Free speech has lost a few battles in the war against censorship lately. Banning songs from the airwaves after a single complaint, shutting up G20 protesters and the blocking of right-wing speakers on university campuses have all served to create a bleak impression of the state of open discourse. That's why we were pleasantly surprised by Heritage Minister James Moore's strong stand against those who this week attempted to force the cancellation of a screening of a film that warns of the dangers of Iran's nuclear program.Bravo, Tories. Now, if only they'd do something about the state censorship provision in our "human rights" legislation...
The film, Iranium, had been scheduled to be shown by Library and Archives Canada despite protests by the Iranian embassy. But after what a spokesperson called "significant threats" and a bomb scare at their main Ottawa location, the screening was cancelled in the interests of public safety.
This has become a common occurrence in Canada. Controversial speakers, usually on the conservative side of the spectrum, have their events cancelled due to "security concerns" -- which cynics see as a two-word cop out that attempts to package the stifling of debate as a public necessity. Ann Coulter fell victim to this last year. So, too, did author Christie Blatchford, whose lecture on the standoff at Caledonia, Ont., originally was cancelled at the University of Waterloo after protesters wrapped chains around their own necks.
Fortunately, in the case of this week's controversy, Mr. Moore stepped in and ordered Library and Archives Canada to go ahead with the Iranium screening, including the deployment of whatever security is necessary to ensure a smooth event. By standing up for free speech, our Heritage Minister has done Canadians proud.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Tories Stand Up for Free Speech
The usual suspects (the timourous, the politically correct, the timorously politically correct) used the usual reason (non-specific "security concerns") to shut down an event that had the potential to offend (in this instance a screening in Ottawa of the film Iranium). This time, however, the weasels were not allowed to get away with it. Comments the National Post editorialist: