Wednesday, May 7, 2008

So religious bigotry should trump my right to earn a living, Christina?

I thought I'd comment on yet another typical opinion piece today from Toronto Sun writer Christina Blizzard, who can be thoughtful when she wants to be, but not today.

Blizzard goes after Ontario Human Rights Commission chief Barbara Hall over some recent rulings/statements, criticizing Hall for speaking out against racial stereotyping (Mark Steyn's case) and ruling against a publicly-funded organization's ability to fire LGBT employees (Christian Horizons, which fired Connie Heintz, by all accounts an excellent worker, simply for being a lesbian.)

For this, Blizzard claims that Hall is exceeding her mandate as the head of an organization charged with promoting and maintaining human rights in Ontario. Come on, Christina, if the OHRC head can't speak out against ethnic stereotyping and protect vulnerable citizens like LGBT citizens from being fired from their jobs, what should she be doing with her mandate?

Blizzard's reasoning is even less complex than Michael Coren's continuous tirades against same sex marriage. On Hall's ruling that publicly-funded religious organizations, like Christian Horizons, must respect the rights of all members of the public, Blizzard writes: "This comes perilously close to telling people of faith what they may and may not believe. It reinforces fears expressed when same-sex couples won the right to wed that religious institutions that are morally opposed to same-sex marriage would be forced to perform such ceremonies. It's a slippery slope. Attorney General Chris Bentley and Premier Dalton McGuinty should rein Hall in before she tramples every right we hold dear."

Right-wing columnists now don't even have to provide any reasoning whatsoever to make their 'sky is falling' claims, it seems.

Same sex civil marriage does not force religious institutions to perform such ceremonies and never will. It's true that many of the recent equality gains made by LGBT citizens illustrate extremist religion's loosening grip on mainstream society. They've lost their absolute power to destroy the lives of others; this isn't an infringement on the rights of the religious, as Coren and Blizzard would have us believe. It's affirmation of equality and a clarification of the division between church and state.

I'll write more on this touchy subject in greater detail soon.

************UPDATE*************

In Blizzard's story, she quotes Tory MPP Christine Elliott: "In basic legal terms, [Hall's comment on the Mark Steyn/Maclean's Magazine case is] a denial of natural justice or the right to be heard because you can't just go out there and say things about people when they have no ability to respond in any forum."

Am I the only one to see the irony in this statement? Steyn and Maclean's Magazine have no ability to respond in any forum? As we know, it was Steyn who originally went "out there and said things about people" and promoted anti-Muslim stereotypes in his article published in Canada's national magazine, Maclean's. Then the magazine refused to give those Muslim law students any opportunity to respond to the attacks in the same forum. Thus forcing them to take the only avenue open to them, a human rights complaint.

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