who advocate laws that would proscribe and punish political expression, and those who exploit those laws to try use the power of the State to impose penalties on those expressing “offensive” or “insulting” or “wrong” political ideas. The mere existence of the “investigation,” interrogation, and proceeding itself is a grotesque affront to every basic liberty.

For those unable to think past the (well-deserved) animosity one has for the specific targets in question here, all one needs to do instead is imagine these proceedings directed at opinions and groups that one likes. If Muslim groups can trigger government investigations due to commentary they find offensive, so, too, can conservative Christian or right-wing Jewish groups, or conservative or neoconservative groups, or any other political faction seeking to restrict and punish speech it dislikes.

He concludes:

Empowering the State to proscribe and punish speech is not only the most dangerous step a society can take — though it is that — it’s also the most senseless. It never achieves its intended effect of suppressing or eliminating a particular view. If anything, it has the opposite effect, by driving it underground, thus preventing debate and exposure. Worse, it converts its advocates into martyrs — as one sees from the hero-worship now surrounding people like Levant and Steyn, who now become self-glorifying symbols of individual liberty rather than what they are: hateful purveyors of a bitter, destructive, authoritarian ideology. There are numerous ways to combat advocacy of rancid ideas. Using the power of the Government to force people to “justify” their opinions to government tribunals and face punishment for them is, by far, the most malevolent — far more dangerous than the expression of any particular idea could ever be.