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Mark Steyn

"We Win, They Lose"

Of all the books I've written, Mark Steyn's Passing Parade may be my personal favorite, which is why I'm delighted it's out in a new expanded eBook edition with about 20 per cent new material - not just Reagan, Tupac, Prince Rainier, Pope John Paul II, Scotty from Star Trek, but now with Boris Yeltsin, Evel Knievel, Oriana Fallaci, too. You can get it in Kindle format at Amazon in the US and worldwide (check below for UK, Indian, Brazilian and other locations); in Nook at Barnes & Noble; and in Kobo, which I gather is big in various parts of the Commonwealth, so it should be up at Indigo-Chapters in Canada momentarily.

I was on the air discussing it for much of Tuesday. Here I am on Canada's Sun News talking Reagan and Princess Di with my old comrade Ezra Levant. Click below to view:

~After the book plug, I stuck around to discuss with Ezra the latest example of the ever tighter conformity enforcement on university campuses:

As our compatriot Kate McMillan likes to say: What's the opposite of diversity? University!

~On Wednesday, I'll be starting the day with Bruce and Dan on 89 WLS Chicago at 7.30am Central.

~If you wish, you can still buy Mark Steyn's Passing Parade in the good old-fashioned printed edition direct from the SteynOnline bookstore, and get it personally autographed, but be warned that the paperback is the non-expanded edition. The expanded edition of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade is only available in eBook form, and my Kindle, Nook and Kobo royalties all help my pushback against climate mullah Michael E Mann.

Passing Parade is also available at Amazon worldwide. Click below for your nearest branch office:

Amazon US: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Canada: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon UK: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Australia: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon India: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon France: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Germany: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Italy: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Spain: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Japan: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Brazil: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Mexico: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

~Re Ed Driscoll's other wish - for a digital edition of Broadway Babies Say Goodnight. We're working on that right now, with the help of my excellent editor at Faber in London, Belinda Matthews.

~Like the Great War long after everyone's forgotten the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the furor resulting from Patton Oswalt's approving Tweet of my Spectator column rumbles on. Speaking of which - final plug - Otto von Habsburg is one of those in the newly expanded Passing Parade.

April 23, 2014 at 12:30 am  |  Permalink

Earth to Pelosi

Hope your Earth Day is going well. I've spent most of mine on the air, starting with Brian Kilmeade on Fox & Friends and then Steve Doocy on Kilmeade & Friends (Steve was guest-hosting on Brian's radio show. After that it was off to Fox Business for the always ebullient Stuart Varney. We talked about the new edition of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, and Nancy Pelosi's carboon footprint, among other critical matters. You can see the video here.

~Stuart's Tweet about our discussion on global warming was not universally well-received. Thomas Gordon made the devastating retort:

Remind me. What is Mark Steyn's degree in.

As you know, the view of the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee is that non-climate scientists should have "special clearance" from the government before they're permitted to give their views on climate change. But I'm with Mr Gordon; I think we need to go further. Climate change is such a clear and present danger to the planet only fully credentialed climate scientists should be allowed to vote in elections.

~Meanwhile, Mr Gordon's fellow Tweeter Jack Straw slaps me and Stuart down hard:

The debate is over. You lost. Welcome to reality.

Actually, no. Increasingly, the debate is never held - because intellectual colossi like Mr Straw and Michael E Mann lack the capacity to debate, and so it's easier just to declare it "over". There's a lot of that about. Over at Powerline today, Paul Mirengoff traces the-debate-is-over syndrome back to Hegelian historicism in all its unloveliness.

~The Jack Straw school of debating skill is also evident at Azusa Pacific University, which has just "postponed" tomorrow's scheduled talk by Charles Murray because of the likelihood of "hurting our faculty and students of color". In the Age of Diversity, the list of people who cannot be allowed near the delicate flowers of the academy grows ever longer. Charles writes:

Azusa Pacific's administration wants to protect you from earnest and nerdy old guys who have opinions that some of your faculty do not share. Ask if this is why you're getting a college education.

I would imagine many students would earnestly nod their heads and say yes, that's exactly why they're getting a college education - to acquire the correct social attitudes. On Sun News tonight, Ezra Levant and I will be discussing the strange death of the contrarian spirit among western youth, in relation to the eerie totalitarian sight of students in Regina applauding as peaceful pro-life demonstrators are dragged away by police. Maybe Azusa Pacific should have let Charles Murray speak and then have the college security SWAT team club him to a pulp to the cheers of the students.

~There's further commentary on my free-speech piece over at American Thinker.

~Aside from Ezra's show north of the border, I'll be back on the air this evening (south of the border with Sean Hannity on Fox News at 10pm Eastern.

April 22, 2014 at 6:46 pm  |  Permalink

Mark Steyn's Plus-Size Passing Parade, Now in eBook

Today is the first Boston Marathon since last year's bombing. I write about the coverage in those first days here. A year on, the evasive passivity of the official observances is disturbing.

~I'm starting the week in New York. If you're near a receiving apparatus (as my late colleague Peter Simple used to call it), I'll be swinging by Fox News on Tuesday to join Fox & Friends and Sean Hannity, details at right.

~Speaking of "Peter Simple", his alter-ego Michael Wharton is one of the subjects in Mark Steyn's Passing Parade. Following the new eBook of my free-speech tome Lights Out, I'm pleased to announce that Passing Parade is now also available digitally. Only two months ago PJ Media's Ed Driscoll demanded:

Please add Broadway Babies and Mark Steyn's Passing Parade to the Kindle titles!

Ed's wish is my half-command. As of today, you can find Passing Parade in Kindle format at Amazon in the US and worldwide (check below for UK, Indian, Brazilian and other locations); in Nook at Barnes & Noble; and in Kobo, which I gather is big in various parts of the Commonwealth, so it should be up at Indigo-Chapters in Canada momentarily.

And this isn't just the regular old Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, but a newly expanded edition, with about 20 per cent more material. The Washington Post called me "the world's wittiest obit writer", and, whether or not that's true, I know a niche market when it's handed to me. So Passing Parade is an anthology of obituaries and appreciations of the men and women who, in ways great and small, helped shape the 20th century. In The New York Sun, David O'Neill cited my essay on Ronald Reagan as "the most moving and powerful tribute I've read", while my send-off for a far more obscure politician, the Reverend Canaan Banana remains one of the all-time favorite most requested columns here at SteynOnline. The Washington Post's Peter Carlson hailed my "delightful obit on bandleader Artie Shaw", while The Weekly Standard's Jonathan Last declared that "I'll be surprised if I read a better essay this year than this beautiful, funny, sad Mark Steyn entry on Sid Luft."

So we took Luft, Shaw, Banana and Reagan, and then we added Tupac Shakur, Idi Amin, the Princess of Wales, Bob Hope, Madam Chiang Kai-shek, Pope John Paul II - plus Scotty from Star Trek, Nixon's secretary and Gershwin's girlfriend and many more. It's rthe passing parade of our times, from princes and presidents to the guy who invented Cool Whip.

And in this new edition we've delved through the SteynOnline morgue and massively expanded the book, to add my appreciations of Evel Knievel, Boris Yeltsin, scourge of Islam Oriana Fallaci and scourge of the Kennedys Dominick Dunne, plus the Cold War's oddest honey trap and 007's perennially untrapped Miss Moneypenny.

This expanded edition is only available in eBook form, so I hope you'll check it out. I'm not sure what my royalty rate on digital downloads is, but Kindle, Nook and Kobo sales do go to support my pushback against climate mullah Michael E Mann. So, if you're planning on booking a seat at the DC Superior Court for the upcoming trial of the century, a few dollars, pounds, euros and rupees from worldwide sales will ensure we put on a much better show

If you prefer, you can still buy the good old-fashioned printed edition direct from the SteynOnline bookstore, and get it personally autographed, but be warned that the paperback is the non-expanded edition, so, if you want all the new stuff, it's only available digitally. And, if you come up to me after tomorrow night's Hannity gig and whip out your Kindle, I promise to autograph it with the chisel I always keep handy for such moments.

The new expanded edition of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade is also available digitally via Kindle at Amazon worldwide. Click below for your nearest branch office:

Amazon US: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Canada: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon UK: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Australia: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon India: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon France: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Germany: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Italy: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Spain: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Japan: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Brazil: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Mexico: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

~Re Ed Driscoll's other wish - for a digital edition of Broadway Babies Say Goodnight. We're working on that right now, with the help of my excellent editor at Faber in London, Belinda Matthews.

~Like the Great War long after everyone's forgotten the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the furor resulting from Patton Oswalt's approving Tweet of my Spectator column rumbles on. Speaking of which - final plug - Otto von Habsburg is one of those in the newly expanded Passing Parade.

April 21, 2014 at 10:53 am  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn April 14-20

Happy Easter and/or Happy Passover. On this bright, piping Easter morn, we mark the tenth anniversary of Mel Gibson's film The Passion Of The Christ, and the third anniversary of Mark's children's run-in with the choc troops of the Department of Homeland Security. Plus we celebrate the only Easter standard in the American Songbook.

In case you missed it, here's the unholy aspects of this past Holy Week as seen by Mark:

~He started the week with a 60th birthday celebration of "Rock Around The Clock".

~On Monday Mark looked at the Bundy family's showdown with the US Bureau of Land Management, a little-known government agency that nevertheless rules an area equivalent to three-sevenths of the G7 - or France, Germany and Italy combined.

~On Tuesday Mark marked the first anniversary of the Boston bombing with a look-back at the media coverage: "No Islam to See Here."

~On Wednesday actor-comic Patton Oswalt (from Ratatouille, "Agents of SHIELD", "King of Queens", etc) made the mistake of Tweeting a Steyn column, and found himself on the receiving end of the social-media tire-iron from the forces of tolerance.

~Thursday was a radio day: Mark was back behind the the Golden EIB Microphone to guest-host for Rush on America's Number One radio show, and later joined Hugh Hewitt to discuss the Virginia Supreme Court's appalling decision to assist Michael E Mann in his ongoing campaign to keep his science secret.

~On Friday Mark returned to newsstands across the British Isles and Australia in a Spectator cover story on free speech. Aussie Attorney-General (and fan of Steyn's Broadway Babies Say Goodnight) George Brandis also chimed in on the subject.

~On the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial-of-the-century front, Mark provided an update on the story so far that became our most-read piece of the week. If you haven't yet picked up some of our soon-to-be-collectors'-item Steyn vs the Stick merchandise, do swing by the Steyn store and check it out.

~Mark ended the week by looking at US power at home and abroad and wondering if, like the British guns at Singapore, America's guns are pointing the wrong way.

A new week at SteynOnline begins tonight with our Song of the Week. On Tuesday Mark will be in New York to appear with Sean Hannity on Fox News.

April 20, 2014 at 8:00 am  |  Permalink

Chicken Supremes

On yesterday's pre-Easter edition of the Hugh Hewitt show, Hugh and I discussed the Democratic Party candidate of 2052, Hillary Rodham Clinton's foreign-policy "legacy", and free-speech rights for showbiz celebrities. I also commented on the Virginia Supreme Court's decision to side with Michael E Mann over the American media, and not require him to release his emails:

HUGH HEWITT: I've got to tell you, it's a sad day, because only a few hours ago, the Virginia Supreme Court, the highest court in the state of Madison and Jefferson, the people who wrote the statute on religious liberty, the people who Madison is responsible for the 1st Amendment, that court ruled against the release of documents, and you were on the side of NPR and the Washington Post, Mark Steyn, in your endless litigation with Dr. Mann, which is becoming the Bleak House of the 21st Century.

MARK STEYN: Yes.

HH: Nevertheless, I am shocked that this, I haven't had a chance to read the decision, yet, but when Mark Steyn, NPR and the Washington Post are betrayed by Madison's and Jefferson's court, it's a bad day for speech.

MS: Yeah, basically this is the issue of whether Michael Mann, the global warming hockey stick guy, will cough up his data. And this case in Virginia worked its way to the Supreme Court.... The reason the Washington Post and NPR and all these people got into it was because they understood that a victory for Michael Mann at the Supreme Court would gut the Freedom of Information Act in Virginia. I mean, the University of Virginia is a public university. So these emails are documents of public employees. But essentially for ideological reasons, the court decided to read the University of Virginia, and presumably all other higher education institutions, all other education institutions, indeed, out of the Freedom of Information Act....

But the issue for me is, and why this is important, is because huge public-policy questions hinge on the "science" of global warming, sometimes quite insane ones. I mean, David Cameron's so-called Conservative Party was at one point proposing that people would have a carbon allowance, which would in effect restrict the amount of travel they could do each year. In other words, the Soviet Union banned freedom of movement just because it was a totalitarian state; but the British Conservative Party was proposing to ban freedom of movement in the interest of saving the planet. And everybody's cool with that. So there are huge public policy questions, which is why the science, and the data underlying the science, has to be freely available - because if we're all going to give up our right to get on a long-haul plane and go and take a two-week vacation in the Bahamas or whatever, then the least we're owed is the ability to judge the science and see the data and see the research for ourselves.

You can read the full transcript here. Notwithstanding the Virginia Supreme Court greenlighting a massive bonfire of Mann's notes and data, my lawyers wrote to him and to the University of Virginia today to insist that nothing be destroyed until discovery resumes in our own case. This is a long, tough battle, and I'm very grateful for your support.

April 18, 2014 at 11:19 pm  |  Permalink

A Show of Contempt, at Home and Abroad

Happy Easter, Happy Passover. On this Good Friday, we mark the tenth anniversary of Mel's movie, and over the weekend we'll have something with a lighter touch.

Caroline Glick, my old colleague from The Jerusalem Post, has a column using a very Steynian word, "The Disappearance of America's Will":

The most terrifying aspect of the collapse of US power worldwide is the US's indifferent response to it.

In Europe, in Asia, in the Middle East and beyond, America's most dangerous foes are engaging in aggression and brinkmanship unseen in decades.

That first sentence is very true. Thirteen years ago, the left hopped aboard the war-on-terror bandwagon for reasons of electoral self-preservation, and hopped off as soon as they could. But, after a decade of ineffectual thankless three-cups-of-tea transnational ersatz "nation-building" in Mesopotamia and the Hindu Kush, the right has largely checked out of global geopolitics, too. Whether the GOP nominates a compassionate amnesty guy like Jeb Bush or goes full Rand Paul, the world and its woes will not be much of a factor. Miss Glick again:

The generation coming of age today is similarly uninterested in US global leadership.

During the Cold War and in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the predominant view among American university students studying international affairs was that US world leadership is essential to ensure global stability and US national interests and values.

Today this is no longer the caseIt is because of this that the world is more likely than it has been since 1939 to experience a world war of catastrophic proportions.

There is a direct correlation between the US elite's preoccupation with social issues running the narrow and solipsistic gamut from gay marriage to transgender bathrooms to a phony war against women, and America's inability to recognize the growing threats to the global order or understand why Americans should care about the world at all.

If Putin closes down a transgender nightclub a week before the Special Olympics, he can get America's attention. When he annexes neighboring states, not so much. Under Nato, the US has collective-security treaty obligations to the Baltic States, but if I were Estonian I wouldn't bet on them. Not unless the Russians make the mistake of bombing a gay wedding in Tallinn.

David Goldman, meanwhile, is weary of the admiring line that that Putin guy is some kind of genius. He doesn't have to be when we're idiots. Miss Glick notes that, as a show of "strength", the US sent an unarmed warship to the Black Sea:

Clearly not impressed by the US moves, the Russians overflew and shadowed the US naval ship. As Charles Krauthammer noted on Fox News on Monday, the Russian action was not a provocation. It was "a show of contempt."

As Krauthammer explained, it could have only been viewed as a provocation if Russia had believed the US was likely to respond to its shadowing of the warship. Since Moscow correctly assessed that the US would not respond to its aggression, by buzzing and following the warship, the Russians demonstrated to Ukraine and other US allies that they cannot trust the US to protect them from Russia.

In other words, Putin correctly identified the show of strength as a show of weakness, and revealed it to the world as such. In the land of the unfocused, the clear-sighted man is king.

~Perhaps Americans will get the quiet life they long for if they let the world go its own way. But oddly the less power the United States projects around the planet the more it turns on its hapless citizens right here at home. I write often about the utterly repulsive paramilitarization of the American bureaucracy, most recently with regard to the snipers deployed by the Bureau of Land Management in a cattle-grazing dispute. Guest-hosting for Rush yesterday, I remarked that the showdown between guys in cowboy hats and invaders wearing the full Robocop was like something out of that terrible film from a year or two back, Cowboys And Aliens. John Fund has a column today on the United States of SWAT:

Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions. It's not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them. But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies — not to mention local police forces.

"Law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier," journalist Radley Balko writes in his 2013 book Rise of the Warrior Cop. "The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop — armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties."

The proliferation of paramilitary federal SWAT teams inevitably brings abuses that have nothing to do with either drugs or terrorism. Many of the raids they conduct are against harmless, often innocent, Americans who typically are accused of non-violent civil or administrative violations.

Take the case of Kenneth Wright of Stockton, Calif., who was "visited" by a SWAT team from the U.S. Department of Education in June 2011. Agents battered down the door of his home at 6 a.m., dragged him outside in his boxer shorts, and handcuffed him as they put his three children (ages 3, 7, and 11) in a police car for two hours while they searched his home. The raid was allegedly intended to uncover information on Wright's estranged wife, Michelle, who hadn't been living with him and was suspected of college financial-aid fraud.

As I always say, the US Secretary of Education doesn't employ a single teacher but he is the only education minister in the western world with his own personal SWAT team. Americans will end their days in a very dark place unless this vile trend is reversed.

Around the planet, Russia's neo-tsar, the Chinese Politburo, apocalyptic ayatollahs, Afghan goatherds and Benghazi jihad punks laugh at the very idea of American power, but on the home front, if your estranged wife failed to repay her college loan or you drink loose-leaf tea, you'll get your door kicked down and be cowering in terror.

In the Second World War, when the Japanese took Singapore and inflicted what Churchill called the most ignominious defeat in British military history, it was famously said of the colony's ill-prepared defenses that the guns were pointing the wrong way. In America today, the guns seem to be pointing the wrong way.

~One-man Commonwealth: If you liked my free-speech essay in the Aussie and UK Spectators, you can now read it in Canada's National Post. Beyond Her Majesty's Dominions, in the United States the invaluable if depressingly ever more necessary FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has a few observations on my piece.

April 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm  |  Permalink

Living the Lies

I was honored to be back behind the Golden EIB Microphone today, while Rush is undergoing surgery in California. Here's a sampling of what we chewed over in the course of three hours, including a new poll showing that 81% of Americans believe that Obama is a liar, the blizzard of lies from the IRS, DOJ, DHSS and Census, the vast empire of the Bureau of Land Management, and, of course, the Virginia Supreme Court ruling on Michael Mann's emails.

It was a fun show to do, but Rush is the indispensable man on America's airwaves, and I hope all went well today and he's back on the air as soon as possible next week.

~I'll be back on the radio in an hour or two with Hugh Hewitt, live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

April 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm  |  Permalink

Don't Start Deleting Those Emails Just Yet, Mikey!

What was it I was saying only a few hours ago?

Today, a decision is expected from the Virginia Supreme Court re "hockey stick" climate alarmist Michael E Mann's continued attempts to obstruct access to his data. A bunch of big media - NPR, The Washington Post et al - have filed briefs opposing Mann and the University of Virginia because they understand that a victory for him would be a massive defeat for freedom of information that would more or less gut the law in that state.

Notwithstanding that, the Supreme Court of Virginia chose today to side with Dr Mann. The effect is to read the University of Virginia out of the Freedom of Information statute. Why would they do that? Well, you can read their reasoning, such as it is, here. A less charitable thought is that the jurists decided they didn't want the heat from the higher-education crowd. The I-don't-need-this-in-my-life-right-now school of jurisprudence.

One thing the order does is give the green light to the University of Virginia to crank up the incinerator for the biggest destruction of research material in a critical area of public policy - not to mention what my old colleague at the Telegraph in London, Christopher Booker, called the other day "the worst scientific scandal of our generation". Before they grab the matches and gasoline, however, please note that my lawyers have requested a lot of the same material for Mann's defamation suit against me. I'll have more to say about this later today.

In the meantime, please note: I've got nothing to hide. I've already responded to Mann's discovery requests - on February 12th, over two months ago. As usual, as in Virginia, as in British Columbia, he's obstructing and delaying. So what's he got to hide?

~It's a radio day for me today. In an hour or so, I'll be behind the Golden EIB Microphone guest-hosting for El Rushbo at America's Number One radio show. It starts live coast to coast at 12 noon Eastern. Rush is out on in California for surgery today, and we wish him all the best.

~Later this afternoon, I'll keep my weekly date with The Hugh Hewitt Show across the country at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

April 17, 2014 at 10:56 am  |  Permalink

Nigels in the News

Notes around the Anglosphere:

~For American readers: Rush is having surgery tomorrow and it's my privilege to return to the Golden EIB Microphone to host America's Number One radio show. Three hours of substitute-host-level Excellence in Broadcasting starts live coast to coast at 12 noon Eastern/9am Pacific.

~For Aussie readers: My cover story on freedom of expression in this week's Speccie can be read here. I'm increasingly struck by how little the cause of free speech resonates these days even on the less insane university campuses: The "safe space" is the cultural equivalent of one of those Belgian euthanasia clinics. Still, the comic Patton Oswalt (who to my kids will always be Remy in Ratatouille) rather liked this line:

This is the aging of the dawn of Aquarius: new blasphemy laws for progressive pieties.

No sooner had he reTweeted it than the leftie enforcers took the tire-iron to him for wandering off the showbiz reservation. As Mr Oswalt put it:

RT'd an essay on PC censorship by @MarkSteynOnline. Now getting accused of agreeing w/Steyn on EVERYTHING, which proves Steyn's point.

Indeed. What strikes me about the round-up at Twitchy - Steyn is a "f**king shitty" "filth bag" "trashman" ("Plus transphobia") - is how bloody boring these guys are. I'm going to have great difficulty staying awake for the New Totalitarianism.

~For Canadian readers: "We're only making plans for Nigel," sang the new-wave band XTC in a song I may cover on my next Christmas album ("We're only making plans for Noel"). "Nigel's whole future is as good as sealed."

Or so thought Nigelphobes on both sides of the Atlantic. Our first Nigel in the News is Nigel Wright, latterly Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. When he learned that neophyte senator Mike Duffy had taken to the time-honored public-service tradition of ravenous expense-claiming somewhat too enthusiastically, Mr Wright wrote Duffy a personal cheque to help him reimburse Canadian taxpayers. This was "the story that rocked the country's political world," according to the CBC's Peter Mansbridge.

If you say so. In consequence thereof, Nigel either resigned or was fired, according to which version Mr Harper is telling on what day. Yesterday, the RCMP announced:

"Upon completion of the investigation, we have concluded that the evidence gathered does not support criminal charges against Mr. Wright."

Which should have been perfectly obvious from the beginning. Yet Nigel Wright spent a year under criminal investigation for something that, whether naive or ill-advised or ethically dubious, was plainly not a breach of any law. That CBC panel seemed to agree that Mr Wright has not been proclaimed innocent but that the Mounties have decided he's more useful as a friendly Crown witness. So if it's so terrible for Nigel Wright to (allegedly) pressure Duffy to buy his silence, why is it such a good thing for the RCMP to spend a year pressuring Wright to buy his cooperativeness?

~For United Kingdom readers: Our second Nigel in the News is Nigel Evans, formerly Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons at Westminster. Like almost everyone in the Cameronized Conservative Party, Mr Evans is gay. Around the time the Canadian Nigel's career was heading south, the Welsh Nigel's career was plummeting in the same direction in the express elevator. A fellow Tory MP alerted the Speaker to a conversation she'd had with a young man regarding a supposedly unwanted sexual encounter with Mr Evans. Shortly thereafter, Nigel was arrested and charged with rape and sexual assault, his career collapsed, and he wound up on trial.

Here's how that went:

What happened next is a matter of public record. Nigel Evans was acquitted of all charges. Not a few of the charges. Not most of the charges. All of the charges. It took the jury just four and half hours to throw out all ten counts.

And there was a reason they threw them out. Nigel Evans was totally and utterly innocent. Three of the alleged victims testified in court that they didn't understand why the charges had been brought, and they themselves didn't believe they had been the victim of any crime. The main complainant, who had alleged that he'd been raped, was proved in court to be a liar. He had twice told police Evans pushed him into his bedroom and onto the bed, forcibly tried to undress him, and promised him a job if he agreed to have sex with him. But on the witness box he was forced to admit there was no pushing, he'd taken his own clothes off and there had been no promise of a job.

Nigel Evans didn't get off on a technicality. He didn't do it... A wholly innocent man had his reputation destroyed and his career ruined, and now faces crippling debts to cover the cost of his legal fees.

So Mr Evans is innocent but a quarter-million dollars poorer. And, unlike his false but anonymous accusers, only Evans' name will forever be indelibly linked to the words "assault" and "rape". For both Nigel in Ottawa and Nigel at Westminster, guilt and innocence are irrelevant: as I like to say of my own legal travails, the process is the punishment.

For Britain's Crown Prosecution Service, minor public figures are particularly attractive prey, and especially when sex is involved. The Sexfinders-General of the British constabulary are anxious to expand their lucrative "Bonking With The Stars" franchise. In fairness to them, at least in Mr Evans' case the false accusations date from the current millennium, rather than stretching back to the Nineties, Eighties, Seventies and beyond. Even if one assumes that Dave Lee Travis, once British radio's Number One morning man, surely availed himself of the perks that attend such a gig, the truth about any such encounters is hard to litigate after a third of a century. Nevertheless, the Crown dragged him into court, where the jury acquitted him on 12 out of 14 counts dating back to the mid-Seventies, and couldn't reach a verdict on the remaining two. Undeterred, the CPS immediately announced a new trial on the two outstanding counts, and for good measure through in a new one: a charge of indecent assault in January 1995.

The Sexfinders-General's gusto seems a rather obvious attempt to over-compensate for the police's collusion with paedo-celebs like Sir Jimmy Savile and Sir Cyril Smith back when they were actually diddling the kiddies. If it weren't such a terrible play, I'd recommend some enterprising producer dust off The Crucible as an allegory for the Celebrity Unit of the British police.

April 16, 2014 at 4:46 pm  |  Permalink

The "Safe Space" is Where Cultures Go to Die

I'm back in The Spectator this week in both Australia and the United Kingdom. Down Under, as you can see, I'm the cover story; in the Mother Country, I take second billing to God and Richard Dawkins (not sure who gets top billing between them). It's an overview of recent free-speech issues, from California to Canberra:

What all the above stories have in common, whether nominally about Israel, gay marriage, climate change, Islam, or even freedom of the press, is that one side has cheerfully swapped that apocryphal Voltaire quote about disagreeing with what you say but defending to the death your right to say it for the pithier Ring Lardner line: '"Shut up," he explained.'

A generation ago, progressive opinion at least felt obliged to pay lip service to the Voltaire shtick. These days, nobody's asking you to defend anyone to the death: a mildly supportive retweet would do. But even that's further than most of those in the academy, the arts, the media are prepared to go. As Erin Ching, a student at 60-grand-a-year Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, put it in her college newspaper the other day: 'What really bothered me is the whole idea that at a liberal arts college we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.' Yeah, who needs that? There speaks the voice of a generation: celebrate diversity by enforcing conformity.

You can read the whole thing here - or pick the Speccie up on the newsstand in London on Thursday, and throughout Oz and the British Isles on Friday.

And, just for a change, I do talk about climate change, but without mentioning my own fatwa from climate mullah Michael Mann.

~Don't forget my book on free speech, Lights Out. Personally autographed copies of the hardback edition are exclusively available from the Steyn store. But, if you prefer to read it via Kindle, Kobo or Nook, I can't autograph except with a chisel but you can pick it up instantly at Amazon sites worldwide, Barnes & Noble, Indigo-Chapters in Canada and other fine online retailers. More details on digital locations here.

April 15, 2014 at 11:59 pm  |  Permalink

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