Calgary Herald | Oct. 13, 2001 | Orest Slepokura

Freedom of Speech opens some dark doors

RE: 'Freedom of Speech opens some dark doors' [Calgary Herald, Oct. 13/2001]

To: Nigel Hannaford

How's this for irony? In October of '89 I was having lunch with Doug Collins at a hotel restaurant in Calgary. The conversation turned to 'pushing the envelope' in terms of what could and could not be said in columns due to PC restrictions.

At this point, I mentioned an op-edder Calgary Herald publisher J. Patrick O'Callaghan had written defending Israel against criticism it was getting for the brutal way it was attempting to put down the first Palestinian Intifada. The piece was published during February 1988, around the same time as the Calgary Winter Olympics.

Callaghan had contemptuously likened the Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation to 'baboons in a cage' and the Israelis to 'zookeepers'.

Doug was amazed. 'Sheesh!' he exclaimed. 'Even I wouldn't use language like that.'

As I recall, there wasn't any great noise and nuisance made of the Callaghan piece. Had he attacked Jews in the same vicious manner, the denouement for the Herald publisher would have been far more unpleasant, needless to say. In Canada, limits to free speech are determined by political considerations.

For example, had Sunera Thobani delivered her October 1 speech in Vancouver instead of Ottawa and were the Dosanjh-led NDP Party still clinging to power, Thobani would have been home free. Mary-Woo Sims would have found a reason or two not to unkennel the human-rights hounds baying for new blood.

Sincerely yours,

Orest Slepokura
Strathmore AB