Why I’m glad I live in Canada

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a big fan of free speech. Free speech means free societies. It also means it’s almost impossible to completely crush a minority group for being dissident to the majority rule. As a black man, I know why ‘majority rules’ isn’t always a positive thing.

Which is why these news items make me glad I live here in Canada (even with its tainted speech laws) and not in Somalia.

Most radio stations in Somalia have stopped playing music, on the orders of Islamist Hizbul-Islam insurgents who say that songs are un-Islamic.

Ignore for the moment the backwards stone-age attitudes of people who appear to be former residents of the town from Footloose. One of Somalia’s most well-known exports, besides pirates, is expatriate singer/songwriter K’Naan. He’s been featured on official soundtracks for the charity War Child, FIFA Soccer video games, and most recently his anthem “Wavin’ Flag” has been appointed as the official theme song for the 2010 World Cup. Counterpoint this – an internationally prolific symbol of freedom, human rights and awareness spreading his message through music – to a repressive, backwards country that won’t even let the BBC report from there. How can such a contradictory juxtaposition occur?

It’s easy – K’Naan grew up in Canada. Canada has free speech and actively supports artistic expression, even when it’s decidedly anti-government (think of the Air Farce, which happened on government-funded radio and television for the better part of 4 decades). Canada, even with its exception for hate speech (which I disagree with), allows people to express ideas freely. Contrast that to Lybia where if you complain because you’re getting tortured, they lock you up.

Free speech makes the world a better place. It’s of primary importance to the survival of any enlightened, progressive society. Erosion of free speech means the erosion of progress and liberty, both of which improve quality of life for people. Muslim apologists often say that “Islam means peace” and that devout Muslim belief is a path towards beauty. Somalia puts this claim to the lie.

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