Thursday, May 29, 2008

Trudeaupia: Free from Demoralization

It is sad to watch Canada somewhat unknowingly approach the slippery slope of totalitarianism. Once it becomes acceptable to regulate speech deemed "inappropriate", the taboo is lifted and elements of society without the traditional democratic scruples toward censorship rush to end the debate that they've been forced to deal with since the birth of progressivism. My purpose here is not to pick on Canada. Europe is and has certainly been just as guilty. The United States has had her moments as well: The Alien and Sedition Acts of the first Adams administration, the basic suspension of the First Amendment during the Civil War, Wilson's sedition and treason laws, and FDR's stifling of dissent during the Great Depression. However, these were all put over on the public at times of crisis, and thankfully were rejected after the crises were over. I come back to Canada merely because she keeps popping up in the news.

Case in point, the National Post had a story yesterday about the York University Student Union's effort to essentially ban pro-life (in their words "anti-choice") clubs from campus.

In response to a series of controversies over abortion debates on Canadian campuses, the student government of York University in Toronto has tabled an outright ban on student clubs that are opposed to abortion.

Gilary Massa, vice-president external of the York Federation of Students, said student clubs will be free to discuss abortion in student space, as long as they do it "within a pro-choice realm," and that all clubs will be investigated to ensure compliance.

So in response to a controversial debate, they wish to stop the debate by banishing the side deemed inappropriate. Aren't Universities supposed to be forums for free discussion? Well, according to Ms. Massa, it isn't about freedom of speech.

"You have to recognize that a woman has a choice over her own body," Ms. Massa said. "We think that these pro-life, these anti-choice groups, they're sexist in nature ... The way that they speak about women who decide to have abortions is demoralizing. They call them murderers, all of them do ... Is this an issue of free speech? No, this is an issue of women's rights."

This isn't framed by the left as a free speech issue, its "women's rights". Referring to abortion as murder is "demoralizing" to women. Demoralizing? At least they accuse Mark Steyn of inciting hatred. Where exactly is the statute against demoralization? Is the right not to be demoralized now sacrosanct to feminists? What about the demoralizing effect the HRC will have on Mr. Steyn when it bans his writings from the Dominion? Or is it only leftist advocacy groups that should be free from feeling bad? When a cartoonist draws a picture of George W. Bush wearing a swastika, its free speech. When Steyn accurately quotes a Scandinavian imam, or a pro-life apologist calls abortion murder, its inciting hatred and has to be stopped before any number of so called "oppressed" groups becomes even more oppressed (or apparently, demoralized).

To their credit (and my surprise) the schools administration
"condemned the decision as contrary to its academic mission". Let me be clear, I'm not trying to paint all leftist students and Canadians with the same brush. There are many liberal Canadians who recognize this for what it is: "Michael Payton, a York student who argued the pro-choice side" points out that "'When the YFS (York Federation of Students) says they believe in free speech, they believe in free speech for them, for the positions they hold, not for freedom of speech for positions they disagree with.'" But these attacks on free speech are appearing more and more in Canada and the West in general. Conservative positions aren't just being looked down upon, but outright banned - in the case of the HRC's under penalty of law. The consequences of this will be enormous, for Liberals and Conservatives. Governments with this power always abuse it. Barbara Hall and the HRC's are actually decrying the lack of HRC cases. How can they reshape society if people don't complain?

What's worse, there's an effort to take the YFS's tyranny national:

"Efforts to formalize the York ban on anti-abortion groups began in earnest last weekend, when the YFS brought a successful motion to the annual meeting in Ottawa of the Canadian Federation of Students, a national umbrella group of student unions.

'Be it resolved that member locals [of the CFS] that refuse to allow anti-choice organizations access to their resources and space be supported. And further, be it resolved that a pro-choice organization kit be created that may include materials such as a fact sheet, buttons, contact information for local pro-choice organizations and research on anti-choice organizations and the conservative think-tanks that fund them," the motion reads.'"

I have no problem with full disclosure of who is behind any organization, but notice that there is no mention of pointing out who is funding pro-abortion groups. Student governments of public universities have no business quashing a student group or club because of their political beliefs. I myself am a conservative who believes abortion to be reprehensible. However, I don't believe pro-abortion groups should be banned from campus. Universities should encourage debate, not conformity. All groups should be tolerated unless they actively advocate violence. (And not the imagined violence Mark Steyn is accused of promoting)

I know Universities have been actively leftist for a long time, and non orthodox view points have been frowned upon if not suppressed. When I was at school, a staff member of the "official" student newspaper tried to convince a business advertising in a new, independent conservative student newspaper to stop by basically comparing it to
Völkischer Beobachter. Student's were also discouraged from handing out free issues at University events. But this is chillingly blatant. If students feel they can openly advocate the suppression of free speech and free assembly, what does it say about trends in Canadian society, or Western society for that matter? The last time we had such an exhaustion with Enlightenment principles, Fascism and Communism seemed fresh and attractive. I pray we're not going down that road again.

Update: Apparently Ms. Massa is a pro-abortion muslim student. Its nice to see there might actually be free thinking (if misguided) muslims in Canada, I just hope she doesn't find out the hard way what the penalty for abortion is under sharia. Its not smart to be a moderate muslim and be against freedom of speech. Otherwise in the end you'll probably be stoned.


PelaLusa said...

Excellent, excellent post! It's good to see that some Americans are paying attention to the destruction of free speech in my country of Canada. Goodness knows that most Canadians aren't.

Monday morning, here in Vancouver where I live, begins the Human Wrongs trial designed to silence Mark Steyn's free speech and that of Maclean's magazine. Most Vancouverites will just say, "Oh well" and continue on drinking their lattes. I won't.

I'll be posting photos and my commentary of what occurs. Not yet sure if I can get into the room where the hearing is happening but I'm going to try!

A Missourian said...

The show trial is sadly a foregone conclusion. Hopefully BCians will still be able to have Mark's books shipped in from the States.

USpace said...

Excellent piece, well put. Thank God our rights are much stronger in America. We all must help Canadian bloggers get this out to the world. Bludgeon the HRC through the blogosphere, continue to mock and expose their lawbreaking. We must keep educating people about this stuff so we stay far away from that PC craziness.

This whole Steyn, Levant and the Canadian bloggers V Mark Warman thing may end up being the first death knell, the beginning of the end of the HRC's lawless actions.

Canada's Supreme Court and Parliament will eventually be getting involved I imagine. I certainly hope so.

Let real Lawyers battle it out in argument. Of course the Left doesn't want this. They know they have the weaker case.

I can't wait to see a tape of Steyn in front of the commission. The one with Ezra Levant was a real hoot. Ezra skewered them. I hope Mark will too.

Mark Steyn is totally excellent, someone MUST give him his own show!
We should all go hear him speak if we ever get the chance.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe likes
human rights commissions

that violate human rights
while claiming to protect them

absurd thought -
God of the Universe hates
real freedom of speech

an American concept
which is NOT for Canada

Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
Help Halt Terrorism Now!


PelaLusa said...

I think there is a way that non-BC'ers can help. I created a simple hyperlink button, the code of which people can add to their own blogs. I would be more than happy to change the content if that would help spread the word.

The only way this thing is going to get resolved is for the powers at be - ie. the Attorney General and the Premier of B.C. to get inundated with e-mails; nothing impolite, but simply concerned citizens expressing what an absolute joke the judicial system in B.C. has become.