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Deafening Silence

By David Warren

The pen is reputed to be mightier than the sword -- and probably is, over the longer stretches of history. Over the shorter stretches, the sword is definitive; or, as that great Leftist sage, Mao Tse-Tung, expressed it: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." With its monopoly on power, the State is equipped to suppress the truth. And yet the truth will not die, no matter how many people are punished for expressing it. They may die -- or be imprisoned, fined, compelled to publicly recant, or otherwise silenced and humiliated -- but the truth will survive.

Yes, this is a statement of my Catholic faith. But it is also a candid reflection on all of the history I have read: that political power passes away, that truths about God and man resurface, that human freedom is never fully extinguished. Much of the history we know may itself be false, owing to the disappearance of evidence over time; and justice in this world may not be availing. Yet in broad outline, a time always comes when we may review the past, freed from the shackles of the past. The chains of history always rust away.

This is a point worth recalling, as we head into a period in Canada when, owing to malice from an ideological camp, to cowardice on the part of our elected representatives, and to indifference on the part of the people, free speech and freedom of the press will disappear in Canada. Those who deviate from the officially-sanctioned lies of "political correctness" will emigrate, perhaps mostly to USA, or experience that peculiar form of internal exile -- of enforced silence -- that good men have shared in many times and places.

My own political education was provided in part by several impressive Czech exiles from Communism, with whom I fell in as a young man. What I learned from them is that under an ideological regime, the best men live in jail, or are assigned to work in tanneries and collieries, where other good men may be found. The worst men live in luxury and power.

As free speech disappears in Canada, one looks for instance not at the more celebrated cases of Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant, but at the much less publicized fate of e.g. Rev. Stephen Boisson, convicted by an Alberta kangaroo court ("human rights tribunal") last November for publicly expressing the Christian and Biblical view of homosexuality, on the say-so of an anti-Christian activist from his home town.

Rev. Boisson has now been ordered to desist from communicating his views on this subject "in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet" so long as he should live. He has been ordered to pay compensation to Darren Lund, the anti-Christian activist in question, and further to make a public recantation of beliefs he still holds.

Meanwhile, Fr Alphonse de Valk, editor of the magazine Catholic Insight, is being prosecuted by a gay rights activist in Edmonton, for having upheld both sides of the Catholic teaching on homosexuality in the pages of his magazine over more than a decade: that homosexual behaviour is sinful, but that we are nevertheless to love the sinner.

That case, in which, as ever, all of the expenses of the complainant are met by the taxpayer, will drag on for some time before the inevitable guilty verdict is delivered, and the punishments to Fr de Valk and his colleagues are meted out. While the case drags on, the small magazine, which exists without state subsidies or significant advertising, on the dime of its several thousand loyal Catholic readers, is being driven towards bankruptcy by the cost of maintaining its own legal defence. These are costs they would not be eligible to recover, even if they won at tribunal.

Fr de Valk has written a lead editorial in the June number of Catholic Insight that should be read not only from the pulpit to every practising Catholic in Canada, but by every concerned Canadian regardless of his religious or political affiliations. It is entitled, "Fascism has come to Canada," and mentions several other major cases in which Christians have been hauled before the country's "human rights" tribunals, and ordered to abandon their beliefs, pay out to complainants, stage public recantations, submit to indoctrination, etc. -- with little to no media coverage. Alas, there are more cases (they are multiplying quickly), and the "human rights" commissars are not the only source of state persecution.

Among the spookiest aspects of these cases is the silence over, and indifference to them, on the part of journalists whose predecessors imagined themselves vigilant in the cause of freedom. As I've learned first-hand through email, many Canadian journalists today take the view that, "I don't like these people, therefore I don't care what happens to them." It is a view that, at best, is extremely short-sighted.

Copyright 2008, Ottawa Citizen

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