Hitchens Hits Hard

The punch drunk wimp on the receiving end of his blows is the Western press and their self-censoring cowardice as illustrated by two particular incidents: obituaries of Earl Butz and two rounds of opportunities to run the infamous Muhammad cartoons. Of this latest cowardly cringe of omission, Hitchens writes:

The cowardice of the mainstream American culture was something to see the first time around. The only magazines that bucked the self-censorship trend, or the capitulation to undisguised terror, were the conservative Weekly Standard and the atheist Free Inquiry—two outlets (for both of which I have written) with a rather small combined circulation. Borders thereupon pulled Free Inquiry from its shelves, with the negligible consequence that I will never do a reading or buy a book at any of its sites ever again. (By the way, I urge you to follow suit.) I think it’s pretty safe to say that most Americans never even saw this sellout going on. But that was because their own newspapers were too shamefaced to report a surrender of which they were themselves a part.

In Canada, only two minority papers reprinted the cartoons. The Western Standard, now online only, and the Jewish Free Press were promptly taken before a sort of scrofulous bureaucratic peoples’ court describing itself as the Alberta Human Rights Commission. If you think that’s a funny name, try the title of the complainant: the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. Who knows how long such a stupid “hate speech” case might have dragged on or how much public money and time it might have consumed, but last week the Islamic supremes decided to drop it. “I understand that most Canadians see this as an issue of freedom of speech,” said Syed Soharwardy of the case that he had originated, adding “that principle is sacred and holy in our society.” Soharwardy went on to say, rather condescendingly perhaps, that: “I believe Canadian society is mature enough not to absorb the messages that the cartoons sent. Only a very small fraction of Canadian media decided to publish those cartoons.” Without the word not and without the sinister idea that Soharwardy’s permission is required for anything, that first sentence would have been a perfectly good if banal statement. But with the addition of his remark about the “small fraction” and the concomitant satisfaction about the general reticence, we have no choice but to conclude that Soharwardy is satisfied on the whole with the level of frightened deference to be found north of the U.S. border. I mention this only because the level of frightened deference to be found south of that border is still far in excess of what any censor, or even self-censor, might dare to wish.

I don’t always agree with Hitchens but this here is a knock-out punch to the cowardly lion that is the free (to censor itself) press in much of the West. Kudos to the few outlets that have published the cartoons. To the rest…go kiss the mat and take your 10 count!

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