On the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Canada has room for improvement
Monday, December 10th marks the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.
Significantly, this took place just three years after the Allies had defeated Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and other regimes which had violated human rights on a colossal scale.
How does Canada’s human rights record stand up to the declaration?
How does Canada, as one of the 48 nations to sign this famous Declaration, measure up today?
On the positive side, we don’t condone slavery or slave trading (Article 4) or arbitrary arrests, detention or exile (Article 9).
We provide the criminally accused with a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal (Article 10) and presume they are innocent until proven guilty (Article 11).
We have freedom of movement, including the right to leave Canada and return (Article 13). The right to own property, alone as well as in association with others (Article 17), is generally respected, even if not protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Canadians have the right to form and to join trade unions (Article 23), and to vote in “periodic and genuine elections” by universal and equal suffrage, by secret ballot (Article 21).
Freedom of thought and expression need improvement
However, there is ample room for improvement.
The right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the right to manifest this in teaching, practice, worship and observance” (Article 18) suffered a serious set-back this past June, when the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the violation of Trinity Western University’s religious freedom.
The court did so in the name of an undefined “public interest” and facile political slogans like “diversity,” also undefined by the court. The full repercussions of this atrocious decision won’t be known for many years.
Compared to most countries, Canada does an adequate job of protecting freedom of opinion and expression (Article 19). However, free speech at public universities is subject to “mob censorship” by people who physically obstruct displays, silence speakers and shut down events that they disagree with.
These practices are willfully condoned by university presidents, and in some cases even encouraged by university administrations. Campus clubs which seek to challenge “sacred cows” like radical feminism and abortion rights are banned from campus by student unions.
Off-campus, human rights commissions stand ready to prosecute citizens for expressing the wrong ideas. Parliament’s condemnation of “Islamophobia” does not clarify whether criticism of Islam or its founding prophet should remain legal.
The inclusion of gender identity and gender expression in human rights legislation means potential penalties (fines, or imprisonment for refusing to pay them) for those who refuse to use preferred pronouns, and those who otherwise reject post-modernist transgender theory.
Other areas where Canada is lacking
Canada’s frequent use of solitary confinement in prisons arguably qualifies as torture, or as a cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 5).
When it comes to recognizing the family as “the natural and fundamental group unit of society, entitled to protection by society and the State” (Article 16), some provincial education policies and child welfare practices fall short of this mark.
The prior right of parents “to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children” (Article 26) has been seriously eroded by an aggressive “one-size-fits-all” approach to education, which undermines the existence of real choice for most parents.
That “no one may be compelled to belong to an association” (Article 20) is shamelessly repudiated by Canadian labour laws, which force millions of Canadians to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The right to work without belonging to a union does not exist in Canada, in stark contrast to almost every other country in the world.
Declaration is vague on the definition of “right to life”
How well Canada is complying with “the right to life, liberty and security of person” (Article 3) depends in part on whether one objects to the absence, in Canada, of any legal restrictions on abortion, at any time during the nine months of pregnancy.
Pro-choicers would celebrate this as part of “liberty and security of the person.” Pro-lifers decry the violation of the “right to life” and the notion that, in Canada, human rights begin only at birth, and not a day before. The Declaration itself is silent on this question.
Canada does better than most countries, in living up to its signature on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But that’s no reason we can’t improve our performance.
Yet another woke record store has decided to ban British pop icon Morrissey from its shelves. This time, the Glasgow Evening Times reports that Glasgow’s “Monorail Music said it would continue to sell records by the Smiths but ‘like many of our colleagues’ would not be selling the singer’s 13th studio album, ‘I am not a dog on a chain.’”
This follows last year’s indie music store ban on Morrissey’s last album, “California Son.” Cardiff’s Spillers, which calls itself “the oldest record shop in the world,” declined to carry the record in retaliation for Morrissey’s political views. These views include support for Brexit, saying that the word “racist” is meaningless because it’s used so liberally, and that crime in London cannot be properly dealt with if the perpetrators are viewed as victims.
Morrissey responded to the last round of smears and bans by saying, “I straighten up, and my position is one of hope. The march backwards is over, and life has begun again. With voice extended to breaking point, I call for the prosperity of free speech; the eradication of totalitarian control; I call for diversity of opinion; I call for the total abolition of the abattoir; I call for peace, above all; I call for civil society; I call for a so-far unknowable end to brutalities; ‘No’ to Soviet Britain.”
Of course, the bans and smears don’t work. These kinds of actions will not stop Morrissey’s fans from buying the new album. The Guardian has consistently tried to smear Morrissey, and in response, Morrissey wore a t-shirt reading “Fuck The Guardian.” Fans know that Morrissey being able to speak his mind means that they are free to speak theirs, to hold opposing views, and to still listen to the new tracks Morrissey releases with consistent quality year after year.
Bookshops and record stores are not required to carry anything that they don’t wish to, obviously, but there is something sinister in the refusal to carry selections by such a popular, long-standing pop star, whose music on last year’s “California Son” was not political, and who lifts other artists through collaboration, simply because he’s not afraid to speak his mind.
Writer Fiona Dodwell responded to the ridiculous ban by tweeting: “How about businesses stock and store products and let customers choose what they want? This achieves nothing, Morrissey will still sell albums—with or without your company “banning” his records. People simply go elsewhere (and learn where NOT to shop next time!)”
How many pop stars have heterodox views but don’t say them out of fear of retaliation? Probably plenty, they just don’t say it, because they don’t want their work to suffer the same fate of being banned by distributors.
Morrissey has made his entire career out of being an iconoclast who “will not change and will not be nice.” So much the better for his fans, who strive to lead lives according to their own value systems, and not those imposed by a hypocritical society hell-bent on squashing free thought and individuality while claiming to uphold those very qualities they persistently deride.
When the new album drops on March 20, it will be interesting to see which other shops signal their virtue by refusing to carry it, and which ones instead cater to consumers and offer it for sale. Not carrying “I am not a dog on a chain” has more to do with the owner’s false sense of righteousness than punishing Morrissey. Time and time again, Morrissey has shown that he can’t be shelved and forgotten. His work is too essential and beautiful for that.
Loving The Onion for its satirical takes and hating The Babylon Bee for theirs is all in a day’s work for CNN “reporter on disinformation” Donie O’Sullivan.
While he has endlessly tweeted out uproarious Onion stories on everything from “Clinton Throws Flash Grenade to Divert Attention from Question About Senate Voting Record” to “FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot to Just Sit Back and Enjoy Collapse of United States,” (hilarious), he has taken issue with The Babylon Bees’ off-the-wall comic piece “Democrats Call For Flags To Be Flown At Half-Mast To Grieve Death Of Soleimani.”
The fictional story was shared abundantly on social media, as much as top New York Times and CNN stories, which rankled O’Sullivan.
Babylon Bee founder Adam Ford took to Twitter to parlay the hypocrisy he saw in O’Sullivan’s crush on The Onion and displeasure with The Babylon Bee.
Ford points out that O’Sullivan, a fan of The Onion’s skewering of American politics, doesn’t like it when The Babylon Bee does it. Why not? The Onion racks up clicks, as does The Babylon Bee. The Onion has often been accidentally shared as though it were real news, as has The Babylon Bee.
There was the time The Onion ran a story about how North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was named sexiest man of the year, and it was reprinted by the South China Morning Post. Or the time a congressman shared an appalling story about Planned Parenthood opening up an “abortionplex.” There was even the time The Onion ran a story “Congress Takes Group of School Children Hostage” and the actual Capitol Police sprang into action to save the school children from Congress.
The Onion has been publishing satirical content online since 1996, and we, the public, have almost gotten used to not believing what they post. The Babylon Bee has only been on the scene four years, but they’ve been constantly crushing it.
There’s one major difference between these two outlets. And at first glance, it’s basically nothing. The Onion runs political and social satire, The Babylon Bee runs political and social satire. But while The Onion has always done so from something of a leftist bent, The Babylon Bee makes no bones about its Christian underpinnings. The Babylon Bee’s google listing clearly states “The Babylon Bee is your trusted source for Christian news satire.”
But explicitly stating that your site is satire not good enough for CNN expert in disinformation Donie O’Sullivan.
Disinformation campaigns are serious business. Bad actors and nefarious governments work hard to spread fake news in efforts to mislead the public. That’s not going to stop, in fact it’s just getting worse.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are in a rush to try and curb the spread of fake news and influence campaigns. But as they rush to do so, they must be made aware of the efforts of bad actors like O’Sullivan who wish to silence their ideological opponents by crying “disinformation” at every turn.
Terry Gilliam has a new movie coming out. But he doesn’t want to talk about art in his latest interview with Alexandra Pollard in The Independent, he wants to talk about how crazy culture has become. The fact that Gilliam’s film is about Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a man who believes in his own rightness, despite the entirety of society telling him he is wrong, is pretty timely. In his later career, with heaps of successes and failures at his feet, Gilliam has a breadth of understanding about how a culture that used to skewer itself for laughs has landed in a place where nothing is funny, and ambition is mocked.
“I understand that men have had more power longer, but I’m tired, as a white male, of being blamed for everything that is wrong with the world,” Gilliam told Pollard. “I didn’t do it!” Pollard tried to school him on the idea of white privilege, that while he might not be to blame personally, the historically racist underpinnings of society mean that he should bear an awareness and responsibility for the unfairness of his success.
Of course, Gilliam has failed, countless times. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has been in the works since 2000. It has hit snag after snag. That it was made at all speaks to Gilliam’s refusal to let the project die. And not all of his films have been big hits. A few have even flopped. But he keeps picking himself up and giving it another go.
If Gilliam were asked to take a step back, to curb his ambition and artistic drive simply so someone else could have a chance in his stead, he would guffaw. For Gilliam, that’s just not how things work, and it shouldn’t be.
Gilliam tells Pollard “We’re living in a time where there’s always somebody responsible for your failures, and I don’t like this. I want people to take responsibility and not just constantly point a finger at somebody else, saying, ‘You’ve ruined my life.’” On Weinstein, he says that “when you have power, you don’t take responsibility for abusing others. You enjoy the power. That’s the way it works in reality.” Weinstein wasn’t a monster on his own, he was able to use his power to get what he wanted because people wanted access to that power.
There were plenty of others who got caught up in the mob’s wrath and need for vengeance. “Yeah, I said #MeToo is a witch hunt,” Gilliam replied when Pollard brought it up. “I really feel there were a lot of people, decent people, or mildly irritating people, who were getting hammered. That’s wrong. I don’t like mob mentality. These were ambitious adults.”
As a culture, we might want the objective best to win out, or for each sex, every race, ethnicity, creed, gender identity, and sexual orientation to be represented equally in every field at all times, but Gilliam posits that ambition doesn’t work that way and that it shouldn’t. In the push for inclusivity, we have dispensed with the idea of “objective good,” in favour of something more about moral rightness based upon inclusion of identity factors.
Attitudes like those from U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team captain Megan Rapinoe are what Gilliam is speaking against. As she prepared to be honoured as the Sports Illustrated person of the year, she was asked about the 2018 stats that showed 21% of men are afraid to hire women in the current climate, she called bullsh*t.
“Well, women are afraid to be raped, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, kept out of jobs, fired from jobs, moved laterally their entire career,” she said. “If you have some sort of platform you can support that way… You don’t have to get involved in a million charities. You can literally just re-tweet stuff. You can speak up and show support that way.”
Of course, we know that social media activism is hollow, as President Obama told us, something of a meaningless gesture that reflects more on the intent to show virtue than on securing meaningful change. While #MeToo has raised some awareness about workplace harassment, it has also destroyed men’s careers. #MeToo is not strictly an altruistic movement– and why would it be? Hardly anything is. It has been used to restructure power hierarchies. Only instead of the traditionally capitalistic power tools like money and profit, it uses emotional manipulation and the valour of victimhood to achieve its aims.
A man whose career was founded on pushing the envelope as part of Monty Python, the 79-year-old filmmaker cannot abide our incessant outrage culture and the demise of personal responsibility. He blames only himself for his failures, and while Pollard seemed consistently appalled by his remarks, Gilliam is not wrong.
David Marcus, Senior Contributor to The Federalist and New York Post columnist has been banned from Twitter for advocating for a massive bombing of Iran, should they retaliate against the American killing of Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Classified as an enemy combatant by the State Department, Qasem Soleimani was actively engaging in terrorist activity against the U.S. and its interests. Plenty of progressive accounts posted in opposition to the U.S. strike, and actress Rose McGowan went so far as to beg the nation for mercy.
HuffPo, among other outlets, wrote about what a great guy Qasem Soleimani was.
Colin Kaepernick had his own take, claiming that the action against Iran was racist, and had nothing to do with legit concerns.
It was in light of these worries from Hollywood celebrities and progressive media, who fear an Iranian response, that Marcus suggested that an Iranian strike against New York would be ill-advised.
The Bulwark writer Molly Jong-Fast took issue with this.
The Post Millennial reached out to Marcus, a colleague of this author’s at The Federalist, to get a sense of his take on this Twitter ban. Having never been banned by the site before, he was a bit perturbed.
“The big secret is that if you’re on the right, you’re going to get banned, if you’re on the left, you’re going to get celebrated,” Marcus said. “I criticised Iran. I said we should take Iran down. They throw gay people off of roofs, and that’s what I got taken down from Twitter for? Go f*ck yourself, Jack.”
In July, Soleimani’s forces shot down a U.S. drone, and Trump declined to retaliate, since no one was killed. December saw these forces kill an American contractor in Iraq, and support a violent attack against the American embassy in Baghdad.
Marcus’ Twitter ban is temporary, but odds are that even when the ban is lifted, he will still be making a clarion call for liberty and swift action against enemies of the U.S.