Section 13(1) and Aspergers

[ ED NOTE: Xanthippa from Xanthippa’s Chamberpot was kind enough to let me cross-post this article from her blog. You can read the original here. Also noted by Blazing Cat Fur here.

I think Xanthippa raises a very interesting point here. Could Section 13(1) be in contravention of itself? And furthermore, why has this question not come up before?]

OK – this is a topic that people who know me have had to listen to me rant on and on and on….

And, I have tried to write it up – and have at least 18 drafts to prove it…

Because… this is something SOOO IMPORTANT that it deserves the most perfectest write up ever!

Because… this shows an internal inconsistency in the Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Code – the ‘Hate Speech’ bit!

It clearly demonstrates that Section 13(1) is in contravention of itself!!!

That, if I my layman’s understanding of our legal system holds, would render the whole thing illegal.  After all, a law may not contravene itself, may it?

Yesterday, I got a comment on my last post, which said exactly the same thing I had been ranting on and on about.  (The comment, not the post – well, the post, too, but that is implied.)

Actually, I read it out loud to my husband, who thought I was reading my words, so close was the sentiment!

Hi Xanthippa.

Your blog has got me thinking… Perhaps we Aspies particularly resent censorship boards like Canada’s because we are used to “saying it like it is”, speaking the truth (as we see it) bluntly and plainly, and not being stopped by thin-skinned people taking offence. Aspies can’t detect _likely_ offence in advance, and if we played it safe and avoided all _possible_ offence, we’d never say anything!Whereas those who support Canada’s state censorship system are probably neurotypicals who are good at treading their way carefully, taking cues from context. They have picked up, for example, that joking about assassinating President Bush is “brave dissent” while joking about assassinating President Obama is “racist hate speech” that will get you visited by the FBI.

Aspies like to have the rules laid out clearly, neutrally and consistently. They/ we don’t like implications, winks and nods, and “It just is, okay?!” So you get someone like Ezra Levant (almost certainly an Aspie) asking why the Emperor has no clothes, why Canada’s censorship rules are applied differently to Christians and Muslims, and a lot of people regard him with distaste: he’s rude, he’s offensive, he’s loud, he’s rocking the boat, he “just doesn’t get it”.

Perhaps Section 13 could be struck down as discriminating on basis of a disability, do you think?

 

That is exactly correct!  I’ve been ranting on this for years!

*  * *

Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Code is the ‘hate speech’ section which has, lately, been applied to silence people with unpopular views.  The key bit of the wording is that a person is forbidden from communicating anything which could potentially give offense to someone or a group.  No, not ‘just anyone’ – only people who are members of ‘protected groups’.

In other words, it is illegal, in Canada, to communicate anything that might offend people, based on their sex, race, religion, disabilities, sexual orientation, and so on, or stigmatize them, or is likely to increase ‘general hate’ against them.

*  *  *

Now, let us look at  the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome (an Autism-spectrum disorder):

Aspies For Freedom (an Asperger’s support group) lists, among others:

  • Criterion A. Severe and sustained impairment in social interaction
  • Criterion C. The disturbance must cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

About.com tells us that

“The essential features of Asperger’s Disorder are severe and sustained impairment in social interaction…

“…  The disturbance must cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Dr. Leo Kanner, a psychiatrist at Hopkins and a recognized authority on Asperger, wrote in ‘Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry with Practical Neurology’ about ‘Aspergers’:

It is characterised by impairments in reciprocal social interaction and communication

I could go on, in a typically Aspie obsessive manner… but, you get the picture.  Aspies (people with Asperger’s Syndrome usually prefer the nomicker ‘Aspies’ – it is less cumbersome) have a neurological disorder, which prevents us from having ‘normal’ social interactions.

We cannot tell when we are boring you.

We cannot tell when what we are saying is offensive to you.

We cannot tell if people are so fed up with us, they are about to loose their patience and beat us to a bloody pulp, because we have just said something they consider ‘insensitive’ or ‘offensive’.

We think the rest of the world ought to get over themselves and their stupid emotionalism and its burdensome public display and grow up!  (And get some logic, while they’re at it.)

We also lack the ability to ‘believe’.

Oh, we can accept rules – and love to adhere to them scrupulously.  So, Aspies CAN follow religions.  We just can’t believe in them.

We can take some God(s)’s existence ‘as given’ or ‘pre-defined parameter’ – but not as an ‘article of faith’ to be ‘believed’.  There IS a difference.

Despite what some clinicians think, we CAN accept ‘alternate realities’ (make-believe) – as long as it is presented as a concept (not ‘truth’ – but a ‘different game’) and is internally self-consistent.  That  is why we love Spock (the first ‘real’ Aspie character on TV who was not a villain – at least, not intended to be perceived as a villain, even though his appearance followed an ‘evil-man’ archetype) and why we CAN accept alternate reality rules.

But we recognize them to be ‘non-real’.  And – naturally – we say so.  Especially when somebody is wrong and thinks it is ‘real’.

It is our responsibility to educate them!  To do any less would be insulting to them…

We are especially good at pointing out internal inconsistencies – within belief systems, ‘holy’ books (scriptures), the behaviour of clerics vs. the tenets of their faith and all kinds of things like that.  Good and persistent!

And THAT is why so many Aspies earn the wrath of religious people….. because we will never understand why it is OK to correct someone’s misconceptions regarding physic or mathematics, but not regarding bronze-age myths and demonstrable reality.

Actually – any age myths…

With our lack of social skills and inability to ‘take things on faith’ – both conditions are documented as being biologically based and not something we can just change because we want to – we are BOUND to offend a lot of people. Or, so I am told.  Especially with all that religious nonsense!  And I mean NON-SENSE!!!  As defined…

(Is this a good demonstration?  I hope so… I was trying to convey the understanding of our internal thought processes….)

I suppose it would be a fair parallel to describe Aspies as ‘offensiveness-deaf‘!  And, this disability is a well documented, recognized medical condition.

*  *  *

Ah – but our constitution states that no person shall be discriminated against on the grounds of a medical disability!

Would it be legal to pass a law that penalizes people for not standing when the National Anthem is played – even if they were deaf and did not hear it?  Or of they were a paraplegic or otherwise disabled and unable to stand?

Would passing such laws, which punish people because they have a disability, be tolerated if that disability were anything other than Asperger’s Syndrome?

NO!  IT WOULD NOT!

We would not tolerate such laws!  And, our constitution specifically forbids discrimination on these grounds!

Yet, Section 13(1) is a blatant and shameful discrimination against people who have a medical disability which prevents us from knowing when we are likely to ‘give offense’!!!

*  *  *

OK – this is where I tie it all together….bear with me, please, I’m almost there.

1.  Section 13(1) makes it illegal to communicate anything which ‘is likely to offend’ or stigmatize a group or individuals (on ‘protected grounds’), or expose someone to hate.

2.  One such ‘protected ground’ is ‘medical disability’.

3.  Asperger’s syndrome is a medical disability, whose defining characteristic is an inability to successfully socially interact with others:  in other words, rude and offensive behaviour is an invountary symptom (and even a diagnostic criterion) of this medical condition.  As such, Aspies cannot tell if they are ‘likely to offend’, just as deaf people cannot hear and react to sounds, or just like people cannot significantly change the amount of pigment in their skin!  By just existing, we are ‘likely to give offense’!

4.  Therefore, Section 13(1) makes it a criminal offense to live with this specific medical disability!

5.  By criminalizing our very existence, Section 13(1) seriously stigmatizes Aspies, simply because of how we were born! It is very likely that we, as an identifiable and protected group, will be stigmatized and we are likely to be exposed to hate, as a direct result of the existence of Section 13(1).

6.   However, Section 13(1) forbids anyone or anything to stigmatize a group on protected grounds, or expose anyone to hate – and having Asperger’s IS a ‘protected ground’!

7.  That is an internal inconsistency.

8.  Therefore, Section 13(1) is in contravention of itself.

Q.E.D.

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