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On the speaker’s duty

by Archives January 22, 2008

Former Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant should be taken to task for his arrogance in asserting an absolutist notion of freedom of the press in his appearance before the Alberta Human Rights Commission earlier this month. He protests his appearance before the commission as if the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press grants journalists the right to do anything they want. This is not what freedom of the press means in Canadian law. He objects to having to explain his decision to publish the Danish cartoons of Muhammed in 2006 as if freedom of the press trumps all other human and democratic rights. He conducts himself before the commission as if the press were an infallible, unassailable, even omnipotent institution, above and beyond criticism, let alone questioning by accredited human rights bodies. He behaves as if the constitutional right to freedom of the press bears with it absolutely no responsibility to Canadian society or its citizens, including its Muslim citizens.
Freedom of the press is too important to be treated in such cavalier and reckless fashion, particularly by someone claiming to be a journalist. If Ezra Levant is capable of making a sound and principled argument for printing the cartoons believed blasphemous and offensive by a group of Canadian citizens, then surely he will have no problem accounting for this editorial decision. And in the process, he might even advance the cause of freedom of the press.

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