Many Canadians are expressing their disapproval of Motion 103, which was passed in March to officially condemn “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination, the National Post reports.
They dislike it because it singles out one religion for special consideration and because they don’t believe Canada is a systemically hateful nation. But they particularly fear its implications, as the principals behind M-103 — proposer MP Iqra Khalid, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, and Muslim community spokespeople — keep balking when called on to define “Islamophobia.”
Formal hearings conducted by the Canadian Heritage Committee are revealing discontent and disapproval by many of those testifying, an attitude that is congruent with the results of many polls on Canadians’ opinion on the controversial Motion.
It’s unsurprising that the public has largely chosen not to engage in this type of legislative virtue signalling. Almost everyone agrees that disavowing blatant racism, xenphobia, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of hatred is morally justified – but doing that in the form of vague legislation is not the answer.
The definition of Islamophobia is loosely defined – any action or spoken word can be construed as Islamophobic. Virtually anything can be labelled as “hate speech” by any individual.
Though not a law, Motion 103 sets a dangerous precedent because it may normalize the criminalization of speech in general.
What is “hate speech?” Unfortunately, you won’t know until you are arrested or fined.
The process of making certain thoughts, ideas, questions, artistic expressions, and scientific studies illegal is a sinister one because anyone who wields power at a particular moment can take advantage of the vague definitions, pronouncements, and provisions embedded in these “hate” laws to pursue their own political agenda. A part of this agenda may include silencing or imprisoning those with whom they disagree with.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
– George Orwell, Animal Farm
In a free and democratic country like Canada, we sometimes take it for granted that open and honest speech is what allows us to debate issues and solve problems without resorting to violence.
While true equality in the domains of personal income, social status, and health may vary, we should all be equal when it comes to expressing our ideas and arguments. No one should be deemed privileged enough to have special legislative treatment conferred on them – such privilege can be abused and used as a shield to attack those who have none. No one has the right to demand that we not “offend” them, at the expense of having controversial, but sometimes necessary discussions.
Without the emphatic embrace of the discussion and dissemination of controversial ideas, we may have not abolished slavery or given women equal rights – these were considered offensive and dangerous at one time. It’s those emotionally and morally contentious topics that sometimes result in social, economic, and political justice.
Even though the nations of the West are majority Christian, there are no laws on the books or widespread protesting on the part of the public to prohibit or politically condemn those who criticize, demean, or satirize the Christian religion. We only have to go back to the late 2000’s to be reminded of the harsh censure Christians had to endure from the likes of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens.
Islam, and any other religion or philosophy, should be open to the same critiques and scrutiny. No ideology or group of people are infallible – in a free society everything should be discussed and debated. We don’t know in advance what good can emerge from a controversial discussion, nor do we know what evil can emerge if bad ideas are not identified and publicly repudiated. We should never let bad ideas sit in the dark where they can grow stronger and stronger – sunlight is always the best disinfectant.