Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Canada's hypocrisy at the United Nations

The ridiculously named United Nations’ “Human Rights Council” is in the news again trying to push through a several times re-written resolution criminalizing any criticism of religion. It is sponsored by Pakistan and, although it is couched in the feel good language of pluralism and understanding, its real intent is to the open the door to a worldwide purge of cartoonists who make fun of Mohammed and to students, like Afghani, Pervez Kambaksh, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for questioning why Islam treated men differently than women.

Canada has taken a correct and principled stance.

"Canada rejects the basic premise that religions have rights; human rights belong to human beings," said a Foreign Affairs spokesperson.


I wonder how that spokesperson would explain section 296 (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada to the U.N:

(1) Every one who publishes a blasphemous libel is guilty of an
indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding two years.

(2) It is a question of fact whether or not any matter that is
published is a blasphemous libel.

(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section
for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or
attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and
conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious

This provision has been present in every amended version of the Code since 1892. The last prosecution for blasphemous libel occurred in 1935, but sometimes seemingly moribund laws have a phoenix-like way of reviving themselves in peculiar cases.

And what exactly does this defense mean – “decent language”? What was considered decent language at the height of the Victorian Age is a far cry for what passes for normal speech today. In fact, it is probably true that decency in language in the 21st century had been relegated to just another interesting artifact of history.

Canada would do well to try to lead by example, rather than just mouthing liberal platitudes on the international stage, and abolish section 296 (1).

Then it can tell the Muslim world to “screw off”.

In decent language, of course.

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