Trying to Offend: How the Far Right is Seeking Validation Through “Persecution”

One thing that the far right has used to garner sympathy is the perception of censorship. To see how much it can be used to advantage, one only has to remember Charles McVety’s victimization by the CRTC (actually, it was the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council which reprimanded him, and the Crossroads Christian Network CTS that pulled his show, but this perception shows just how effectively he has spun it).

It sets the right wing up to be seen as the go-to champions of free speech.  That is, as long as you don’t notice them trying to revoke the licenses of adult networks or bemoan that it’s possible to publish an affirming kids’ book about having two dads.  Such is the practice of the times, to bear false witness, obscure truth or weave spin to raise money and flex political muscle.  (I want to remind readers not to confuse the actions of extreme Christian Nationalists, who need to be held accountable for their misrepresentations, with all Christians)

I’ll get to my thoughts on hate speech legislation at a later point, but while there are some hate speech elements I think need to be addressed in law (incitement, harassment, threat), expressing an opinion is not one of them.  Let them blurt it all out, as long as it’s not on the public dime.  As long as people have license to express their views, there will be some who set aside the spin to nakedly reveal just how extreme they can be (trigger alert):

With all this talk about freedom of speech, the self-appointed champion against all human rights institutions — Ezra Levant — can’t be too far behind.  Levant once faced a human rights tribunal over his decision to publish Islamophobic Danish cartoons.  Besides harping on that on his program, he’s also been doing his level best to offend someone, and has also apparently invited some of his guests to do the same in the hopes that sooner or later, something will trigger a complaint.  From the perspective of SunTV (a.k.a. Fox News North), the ratings potential from turning victimhood into an all out attack on the concept of human rights is probably too good to pass up.  If there was any doubt, check out this (starting at about 3:20):

Levant speculatively asks “What would happen if a gay rights activist wanted to become a lifeguard at a Muslim pool for girls or something?” Naturally, Levant and Kathy Shaidle both assume that the actual facts of an incident wouldn’t factor into the equation at all, and that HRCs only ever just pick a favorite when they rule on anything.  Shaidle concludes that:

“… they’re going to pick the Muslims, because none of the gay men I know know anything about bomb making.  So they’re gonna side with the Muslims just so they can keep their property intact.”

This isn’t unusual for his show, which debuted in April.  Since then, Levant has been taking snide shots at guests, bringing on perennial complaint victims like Ann Coulter and Geert Wilders, and taunting lefties — including proudly chainsawing a baby evergreen to goad environmentalists into complaining about him “willfully assailing nature” — all to prove his commitment to free speech.  Which, of course, should be perfectly legal, but it’s worth noting that Levant hasn’t always applied that principle consistently.

So now, whether it’s broad-brush conclusions about people who can and can’t make bombs or an Ohio megachurch pastor brandishing a bong and dancing around in a fat suit, we’re entering an odd era of far right pundits and figureheads competing for negative attention to provoke human rights actions, thus proving “persecution.”

God help us all.

    • Natalie
    • June 23rd, 2011

    It’s called ‘clutching at straws’. They know that people are starting to see through their nonsense, so they’re reduced to FUD.

    • Jaime
    • June 23rd, 2011

    Oh no, does this happen in Canada too? One of my observations is that it is always possible to spin something 180 degrees which is commonly done by right wingers in the US. It seems like in the internet age it has become more common and acceptable (but perhaps just more widely accessible). We live in appalling times.

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