What’s in a word? Possibly much more than you think.
What, for instance, does ‘Islamophobia’ mean? Violence and discrimination against Muslims? Criticism of the Islam or the Quran?
And if it means the former but not the latter, then why must the word (as supporters of the notorious Liberal-sponsored M-103 are constantly insisting) absolutely, positively remain in the motion? Why can’t it be replaced with a phrase that captures what they claim is the spirit of the motion – “quell[ing] the public climate of hatred and fear [of and towards Muslims] – while leaving zero doubt that Canadians will remain free to criticize, mock, and even insult (gasp!) Islam in the same way that they can with every other religion?
The question is more easily asked than answered – although it is rarely asked, and a serious answer has not, to date, been so much as attempted by any of the motions’ shrill, impertinent supporters.
Here’s another question: what the hell is “systemic racism”?
M-103 aims at “reducing or eliminating systemic racism” without saying exactly what it is. Why condemn “systemic racism” and not just ‘racism’?
Well, basically “systemic racism” is a Social Justice Warrior term for racism which everyone knows is there, but which no one can find any evidence of. If there’s no evidence, how does the regressive left know that systemic racism exists? Well, it exists according to their “lived experience,” which is better than statistics and other types of real evidence – so much better, in fact, that (unlike statistics) you can’t question lived experiences without ‘privileging your narrative’ – i.e. the narrative of “show me some evidence or stop screaming at me” – over theirs, which, of course, is a form of violent oppression.
And that’s pretty much it. Systemic racism exists, and we have to form a government committee to investigate and quell it. No evidence required or given – and asking for evidence is itself a form of systemic racism.
On the rare occasion that an SJW actually provides examples of this elusive (but of course very real and dangerous) systemic racism, they tend to be splendidly insane.
The Centre for Anti-Racism Education (CARE) at the University of Calgary, for example, provides the following examples of systemic racism in schools, places of business, and organized sports:
The foundational perspective from which the curricula is developed is still white, middle-class, Western. For example, the story of ‘Canada’ remains a white peoples’ story-but now, with Indigenous people and people of colour ‘added” in. The voices/perspectives of marginalized communities-their own experiences of this place–are not heard directly, because the story is still told by predominantly white curriculum developers, speaking ‘for’ these communities. This applies most ‘obviously’ to Social Studies, History, and so on, but also to Math and Science, which are “Western/European” based. The curriculum/teachers do not recognize that every culture in the world has its own history of ‘mathematics’ and ‘science,’ even if not articulated in Western terms.
People (okay, white people) tend to feel more comfortable with people who talk and act most like themselves, and because of this institutions and systems tend to reproduce themselves in ways that perpetuate the status quo [note: CARE does not provide a source for this, erm… claim? Assumption? ... Stereotype? Oh – right, how silly of me. Stereotypes about whites/straights/men/rich people are inoffensive, and always true, and if you disagree you’re a Nazi] Currently, many companies are using the concept of “fit” in hiring practices. “Fit” refers to how a person is perceived as ‘fitting in to’ and ‘contributing to’ an existing workplace. It is discouraging, but perhaps not surprising, then, that white employers will, generally, see white applicants (with white, middle-class perspectives), as a better fit than a person of colour whose first language is not English.
Organized hockey, from Minor Hockey to the NHL, is predominantly white (and still male). There is no explicit policy that excludes people of colour and Indigenous people from participating in organized hockey, yet there are few players of colour/Indigenous players. What is it that keeps organized hockey ‘white’?
Playing hockey is expensive (fees and gear), time consuming for families, requires transportation and an accommodating work schedule, and in Alberta is conducted in English. While there is no ‘intent’ to exclude non-English speaking, lower-income, shift-working, single-parent families from playing organized hockey, the system is designed by and for middle-class, professional white families.
So there you have it. If you think math teachers should tell children that a triangle has 180 degrees in it, or that two times three equals six, you’re perpetuating systemic racism against cultures with ‘alternative maths.’
If an employer considers how well a new hire (with whom he/she may have to spend eight hours a day for the conceivable future) will fit in with the social dynamic of their workplace, ‘fit’ is really code for ‘white’ (again, no evidence required) and that’s systemic racism.
Hockey equipment’s expensive? Systemic racism!
Now another question: do we really want this insulting nonsense in Canadian law? Do we really trust the kinds of people who fret over this kind of thing not to one day interpret criticism of Islam or the Quran as “Islamophobia” and try to outlaw it?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, I have timeshare I want to sell you.
It’s a great deal – really – I’m only selling it because timeshares are owned disproportionately by straight white men, and systemic racism has to be stopped before someone realizes that it’s almost entirely made up.
But I’m probably over-reacting. Politicians will never table a bill banning criticism of Islam, M-103 supporters (crystal balls in hand) assure us – they are even willing to pinky-promise! And even if they did, such a bill would be struck down by the courts – this, apparently, is evident from the fact that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was mentioned in M-103.
Even if we were credulous enough to believe that lawmakers of the future – who are currently being educated on university campuses riddled with safe spaces, trigger warnings, violent riots aimed at ‘protecting’ snowflakes from ‘violent’ speech – will never, ever, cross their heart and hope to die, attempt to criminalize or regulate criticism of Islam, how would the courts react?
Well, unlike the delightfully smug commentators who are constantly dismissing concerns about free speech with a casual wave of the hand (Stephen Maher, for instance, writes recently that concerns about M-103 leading to restrictions on free speech are “hysteria” and “nonsense” without troubling himself to provide arguments or evidence for either claim) I’ve actually read (as crazy as that sounds for a journalist offering opinions on this subject) the relevant Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) jurisprudence on freedom of expression, and, simply put, it ain’t good.
If any of the smarmy hand-wavers had read just one recent SCC freedom of expression case, Whatcott vs Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, they would know that the court which would ‘never in a squillion years interpret criticism of Islam as hate speech’ has casually thrown out both the intent requirement (mens rea), and the truth defense, in hate speech cases where no jail time (only crippling fines and the un-employability that goes along with being publicly branded a hate-monger) is on offer:
“[I]t is irrelevant” Chief Justice McLachlin writes for the majority, “whether the author of the expression intended to incite hatred or discriminatory treatment or other harmful conduct towards the protected group. The key is to determine the likely effect of the expression on its audience, keeping in mind the legislative objectives to reduce or eliminate discrimination.”
“Systemic discrimination” the trusted guardians of free expression continue, obediently parroting post-modern tripe as they merrily shred the constitution, “is more widespread than intentional discrimination and the preventive measures found in human rights legislation reasonably centre on effects, rather than intent. The difficulty of establishing causality and the seriousness of the harm to vulnerable groups justifies the imposition of preventive measures that do not require proof of actual harm. The discriminatory effects of hate speech are part of the everyday knowledge and experience of Canadians. As such, the legislature is entitled to a reasonable apprehension of societal harm as a result of hate speech. The lack of defences is not fatal to the constitutionality of the provision. Truthful statements can be presented in a manner that would meet the could meet the definition of hate speech, and not all truthful statements must be free from restriction.”
And there you have it. The court which we’re assured (ever so patronizingly) will never let anything happen to free speech is of the opinion that the government can ruin your life to prevent you from saying things which 1) are true, 2) are not intended to promote hatred, and 3) can not be proven to have caused any harm to anyone.
If, as Iqra Khalid (the MP who sponsored M-103) is correct that we have an “increasing public climate of hate and fear” of and towards Muslims, it is apparent that criticism of Islam or the Quran (perhaps by an academic, even a Muslim academic) would be considered hate speech by the court if thought that “the likely effect of the expression on it’s intended audience” was to “incite hatred or discriminatory treatment or other harmful conduct” against Muslims – this being “the key” to determining whether speech is free or not, in it’s own words.
Sorry if I’m being hysterical.
Finally, and perhaps the most common argument for why M-103 doesn’t need to be tweaked for free-speech-friendliness (although why it shouldn’t be so tweaked, when said tweaking could easily be done while still accomplishing the professed aims condemning and combatting racism and discrimination against Muslims, has yet to be explained by literally anyone) is the constant refrain that M-103 is a motion, not a bill, which thus has nor force of law, and will not change anything.
Proponents of this claim make an extremely strong case for saving the tax-payers the price of the paper on which M-103 is printed, as it seems that it in fact does absolutely nothing, and doesn’t even really exist.
It’s nice to agree on something every once in a while.
A moment’s thought, however, (the left tends not do this these days – thinking is a form of Western white cis-male oppression) makes it clear that although the motion is indeed empty political blabber, it’s passage – and the response to it’s passage – are extremely significant. Motions, which are, of course, not bills, and indeed have no force of law, exist for two main purposes: 1) they allow MPs to placate restive constituents with a bunch of whereas, truisms, and cliches while not actually doing anything, and 2) they serve as a gauge of public appetite for similar, perhaps more forceful legislation – the very bills which leftists are constantly (and condescendingly) reminding us M-103 is not, like it’s some brilliant legal trump card which they discovered after digging through archives all night.
If there isn’t a loud, sustained pushback against M-103, the majority Liberals (or future leftist majority governments) may well take it as a sign that the Canadian public is willing to risk, and perhaps even claw back, freedom of expression in the name of political correctness.
Thus, force of law or not, M-103 is a battleground for free speech, and if we choose not to take up the fight – whether out of complaisance, spectacularly misplaced trust in the courts, or fear of hurting Social Justice Warriors’ pwecious widduw feewings – the next time free speech is in play, the game may well be for keeps.