Think back twenty years and imagine that someone then had told you that developed Western democracies would spend the first decades of the twenty-first century introducing new blasphemy laws. "You mean 'repealing' surely?" your wise younger self would probably have said. And if you had been persuaded that, no, new blasphemy laws really were going to be brought into effect in the not-too-distant future, doubtless your follow-on question would have been, "So how did the Spanish inquisition manage to make such a comeback?"

The latest country to attempt – yet again – to impose new blasphemy laws in the twenty-first century is Canada. I say "yet again" because some readers will remember the disputes during the last decade when the journalists Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant and others were hauled before the farcical "Human Rights Commissions" of Canada and asked to explain why they had ever said anything that the state commissars did not agree with. Those Commissions soon became a focus of everybody around the world who cares about free speech. The site of a dreary bureaucrat asking journalists to explain why they had felt impelled to write something truly began to look like tragedy repeated not as farce but as mind-numbing proceduralism.

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