On a Lighter Note

December 22, 2010

As posting will be winding down over the holidays, I thought I’d leave you with a tuneless ditty, authored and submitted by a loyal reader, who wishes to remain anonymous.

The Lynch who stole Christmas

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house
No one had presents, not even the mouse
Despite the long held belief that he belongs with the saints
Old Santa’s been the victim of multiple human rights complaints

Historically, stopping Christmas wasn’t even achieved by the Grinch
Leave it to the authoritarian followers of Jennifer Lynch
Ensuring the complaints came to fruition
Was the work-seeking Human Rights Commission

You may ask if Santa’s required to submit
What crimes did the big guy commit?
The complaints were all related to his occupation
And every one was a human rights violation

The first involved the elves wages not being equivalent
Was there an explanation for the pay variant?
The secretaries didn’t get the same pay
As the mechanics who maintained Santa’s sleigh

Now most of Santa’s secretaries are women
And, go figure, most of the mechanics are men
A mechanic couldn’t possible be worth more in this situation
No, the tribunal decided the wage gap is discrimination

So the tribunal formulated a remedy to correct the problem
The first part involved payment equity to equalize the income
The second part was a hefty fine as a form of retraction
The past inequity corrected by affirmative action

The second complaint alleged that not everyone in Canada gets presents
It would appear Santa passed over the homes of many immigrants
Santa defended with the fact that not everyone celebrated Christmas
Christmas gifts to a Muslim were considered blasphemous

Again Santa was found guilty and a remedy formulated
Santa was a discriminatory bigot and needed to be re-educated
Santa had to realize it was simply the name that offended the complainants
From this time forward everyone will receive ‘Holiday Presents’

The third complaint involved a letter Santa sent to every Canadian household
The letter was to explain the name Holiday Presents to everyone young and old
Santa included some humour in the letter he sent
A picture of Mohammad opening a ‘Holiday Present’

The complaint went to the Tribunal despite being frivolous
Muslim groups alleged the cartoon created a context making the letter libellous
Santa was accused of spreading Islamophobia
He would get stoned if he resided in Saudi Arabia

The defence pointed out that the North Pole was outside the borders of Canada
And therefore the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to prosecute Santa
But the tribunal responded they had a duty to settle this grievance
Canadians love Santa who is likely to be a negative influence

Santa didn’t give up and was down to his last resort
He appealed the case all the way to the federal appeals Court
The judge was quick to overturn the Tribunal’s conviction
Geography made clear the Tribunal had no jurisdiction

You may think that means Santa’s of the hook, but it doesn’t
Because with the Tribunal, the process is the punishment
25 years of investigation and high cost adjudication
The North Pole went into receivership resulting in complete liquidation

Even Santa’s sleigh was sold by the auctioneer
So there will be no presents under the tree this year
All those employed by Santa indiscriminately lost their job
Men and Women alike are indebted to the Lynch Mob

Santa

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The Lynch List, 20-Dec-2010

December 20, 2010

This Lynch List is dedicated to the culture of entitlement that the Human Rights Commissions are, inadvertently or purposefully, creating:

First: An entitlement to be “free of poverty”. Or so says former PEI supreme court justice Gerard Mitchell:

Poverty must be seen for what it is, namely, a serious violation of human rights. It is an affront to human dignity that deprives its victims of full membership and participation in our society. Therefore, poverty reduction must be seen not as charity work but primarily as a human rights remedy which governments have an obligation to implement.

Second: An entitlement to the approval of your peers for being morbidly obese:

As regular readers of these pages are well aware, weight bias and discrimination is widespread among the public, health professionals, media, policy makers and employers. Overweight and obesity are often viewed as the result of simply making poor choices or a lack of willpower and self control, and not as the complex conditions they are.

Third: An entitlement to cable TV, snow-shoveled bus stops, and “affordable” transit, all as part and parcel of the “right to (a) life” (emphasis mine):

By the looks of it, there is no way to break out of this cyclical pattern so I can regain my right to a life. This has been going on for 6 months ever since the manager of Kingston Transit wrote me to say that, due to bus stop design and safety issues about the steepness of the ramp, wheelchair users are recommended to go back to using the [more expensive, and less available] Access Bus on a full time basis. All I want is to afford the cost of taking transit so I can get my cable back and return to eating a more healthy and wholesome diet. I should not be expected to absorb the added cost of taking specialized transit

While I feel for the guy, the sense of entitlement is growing at an alarming rate.

Fourth: The OHRC created an entitlement to housing, using its little-known power to overrule our constitution and Charter to “declare” rights.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is the first commission in the country to declare housing as a human right and look at how the Human Rights Code can be used to ensure everyone has access to decent, affordable housing.


Weekend commentary: Saskatchewan, Ontario, shills, and hypocrisy

December 18, 2010

I’m afraid I’ve fallen somewhat behind on HRC-related stories, but here are a few things that have caught my eye in recent weeks.

1) As Saskatchewan moves to dissolve its Human Rights Tribunal and have human rights complaints heard by an actual court, all I can say is this: good. Thank you.

Also, what took so long? Is the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, which initially recommended these changes, the only such body in Canada that is self-aware enough to see the flaws in the Tribunal system? If so, why?

Best not to ask too many questions, I suppose. I wouldn’t want to be the one that jinxes this Christmas present for judicial process. But one final note: it’s interesting to see the marked distinction between various provincial approaches to HRC “reform”.

For instance, while Saskatchewan went the route of keeping the complaints process intact ( via the commission ), but moved the body hearing the complaints ( the tribunal )  into an actual court-room, British Columbia long ago went the route of scrapping its Human Rights Commission while keeping its Human Rights Tribunal intact. The results of the BC HRT’s over-reach are well known.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s approach to restructuring their HRC system only served to maintain the status quo, while Ontario’s restructuring actually added one more bureaucratic body to the mix: the Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

As my colleague Scary notes, Saskatchewan’s approach raises its own questions, but it’s still something new, and hopefully progress made. If not, well, join the club.

2) Meanwhile, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has sided with the Raelian ‘religion’ over the Franco-Nord Catholic School Board. The case?

In November 2006, the management of the Conseil Scolaire Catholique Franco-Nord, in Ontario, signed several contracts with the Academy of Pleasurology and Emotional Intelligence (APEI), the plaintiffs’ training firm, which included several emotional pedagogy training sessions for its teaching personnel. In January 2007, this same CSCFN management learned that Daniel, Sylvie and Michel Chabot were members of the Raelian Religion and, as a result, terminated the contracts. In addition, evidence showed that the CSCFN management warned several other Ontario school Boards not to do business with the APEI because its founders were Raelians. With this said, it did not require more evidence for Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal to conclude that the CSCFN committed an act of discrimination.

This, the tribunal concludes, is a clear-cut case of discrimination on religious grounds. And thus have Raelians the world over been vindicated, and their oppression given a voice in Ontario.

Thanks to Blazing Cat Fur, some background on our friends the Raelians:

Not to be confused with the church of Ray Liotta, the Raelians believe that aliens landed on earth, insisted that they designed all life on earth and asked that they be able to make contact with government officials through an embassy.

Hey, different strokes for different folks. One has to wonder, though, why someone’s religion should not have a bearing on a Catholic School Board’s hiring decisions. Just sayin’

3) Some commentary from CHRC one-time paid flak Pearl Eliadis on why not all speech should be free and Mark Mercer is wrong about everything:

The free speech extremists conflate efforts to limit extreme forms of speech, like the ones mentioned above, with authoritarian and heavy-handed censorship. This is as intellectually dishonest as if I called Mercer a supporter of genocide because of his free speech position.
Sigh…that is authoritarian and heavy-handed censorship, hence the opposition. Pearl, what are we going to do with you?

H/t to Blazing Cat Fur, who also brings us this piece of commentary from Mark Hemingway in the Washington Examiner:

On Nov. 20, Canadian journalist Ezra Levant was ordered by an Ottawa judge to pay $25,000 for libeling Giacomo Vigna, a Canadian Human Rights Commission lawyer. According to the judge, Levant “spoke in reckless disregard of the truth and for an ulterior purpose of denormalizing the Human Rights Commission across Canada.”

Despite the judge’s ruling, not only is Levant right to “denormalize” these commissions — they should be immediately abolished.

Ah, that’s better.

4) Last word, thanks to Terrence Watson at The Volunteer, who writes on Speech Warriors and hypocrisy:

It is easy enough to understand how a principled speech warrior position could look morally inconsistent, or worse, at least to one who had forgotten or wasn’t aware of the distinction just made. If principles of right are conflated with values, or else ignored all together, then a speech warrior’s refusal to endorse hate speech laws may look like an endorsement of hate speech. Because surely, there is some value to suppressing racist speech, and if it were balanced against the value of permitting hate speech, it is not clear to me that the latter value would outweigh the former. When freedom of speech is justified on the basis of a balancing test, then sometimes censorship will win.

Hence, if we were concerned only with teleology, then the speech warrior who rejected hate speech laws would either be placing too much value on Nazi speech, or would be undervaluing the benefit (i.e. to minorities) of suppressing Nazi speech. In either case, the speech warrior would look like an asshole or a fool.

Libertarians, for the most part, do not base their position on teleology, but on deontology (which is not to say they don’t appreciate the value of an atmosphere of free inquiry.)  Because the principles of right have priority regardless of the outcome of this or any other balancing test, the libertarian can accept that hate speech laws could be good in some respects, while maintaining that it would be wrong for the government to pass or enforce such laws.

It’s quite worth reading the rest.


The Lynch List, 17-Dec-2010

December 17, 2010

First: The Supreme Court will hear an appeal to the pay-equity battle that has been going on for decades. The federal court threw out the case, flabbergasted at why the CHRC would pursue this matter for 27 years. When you see that the union complaining in this case is the same union that most CHRC employees belong to, you might begin to understand.

Second: David Arnot of  Saskatchewan’s HRC defends the government’s move to disband the province’s Human Rights Tribunal. It is a little scary to hear of all the new powers that his agency has, however. This “Directed Mediation” sounds eerily similar to “Enhanced interrogation techniques”…

Third: Here’s a slightly more coherent addition to Troy Media’s series on human rights, which is no less biased than previous articles. Besides heavily quoting from one side of the argument – again – there are a lot of instances of curious word choice and phrasing:

Legitimate criticism about their effectiveness has been obscured by controversy on issues of free speech. Commissions have been described as “kangaroo courts” intent on stifling free expression in pursuit of a politically-correct agenda.

In other words, those who criticize the Tribunals for not going far enough are “legitimate”, while those who voice concerns about free speech are “obscuring” the matter.

Fourth: I wonder if this will be accepted as a human rights complaint. Nah, the complainant speaks English!


CBSC Takes a Cue from the HRCs

December 16, 2010

The Human Rights Commissions in our country are getting help from an unlikely ally – the CBSC, a voluntary association of private businesses, established to administer standards agreed on by its members. Much like the human rights system, they entertain complaints from the public, and pass judgment on seemingly moral issues under the guise of “broadcast standards”. At least that’s what it looks like when reading the resolution of this complaint, launched against Word TV’s Charles McVety.

I don’t dispute that McVety is a controversial speaker, prone to hyperbole and mischaracterizations, I could say the same about a host of other on-air personalities. Our broadcasters, public and private, have plenty of anti-Americans, feminists, anti-capitalists, and yes, religious zealots, who commit the same intentional and unintentional mischaracterizations all the time. Does the name of Heather Mallick ring a bell?

So what did the CBSC have to say about McVety’s program? Here’s a run-down of some of the things he was reprimanded for.

Using the word “conviction” to refer to a decision by a Human Rights Tribunal against the respondent. Apparently the CBSC has been enlisted to defend the human rights newspeak.

Saying “It is now a crime to speak out against homosexuality” in reference to Bill C-250. I wonder if Avi Lewis has ever been reprimanded for similar hyperbole.

Referring to Ontario’s sex-education program as “teaching homosexuality”. The CBSC insists, curiously, that McVety may only talk about the stated intention of the program, namely “tolerance”, and not about perceived effects of the program. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but isn’t that what all political commentary is about?

Referring to gay pride parades as “sex parades”. As far as I’ve heard, there’s a whole lot of simulated hanky-panky going on. That’s like insisting that the Global Marijuana March cannot be called a “pot march”.

There were a list of other complaints that the CBSC dismissed, some so ridiculous that the whole thing should be a warning flag about abusing the system. For example, the complainant states that McVety “praised the govt for actions against the gay community”, or referred to Muslim fundamentalists as xenophobic. The complainant’s motives are clearly censorious, in that he wants McVety’s opinions completely removed from the airwaves. One letter ends with the words,

I cannot believe in this day and age that public airwaves are still being permitted as a hate speech vehicle for those who still see the gay community as a sex-crazed social scourge.

And finally, note the timing of this release. This decision was reached in June, but not released until now. Why the wait?


The Lynch List, 15-Dec-2010

December 15, 2010

First: The Commissions and Tribunals aren’t the only monopolistic entities that are hell-bent on deciding what you can and can’t hear. The CBSC (Canadian Broadcast Standards Council) is a creature of the private sector, but it is following in the footsteps of our Human Rights Commissions in its targeted censorship of opinions that fall out of the mainstream.

I will be posting this in more detail to follow, but here’s the sneak peek.

Second: A Catholic school board terminates a contract with a consulting firm when they discover that the firm is run by a Raelian cult. In steps the Quebec Human Rights Commission to burn the school board at the stake.

Gee, we’ve come full circle from Salem, haven’t we? (see BCF for a great poster)

Third: You never know what the OHRC will outlaw next. If you see some human rights officers recording your every word at your next community meeting, now you know why:

Finally, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has ruled that NIMBYism can be considered a form of discrimination.

Fourth: Caught between a rock and a hard place – just where the HRC’s want to keep employers in perpetuity:

The Ontario Human Rights Commission reminds us that the law protects both expressions of religious belief AND the refusal to participate in religious observances. As an employer, you must find the correct balance.

Fifth: Former OHRC member and gay activist Tom Warner released a book recently, in which he claims that the purpose of the Human Rights Commissions is to destroy our nation’s Christian morality and replace it with a new form of secular morality.

I guess that explains why the OHRC’s victims are largely Christian, conservative, and straight. I wonder how many other Commission members, with extraordinary powers that go far beyond any judge, believe the same thing.


The Lynch List, 13-Dec-2010

December 13, 2010

First: One case justifies the whole thing, says Troy Media in its latest defence of the human rights system. Who can argue against the right of the disabled to vote in elections?

Second: Why should Saskatchewan keep its Human Rights Tribunal? Because of the “ambiance”.

Even more limiting of access is the daunting ambience of a court hearing as opposed to that of an adjudicative tribunal.

Third: An editorial in the National Post laments the recent Quebec HRT decision against Bombardier:

In addition to tossing any reasonable standard of proof out the window, the judge also effectively put the onus on Bombardier to prove the validity of the no-fly edict. She castigated the company for not pursuing Mr. Latif’s case with Transport Canada or Canadian and American intelligence services. “It was not [Bombardier]’s responsibility to assume, proprio motu, the responsibility of national security.” Instead of getting marks for trying to protect Canadians, Bombardier got penalized.

Fourth: Who says that the Commissions and Tribunals don’t expand the definitions of their enabling legislation? (emphasis mine)

The grounds under this Policy will be interpreted in the same manner as they are interpreted by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. For example, the ground of “sex” has been interpreted to include gender identity, gender expression, sexual harassment, sexual assault and the actuality or possibility of pregnancy, breastfeeding and childbirth, and will be so interpreted under this policy.