It seems that not all countries enjoy freedom of speech as prescribed by the United States constitution. In this country there is a well established body of law that gives us the right to say anything within reason without fear of legal challenge or a criminal penalty. Although this right is not absolute (Justice Holmes on the Supreme Court once said there is no right to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre), the right of freedom of expression is quite real and extensive.
With regard to libel laws in this country, it is recognized that truth is a defense to any challenge to someone’s criticism of another and, moreover, public figures do not receive the same right of privacy in this regard that private individuals have. However, in some countries the burden of proof is on the defendant author and publisher to justify what was written and the plaintiff, i.e., the Islamist group, merely has to make the allegation. Even if the author may ultimately win, the deep pocket Muslims, having Saudi backing, will make it very expensive for the author and his publisher to succeed.
Unlike the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom do not provide the same freedom of speech, at least with respect to criticism of Islam and Muslims, and certainly not of Mohammad (remember the aftermath of the publication of the Danish cartoons). This has been made readily apparent in the recent strategy by Muslim groups to sue authors and publishers of their writings they allege either insult or defame Islam or Mohammad in print, particularly in books and articles.
This Muslim strategy clearly portends a chilling effect on authors of any sensible expression of the truth about Islam. Publishers are reluctant to publish writings Muslims may consider offensive for fear of expensive lawsuits, thus depriving authors an opportunity to be heard. For example, even where authors are free to express themselves in books published in the United States, publishers interested in book sales abroad or on the internet with access in foreign countries, risk law suits by Muslims and their organizations, such as CAIR, for damages and to prevent sales in such countries; Canada and the United Kingdom being specific examples.
Take the case of author Mark Steyn as an example.
Under Canadian law, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) investigates purported incidents of ‘hate speech’ and discrimination and refers some to the quasi-judicial Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which can impose fines or issue restraining orders.
Steyn became subject of a CHRC investigation when the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) complained about an excerpt Mr. Steyn wrote in "American Alone: The End of the World as We Know it". This book is a best seller published by the U.S. publisher Regnery Publishing and the excerpt appeared in a Canadian publication.
In his book and the published excerpt, Steyn contrasted Islamic values with Western values and pointed out the growing Muslim population in the West and the declining birthrate in Western countries. Steyn wrote "The West is growing old and enfeebled and lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it. It’s the end of the world as we’ve known it."
This rather mild truth expressed by Steyn in an article in a newsweekly caught the attention of Faisal Joseph, legal counsel of the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), who issued a press release that said "This article completely misrepresents Canadian Muslim’s values, their community and their religion". Joseph complained to the Canadian Human Rights Commission saying "We feel it is imperative to challenge (the) biased portrayal of Canadian multiculturalism and tolerance", and the CHRC opened an investigation, with the possibility of referral to the tribunal.
Steyn is not alone as a target of CHRC investigations. The Commission has been accused of selectivity by targeting Christian publications on behalf of homosexual organizations and declining investigations of Christian complaints. Paul Tuns, editor of the Interim, Canada’s largest pro life monthly newspaper said "There seems to be a trend where Christians and conservatives are always on the losing side". Indeed, Steyn also noted, citing previous cases, that no accused has ever won a case once the CHRC referred it to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and that truth is not a defense when dealing with the commission or the tribunal. Whereas facts, quotes and statistics may be accurately cited by the author, what the commissions base their judgments upon is whether a person reading it is offended. "Offense is in the eye of the beholder, Steyn said. "A fact can be accurate, but offensive to some people. The Commissions aren’t weighing facts but hurt feelings."
Canada’s human rights commissions have been used to silence, censor and bankrupt organizations and publishers critical of the Canadian establishment, particularly conservatives and Christian organizations and their publications, and of Islam. Muslims have learned to take advantage of the legal system in Canada and the United Kingdom that favors those offended over their critics, even when the critics are only telling the truth, because they deem it to be ‘offensive’ to tell the truth about them, as Steyn now knows only too well.