Deborah Gyapong: April 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The fog of moral disaster

This is a great post on polygamy at the National Post's website.

Jacob Brinkman Reaume writes:

I must be clear. I am an evangelical Christian. I believe that marriage is a lifelong covenant of love and loyalty between one man and one woman. Further, adults who, with or without consent, engage in sexual acts with children should be severely punished. Pedophilia and polygamy are morally wrong. God declares them wrong, and He does not change.

If, however, God is out of the picture, morality changes with the times. When personal values trump transcendent moral teachings, attempts to distinguish right from wrong are hopeless.

This should concern everyone — liberals and conservatives, heterosexuals and homosexuals, Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Muslims, theists and atheists. All must be alarmed. Do not think moral relativism must be contained in the realm of sexuality. It can easily spill into any area of life. What is free speech today could be hate speech tomorrow. What is an acceptable religion today could be an illegal cult tomorrow. What is sexually permissible today could be punishable by death tomorrow. It depends on who calls the shots. If God is not higher than the secular state, then the state becomes our highest power. The state, then, has unbridled power to define and enforce its own morality. Inalienable human rights become state-granted privileges. That sounds like fascism.

When self-interests define morality, magnetic-north is where the elite put it. Our moral compass is whacked. Bountiful’s polygamists are not the only Canadians lost at sea amidst the fog of a moral disaster.
This is why we must listen to Pope Benedict's words to the United Nations and reaffirm the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The haggling over a piece of Maclean's real estate

I feel like I'm in a bazaar in a land where haggling over price involves all sorts of feints and bluffs and posturing. The seller starts off with a ludicrously high price that only tourists from countries with fixed prices would pay, their being ignorant of the real prices of various goods and services. The savvy buyer, however, begins with a ludicrously low price and the haggling back and forth begins until somewhere around the real value, the item is sold. For people with no experience haggling, the prospect is scary and unpleasant. For those who are used to it, it can be an envigorating game and part of the social glue that holds some societies together.

Let's say the commodity in question is a piece of real estate in Maclean's Magazine, say five or six pages of space to rebut Mark Steyn's allegedly Islamophobic articles and control over the cover art. The currency in this bizarre, I mean bazaar, is the value of freedom of the press in a free and democratic society.

Here's the offer "to buy" made by the Muslim law students in freedom currency:
They offered Maclean's a choice, that according to the magazine's editors went like this:

" They demanded the right to respond with an article of equivalent length, by a writer of their choosing and with a cover of their own design. The editors of this magazine would have no opportunity to edit the article except for spelling and punctuation. According to their terms, they would be free to write anything they wanted, however inaccurate or unreasonable or offensive or libelous or criminal or otherwise unsuited for our publication.

They also wanted a substantial sum of money donated to a charity of their choice. If we refused any of their terms, they said they planned to bring a human rights complaint against us. They said they were also contemplating a criminal action against us.

We told them that we couldn't possibly meet their demands. No publication could. It would violate an editor's responsibilities to his publication, his readers, and his profession. We told them we would rather go out of business than to give over complete control of space in the magazine to anyone on such terms. We stand by that decision. Faced with their ultimatum, we asked if there was anything else we could do to satisfy them. They said "no" and smiled.

Since that meeting, the students have been communicating an inaccurate version of what transpired. For example, it's not true, as they claim, that we said we would rather go out of business than allow them right of response; we said we'd rather go out of business than allow them to respond entirely on their terms. They claim now that they would have settled for a reasonable right of response; we asked if they were firm in their position, and they said "yes." We were prepared to give them an opportunity to have their say, but they gave us no opening for reasonable conciliation. Several weeks later, we learned they had complained to federal human rights authorities, and to similar commissions in British Columbia and Ontario.

One of the Muslim law students disputes this version of events. In effect, she calls the editors liars, a word to describe those who engage in "complete fabrications".

"The assertion that the editors were prepared to consider a reasonable
counter-view article to Mark Steyn's Islamophobic polemic is a complete
fabrication," said Muneeza Sheikh, one of the students present at the meeting.
"They categorically refused to publish any response whatsoever, stating that
they preferred bankruptcy."
The Canadian Islamic Congress's lawyer puts it this way:

"Not once did Maclean's reciprocate our desire to discuss a response that would resolve
the matter," said legal counsel Faisal Joseph.

Okay....let's recap. According to the editors the law students demanded:

1) a writer of their choosing

2) a cover of their own design.

If we refused any of their terms, they said they planned
to bring a human rights complaint against us. They said they were also
contemplating a criminal action against us.
4) money to a charity of their choice

The law students claim all they wanted was a reasonable right of response.
Well, one fact is true beyond any semblance of reasonable doubt and that is
the worst, most egregious aspect, the threat in #3. And, given complaints in three
jurisdiction, the threats of human rights complaints were followed up.

Now the law students have moved away from points 1-4 to a-d:

a)a mutually acceptable response to the
Steyn article from an agreed upon author

b) nothing about the cover mentioned

c) nothing about donations to charity of their choice

d) they will withdraw our complaints if they get agreed upon author rebuttal

While these events have a haggling element to them, why do I feel like I am witnessing
a slow-mo mugging?

The weapon in question is the human rights complaints.

The muggers offer to lower the weapon if they get what they want, though perhaps
with a little water in their whine.

Of course, who can blame the law students (or the Canadian Islamic Congress for
that matter) for behaving this way. They are only
following the example of other groups who have successfully used the system to
trample the rights of others in the name of human rights.
Why shouldn't they use this illiberal system, too?

I hope they come to realize that this system is dangerous to everyone, including
Muslims and their religious freedom and freedom of speech, which I defend.

The settlement offer is up

Here's the Canadian Islamic Congress' settlement offer from CNW:

Students and Islamic Congress Make Settlement Offer to Maclean's - Publish a Reasonable Response from a Mutually Acceptable Author

    TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ -  Today the law students who launched human
rights complaints against Maclean's made a public offer to settle the matter
without a hearing before the quasi-judicial British Columbia Human Rights
Tribunal. The students and legal Counsel to the Canadian Islamic Congress
(CIC), are testing the sincerity of Maclean's editorial statement that the
magazine's editors were prepared to consider a reasonable response to
Islamophobic content, including the October 2006 cover story, The Future
Belong to Islam, by Mark Steyn.
Published after the Ontario Human Rights Commission's condemnation of
Maclean's, the editorial refers to a March 2007 meeting between the students
and Maclean's senior editors, Kenneth Whyte and Mark Stevenson, in the
presence of Maclean's legal counsel, Julian Porter. In the editorial, the
editors claimed that Maclean's had been prepared to "give them (the students)
an opportunity to have their say, but they gave us no opening for reasonable
"The assertion that the editors were prepared to consider a reasonable
counter-view article to Mark Steyn's Islamophobic polemic is a complete
fabrication," said Muneeza Sheikh, one of the students present at the meeting.
"They categorically refused to publish any response whatsoever, stating that
they preferred bankruptcy."
"Despite this response, we continued to try and resolve the matter. We
wrote directly to Ted Rogers and asked for a meeting," said Khurrum Awan, a
member of the student group. "Our legal counsel indicated at our press
conference last year that we were prepared to meet with Mr. Rogers or his
representatives to discuss a resolution. And in our op-eds, we made clear that
what we are seeking is a reasonable opportunity to respond." "Not once
did Maclean's reciprocate our desire to discuss a response that would resolve
the matter," said legal counsel Faisal Joseph. "However, in light of the
editors' latest assertion we are making a fair and reasonable proposal today.
In exchange for Maclean's publishing a mutually acceptable response to the
Steyn article from an agreed upon author, we would be prepared to settle this
"We hope that Maclean's will reciprocate our efforts to resolve this
matter without a hearing before an independent quasi-judicial body in British
Columbia," continued Joseph.

For further information: Legal Counsel for the CIC, Faisal Joseph, (519)

This story has the ring of truth to it

From the New York Post's Frederick Dicker:

ALBANY - The Rev. Jeremiah Wright would be happy to see Barack Obama's presidential campaign derailed because the pastor is fuming that his former congregant has "betrayed" their 20-year relationship,

The Post has learned. "After 20 years of loving Barack like he was a member of his own family, for Jeremiah to see Barack saying over and over that he didn't know about Jeremiah's views during those years, that he wasn't familiar with what Jeremiah had said, that he may have missed church on this day or that and didn't hear what Jeremiah said, this is seen by Jeremiah as nonsense and betrayal," said the source, who has deep roots in Wright's Chicago community and is familiar with his thinking on the matter.


"Jeremiah is trying to defend his congregation and the work of his ministry by saying what he is saying now," the source added.

"Jeremiah doesn't care if he derails Obama's candidacy or not . . . He knows what he's doing. Obviously, he's not a dumb man. He knows he's not helping."

Gosh there are the makings of a great novel in all this.

A potentially perilous moment . . . .

What if Maclean's Magazine caves today and decides to accept an offer to "settle" made on behalf of three of the Muslim law students who are not actually parties to the complaints?

One can see that there might be all kinds of pressure on the bottom line, the kind of pressure that prompted most news outlets in North America to avoid printing the Danish cartoons.

The temptation is appeasement. The temptation is respect for the bottom line. The temptation is peace at any price. The temptation is pragmatism that tells the accountants and the publisher that given Commissar Barbara Hall's "verdict" the magazine will lose at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and lose at the federal HRC.

Mark Steyn is right.

This is a potentially perilous moment. In the first four months of this story, the Canadian Islamic Congress have won no sympathizers and the broader "human rights" establishment have lost almost all the ones they previously had. So this press conference is a critical attempt to reposition themselves, not as Islamist bully boys trying to shut down all debate on the perfectly legitimate topic of Islam and the west, but as "victims" of a powerful Islamophobic media. Presumably they will offer to shut down the case in return for a more modest right of reply without some of the more absurd demands they made last time round. It will sound "moderate" and "compromising" and "reasonable", all the things mainstream Canadian opinion likes. But, if Maclean's were to accede, it would be setting a very dangerous precedent: it would reward the CIC thugs for their bullying. As David Warren said way back when, the process is the punishment. Maclean's doesn't fear a modest fine, which is all the commissars can do. What we fear is a world in which the editorial choices of private publications are destabilized by bullying lobby groups who represent nobody using the "human rights" process to hijack our pages.
You know what my fear is? Maclean's might cave today. And if that happens we won't see Mark Steyn gracing its pages anymore. Not because Maclean's will ask him to leave, but because I have a feeling he would not stick around on principle. And I will have bought a three-year subscription for nothing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Catholic Register on Barbara Hall's Mark Steyn "verdict"

Great editorial over at The Catholic Register about Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall's drive-by verdict of "Islamophobia" regarding Mark Steyn's book excerpt from his international bestselling book America Alone that ran in Maclean's Magazine and became the subject of human rights complaints. Read the whole thing.

This is a shocking statement for a supposedly disinterested public adjudicator to make on a contested issue. Even though there has been no hearing, no opportunity for in-depth examination and argument that would expose the offending article to the kind of scrutiny it would need to truly determine whether it is guilty as charged, Hall decides to tell the world that Maclean’s and Steyn are at fault.

She then argues that her commission has a duty, though there is nothing in legislation to support this, to leap into the fray of public debate on such issues and pursue them.

This is a scary thought for those who cherish free speech. As anyone who has run afoul of these thought police knows, the deck is stacked heavily against the defendant. Just ask Fr. Alphonse de Valk, editor of Catholic Insight. This tiny magazine has already spent $6,000 and countless hours of work to defend itself against accusations before the Canadian Human Rights Commission that it has printed material likely to stir up hatred against homosexuals. That may not be much to big publications, but for a small monthly magazine, it is an incredible hardship. And Fr. De Valk has not even been told whether this complaint will actually make it to the hearing stage. Meanwhile, complainants can rest comfortably in the knowledge that the tribunals pick up the legal tab on their behalf.

This just in . . . The CIC wants to settle

The Canadian Islamic Congress wants to settle with Maclean's Magazine and Mark Steyn, according to this news release.

Well, it's gone too far. Unless the CIC and the Muslim law students are willing to ante up the magazine's and Steyn's legal bills for subjecting them to an abusive process; unless they are willing to admit they were wrong to file complaints; and unless they acknowledge the importance of freedom of speech and religion, then on principle there should be no settlement.

Nothing but unqualified, unmitigated apologies will do. Frankly, I think Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy was on the right track when he acknowledged he was wrong to file complaints against Ezra Levant and recognized the importance of freedom of speech and religion in Canada.
I say it took courage for him to do that. Let's see the CIC and the law students do the same thing.

Jonathan Kay weighs in at the National Post's Full Comment page:

Given that Maclean's editor Ken Whyte responded to that previous overture by stating that he would rather go bankrupt than publish an anti-Steyn manifesto, I would estimate the chances that the magazine accept this offer at about 0%. The issue has become a point of principle with Steyn and Whyte. As well, it has served to unite the formerly dispersed and somewhat obscure right-wing Canadian blogosphere around a single powerful cause, giving the centrist Maclean's ideological credibility among a tranche of Canadian thinkers who would otherwise ignore it. On a purely commercial basis, it would be foolish to throw that away by giving in to the CIC.

Come to think of it, it's fair to say that the Maclean's imbroglio has been one of the biggest shots in the arm to Canadian conservatives in general.

Yeah, and frankly we don't want this spectacle to end until the whole illiberal "human rights" apparatus, and its secular fundamentalist multiculturalist and anti-Western civilization edifice crashes and burns (metaphorically speaking).

It's time to return to the principles upon which Canada was built. And insist that newcomers respect those principles.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lorne Gunther on the Christian Horizon's decision

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is going to force Christian Horizons to run all its employees through a pro-homosexual indoctrination as part of its decision released Friday that also forces the organization to get rid of its morality code in hiring.

I expect the organization will lose employees who would resist this kind of pressure on conscience grounds. One employee told me she would quit before having that kind of indoctrination forced on her. As Iain Benson of the Centre for Cultural Renewal has argued, using public funds to force one sexual dogma on the population is as egregious as using public funds to force people to believe a religious dogma, such as the length of time it took God to create the world.

Lorne Gunther writes in the National Post:

It's insulting to suggest CH does not respect rights when it is operating within its private sphere, but point taken: When CH became an agent of state policy it lost its ability to resist state morality.

It's clear, though, from the commission-ordered sensitivity training that goes along with the employment ruling that the OHRC is interested in far more than merely assuring an Ontario government contractee is in compliance with provincial government employment standards. It also wants to stamp out political views at variance with those favoured by the Commission.

And that's dangerous, very dangerous.

The Ontario government may make Christian Horizons operate its group homes as it wishes, after all, the government is paying the freight. What it may not do, ever, is demand that CH and its employees think as the government wishes.

Yet I have no doubt the OHRC's ruling would have been exactly the same if CH had been running its residential homes completely privately having raised its entire annual budget without any help from taxpayers. After all, in 1999 the OHRC forced Toronto Christian printer Scott Brockie to do print jobs for gay and lesbian customers even though his print business was private and not under any contract with Queen's Park to provide print services.

I beg to differ with Lorne though on whether there even is such a thing as "government morality." The government is supposed to represent all of us, and that includes people who have varying religious and sexual dogmas. Yes, we hope that on criminal matters there will be some consensus on right and wrong that will have some resemblance to natural law and transcendent conceptions of justice. That we still have the language to conceive of such a thing as an unjust law, shows those concepts are still alive, though maybe on life support.

When the same-sex marriage law was enacted, it had a clause that protected people from any sanctions for holding traditional views on marriage. I think a case can be made for showing that this Ontario Human Rights decision violates the spirit of the civil marriage act.

A Christian organization should have the ability--even when government funds (or tax-exemptions) are involved---to order its hiring practices in accord with its faith as long as the services it supplies are open to people of all faiths.

Should we insist the Salvation Army stop hiring Christians?

According to Statistics Canada, most Canadians, something like over 75 per cent, self-identify as Christians. We pay taxes, we have a right to have some of that tax money flow back to serve our community. And we have lots of generosity towards those who are non-Christian, thank you very much. But not at the expense of our own identity.

The government has no "morality" that it has the right to impose, except what can be worked out through a legislative consensus in the Criminal Code. Otherwise, it is appropriate that the state not be in every nook and cranny of our private lives, policing every thought and every action.

The morality of Barbara Hall is not the standard by which all morality must now be judged. The morality of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, increasingly inspired by neo-Marxist ideas, is a radical departure from the foundation upon which our whole notion of real human rights and civil liberties is based.

I believe many things are immoral. But I don't believe everything that is immoral needs to have legislation and police power to back it. But the Ontario Human Rights Commission is increasingly veering towards conceptions that nothing is immoral except intolerance; nothing is true except relativism and only the traditional Western conceptions of morality need to be suppressed because they point to absolute, transcendent truths that show the foolishness of their multicultural utopianism.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What does Barack Obama have in common with the Ontario Human Rights Commission?

What does Democratic Nominee Barack Obama have in common with the Ontario Human Rights Commission?

Marxism. The ideas that Mark Steyn so rightly points out in this must-read essay in this week's Maclean's Magazine were responsible for the death of millions.

Mark writes:

Hmm. "History has shown us that hateful words sometimes lead to hurtful actions that undermine freedom and have led to unspeakable crimes." Commissar Lynch provides, as she would say, "no substantiation for these claims." But then she's a "hate speech" prosecutor and, as we know, Canada's "human rights" procedures aren't subject to tiresome requirements like evidence. So she's made an argument from authority: the great Queen's Counsel has risen from her throne in the Star Chamber and pronounced, and let that suffice. Those of us who occupy less exalted positions in the realm might wish to ponder the evidence for her assertions.

It's true that "hurtful actions that undermine freedom" and lead to "unspeakable crimes" usually have some fig leaf of intellectual justification. For example, the ideology first articulated by Karl Marx has led to the deaths of millions of people around the planet on an unprecedented scale. Yet oddly enough, no matter how many folks are murdered in the name of Marxism-Leninism, you're still free to propound its principles at every college in Canada.

And, free to have the neo-Marxist inheritors of these utopian death cults provide the new underpinning for "human rights" discourse in Canada.
Blazingcatfur uncovered this document hiding in plain sight on the Ontario Human Rights Commission website, one citing neo-Marxist sources without even a "got a problem with that?"

Well....the Ontario Human Rights Commission isn't alone in basing its theories of human rights on the ideas that brought us the of the Cultural Revolution in China, the engineered famine that murdered hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and the gulag.

Some of the people who helped launch Barack Obama's political career hold similar views.

Dr. Sanity has a great link to a piece by Sol Stern in City Journal that is a must read about the Marxist views still animating former Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers, an Obama supporter who seems like a white version of the disgusting Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Stern writes:

A Chicago native son, Ayers first went into combat with his Weatherman comrades during the “Days of Rage” in 1969, smashing storefront windows along the city’s Magnificent Mile and assaulting police officers and city officials. Chicago’s mayor at the time was the Democratic boss of bosses, Richard J. Daley. The city’s current mayor, Richard M. Daley, has employed Ayers as a teacher trainer for the public schools and consulted him on the city’s education-reform plans. Obama’s supporters can reasonably ask: If Daley fils can forgive Ayers for his past violence, why should Obama’s less consequential contacts with Ayers be a political disqualification? It’s hard to disagree. Chicago’s liberals have chosen to define deviancy down in Ayers’s case, and Obama can’t be blamed for that.

What he can be blamed for is not acknowledging that his neighbor has a political agenda that, if successful, would make it impossible to lift academic achievement for disadvantaged children. As I have shown elsewhere in City Journal, Ayers’s politics have hardly changed since his Weatherman days. He still boasts about working full-time to bring down American capitalism and imperialism. This time, however, he does it from his tenured perch as Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Instead of planting bombs in public buildings, Ayers now works to indoctrinate America’s future teachers in the revolutionary cause, urging them to pass on the lessons to their public school students.

Dr. Sanity adds her diagnosis:

Progressing from education to indoctrination, postmodernism has ushered in an age of educational nihilism that seeks to destroy the minds of the next generation of Americans. The good news is that the biggest impediment to their grandiose plans is that they earlier suceeded in destroying their own minds on the bullshit they now force-feed the children of today.

What is outrageous is that anyone--anyone who is capable of thinking anyway--could take postmodern, brain-damaged and unapologetically violent collectivists like Ayers seriously, let alone grant him the authority to teach children of any age.

That a major Presidential candidate does is extremely alarming.

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal drives a stake in religious freedom

This decision by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal is a direct attack on religious
freedom in Canada.

It reminds me of the Vriend case in Alberta. Delwin Vriend got fired for breaking
a behavior code at a Christian college. When he was hired, he agreed not to have
sexual relations outside of a traditional marriage. Then he got involved in a homosexual relationship and
flaunted it. The prevailing narrative says he got fired for being gay. No, he
got fired for violating a morality code that he signed.

Vriend complained to the Alberta Human Rights Commission and they would not hear his case
because sexual orientation was not a protected ground in the Alberta Human Rights

He appealed and a higher court read in sexual orientation into the Act. HOWEVER, THE
But the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal is now insisting that a Christian organization
does not have the right to make sure that chaste, practicing Christians are involved in
an important, often thankless ministry to the most vulnerable people in our midst.

I don't think this decision will survive a higher court challenge. For the sake of
old and disabled people everywhere, hope that it does not. This is a terrible
decision that could destroy the Christian character of an excellent organization that
provides loving service to disabled people. That loving service depends on its
Christian character. And its Christian character depends on people living lives
that are consistent with a Bible-based faith and their being able to mutually
support each other in a ministry that most people would not want to do unless they
were paid a lot more money.

If this kind of thing happens, then Christians will pull out of cooperating
with government in performing crucially needed social
services. Is the Salvation Army going to be next? L'Arche?

Yeah, yeah, the tribunal argues that government funds are involved. But Christians
pay taxes too, and Christian Horizons does not discriminate among the people it
serves. They are of all faiths--religious and non-religious, gay and straight. And
all their clients are loved.

This decision could have the effect of killing the goose that lays golden eggs.
Right now, Ontario taxpayers are getting a sweet deal through Christian Horizons.
I know people who work for this wonderful outfit, people who brush the teeth of
disabled individuals who can't do it for themselves and other tasks that most
people would not want to do. Do we want to have these jobs go to just anyone trying
to earn a few dollars an hour?

Without agencies like Christian Horizons and the Salvation Army harnessing the
Christian love of a staff motivated to serve Christ, expect to see the costs of
such care skyrocket and the quality of that care to go down. If I were running
Christian Horizons, I would be tempted to say, okay, we're shutting down. If
we can't be Christian then here, Ontario, you run this. That's what the Catholic
bishops did in England. When told they had to open their adoption services to
non-traditional couples, they said, okay, we're out of the adoption business.

This decision has convinced me the whole "human rights"system as got to go, lock stock and barrel.
It has become totally anti-human rights as set down in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. It has become a menace.

Here is evidence:

TORONTO, April 25 /CNW/ - The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario released
its decision in the case of Connie Heintz v. Christian Horizons. The decision
has a significant impact for faith-based and other organizations that provide
services to the general public. Such organizations must ensure their hiring
policies and practices do not unreasonably restrict or exclude the employment
of persons based on grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Ms. Heintz, an individual of deep Christian faith, and a model employee
for five years with Christian Horizons, was providing care and support to
individuals with developmental disabilities. Like other employees, when first
hired, Ms. Heintz was required to sign a Lifestyle and Morality Statement,
which prohibits, among other things, homosexual relationships. After several
years, Ms. Heintz came to terms with her sexual orientation as a lesbian. When
Christian Horizons discovered this, they advised her that she was not
complying with the Statement and required her to leave the organization.
Christian Horizons describes itself as an Evangelical Christian Ministry
that provides care and residential services to 1,400 developmentally disabled
individuals of all races, creeds and sexual orientations. With over 180
residential homes across Ontario, and 2,500 employees, Christian Horizons is
the largest provider of community living services in the province, funded
almost exclusively by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.
The Tribunal ruled that Christian Horizons could not require its
employees to sign the Statement. It found that Christian Horizons is primarily
engaged in serving the disability-related needs of its clients, and the
prohibition on homosexual relationships was not a legitimate job requirement
for providing quality care and support to disabled residents.

Those who would persecute Galileo today . . .

While people still like to think of the Church as the big bad censors who try to prevent free intellectual inquiry, the new inquisitors are the same secularist, multicultural relativist ideologues who sit on human rights commissions. They are the materialist secular fundamentalists who dominate academia and scientific research in the West. They are the new priests and priestesses of a new religion that will not countenance disagreement.

Listen Up TV, a great program hosted by Lorna Dueck, has done a piece on the new movie Expelled that looks at the persecution of scientists who buck the prevailing orthodoxies. These are the people who would persecute the Galileos of today, not Pope Benedict XVI.

Go see Expelled. And support Listen Up and other alternative media like Salt and Light TV, the Catholic Register, Catholic Insight and

Scott Hahn explains doctrines on Mary

Theologian and author Scott Hahn said the three biggest obstacles to his becoming a Catholic were: "Mary, Mary, Mary."

Like many evangelicals, the former Presbyterian minister had problems finding a biblical basis for Catholic teaching on the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption and Mary's heavenly queenship.

He and many other evangelicals believed the more Catholics give to Mary, the more they take away from Jesus, and "rob Jesus of the glory due him alone."

Yet since his 1986 conversion to the Catholic faith, Hahn now sees that Mary is Christ's masterpiece.

She is not a "self-made woman," he told a packed St. Patrick's Basilica in Ottawa April 12. Christ made her and redeemed her. And just as an artist would rather have you look at his masterpiece than at him, "Mary is his masterpiece."

In her, we can see the "perfection of Christ's redemptive work."

"She reflects all of his glory."

The picture shows Archbishop Terrence Prendergast and theologian and author Scott Hahn.

We don't have to die to go to heaven--Scott Hahn

We don't have to die to go to heaven," author and speaker Scott Hahn told more than 800 people packed into Ottawa's St. Patrick's Basilica April 12.

"All we have to do is go to Mass."

The former Presbyterian minister, who now teaches theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, shared how he slowly came to understand how the Catholics are standing in heaven during the Eucharist and sharing in the marriage supper of the Lamb as described in the Book of Revelation.

The author of The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth first encountered Revelation as a teenager while attending a weekend retreat.

He learned he was lucky to be alive in the "end times," about the coming rapture of Christians and the Antichrist. Those "left behind" would face plagues of demonic frogs and bloody rivers.

Read the whole thing. The picture shows Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast and Scott Hahn.

Could reporting on this get the National Post in trouble?

In the spirit of "cutting out the middleman," I wonder if National Post investigative journalist Stewart Bell might face human rights complaints for the interview and news story dominating page A3 this morning.

Bell writes:

TORONTO -- Naeem Muhammad Khan wants everyone to "Support Our Troops," but he's not talking about the Canadian Forces in Kandahar.

From his apartment in Toronto, Mr. Khan has been posting messages on the Internet calling Osama bin Laden a "hero" and "champion of Islam."

The 23-year-old fundamentalist's on-line logo combines the black Taliban flag and the outline of an AK-47 above the Support Our Troops slogan.


Mr. Khan is an Islamist, not a terrorist, but what most disturbs moderate Muslims like Tahir Gora are his harsh comments about those who do not subscribe to fundamentalist beliefs.

In his online postings, Mr. Khan calls Tarek Fatah, Irshad Manji and other moderates "apostates" and says that under Islamic law the punishment for apostasy is death. The same goes for those who insult Islam.

"Behead her!!! And make a nice video and post it on YouTube," he writes about one so-called "Islam basher." As for "Jews who support Zionism and Israel...since they are killing Palestinians...killing them is not bad...they deserve to die."

From the interview:
Q You reject democracy, you support the Taliban and you believe that fundamentalist Islam is the only way to live. So why do you choose to live in Canada, a democratic nation with freedom of religion that is at war with the Taliban? Isn't it hypocritical to say you believe what you do, while you sit in Toronto enjoying all the benefits of Western society?

A Yes, I reject democracy and all other forms of governance except Islam. Yes, I support the right of Taliban to live freely and to defend themselves from any invasion based on lies and deceit. And yes, it would have had been hypocritical of me to stay in the West had there been an Islamic state … but since there is no state in the entire world which has a complete Islamic system … Therefore, it is better to be in the West, where at least one can openly preach what he believes in, unlike the so-called Islamic countries, where you can be jailed, tortured and even killed for speaking the truth against the government. Besides, I was forced into coming to the West as my parents shifted here and I was not self-sufficient enough to provide for myself back home. And believe it or not, me and many Muslims like me are willing to migrate ASAP to an Islamic state as soon as it emerges.

I wonder. Will those--like the bright, articulate and moderate-sounding Imam Delic-- who insist Islam is a "Religion of Peace" complain about Bell's reporting the way they have about Steyn's quoting of radical imams as Islamophobic? Or will they denounce this Islamist loudly and publicly? I hope so. PLEASE!!!!! Or ---chilling thought--are they scared of him and those like him?

Too bad Canadians aren't an "identifiable group" that can be exposed to hatred and contempt.

I dunno, once upon a time there used to be a crime of treason. What happened to it?

Funny the people crying censorship have not mentioned this

Kathy Shaidle reminds filmmakers like Ang Lee what real censorship looks like. She's right. It's disturbing to me that there is such an uproar on the Left about Bill C-10 that would allow the government to pull tax credits on films it deemed offensive, but little or nothing on the overreaching of "human rights" commissions and dead silence on the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh.

I wonder if that will change when Salman Rushdie comes to Ottawa to speak at the Tulip Festival later next month. I wonder if he will not only talk about Van Gogh's death, but also the encroachment on freedom of speech represented by hrcs. I hope so. After all, he's been living under a death fatwa for two decades.

Kathy writes of Van Gogh:

Of course, if he'd been killed by a Christian you'd have made a dozen HBO specials about it by now, and Green Day would have a whole album about it, and the t-shirts would be flying off the virtual shelves.

And Ang Lee doesn't believe that artists "should be able to say whatever they want." He thinks they should be able to utter boring old received liberal wisdom and get subsidized by conservatives for doing so.

She's right. Most conservative and especially Christian artists have not bothered to seek government subsidies for their films or writing or other forms of art. They know ahead of time their perspective is not likely to get the approval of the progressive mandarins in charge of the arts industry.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Missing the point on the pope's address

I am working on a follow up to the Pope's important address to the United Nations last Friday, examining what he said about human rights in light of the raging debate in Canada surrounding "human rights" commissions. I spoke yesterday to McGill University professor Douglas Farrow, the prophetic author of Nation of Bastards, and co-editor with Daniel Cere of Divorcing Marriage, the best non-religious source of apologetics defending traditional marriage on this.

Farrow sees our present state of affairs as transitional. We will either come to our senses and restore our understanding of human rights as grounded in a basically Christian worldview, or soon we will abandon even the semblance of human rights discourse because it can only take place in a belief system like the one the pope underlined in his address.

Farrow warned that the underlying assumptions motivating human rights commissions are far more than a mere gentle evolution of thought, they are a radical substitution that will have radical consequences. The only thing protecting us is the fact that Canada and other Western countries still has an underlying social and spiritual capital that comes from theistic conceptions and natural law.

It is interesting to see some of the mainstream media reports and how they picked up totally different things from the speech than I did. This Canwest article, for example, ignores what I consider the key elements of the speech and instead paints it as a support for the United Nations. Well, yes and no. His speech was a support for the ideal of the United Nations not a ringing endorsement for the present state of affairs. Hardly. The pope's speech was an exhortation to reaffirm the underlying consensus in support of natural law and a transcendent notion of human dignity found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was an appeal to a notion of natural law, grounded in objective reality and objective morality. In other words, there is good and there is evil and we can know it because God has hard-wired us to know it.

The Canwest article is entitled: The pope warns against undermining the UN. That makes his speech sound anti-American, no? But he was really warning against undermining the founding principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and calling the UN to live up to its mission so all countries would affirm them as well.

The Globe and Mail's article on the pope's speech is even worse. (Why am I not surprised). It depicts the speech as basically a criticism of the United State's unilateralism in Iraq.

What the scribes at Canwest and the Globe and Mail fail to grasp is that U.S. President George W. Bush grasps what the pope is saying about objective morality and right and wrong.

Here in Canada, do we?

Because we will not become informed by reading our mainstream newspapers, it is incumbent on us to inform ourselves. Please read the pope's speech to the United Nations yourself. Read it several times because it is complex and profound.

Educate yourself about the underlying principles concerning human rights so that you are equipped to fight for freedom of speech with more than John Stuart Mill's utilitarian arguments. Even if you do not believe in the Christian God, educate yourself on what belief in this God has bequeathed the West in terms of our notions of objective good and evil, of human dignity and of justice that transcends man-made laws. And then think about the ghastly consequences of views that see human beings as ascended by chance from the primordial slime, evolved material beings whose philosophy and religion is merely an illusory side-effect of chemical and electrical impulses in our limited brains.

As Farrow told me yesterday "materialist philosophy is an oxymoron." Think about it.

The pope's meeting with sexual abuse victims

Whispers in the Loggia provides a link to the most touching story I've read yet on Pope Benedict's meeting with victims of priestly sexual abuse. Rocco Palmo--the Whispers blogger--entitles his entry "The Healing in the Chapel" and provides a little information about the author, Patricia Rice.
I saw an interview on CNN with some of the people the pope met with, and found myself amazed at the spiritual hope and sense of healing the victims expressed after the meeting. Amazed, that is, that CNN would have such a positive report, not that Benedict XVI would have that effect on people. The next day, on National Public Radio, all the hope and healing aspect of the meeting was "on the cutting room floor" except for about 10 seconds at the end. Anyway, back to the best story on the subject.

Patricia Rice writes:

The pope spoke for about 20 minutes, asking forgiveness and speaking of his personal shame over the depraved priests who crushed the innocence of children, Horne and McDaid said.

The most dramatic moment of the gathering came when the only woman victim's turn came for her private time with Benedict, Horne said. With all the others' heads turned to give her privacy, she stood facing the standing pope. She wept as words escaped her.

"Her sounds were filled with sorrow, like an aria," said Horne. "So sorrowful, yet the sweetest sound, as if it were being exhaled. There was complete reverence around the room. No one interrupted. No one said anything like 'it's going to be all right.' Her sobs floated around the room, settled around all of us in the room. Then it was expelled. You saw the pain in Benedict's face."

Tears came to many eyes in the room, Horne said.

Do yourself a favor and read it all.

The evidence builds against Obama

Gateway Pundit has assembled yesterday's roundup of Barack Obama's links to terrorist/Marxist friends. And this roundup, he says, does not even include Rev. Wright.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Denyse O'Leary says Bella is loved by all the right people

Denyse writes:

Bella is a beautiful film, and I can think of no higher praise than to say it is loved by the right people - and hated by the right people as well. Only at the very end do we discover the meaning of the title, and I will not spoil that for you.

Read the whole thing, for as is usual with Denyse, her review it is very interesting. She also talks about how the movie relates to one of her beats as a science journalists: the intelligent design controversy:

If I told you exactly how I think Bella relates to intelligent design, I would spoil critical scenes and, - worse - tempt you to read it as some kind of an allegory. So let me hint: Nina starts out assuming that life is determined in advance, and it is very limited. No one cares, and no one will ever care what she does. Therefore, she must have an abortion.

She doesn’t exactly “want” an abortion. It would be more accurate to say that she cannot imagine a future in which she did not have one. An abortion will accomplish the only goal she can imagine: set her back on the treadmill to nowhere instead of tipping her into the abyss of nothingness. And that is her future - her full stop is delayed a while.

We are not encouraged to judge Nina for her past or proposed choices, but rather to see them in the context of her limited expectations.

But Jose, the chef at Nina’s former workplace, has plunged into the abyss himself. He has emerged, knowing that life is not as Nina thinks. On the contrary, there is a design to life, and that design is much larger and more promising than we usually imagine. If we cooperate with it, we become our best selves. If we don’t, we wander, aimless and self-destructive, forever bound by limits of our own making. Jose impulsively walks away from his frantic kitchen and sets out to demonstrate that to Nina.

He senses that he is one of the few men who can truly relate to the dilemma Nina and many other pregnant single women face. His own life, like theirs, was forever altered by the outcome of a few moments of unwise choices.

As an aside, I interviewed Lisa Samson this morning about Bella: the novel that will be released along with the Bella DVD next month. I'll provide a link when my story is done.

The gay guy vs. the imam

Mark Steyn writes about the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama:

This contest is the logical reductio of the identity-group fetishization that they've been peddling for years. They're just feeling suckered because they plumped for the establishment diversity candidate and then found themselves out-diversified. But, if they think this is a low, mean, petty, unbecoming contest, wait an election cycle too when the Democratic primary offers the gay guy versus the imam.
I confess, I am rooting for Hillary in this race, even though I love the idea of having a black president as a sign that America has put her racial divisions behind her. I am rooting for Hillary to win the nomination, but I don't want her to be America's first woman president. (And if it came to the gay guy vs. the imam--well--it would depend on the imam. I would choose the gay guy if the imam wanted Sharia law)

I think it takes a rare woman---a Margaret Thatcher--to lead a powerful country. I don't think Hillary is that woman. But I think Hillary would be more of a "man" than Obama would be as president, and I mean "man" in a good way, in an archetypal way. I think America would be less at risk from ruthless thugs on the world stage if she were president than if he were. Maybe because she could be even more ruthless than the thugs. I kind of like Hillary. Not because of her ruthlessness, but because of her pluck, her persistence and that she learns from her mistakes and corrects.

I also think Hillary loves America. That's why it is important that she win the Democratic nomination. Obama has too many associations with those who hate America.

I'd love to have a black president, but not Obama.

Don't forget to stop by Mark's for the fundraiser today for the Canuck 6.

Let's not go overboard on individual rights

Kathy Shaidle at FiveFeetofFury pointed me in the direction of this article in the Washington Times that says:

Perhaps the greatest secular gift to the world by Judeo-Christian civilization is its seminal concept of the individual, which it raises above the tribe or the collective. In Genesis, we are told that man is made in the image of God. Deuteronomy tells us that "each human by his own sin is to be judged" and "do not punish children for the sins of their fathers." And, of course, the biblical life and teachings of Jesus reflect the deep importance of the individual. Thus was planted in the soil of the West our uniquely heightened respect for the individual.

It is impossible to imagine Western civilization — and particularly America — without the existence in our culture of the instinctive respect for the individual to offset the more general human instinct to be subordinated in the tribe or the group.

Okay. But let's not go overboard here on individual rights. Christianity is also against rampant individualism that sees rights as only belonging to the individual at the expense of the common good. Christianity is much, much more complex and, well, comprehensive than that.

Christianity pays attention to the individual and his or her unique human dignity, but it also brings us concepts like the Body of Christ, a mystical union of human beings into a sum greater than the whole, all working together with their respective spiritual gifts. There are many other images as well, such stones forming a temple of which Jesus is the chief cornerstone.

Individualism has corrosive aspects. It is better when we can hold a complex notion of the rights of the individual and collective aspirations, whether they be of the family, of churches or of nations. We can't really very well abstract an individual from his or her setting.

A focus on mere individual rights often ends up supporting license instead of freedom, so that people are free to create and watch pornography, for example, without any thought to the impact that has on the wider good. Thus people become slaves to their sexual appetites---unfree, really--but the community is robbed of its ability to put brakes on where and when pornography is available. It used to be tolerated in red light districts where seedy men in raincoats used to have to leave polite society to go into peep shows. But, based on a wonky conception of individual rights, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that community standards can no longer prevent sex clubs from allowing orgies, and even advertising them.

I remember when my community wanted to prevent a "gentleman's club" from opening. No one wanted it here. But the city's lawyers were told that they could face a Charter challenge on the basis of freedom of speech or blah blah because the business was legal. The only thing the city could do was apply some zoning regulations. So the lap-dancing emporium opened about a ten minute walk from my house. Luckily the pox (;-) I put on the business worked and it is now a Chinese buffet house.

Individual rights have been used to explode the family as a social institution that has special privileges in society because it is the best vehicle for the rearing and raising of children by those who are biologically related to them. Individual rights and myopic and relativist interpretations of religious freedom will soon be bringing us polygamy, on the basis that consenting individual adults can do whatever they please.

But....we Christians know that, individuals are not free unless they find freedom in Christ. We are slaves of sin, slaves of our lower appetites, slaves of our own selfishness. Alas, in today's world, we glorify our slavery to these often self-destructive passions because we can't bear the truth about our miserable captivity. And interestingly, a culture that embraces individualism can quickly become a culture that rejects any voice that calls the individual to a higher morality. In other words, it will reject any talk of sin, and try to suppress the churches and individuals that speak about it. Human rights commissions are already persecuting Christians who speak up about sexual morality.

The sinful individual is not the ideal individual of the Christian faith. The ideal person, is one who has found himself in Christ and reflects His glory. So we are individual but, in order to be most fully ourselves, we must be part of His Body.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It takes guts for Soharwardy to say these things

I know there are many out there in the blogosphere who doubt the sincerity of Calgary Imam Syed Sohardwardy since he dropped his human rights complaint against Ezra Levant.

I have reserved judgment, but there is a part of me that would really like to take the man at face value and believe that he has truly recognized the importance of freedom of speech and of religion and that is why he dropped the complaint against Ezra. And I would like to believe he really is trying to show some leadership to the Canadian Muslim community in his vocal stand against terrorism in the name of Islam.

Now he's on a multi-faith walk against violence. Check out his words in the Chronicle Herald.
Not only does he not sound like an extremist in this interview, he puts himself at risk from those who are, by talking about suicide bombings and mentioning domestic violence within the Muslim community.

And according to what the journalist excerpted in this Chronicle Herald story, Soharwardy did so without excusing this violence or blaming it on Bush or Israel.

Mr. Soharwardy said the idea for the walk came about a year ago.

He said there wasn’t just one violent incident that prompted it, but the apparent escalation of violence — from incidents between young people to international terrorism — that led to the project.

"What I see, what’s going on in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, suicide bombings, killings, domestic violence in homes," Mr. Soharwardy said in a Halifax waterfront parking lot. "Because being a leader in the Islamic community, I get calls from many women (telling) me that they have been abused by their husbands.

"I did not have something personally that I experienced. But I can see, I can feel, and it hurts me, and people around the world are getting affected by this violence.

"Now we are living in a completely different world. This is a global village, so violence takes place in any part of the world. It becomes news, and when you turn on news, it affects you."

I like these words. And I hope that I will discover that, as he walks across Canada, and maybe passes through Ottawa, that I'll find the walk matches the talk. It's good that he's talking this way, folks, whether he is a hypocrite or not. I don't know enough to judge.

In my ideal world, people are entitled to the benefit of a doubt, to be allowed room to change, to be able to admit their mistakes and move on and be welcomed into the fold of polite society. But, I also recognize that just because I am a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person, not everyone else is like that.

My hope is for reconciliation and the possibility that Soharwardy could become a dependable ally in the fight for a civil society that recognizes fundamental rights to freedom of speech, the press and religion a society that does not permit any members to intimidate others through violence or threats.

So, taken at face value, I wish his walk every success.

More pope coverage at Salt and Light TV

Salt and Light TV has a nicely- done report up on its website that has much better footage of the pope's encounter with disabled children than my wobbly stuff here. Go to the Zoom broadcast for Monday, April 21 and wait for it, it's a little ways in.

It's better because professional camera operator Wally Tello took it. Wally, David Naglieri, Kris Dmytrenko also of Salt and Light TV and Catholic Register Editor and Publisher Joe Sinasac represented the bulk of the Canadian Catholic contingent covering the event. The other Canadian we saw was Fr. Raymond De Souza, who writes a column for the National Post. The Salt and Light TV crew kept a blog that has some personal reflections and photos. And Joe Sinasac posted several excellent reports at the Catholic Register site, as well as kept a blog (find it via the button on the upper right).

I only did the New York leg, the others were there starting at the pope's landing at Andrews Airforce Base near Washington, D.C.

Celebrating St. George and slaying the dragon of sin

Tomorrow I plan to go to mass in honor of St. George, England's patron saint. I am, after all, an Anglican Catholic. But poor St. George is now deemed to be offensive in a multicultural world.

Gateway Pundit reports:

In 2006 Church of England officials contemplated giving Saint George the boot from his perch as Patron Saint of England because he was too offensive for modern day Muslims.

Now, British officials have cancelled an annual St. George's Day Parade in Bradford in fear that Muslims will riot.

Back in 2006, I wrote in response to Gateway's news of St George getting the boot:

This is such a sad story, more evidence of the fact that we don't really have a problem with Muslim extremism, we have a problem with the collapse and decay of Christian institutions and the whole foundation of Western Civilization. Without renewal of those foundations and a rediscovery of a robust, masculine, loving, virtuous Christian faith, our culture is toast. Onward Christian soldiers. But we must remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood and the first dragon that we must slay --with God's help--is the our own sinful nature.

I think this bears repeating, in light of what the Pope said at Yankee Stadium on Sunday about true freedom.

"Authority" … "obedience". To be frank, these are not easy words to speak nowadays. Words like these represent a "stumbling stone" for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ - "the way and the truth and the life" - we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. "In his will is our peace".

Real freedom, then, is God's gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to his truth, the truth which makes us free (cf. Jn 8:32). And this freedom in truth brings in its wake a new and liberating way of seeing reality. When we put on "the mind of Christ" (cf. Phil 2:5), new horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a leaven of the Gospel in the world.

For my Muslim readers--when I think about St. George and spiritual warfare, I mean it in a spiritual sense, as an internal struggle. The way those of you who insist Islam is a religion of peace interpret jihad as an internal spiritual struggle. So we have something in common, if we share that interpretation, especially if we recognize there is a need for everyone of us to find God's help in overcoming the sin in our lives.

Fundraiser for the Blogger-5 at Mark Steyn's

Mark Steyn is hosting a fundraiser for the Freedom-5 at his website:

On Wednesday, we'll be having a little fundraiser here at SteynOnline for the Freedom Five - Ezra Levant, Kathy Shaidle, Kate McMillan and Mark and Connie at Free Dominion, the five Canadian bloggers being sued by serial plaintiff and Stormfront member Richard Warman. So I hope you'll swing by between midnight Eastern and the following midnight Eastern and support a good cause.

In the meantime, how about picking up a "tanks" t-shirt over at

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lisa Samson to write novelization of Bella

Lisa Samson, an award-winning author based in Kentucky, and a former fellow blogger over at The Master's Artist, has been asked to write the novel for Bella.

Lisa writes:

I'm pleased to officially announce that I'm in the process of writing the novelization of the award-winning movie Bella. I was contacted by Thomas Nelson earlier this past autumn and plans were finalized in December. Working from the screenplay by Leo Severino and Alejandro Monteverde and painstakingly watching the film itself has been a unique process for me, but one I am enjoying. Bella is life-affirming, filled with faith, hope and love.

She says the book releases in May. Go to her site and see how you can pre-order.
And while you're there check out all the other books she's written.

I met Lisa in 2006 at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, Texas. I loved her. She is a gifted writer. If you have any qualms about "Christian fiction," don't worry, Lisa will blast any stereotypes you may have. She is inventive, insightful, creative and, well, this novelization of Bella is going to be wonderful. Trust me.

Another front on the battle for freedom of speech?

David Frum opened my eyes to another front on the battle for freedom of speech in a piece for the National Post on the recent RCMP raid of Conservative Party headquarters at the bidding of Elections Canada. He writes:

The more frightening possibility raised by this week’s RCMP “visit” to Conservative party headquarters is that the Canadian bureaucracy has once again revealed a deep, sustained and highly ideological hostility to ordinary rights of free speech.

Frum connects the dots between Elections Canada's actions and that of human rights commissions. The picture that emerges from these connected dots is scary indeed.

Elections Canada has a simple excuse for its conduct: It has a mandate to enforce the law limiting campaign expenditures. Parliament enacted the local/national cap scheme, and we’re just doing our job.

It’s the same excuse we hear from human rights commissions as they police speech: We have a mandate to combat harmful discrimination.

But administrative agencies have a lot of discretion and scope to interpret their mandates. They can choose to interpret those mandates to minimize their interference with core freedoms, or they can interpret their mandates in ways indifferent to core freedoms.

Canada’s human rights commissions did not have to extend the definition of “discrimination” to include speech: That was a choice, a bad choice. And Elections Canada has a similar choice to make about how it treats speech. It could give local candidates wide scope to express themselves in the way that those local candidates think most effective — or it can create a new role for itself as the hall monitor of Canadian elections, adjudicating what candidates can and cannot say in their campaigns.

That is the path that Elections Canada is treading now, and it is a very dangerous one. Soon it will be telling candidates how much local involvement is “enough” and how much is not enough.
Read the whole piece. Read it several times and let what he is saying sink in. Then imagine if someone as overtly ideological as Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall, who issued a drive-by verdict on Mark Steyn and Maclean's Magazine without bothering to hear both sides of the case, being able to sic the RCMP or any other police force on a political party or religion it disagreed with.

As Ezra Levant points out, human rights commissions have extraordinary powers. Maybe it is time for us to prune them back. Waaaaayyyy back. The Liberals are trying to paint this as a scandal, as lawbreaking on the part of the Tories. The Tories argue it's merely a difference in interpretation of the law and have sought the opinion of a higher court.

But the last thing we want in Canada or anywhere else is a politicized police force.

When I was in New York City last weekend, the police presence was huge. How much of this was due to the pope's visit, how much is an everyday thing I don't know. Let's just say, New York City felt very safe. I had no worries at all about walking around in midtown Manhattan after dark, and judging by all the other people on the street no one else did either. I generally like and trust police in North America. For the most part, I think they are well-trained and idealistically motivated to pursue old-fashioned notions of justice. They have not been corrupted by postmodern, relativist notions of human rights. They put their lives on the line for us.

But imagine if the police forces were in the control of despots who make up the rules as they go along, who have no respect for transcendent human rights and the rule of law. If power is the only rule of law. Imagine if, instead of being changed to uphold the law, they were politically motivated by illiberal masters. What if, instead of providing safety, they began to endanger our freedoms and our privacy. We have to stay vigilant on all fronts.

As for press freedom, the Secret Service controlled every aspect of our movement at the venues the pope visited. Before we left for any venues, bomb-sniffing dogs went over our cameras and laptops. You could not leave your spot without an escort, even to go to the bathroom. It was like airport security only far more time-consuming and cumbersome. After our persons and equipment were checked we were sequestered until we were loaded on buses.

I happened to really like our Secret Service minders. They were personable and I felt that they had everyone's best interest at heart, especially the safety of the pope. It was kind of funny, actually, to see an agent wearing a raincoat with Secret Service and the star logo emblazoned on it. How secret is that?

What are we also sacrificing for security? I happen to like security, so I have not been as vigilant on this front as people on the Left have been. Maybe I should become better informed.

Lefties, however, seem to have no problem with the encroachment of various busybody commissions strangling freedom of speech through over-regulation and punitive processes. Maybe they need to become better informed, too.

The pope's UN speech in light of human rights complaints

The Catholic Register's Joe Sinasac has an excellent piece on the Pope's speech to the United Nations.

He writes:

The Pope was speaking at a time when there are growing clashes between different “rights”. In Canada and many countries, religious rights have come under attack as traditional religious opposition to such things as homosexual sexual acts has landed Christians in court and before quasi-judicial human rights tribunals for merely expressing their most deeply held beliefs.

In Canada, for instance, Catholic Insight magazine is defending itself before the Canadian Human Rights Commission against accusations that it is fomenting hatred against homosexuality. And Maclean's magazine has been forced to defend itself for publishing excerpts from Mark Steyn's book America Alone, in which he argues that the growth of the Muslim population in Europe is to the detriment of Western culture.

The Pope went on to argue that a proper understanding of human rights leads to wiser decisions made by states for the common good. If human rights lose their mooring from the transcendent, he argued, they can be distorted by either a secular culture that has no understanding of objective truth, or states where a single religion dominates and suppresses all others.

Suffer the Children to come unto me.

Of all the events I attended during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to New York City, the most moving for me was his visit with 50 disabled children in the chapel at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, New York. While I have long known about the intellectual gravitas of this great man long before he became pope, on Saturday April 19, I saw Pope Benedict's great love in action.

He made me think of what it must have been like to see Jesus walking among the multitude, healing the sick, and showing his love for children. He reminded me of the story in Acts of how even the shadow of St. Peter passing over the infirm healed them. I remember Tracey Latimer and all disabled children like her and all vulnerable people who are sick or infirm and how little their right to life is respected by growing numbers of people in Canada.

How differently the pope sees them. With eyes of love. At St. Joseph's the pope asked them to pray for him! He treated them as special, as unique, as made in God's image. What a lesson for all of us. May we all love the most vulnerable in our midst, no matter how young or old, or how disabled or infirm.

The New York Times reported on the event here:

Preceded by security personnel and an official Vatican camera crew, the pope then began slowly walking down the aisle, stopping to touch the face or grasp the hands of each of the children, sometimes bending over to kiss the top of a head.

Some of the children seemed to make eye contact with him. Many did not, or only managed to raise their eyes a few seconds after the pope had touched them and moved on.

“Mario got very still when the pope came along,” said Holly Borzacchiello, of Cornwall, N.Y., holding the hand of her 8-year-old son, Mario, who is autistic. “He calmed right down, right Mario?” They were still parked in the aisle of the chapel, along with many of the children, sticking around to talk to each other long after the pope had left.

I am uploading some videos that I took from the balcony. One shows two children giving the pope a gift. Then one of them puts her arms around him and hugs him. See if that doesn't remind you of Jesus who said (Mathew 19):

13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

Another shows the deaf choir of the Archdiocese of New York singing. The voices you hear singing are those of a choir of young people who were up in the balcony.

I have a little bit of video of the pope blessing some of the children. I believe he touched each child at least once.

And finally, his Apostolic Blessing. Alas, because of my technically-challenged blogging abilities, the films may not appear in the order I have outlined. It looks like the Apostolic Blessing is the first one.

video video video video

We must return to objective standards of human rights

I am back from a most extraordinary time in New York City, covering Pope Benedict XVI's visit.

He said many, many important things about freedom and human rights that are especially a propos considering the devolution of human rights in Canada and their replacement with neo-Marxist, postmodern, relativist and materialist conceptions that are antithetical to human freedom, common sense and reason.

In Canada we have exchanged the universal conception that animated the framers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with something malleable and flexible that hands over power to people like Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall, who thinks it is her duty to pronounce guilty verdicts without a trial on a mainstream weekly news magazine and is seeking even more power to constrict freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

It is painful to catch up on the various blog posts that reveal more and more of the agenda, "hidden in plain sight" on web pages that no one has paid much attention to until the blogosphere started to examine them. Blazingcatfur's exposure to the light of material from the Ontario Human Rights Commission's website is truly horrifying. It even credits neo-Marxist theories on race as a source! As if everyone should think this is authoritative because it represents "the latest current thinking" of our elites.

What Pope Benedict stressed at the United Nations is based a totally different conception of human rights. We must pay attention to this and come to our senses. Fast.

Benedict said:

This reference to human dignity, which is the foundation and goal of the responsibility to protect, leads us to the theme we are specifically focusing upon this year, which marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document was the outcome of a convergence of different religious and cultural traditions, all of them motivated by the common desire to place the human person at the heart of institutions, laws and the workings of society, and to consider the human person essential for the world of culture, religion and science. Human rights are increasingly being presented as the common language and the ethical substratum of international relations. At the same time, the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights all serve as guarantees safeguarding human dignity. It is evident, though, that the rights recognized and expounded in the Declaration apply to everyone by virtue of the common origin of the person, who remains the high-point of God’s creative design for the world and for history. They are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilizations. Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks. This great variety of viewpoints must not be allowed to obscure the fact that not only rights are universal, but so too is the human person, the subject of those rights.

Of course the pope also said many important things about true freedom. Freedom is not license. This is something that I exhort my fellow bloggers to consider. Remember the human dignity of everyone, including those who have abominable ideas or do abominable things.

Dr. Sanity had this to say about the pope's UN address:

Pope Benedict, I think, is pretty clear that human rights and human freedom are the key issues that must be addressed in the world today. He is particularly concerned about freedom of religion and that countries where this is restricted are violating human rights (who might he be talking about, I wonder? Hmmmm.).

If we want to see the consequences of leftist socialism-lite, utopian pacifism, moral equivalence, and cultural relativism, then we need only look at how easily Europe and the leftists in this country have surrendered the fundamental values of Western civilization to the shrill (and violent) demands of Islamic fanatics--all done in the spirit of multicultural tolerance and politically correct compassion.

Europe, having given up any objective standard by which to mediate the vastly different perspectives and feelings of its varied populations; having abandoned reason altogether in favor of the expression of feelings no matter how destructive or unreasonable; and, finally, having endlessly touted the critical importance and essential need to "belong" to one's race, tribe, religion or group first and foremost; the outcome is what Stephen Hicks refers to as "group balkinization" --with all its inevitable and inescapable conflict.

That politically correct road which the left has taken us all down--billed as the path to peace and harmony--has instead led to a land dominated by emotions; a place where barbarism of the most primal sort is tolerated and excused; and where the human rights that the Pope talks about have been all but abandoned.

Canada has also traveled far further down this road than most of us realized, even those who have been concerned for a long time. As Ezra Levant warns, things could get worse before they get better.

This is a battle that must be won, but a battle that demands that we fight it in a manner keeps a transcendent notion of human dignity foremost. We must be very, very careful not to become like those whose ideas and actions we abhor. Thus we must remember that the ends do not justify the means, that we ourselves respect principles like innocent until proven guilty even if our opponents don't.

The picture, taken on my inadequate equipment, shows Pope Benedict at the mass for clergy at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. He said so much that is important, so much that all of North America, all of the world needs to hear, regardless of whether you are Catholic or not.

More later.


Welcome Mark Steyn readers!

I have also posted on this at Canadian Authors who are Christian.