Ideas and thinking make us different from cows in the field. Fencing in free speech is very dangerous. It’s a small step from there to thought control. The most dangerous threat to democracy is when politicians take the reins and decide for us what ideas are acceptable and ‘safe’. Fencing in thoughts makes for a ‘herd mentality’ and we become like cows in a field.

The reaction of Quebec’s politicians to the controversial ideas of an ‘anti-democracy’ Imam underscores our need as free thinking citizens to not only watch the ‘radicals’ but those we have elected to lead us;

A controversial imam who preaches that democracy and Islam are incompatible should think twice before trying to set up an Islamic youth centre in Montreal, politicians warn.

“I am against all forms of radicalism,” Mayor Denis Coderre said in response to news reports that Hamza Chaoui wants to open the Ashabeb community centre in Montreal’s Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough next month.

Anti-democracy imam gets cold reception from politicians over Montreal community centre plan, National Post, Postmedia News, January 30, 2015

It’s a free country, a politician like any citizen is entitled to be ‘against’ anything they want.  If we don’t like what they are ‘against’ then we can vote them out.  But when politicians decide to become ‘guardians’ of what is proper to think and speak about then a dangerous line is crossed.  The article continues;

Speaking to reporters in Quebec City, Kathleen Weil, Quebec’s minister of immigration, diversity and inclusion, said Mr. Chaoui’s views are “dangerous” and “unacceptable” in a democratic society like Quebec, where the rule of law applies and men and women are treated as equals.

“The city of Montreal, I am sure, shares our values, which are Quebec values,” Ms. Weil said. “They [his remarks] are dangerous.

“Clearly, my desire is that we don’t have this [community centre] where someone can spread these concepts. It’s unacceptable that we can have people on our territory who are teaching this to other people and the new generation.”

What’s next?  What other ideas might politicians decide are ‘dangerous’ and therefore ‘forbidden’ to pass on to the new generation?

Later, Agnès Maltais, the Parti Québécois point person on secularism, and the PQ’s Carole Poirier denounced the imam’s statements and called on authorities to do everything in their power to impede him.

“The Imam Hamza Chaoui has made radical statements in the past, including stating the democracy and Islam are not compatible and that the vote is a sin,” Ms. Maltais said. “We strongly denounce these medieval statements.”

They said the situation shows that Premier Philippe Couillard’s statement that fundamentalism is a “personal choice,” as long as the laws are all respected, is illogical.

So ideas like ‘democracy and Islam are incompatible’ and ‘voting is a sin’ are dangerous?  I agree with the former idea and just think the latter is silly.  What does that make me?  A dangerous thinker or only half dangerous.  In a free and democratic society ‘free speech’ is valued.  When people cross the line we have made laws to deal with hate speech.  People should be held accountable to these laws not their ideas and thinking.

Joseph Brean quotes Mark Steyn’s warning about censuring of ideas and free speech;

‘. . . the realm of thought and ideas is the laboratory where we get better ideas.

If you accept that there is one subject you are not allowed to talk about, you’re really a fool if you think that any government is going to be content to leave it at that,’ Mr. Steyn said. ‘So Spiegelman, in actually wanting actively to support the right of Nazis to speak, understands that, and understands that free speech is actually about Nazis and homophobes and racists and all the other non-approved speech.’

Joseph Brean,   Mark Steyn on fellow free-speech advocate Art Spiegelman and what it means to be truly provocative,  National Post, January 30, 2015

You can’t stamp out ideas you don’t approve of.  Trying to do so just makes martyrs and drives the ideas underground where they burn away beyond the scrutiny of  public debate and criticism.  Suppression of thoughts and public dialogue about controversial ideas contributes to ‘home grown’ terrorism.  I believe the best way to confront bigotry, hatred and violent ideologies is openly and in public.  I trust our laws and the ‘intelligence’ of our citizens.  I guess some of our politicians don’t and that’s more dangerous to democracy than any repressive ideology.

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