6/20/2005

Censorship?

In Canada where I live we have some of the most stringent anti hate legislation on the books. It is forbidden to do or say anything that promotes hatred against anyone for reasons of race, creed, colour, or sexuality. This is further supported by The Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees equality for all under the law. Any action that deliberately goes against the spirit of the Charter or advocates activities contrary to it’s nature can be subject to prosecution. This includes speeches that advocate lesser status, or access to fewer services, for any members of society who have not lost their rights due to criminal behaviour. Even then there are provisions for people incarcerated ensuring that they continue to participate in society to some extent. While the majority of Canadians accepted these provisions without a qualm there has been a vocal minority persistently complaining that these laws are an infringement of both free speech and the right to religious freedom. Some of these can dismissed as the usual neo-nazi nut cases who are finally being rounded up for holocaust denial and other racist drivel. Conservative Christians are opposed to this legislation on the grounds that it infringes on their freedom to preach their beliefs. They want private religious schools exempted from the legislation so that teachers may be free to get up in class and speak out against homosexuality. According to them the bible says it is a sin. This gives them the authority to preach against both the granting of rights to and homosexuals themselves in their classrooms. This became even more of an issue when the Superior Courts in province after province ruled that denying homosexuals the right to marriage was a contravening of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Technically speaking, therefore, anyone speaking out against gay marriage in overtly inflammatory language ran the risk of contravening our hate crime laws. In fact a Bishop in Alberta is currently under investigation by that province’s Human Rights board for comments he published in an open letter to his parishioners arguing against same sex unions. In the letter he advocated the Federal government make use of it’s coercive powers to reduce the rights of gays and lesbians, even to go so far as make homosexuality illegal again. As a writer with particularly strong opinions the issue of censorship is never without relevance. Obviously I want to be free to say what ever I choose to say whenever I choose to say it. If you don’t like what I’m saying your free to disagree with me, or not read my writings. But before I wrap myself in the flag of defender of free speech no matter what the cost, I wonder if those who are advocating for the right to condemn homosexuality as a matter of principal, free speech and freedom of religion, would do the same? Judging by their recent behaviour it’s hardly likely. Over the last ten years we have seen more of an increase in attempts to influence what the public sees and reads in a democratic society then in any other period in contemporary history. The embedding of reporters allows for greater control by authorities of what news and information reachs the public ear. Then there are the “public” interest groups who pressure T.V. and movie producers to change their content by threatening boycotts of sponsor’s products One only need look at the fallout from “nipplegate” to see how effective these pressure tactics have become. The F.C.C. reported thousands of phoned complaints which resulted in an investigation and a heavy fine for the offending network. Even though it was an accident that they were in no way responsible for, and the incident was over and done with in a nano second, the “public outcry” was too great to be ignored. Lacking the means to produce the amount of T.V. and movies that are created in America that is not such an issue here. Instead we are faced with individual boards of education being forced to remove books from their curriculum and libraries. But invariably those who deem themselves the guardians of morality and are most desirous to censor what we see and read are the same people crying fowl when the government chooses apply those rules to them. Their cries of infringement of freedom of speech and freedom of religion ring pretty hollow considering their own actions. Unfortunately for them they are asking for the freedom to do what the courts and the government of this country has defined as hateful. Getting up in front of a classroom full of students and preaching that one segment of the population, for what ever reason, is less deserving of rights and freedoms can not be justified for any reason. To claim that denying you the right to do so is an infringement of your freedom of speech is like saying that not being able to steal someone’s car is an infringement on your right to mobility. Censorship is real issue in today’s society. But do not let that confuse the issue when it comes to people demanding the right to speak against a specific group of people. Hatred and intolerance are learned behaviours. Preventing people from teaching it in schools and churches is not censorship or infringing on religious freedom, it’s taking steps to make a better more tolerant world. cheers gypsyman

3 Comments:

Blogger DietDoctor said...

Dear gypsyman,

I wanted to reply on your website so I would not seem as if I am being the grammar police of some such addressing your article about the use of grammar on the internet. I agree completely with the article.

However, you need to clean up the "About Me" part of your web site. And I quote the first lines here:

"Well, hmm, I'm married to a wonderous woman whose been sharing my life for nine years. We live in a two brm. aptartment with four cats who are the apples of our eyes."

There are some grammatical and spelling errors that should be addressed. I don't like to do any nitpicking on blogcritics.com since I have more faults in writing than most. Thus, I thought I would tell you, first, that I agree with you and, secondly, pick nits in private.

See you at blogcritics.com and keep up the good work!

Cheers,

Ron

4:49 PM  
Blogger gypsyman said...

Hey Ron
Thanks, couldn't you have just emailed me.... No thank you, normally my wife provides me with editing assistance because without spell check I'm lost. Dyslexia rules K.O.

I have gone back over some of my older posts in preperation for publication and have had to wince at the quality of writing. Since I wrote the profile at that time...well need I say more.
I can understand grammer and spelling mistakes to an extent, I make them so how can I condemn anybody for that.
What has driven me crazy aren't the accepted contractions in use, but the creation of words like "prolly" or the use of cute initials(Lol for laughing out loud if you find something funny)to express emotion.
I really dread the day people start talking like that. Bastardising language because you've not learned how to type or you think its cute(of course I hate emotecrons and smiley's)does not make you more interesting or unique.
Having a vocabulary sufficent to express your thoughts and emotions in an economical manner is far more attractive.
People like me have to rely on spell checkers because of learning disabilities, and we seem to be able to manage in most cases. What's other people's excuses.

3:05 AM  
Blogger Queen of Google said...

Gypsyman, google alerts has led me to your blog and I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your thoughts on Morgentaler and on censorship.

I am currently struggling with trying to prevent Campaign Life Coalition from having the freedom to wave their horrible photos and posters around in public...which may be interpreted as censorship...

But if you lived near his clinic (as did I, by the way -- the Harbord one -- was actually walking home from work when it was bombed) you know the pictures I am talking about and they have nothing to do with freedom of speech and everything to do with causing shock and disgust.

Anyway, keep expressing yourself -- it's been a pleasure to read your blog.

QoG

9:47 AM  

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