The Lynch List, 04-Jul-2011

Happy Independence Day for those south of the border!

But for us unfortunate blokes who aren’t…

First: A human rights complaint has been launched over the wait times that visually-impaired students have to wait for alternative-format copies of their books. While I’m sure all of us would like to launch some sort of punitive process against public institutions that make us wait around, it appears that only the disabled get to dictate their wait-times.

File this one under “I have the right to an e-book. Now.”

Second: Shawn Atleo national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, argues that if they only had human rights protection right from the beginning, then everything would be just peachy:

[The exclusion of first nations from the federal human rights act] allowed the federal government to strip first nation peoples of their citizenship and status and provide substandard education and medical and social services in first nation communities. The underfunding of first nation governments led to poor housing, dangerous drinking water and crumbling infrastructure.

Further, Atleo wants to go all FDR on us and expand the Act to include economic rights:

In fact, first nations view the 11 grounds covered by the Human Rights Act as too narrow. First nations view human-rights standards as including the right to water, food, shelter, culture, self-determination, land, education, health and more. For first nations, the act does not go far enough.

Third: What did I predict when the OHRC began its crackdown on rental housing ads?

Jane Schweitzer says writing an ad for an available rental property has become a minefield thanks to the glaring eye of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). Schweitzer, a Hamilton resident who owns several rental properties and Assistant Moderator of the Ontario Landlords Association forums, says the commission’s recent campaign to address “discriminatory housing advertisements” goes too far.

“…I’m tired of it. We have other properties, but it’s becoming very difficult to be a landlord. People in this business are becoming very afraid to say what they want to say when it comes to applicants.”

Fourth: International soccer must have its rules first vetted by a provincial human rights tribunal in Canada, says a law student.

Fifth: Derek From of the CCF comments on the Guy Earle case:

This is the way that our human rights legislation works. Individuals deemed to be part of “vulnerable” groups get protection, while others do not. And it is difficult to understand how this is constitutional.

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17 Responses to The Lynch List, 04-Jul-2011

  1. Billy Ray says:

    Can you believe those stupid blind people? Why don’t they just stay at home and away from school, where they belong?

  2. Billy Ray:

    I have tremendous respect for those who are able to overcome their disabilities and succeed in higher learning. I will gladly add my voice of support for textbook companies and universities who supply the disabled with accessible materials.

    It just shouldn’t be a right, which authorizes the use of force against noncompliers. It dilutes the true meaning of a human right.

  3. Billy Ray says:

    Oh, I agree. And if books don’t come in time, it will just be all the more impressive for them to learn the material by squinting really hard to see normal books. Tremendous, tremendous respect.

  4. I await an adult argument with bated breath.

  5. Billy Ray says:

    Well, one could argue, of course, that: (i) the University is named in the claim; (ii) the Uniiversity is a public body; (iii) blind people who are using this public service; (iv) those blind people using a public service are being provided that service at a different level than non-blind people; and (v) that discrimination in service against blind people by a public entity causing harm to a class of people. But I really don’t think you care that the government would be discriminating against blind people. After all, you don’t even think education should be public in the first place. It’s not really possible to have adult arguments with nihilists. I recall your colleague Walker claiing once that the removal of prohibitations against discrimination against disabled people would be welcomed by disabled people because they would enjoy the challenge of, for instance, dragging themselves and their wheelchairs up flights of stairs. There is no reasoning with ideological fanatics.

  6. There we go. Was that so hard?

    I am on the record applauding the HRCs for forcing the government to facilitate voting for the mobility-disabled. Voting is a right – post-secondary education is not.

    It does boil down to whether the concept of equality in the provision of services mandates equality of treatment or equality of outcome. The former is a negative right, the latter is a positive one. The former assumes that “all men are born equal”, the second assumes that “all men must be made equal”. It’s liberalism vs socialism.

    And you are correct in pointing out my position that education should not be delivered by the state.

    Incidentally, it’s insanely funny that you claim on the one hand that I’m a fundamentalist moralistic Christian and on the other that I’m a nihilist. I’m about as far from Nietzsche as one can get. Can you link me to a post in which Walker says those things?

    And your last statement is very, very true. We agree
    on something. One key element to fanaticism is the jettison of reason, often in favour of emotive and straw-man arguments.

  7. Billy Ray says:

    “It does boil down to whether the concept of equality in the provision of services mandates equality of treatment or equality of outcome. The former is a negative right, the latter is a positive one. The former assumes that “all men are born equal”, the second assumes that “all men must be made equal”. It’s liberalism vs socialism.” – Well, I suppose I could respond to this mindless reductionism (Oh noes!!! Teh Soshulism!). Yes, you are right – your views, the ones you label as “liberalism” as opposed to “socialism” assume all men are born equal. And of course this is demonstrably untrue. Some people are born with eye sight. Some are born blind. This is not equal. It is odd that I would have to point this out. Allowing them equal opportunity to access government services such as a university education (where they have first gained access to that program through merit) would involve making available materials to the program equally to those who are blind and those who are not blind. That is in no way “equality of outcome”. It is entirely “equality of opportunity”. What you are demanding is that the government deny equality of opportunity to blind people by not providing them material to participate in the program on an equal basis. Somehow, your conception of “equality of opportunity” involves giving both blind and non-blind people books that only non-blind people can read and calling that equal. That is a ridiculous proposition. And saying that providing blind people with material so that they can equally access a public program is “equality of outcome” is equally absurd. We are not talking about outcome in any way. We are talking about entrance into a government program.

    I really don’t care to track down Walker’s quote right now. Its in the comment section of his blog somewhere. Find it yourself.

    No one could every accuse you of arguing against strawmen, could they? – “File this one under “I have the right to an e-book. Now.””. Yes, this was the exact argument. No straw man there. Pure as the driven snow you are.

  8. You miss the point entirely of the phrase, “all men are born equal”. Maybe you need to look it up. Basically, it means that children cannot be tied to the status of their ancestry; no nobility begetting nobility, for example. It does NOT imply that men are equal in abilities and talents (biology), as Locke (18th century) and Hayek (20th century) go through great lengths to clarify.

    “Equality of opportunity” is just as hand-wavy and subject to interpretation as “equality of outcome”. In fact, I would argue that they are essentially the same thing. For example, one could argue that he does not have the same opportunity to be a doctor because he was born with subaverage intellect, and therefore the academic standards should be relaxed for him.

    “Equality of treatment” does not presuppose any characteristics of the recipient. Everyone gets a hardcopy textbook, the course is taught in English, the course is taught through oral lecture. We can discuss whether this is the best method of delivery considering the fact that some people cannot read, cannot understand English, and may be deaf; you might find that we agree on this. But there is no reason to invoke equality rights over it when everyone is already being treated equally.

    I’ll treat your accusations of what Walker said as completely baseless unless/until you back it up.

    The “right to an e-book” comment is a humourous phrase that I often tag at the end of case distillations in order to convey my sentiments of absurdity. It is not a strawman – in reality, the supposed right to accommodation is routinely used to claim all sorts of goods and services from others.

  9. Billy Ray says:

    Blah, blah, blah. That is a lot of words to say that you think it proper for the government to discriminate against the disabled. You have an odd conception of “equality” where it essentially mean nothing at all. Similar to the way you treat conceptions of what is lawful (ie. not what is actually the law, but whatever you subjectively determine to be part of “natural law”). So in your world, giving blind people and non-blind people the same books is equal, despite one being able to read the book adn one not. Putting up a set of stairs to access a building provides equal access to those with and without legs. Because, after all, the stairs are there for all to use equally. So they are equal for those without legs to use, notwithstanding the fact that they can’t use them. They are there! And that’s all it takes to be equal!

  10. I’m glad you understand my position.

    First, the root of “discrimination” is “to discern”, or to tell one apart from another. Treating someone different because of their (in)abilities is discrimination. It doesn’t mean anything to statists because it deprives them of a convenient and infinite justification to interfere in each and every decision that individuals and organizations make.

    Yes, I also believe in natural law as the ultimate foundation for any and every legitimate government. It is the basis for Western democracies including Canada and the United States. Without natural law, there is no such thing as tyranny and state oppression.

    Putting up a set of stairs to access a building equally provides access to everyone (note the inverted order of the terms). Inanimate objects cannot discriminate. Just like a lake equally provides the capacity for enjoyment to everyone, whether or not they can swim or are phobic to water. It is a person’s own capacity to make use of inanimate objects that introduces the inequality.

    It appears that you are simply dismissing my position of equality only on the basis that it does not legitimize your preferred course of action. I invite you to think a little deeper.

  11. Billy Ray says:

    Again, your prefered course of action is to simply define away discrimination so that it has no practical meaning in realtion to how actual living people experience it.

    “It doesn’t mean anything to statists because it deprives them of a convenient and infinite justification to interfere in each and every decision that individuals and organizations make.” – I’ll just skip over this littel piece of reductionist dribble and assume that you are incapable of understanding nuance or complexity in any reasonable manner other than to yell “statism”! or “socialism”! and think that actually means anything.

    The simple truth is that you are so committed to your pro-discrimination ideology, that you have crossed the line into supporting government discrimination against the disabled.

    Here is a link from a post I read today that gets to the heart of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy that is “libertarianism” or “geo-minimalism” or “Christian post-statism” or whatever other smug label sociopaths like you are calling your ideology these days:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/07/06/brief-insights-into-the-libertarian-mind/

    Let’s continue your little game of defining words out of existance. We can keep going with “discrimination” if you like. Discrimination does not include the government prohibiting Christians from voting because voting will still be open to everyone since everyone is capable of not being a Christian. See, no discrimination there! Now you try.

  12. Again, my point is to return to the REAL meaning of discrimination: treating some people differently than others. The Act was brought in to combat problems like businesses that said “No Blacks Allowed” and professions that refused employment to women. Yes, this return to the original definition of discrimination robs it of the meaning that you and your ilk have attached to it; I shouldn’t stoop to your level and speculate on your motivations for doing so – most of you are honestly trying to help the disadvantaged but are sadly misguided in employing legality and the language of rights in doing so.

    I’ll play your little game, but take the ridiculousness down a notch. First your scenario is clearly discriminatory by my definition. Second, I’ve already agreed with you that the government does have the duty to enable everyone to vote – a semi-positive civil right that is foundational to the legitimacy of a democracy. So I’ll give different example. Let’s say a fair number of Christians believe it is wrong to attend a training program on a Sunday. Nevertheless, I would agree that it isn’t discrimination for the government to schedule all of its sponsored training programs to run through Sundays. Unethical, yes. A transgression of human rights, no.

    As for the criticism of libertarianism, see my rebuttal here.

  13. Billy Ray says:

    Yes, what could possibly be the sinister motive behind wanting the government to provide people in wheelchairs with access to public buildings? It couldn’t possible be a desire to ensure that disabled people are given a fair opportunity to particpate in public life. It must be that I am actually a Communist and am using disabled access rights as the beginning of my slipperly slope, at teh end of which my Bolshevik comrades will take control of the means of production and enslave all of society. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!

    Of course, as with every thing you write, your definition of discrimiation is entirely academic and has absoluetly no connection to reality whatsoever. A staircase, to a disabled, person, is the same as a “No Blacks Allowed” sign. You have defined discrimiation down to simple mean the application of a uniform standard. My scenario fits perfectly outside your definition, since your definition excludes basically everythigng. A uniform standard is applied as a voting condition that every single person is capable of adhering to: not being Christian.

  14. …and I get accused of absolutism. I try to extend an olive branch and you confirm another of Schweizer’s hypotheses: that conservatives are more polite than progressives.

    The definition is entirely sound, though you (probably a typo) have inverted it – discrimination is the refusal to apply a uniform standard. The definition certainly does not exclude everything – it prohibits any law from distinguishing between people on a basis of a prohibited ground. Examples of laws and policies it would strike down are: a prohibition on women voting, designating seats on public buses for whites only, forbidding Jehovah’s Witnesses from worshipping, tax exemptions for a particular ethnicity, or barring Muslims from the welfare rolls.

    In your example, the government would need to discern whether a person is a Christian or not before they could vote – clearly discrimination.

    With your definition of discrimination, someone’s voluntary or involuntary inability to do something gives them the right to insist that others do it for them. Government must discern each person’s abilities before it can provide them service. That is discrimination.

    For example, if my religion forbids me from paying taxes, then any universal application of the tax code meets your definition of discrimination. It’s like putting up a sign, “No FLDS allowed”. If an epilieptic is refused a commercial pilot’s licence, that would meet your definition of discrimination. It’s like putting up a sign, “no epileptics allowed”.

    An academic definition of discrimination is needed to prevent people from manipulating definitions for their own purposes. You’ll find that in law, academic definitions rule the day over someone’s subjective concept of reality.

  15. Billy Ray says:

    “You’ll find that in law, academic definitions rule the day over someone’s subjective concept of reality.” – No, you are quite wrong. In law, things are defined in all kinds of ways. Definitions may be exhaustive or inclusive. They may involve the application of an obejctive standard of reasonability. And they always, always involve looking at how the definition applies to real life scenarios. Which is why any legal definition of discrimation would include a government entity giving access to a public service only by stairs as discrimination against the disabled. Because the law involves real life. And in real life, stairs are a barrier to access for disabled people. It doesn’t matter what academic definition of discrimination you attempt to impose. The plain fact is that giving access only by stairs excludes the disabled by the nature of the access provided.

    Trust me, I don’t want any olive branches from you. I think you are a sociopathic whose advocacy, if successful, would ruin the lives of a great many people – the disabled being the foremost victims.

  16. First, if you think anti-discrimination laws are the only thing stopping hordes of neanderthals from stranding Timmy the helpless parapalegic 8-year-old in his wheelchair, you’ve got a pretty dim and delusional view of humanity.

    Second, I do tend to be rigid in definitions – it’s why I’m called the Fundamentalist. As far as the definition of discrimination, it requires a qualifier: discrimination in treatment or discrimination in outcome. As I said before, the two are complete opposites. The preamble of the CHRA clearly indicates that the intent is on discrimination of outcome – that Joe receives the same benefit (an opportunity) from a public service as Jim. I am consistent with other classical liberals when I say that equality of opportunity destroys the Rule of Law: in order to have similar outcomes, you have to treat people differently.

    Third, in real life, everyone has “barriers” they have to contend with every day. Outside of the family unit, each of us is responsible to contend with the barriers to our own survival without any right to force others to assist us. The fact that some “barriers” are classified as disabilities (and therefore gain the manufactured right to accommodation) while others are not is yet another example of how equality of opportunity requires discrimination to operate.

    Fourth, a stairway isn’t any more discriminatory than a ramp – there are still people who cannot access a building even with a ramp. Some can’t even go outside. Is there a magic proportion of people that need to have access in order for it not to be discriminatory?

    Finally, the olive branch will always remain. Seventy times seven, and all that. I maintain that your position is grounded primarily in good intentions that we share, but you appear to have the unfortunate tendency to hate anyone who doesn’t agree with you on the implementation of those intentions.

  17. Billy Ray says:

    It is the existence of people like you that give me a dim view of humanity.

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