Friday, April 22, 2011

A Right Trumps a Privilege

For many years now, the Ontario Government's Official Driver's Handbook has stated boldly on the first page of: "Driving is a privilege --- not a right."

I'll give the one who wrote that example of wrong-headed thinking the benefit of the doubt. He/she was unaware of the meaning of "right" and "privilege".

Having passed the written and practical tests, the applicant has the right to the licence. The government does not bestow it on him as privilege. Should he drive in such a manner as to endanger society, his licence may be revoked.

Thus, drivers gain or loses their licence through their own efforts, or lack thereof, and not through governmental prerogative.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fee-Sniffing Lawyers

Letter to The Globe and Mail, April 21, 2011. Unpublished

The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that judges be permitted to state pay rates for lawyers (Ruling broadens judges' right to decide what lawyers are paid, Apr. 21). This is a good first step.

The next step would completely free the public from the monopolistic practice of fee-sniffing lawyers setting their own rates. A new board of non-lawyers would determine rates, independently of the courts and free of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Only in this way can the public be assured they are paying fair market prices for services rendered.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Human Rights Laws Lead to Despotism

A copy of the blog post has been sent to Jeff Poirier, Senior Policy Analyst, Ontario Human Rights Commission. No reply expected or received.

The European Court of Justice recently ruled that car insurance companies discriminate by charging men higher premiums than those charged to women. The court ignored that fact that these premiums are business decisions based on real-world experience. The frightening point is that the ruling was based on the court's concept of human rights.

Human rights legislation is essentially idealism on paper. It is subject to gross violations of common sense, to whims and notions. Historically, utopian idealism has often led to despotism -- the Spanish Inquisition, American vigilantism, Soviet Communism, Nazi Holocaust, the agrarian utopia pursued by the Khamer Rouge in the 1970s,  In each case, the protagonists believed they were purifying the world of some evil -- heresy, social unrest, religion, non-Aryans, or capitalism. Similar attempts at purification are discernible more recently and closer to home.

A second feature of utopian behaviour is the need to expand. In the examples above, the action was halted, either externally by an outside party or internally by time.

In its near-Messianic yearning for more power, the Ontario Human Rights Commission seeks its version of the perfect society. It has asked for authority to levy unlimited fines on anyone with whose opinions it disagrees. The Commission believes this will purge society of social evils. This is evident in its links to "human rights."

Such tribunals search for more wrongs to correct. For example, overriding the family's right to determine children's education, this Commission has arrogated to itself the mandate to decontaminate all educational material, including that used in homeschooling. All must be approved to insure conformity to the Commission's idea of propriety.

Several years ago, this same Commission sought authority to censor the Internet.

Almost sadistically, it wants to punish anyone who causes injury to another's "dignity, feelings and self-respect" These are the vague, undefined words on which such tribunals base their destructive decisions.

Even if the case is dismissed after horrendous legal costs to the defendant, he has no legal recourse against the complainant as he would have in a real court. The process itself is the punishment, and the perpetrators feel justified..

This conforms to the utopianism described by Brooklyn College philosopher Thomas Molnar as a "delirious ideal stamped with the madness of logic." He continues, "[T]hey want so thoroughly to organize freedom that they turn it into slavery."

Professor Emeritus Ian Hunter of the University of Western Ontario Law School describes how this has occurred. "An important part of the answer I suggest lies in the essential theological nature of human rights legislation. To a secular society, the quest for equality fulfills the same yearning as, in centuries past, did the quest for God. The religious vision of heaven . . . has been replaced by a utopian vision of an egalitarian society to be obtained through charters, human-rights commissions, affirmative action and legislated codes of behaviour."

Before this fledgling despotism begins to fly, we have a choice. Abolish human rights commissions and tribunals altogether, and leave such matters to real courts where innocence is presumed. Or turn human rights laws into real laws with strict limitations and definitions of all operative words. The present criteria of political correctness, feelings, tendencies and vagueness merely fuel the utopian fires of despotism.

The public immediately saw these tribunals as cash cows. By lodging a no-cost complaint, one might demand and receive thousands of dollars. The solution is to order levied fines to be paid into general revenue, not to the complainant. The resultant steep decline in complaints would prove the commissions were hardly needed in the first instance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Terry Jones Wanted for Murder

On March 20, 2011, Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida authorized the burning a copy of the Quran. As a result, in Afghanistan, mobs killed United Nations staff. In Pakistan, Christians were killed, their church burned to the ground. Likely, other acts of violence occurred as a result of his action.

Since World War Two, an expanding concept of justice gave rise to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, as well as a multitude of boards and commissions with international jurisdiction.

The action of Terry Jones gives cause for further expansion of international law.
Jones must be tried for murder. The prosecution should have little difficulty in establishing his awareness of the likely consequences of his act, and therefore intent, as well as a causal connection between his behaviour and the killings.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What is "Islamophobia"?

Note to Jeff Poirier, Senior Policy Analyst, Ontario Human Rights Commission. Unanswered.

Thank you for your reply to my request for the OHRC's definition of Islamophobia. This definition sorely needs editing. I would prefer to see the Commission define precisely, not describe vaguely, the words by which it operates. The OHRC's definition is followed by my suggestions for improvement:

"A contemporary and emerging form of racism in Canada has been termed 'Islamophobia'. Islamophobia can be described as stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general. In addition to individual acts of intolerance and racial profiling, Islamophobia leads to viewing Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional and societal level."
Correction: “contemporary and emerging If something is emerging, it is contemporary. The writer likely meant contemporary and growing.

"form of racism" 

Correction: Islam is not a race. If a Caucasian Muslim were discriminated against by other Caucasians, would you call that racism? The description assumes that all Muslims are of one race. That is stereotyping.

"has been termed" 

Correction: Termed, by whom? The passive voice is inappropriate in serious matters. It indicates hesitancy and doubt.

"Islamophobia can be described" 
Cirrection: The passive voice again. This should state: "Islamophobia is"

"stereotypes ... towards." 

Correction: One does not stereotype towards something. And again the passive voice.

"bias or acts of hostility" 

Question: Is refusal to accept a copy of the Koran when handed out on the street an act of hostility? It certainly is bias. Bias is not necessarily bad.

"individual acts of intolerance" 
Question: As defined by whom? Had I commented unkindly as I returned the book, or accepted it and threw it away, would that have been intolerance? No, it would have been rudeness.

"racial profiling" 

Correction: It required racial profiling for the Toronto School Board to open a school for black students. It is racial profiling to question why there is a disproportionate number of aboriginals in our jails. It is racial profiling to inquire why Asian students on average score better marks than Caucasian students, who score better than black students. Or to ask why 40 per cent of black students drop out of school. Of course it is, but for worthy objectives. Racial profiling is not necessarily bad..

"viewing Muslims as a greater security threat" 
Question: Greater than what? Is viewing them as a great or normal security threat permissible? And bad only when it becomes greater?

"on an institutional and societal level" 
Question:  What does this mean? If it's bad, it's bad on any level.