"These two decisions bring into stark relief the debased state of Canada’s public philosophy. We have bowed so low at the altar of political correctness that we can no longer recognize right from wrong nor operate with the requisite intellectual rigor of restraint of consequence. We punish purveyors of words but have no problem appeasing through obsequious obedience the fellow travelers of merchants of death."
This week the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, that great arbiter of Canadian values on our airwaves, produced two astonishing decisions. They make it clear that in Canada it is no to titillation—yes to terror.
On Wednesday it refused to renew the license of Quebec City radio station CHOI because of repeated incidents of “prurient expression” by some of that station’s “shock jocks”. Despite some 9417 expressions of support for renewal, and only 38 complaints--that were kept “anonymous”-- opposed, the CRTC felt that the numerous salacious references to human anatomy, male and female, was somehow undermining the Canadian value system as we know it and causing irreparable harm to our sensitive and impressionistic youth in addition to bruising the sensibilities of the entire female gender.
Aside from this unprecedented assault on freedom of speech, the possibility of this nation reviving recidivist “blue” laws is a sad spectacle indeed. More frightening than sad is the fact that this was done in star chamber proceedings with the station owners never being given the chance to face their accusers or have their identities revealed. Though few dare say its name this is nothing but censorship--state rape brought to full flower.
On Thursday the CRTC revealed another facet of the society its seeks to reflect, and have reflected, on our nation’s airwaves. It allowed an application to distribute Al-Jazeera in Canada. This news network broadcasts throughout the Arab world and has been notorious for providing a sounding board for every radical Moslem terror group including Al-Qaeda. It routinely lionizes killers of women and children. As a matter of policy it demonizes all aspects of liberal democracy and is a rank apologist for theocratic tyranny.
Many of the network’s commentators mouth sentiments dripping with words of interposition and nullification when not propagandizing outright incitement and hate. The CRTC assures us that this license calls for “careful monitoring” of Al-Jazeera’s contents by the distributors. Well, we can all sleep better now especially after comments by Al-Jazeera supporters on national television imparting the penetrating wisdom that “…one person’s terrorist is another’s hero…”.
The granting of this license is a symptom of Canada’s continuing addiction to bankrupt policies of multi-lateralism that excuse failed states right-to-be-wrong while they engage in crypto-fascist experiments in nation building. Moreover, it is further evidence of the Federal Government’s abdication from committed engagement in defense of embattled liberal democratic values while continuing to pander to the failed faith of morally relativist cultural equivalency. It should make us alarmed and it should make us ashamed.
These two decisions bring into stark relief the debased state of Canada’s public philosophy. We have bowed so low at the altar of political correctness that we can no longer recognize right from wrong nor operate with the requisite intellectual rigor of restraint of consequence. We punish purveyors of words but have no problem appeasing through obsequious obedience the fellow travelers of merchants of death.
We need to fight terror while not forgetting what we are fighting for. We need to help destroy the enemies of freedom without becoming like them. We need to remember that we in the west are not so much hated for anything done wrong, but precisely for what we have done right---we live free.
The CRTC decisions mirror a failed national resolve to comprehend these challenges and a feeble national culture rendered senseless by this nation’s growing loss of moral compass. They mimic the despotic regimes of the radical Moslem world by restricting our talk and thought while at the same time giving aid and comfort to tinpot tyrannies by providing their premier propaganda arm with a new window in the west.
For two hundred years all liberal democracies have struggled with the twin responsibilities of restraining the imposition of subjectively restrictive moral judgments that constrain public expression while at the same time protecting its citizens from incitement to violence and hate. The CRTC decisions violate the former and abandon the latter.
Freedom of speech and the right of expression should only be limited by the exigencies of public safety. No fanning of the flames of division and discord. No yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. But at the same time, the continued expansion of our liberties can only be assured by rejecting as illegitimate any attempt of the state to define or impose a constitution of acceptable message or metaphor in our public discourse.
Where do we draw the line? What historic parallels can we use to judge? Easy. Former CIA Director James Woolsey has rightly warned that we are engaged in a World War against terror. We just celebrated the 60th anniversary of a victorious campaign against another type of terror. Would it have been conceivable at that time to give Leni Riefenstahl and Tokyo Rose their own radio network? It was as inconceivable as thinking Gypsy Rose Lee was a threat to the commonweal.
If we do not correct the course we are on we risk becoming nothing more than a dilettantish nation of feckless salon liberals willing to comfort ourselves with the impotence of smug orthodoxies and ready to cede control of our national expression to the faceless agents of the mind police. If we are not careful we may soon witness the realization of Beccaria’s 18th century warning that the “…triumph of the mediocre is inevitably succeeded by the tyranny of the mindless…”