Tag Archives: Intolerance

Has the university become intolerant and close-minded?

This article by prestigious McGill University ethicist Margaret Somerville is worth reading. (H/T Commenter ECM) She is one of the leading defenders of traditional marriage in Canada. She is a moderate social conservative. Here is a brief summary of her case against same-sex marriage. Her short article in the journal Academic Matters is about the intolerance of the leftist university elites against their opponents.

Here is the abstract:

In this edited excerpt from her Research and Society Lecture to the 2008 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, ethicist Margaret Somerville argues that universities are becoming forums of intolerance. Keeping the university as an intellectually open and respectful place is critical, she says, to finding the “shared ethics” essential to maintaining healthy, pluralistic democracies.

And here is an excerpt in which she discusses the impact of moral relativism on moral disagreements:

That is where political correctness enters the picture. It excludes politically incorrect values from the “all values are equal” stable. The intense moral relativists will tolerate all values except those they deem to be politically incorrect—which just happen to be the ones that conflict with their values.

Political correctness operates by shutting down non-politically correct people’s freedom of speech. Anyone who challenges the politically correct stance is, thereby, automatically labeled as intolerant, a bigot, or hatemonger. The substance of their arguments against a politically correct stance is not addressed; rather people labeled as politically incorrect are, themselves, attacked as being intolerant and hateful simply for making those arguments. This derogatorily -label-the-person-and-dismiss-them-on-the-basis-of-that-label approach is intentionally used as a strategy to suppress strong arguments against any politically correct stance and, also, to avoid dealing with the substance of these arguments.

It is important to understand the strategy employed: speaking against same-sex marriage, for example, is not characterized as speech; rather, it is characterized as a discriminatory act against homosexuals and, therefore, a breach of human rights or even a hate crime. Consequently, it is argued that protections of freedom of speech do not apply.

She illustrates with some examples:

We need to look at what “pure” moral relativism and intense tolerance, as modified by political correctness, mean in practice. So let ‘s look at the suppression of pro-life groups and pro-life speech on Canadian university campuses. Whatever one’s views on abortion, we should all be worried about such developments. Pro-choice students are trying to stop pro-life students from participating in the collective conversation on abortion that should take place. In fact, they don’t want any conversation, alleging that to question whether we should have any law on abortion is, in itself, unacceptable.

In some instances some people are going even further: they want to force physicians to act against their conscience under threat of being in breach of human rights or subject to professional disciplinary procedures for refusing to do so. The Ontario Human Rights Commission recently advised the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to this effect.

Political correctness is being used to try to impose certain views and even actions that breach rights to freedom of conscience; to shut down free speech; and to contravene academic freedom. I do not need to emphasize the dangers of this in universities. The most fundamental precept on which a university is founded is openness to ideas and knowledge from all sources.

She spends the rest of the paper arguing for a system of “shared ethics” that grounds open, respectful debate between disagreeing parties. I hope this catches on before secular-left moves from censorship to outright violence, against those who would dare to disagree with them.

A short bio of Margaret Somerville

Margaret Somerville is Samuel Gale Professor in the Faculty of Law and a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University and is the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law. In 2004, she received the UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science and in 2006 delivered the prestigious Massey Lectures.

Free speech in Canada, the United Kingdom and Cuba

My friend Jojo writes to inform me that I must blog about the state of free speech in Canada, so I will do it. But I am worried that my readers do not like to hear about other countries, like Canada. Just last week I blogged about Stephen Harper traveling to visit the Canadian troops in Afghanistan, and did not see a big hit count on that story, even thought I thought it was awesome!

Here is Jojo’s article on free speech. In the most Conservative province of Alberta, the “conservative” Ed Stelmach that they elected in the primaries is blocking HRC reform, and increasing the HRC budget! Since only the Conservatives can win in Alberta, all the Liberal and NDP (socialist) people vote in the primary and they end up with the equivalent of Arlen Specter as the Conservative nominee!

I had blogged about Ezra Levant’s support for Stephen Boissoin before, and about Lindsay Blackett’s intent to reform the Alberta HRC. But it looks like Stelmach is going to block Blackett’s effort to reform the Alberta HRC!

And here is the excerpt for Alberta:

Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture and Community Spirit, oversees Alberta’s Human Rights Commission. He announced plans to reform the human rights code and commission. He disparagingly called the commission a “Kangaroo Court,” and hinted at the likelihood that the government would repeal the censorship provisions in the provincial human rights code so that the commission could not be used as a weapon against free speech.

Bu Premier Stelmach sent his black Culture Minister to the back of the bus. The government’s set of amendments to Alberta’s human rights industry is preserving the censorship provisions.

Not only that, but professing Christian Premier Stelmach is rewarding the anti-Christian bigotry of Alberta’s HRC by giving them a raise – a budget increase of $1.7 million – in the middle of a recession – in a deficit budget.

Note to conservatives: have some sort of ideology test for delegates. And then we move to Ontario, where one the 4 candidates I blogged about before is promising to abolish the Ontario HRC entirely:

The fight against human rights commissions moves to Ontario with Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Randy Hillier advocating the elimination of that province’s Human Rights Commission. Mr. Hillier’s leadership campaign platform includes a number of freedom-oriented and private property rights entrenching proposals. Mr. Hillier recognizes that the Human Rights Commission is guilty of serious violations of Ontarians’ fundamental freedoms. Additionally, defending his proposal to abolish Ontario’s HRC, Mr. Hillier said that real human rights are so important that they should be defending in real courts, not delegated to Kangaroo Courts.

To vote in Ontario’s provincial PC leadership campaign, you need to be a member of the PC party by May 14th.

I haven’t heard any pro-freedom comments from the other three leadership candidates, especially in reference to human rights commissions. In fact, there seems to be a real paucity of tangible policy proposals from the other three candidates, so I don’t know where they stand, or what I can hold them accountable to, if any of them become the next leader of the Ontario PC Party.

Now on to the UK, where things are definitely taking a turn for the worst! The Australian has this report about Britain.

This is scaring the snark out of me:

Countryside Restoration Trust chairman and columnist Robin Page said at a rally against the Government’s anti-hunting laws in Gloucestershire in 2002: “If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum-seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you.” Page was arrested, and after four months he received a letter saying no charges would be pressed, but that: “If further evidence comes to our attention whereby your involvement is implicated, we will seek to initiate proceedings.” It took him five years to clear his name.

And this is worse still, because she just a child:

In September 2006, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher’s first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: “It’s racist, you’re going to get done by the police!” Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott. Headmaster Anthony Edkins reportedly said: “An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark. We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form.”

The article is filled with anti free speech madness:

A bishop was warned by the police for not having done enough to “celebrate diversity”, the enforcing of which is now apparently a police function. A Christian home for retired clergy and religious workers lost a grant because it would not reveal to official snoopers how many of the residents were homosexual. That they had never been asked was taken as evidence of homophobia.

Muslim parents who objected to young children being given books advocating same-sex marriage and adoption at one school last year had their wishes respected and the offending material withdrawn. This year, Muslim and Christian parents at another school objecting to the same material have not only had their objections ignored but have been threatened with prosecution if they withdraw their children.

And naturally, Christian lambs are the target of atheist wolves:

There have been innumerable cases in recent months of people in schools, hospitals and other institutions losing their jobs because of various religious scruples, often, as in the East Germany of yore, not shouted fanatically from the rooftops but betrayed in private conversations and reported to authorities. The crime of one nurse was to offer to pray for a patient, who did not complain but merely mentioned the matter to another nurse. A primary school receptionist, Jennie Cain, whose five-year-old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus in class, faces the sack for seeking support from her church. A private email from her to other members of the church asking for prayers fell into the hands of school authorities.

Maybe things are different in the UK, which may explain a recent exchange I had with a British atheist about a recent audio debate regarding that nurse. Read the exchange and consider how far gone the UK must be when the mere fact that a non-Christian hears something they don’t like is grounds for removing fundamental rights to free speech and freedom of religious expression.

I also noticed some comments from Ed West, who blogs for the UK Telegraph here, talks about the SECULAR THEOCRACY or ATHEOCRACY.

Excerpt:

Lib Dem MP Evan Harris felt very smug about overturning Britain’s long disused blasphemy laws last years, and was made “Secularist of the Year”, even though Britain hasn’t been in any way an Anglican theocracy since the early Victorian era. This – arresting people for having unfashionable views, however objectionable – is a real theocracy. If you want to fight for freedom, Dr Harris, fight for the peoples’ right to be racist or sexist or Islamophobic or simply rude.

This atheocracy derives from the incredibly liberal but also incredibly intolerant anti-discrimination morality that spread through Britain’s universities in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

It became known as “political correctness”, which itself became a tedious cliche because we journalists overused it…. The point of political correctness was that it closed down debate. Political correctness sought – in true Orwellian fashion– to make contrary ideas utterly verboten.

Everyone is so surprised to find out that atheist rule is totalitarian. Excuse me? Who do you think killed 100 million people in the 20th century alone? (Hint: It was wasn’t followers of Jesus, who are obligated to love their enemies). Atheism leads to fascism! Wake up!

Where on the planet are atheists in charge of states? Well, there’s North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela… Hey! What’s going on in atheistic Cuba? (H/T Mere Rhetoric)

Cuba is further limiting access to the World Wide Web for its citizens, in what many believe is an effort to rein in a small but increasingly popular group of bloggers who are critical of the government. In a move seen as aimed at anti-government bloggers, Cuba is further limiting access to the World Wide Web Only government employees, academics and researchers are allowed their own Internet accounts, which are provided by the state, but only have limited access to sites outside the island. Ordinary Cubans may open e-mail accounts accessible at many post offices, but do not have access to the Web. Many got around the restrictions by using hotel Internet services. But a new resolution barring ordinary Cubans from using hotel Internet services quietly went into place in recent weeks, according to an official with Cuba’s telecom monopoly, hotel workers and bloggers.

What does Santayana say about those who are ignorant of the lessons of history?

UPDATE: Just a reminder that the Democrats are trying to pass a hate crime bill and a bill to criminalize blogging as well, in the USA.

Are same-sex marriage advocates tolerant of traditional-marriage advocates?

Hot Air reports that the the organizers of the recent Miss America pageant tried to get Miss California to renounce her beliefs about marriage and apologize to same-sex marriage activists like Perez Hilton. The organizers didn’t want her to be herself. They wanted to change her beliefs to be like theirs. The organizers didn’t want a rainbow of diverse opinions, they wanted uniform, lock-step, monochrome compliance!

The Western Experience linked to a video debate from CNN between Jewish scholar Dennis Prager and Perez Hilton.

Sometimes, same-sex activists like Perez Hilton move beyond disagreement to name-calling, and to harassment, and to threats of violence, and to vandalism, and to actual violence, as even the New York Times acknowledges. It seems to me that this coercion intrudes on the freedom of other people to express disagreement with same-sex marriage activists over same-sex marriage.

I wanted to draw your attention to a 10-point analysis of the whole Perez Hilton episode by Christian philosopher Douglas Geivett, so that we could really see who is being intolerant of who.

Here are my favorites:

3. Carrie Prejean was not “inclusive” enough in her answer, say her critics. But if she had answered that she approved of gay marriage, she would have excluded many Americans who also disapprove, including all those from her own state who passed Proposition 8 with their vote in November.

4. Gay rights advocates are bound to take offense even if Carrie Prejean meant no offense. Gay rights advocates are duty-bound by their cause to take offense. It is a strategic requirement in their effort to persuade others of gay rights. “Being offended” is an acquired taste. It comes natural when you’ve trained for it.

5. A beauty pageant is a popularity contest. Because of her answer, Carrie Prejean is unpopular with certain people. Which people? Gay rights activists. Who are gay rights activists? This is an important question. Some gays are not gay rights activists. Many gay rights activists are not gay. Gay rights activists are engaged in a strategy to marginalize anyone who believes that there is no “right” to gay marriage. You may believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. But do you have a right to believe this? Do you have a right to say so? Doesn’t matter. Gay rights activists will do anything in their power to ensure that if you believe it you will be made a pariah.

7. Former Miss USA, now director of the Miss California USA pageant, Shanna Moekler has also made it publicly known that she’s disappointed in Carrie Prejean. As state pageant director who sought sponsors for Prejean’s participation in the pageant, Moekler was embarrassed and indignant, and said that Prejean had betrayed her sponsors. Apparently, Prejean should have betrayed herself and her own values, instead. This is very revealing about Moekler’s own moral compass. We should like to know who the sponsors are and which ones are so offended. In view of serious economic reversals in this country, it’s become imperative that Americans know more about the moral compass of corporate leaders. So tell us, Ms. Moekler, which sponsors are embittered by Prejean’s integrity?

Isn’t the activist left worried about inciting hatred, violence, depression and increased suicide rates against those who are different from them? Shouldn’t we celebrate diversity (of opinion) and not coerce those who disagree?

I recently wrote about legal sanctions being faced by those who stand up to the agenda of same-sex marriage activists.

Conservatives in Ontario defend free speech

Political Map of Canada
Political Map of Canada

BC isn’t the only province where conservatives are fighting back against progressive threats to fundamental rights. Ontario, (contains Toronto and Ottawa), has one of the other really bad provincial Human Rights Commissions, and provincial representatives Lisa MacLeod and Randy Hillier on the case in that benighted province.

Here’s an assessment of MacLeod and Hillier from free-speech superhero Ezra Levant: (H/T The Western Standard)

Hillier, along with fellow PC MPP Lisa Macleod, have been leading the charge to reform Ontario’s HRCs. They were the ones who pressed for public hearings at which Tribunal appointees would be grilled — which led to some scary revelations about the censorious instincts of that panel. And he also was part of the team (led by Macleod) who brought Mark Steyn to Queen’s Park to testify about the kangaroo court nature of the OHRC.

Levant is referring to her questioning of Mark Steyn regarding the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The full transcript is here, courtesy of Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs. This is about as strong a defense of free speech as you’ll ever see, folks. And it’s a warning to the consequences of electing progressives who do not trust you to exercise your own free will, lest you hurt someone’s feelings.

Here is a little of Mark Steyn’s opening speech from the hearing:

Mr. Mark Steyn: The present Ontario human rights regime is incompatible with a free society. It is useless on real human rights issues that we face today and, in the course of such pseudo human rights, as the human right to smoke marijuana on someone else’s property or the human right to a transsexual labioplasty, in the course of those pseudo-rights it tramples on real human rights including property rights, free speech, the right to due process and the presumption of innocence. Far from reducing racism or sexism, the Ontario human rights regime explicitly institutionalizes racism and sexism through its inability to view any dispute except through the narrow prism of identity politics. It’s at odds not just with eight centuries of this province’s legal inheritance, but with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Canada likes that one so much, it sticks it on the back of the $50 bill, even though Ontario’s human rights regime is in sustained, systemic breach of article 6, article 7, articles 8 to 10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 21 and 27 of the UN declaration. The good news is that Ontario’s not in violation of as many articles as Sudan or North Korea.

All are equal before the law and are entitled, without any discrimination, to equal protection of the law. That’s article 7. It’s not true in Ontario. Last year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission effectively gave Maclean’s and myself a driveby verdict. They couldn’t be bothered taking us to trial but they decided to pronounce us guilty anyway. That neglects the most basic principle of justice: Audi alteram partem, hear the other side. Chief commissar Barbara Hall didn’t bother hearing the other side; she simply declared us guilty. That is the very defining act of a police state: an apparatchik announcing that a citizen is guilty of dissent from state orthodoxy.

But here’s the point: Maclean’s and I have no fear of Barbara Hall, the commission or the tribunal. You’re welcome to try and do your worst to us. We have deep pockets, we pushed back and we filled the newspapers with stories about all these wacky cases that Barbara Hall and others are so obsessed about. Like all tinpot bullies, the commission couldn’t take the heat and backed down. But if you’re just a fellow who happens to own a restaurant in Burlington, the Ontario human rights regime will destroy your savings, your business, your life for no good reason. The verdict’s irrelevant; the process is the punishment.

He is saying this about a tribunal run by fascist progressive inquisitors hell-bent on ramming their values down the throats of individuals. And here is an excerpt from MacLeod’s questioning of Steyn:

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Welcome to our committee Mr. Steyn. During the summer, this committee convened to interview and review the 22 vice-chairs and the 22 members of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and throughout that process your case, Maclean’s vs. the Ontario Human Rights Commission, as well as what happened in British Columbia to you as well as what happened federally to you was front and centre on our minds. Consistently throughout that process I asked questions of the deputants, those seeking to be appointed to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, if they believed free press trumped discrimination or vice versa. One of the deputants actually responded. Today, earlier, I asked the same question to the chair of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. He responded and said that neither trumps either. I would like your view on that, because it follows sort of a logical set of questions that I have which are next with respect to freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

Mr. Mark Steyn: With respect to the witness this morning, that has become a standard equivocation at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Whenever tribunal judges take away individual human rights they do so under the guise of what they call balancing competing rights. So for example, going back to the Scott Brockie case, they claim to be balancing his right to freedom of religion with the right of the gay people seeking printed materials to be free from discrimination. In practice they almost never balance those rights. They always defer to collective rights, group rights in favour of individual rights. I’m an absolutist on this. I agree with the view that the ultimate minority is the individual and classically, historically, common law has been entirely antipathetic to group rights, because who can speak for a group? Who can speak for a group? The notion of group rights should be an abomination to a settled democracy as old as this province.

As an aside, Lisa MacLeod is also fighting polygamy in Ontario. (H/T Blue Like You)

I hope that the Canadian conservatives at every level of government turn this into an election issue, in order to draw libertarians away from the other parties. These Human Rights Commissions are the darlings of secular left-wing politically correct fascists, and they can’t stand the idea of their totalitarian censorship seeing the light of day.

This article is a follow-up to yesterday’s article about free speech efforts in British Columbia.

Conservatives in British Columbia defend free speech

Political Map of Canada
Political Map of Canada

Canadian columnist Mark Steyn has some welcome news on the sorry state of free speech north of the border. (H/T Free Canuckistan) Specifically, the good news is from the western province of British Columbia, (contains Vancouver), home to one of the 3 worst Human Rights Commissions operating in Canada.

Steyn writes:

BC is a bit like Quebec in that it has a two-party system in which neither choice is conservative: in la belle province, it’s a choice between the separatists and the Quebec Liberals; on the left coast, it’s a choice between the socialists and the BC Liberals. So the right-of-centre vote in BC goes, faute de mieux, to Gordon Campbell’s party.

So, there really is no way that the provincial conservatives can win at the provincial level, and conservative voters ending up voting for the Liberals, just to keep the socialists out of power.

But suddenly, the provincial conservatives decided that the status quo was not good enough for British Columbians:

Or at any rate that’s the way it was until the upstart BC Tories decided to challenge Premier Campbell from the right in next month’s provincial election. Robert Jago spoke to their leader, Wilf Hanni, about the “Human Rights” Tribunal and got the following response:

A BC Conservative Government will reform the BC Human Rights Tribunal:

* So that any complainant will be responsible for the legal fees associated with his or her human rights complaint.
* To make complainants responsible for paying the defendant’s legal fees should the complainant lose their Human Rights Tribunal case.
* To disallow individuals and organizations from making Human Rights Tribunal complaints when Human Rights Tribunals in other Canadian jurisdictions are already investigating the same issue.
* To disallow cases dealing with freedom of speech under Section 2 of the Charter.
* To allow appeals, to a court of law, for any decision made by the Tribunal.
* So that the Tribunal cannot render penalties outside the boundaries of Canadian Laws.

We realize that it is neither fair nor equitable that complainants currently receive free legal representation no matter how frivolous the complaint, while defendants must pay their own legal fees.

Stay tuned, because tomorrow at 11 AM I will be posting about how conservatives in another province are defending free speech against left-wing fascism.