America Alone

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I have to say, I find it somewhat remarkable that the first story the New York Times has deigned to publish on the despicable farce ongoing in Canada - the Steyn affair, I mean - includes almost no analysis of the actual article in question, and indeed seems calculated to leave the reader with the following two impressions: First, that Mark Steyn (and, by extension, the world of "conservative magazines and blogs") belongs to roughly the same universe of public hatemongering as the American Nazi Party, and second, that the First Amendment is a peculiar and quite possibly outdated feature of the American political system, along the lines of, say, the Electoral College or the District of Columbia's lack of congressional representation.

Maybe I'm overreacting. You could also read the piece as the essence of balanced journalism, in which the reporter sets aside all preconceptions - including any preconception in favor of the First Amendment - to craft a studiously neutral take on a hot-button issue. But at the very least it's interesting to imagine how the Times would be covering the Steyn case if he were, say, an earnest atheist a la Sam Harris being brought up for censure by a Mexican "human rights commission" created to protect Catholics from hateful or offensive speech. Slightly differently, I imagine ...

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Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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