Tuesday, February 23, 2010

'Human Rights' Commissions Problems Exposed

I was pretty excited about the tragic impact of so called Human Rights commissions about a year ago. Sometime between then and now, it felt like consensus opinion changed and the battle of public opinion had been won. I can't remember the last time I wrote about them. However, the laws and commissions remain. Thankfully there are many eloquent voices that haven't given up the fight. Last week, Ian Hunter wrote a succinct account of how the concept of equality has gone awry:

The purpose of the original legislation was equality of opportunity. It sought to achieve this by prohibiting discriminatory practices on the basis of defined factors — race or colour. In other words, it forbade practices in hiring, renting, etc., that placed one individual at a competitive disadvantage to another because of some innate factor like colour over which the individual had no control. Such was the original equality-of-opportunity model.

Two decades later, the-equality-of-opportunity model gave way to an equality-of-treatment model. The objective here was to identify, and eliminate, structural barriers to equality; it was contended that human rights commissions must superintend not just opportunity but all subsequent consequences, to ensure that social benefits were equitably distributed.

In employment, for example, equal opportunity required that applicants receive fair, unbiased consideration. Equal treatment expanded this to require that employees receive parity: in salary, benefits, working conditions.

Equal treatment required more intrusive state action in the workplace. Under this model, the Canadian Human Rights Commission compared the salaries of telephone operators with those of linemen, and ordered millions of dollars in compensation for what was called “constructive” discrimination.

Contemporary human rights legislation has evolved again; now it reflects an equality-of-results model. What good is equality of opportunity or treatment, this view says, if nothing much changes?

That's a dramatic evolution, that's led to some crazy rulings. Good on Ian for describing the situation. Incidentally, from the day I started studying at Western, nothing inflamed my pride in my school, like a good article by Professor Ian Hunter.

Then just yesterday, the National Post reported on a case where Barbara Kulaszka, put the situation bluntly:

"The use of censorship to stop psychological harm is a blunt instrument" that in fact has the opposite effect, she wrote, because it "leads to division, not harmony, as each strongly self-identified groups starts using complaints to assert its interests."

"Canada has a general population that deals well with expression, values the right to expression and does not experience the harm that is said to justify [Section 13]. Canadians overwhelmingly prefer open debate, not censorship," Ms. Kulaszka wrote.

Hopefully the battle continues and our country's Human Rights Commissions will be reformed or dismantled.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Maclean's Article Fair and Balanced

I just had this article pointed out to me. In December, Michael Friscolanti wrote a very fair and balanced article about the issue of abuse in the Catholic Church. It's graphic, and disturbing and it's very critical of the hypocrisy and betrayal of bishop Leahy and others in the church that have sought to cover up past scandals. I don't necessarily recommend reading the article it's long and, as I said, graphic but there were some very encouraging points that bear repeating:

But at the risk of downplaying decades of unspeakable abuse—or forgiving a Church hierarchy that moved heaven and earth to suppress scandal and protect criminal clergy—an obvious point is often ignored: the vast, vast majority of Catholic priests are not sexual predators. In fact, the scientific research suggests that men who target children are no more pervasive in the priesthood (and perhaps less pervasive) than in any other segment of society. Depending on the study, somewhere between two and four per cent of priests have had sexual contact with a minor. Or, to put it another way, between 96 and 98 per cent have not.

“It’s part of that myth—the myth of the pedophile priest who can’t help himself,” says Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University who has published dozens of studies about sexually abusive priests. “It’s really an issue of perception rather than reality. Believe it or not, probably the safest place for a kid to be is in a Catholic church environment.” . . .

In 1993, experts analyzed the files of 1,322 priests who were hospitalized over a 25-year period at Southdown Institute, an Ontario facility that treats clergy suffering from a wide range of psychological disorders. Fewer than three per cent were pedophiles. Around the same time, the archdiocese of Chicago examined its own records over the previous 40 years—spanning more than 2,200 priests—and reopened every internal complaint. The result: fewer than two per cent sexually abused a child. A New York Times analysis conducted a decade later found the same rate across the United States: 1.8 per cent. . .

So why do four per cent of priests abuse children? . . . One theory does stand out: the vow of celibacy. . .

Ask the average Catholic, and they know the solution: let priests get married. But that assumption, Plante says, is as much of a myth as the pedophile priest. “People will say: ‘Oh, if they weren’t celibate, the problem goes away.’ We know that’s not true. Sexual abuse is not an uncommon thing out there, whether you’re married or not, whether you’re a priest or not. It’s common.”

Plante's point is undeniable, but it's still very refreshing to see it included in a mainstream media article.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Ignatieff Miscalculates

Michael Ignatieff had momentum. The Liberals had been successfully hammering Stephen Harper for proroguing Parliament. They had tied the Conservatives in most polls.

Now Ignatieff has changed the story. He's demanding that Stephen Harper drive a hard pro-abortion agenda at the upcoming G8 conference in June. That's simply wrong headed and the prime minister's office has already responded:

“Saving lives of mothers and children should not be a political football,” said Mr. Harper's press secretary, Dimitri Soudas. “This has nothing to do with abortion. This has nothing to do with gay marriage. This had nothing to do with capital punishment.” He called Mr. Ignatieff's remarks “sad.”

“Far too many lives have already been lost for want of relatively simple health-care
necessities such as clean water, inoculation, better nutrition, or well-trained health care workers,” Mr. Soudas said.

Mr. Soudas is right, there are many easy ways to improve the lives of mothers in developing countries - if the G8 can help they certainly should. The Liberals have been trying to make Harper look like a pro-life extremist (whatever that is) since he became leader of the Conservatives and it hasn't stuck. It won't stick this time either. Instead the Liberals will look like extremists for bringing an issue that nobody wants to talk about and trying to make it a hot button.

The Liberals only need to look at two recent examples to see that over-reach by abortion promoters only alienates the rest of us in the real world. Funding abortion in Obama's health bill, and an effort to prevent a pro-life Super Bowl ad from being aired have both back fired on the left wingers. Ignatieff's latest overreach will too.