Ellen Degeneres and George W. Bush are friends. So what?
America is polarized, there is no doubt about that. Divisive rhetoric has had a meaningful impact on how many view one another, and it seems as though not just that no one is listening, but no one even really cares to listen anymore.
This isn’t just a gut feeling, either. A poll by the Pew Research Center recently found that 47 percent of “liberal Democrats” stated in a study that if a friend voted for Trump, it would put a strain on the relationships.
Bruce Arthur, dubbed Sportswriter of the Year in 2012 by Sports Media Canada and featured in Sports Illustrated’s list of top 100 people to follow on Twitter, may sound like your average sports columnist, but there’s much more to the man than hot takes and sports. He also has a passion for hurling abuse at strong conservative women. Specifically, Candice Malcolm.
Malcolm is the founder of True North, an independent media outlet in Canada. She tweeted out a reply to Justin Ling, a man who describes himself as a “consulting killjoy,” “perpetually unemployed” and “painstakingly uninteresting.”
Ling had said in a Hill Times article that True North, the independent news outlet founded by Malcolm, was a “tiny start-up” from “worrying ends of the spectrum.”
Malcolm stood up for herself and her outlet:
And this is when Bruce Arthur showed exactly why he was voted by SI as one of the top 100 people to follow on Twitter, saying to Malcolm: “You’re garbage.”
At first, I was confused by this nasty response. But then I looked into who this guy really is. It turns out he’s the kind of guy who would imply that if you watch conservative news programs like former hockey legend Bobby Orr does, then you might be a “white supremacist.”
Slandering people and blithely calling a woman “garbage”? I think Trudeau should reconsider all of that media bailout money he’s giving the Toronto Star and Arthur.
According to today’s woke standards, Arthur—a mediocre white male—should be cancelled for typing such a reply to a female journalist. It’s the kind of thing that is condemned as “hate”—rooted in misogyny and toxic masculinity. Will that happen in this case? Of course not. You see, Malcolm is conservative and Arthur is liberal. The standards are never applied equally.
Candice Malcolm has stood up for Canadians, our freedom of speech, our servicemen and servicewomen, tackled terrorism, broken stories others only wish they could have, and has taken the Trudeau government to court for and won on behalf of freedom of the press. For a sports columnist to state that Malcolm, an obvious pillar of Canadian media is “garbage” is completely inaccurate and out of touch.
Freedom of speech belongs to everyone. That freedom should not be limited or suppressed. Arthur has the right to hurl insults at conservative women all day long if he so chooses. But it does speak to his lack of character. How we use our language is a choice we make, and this choice was, quite frankly, garbage.
Bruce, if you want to save your credibility, take the plank out of your eye before commenting on the speck you see in someone else’s. Or, just stick to the sports highlights and leave the real work to Candice Malcolm and True North.
I guarantee that Malcolm would still defend your ability to speak freely and call her names. That’s the kind of professional she is.
“The world is going to hell.” Every day, in every news outlet, we are bombarded with this notion. Climate change irrevocability, civil strife, increasing racism, terrorism, homophobia, and poverty. The west is in a navel-gazing spiral of negativity and self-hatred. We verbally flagellate ourselves with condemnation of our own wealth, of our carbon footprint, of our inability to fix all the problems instantly, effectively, and permanently. We are stuck in a loop of negative self-critique that any therapist would diagnose as suicidal, and in fact, suicide rates are rising. But it’s time we looked at some facts and started telling ourselves a new story. As it turns out, we don’t suck.
One of the biggest critiques of the west is that there is rising inequality, that the poor are getting poorer while the rich keep getting richer. However, that’s not actually true. It’s a lovely narrative for those who favour wealth redistribution because the perception of injustice spurs people on to figure out how to rectify that. The only problem is that it’s untrue. Of course, there are problems, there always are, but they’re not nearly so bad as we are led to believe by popular media representations, and they’re getting better.
A recent article in The Economist shows just how off our thinking has been with regard to wealth inequity. New research confirms that the basis for this belief in increasing financial disparity is inaccurate. The claims of inequity were founded on four presumed truths. These are that the top 1% of earners have soared high above the rest of us in wealth accumulation, that household incomes have languished, that worker exploitation has hurt labour while lining the pockets of wealth capitalists and that the accumulation of assets the wealthy hold have been skyrocketing in value.
However, “…some economists have re-crunched the numbers and concluded that the income share of the top 1% in America may have been little changed since as long ago as 1960.” Unaccounted for in the analysis of wealth inequity were the changes with regard to Medicaid expansion, pension dividends that go to middle-earners, the vast underestimation of “inflation adjusted median income growth in America from 1979-2014.”
While we could always do better, the fact is, we could do much worse. It’s hard for us to believe that we are not the worst people in the worst time frame in the entirety of human history, but as we berate ourselves for being so terrible, we should take a moment to note that poverty is in drastic decline worldwide.
In a Q&A on his YouTube channel, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson notes that: “It is by no means self-evident that things are getting worse… In the last 15 years, the millennium goal for the UN was to have world poverty, like absolute poverty, that’s less than $1.50 [down] by 50% within 15 years, and that was actually reached ahead of schedule. We’ve lifted hundreds of millions of people into the middle class in the last 30 years. There is increasing inequality in the west because the working class has taken the brunt of that redistribution to third world countries. But really there’s no starvation in the world anymore, except really for reasons of misdistribution and political purpose.
“People are becoming richer and more educated all the time. And we are waking up to our planetary responsibilities, and once people stop starving to death, and having to burn dirt and eat substandard food that they’ve scraped out of the ground they do start to turn their attention to things that are more aesthetic. … I don’t see an alternative [to capitalism] that has manifested itself that doesn’t have far more negative consequences. … The most successful societies by virtually any metric are the capitalist societies.”
Shocking, I know, but it’s true. The west and western culture is not the worst thing ever to happen to the world and humanity. We don’t have to wipe ourselves off the face of the earth or stop having babies just to save everyone from our wretched, horrid, greedy, trolling selves. We have actually been helping. Poverty is in decline, and along with it, our general sense of self-respect.
It’s time to tell ourselves a different story, one that involves trying our hardest to make things better for all people, because that’s what’s really going on. People are getting tired of this same, sad story. David Byrne recently launched Reasons to Be Cheerful as an antidote to all the bad news. It collects stories about all the legit good things happening in the world, and those that reflect innovation, compassion, and cooperation between people and cultures.
A narrative that gives us an inkling into our successes, not just our failures, would help us to push forward more than the hopeless one we are constantly being fed. One of our biggest issues is that, as things improve both in the west and worldwide, we raze the definition of success and replace it with an even higher measure.
We have lived up to so many of our goals, yet every time we attain one, we move the goal further on. It’s like we’re climbing a ladder and with every rung, we look up at the next one and see how much further away it is than the one we just climbed. This is not a call to let ourselves off the hook, we know how much work there is to do, we hear about it from every source every day. But the progress of democratic capitalism, with a healthy amount of checks on the power of the free market, is an effective tool for the betterment of us all. Let’s stop hating ourselves—what we’re doing is actually working.
The holidays can be a tough time for lots of people, and if the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has its way, they’ll be even worse. The annual family get-togethers have taken on an added significance since the beginning of the Trump presidency. No longer just times to swap recipes and pretend you have your life together, now they are stages set for activism, disagreement, and political animus.
Just in time for American Thanksgiving, the ACLU tweeted some of their favourite Thanksgiving conversation starters in a holiday tweet.
There’s this idea that the holiday table should be turned into a court, the passing of potatoes a referendum on your racist uncle, and of course, the assumption that you have a racist uncle who needs to be schooled in the proper way of thinking.
Holidays are divisive enough already without going in armed with a series of adversarial conversation starters and assumptions about how your family needs to be educated in wokeness. But in today’s political and cultural climate, we’re supposed to believe that every conversation is an opportunity to tutor the uninitiated into progressive ideology.
The American family is on a long decline. Many families are broken, blended, confusing places. If anything, the ACLU should be promoting family bonds, not ensuring strife. When we feel connected, have a safe place to land from the turmoil of the world, and can take solace in our families, life is better.
We don’t have to agree with everyone we love to love them. We don’t have to coerce our families into sharing our views. After all, no one likes to be evangelized to and the best way to change hearts and minds is through actions, not lectures. If there are true bonds of family, they don’t need to be pressed with rhetoric, and if those bonds are tenuous, strengthen them. You don’t have to fix everyone in your family, and no one likes to be criticized. Instead of starting conversations with assumptions and accusations, start with kindness.
Probably your family is already aware of these things, like trans and LGBT rights, after all, it’s in every publication, and in the Supreme Court. This objectionable ACLU family is a straw family, they don’t exist. Where is there a family who is so insular that they don’t have LGBT people in them as relatives or friends? And you might be dealing with much bigger issues than that which carries importance for legislation and federal policy.
We have prepared some alternatives to the ACLU conversation starters, The Post Millennial holiday conversation starters:
Instead of “my pronouns are … ” try “how have you been?”
Instead of bringing up hiring problems for LGBT people, ask “how many jobs are you working these days?”
Instead of “who loved Pose season two?” Ask what a person’s favourite tv show is, and talk about that.
And don’t ask people to “please pass the pie and the Equality Act,” instead ask if you can help get the desserts on the table, and maybe listen for once.
If you have political or theological disagreements with your family, what is the basis for the opposing beliefs? Why do people believe what they believe? Find that out before belittling anyone. And if you really want to promote civil liberties and charity, propose some holiday service. You and your family can team up in helping the less fortunate at this trying time of year.
The transformation of the ACLU from an essential civil liberties organization to a group of woke zombies virtue signalling social justice platitude after social justice platitude has been particularly painful to watch. While they still advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, and against the authoritarian implementation of facial recognition software, the incessant thought policing makes it hard to get behind them.
In the last few months, the ACLU has advocated for compelled speech with regard to the issue of preferred pronouns.
They’ve also lobbied on behalf of trans women who wish to compete in women’s sports. It’s an odd position for a civil liberties organization to take—to infringe upon the rights of women to have their own spaces.
When their advocacy fails, they just shout about it.
The change in their priorities and values has led long term donors to abandon their charitable giving.
The ACLU is a storied institution. But they have abandoned their promise of advocating for actual civil liberties, and they are continuing to lose the public’s confidence. It’s part of a trend really—once-respected institutions from The New York Times to the ADL have gone woke and lost the plot over the last 3-4 years. Perhaps it’s due to a panicked overcorrection for the Trump presidency; perhaps it’s just the insidiousness of woke ideology as it has spread from the universities to the larger culture.
The ACLU wants you to confront your relatives about hot button issues in culture. Authoritarians are great at dividing families. That’s how they seize power. They need anger and division. But if you really care about your family, maybe just let the conversation happen naturally, instead of enforcing talking points. Ideological diversity is a strength.
When foundations that are founded on principles switch their focus to politics, those principles get thrown under the proverbial bus. Principles are what hold up, whereas a political agenda is more concerned with achieving its ends than making sure those ends are achieved according to any standards.
Do your best to embrace the differences between you and your loved ones. Use dialogue to open your own mind, and find the places where you do agree. And for the love of God, don’t let the ACLU ruin your holidays or your relationship with your family.
In today’s world, we are increasingly pressured to censor and restrict what we say in order to avoid causing offence by voicing opinions that might be construed as “hate speech” or “intolerant.” However, hearing opinions that differ from the mainstream, whether they’re offensive or not, is necessary in order to spark debate and open discussion, especially on issues considered contentious.
Contentious issues are meant to be debated in order for one to arrive at as truthful a conclusion as possible. Dr. Jordan Peterson summed this up when he said, “in order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive.”
In other words, being able to risk offence allows one of two outcomes; either one speaks an offensive, incorrect opinion and thus is given the opportunity to be corrected, or one speaks an offensive remark that delivers an uncomfortable truth.
The reason Dr. Peterson links the ability to think with the ability to speak is because speech is merely thought vocalized. Thought brought out into the open is thought that is able to face scrutiny. However, this can only happen if people don’t shut down debate and discussion by claiming something is offensive or abusive. Those who easily take offence overlook the fact that an opinion or belief that is vigorously debated is a thought that can go onto to serve the public good by either being publicly and validly discarded or publicly and validly incorporated into the collective knowledge.
Also overlooked by those who want to live under the rule that says one cannot cause offence is the impossibility of implementing such an authoritarian ambition on a large scale. While avoiding offence might be achievable when face-to-face with just one person, this is nearly impossible for those who give lectures or speeches on a contentious issue to hundreds of people at a time.
How can you possibly cover the topic without offending at least one person? The answer is, you can’t. The only way to avoid causing offence to thin-skinned audience members would be to not hold the lecture at all. That, however, would be a capitulation to erratic emotional frailties, which, in turn, would directly contribute to the end of our ability to speak freely. It is indisputable that debate and open discussion are critical because they allow both sides to hear another point of view and thus come to a balanced and well-informed conclusion; if conflict of opinion still remains after opposing views have been aired, then there is much wisdom, and civility, in both sides, simply taking the age-old stance to agree to disagree.
For my generation, perhaps the best argument for the protection of freedom of speech and expression is that it is freedom of speech that prevents socially conservative people from banding together to have the state forbid us from attending, say, a Rihanna concert or from watching Game of Thrones on the basis they feel offended by the promotion of sexual immorality or religious sacrilege. Success in this would be a direct attack on freedom of expression, in this case, artistic expression. The fact is, once an identity group takes offence over what they see as a contentious issue and then demand the state to prohibit what they deem offensive, it opens a door for all manner of moral issues to be decided upon by an entity that is as unaccountable as it is capricious. History too often has shown that those who seize control of language and the right to use it freely—especially under the guise of wielding moral justice or goodness—are those who soon use this control as leverage to take away other rights. As Philosopher Sir Roger Scruton wrote, when “the state is seen as the guardian of public morality” we give up enormous freedom because we give the state the power to, “forbid the misuse of our freedom.”
Anybody who has doubts about the danger we face over the loss of our freedom of speech only has to consider the recent attempt to silence Lindsay Shepherd, a former teacher assistant in Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. In her class, she played a video clip that featured Dr. Jordan Peterson debating with another University of Toronto professor the inherent dangers Bill C-16 presented for freedom of speech because of its legislated use of ideologically charged language, in this case, gender-neutral pronouns. Although Lindsay Shepherd had taken a neutral stance in the matter and she had presented both sides of the argument, she was dragged before a committee and accused of creating a “toxic climate” at the University for showing the clip, this despite the fact the video clip had been aired on public television and so was already in the public domain.
According to her interrogators, she had “violat[ed] the school’s Gendered and Sexual Violence policy“ and created “an unsafe learning environment for students.” Worse, she was falsely told that she had “broken the law” over a subject that, to use the predictable words of ideologues, “there is no debate.” In fact, all Shepherd had done was cause offence to a small number of people because, as part of her lesson on, ironically, “how language affects our lives,” she had dared to air a short clip of a debate that featured a contentious issue. That she was told she’d broken the law, was then subjected to little more than a kangaroo court and that this all happened on a university campus gives a clear indication that our freedom of speech is very much under threat. In the end, in this case at least, the ideologues lost, and Shepherd received an apology from Wilfrid Laurier University for the way she was treated. However, given that this incident was able to happen in the first place, it would be foolish to think that such attacks won’t continue their quest to limit our freedom both to speak and to hear differing opinions.
Dr. Peterson says that, “no one believes a world constructed through deception is preferable” and of course he’s right. But not causing offence requires a certain amount of deception because by suppressing our own beliefs and opinions, we risk parroting, under duress, the state-sanctioned beliefs and opinions of others that we believe to be lies. Those who disagree should keep in mind that there is only one way to entirely erase thoughts considered disagreeable or offensive from the minds of those who think them: “erase” the individual who holds such thoughts. This is extremely dangerous.
We should heed the wise words of Justice Julian Knowles, a British High Court judge who is currently presiding over a “hate speech” challenge in London’s High Court of Justice. In a statement addressed to the court, he said, “none of us have a right to be offended by something that they hear … freedom-of-expression laws are not there to protect statements such as “kittens are cute”… [they are there] to expose people to things that they do not want to hear.” The message, then, is to toughen up. (No offence.)