Mark Steyn vs. The Sock Puppets

Mark Steyn vs. the 'Sock Puppets'

Warming up for his appearance before a human rights tribunal next month, Mark Steyn recently confronted his phony “accusers” on live TV. He got the better of them, but they will have the upper hand in court.

May 21, 2008
by Kathy Shaidle

Mark Steyn is in the business of making predictions. The possible consequences of some of those predictions recently led him to make another one: “My career in Canada will be formally ended next month.”

How has it come to this?

On June 2, Steyn and Maclean's magazine – the nation's oldest newsweekly – are obliged to defend themselves against charges of “flagrant Islamophobia” at a British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

The saga began two years ago, when Maclean's published an excerpt of Steyn's bestselling book, America Alone, which asks how the West's changing demographic profile – specifically, the difference between Muslim and non-Muslim birthrates – will affect its future.

In December 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) filed Human Rights Commission complaints against Steyn and the magazine in three different jurisdictions, charging them with “exposing Muslims to hatred and contempt” for, among other things, accurately quoting a Norwegian imam who boasted that Muslims were breeding “like mosquitoes.”

The CIC demanded that Maclean's print five pages of unedited Islamist propaganda in the interest of “fairness” and “balance.”

Maclean's refused. In fact, publisher Ken Whyte's response to the group – that he would rather see the magazine go bankrupt than bow to their blackmail – outraged the CIC as much as Steyn's original article.

The story soon became an international cause clbre. Unlike many other Canadians who've been caught in the HRC's clutches over the last ten years (and subsequently ruined), Steyn and his co-defendants are well-connected and eloquent, with relatively deep pockets and high profiles. Their case has helped expose a bizarre quasi-judicial set-up that's part extortion scheme, part secret police.

Now the petitions have been signed and the op-eds written, and members of Parliament faxed and emailed. There seemed to be little more to do than wait anxiously for that first tribunal to start.

Then the paperback edition of America Alone was released north of the 49th parallel this month, complete with a cheeky yet ominous yellow badge on the cover that read “Soon To Be Banned In Canada.”

The undisputed highlight of the subsequent media blitz came when Steyn confronted his “accusers” for the very first time. On live TV.

(“Accusers” because the real complainant is Mohammed Elmasry, the CIC president and terrorism advocate; three young, photogenic, and properly “outraged” Muslim articling students are fronting for “ElMo” in public, and have therefore been nicknamed “the Sock Puppets” by Steyn's supporters. One of these supporters, Tarek Fatah of the rival, moderate Muslim Canadian Congress, derisively calls the trio “the boy band.”)

These students had insisted for months that they “just wanted to debate the issues in public.” Yet when that opportunity presented itself, they refused to share the set with Steyn.

So in the middle of his interview, Steyn called to the students, who were hovering off stage, challenging them to make their charges to his face. After some shouting, chairs were rearranged and the “debate” finally took place.

The foreign-born students seemed embarrassingly unfamiliar with English common law, not to mention elementary literary devices like sarcasm and hyperbole. They read aloud samples of Steyn's Maclean's columns with as much venom as their wavering voices could muster. As usual, accurate quotations from Muslim leaders were singled out for particular scorn:

Signora Fallaci then moves on to the livelier examples of contemporary Islam – for example, Ayatollah Khomeini's “Blue Book” and its helpful advice on romantic matters: “If a man marries a minor who has reached the age of nine and if during the defloration he immediately breaks the hymen, he cannot enjoy her any longer.” I'll say. I know it always ruins my evening.

That “signora” is, of course, the late Oriana Fallaci, whose animus towards Islam preoccupied the last years of her life. After reading that passage of Steyn's, Muslim student Khurrum Awan compared Fallaci to notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, whose name remains a byword in Canada years after his conviction and deportation for “spreading false news.”

Host Steve Paikin was shocked, and asked Awan if he'd really intended to make that comparison. He had.

As time ran out on the shouting match, Steyn made a gesture toward reconciliation.

“Wanna go to dinner?” he asked.

“No!” Awan yelled back.

After this embarrassing performance – and those of the CIC's lawyer Faisal Joseph (when he bothers to “perform” at all) – Steyn might be forgiven for looking forward to June 2 with confidence. He isn't.

Canadian Human Rights Tribunals have a 100% conviction rate on “hate speech” charges. According to the BC Human Rights Code, decisions brought down by that province's Human Rights Tribunals have “the same force and effect” as “a judgment of the Supreme Court.”

So, “when the British Columbia 'Human Rights' Tribunal finds us guilty,” writes Steyn, “they are statutorily obligated to issue a cease-and-desist order that will have the effect of preventing Maclean's running any writing on Islam by me or anybody of a similar bent – even though the plaintiffs have not challenged the accuracy of a single fact or statistic or quotation.”

He continued:

So four weeks from now I'll be banished from the Canadian media. . But a year or two down the line, many other subscribers to Maclean's and the Chronicle-Herald and eventually the Globe and the Toronto Star will be wondering why there are whole areas of debate that no longer seem to get much of an airing in the public prints. In 1989, Muslims who objected to Salman Rushdie burned his novel in the streets of England. Two decades on, they've figured out that it's more efficient to use the “human rights” commissions to burn the ofending texts metaphorically, discreetly, offstage . and (ultimately) preemptively.

In many respects, the June 2 Tribunal's guilty verdict will represent the ultimate triumph of those “progressive” “Trudeaupian” ideals that have been infecting the nation's institutions for generations.

“At one point,” remarked Steyn after that televised “debate,” “I looked across at the Sock Puppet Three and thought: It's not about who wins the argument. They're the future of this country, and that's that.”


The more I read about political correctness, the more I think the counter reaction will be devastating. When the West takes its gloves off, the result is a lot of death and destruction. See World War II for more details

There are plenty of innocent Muslims out there. To you noble people of peace and righteousness: Stop these Islamic Supremacists! Do not support their insanity. They will only add to a hell on Earth for everyone.

May 21, 2008 – 2:43 am Benson:

Second to OmegaPaladin's remarks, with one caveat: “innocent Muslims” who are “people of peace and righteousness” by definition cannot believe the Koran is the comandments of the creator-deity, delivered to mankind via the angel Gabriel and Mohammed. How many Muslims deny the inerrancy of the Koran?

It seems to me that Islam simply does not have a rational, peaceful, outspoken and significant minority, though one may be struggling to be born in Iraq as a consequence of the G. W. Bush foreign policy.
May 21, 2008 – 4:26 am tehag:

Doesn't another column at PJM today quote Niemoeller? Here's the Canadian version: “First they came for the homophobes, but since
I was for gay rights, I said nothing; then they came for the anti-Semites, but since I hated Palestinians, I said nothing, now they're coming for the anti-Moslems, and..?”

Reap what you sow. It's not as if the various HRCs are newborn institutions. They've been in place for decades. They shouldn't have been created. For decades political parties in Canada campaigned to implement 'Canadian Values.' Now your laws enforce those values.

Not what you wanted? Tough-it's what Canada choose in election after election: not human rights (American, founding father-style) but Human Rights (U.N.-style). Canadian values backed by laws that create well-funded bureaucracies to compel obedience to those laws.

The HRCs function as the institutions of justice function everywhere According to heroes like Rev. Wright, the American justice system resembles that of the HRC: only the guilty are charged and convicted. The behavior of the HRC is like that of justice systems everywhere.

IIRC, I saw a blog entry stating that the money contributed to Steyn's defense fund was mostly donated by Americans. To Americans: stop meddling! Canadians who support Canadian Values don't defend hate criminals; neither should you.

You and Steyn are not Canadian enough for Canada. You're not the kind of person Canada wants. You should flee to a country that is freer-your choice of countries, or revolt, slay your oppressors and install a limited government that supports freedom.

In this there should be no halfway measures: either the Canadian government may, like China, determine which speech is acceptable in Canada, or it may not. Obey the law or destroy the commissions.

May 21, 2008 – 4:46 am lizzy:

this is how the world ends not with a bang but a whimper
May 21, 2008 – 4:46 am charles p. smith:

I saw Mr. Steyn and the “sock puppets” on the TVO show just this past weekend. It was scary. These articling law students, as earnest as they think they are, are really beyond the pale. They have had their feelings hurt. That is the bottom line. And their feelings are hurt because their faith – Islam – says they should not have their feelings hurt. This has nothing to do with hate speech. This has to do with hurt feelings. And it these 3 soon-to-be-lawyers had any integrity, honesty and intestinal fortitude they would be fo ing their wrath on those within Islam who are giving it a bad name. Well, worse than what is already, given the written word in their religious books. They
showed their true colours when Mr. Awan likened Orianna Fallaci to Ernst Zundel. I was stunned – much like Steve Paikin. The 3 did not want to discuss the facts as outlined by Mr. Steyn and Macleans or the statements made by people considered to be “leaders” of Muslims in their respective countries – these were dismissed as “obscure Muslims”. Hardly. They only wanted to show that their feelings were hurt because these facts were written up. They were over matched and looked foolish, particularly Mr. Awan who was close to foaming at the mouth.

At the end of the show Steve Paikin came on to advise that there was an hour long discussion between all of them after filming
and Mr. Paikin advised that another show is being worked on. Somehow I don't think that will happen.

Mr. Steyn is absolutely correct – these people are the future of my country. We are doomed due to hurt feelings.
May 21, 2008 – 5:21 am Frank Logan:


(author unknown)

A man whose family was Jewish German aristocracy prior to World War Two owned a number of large industries and estates. When
asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism. 'Very few people were true Nazis 'he said,' but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.'

We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority
of Muslims just want to live in peace.

Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history.

It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honour kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals.

The hard quantifiable fact is that the 'peaceful majority' the 'silent majority' is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia comprised Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.

China's huge population, it was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.

The average Japanese individual prior to World War 2 was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way
across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword,shovel and bayonet.

And, who can forget Rwanda , which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peaceful & loving'?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany , they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.

As for us who watch it all unfold; we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of
May 21, 2008 – 5:23 am RJGatorEsq.:

Human Rights Commissions:

Where free speech, and free societies, go to die.
May 21, 2008 – 5:33 am LeChat:

I feel sorry for the average Canadian citizen who has to put up
with this insanity. I'm old enough to remember a time before
political correctness threatened to destroy entire societies.
Since I live in the US, what I say is protected by the First
Amendment to the US Constitution.
By the way, I don't have Islamophobia. A phobia is an
unreasoning fear. My fear of Islam is perfectly reasoned, and is
based on its history, the statements of its Imams, and its
May 21, 2008 – 5:46 am Johnny Maudlin:

I understand Pyjamas Media is a privately funded hobby for a
wealthy right winger. I wonder how the writers view themselves,
in terms of integrity. Kathy Shaidle, on her blog last Saturday,
demonstrated quite nicely what her values are. As Senator Ted
Kennedy was being rushed to the hospital after suffering a
seizure, the good Christian woman Kathy Shaidle was instructing
her readers to please get some priorities, and posting a picture
of the tombstone of Mary Jo Kopechne. All these years later,
when a man is fighting for his life, this is the kind of hateful
message Shaidle offers to the world. She is an embarrassment to
any serious journalist.
May 21, 2008 – 6:06 am Louis S. Coletta:

With freedoms come responsibilities. Liberty is a result of
wearisome struggles. I may be tired of the constant pressure of
Islamo-nazis but I will not give-in, give-up, or give-out. To
live in this earthly time means commenting, preparing, and
stationing myself and those around me to defend, contend, and
offend those of ill-will against the freedoms so bravely fought
for so long ago. Without this struggle, I am dead to my life and
the evil of sin, Isalmo-nazis, or government oppression wins the
day and those expessions so freely given, through previous
struggles, are silenced and I must fight actively to regain them
again. I, an American, will continue to support M. Steyn and
pray for his vindication from this evil and oppression and that
free thinking minds, such as his, will never be silenced by
small minded nazis ever.

May 21, 2008 – 6:08 am Ken Bond:

Hey PQ Guys: Bring on the RCMP chaps. Commenter “Omega Paladin”
may be closer to the mark than he realizes.
May 21, 2008 – 6:12 am