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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

How Extremist Are You?



I just took this opinion survey from CBC, and was a bit surprised to find myself right in the centre among all respondents. You might like to try.

Surprised, because I think Jordan Peterson, for the most part, is speaking common sense, and I think Milo Yiannopoulos is funny and inoffensive. Yet I am reliably told by professors at WLU that they are both just like Hitler.

My ranking might be skewed left by some of the questions. For example:

Agree or disagree: 
Canadians have a unique set of values that set them apart from the rest of the world.

My guess is that, had I answered “strongly agree,” their algorithm would put me over on the right. However, I must strongly disagree. There is no such thing as “Canadian values.” That is an offensive term, as offensive as speaking of “Aryan values.” Values are universal, or they are nothing. If values differ, for example, it would be impossible to objectively judge “Canadian values” as better than any other arbitrary set of values: Nazi values, perhaps. People either have values, or they do not. On the whole, in world terms, I say Canadians are unusually moral people. But that is not the question that the survey asked.

All immigrants can retain their cultural identities without being any less Canadian.

I had to somewhat agree. I suspect the algorithm puts that on the left. But I think it is true. Look, for example, at Leonard Cohen or Mordecai Richler: essential Canadian writers, but also deeply Jewish in their identities. And it is not just Jews who can do it. Dennis T. Patrick Sears is both a deeply Canadian, and a distinctly Irish, writer. There is a way to be both ethnically distinct and entirely Canadian. I has to do with not seeing your particular ethnicity as opposed to and isolated from the mainstream, but as a facet of it. Nothing is more truly Canadian than this tendency. We really are a mosaic, and it is our necessary destiny, thanks to French Canada. It is this tendency to get along and feel united in our diversity that we seem to be losing.

University and college officials should have the right to ban people with extreme views from speaking on campus.

I had to somewhat agree, which probably threw me towards the left again. The issue is religious schools, and the problem is not “extreme views.” There is no such thing, properly speaking, as an “extreme view,” and to the extent that there is, these are the very views you want to hear on a university campus: new and unfamiliar ideas. But a school with a religious charter must have the right to find certain views unacceptable, if they are heresy for that religion. Otherwise there is no meaning to the concept of a “religious school.” So it is necessary for religious freedom to allow such restrictions. Even if not religious, if a school has some statement of principles in its charter, it seems proper too for its officials to prohibit speakers who differ from these principles from using campus facilities. Support for the UN, universal human rights, liberal democracy, for example. Freedom of speech is not thereby infringed, because students have implicitly signed on to those principles by choosing voluntarily to attend the institution.

This would not apply in the recent controversy at Wilfrid Laurier University. There is nothing in WLU's charter or mission statement that would prevent the discussion of any issue current in the wider polis. In this case, the views were simply banned as an exercise of arbitrary power by a group of officials imposing their own views, in a public university.

Road signs across Canada should always be written in both English and French.

I have to strongly agree. This probably got me tagged as on the left. But the one part of Canada where this is not currently true is Quebec. I cannot fathom the attitude of those who object to seeing the other language on a sign or a cereal box. Doing so seems to me to simply fall in the category of common courtesy and neighbourliness. You ought to want to encourage it if only to promote tourism. Who does it harm?

Indigenous Peoples in Canada should be free to govern themselves.

I have to agree again, which again probably puts me on the left. Indigenous people have the same right to govern themselves that everyone has. They do this, in the first place, by participating in Canadian elections. They have the additional right to associate and to set up rules among themselves, just as anyone does by, for example, joining a Rotary Club. This is freedom of association. Nobody should stop them if they so desire. They even have the theoretical right to declare independence and become sovereign, just as we recognize that Quebec has this right. It would be a self-inflicted catastrophe for them if they did, but they have the right.

By the same token—and this is more important, but this question is not asked—every individual Indian equally has the right to walk away from any form of aboriginal government, and not suffer a loss of rights for it. Such associations, within Canada, must be voluntary—freedom of association. This is the pressing issue currently.

Francophones and Anglophones should be able to receive public services in their own language anywhere in Canada.

I had to somewhat agree. They ought to be able to receive services from the federal government in their own language. It seems to me impractical to expect services from provincial and municipal governments in either language where numbers do not warrant it.

On other questions, however, it seems to me I should register as on the right: no, we owe no more to the natives; no, it is not important to have more visible minorities in senior positions; I am “very proud” of Canada's history. No, rich provinces should not share with poor provinces (there is such a thing as moving for work). Yes, the effects of climate change are exaggerated. No there has been no cultural genocide of native people in Canada. No, people who were born male but identify as female should not be allowed to use women's washrooms (at least, not without some objective standard, like a surgical change or a change of status on their birth certificate; but such qualifications were not allowed by the question). No, people should not be allowed to cover their faces for religious reasons when receiving public services—but only because nobody has to cover their face for a religious reason. The claim that Islam does is a scam, and allowing it is only too likely to enable scams. Arab countries do not allow it, and we should not. If any religion did require this, the matter would be different. No quotas for women; quotas for women are discriminatory, as are quotas for “visible minorities.” No, white privilege is not a thing.

I begin to suspect that Canadians as a whole are not nearly as leftist as we are claimed to be, or as our “elites.”


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