The Corner

Cockles and Muzzles

Kevin Myers, my old comrade from my Irish Times and Sunday Telegraph days, is undergoing an experience that sounds very familiar to yours truly.

Last year he wrote a column about Africa dissenting from the approved line that there’s nothing wrong with the place that can’t be solved by tossing a few more gazillion dollars into the dictators’ Swiss bank accounts. It was a strong column and he might reasonably have expected an avalanche of outraged letters to the editor. Instead:

The National Migrant Council reported me to An Garda Siochana [that’s Oirish for “the coppers”], demanding a criminal prosecution for incitement to hatred, with a no-jury court, and four years imprisonment the possible outcome. Hans Zomer of Dochas reported me to the National Press Council, on numerous grounds.

It is a sad day indeed when to speak your mind is to risk the wrath of the law, aided by the State-backed auxiliary bodies of intellectual conformism…

Tell me about it.What’s at issue here is a sustained attempt to criminalize opinion — or, at any rate, opinion which dissents from liberal dinner-party orthodoxy. As Mr. Myers quickly learned, those groups who might seem to have most to lose from the shriveling bounds of acceptable discourse are positively indifferent to it:

Needless to say, these threats to freedom of speech were not condemned by the National Union of Journalists, or the writers’ union PEN, or our Nobel Laureate, and proud defender of the intellectual freedom of writers, elsewhere anyway, Seamus Heaney.

Keep working on ‘em, Kevin. The Canadian branches of the above bodies have no love for me but came to recognize the threat — to the point where the Canadian Association of Journalists has just nominated the Dominion’s thuggish “human rights” commissions for one of its Code of Silence awards.

The illiberalism of modern liberalism is the most pressing threat to liberty: They don’t need to get you formally convicted. They just need to make the price of dissent too high. And in Ireland and elsewhere they’re having great success.

Mark Steyn — Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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