Edmonton city councillor promotes censorship

Edmonton’s brand new city council is opening its term with ham-fisted attempts at blatant censorship.

Bus advertisements offering help to Muslim girls threatened with honour killings are, so far as councillor Amarjeet Sohi is concerned, “racist.”

HUH?

Pray elucidate: which other religion these days condones, no, promotes honour killings of girls who do not obey their fathers’ (or their brothers’) orders? Speaking of brothers, we’re not speaking necessarily of older brothers, we’re speaking of brothers. Period.

An Edmonton Journal  story quotes Sohi thus: “The minute I found out about these ads, I called over to Charlie Stolte, our general manager of Edmonton Transit Service, and showed my displeasure.

“They target one group, and in my mind they were very discriminatory and racist, and there’s no place for that kind of bigotry on city property.”

What a warlord! Mill Woods, the ward he has represented since 2007, should be ashamed of itself for voting the guy in. If for no other reason than because decisions such as this one belong to council, not to individual councillors.

And even if entire council voted to proclaim that telling the truth is racist, it would still amount to unacceptable censorship.

Facts are facts, and we either ignore them because their consequences might not be comfortable (in this case: keeping his mouth shut could cost Sohi votes), and we are prepared to accept the peril of our actions, or we stand up and say, too bad, first, dear complainers, tell us where the advertisement is wrong. Factually wrong, that is.

The fact it says it’s Muslim girls who are in danger in most cases, well, face the facts, will you? And perhaps consider the honour killings that have happened right here, in Canada: all of them perpetrated in the name of Muslim traditions, with some of the perpetrators, when facing Canadian justice system for the crime, yelling it was bloody discrimination, and they had the right to uphold their traditions.

As the Journal  story describes it, the placards on the outside of buses show a photo of young women above the line: “Muslim girls honour killed by their families. Is your family threatening you? Is there a fatwa on your head? We can help.”

A link to FightforFreedom.us  follows. That’s a U.S.-based group that claims to offer tips for people facing threats just because they want to leave the Muslim faith. It also warns about the “encroachment of Islam on western civilization.”

SIOA (Stop Islamization of America) operates the site. This is the group that put up the same ad in Tampa, Fla. It also ran ads on buses in New York, San Francisco and Miami, offering help to people who wanted to leave Islam and faced family threats as a result.

The group also finds plans to build a mosque near New York’s destroyed World Trade Center site perfectly unacceptable.

What is wrong with all that?

Here’s your answer: NOTHING.

It is a fact of life that people from Arab countries (not all of them of Muslim persuasion, by the way) are leaving their birthplaces in quickly increasing rates, choosing to settle in Western countries, instead.

It is also a fact of life that many who were discontent with their lives in their native countries now try to bring their old traditions, customs and habits to their new homes. Surprisingly, whenever the existing societies object, someone would always raise the specter of discrimination and racism to defend them.

Yes, specter.

First and foremost: discrimination is not necessarily a racist tool. If you, gentle reader, happen to be, say, a girl, you would not be accepting all offers from boys, no matter how handsome, to spend a night or a life in their arms. You would discriminate, deciding on upon whom to bestow the honour and whom to ignore.

And if you happen to be a potential employer, you would also be discriminating when choosing future employees. Only those who know the skills you require need apply.

Is THIS racist in any shape or form?

This was a rhetorical question.

It is a fact of life that many people who come to Western democracies from environments much less savoury can (and often do) have difficulties adjusting to different laws, customs and traditions. First and foremost, they would have to learn that obeying their new countries’ laws is a law upon itself. They have no say about that so far as this aspect of life is concerned. Speaking of laws, this rule has its own name (in Latin, to boot): conditio sine qua non. Meaning: this is how it is, live with it. Secondly, nobody is going to bother newcomers about their customs and traditions with one proviso: they must not be breaking their new countries’ laws. Saying that banning those customs and traditions is discriminatory and racist just doesn’t cut it.

Discriminatory? Yes. Racist? Absolutely not.

It just so happens that Western traditions value life above all. Despite all claims to the contrary, not all cultures (read: traditions and customs) are equal. Some have grown up with times, others still remain drowned in the Middle Ages (or even in ages older than that).

There are a number of customs and traditions Western culture finds abhorrent and unacceptable (female circumcision comes to mind, honour killing comes to mind).

So, when somebody offers a helping hand to potential victims, we should applaud them rather than call them all kinds of politically correct invectives.

But there’s one more point here, and it is much more important than anything mentioned above: since when has a city council the right to censorship?

And, besides, does nobody realize that imposing censorship on any topic, no matter how insulting it can be to our sensibilities (legitimate or otherwise) is one of the first steps to society based on lies?

Most of us can agree that this or that topic is ludicrous, and this or that point of view is damaging to our present and, more importantly, to our future.

Most of us can be wrong.

“Is this how the Canadian Muslim community responds to the desperate circumstances of Muslim girls living in devout Muslim homes? They deny, obfuscate and dissemble,” SIOA founder Pamela Geller wrote when she learned of Edmonton city council’s decision to remove advertising one (ONE!) of its members found objectionable.

“The Muslim community protects the religious honour code, while smearing and libelling the truth tellers coming to the aid of these girls as ‘racists,’ ” Geller added.

Is Geller right? Is Geller wrong?

Facts show she is much closer to the truth than Edmonton councillor Amarjeet Sohi.

If Amarjeet Sohi thought the advertisements were lying, he should have said (and proven) so. Instead, he used a blanket description that, in itself, is a lie.

If remaining members of the Edmonton city council have got any courage left, they should tell councillor Amarjeet Sohi where he gets off. They should tell him in no uncertain words that they do NOT condone censorship.

And if councillor Amarjeet Sohi won’t agree, his voters should do whatever they can to have him removed from council.

Putting Edmonton on the slippery slope that is a direct path toward dictatorship simply won’t do.

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