Mercury

Canadian Publisher Persecuted for Cartoons

137 posts in this topic

You are no doubt aware of the meaning of the words pro bono.

Actually, looking at the definition more closely, my use of it in this context was erroneous. I thought that "pro bono" meant any instance of a lawyer choosing to donate his legal services, I didn't know that it was a shortened form of "pro bono publico" and that the term usually applies to lawyers donating their services "for the public good". I have heard that some jurisdictions *force* lawyers to donate some time, and that is heinous. "Pro bono privatus" is more accurate for what I had in mind.

My use of the term, one I should have avoided using apparently, was simply to denote an attorney voluntarily choosing to donate some of his time to applying his skill towards cases where his own values are at stake, but where those fighting the legal battle cannot personally afford it, as I've described in the past couple of posts. The lawyer would not *necessarily* choose to handle an entire case, but his involvement could still be beneficial.

Do you still disagree with what I wrote, in that light?

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There is no harm in asking for a reduction or waiver of charges in a cause that may be important to the lawyer and which the victim cannot otherwise afford to fight. The choice is still the attorney's and requesting help is not the same thing as begging for sacrifice as a moral duty. Lawyers interested in taking on such work may never find out what cases are available if no one goes out of his way to tell them.

I agree, I was only pointing out that up to now no one had brought that up, so it was a bit of a misinterpretation of Arnold's statement to put it that way.

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Thinking more about Cometmaker's points, I am coming around to the idea that from the perspective of the client, it could be very problematic to accept unpaid time from a lawyer, exactly because the lawyer's own values must then intrude onto the particular way that the client wants to press his case, which could go beyond, or in a different direction, what any particular lawyers want to do. In the case of Ezra Levant, it really needs to be *his* will driving forward in the way he deems best, with the attorney as an advisor and to assist with legal procedures to accomplish *his* goals. Otherwise he'll inevitably and probably quickly run into a situation where the attorney chooses to stop helping because it isn't what *he* thinks is the best course of action.

So, thank you for your insights.

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Thinking more about Cometmaker's points, I am coming around to the idea that from the perspective of the client, it could be very problematic to accept unpaid time from a lawyer, exactly because the lawyer's own values must then intrude onto the particular way that the client wants to press his case, which could go beyond, or in a different direction, what any particular lawyers want to do. In the case of Ezra Levant, it really needs to be *his* will driving forward in the way he deems best, with the attorney as an advisor and to assist with legal procedures to accomplish *his* goals. Otherwise he'll inevitably and probably quickly run into a situation where the attorney chooses to stop helping because it isn't what *he* thinks is the best course of action.

A lawyer with integrity who takes a case or some role in it does it to win the case. Without that he can't change legal precedent. Whatever a lawyer is paid, his expertise in the technical legal aspects must be respected by the client or there will be problems. If a client disagrees with an approach he changes lawyers. Arguing a legal case with reference to technical aspects of the law and legal precedent is not at all the same as a campaign designed to affect public opion and policy as determined in the political realm. I don't know what Ezra Levant's case requires in the way of legal expertise. He isn't even dealing with a true court. The narrower attacks on him through subsidiary nuisance suits may require a different approach than the case he has been exposing through his videos.

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Earlier this week, Levant was invited to speak before a congressional caucus about "lawfare," the "soft jihad." However, the caucus was not in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, but in Washington DC. It so happens that the US has a number of human rights commissions of its own, already setting the same precedents that were set in Canada before the HRCs went after Steyn and Levant.

Levant reported on his DC appearance yesterday. In a characteristically bold move, he recommended that Canada be put on the human rights abusers watchlist:

So why should Americans care? I can think of three reasons. And what should Americans do? I can think of two things.

1. Americans should care because Americans have always cared about liberty around the world, especially political and religious liberty. It is one of America’s greatest characteristics: a love for the well-being of other countries. Being a Good Samaritan is in your nature, and the world is freer because of it.

2. America should care because what happens in Europe and Canada soon comes – or tries to come – to the U.S. When it comes to censorship, we’re a laboratory for bad ideas. And the coalition between foreign trouble-makers and domestic busy-bodies is an idea that is spreading here, too.

3. Despite your First Amendment, human rights commissions are popping up all over the U.S.

The city of Philadelphia’ s “human relations” commission has a staff of 33, and a multi-million dollar budget. Last year, they prosecuted Geno’s Steak House because they put up a sign asking customers to order their Philly Cheese Steaks in English. We might agree with Geno’s sign or disagree. But to have a government agency prosecute them is a threat to the First Amendment. And, if it’s a steak house today, it could be a news magazine tomorrow. And if it’s do-gooders today, I can assure you it won’t be for long.

So what can Americans do?

1. The first thing you can do is what you always do: continue to monitor the erosion of freedom around the world, including through Congressional committees like this one. Publish annual reports shaming foreign countries for their abuses of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Put Canada on that list, to let our government know what they’re doing isn’t acceptable.

2. And rededicate yourselves to your First Amendment. Understand that the erosion of freedom doesn’t always happen with a bang – it can happen with a whimper. And that, when it comes to free speech, it’s usually unpopular people who are censored first. But if they can go for a neo-Nazi yesterday, it’s Geno’s Steak House today, and then a Christian pastor or a news magazine tomorrow.

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Levant reported on his DC appearance yesterday. In a characteristically bold move, he recommended that Canada be put on the human rights abusers watchlist:

3. Despite your First Amendment, human rights commissions are popping up all over the U.S.

The city of Philadelphia’ s “human relations” commission has a staff of 33, and a multi-million dollar budget. Last year, they prosecuted Geno’s Steak House because they put up a sign asking customers to order their Philly Cheese Steaks in English. We might agree with Geno’s sign or disagree. But to have a government agency prosecute them is a threat to the First Amendment. And, if it’s a steak house today, it could be a news magazine tomorrow. And if it’s do-gooders today, I can assure you it won’t be for long.

American citizens lost freedom of speech for so-called "commercial speech" a long time ago.

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Although his progress is excruciating, Ezra Levant has been winning some battles in his/the war for free speech in Canada. He has just released a book about his battle, titled Shakedown.

In an interview he granted another persecuted Canadian writer, Levant provides some insight into why he decided to fight back and how he has managed to preserve his sanity, personality, and stamina. He blogs about the Q&A:

Why I decided to fight back

By Ezra Levant on March 18, 2009 5:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | Trackback

Here is the transcript of an interview I recently did with Kathy Shaidle. It was really a Q&A about my new book, Shakedown -- so it was as much about my decision to write the book as it was about the substance of the book itself. I'll just highlight the one question that made me think about the exact moment I decided to launch my campaign of denormalization:

EXAMINER:

People ask me where you get your energy from and how you keep your sense of humor. What is your secret?

EZRA LEVANT:

"Right around the time of my interrogation by the HRC, I spoke with Mark Steyn and we talked about how the chief weapon used by HRCs is psychological. Usually, their formal punishments aren't enormous -- typically in the tens of thousands of dollars (though they are occasionally more extreme, including lifetime bans on publicly or privately saying certain words, and even orders to people to publicly issue false apologies: see the Lund v. Boissoin case).

"The real punishment is the process -- biased, slow, uncertain, capricious, lawless, costly, unfair. The process is designed to so demoralize political dissidents as to make them abandon hope, leave the jurisdiction, or spiral down in a rage. Many people who are caught in HRCs actually become, over time, the caricature that they are accused of being -- they're turned into obsessive cranks, which is a wholly predictable outcome when a Canadian expecting Canadian justice is subjected to Soviet-style 'justice.'

"So I simply decided I wasn't going to become like that. If I were to 'obsess' over the unfair charges against me, it would take the form of a relentless campaign for reform, using my time and whatever talents I have to spread the word about the corruption and abuse of the system. I knew I was luckier than pretty much any other HRC target in the past: I had friends in politics and journalism, and it would be pretty tough to tag me, a Zionist Jew who had actually started a multi-racial club in law school called Minorities Against Discrimination, as a 'neo-Nazi' or 'white supremacist.' So, unlike the HRCs' previous targets, I would actually have a chance to be heard when I pointed out the rot in the system.

"I decided I would try to live up to the title of Mark Steyn's column in the National Review: the 'happy warrior', and to use mockery and ridicule where appropriate.

"I spent time researching HRCs, and found that they were actually everything they claimed to be against -- everything they accused me of being.

"CHRC staff joined neo-Nazi organizations -- and are still members to this day. A CHRC 'hate speech' investigator was a former cop kicked off her police force for corruption. An Alberta HRC lawyer was a Muslim supremacist. A CHRC manager actually said that free speech was an 'American' idea, so he didn't care about trampling on it. And HRCs everywhere are the political dumping grounds for extremist politicians who couldn't cut it in real elections (Giacomo Vigna of the CHRC is a three-time election loser, Richard Warman of the CHRC is a four-time election loser, Barbara Hall of the OHRC was fired as mayor of Toronto, etc.).

"In sum, I wasn't the extremist radical; they were. I wasn't the one abridging 'human rights', they were. I wasn't the fringe element who needed political 're-education' about our country's values; they were. I wasn't a humourless crank; they were -- as they proved en masse when they hit me with more than 20 vengeance lawsuits, human rights complaints and complaints to the law society to have me disbarred. (The first six of those complaints and suits have been heard and dismissed, and I expect the rest will be too. What a perfect snapshot of the nuisance, vengeance and censorship genes in the HRC industry.)

"They richly deserved to be mocked. I tried to do that, and of course Steyn is the master at that.

"I should note that, from time to time, I did indeed worry, but only about the money needed to fend off the lawfare. But through the Internet, people from across Canada and the U.S. (and even around the world) each chipped in a little to help me cover the cost of fighting all these nuisance suits. That financial help -- and the moral support it implied -- greatly boosted my spirits, and still does. I knew I wasn't alone even if I felt alone."

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Although his progress is excruciating, Ezra Levant has been winning some battles in his/the war for free speech in Canada. He has just released a book about his battle, titled Shakedown.

I meant to write, "He has just released a book about his battlewar..."

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As a contributor to his legal fund, I received an e-mail just this morning from Ezra Levant, announcing the publication of his new book:

Dear William,

As you know, in 2006 I was the publisher of the Western Standard magazine when we reprinted the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. In response, a radical Muslim imam complained to the government's so-called "human rights commission", and I became the only person in the world to be charged with a legal offence for doing so.

You stood by me and our magazine's freedoms -- freedom of the press, freedom of religion and our property rights. It was a fight between our modern, enlightenment values and a medieval fatwa designed to silence criticism of radical Islam.

Thank you again for your support -- I sure needed it.

For 900 days, a team of fifteen government bureaucrats and lawyers investigated me, treating me like I was a major crime scene. I was even subjected to a 90-minute interrogation at the hands of a government "human rights officer", for daring to exercise my freedoms.

You might remember that Orwellian ordeal -- I sure do. You can still watch the interrogation on YouTube, here:

.

Since then, I've been hit with a flurry of other human rights complaints and nuisance lawsuits, all because I dared to oppose radical Islam and its politically correct domestic allies.

Well, now it's my turn to fight back -- not in a kangaroo court, or even in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion.

I've written a book on my ordeal. It's called Shakedown, and it's the inside story of how our western legal system has been hijacked as part of the soft jihad of "lawfare".

But the book isn't just about me: I also describe a dozen other cases of innocent people who have been targeted by these corrupt, abusive "human rights commissions". Most of them were crushed.

In the end, I beat the cartoon complaint against me -- though, with $100,000 in legal bills, it didn't feel much like a win. And these appalling "human rights commissions" are still in place, victimizing other people. That's the the other part of my book: my blueprint for reforming or even abolishing these commissions, to win back our ancient civil liberties.

Shakedown is being published by McClelland & Stewart, one of Canada's most prestigious mainstream publishers. That's important to me, because I want people from all walks of life to read this shocking story, not just political insiders. The book goes on sale this Monday, and it's already receiving lots of attention.

As someone who supported our decision to reprint the cartoons, I think you'll like the book. It contains new and outrageous information about the case that you won't read about anywhere else.

I want the book to be a best-seller, because I want as many people as possible to hear about the dangers that I discovered during my 900-day ordeal. I want to ring the alarm and make a public call to action. This book is a wake-up call, my attempt at a blueprint for reform.

You can pre-order Shakedown through Amazon

and it will be shipped to you right away.

For the past three years, I've been playing defence while these commissions have been hunting me. No more. This book is my counter-attack. I hope you like it, and I hope you consider buying one for yourself and one for a friend, to spread the word about the growing threat to our liberties.

Yours gratefully,

Ezra Levant

P.S. If you order Shakedown online at Amazon, it moves the book up their list of best-sellers. So the more people who buy it online, the more other people will hear about it!

P.P.S. I haven't mentioned one of the best parts of the book yet: Mark Steyn wrote an amazing introduction to it!

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Political news today is quite depressing: silver has trebled since 2009 and gold has shot to unimagined highs, as the criminal-communist Obama unleashes the forces of evil on America at home and abroad.

Yet, the news is not all bad. In fact, in Canada, whether most people realize it or not, we are witnessing the value of putting up an ideological fight and staying committed to practical plans.

The five-year Harper minority government has allowed for some application of political leverage by the Conservatives. Among other items, a right-wing SUN News Network was proposed by a Quebecois billionaire last year. Instantly labeled "Fox News North" by the Leftist Canadian media, George Soros spent a lot of money fighting it. A lot of pressure was applied on the Telecommunications Commission by the Leftists; the proposed channel was denied any of the privileges granted the state-owned CBC and the state-sanctioned CTV; but, finally, SUN launched on Monday evening on some Canadian cable stations.

SUN News' style is based on the personality-driven Fox News format but with a more civil tone (no rude interruptions of guests). Its 5 o'clock slot is hosted by lawyer, Ayn Rand fan, and radical-for-liberty Ezra Levant. So far, his show has been very informative and incisive. Canadians have never before had a TV channel like this with hosts making unabashedly pro-freedom and pro-Western-Civilization statements, so this is a major milestone in the war for freedom. On Monday, Levant showed the Mohammed cartoons on his show - unblurred, uncensored - which I think is a first in all Western television. At the start of commercial breaks on Monday, Levant's show would put different freedom quotes and their authors on the screen. In one particularly super moment, he had a picture of Ayn Rand up, with the immortal quote right there on the screen: "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

On yesterday's show, Levant celebrated Earth Day in a most unusual way -- a way that I think most of us here, being anti-environmentalism, would appreciate. Here's the clip.

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