Fascinating, entertaining and important
For those of you who are not aware, Mark Steyn was brought before three courts of Canada's Human Rights Commission for violating the human rights of some Muslim students and the Canadian Islamic Congress. You see, in Canada, your right not to be offended is more important than your right to speak your mind (except in the hypocritical cases Steyn has fun with throughout the book).
What was Steyn's crime? Maclean's magazine printed excerpts from his book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. This was a bestseller in America and Canada but if he was found guilty the books would be pulled from all Canadian bookstores and Maclean's would have to be minded by politically correct nanny censors. Steyn is continually amazed that "large numbers of Canadians apparently think there's nothing wrong in subjecting the contents of political magazines to the approval of agents of the state." (p. 4)
So, Steyn includes offending comments from the excerpts that brought him to court. He also includes columns that were included as supporting evidence. As a bonus he includes commentary from the complaints and then writes rebuttals. Steyn gleefully quotes author Martin Amis who noted that Steyn's "thoughts and themes are sane and serious - but he writes like a maniac." (p. 106). How very true - Steyn whipsaws back and forth - sometimes darkly sarcastic, sometimes sad, sometimes like a little boy who is glad to point and call names. But, throughout all of it Steyn is right - dead on 100% right. We cannot let the freedom of speech to be compromised, especially not in the name of offending the religious sensibilities of a determined few (my own religious beliefs are assaulted almost daily on sites I visit on the internet, TV and even in my classroom but I hardly am interested in shutting up those who offend me). To quote Steyn again, "What's so bad about disagreement that it needs to be turned into a crime?" (p. 182)
One of the most important books of our troubled times - as a bonus it's a joy to read!
I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.
This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Lights Out: Islam, Free Speech And The Twilight Of The West
Reviewed on January 30, 2010.