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June 12, 2008

The chains of history always rust away

David Warren writes that while in the long run the pen may very well be mightier than the sword that in the short run power does indeed grow out of the barrel of the gun. Despite this dispiriting observation we must not despair, must remember "the chains of history always rust away."

This is a point worth recalling, as we head into a period in Canada when, owing to malice from an ideological camp, to cowardice on the part of our elected representatives, and to indifference on the part of the people, free speech and freedom of the press will disappear in Canada. Those who deviate from the officially-sanctioned lies of "political correctness" will emigrate, perhaps mostly to USA, or experience that peculiar form of internal exile -- of enforced silence -- that good men have shared in many times and places.

My own political education was provided in part by several impressive Czech exiles from Communism, with whom I fell in as a young man. What I learned from them is that under an ideological regime, the best men live in jail, or are assigned to work in tanneries and collieries, where other good men may be found. The worst men live in luxury and power.

I have bad days like this too. And why not? For all the paper thin guarantees of the Charter, Canadians have no more rights before the law than Czech dissidents did forty years ago. This is not only the province of those few singled out for the extremity of their views or, increasingly, those singled out for their audacity to mock the Canadian Establishment. This is also about the systematic silencing of what used to be Canada across entire professions, academic disciplines, the federal and provincial civil service, the arts and the media. To merely hold as private opinion what was until recently the law of the land can now produce fines, imprisonment and - worst of all to my mind - public recantations.

There was a lot I did not like in what used to be Canada: A priggish, self-satisfied narrow-mindedness, the public imposition of private morality and a nose in every window. Much of which, I suspect, would not have bothered David Warren in the least, transparent as the imposition of his religious views on the rest of us might have been to him at the time. But it dawns on me now not a thing has changed; Canada's clothes are new but the sour expression remains.

Yet we must not despair. I share a conviction with David Warren if not the particulars of his faith. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierces me that in the end the Shadow is only a small and passing thing: there is light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

Related: Which element of the Periodic Table do you think should be taxed next?

Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 12, 2008 06:47 AM


As a yoot, when I thought of Canada at all (no offense), I tended to think, "Like the US, but nicer."

Now it seems I should think, "Like the US, but N.I.C.E.r"

Posted by: Clayton Barnett [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2008 11:18 AM

Meanwhile, The New York Times publishes an article suggesting that because the US is alone in our near-absolute freedom of speech we should consider becoming more like Canada, so as not to offend anyone.

Posted by: dpatten [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2008 11:55 AM

I believe the United States has been from its inception at risk of incipient Canadianity. The world might be better off had the War of 1812 had a different outcome.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2008 11:57 AM

War of 1812? If there's a fund to chip in for having the Brits burn Washington again, I'd chip in for that. No greater danger to our freedoms exist than our own masters.

Posted by: Clayton Barnett [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2008 12:31 PM

There are some parts of York Toronto that could use a re-burning too.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2008 12:34 PM

I would like to nominate Hamilton and Oakville for burning too, just out of spite.

I would like to nominate helium as America's Next Taxable Element. Damn those clowns and their balloon animals. Shame about the Goodyear blimp, though. I guess there's always hydrogen as a fallback for that.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2008 03:39 PM

Does it not begin to worry you, Flea, that you're nearly to [or worse, at] the point where you'd rather be governed by the Pope than these bastards?

I'd laugh about the irony, but really I'm too sickened by the backwards direction history has decided to turn.

Posted by: urthshu [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2008 05:01 PM

I would rather be governed by the Pope.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2008 05:14 PM