One of the most agreeable features of Common Law used to be its lack of interest in so-called group rights. What mattered was the individual, equal before the law. Ah, happy days. But that was then and this is now. Herewith, a smattering of stories from around the Anglosphere.
~First, Canada. The absurd fetishization of "Indigenous" sensitivities swallowed the Dominion's sesquicentennial and turned it into a year-long joyless bummer of interest to no one other than government diversicrats and other professional grievance-mongers. Undeterred, Justin Trudeau has decided to take it to the next level. Ahmed Hussen, appointed by the Prime Minister and Virtue-Signaler-in-Chief as Canada's first Somali immigration minister, has approved revisions to the oath taken by every new Canadian citizen:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
Treaties are between contracting parties, usually nations but, in this case, the Crown and "First Nations". It is unclear to me in what sense an ordinary citizen can "observe" a treaty - even if he knew what the hell was in it, which new immigrants surely don't. Never mind. It cements at the heart of a pledge of allegiance the formal acknowledgment that, in your new country, some groups count for more than others.
~Next, Australia. The referendum campaign on same-sex marriage is not going well, if polls are to be believed, for proponents of what we must now call "traditional marriage" or "non-equal marriage" or ...well, best not to talk about it at all. Victory may well be in the bag, so the winners have smoothly moved on, in a foretaste of what's to come, to cracking down on dissenting outliers:
The Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous, has warned of a "direct challenge to freedom of speech" after the No campaign was denied bookings by both the University of Tasmania and Wrest Point Casino for an event on Friday evening.
Archbishop Porteous had been due to speak at the function along with Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi; Victorian Liberal MP, Kevin Andrews; Australian Christian Lobby managing director, Lyle Shelton, as well as "mummy blogger" Marijke Rancie.
The Archbishop issued a statement this evening saying: "Despite signing contractual agreements and paying hire fees in full, Wrest Point Casino has advised the No Campaign that the venue is now unavailable."
"Upon making enquiries to the University of Tasmania to secure a venue for the event, the university decided it (the event) did not meet its criteria."
"The current campaign concerning the definition of marriage requires open debate. It is the essence of a democratic society that both sides of a debate have the right to present their case..."
The Archbishop is being hopelessly quaint: "The essence of a democratic society", in Australia as elsewhere, is that as the great questions are settled - on gay marriage, climate change, Islam, transgender grade-schoolers - opposing viewpoints have to be retired and banished from public view.
~Speaking of blasphemy laws, a business-class passenger on Qatar Airways did not have a happy flight:
A Qatar Airways passenger who scrawled "death to Allah" on his armrest because he was unhappy with business class service is facing jail.
Joseph Breslin, 36, wrote the words after becoming "tired and irritated" on a flight into Heathrow Airport.
Usually, when one reads of stories about westerners facing imprisonment because of some offense to Allah, it's because they're visiting Qatar, or Saudi or the UAE or wherever. But in this case Mr Breslin has been convicted in his homeland, having fallen afoul of England and Wales' law on "religiously aggravated criminal damage". In other words, "Death to Elmo" on the armrest would be mere "criminal damage", and attract a fine, but "Death to Allah" has you heading for a spell at Her Majesty's Pleasure:
"The words on the armrest related to the plane service generally, and the fact he had become tired and irritated and that was directed at the airline."
Breslin, from Bromley, pleaded guilty to two charges of religiously aggravated harassment and a count of religiously aggravated criminal damage.
Judge Annabel Darlow QC freed him on bail until sentencing on October 31, but warned him a prison sentence was likely. Asking for a report from the probation service, she said: "Nothing has been said which sheds any light on why Mr Breslin chose to behave in this extraordinarily offensive and unpleasant way."
Why being "extraordinarily offensive and unpleasant" should rate a prison term is unclear. But, if you're going to be "extraordinarily offensive and unpleasant" , best to be so about, say, Melania Trump rather than Muslims, or gay newlyweds, or indigenous peoples or any of the other protected classes of persons.
On the other hand, if you belong to any of those protected classes, feel free to be as "extraordinarily offensive and unpleasant" as you like.
What's really "extraordinarily offensive" is the courts of England jailing freeborn Englishmen for lĂ¨se-majestĂ© to Mohammed.
~Tomorrow, Friday, Mark will be joining Steve, Ainsley and Brian on the curvy couch at "Fox & Friends", live across America at 8.30am Eastern/5.30am Pacific. If you're near the receiving apparatus, we hope you'll dial him up. And don't forget, for Mark Steyn Club members, Steyn will be back on camera this weekend for another in our series of video poems - because, as Mark always says, video poetry is where the big bucks are.
One of the other benefits of membership in the Steyn Club is that you can take issue with him in the comments section. So have at it below. In the Mark Steyn Club we recognize neither the Courts of England nor the modified Canadian citizenship oath nor the restrictive booking policies of Australian function rooms, so feel free to speak your mind on Islam, same-sex marriage, indigenous treaties or anything else. You can find more details on the Mark Steyn Club here - and don't forget our new Gift Membership.