Saturday, December 15, 2007

A $17.5k Fine Would Injure MY Feelings!

It seems that a Christian in Canada distributed pamphlets that presented a straight-forward message of disapproval of homosexual practice from a classic position of Christian morality. Apparently freedom of speech and freedom of religion are no longer the right of Canadian citizens.

According to a World Net Daily article, "Bill Whatcott was fined 17,500 Canadian dollars by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission in a complaint by four homosexuals who charged he 'injured' their 'feelings' and 'self respect' in pamphlets denouncing the 'gay lifestyle' as immoral and dangerous...."

So, Whatcott gets thousands of dollars of his money confiscated, loses his right of free speech, and is publicly shamed by a government institution for daring to voice his religious beliefs--beliefs held by Christians for two thousand years, beliefs supposedly guaranteed in the country's constitution.

I think I know what I'd do if I were Whatcott: I'd charge the Human Rights Commission with violating my human rights by "injuring my feelings and self-respect through a ruling that denounced my Christian lifestyle as immoral and dangerous."

Hey, if the feelings of the persons Whatcott supposedly injured count, shouldn't Whatcott's feelings count, too? Whatcott only vaguely and impersonally affected the allegedly aggrieved gay parties. But the Human Rights Commission very pointedly, personally, and painfully affected Whatcott. I think Whatcott would have a case!

I know what I'd do if I were a Canadian citizen: I'd work like crazy to end the foolishness, injustice, and abuse of human rights by the ironically named Human Rights Commission. It is no small thing for such a kangaroo court to cancel both the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion!

And I know what I'm doing as a U.S. citizen: I'm speaking out against our country's drift toward a constitutional quagmire similar to Canada's. Perhaps by tasting from this side of the border the rotten fruit of that tree, we will never allow its clone to take root here in this country.

12 Comments:

Blogger Meghan said...

Looking at a news source with less of an agenda that World Net Daily, I find that the objection to Mr. Whatcott's pamphlets was not that they said that homosexuality was a sin, but that they portrayed homosexuals as pedophiles and child molesters.

I imagine if I stood on a street corner and handed out pamphlets that equated you, or a group you belonged to, with pedophiles and child molesters you might be inclined to seek judicial relief.

There has got to be a way to express disdain for homosexuality with out actively trying to turn them into big, bad bogey-monster demons who are out to attack children.

Meghan Foote,
Greeley, CO

10:14 AM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Jim said...

Meghan,

Several thoughts come to mind in response to your comment:

1) Thank you for commenting. It is good to have such conversations.

2) Whatcott's methods are far more confrontive than I would choose. I wonder if he does more or less actual good by his being quite a bit more "in your face" with his tactics.

3) No one really contested the truthfulness of his statements or the legitimacy of his faith. What was supposedly wrong is that what he wrote made the complainants cry. It hurt their feelings. They also claimed that his (uncontestedly truthful) statements might incite people to hurt them. The pamphlets said that what they were doing was wrong, in unadorned language. The Bible also says that, so do you propose banning anyone similarly wanting to both speak and distribute such "opinions" because someone might feel slighted?

4) Homosexuals were not "equated ... with pedophiles and child molesters" from what I could find about the pamphlets' actual content. The pamphlet did quote statistics about an alleged higher prevalence of pedophilia and child molstation among the self-identified homosexual population. Is it illegal now to publish the results of scientific studies or to refer to them? Couldn't one be adult about the whole thing and simply refute any alleged misinformation, rather than try to silence the opposing party?

5) You asked how I would feel if I were publicly reviled, and would I be inclined to seek judicial relief. That's not hypothetical. It happens all the time. But I don't cry about it or seek to curtail the rights of people who display how ill-informed and cruel they are as they slander me.

6) Yes, I agree that there ought to be a way to express disdain for homosexuality without tarring that entire population with the pedophile brush. However, the gay community could assist that effort at restraint by policing itself regardng the trashy displays of--I'll use the word--perverted and bawdy sexuality at its gay pride affairs and the tragic targeting of minors in obscene classified ads. A culture that advocates unbridled carnality cannot expect clear-eyed respect as a result.

When a Christian cannot write or speak the truth and his or her conscience without incurring draconian punishment by the thought police, something is dreadfully wrong.

They went after Whatcott in Canada, and we did nothing, since we're not Canadians. They went after a Catholic bishop in Canada, but we did nothing, because we aren't Catholics. They went after prominent voices in politics in the U.S., but we didn't get involved because it still seemed far away, and we do have our rights here. But then they came after us for continuing to steadfastly believe God's will for our purity as it is revealed in the Bible, and there was no one left to speak up for us.

Sound familiar? It's happening already.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

1:33 PM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Meghan said...

According to the Sakatoon StarPhoenix:

"The tribunal ruling followed a hearing in 2005 which stated Whatcott showed "a clear pattern of practice of disregard for protected rights" when he distributed flyers in Regina and Saskatoon in 2001 and 2002 railing against homosexuality being taught in the Saskatoon Public School system and at the University of Saskatchewan. In the opinion of the human rights tribunal the flyers promoted hatred against homosexuals by referring to them as pedophiles and child molesters." [emphasis mine]

I based my original comment on that article.

I don't understand how statistics about the prevalence of child molesters among homosexuals enters into a Biblical/Theological argument. I don't know that there is any reason to have that information in there other than to make people fear that the homosexuals are coming for their children.

If one is going to include that information in one's argument I would think it would be important to point out that even if (for example, I don't know the real numbers) 5% of homosexuals and 3% of heterosexuals are child molesters that still means that far more heterosexuals are child molesters than homosexuals. (If 10% of the population are homosexual, then, using these numbers, out of every thousand people there would be 3 homosexual child molesters and 45 heterosexual child molesters.)

Therefore, wouldn't creating the impression in people's minds that homosexuals are the greater threat to their children be lying? And is that an appropriate way for a Christian to argue?

As far as worrying about the squelching of free speech here, why haven't we seen it happening already? There have been federal hate crime laws protecting people on the basis of religion, sex and race for 40 years. I imagine that after 9/11 there were a number of preachers in America who said thing about Islam from the pulpit that could have been considered promoting hate. How many of them have been fined by the government?

3:35 PM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Meghan said...

That's "Saskatoon"

3:37 PM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Meghan said...

and I got my numbers backward, that should be 5 homosexual child molesters and 27 hetersexual child molesters.

3:56 PM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Jim said...

Meghan,

Whatcott appears a little rough around the edges. Granted. His form of argumentation wouldn't be mine. But from what I've read, he was neither incorrect nor untruthful. He was simply telling a hard truth without finesse. There is no reason for his free speech to be curtailed just because some folks cry when they hear the truth.

I looked to the actual case before the Human Rights Commission to find my information (http://www.saskhrt.ca/forms/index/Descisions/050205.htm). Live Search didn't lead me to a working newspaper article.

There I found quotations from the complainants that read in part, "he read [the flier] again and started to cry. He viewed the contents of the flyer as hateful and mean and felt that he was being referred to as 'filthy' and 'perverted'." Well, if the shoe fits...

What we have between Whatcott and the HRC is a difference of firmly held beliefs, and the commission is trampling Whatcott's beliefs with its own, because it has the power. Whatcott "believed that homosexual behaviour should not be allowed." The court, on the other hand, believed strongly that no one can say that about gay people, and thus Whatcott must pay damages "as compensation for loss of [the complainants'] dignity, self-respect and hurt feelings."

So it's clear. The complainants felt hurt, and they were to be given compensation. Whatcott was told by the government that his beliefs are immoral and illegal and then was deprived of his free speech, his ability to freely practice his religion, and 17.5 thousand dollars.

Just who is the victim in this little escapade in oppressive political correctness?

Oh, and by the way, a 10% figure for gay incidence is about three to five times too high. It's a faulty figure left over from Kinsey's dated and faulty research but still floated for political clout. A figure of 2-3% is probably closer to reality.

But a whole lot can be done to cook figures. I'm sure that much more crime is committed, numbers-wise, by CPAs than by Mafia hit men (just because there are far more CPAs out there and relatively few hit men). But which one do you want dating you daughter? Let's not play with numbers.

If free speech isn't defended vigorously--even the free speech of knuckleheads and rogues--it will be eliminated by those who think they represent a greater good. Don't believe for a moment that it can't happen here.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

5:47 PM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Rob said...

Truth is, as a five-year resident of the metro Vancouver, BC area, I can tell you there's nothing new about this. Meghan, I can assure you that merely saying that regardless of whatever else Whatcott had to say, homosexuality is a sin would have been more than enough to provoke the judicial response he got. In Canada, this is truly nothing new.

Rob Harrison
Warsaw/Winona Lake, IN

PS: Meghan, how's the weather out there? We used to live just over the Divide from you (only moved a few weeks ago); the mountains still feel like home.

8:53 PM, December 24, 2007  
Blogger Meghan said...

It's been cold, and we've had two or three good storms the last few weeks.

At the beginning of the month the snowpack was down about 30%, but it's caught up and past normal.

9:01 PM, December 24, 2007  
Blogger ZZMike said...

One of the differences between British law and American is that we (at least, so far) recognize that we do not have a right not to be offended.

Here in the US we have a right to criticize the government without ending up "disappeared". We even have the right to insult the President daily, in the most mocking and disparaging terms.

Why should that right be curtailed when it comes to groups whose life-style we find repugnant?

(Before anybody starts off about "repugnant", please take the time to attend any gay pride parades in any of our major cities. Berkeley would be a good start.)

10:51 AM, January 03, 2008  
Blogger Dave Moody said...

You've been tagged:    The idea… it’s a game of tag with a difference, rather than looking inwardly, we look outside ourselves and bless, praise and pray for one blog friend. By participating in this endeavour we not only make the recipient of the blessing feel valued and appreciated, but we are having some fun too. We’re going to see how far the bloggin’ blessings can travel around the world and how many people can be blessed!

10:27 AM, January 04, 2008  
Blogger Earl said...

Dear Jim,

I saw your blog entry referenced in The Layman and found this scenario interesting. I understand how the fine would hurt anyone's feelings.

Here is a simple solution. As you noted the law does and should protect religion. In my experience as a gay man here in the USA I've seen numerous exmaples in writing by other gay people putting down Christianity. Some do equate to hate speech in my opinion although I understand the feelings behind the speech while not approving of the the way the feelings are expressed.

I'm sure these same examples are to be found in Canada. So simply advise those such as Mr. Whatcott to file complaints against gays making hateful remarks about Christianity. Then some of them will get fined as well.

Then Mr. Whatcott and others getting fined I would expect won't feel hurt so much in knowing that others will pay as well. This seems to be the only fair way to make sure the law is equally applied to all. Hope this helps.

Yours in Christ,

Earl C. Apel
Member, Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church
Cincinnati, Ohio

7:49 PM, January 05, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...

Earl,

When you're jesting like this, you'd better put a smiley face after it. People might think you're serious with your advice.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

9:55 PM, January 06, 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home