With the near rejection of establishment liberal politics leading to the election of Trump and the leftward swing of the Democratic party, the political sphere seems more divided than ever. This is a wonderful phenomenon, as it has led to the propagation of more diverse opinions in mainstream politics. It has also, however, led to a lot of ignorance and hatred between the political wings. The best way to bridge this gap is to support the notion of freedom of speech. The best way to do this is for people on all sides of the political spectrum to follow and befriend those on their opposite wings.
My belief in such a solution arose when I began attending my university in 2017. At that time I was a staunch Soviet-style communist. I joined my campus New Democrats (which was the most left I could go in mainstream politics) in 2018. I refused to politically engage with my Liberal and Conservative friends.
On “Trans Day of Remembrance” this year, numerous politicians and celebrities used the occasion to virtue signal on social media. They repeated the claim-turned-mantra from LBGT activist groups that there is an “epidemic” of trans homicides motivated by transphobia and racism in the U.S.
Chelsea Clinton, doing what the Clintons do best, weighed in vapidly on Nov. 20: “Since 2013, more than 150 trans people have been murdered in the U.S., the majority Black transgender women. On #TDoR2019, we remember and honor the lives lost, hold their loved ones in our hearts and must commit to doing all we can to end this epidemic of violence and hate.”
Though the sentiment is valid, the claim she repeats is not. There is no “epidemic” of violent homicides against trans people in the U.S. How do I know? From data released by the Human Rights Campaign and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
I responded to Ms. Clinton: “The U.S. is one of the safest countries for trans people. The murder rate of trans victims is actually lower than that for cis population. Also, who is behind the murders? Mostly black men.”
Five days later, I was informed by Twitter that I had violated its policy against “hateful conduct.” For stating a verifiable empirical claim, Twitter determined that I “promote violence against, threaten or harass other people” based on protected characteristics. I was given the option of deleting the tweet and facing a timed suspension, or appealing the decision while remaining indefinitely locked out of the platform. I chose the latter option.
My appeal was rejected.
Twitter’s decision to force me to accept a false reality in order to use its platform is chilling to those who value truth above dogma, as uncomfortable as the truth may be. The dogma of our day is the trans ideology—an authoritarian worldview replete with science and evidence denial. Among many things, it claims that sex is a construct and that trans people are being hunted down across America
So far this year, there were 22 homicides involving trans or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. That number has held relatively steady since the HRC, America’s largest LGBT lobbying group, started releasing annual reports four years ago. According to the HRC, there were 26 homicides in 2018, 29 in 2017, 23 in 2016 and 21 in 2015. The HRC provides the most comprehensive data set for trans homicides in the country. The FBI does not release numbers of trans people who are killed.
Though every homicide is a tragedy and victims are due justice, lying about the scale is politically exploitative and reckless. It prevents the public from accessing real problems honestly in order to advocate for real solutions. Worst of all, it harms the very people who need protection.
The average homicide rate of cis males in the U.S. is around seven per 100,000 from 2015–2018, according to FBI figures. The rate for cis females during this timeframe is 1.9. The rate for trans homicides since the HRC began tracking in 2015? About 1.7. (This rate was calculated based on the 2016 UCLA Williams Institute estimate of there being about 1.7m trans adults in the U.S.)
For a developed country, the U.S. has high homicide rates. That is undisputed. But if the rates of cis men being killed isn’t spoken about as an “epidemic,” then neither should the rates for trans homicides, which is significantly lower compared to the cis population.
And while much attention is focused on the victims being mostly black trans women, no attention is given to the fact that the majority of known homicide suspects and convicts are also black. This intra-racial violence is consistent with other homicides in the U.S.
Additionally, there is no evidence to support the narrative that trans people are being killed because they are trans. The overwhelming majority of trans homicides involve victims being killed in the course of high-risk behaviours like street prostitution and drug dealing. Cis women and cis men involved in these activities face similar risks.
While it may feel good to earn praise by hiding uncomfortable truths, those who ultimately suffer in this instance are trans people themselves. They are told to fear people around them, that they could be killed at any moment and are helpless in the face of omnipresent hatred. This is not compassion or empowerment.
I’m now back on Twitter, but only because I was forced to accept that on this platform, a journalist will be punished for telling the truth.
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.
A Quebec judge rejected part of comedian Mike Ward’s appeal regarding a joke about a disabled boy.
Ward was ordered to pay $35,000 to Jeremy Gabriel, who suffers from a genetic disorder that causes facial deformity and affects his hearing, due to a joke the comedian told at shows between 2010 and 2013.
Two of three judges ruled Mike Ward’s comments regarding Gabriel were not justifiable in a society where freedom of expression is valued.
Ward was originally ordered to pay an additional $7,000 to Gabriel’s mother—a fine which the courts overturned due to the indirect relationship between the joke and the boy’s mother.
The joke in question was regarding Gabriel’s disability. In 2005, Gabriel sang to Pope Benedict and Celine Dion to flesh out his dream of becoming an international singer.
Ward’s jokes called Gabriel a bad singer, stating that he was “terminally ill” and that Gabriel not passing away meant that his “Make a Wish” was invalid. Gabriel was not actually terminally ill, as Gabriel’s genetic disease—Treacher Collins syndrome—does not generally have an effect on lifespan. He was also not a Make-a-Wish kid, as Ward was embellishing the story for the sake of the joke.
Ward added that he tried to drown Gabriel, but he wouldn’t die.
The Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the joke discriminated against Gabriel and his parents, ordering Ward to pay damages for “making discriminatory comments regarding Jéremy Gabriel, infringing his right to equality.”
Ward later tweeted that he would not be paying any fines, and planned to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“In a ‘free’ country, it shouldn’t be up to a judge to decide what constitutes a joke on stage,” he wrote. “The people in attendance laughing already answered that question.”
Ward’s lawyer, Julius Grey, believes the decision seriously impacts the world of stand-up comedy.
“In this particular case, if the judgement is maintained, no one will be able to dare to be a stand-up comic, because normally you make fun of things that are controversial—otherwise it’s not funny,” Grey said. “If anything that is controversial can authorize someone to say ‘I was hurt, I’m going to court,’ we’re finished.”
Ward will appeal the case to the Supreme Court, Grey said on Thursday.
While the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression, the Appeals Court ruled that Ward had gone too far, passing what’s permissible by law.
“What is funny for some can be considered bad taste by others … Humour, especially the kind of humour that Mr. Ward practices, can appeal to sarcasm, mockery and even insult. The border between a limitation to freedom of expression in the name of dignity and censorship is thin. … Comedians must realize, however, that artistic freedom is not absolute and that they, like all citizens, are responsible for the consequences of their words when they cross certain limits.”