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Placating the extremists

June 21, 2008

Re "Canada's thought police," Opinion, June 17

I applaud Jonah Goldberg's defense of free speech in Canada and of writer Mark Steyn, whom he labels "arguably the most talented political writer working today."

But I wonder if Goldberg is familiar with Steyn's earlier columns? They demonstrate how terribly wrong the pronouncements of a dedicatedly arrogant and malicious -- however talented -- political writer can be. Steyn's prose is colorful, his analogies sometimes overwrought but often humorous, even as his facts are questionable.

His sarcastic put-downs -- "the peculiar pathology of the antiwar left" -- no doubt continue to delight the hawkish supporters of President Bush's Iraq war. But Steyn, and the dozens of other sure-footed pro-war columnists like him, were wrong. This fact shouldn't be ignored, whatever our neighbors to the north do about the proliferation of Steyn's hate-mongering free speech.

June Maguire

Mission Viejo

I want to add to Goldberg's column that there is an element of fear and self-preservation in Canada's persecution of the "Islamophobic" writings of Steyn. Canada wants to keep the peace. As we have seen in Europe, it is safer to placate and accommodate Muslims than to stir them to rioting and murder.

In this part of California, there will be a day when our entertainment industry's openness to naked women, free sex, pornography and the like will invite Muslim violence. Christians and Jews also call it corruption, but we don't bomb theaters and studios. Will the West allow the bullies to win for the sake of tolerance?

Elizabeth Norling

Yorba Linda

Re "Canada's thought police" and "Will gay rights trample religious freedom?" Opinion, June 17

That was an interesting juxtaposition: Goldberg denouncing the government of Canada for yielding to religious extremists and suppressing free speech, and just above him Stern attacks the California Supreme Court for not holding the equal rights of gay and lesbian people hostage to religious extremists.

There's an old saying that your right to swing your fist stops at the edge of my nose. Canadian Muslims' right to practice their religion stops at the door to Maclean's editorial office, and Stern's right to practice his religion stops at the door to my bedroom.

Mark Gabrish Conlan

San Diego

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