Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Promoting Ignorance and Applying Human Rights Selectively: Gay-Bashing Canadian-Style

So, the truth has finally come out with regards to the relative silence on gay rights in Canada in the government's recently revised Citizen's Guide. The Toronto Star is reporting today (from documents obtained by CP) that it was the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney himself, who stroked key wording from the document prior to publication. This despite recommendations from head public servants who requested the re-insertion of key text boxes to explain to new immigrants that homosexuality has been decriminalized in Canada since 1969. Gay rights were also tossed off of a list Canadian rights, and all references to “gay marriage” being legal in Canada were given the heave-ho.

With the removal of these key concepts from the New Citizen's guide to Canada, new citizen's must be left to wonder whether or not there are any gays in Canada, other than maybe Mark Tewksbury, who is identified as a “gay activist”. While it's true that a Citizen's Guide isn't expected to be the defining document of Canadian identity, it appears to me to be irresponsible for the Guide to have overlooked this very important aspect of the Canadian community. Well, I guess it turns out that it wasn't irresponsible after all, and instead was done maliciously by a Minister who is on record in support of gays marrying...but only when they marry members of the opposite sex.

The Toronto Star article comes hot on the heels of another editorial I read earlier today, authored by Peter Worthington of Sun Media: "Hard to see what's wrong with 'don't ask, don't tell". Worthington laments that he doesn't see anything wrong with the United State's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy for homosexuals in the media. After indicating that those who are openly gay are allowed as of right to serve in the Canadian military, Worthington opines of the American system, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”. He references concerns about straight men being “sized up” by gay men in the barracks shower, and suggests that gays could try to opt out of going to war, although he acknowledges that such logic (not sure what logic) would never be able to happen in Canada. Finally, Worthington notes that gays may file harassment claims against particularly vulgar and incendiary comments made by drill sergeants during basic training, with an overall deleterious effect on traditional training methods (presumably those involving personal degradation and hate speech).

The selective application of human rights, of course, never occurs to Worthington, or if it does, clearly he must be all for it, because homosexuals make some people nervous. I guess in his world, it's ok to afford protection to some, but deny it to others. I'm not sure that's the kind of Canada that I look forward to living in. Of course, if this is the most burning issue that a dinosaur like Worthington could find to comment on to the Canadian public during this particular week, it need not be said that perhaps it's time for Sun media to put this guy out to pasture...unless of course the animals on the farm make him nervous too.

Holy cow, people. It's 2010 for crying out loud. It's past time to get over ourselves on this issue. Last time I checked, the gender preference for one's bed-mate didn't make anybody somehow less human. The kind of Canada that Kenney and Worthington want us all to inhabit disgusts me. It's a Canada where in theory all people are equal, but in practice some are more equal than others. Their pig-ruled animal farm is one we must continue to strive against. No more of this apologetic drivel pretending to hide motivations. Perhaps a little more judicious use of one's moral compass is in order for Kenney and Worthington, as clearly they don't have a good comprehension of right and wrong.

We can no longer tolerate this intolerant behaviour. In the spirit of patriotism which has swept across Canada over the past few weeks, I believe that it's time for Canadians to stand up for what is right. Clearly, the selective application of human rights and pretending that certain rights don't exist is very, very wrong. As a Canadian, I'm sorry that this is happening, and I will do what I can to make this right for all of us. I hope that you will do the same.


shavluk said...

Good points Steve and great post

I agree 100%
The green party could be growing in so many ways with certain issues

Its too bad we don't capitalize on all of these.

CanNurse said...

Really great post, Steve. Just stumbled across you (@ Progressive Bloggers! ;-) I'll definitely be reading more. Thanks.

Bluegreenblogger said...

Well said Steve. The CPC bigotry seems so totally out to lunch when seen through the eyes of a Torontonian. The publicising of the infamous bathhouse raids here in the 70's shone a light on how intolerance morphs into violence and persecution. It was not a picture that pleased, and the utimate result is todays Toronto. A City where gays are not only tolerated, they can celebrate with neither fear nor favour. We are all better people as a result. Will it take a new round of persectution on a national scale to send the CPC troglodydtes back under their rock?

Erich the Green said...

Good post, Steve.

Don't pay too much attention to Worthington; a recent column of his asserted that Canada can only afford health care because we underfund our military, and that is because we rely on the Americans to defend us. (From whom? He doesn't indicate. But I don't recall the war where a foreign power overwhelmed our military and the US came to our defense.)
He also argues that the US can't afford health care because they have to fund their army (which is almost the equal, in spending, to all the other armies of the world combined).
It's a rather bizarre assertion - a nation can either afford health care or it can afford a proper military. Seems to me that without decent health care, you don't have as much to defend.

Erich the Green said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that the US spends almost twice as much as us per person on health care, yet has worse outcomes. For them to go to Canadian-style health care would improve their health AND save them money (which they could then spend on the military, following Worthington's logic). Worthington can't do simple math and his ideas of the military are, shall we say, quaint.

Sudbury Steve said...

While it's true that I don't pay a lot of attention to Worthington's asinine assertions (I'm certainly not a regular follower of his editorials), the fact is that Sun Media, which has in the past decade bought up a lot of local newspapers in small and mid-size centres (like Sudbury) which are the only game in town for local news. And Sun Media gives this guy a pulpit to preach from. He, along with other ultra-right-wing media figures (such as Lorrie Goldstein) have an immense opportunity to influence the way which the public thinks and perceives certain issues, and that's why they are dangerous and can not be discounted.

Take the somewhat innocuous-sounding headline attributed to Worthington's piece: "Hard to see what's wrong with don't ask don't tell"...seems innocent enough, right, that gays in the military just need to stay silent about their sexuality, no harm done. The actual "harm" takes place when they reveal their sexuality to others, because it will make some men nervous about showering together.

As this is an editorial, it's not meant to be a balanced piece of news in the same way that an article is. So, we don't get to hear the other side of the story. With more and more editorializing going on, and less and less news being reported, consumers of news media are left to either look for the "other side" on their own, or more often, simply accept what they've consumed and choose whether to apply their own critical analysis to it or not.

A reader of Worthington might be left to wonder, "Well, what IS wrong with gay people keeping their sexuality a secret, especially if it makes others uncomfortable or could lead to the military having to change its practices to accommodate this minority?", because for many, it won't seem unreasonable, and it plays on the concerns of many that we are being forced to change our socieity for the benefit of the "others" (whomever they may be). And of course, if you're already a little predisposed to being anti-gay anyway, well, here's more proof that you're in the right, and not just from a bigotted viewpoint either. That's why I referred to this as Gay-bashing the Canadian way, as the arguments against homosexuality here have more to do with economics and institutional change, and discomfort, rather than outright suggesting that gays are "bad" (although there remains the suggestion that "gays might be secretly sizing you up", which has always been a popular readon to forego integration).

For all of those reasons, I won't discount Worthington's influence, even if his arguments, upon reflection and through the use of critical analysis, don't stand up.