Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Anti-Semitism Survived the Concentration Camps

Israel once again finds itself nearly alone in the world when attacked by thugs and criminals reminiscent of the Nazis. Meanwhile, Twitter is trending #Hitlerwasright.

Why is there so much prejudice against the Jewish people today, even as we remember the senseless brutality of the Nazis? The concentration camps that smoked human ashes across Europe 60 years ago shocked the world and showed the despicable ends of such hatred. But while Jews were killed in those camps, anti-Semitism clearly survived.

How and why did that pernicious virus of hatred continue to spread so effectively across the world? One answer might lie in the post-war history of Dr. Joseph Mengele.

Frankenstein on the run

Dr. Mengele was without doubt one of the worst Nazi criminals. He was the true Frankenstein, a notorious Nazi monster who inflicted a sadistic reign of terror upon thousands of prisoners at the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. Mengele’s mad pseudo-scientific experiments were particularly cruel for their focus on children, twins, dwarfs, pregnant women, and others.

After the war, Mengele became one of the world’s most wanted fugitives. But justice never caught up with him. He finally met his end by drowning in 1979 at the Brazilian beach house of friends Liselotte and Wolfram Bossert, Austrian Germans who later said they had considered Mengele a “member of the family.” They had apparently known his true identity for seven years, but continued to be close friends. Six years after Mengele’s death, the authorities searched the Bosserts’ beach home and discovered Mengele’s diary, his hand-written history and two boxes of his other documents and personal items.

The Bosserts were among Mengele’s closest friends, but they were not unusual. Over more than 30 years as a fugitive, Mengele continued to have various friends who helped him evade justice. Some may not have known his true identity, but others knew and still continued to help. Some even blackmailed him but did not turn him in.

Who would help Hitler run away?

Whoever helped Mengele would surely have helped Hitler too. As could be expected, many of Mengele’s helpers were former Nazis themselves. These included Wolfgang Gerhard, an enthusiastic Nazi and Holocaust denier who returned with his family to Austria in 1971 to reap the benefits of their health care system.

But other supporters did not have a Nazi past. Among these were Hungarian Germans Geza and Gitta Stammer, who helped to hide Mengele for several years even after discovering his true identity. Indeed, it seems that Mengele felt quite welcome in some ways in South America. He wrote in one one letter that the families in his Brazilian social circles were mainly sympathetic to the Nazis.

Prejudice trickling down the family tree?
Photo: x-ray delta one via photopin cc

Where are those families, their like-minded friends, and their descendants today? Still there, surely, still passing on their negative beliefs and attitudes about the Jewish people.

And that’s the problem. While the most notorious Nazi criminals were mostly caught and punished, the majority of Nazis and their supporters continued their lives without being held to account. In fact, they became even more widely dispersed through the world as they fled from justice at home.

There are far too many such people to ever identify or hold responsible:
  • What happened to the majority of Nazi officers? 
  • What happened to all those gestapo who rounded up and deported the Jews? 
  • What happened to the SS officers who stood by in concentration camps, watching and enabling Dr. Mengele and others like him to perform their horrors? 
  • What happened to the civilians who, out of cowardice or actual hatred, voluntarily betrayed their Jewish neighbours to the Nazis? 
  • What happened to those who knew that something terrible was being done to the Jews across Europe, but still did nothing or, in a thousand small ways, supported what was happening? 
  • What happened to all those people across Europe who secretly agreed with the Nazi mission of exterminating the Jews?
The answer is, usually nothing happened to those people. They and their descendants are everywhere among us.

Europe through a special imaging camera

Thermal imaging cameras shine an infrared light onto an area and detect human beings by revealing the heat from their bodies. If we had similar cameras that we could shine on Europe, which would detect the anti-Semitism in people’s hearts, the resulting image would surely not be a pretty picture.

In Czechoslovakia, where I was born, anti-Semitism has continued to pervade the opinions of older generations to this day. Many people who are otherwise reasonable and respectable also hold on to prejudiced opinions that cast Jews in a negative light, such as believing that Communism was a Jewish conspiracy, or that Jewish people are stingy and thieving money-managers, and other lies and stereotypes. They still drill these opinions into their children and grandchildren.

Even in Germany, where Holocaust denial is a punishable crime, anti-Semitism appears to have continued underground. In 1985, when the media reported on Mengele’s home town of Guensburg amidst reports of his death, his family business was employing 1200 people and grossing $80 million in annual sales. The mayor told the media that the Mengele family was highly regarded there, even as the town was gaining a reputation for being a “stronghold of incorrigible Nazis.”

Mengele’s family loyalty

Indeed, the story of Mengele’s family is indicative. They never disowned their most infamous member. Instead they continued to funnel large amounts of money to him for decades, even as they publicly maintained that they had lost all contact. Mengele even became their salesman in Argentina, and a representative of the family’s business secretly flew to South America on at least two occasions, bringing large amounts of cash in order to pay off those who were helping to hide Mengele.

Mengele even managed to marry his brother’s widow in 1958. After his younger brother Karl died in Germany, his widow Martha and son Karl-Heinz joined Mengele in Uruguay, where she married him. Mengele’s stepson spent several years with him in South America, and he was reputed to have been quite close to Mengele.

This same Karl-Heinz, Mengele’s stepson, was back in Germany and running the family’s business in 1985, together with his cousin, the son of Mengele’s second brother. Their family business still operates today, and still looks to be going strong. Their website makes no mention of any connection to Josef Mengele.

Merano and other towns

Aside from Guensburg in Germany, there have been other reputed strongholds of Nazism in post-war Europe. These include the lovely resort town of Merano in Italy, through which many higher-profile Nazis passed on their escape routes. Many Nazi-supporters apparently parked themselves there permanently. Among its inhabitants was also Mengele’s second wife Martha, who left South America after several years of life with Mengele, and settled in Merano for her retirement. She never divorced Mengele, and she apparently continued to be a Holocaust denier right into her old age, telling a newspaper in 1985 that Mengele’s atrocities were “all lies and propaganda.”

Piecing it all together

The Nazi regime was fuelled by an irrational hatred that was, I believe, largely based upon jealousy and envy of the Jewish people. This hatred was mixed with a snobbish sense of superiority, and supported by scientific theories derived from Darwinism, which in effect gave the Germans license to kill in the name of survival of the fittest and genetic engineering of the Aryan race.

Science may no longer give the government license to kill, but traces of the hatred and snobbery that led to Nazi atrocities still brew in many people’s hearts. HItler and Mengele may be dead, but they were just the tip of a much bigger iceberg.

That iceberg never melted completely, and I do believe that this is in part why Israel is still so alone today.

Top photo credit: lungstruck via photopin cc
Last photo credit: photo credit: Alejandra H. Covarrubias via photopin cc

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kate Desjardins, I'm Calling Your Bluff

The story of 25-year-old Kate Desjardins has been repeated a zillion times in the media, and no one has ever questioned her authenticity. I suppose the mainstream media has stayed away from this because well, questioning the story of a poor young woman in need of birth control would would perhaps seem cruel and not kosher.

But I will go there. Personally, I have reservations about the genuineness of Kate Desjardins. In fact, I believe her whole story to be concocted and bogus.

The marbles don't add up

For one thing, the first place she posted about her story, even before she went to XOX Jane, was the Facebook page of a feminist group here in Ottawa called the Radical Handmaids. The Radical Handmaids are a vicious abortion-rights group with distasteful tactics like dressing as mock nuns at the March for Life.

How did Kate find this group so quickly, and why did she decide that they were the right place to post her story (as opposed to, say, writing a letter to The Ottawa Citizen)? Most young women who go to the doctor would have no idea that such a group exists, nor would they immediately seek out this group.

For another thing, her story doesn't add up. She says in XOX Jane:
I've gone to this clinic for well over two years at this point, and I never had any warning of what was about to happen.
So let me get this straight. Dr. Kyrillos practices with two other pro-life doctors, and the door to their clinic has a sign which informs patients that they do not prescribe birth control pills. How did Kate manage to avoid seeing this sign for two years?
When I mentioned I was there to get a prescription for my birth control, she suddenly looked up at me. She then told me that that couldn't be done. Taken aback, I asked why. She pointed at the stack of letters on the desk. I took one and started reading it. I was truly shocked at what I read. This had never happened before.
Again, for two years she never received this letter before, even as she has allegedly been coming to refill her prescription for birth control pills? Hard to believe.

What really happened

My suspicion is that the real story goes something like this: this woman is affiliated with the Radical Handmaids, and decided to pick on Kyrillos intentionally because they would like nothing better than to eliminate pro-life doctors from being able to practice.

Note that the Radical Handmaids are connected to the  Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. They were founded in part by Julie Lalonde, a very active feminist who sits on the board of the ARCC.

I do not believe Kate's claim that she was a patient at the clinic for two years. In fact, I don't believe she had any intention of being a patient there even on the day that she received the letter. When she walked in the door that day, she already knew very well what she would be told, and that is precisely why she had come to that clinic. She took the letter and headed straight for Facebook.

Successful tactic

As it happens, this tactic by the Radical Handmaids has been hugely successful. In the initial media blow-up in February, Kate Desjardins even got to remain anonymous - her name only surfaced in the second round of the debate this summer. Her story has never been questioned, and nothing about her own background of affiliations has ever been discussed. The media has given her an incredible platform, without even an ounce of doubt as to her contrived claim of embarrassment. 

With success like that, expect to see more such stories popping up like mushrooms.

UPDATE July 20, 2014

I have received information from a very credible source which corrects some of what I wrote above:

  • Dr. Edmond Kyrillos doesn't practice together with the other two pro-life doctors. He practices in a different clinic with other doctors who do prescribe birth control pills - something that is new to me, as the media seem to lump them together into one clinic.
  • The sign on the door is not always present. It is visible whenever Dr. Kyrillos is on duty at the clinic. Some regular patients might never see this sign if they always happen to visit the clinic at times when Dr. Kyrillos is not on duty.
  • When she got the letter, Kate Desjardins posted in on her own Facebook page and also forwarded it to the Radical Handmaids (she and the Handmaids say that Kate sent the letter anonymously). Hard to verify or expand on this information today because it looks like Kate must have erased her FB profile and restarted it in May, so there are no traces left behind.

Based on the information above, it seems that Kate might indeed have been a patient at the clinic, but not a patient of Dr. Kyrillos. She might have been genuinely surprised by the letter, since she might have never previously come to the clinic while Dr. Kyrillos was on duty. Still, I wonder: was Kate a feminist to begin with, and already familiar with or even affiliated the Radical Handmaids? 

And on a side note, why the media has made such a big fuss of Kate's inconvenience? Thousands of doctors across the country put up signs saying that they will not prescribe narcotics, even though some people do need them. And yet, this is apparently not nearly as offensive to the public as not prescribing birth control pills. It's okay to make sick people clinic-hop in search of narcotics, but the sky falls if a woman doesn't get birth control pills on the spot.

Photo: Amber B McN via photopin cc

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Religious Liberty of Doctors Under Threat in Canada

My new article on FrontPage Magazine:
Another attack on religious freedom is under way in Canada, this time against doctors in the province of Ontario. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is reviewing its human rights code guidelines, and the public response has been explosive. Many people want the College to change its present practice of permitting doctors to opt out of referring or prescribing treatments that violate their ethics or religious faith.
This is not a case of liberal intellectuals and unelected leaders reducing our freedoms without the consent of the public. Judging by the slew of negative comments to stories in the mainstream media, the public is on the side of clamping down on doctors. It’s disturbing to see that of the nearly 9000 votes submitted in the College’s online poll, around 67% said “no” to the question: “Do you think a physician should be allowed to refuse to provide a patient with a treatment or procedure because it conflicts with the physician’s religious or moral beliefs?”
Read More.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Making Doctors Into Robots in Ontario

My new article is up at LifeSiteNews:
Some years ago I filled out a prescription for Yasmin, a birth control pill that is often prescribed, as in my case, to control acne for young women. Luckily the warning label scared me enough that I ended up throwing those pills in the garbage. I felt a bit foolish but followed my gut against the assurances of my doctor, who considered those pills the equivalent of Tylenol.
He was wrong. Yasmin made headlines last year when it was linked, together with another birth control pill, to the deaths of 23 women in Canada. This February the European Medicines Agency also admitted that the blood clot risks of Yasmin and similar newer birth control pills are much greater than previously thought.

Read more.

Grandparents Built Human Civilization

Yesterday I accidentally deleted this post, and all efforts to revive it proved fruitless. I had already given up when I discovered that it was saved in a different file on my computer. A sweet feeling of victory in the face of defeat. So here it is again.

The Western world is a youth-oriented culture, where people (women especially) often seem to lose public influence as their faces show more mileage. We tend to think of young people as leaders in original thinking and write off older people as stuck in their ways. If anything, we may believe the older generations stand in the way of progress.

So here’s a brain twister: people over the age of 30 are actually in large part responsible for building up human civilization. The experience and wisdom that come with age really do matter, and have made a huge difference for mankind as a whole. We couldn’t have gotten here without them, and our society is dependent on older people for its very existence.

Human beings and their ancestors have been been around for millions of years, and for most of that history we were stuck in the most primitive state imaginable. Ever wonder why human civilization only stated to progress fairly recently on that giant timescale?

Turns out that as late as 130,000 years ago, no one survived beyond the age of 30. Most of human history has consisted of children having children, then dying very rapidly from any number of causes (disease, injury, infection, childbirth, etc.). For all that time, researchers confirmed in 2011, there were no grandparents because everyone died before they were old enough to see their grandchildren.

Then only about 30,000 years ago, human lifespans begin to lengthen for as yet unclear reasons, and suddenly many people started to live into their 30s. This was a huge and dramatic change for mankind, and had all kinds of major consequences.

For one thing, 30-somethings can potentially be credited for defeating the Neanderthals and establishing the dominance of homo sapiens on earth. At the time when human lifespans began to grow longer, the Neanderthals were still around and competing with humans for survival. The Neanderthals were much bigger and stronger than humans, and possibly even smarter (they had bigger brains). So why did we win out over these favourites in the race for life?

One theory is that our new “third generation” did them in. Research has shown that the Neanderthal population continued to have short lifespans and die out by age 30, even as our people were starting to survive to older ages in much greater numbers. Grandparents were able to pass down a wealth of cultural knowledge, like traditional hunting techniques. So we outwitted those Neanderthal brutes - their bigger brains proved no match for the accumulated experience and knowledge of our elders.

What’s more, with time our society became dependent on the existence of older generations: “Longevity became a prerequisite for the unique and complex behaviours that signal modernity.”

We might not realize it every day, but our civilization could not continue on at a high level without older generations to pass on information and experience. Grey heads are actually the foundation stones of our civilization.

From that perspective, perhaps there is a “silver lining” to the progressive aging of our society.

Photo: Robin Hutton via photopin cc

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Legal Euthanasia in Quebec: A Dangerous Experiment On Our Doctors

Quebec is avant-garde all right...a leader in the self-destruction of our civilization. Having had enough of those silly Belgian French accents stealing the spotlight, this month our neighbouring province decided to become the fourth place in the world to legalize full-blown euthanasia.

No, not the watered-down "assisted suicide" version that various American states have opted for. Quebec would never be anywhere but the cutting edge (so to speak) and so it has given doctors the green light to administer lethal injections.

Canadians thus have a new retirement destination if they want to end their lives with the same dignity that we give to our dogs (actually, dogs are apparently entitled to better treatment than euthanasia). 

American death tourists, on the other hand, appear to be out of luck for the time being and will need to continue flying overseas, unless they want to go through the trouble of becoming temporary residents of Quebec.

For all those who still believe that Quebec is a “Catholic” province (and I just had one such conversation last week), it should now be as plain as day that Quebec is about as Catholic as San Francisco is Republican.

Or perhaps as Catholic as say, Britain, where the latest is that their Supreme Court has said that “an assisted-suicide ban is incompatible with human rights” and has sent the message that Parliament needs to “change the law to be in line with human rights guarantees”. (Note that the ultimate fate of the Quebec legislation will likely also be decided by our secular pontificate, the Supreme Court).

Why is euthanasia so popular?

Why is euthanasia gaining ground in so many places? Margaret Somerville, one of Canada's leading ethicists, has written a brilliant exposition on this subject here. She writes:
Many countries are now experiencing an unprecedented rise in calls to legalise euthanasia - some of which from within the medical profession. ...The burden of proof has somehow shifted from those who promote legalisation to those who oppose it.
Somerville discusses several causes of this major shift in attitudes. Here are a few of her gems, which hit the nail right on the head:
Euthanasia moves us from chance to choice concerning death....Although we cannot make death optional, we can create an illusion that it is by making its timing and the conditions and ways in which it occurs a matter of choice.
...our society is highly materialistic and consumeristic. It has lost any sense of the sacred, even just of the "secular sacred." The result favours a pro-euthanasia position, because a loss of the sacred fosters the idea that worn-out people may be equated with worn-out products; both can then be seen primarily as "disposal" problems.
...Our society is very intolerant of mystery. We convert mysteries into problems. If we convert the mystery of death into the problem of death, euthanasia (or, even more basically, a lethal injection) can be seen as a solution. 
She also perfectly ties in euthanasia to other issues in our society, such as the explosive popularity of reproductive technologies. In fact, she sees euthanasia as anther expression of the desire to control human life that is evident in the use of such technologies. She says:
Among the most important causes of our loss of the sacred is extraordinary scientific progress, especially insofar as science and religion are viewed as antithetical. New genetic discoveries and new reproductive technologies have given us a sense that we understand the origin and nature of human life and that, because we can, we may manipulate - or even "create" - life.  
Transferring these sentiments to the other end of life would support the view that euthanasia is acceptable. Euthanasia would be seen as a correlative and consistent development with the new genetics; its acceptance, therefore, would be expected. According to this view, it is no accident that we are currently concerned with both eu-genics (good genetics: good at birth) and eu-thanasia (good death. 
How will legal euthanasia affect the medical profession?

In a nutshell: “Euthanasia...places the soul of medicine itself on trial.

It's clear that euthanasia is, above all else, a huge game-changer for doctors as a complete reversal of their respect for human life, a respect that has for centuries been considered foundational to the practice of good medicine. Here is what Somerville says:
...There are very few institutions, if any, with which everyone identifies except for those - such as medicine - that make up the health-care system. These, therefore, are important when it comes to carrying values, creating them, and forming consensus around them. 
...A fundamental attitude we reinforce in medical students, interns and residents is a repugnance toward the idea of killing patients. If physicians were authorised to administer euthanasia, it would no longer be possible to instil that repugnance. 

...We, as a society, need to say powerfully, consistently and unambiguously, that killing each other is wrong. And physicians are very important carriers of this message, partly because they have opportunities (not available to members of society in general) to kill people.
We do not yet know where this dangerous social experiment will leave our doctors, but Somerville offers a preview. She discusses how euthanasia continues the process of dehumanizing our doctors by dulling their respect for human life - a process that started with abortion:
 ...Moreover, we cannot afford to underestimate the desensitisation and brutalization that carrying out euthanasia would have on physicians. Keep in mind that the same might be true of abortion. ...In short, one problem with the position of those who promote abortion on demand is that it threatens to continue undermining the link between medicine and respect for life.
Euthanasia takes abortion a few steps further

Somerville explains how euthanasia is a further step beyond abortion on the continuum of disregard for the value of human life. This might seem surprising to those who consider abortion as the ultimate disregard for human life.

And yet, Somerville makes perfect sense. She explains how the reality of abortion is hidden in language that allows us, as a society, to believe that we are not killing a human person. Instead, we focus on the way that abortion "saves" the life of the mother or how it is a necessary way for her to "control" her body. As such, we try to appeal to the same justifications that have traditionally been used for "self-defence, just war and, in theory and in part, capital punishment". We also call the baby a "fetus" or a "product of conception" to dehumanize it.

Euthanasia, on the other hand, is the first instance where we are permitting the open and deliberate killing of unambiguously human persons. It is killing with all the veils lifted, cold and clear as day.
...It is sometimes pointed out that many societies do justify one form of killing by physicians: abortion. [But] This was justified, traditionally, on the grounds that it was necessary to save the life of the mother [or] attention is focused on the woman's right to control her body....Indeed, when destroying the foetus is the primary aim - as it is in sex selection - even those who agree with abortion on demand often regard it as morally unacceptable. ...once we view the foetus as a "person," we do not find killing it acceptable.

...Consequently, legalised euthanasia would be unique in that the killing involved could not be justified on the grounds either that it is necessary to protect the life of another ...or that it does not involve taking the life of a person... Euthanasia would seem likely to affect physicians' attitudes and values, therefore, in ways that, arguably, abortion does not.
Not Welcome In Her Own Land

Margaret Somerville teaches at McGill University in Montreal, right in the heart of Quebec. It is a real shame that her words have fallen on stony ground in her own province.

Against reason and against prudence, Quebec has legalized euthanasia anyway, launching a treacherous experiment that may have irreversible consequences. 

Photo: hitthatswitch via photopin cc

Thursday, June 26, 2014

If you don't support same-sex marriage, don't look for a legal career in Canada

Currently there is something like a collision of two galaxies going on here in Canada. With its efforts to start a small Christian law school, Trinity Western University has set off a massive head-on confrontation between the same-sex rights movement and Evangelical Christianity.

The result so far has been an incredible and unprecedented war within the legal profession, which has seen Ontario and Nova Scotia’s law societies take controversial and shocking steps to bar TWU graduates from becoming licensed in their provinces. In British Columbia, we have witnessed literally thousands of lawyers revolt against their own law society and demand that it, too, reverse its earlier positive decision and take a stand against Trinity Western University. And now, with the launch of Trinity Western’s legal challenge against the worst rebels with a cause, the whole show is on the road and headed for a finale in the Supreme Court.

Community Rules: Is it okay to say no to gay sex on campus?

At the epicenter of this storm is this question: can a Canadian law school ask its students to agree that same-sex marriage is wrong? Trinity Western University maintains a community covenant that spells out its Christian code of conduct, beliefs and mission. This covenant is 4 pages long and asks its students to, among other things, “treat people and ideas with charity and respect” and “cultivate Christian virtues”.

That would all be just fine, but the covenant also prohibits sexual intimacy “that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” and emphasizes that sexual intimacy is “reserved for marriage between one man and one woman”. All students and faculty are asked to agree to this covenant if they choose to attend Trinity Western University. 

Unfair discrimination or religious freedom?

Many of the lawyers who have been up in arms about Trinity Western University are alleging that this covenant discriminates against LGBTQ persons by making them feel not welcome on campus, by asking them in effect to deny their sexuality and requiring them to abstain from sexual relations even in a civil marriage. The upshot of the argument is that a school which discriminates against gays and lesbians isn’t qualified to teach law.

But the word “discrimination” already skews the debate towards the perspective of TWU’s opponents. Here is another way to pose the question: does Trinity Western University have the freedom of religion to maintain a campus covenant which asks students to abide by its religious teachings, including the tenet that sexual relations are reserved for heterosexual marriage?

There seems to be no possible compromise here. If Trinity Western puts its religious morality into action on the campus of its fledgling law school, then homosexuals will cry discrimination. But if this small, private Christian school is forced to allow its campus to become the antithesis of its own religious faith teachings, this is a serious restriction on the public expression of its faith, and might even eliminate the very raison d’etre why such a school exists in the first place. A religious private school is not in the business of providing a secular education that merely echoes the creeds of contemporary political correctness.

To put it bluntly, either sexual orientation or religious orientation will have to retreat into the closet at Trinity Western. Either the gays and lesbians who choose to attend, fully aware of Trinity Western’s creed regarding same-sex sexual relations, will promise to respect the school’s faith beliefs, or the Evangelical Christians that run this small, faith-based school will have to forget about maintaining a campus reflective of their own religious teachings and morality. 

The Supreme Court votes in favour of religious freedom

Thirteen years ago, when the Supreme Court of Canada considered this very question, it decided in favour of religious freedom for Trinity Western University. In a case that involved the B.C. teachers union refusing to allow TWU graduates to become teachers due to their opposition to same-sex marriage, the Court acknowledged that gays and lesbians might not want to apply to TWU, but it concluded that no major harm would be done by such students going elsewhere. 

In other words, the Supreme Court found that protecting the religious freedom and freedom of expression of Evangelical Christians at Trinity Western University, as a faith community formed by free association based on their adherence to certain religious and moral values, was more important than the right of anyone to engage in open same-sex relationships on their small campus, especially given the enormous wealth of alternative schools available in British Columbia. In the Court’s own words: “While homosexuals may be discouraged from attending TWU, a private institution based on particular religious beliefs, they will not be prevented from becoming teachers.”

Rebellion of the lawyers

But the times, they are a-changing. While the 2001 decision of the Supreme Court is still good law here in Canada, many of our most prominent lawyers are now openly defying this decision, as evidenced by the tidal wave of protest by law societies across the country.

Ontario, Nova Scotia and B.C. are but the tip of the iceberg. Important groups of lawyers in other provinces have also been been voicing their opposition to TWU. In Alberta, the President of the Law Society issued a statement saying that “we are aware of and concerned about the impact of the TWU community covenant on gay and lesbian students”, and “we would welcome a judicial determination on this question. We would also welcome the opportunity to work together with the other law societies in Canada, through the Federation, to consider amending the law degree approval criteria to address these issues.” Manitoba’s law society met on this question in late May and decided to do nothing because “ the Federation of Law Societies of Canada may shortly be reviewing the national requirements”.

End of religious freedom for all lawyers in Canada?

What is coming next? Get ready for the end of religious freedom in the legal profession, if the national Federation of Law Societies decides to change the law degree approval criteria to include some kind of litmus test on same-sex marriage for faith-based schools. Will official support for same-sex marriage soon become a prerequisite to being an approved faculty of law? Will support for same-sex marriage perhaps even become a prerequisite to licensing for individual lawyers in Canada?

Move over Justin Trudeau, your abortion decree within the Liberal party will have just been made small peas by the lawyers of Canada. Indeed, it is a short step from requiring Trinity Western to abandon its religious morality on campus to requiring all lawyers to personally support same-sex marriage. Lawyers who believe that sexual intimacy should be reserved for marriage between a man and a woman, even if they are not graduates of Trinity Western University, represent the same alleged threat of “discrimination” in the legal profession, so it follows that sooner (rather than later) they too will be an item on the law societies’ agenda.

They said this would never happen

How far we have come, at breakneck speed. Rewind to 2005, when same-sex marriage was just being enacted. At the time, opponents of the new law were being smothered in all kinds of assurances of religious freedom:
  • The Supreme Court stated, in its Reference Re: Same-sex Marriage, that “The protection of freedom of religion afforded by s. 2(a) of the Charter is broad and jealously guarded”. 
  • The Civil Marriage Act itself was padded with rhetoric protecting divergence of opinion, stating that “nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs”, and “it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage”, and: 
“no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom.”
Note that in the above paragraph, Parliament is only promising that there won’t be any federal law that violates religious freedom on this question. Right from the start, there was no assurance of religious freedom continuing to be respected by quasi-governmental institutions like the Federation of Law Societies. Still, in the social climate as it was back then, most people never considered the present situation a possibility. The belief in the traditional heterosexual definition of marriage still had considerable clout and respect among the leaders of society.

Christians as the new anti-Semites, racists and misogynists

A decade later, as I discussed in an earlier article, Christians who oppose same-sex marriage are being proclaimed the new public enemies, analogous to irrational racists, anti-Semites or misogynists. The British Columbia and Ontario law societies provide online public transcripts and even recordings of their debates on Trinity Western, and it is disturbing to see such comparisons being made by numerous Benchers. Keep in mind, these are some of the most influential lawyers in Canadian society!

One of the most outspoken Ontario Benchers who opposes Trinity Western is Clayton Ruby, a prominent defense lawyer whose clients have included the first openly gay Canadian Member of Parliament, Omar Khadr’s brother, and the anti-capitalist group that started the Occupy Wall Street movement. Mr. Ruby has called the belief in heterosexual marriage “stupid” and “hateful”, and has compared it to racism and anti-Semitism. He has further said:
“A minority within Christianity is entitled to believe that being gay is antithetical to Christianity; that it is an abomination. They are entitled to teach such silliness and try to persuade others to adopt that view. But we should remember that though they assert that the Bible is the sacred authority, and must be accepted literally, law schools ought to accept and teach the Constitution. In Canada we draw a line between discriminatory belief and discriminatory acts.”
Free to think, but not to act

If Clayton Ruby and the increasing numbers of lawyers who appear to agree with him have their way, then our religious “freedom” will effectively be reduced to the confines of our heads. Since mind control has yet to be developed, we will still be “free” to think whatever we want, but don’t try living out your religious beliefs in any public way.

Mr. Ruby doesn’t want to sound that extreme just yet, and so for now he states that Trinity Western has the right to teach their “silliness” (though he would not permit their graduates within the ranks of his profession). The trouble is, the logic of his own analogy to anti-Semitism and other forms of irrational hate demands that our laws should not permit such crazy, hateful beliefs to be propagated on any campus. Would we allow any school in Canada to teach white supremacy?

If Trinity Western’s Covenant is really “hateful” for its confirmation of traditional marriage, then surely, gay students who choose to attend TWU should still be spared demeaning and “hateful” lectures on how their sexual behavior is not acceptable. If Mr. Ruby is pressed on the issue, he would most likely have to concede that Trinity Western should not be permitted to be teaching “hate” at all. (Indeed, he contradicts himself later in the same quote by insisting that law schools should teach the Constitution - thus, how can Trinity Western’s law school also teach its “silliness”?).

Christian beliefs as the new "hate speech"

This is where we are: things are getting serious as the effects of the legalization of same-sex marriage are coming home to roost, so to speak. The Civil Marriage Act did much more than usher in gay marriage. It has helped to alter our fundamental attitudes about the nature of marriage, and it has enabled a far more effective social ostracism of its opponents.

Now this shift in philosophies is hardening into an official public exclusion of proponents of traditional marriage from professional life and even from the realm of education. The very ability to oppose same-sex marriage is becoming circumscribed as it becomes synonymous with irrational “hate” and discrimination, and thus increasingly falls outside the once-promised protection of religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

In 2001, the Supreme Court argued that “It cannot be reasonably concluded that private institutions are protected but that their graduates are de facto considered unworthy of fully participating in public activities.” The Supreme Court found that religious freedom protected Trinity Western and its covenant, and therefore, its graduates could not be excluded from professional organizations.

Today, many of our lawyers are thinking backwards: they find the belief in traditional marriage so odious that they are unwilling to admit TWU graduates among their ranks; as such, they insist on forcing the conclusion that Trinity Western’s Covenant is outside the protection of religions freedom, even in clear opposition to actual legal precedent.

The showdown is coming: stay tuned

Now that Trinity Western has gotten the ball rolling into the courts, the Supreme Court will be addressing this issue again in the near future. Will it affirm the religious freedom of Trinity Western University, as it did over a decade ago? Or will the nine Justices move on with the times and agree with the majority of their Ontario colleagues, finding that Trinity Western must eviscerate itself as a faith institution if it wants to produce lawyers?

Religious freedom in Canada hangs in the balance, attacked by the very profession that is supposed to guard it most zealously. If our lawyers no longer uphold our freedoms of conscience and religion, then the future looks more totalitarian indeed.

Photo: scazon via photopin cc