First it was standing up for an anti-gay bully in Red Deer. Indignant libertarians flocked to the comment thread—how could I dare criticize a revered and august institution like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association?—but they couldn’t change the facts. Gay teens are routinely bullied, sometimes into suicide, by homophobes and their enablers. And the CCLA was solidly on the side of the enablers.
Now once again a gallant civil liberties outfit, this time the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, has leapt into action to defend hateful homophobic behaviour—this time by a “Christian” law school that wants to punish its students for being gay, lesbian or bisexual. Hey, that’s religious freedom, says the leader of the BCCLA. Too bad, so sad. The queers and dykes can always go to school somewhere else.
Now, being an absolutist on free speech is one thing, even if hate speech against minorities causes harm in a society where everyone is not by any means equal. Enabling oppression is not exactly striking a blow for liberty, but the CCLA seems confused on this point. The BCCLA has taken things a step further, however: the right of religious groups to take away the freedom of ordinary citizens, they effectively claim, trumps the rights of those citizens.
Libertarians will be quick to argue that this is a private college, so what they do is no concern of ours. In the same way, they defend the “right” of store owners and landlords not to serve or rent to Blacks. But we’ve all been down that road before: if sellers enter the public arena to market their wares, then all members of that public should have equal rights to be served. In this case the college in question wants public accreditation, to which, to its considerable credit, the Canadian Council of Law Deans is firmly and unanimously opposed. Moreover, you and I are subsidizing this supposedly “private” school with our taxes.
The BCCLA’s ludicrously incompetent arguments in support of the “right” to discriminate are shredded here—no need to add much more. But I’m left with questions.
Whatever happened to civil liberties groups fighting for the little guy—the bullied, the oppressed, the weak? When, exactly, did they come to support the “right” of bigots to promulgate hatred and actively discriminate against Canadian citizens?
Since when have civil liberties in Canada become “civil liberties…except for?” I, for one, must have missed the memo. But it’s there, these days, for anyone to read.