Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer announced Saturday, June 2, 2019 that Conservative MP Michael Cooper would no longer serve on the justice committee after he had lashed out at a Muslim witness earlier in the week during a hearing on online hate.
Scheer said in a tweet.
“Reading the name and quoting the words of the Christchurch shooter, especially when directed at a Muslim witness during a parliamentary hearing, is insensitive and unacceptable.”
Here is the crime: On Tuesday, at a hearing before the Justice Committee dedicated to fighting online hate, Conservative MP Michael Cooper said:
“Faisal Khan Suri, the president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, should “be ashamed” of himself for linking conservative commentators to Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette and the terror attacks in New Zealand.”
“Suri said that Bissonnette’s online history showed he repeatedly sought out “alt-right and conservative commentators” and encouraged more action on online hate.”
“The evidence from Bissonette’s computer showed he repeatedly sought content about anti-immigrant, alt-right and conservative commentators, mass murderers, U.S. President Donald Trump, and about Muslims, immigrants living in Quebec,” Suri said.
In response, Cooper called Suri’s remarks “defamatory” for making the connection between conservative commentators and the mass shooters.
Cooper read from the 74-page manifesto of New Zealand mass shooting suspect Brenton Tarrant, accused of killing 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, N.Z., to quote that he rejected “conservatism.”
Cooper also mentioned the 2017 shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise, who was wounded along with four others by James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter.
Cooper later retracted his comment that Suri should be “ashamed” but stood by his statements that Suri’s testimony was “deeply offensive.”
So let me get this straight. It is OK to attack Conservative commentators by reading from one terrorist manifesto where the perpetrator referred to Conservative commentators as inspiration, and then link that statement to another manifesto in which the terrorist was not associated with Conservatives as if the two had similar motives. But it is not OK to defend Conservative commentators by reading from that other manifesto which disputes the allegation of the first person, who happens to be a Muslim. Confused yet?
Faisal Khan Suri, the president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, was offended by the statement made by Michael Cooper. Suri was offended after painting Conservative commentators as hateful. It seems it is appropriate for Suri to be offended. We all should be allowed to be offended. Unless you are a Conservative. How dare a Conservative respond to that sweeping statement? I don’t know. Free speech? Fair exchange of sources and ideas? Democracy?
That Cooper said this to a Muslim should be irrelevant. He hurt his feelings? I am sorry his feelings were hurt; by facts. Does that mean we should never read from Mein Kampf because the facts could hurt the feelings of Germans? Should we strike some of the language from that hateful manifesto? It seems we are striking the name and words of the man accused of killing 51 people in the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque attacks from the records of the House of Commons justice committee.
And how did we get to a place where the importance is placed on who said it, the messenger, rather than the message?
I just published an article about Christians, churches and the Vatican assisting in reducing the sentences for Nazis convicted of murdering Jews in Russia during World War II. My information came from the book Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial 1945-1958, by Hilary Earl. She was able to read the source material: from the transcripts of the accused, and the letters of request by these groups trying to reduce the sentences. All of the information is still available. And it isn’t pretty. But it is historical record.
One of my readers was very upset. She asked me if I believe everything I read. Then she said she couldn’t believe what I wrote.
“Protestant and Catholic churches financed organizations providing legal advice to the convicted. German bishops assisted attorneys in a campaign to discredit the war crimes trials. They initiated letter–writing campaigns and reached out to American media outlets.
A broad spectrum of Germans, including the clergy, professionals and officials of the Federal republic demanded amnesty for the “good German soldiers.”
The Vatican also opposed the punishments.”
But I had shared facts from reliable sources. That the facts hurt her feelings have nothing to with sharing facts. Was she hurt because she is Christian? I don’t know her religious status. It doesn’t matter. And it should not matter.
In this instance Faisal Khan Suri was offended because a Conservative Member of Parliament, Michael Cooper, had the unmitigated gall to refer to the 74-page manifesto of New Zealand mass shooting suspect Brenton Tarrant, accused of killing 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, N.Z., who rejected “conservatism.” Cooper shared the information to counter Suri’s sweeping allegations about Conservative commentators from the manifesto of another mass shooter; “Bissonnette’s online history (which) showed he repeatedly sought out “alt-right and conservative commentators.”
Two different statements brought into the public domain during a discussion of on-line hate. Both true. Both needed to be read into the record. The reason: Hate resides everywhere.
But this is 2019. In the name of political correctness and Groupthink, the House of Commons justice committee voted 6-0 with Conservatives abstaining, to expunge that section of its record. In New Zealand, publication of the alleged murderer’s manifesto is forbidden and public figures have shied away from using the accused killer’s name, seeking to deny him publicity.
Amy Lai, lawyer and author of The Right to Parody and a book on free speech in higher education under contract with the University of Michigan Press wrote:
“Freedom of speech, has long been held as a fundamental right in the Western world. The view that free speech enables a “marketplace of ideas,” often used with reference to John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, has its roots in a number of earlier works. For example, Enlightenment philosopher John Locke contended that freedom of conscience is an inalienable right in all humans, which, when guided by reason, enables them to resist state coercion and pursue the truth. Free speech is essential not only to the pursuit of truth but also to democratic governance. Twentieth-century philosopher John Rawls considered free speech to be one of the basic liberties that enables citizens to participate in the lawmaking in a democracy. For moral philosopher Immanuel Kant, it is congenial to the self-development of individuals as much as it is important for a functional society.”
According to Freedom House 2019, Freedom of expression has come under sustained attack, through both assaults on the press and encroachments on the speech rights of ordinary citizens.
If Members of Parliament cannot respond with their facts; a battle of manifestos in this case, then we have lost free speech, which is at the very core of our democracy.
From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”