July 23, 2017

Opinion: Freedom of silence as important as freedom of speech

David MacKenzieRebel Columnist

Some changes are subtle but significant. Lately, we’ve begun to see evidence of an important change— one which will hopefully alarm both social conservatives and traditional libertarians equally. 

We all suspect that Canada— indeed the entire Anglosphere— is experiencing an erosion in free speech rights. Yet, there is an aspect of this trend that points to additional trouble; yesterday’s political prudes, some of whom were admittedly conservative, have been replaced by today’s social engineers.

The implications for public speech are considerable.

By now, we should all have heard Canadians like Professor Jordan Peterson state that he will not be goaded or manipulated into using transgendered terminology— pronouns like Zir, or Xie, or Yos. But have we made any connection between this professor’s concern and the political pressure recently applied to an Orthodox Jewish school in London, England?

Today, a new (more insidious) political leverage is being applied to freedom of expression, not on the basis of what one has said, but on the basis of what one isn’t saying.

Among the progressivists, Jordan Peterson is not merely a rogue for what he has articulated; now, his refusal to articulate any contrived pronoun is enough to make his critics grind their teeth.

Silence is not just deafening; apparently, it is now politically insulting— a sign of subversive non-compliance to those who wish for more coercive capacity in law.

Recently, a private Orthodox Jewish school for girls failed its inspection by OFSTED— the British Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills— not for what it did, but for what it didn’t. Namely, the School wasn’t celebrating the LGBT in the way the left-leaning government bureaucracy thought proper. In OFSTED’s own words, these Jewish girls were, “shielded from learning about certain differences between people, such as sexual orientation”.

Shielding children is now politically incorrect. The school, which was applauded for other aspects of its organization and teaching, failed its inspection not on the basis of what it said or did, but on the basis of its perceived silence: its unenthusiastic lack of LGBT affirmation.

Thus, protection, especially if it's sexually conservative sheltering, is now a public affront. A private school dare not “shield” its young pupils from the worldliness of the world, even when its own faith requires it.

Today, institutions are politically damned by the faintness of their p.c.-praise. Saying nothing at all is simply too much. In ecclesiastical terms, the LGBT movement is so publicly insecure that, having triumphed over its detractors regarding any overt “sins of commission”, it now chases after any perceived “sins of omission”.

This may be one reason why LGBT organizers continue to make a political point in Steinbach, Manitoba— not for any specific civic culpability, but (quite arguably) to chide Steinbach for not being as sycophantically enthusiastic as Toronto or Vancouver.

In like fashion, Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker whose case will come before the Supreme Court of the United States this fall, is not being sued for any actual incident against his gay clientele. Indeed, he served them regularly and honourably. Rather, Phillips is hoping not to have to write, “Happy Same Sex Wedding” (or words to that effect) on the top of any cake of his own design. Alberta once saw a Christian named Stephen Boissoin legally sued for what he did write. Jack Phillips is now being sued for what he didn’t.

Interestingly, for reasons of his Christian faith, Phillips has also refused to produce Halloween cakes, but, curiously, no Wiccan group has yet charged him with religious discrimination.

In short, then, Jack is hoping that the State won’t compel him to write what he doesn’t believe, express what he finds inexpressible, or endorse what he finds personally unacceptable— basic conscientious needs that were never intended to be dispensed as though mere privileges.

Creating a similar kind of crisis, the State of Illinois passed legislation this winter requiring even pro-life pregnancy care centres to inform their patients of abortion. This kind of legislative effort is rather like decreeing that all Imams inform their prospective Muslim-converts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It cuts to the core, as it cuts against the grain.

In effect, these Illinois pro-life clinics have now had even their own silence coerced. The State is forcing them to advertise on behalf of their nemesis— in this case, an “ethic” they find repulsive.

Political parallels exist in Canada. This situation is not unlike the pro-life Ontario doctors who don’t want to advocate for assisted suicide by policies demanding they inform their patients. Meanwhile, in both these jurisdictions, “progressivists” have interpreted private non-participation as a kind of public offence, even though conscientiously coercive policy is largely foreign to classical liberal society. Not surprisingly, therefore, pro-life health workers in both Ontario and Illinois are taking their respective cases to court.

The implications are more weighty than one might believe.

Should their cases fail, it will matter less anymore whether a person is peaceful or passive in protest. In today’s politics, private pacifism is treated as though it were dangerous public aggression. Strangely, neither speech nor silence is safe anymore. And, without more explicit leadership from legislators and our Supreme Courts, future conscientious objectors will increasingly be “hanged” for one as easily as the other.

In 2017, I never thought I’d be arguing for a constitutional “freedom of silence” alongside our supposed “freedom of speech”. And yet, here we are. Eerily, quite possibly the worst scenarios lie ahead. For what do we suppose happens to a society when all honourable forms of passive resistance are dismissed, delegitimized, or are coerced by law into complete compliance?

Social conservatives and libertarians, be warned!

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commented 2017-09-11 11:53:52 -0400
There’s a difference between a) not saying some specific word that some people think they might have a right to force you to say, and b) requiring that children are exposed to the possibility that some particular group is not evil or morally inferior

Also, there’s a difference between discouraging people from accessing a certain type of medical service, and contriving at great length to prevent them from even knowing that it is available.

Conscientious objectors who do not pre-meditate to hide knowledge of legally available options will be respected – they stand up for what they believe, but do not lie and obfuscate to get their way. Those who lie and obfuscate from a position of power and knowledge do not belong in a profession which requires trust to be effective.
commented 2017-08-17 11:53:23 -0400
How observant! And of course this new warning applies only to people of certain political ideology or faiths exempting other faiths and political ideologies. Liberals either politically or spiritually need not be concerned.
commented 2017-07-23 20:53:22 -0400
Henry Reardon, This video about Lauren Southern, previously from The Rebel and two German journalists who were targeted at the recent G-20 meeting in Germany, shows how extremely violent and dangerous the Left has become: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h85ibgnwTMM
commented 2017-07-23 20:18:41 -0400
Henry Reardon – you make the mistake of underestimating the size, organization and influence of the forces aligned against free expression. We in Canada are poised to see the greatest breach of social contract in western rule of law in the agenda behind bill M-103.- we stand to be censored and criminalized on the basis of 7th century Sharia blasphemy laws. This constitutes the alignment of religion and state in enforcing silence in dissent to religious dogmas. That is a breach of public trust between government and the electorate on par with removing presumed innocence, or right to be heard in court.

Here is the sad reality of why free speech is under attack in the west:
And here is the Tie in to OIC buying influence to pass Blasphamy laws in Canada:

Please watch these and put 2 and 2 together.
commented 2017-07-23 19:54:16 -0400
That should be “God” gets the last word.
commented 2017-07-23 19:41:06 -0400
Rebelation, who said anything about WAITING for God? All I said is that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. However, I do believe the world’s problems are more spiritual than political, and I do believe that God’s Will will be manifest world-wide in the end. In other words, Go gets the last word. But that doesn’t mean that we just passively sit on our ass and do nothing in the mean time. We have a duty to oppose evil and injustice in the world whenever and wherever we find it, with all our might and with all the resources at our disposal. That’s what God expects of His people.
commented 2017-07-23 19:17:18 -0400
Henry, I must also disagree with you. The madness is not of politicians only. The madness is (primarily)of those who voted them in.

How are we to get different politicians if the voters are brain dead?

“The sum of intelligence in the world is a constant.
Only the population is increasing.”
commented 2017-07-23 18:46:02 -0400
Marice. Waiting for God is a cop-out, and didn’t work for Christians when seized by the Ottoman Empire for 400yrs. What worked, as using the brain, mouth, and hands God gave Christians to fight back! It is no different this time!

Bill. Well said sir, thank-you for the link.
commented 2017-07-23 16:17:11 -0400
@Maurice Potvin – I respectfully disagree with you. I don’t think the world is nearly as screwed up as you think it is. There is indeed a degree of madness that I’ve never seen before but I believe that it is confined to the extremist SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) and their enablers, the politicians, pundits, and “thought leaders” who insist we need to do what the SJWs want and pass the laws and regulations that will punish us for deviating from the wishes of the SJWs.

Do you know the old saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”? Well, I think the SJWs are the present squeaky wheel. They’re making noise and our politicians, always quick to take noise as a sign of trouble and something that needs to be placated, cave in to these noxious people and their ridiculous ideas. We need to get our politicians listening to sensible people again. I’m not sure how best to do that but I suspect the best approach is to drown out the SJWs with common sense, the way they drown out conservative speakers with white noise machines or other forms of racket. And if that doesn’t work, it’s time to get some different politicians in place, ones who show both sense and some backbone.
commented 2017-07-23 15:48:31 -0400
I’m afraid that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. I believe the whole world will have to sink into complete utter depravity before God intervenes. The precedent was set with Noah and the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah. I know it’s the mercy of God; He wants to give all people every opportunity to repent, but it’s sure a screwed up world for those of us who have to live through it.
commented 2017-07-23 14:40:21 -0400
Janice Kay said, "I read somewhere recently where a SJW group insisted that refusing to make eye contact was racist. "

It would not surprise me that same group also said that making eye contact is racist. These SJWs always contradict themselves.
commented 2017-07-23 14:18:35 -0400
Forced conformity to insanity is what is occuring at a lrgislative lrvel as fringe radicals exert pressue on lawmakers to normalize dystopian insanity. As this progresses, what is being repressed is truth and scientific fact anything that objectively contradicts the false narratives of an impending pathological authoritarianism must be silenced.

WE had best understand this for what it is – a battle for civilization against forces of a new dark age – In hell there is no truth or reason only compliance

commented 2017-07-23 13:37:17 -0400
Yesterday I heard Justin say on his recent Pride Parade charade, that he thinks in future, politicians should be ‘required’ to attend Pride events as a part of their duties, or some such thing.
Are we now going to be compelled to embrace that which is proven by the laws of nature to be a dysmorphic and unhealthy state for any society? Are our bureaucrats going to start acting as the mutaween for the enforcement of the agenda of the mentally deranged post modernists? They are coming for our children.
commented 2017-07-23 12:08:40 -0400
I read somewhere recently where a SJW group insisted that refusing to make eye contact was racist.
commented 2017-07-23 11:04:50 -0400
The New World Order, like the great Jabberwok, slythers through the trais in a slink like manner, eye wide for Mankin flesh.