Truth and its Consequences – by Peter Worthington
By PETER WORTHINGTON, Toronto Sun
Sunday, February 13, 2011
When Ontario’s McGuinty government and the leadership of the OPP sided with First Nations protesters against local residents in Caledonia in 2006, it outraged many people.
In her seminal book about the issue, Helpless, Christie Blatchford avoided the native rights issue and concentrated on the abandonment of rule of law which, curiously (or maybe not so curiously), offended many rank and file OPP officers who were ordered not to provoke Indians, but to hammer down locals who protested against the protesters.
Two of the victims of the temporary policy — Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas, once arrested for raising the Canadian flag! — cite Martin Luther King’s famous letter from Birmingham jail in 1963, where he was under arrest for parading without a permit.
In his landmark letter, Dr. King recalled that it was not an issue between legality and illegality, but right and wrong.
He noted that everything Hitler did in Nazi Germany was “legal”, and everything Hungarian freedom fighters did in 1956 was “illegal”.
“One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty,” Dr. King wrote.
One who does this “is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
King’s words reverberate with McHale and Vandermaas: “Condemning peaceful action because it might precipitate violence is like condemning a robbed person because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery.”
Skip forward to Denmark today. When historian Lars Hedegaard was charged with making disparaging remarks about Muslims and Sharia law, Jesper Langballe, a Danish MP was similarly charged for supporting Hedegaard’s right to free speech.
Both were charged under Article 266b of a Danish law which, extraordinarily for a democratic country, does not allow “truth” as a defence.
Article 266b says “whoever publicly … issues a … communication by which a group of persons is threatened, insulted or denigrated … is liable to a fine or incarceration for up to two years.”
In other words, the truth of whatever might be said is irrelevant.
MP Langballe pleaded guilty, because he realized the Danish law doesn’t recognize “truth” as a defence.
He pointed out that Hedegaard’s rhetorical overstatement that “Muslims rape their own children” was immediately refuted by him, pointing out he didn’t mean it literally, any more that the statement “Americans make good movies” applies to every movie made by an American.
Langballe further clarified: “Of course Lars Hedegaard should not have said there are Muslim fathers who rape their daughters, when the truth appears to be that they make do with killing their daughters (so-called honour killings) and leave it to their uncles to rape them.”
He said: “In Denmark there is an average of approximately one honour killing a year. In Turkey there is an average of one a day, according to Turkish authorities’ statistics.”
Hedegaard also points to statistics that indicate that under Sharia law, 20,000 women a year are victims of “so-called honour killings,” and 50,000 Muslim girls in Germany are threatened with genital mutilation.
“Hundreds of thousands of little girls in Muslim majority societies have been sold into marriage with much older men and who must therefore live a life of constant rape, while Islamic scholars preach that this is in complete accordance with religious orthodoxy.”
Langballe was fined the equivalent of $1,000 or 10 days in jail.
He still faces libel charges, where “truth” is a valid defence.
To Langballe, “the ‘culture of offence’ that has taken root and which is so magnificently supported by Article 266b is that in certain circles it has almost become a hobby to feel offended — by caricatures in a newspaper, by criticism of religion, etc.”
Significantly, no Muslim officially complained about either Hedegaard or Langballe — it is a pure Danish assault on individual free speech by Article 266b of their criminal code, that rejects “truth” in order to get a conviction.
Ironically, Hedegaard — a journalist, historian and president of Denmark’s Free Speech Society — was acquitted in late January.
But the offensive law 266b remains in place, although efforts are underway to abolish it.
Meanwhile in Austria, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff faces three years in prison if convicted on Tuesday, of denigrating religious teachings — specifically Muslim teachings with quotes from the Koran — and inciting hatred against a religious group.
Among other things, Ms. Wolff felt Sharia law was not compatible with a free and secular society, and referred to Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam where there are “no-go zones where Sharia is effectively the law … (where) immigrant youths (mostly Muslim) torch cars, throw stones at police, etc.”
She denies she sought to incite hatred and violence, but “we need to be informed, make people aware, to inform our politicians and write letters to the newspapers.”
She felt Europe was “in a new phase of a very old war.” When Islam was poised to overrun Europe in the 17th century, when the Islamic siege of Vienna was broken on Sept. 11, 1683, it effectively ended Islam’s thrust into Europe — until today.
Anyway, the political correctness sweeping Europe, and the fearfulness of offending that contravenes free speech, has echoes in North America — witness Caledonia, where local residents were the enemy for wanting the law upheld against protesters.