The Corner

State-Enforced Harmony

Ever since they invented it back in the Nineties, I’ve thought Australia’s “Harmony Day” was one of the most creepily totalitarian names for a public holiday in a free society. In The Australian, an old China hand, Dan Ryan, offers his own view of where all this “harmony” is leading

Attempts by the government to try to build its idea of harmony will almost always trend towards restricting freedom of speech or narrowing the parameters of debate. Increasingly governments in the West seem to believe the need to preserve some ill-defined sense of harmony trumps any individual right to forthrightly discuss controversial subject matter.

From Ottawa (Mark Steyn), and Vienna (Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff) to Amsterdam (Geerts Wilders) and Melbourne (Andrew Bolt), prominent journalists and politicians are put on trial not because they have breached any traditional, narrowly defined limits on free speech (defamation, incitement to violence, breach of national security) but because they have criticised or drawn unwelcome attention to some important cultural, religious or ethnic problem that should rightfully be subject to debate.

In the interests of a specious social “harmony”, the state in Britain, Canada, Australia, and Europe has grown increasingly comfortable with restraining and shriveling core western values: As Anthony Daniels wrote the other day, “Everyone must conform in the name of diversity.

I used to think the land of the First Amendment would prove immune to this trend. But, given the way every other bad idea from the Rest of the West – multiculturalism, government health care – has taken root here, I’m no longer so sanguine.

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

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