The Corner

Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?

I’ve written previously here and there (warning: includes bad language from “jokes,” and extensive excerpts from the Court’s ruling on lesbian necking) about Guy Earle, a stand-up comic convicted by the British Columbia “Human Rights” Tribunal for the hitherto unknown crime of putting down a lesbian heckler homophobically. He had no money to fly in for his trial, so they convicted him in absentia and fined him 15 grand. Half a decade after his lesbophobic putdown, his case is wending its way to the B.C. Supreme Court. Kevin Dale McKeown of Canada’s Numero Uno gay publication writes of the Tribunal’s original embarrassing judgment:

As Ezra Levant commented on the case, “Does Commissar Geiger-Adams, the chief kangaroo, have some special, official sense of humour? So if he laughs, it’s legal, but if he doesn’t, it’s not?”

Yes, rightwing windbag Ezra. In standing with others who value freedom of expression above all else, one finds oneself in some pretty dubious company. But that’s the whole point of freedom of expression.

Just so. If you’re only in favor of freedom of expression for people you agree with, you’re not doing it right.

Unfortunately, in a world where “group rights are ‘the key Nanny State concept’,” fewer and fewer people seem to grasp that basic point. So, up north, “edgy” “transgressive” comedians abandon Guy Earle and accept the principle that the state has a right to regulate their comedy routines. And, down south, corrupt mayors brag about using the business-licensing process to punish their enemies, and for the most part their citizens shrug.

It’s bad enough that in a supposedly free society you can’t sell a chicken sandwich to your fellow citizen without buying a bazillion permits from the state. If they can prevent you from selling a chicken sandwich because they don’t like your opinions, then what can’t they do to you? When Canada decriminalized homosexuality, Pierre Trudeau declared that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. But the state has a place in the stand-up comedy routines of the nation, and the homophobic waffle fries of the nation?

Rush puts it well:

I’m reading intellectual treatises on, “Well, you know, they have the right to say these things, and the solution here is let Chick-Fil-A open a store in Chicago and let’s see if the people will visit it.” That’s not the reaction to have! The reaction to have is, “Who the hell do you think you are, Rahm Emanuel? Who the hell do you think you are? What country do you think you’re in?”

Who the hell is Tom Menino to say you can’t sell chicken in Boston unless you agree with him? Who the hell is Murray Geiger-Adams to say you can’t tell a joke in Vancouver unless he approves it? Until more citizens of free nations are willing to say to statist hacks “Who the hell do you think you are?,” liberty will continue to bleed.

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

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