Harper, Hubris, and Hatred- Why Canada Must Fight For Freedom From Unreason
From time to time I, like many of my fellow countrymen, exhibit a palpable pride at being in our blessed position North of the 49th parallel. This to me is a well deserved smugness, the spoils of living in a society that has seemingly shed the shackles of intolerance and ignorance.
Every so often though I read a story like this and realize that this smugness is bordering on hubris, that the battles we believe are won are still being fought- while the vast armies of reason sit around patting themselves on the back, the minority “moral” jihadists keep the fires of fundamentalism stoked and at the ready.
In the Grade 12 social-studies class at Riverside Secondary School in Port Coquitlam, 25 teenagers turn their attention from text messaging to the well-tailored retiree who is their guest speaker of the week. Immaculate in grey flannels and a buttoned-down shirt, he is far from an imposing figure, easily dwarfed by the tallest girls in the class, but as these students well know, this is no ordinary visitor dropping in on Social Justice 12, the controversial new course designed to combat discrimination in British Columbia schools. Murray Corren is its inspiration and driving force — one half of the gay couple behind the most provocative revamping of the provincial curriculum since the government first dared to inform students about the verboten subject of sex.
In online Christian chat rooms and the right-wing blogosphere, he and his spouse, Peter Corren, have been called every epithet imaginable since they launched a 1999 human rights complaint against B.C.’s Ministry of Education for “systemic gender discrimination.” Seven years later, just as the case was finally scheduled to be heard, the government settled, seizing on the Correns’ proposal for an elective course to combat not only homophobia but bigotry of every kind, including biases against the disabled, the homeless and the poor. To thousands of evangelical and Catholic parents, those topics were mere window dressing to mask the true aims of the course: foisting what some like to call a “homosexualist agenda” on impressionable teens.
This is not happening in the bible belt of America. This is happening in Canada, a country that I thought had grown beyond the battle between what is right and what is holy. While we sat around backslapping and basking in the light of reason, we failed to spot the clouds approaching, ever vigilant to obscure our rights under cover of religion.
We must concede now that we were naive to not see the cloud’s impending approach, that a perfect storm has been brewing in this country for the past few years.
Our Prime Minister has the dubious distinction of being a Jesus Zombie of the neo-conservative bent. His Conservative Party governs under the false impression that their election was won on the strength of their vision rather than a reaction against a tired and arrogant Liberal Party. Every religious conservative in Canada has it in their mind that Canada is ready to start that shameful trudge toward the quasi-theocracy so pervasive south of the border.
The B.C. Social Justice 12 course is a hard fought victory for reason. It is not indoctrination- if anything it is deprogramming; freeing our future generations from the unhindered growth of intolerance planted by our pastors and sowed by society. Telling children that LGBT people are still people, that disabled people are still able enough to feel, that poverty has a human face; none of these are indoctrinations. They are facts.
Go get your intolerance from your pastor or your parents. Schools are places to encounter new ideas, to expand our horizons, to make rational adults.
You have your pulpit to preach your stone age morality to your kids, just don’t expect society to be your complacent co-conspirator.
The world is not darkened to black by clouds, the light continues to find its way, and it shall always be thus.
In the meantime I’ll go get my umbrella.
Video via Camels With Hammers
Note from George- If you are interested in helping fight intolerence, ignorance, idiocy and inaction here is a link to a group founded by my good friend Derek Forgie: