Response

-On Governments and Liberty: Basic government protections are necessary for the codification of individual civil liberties. There is a massive difference between individual civil liberties and group privileges. Additionally, equality of opportunity is foundational to classical liberalism. Equality of outcome is not, Indeed, government action to promote certain social outcomes tends to either fail or result in serious negative consequences for society. In Sweden, political action to promote greater diversity of the sexes in the workplace has had very limited effects. A major reason why is that such political motives rarely take into account different decisions men and women make. Additionally, people in free societies are generally paid for the value they bring to the market. Discrimination does obviously still exist however the best path for combating it is to promote equality of opportunity (see the work of feminists Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Sommers). An extreme example of government intervention to engineer certain social outcomes would be Venezuela (or Cambodia under the Marxist Khmer Rouge).[1] In short, government action is beneficial in creating a space in which individuals are able to experience the maximum degree of freedom with the fewest possible constraints and abusive when passing legislation to engineer certain outcomes including granting privileges to certain groups. With respect to C-16, there is no ‘transgender community’ but only transgender individuals. From a legal perspective, there is a major difference between the two.

-On C-16 and pronouns: If someone who wants to be called ‘zhe’ encounters someone who refuses to use that pronoun, would this be considered discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression? If so, could it legally result in a fine? If the person is fined and refuses to pay, could that person end up in jail? I am concerned with legal realities. The above situation is one Jordan Peterson mentioned on The Agenda with Steve Paikin. On C-16, the criminal code amendment specifically -subparagraph 718.2(a)(i) states: “evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or on any other similar factor.”[2] That the bill does not explicitly state that people will be mandated to use certain language is clear. However, the wording of the bill is vague enough that someone could conceivably face legal consequences for not using a person’s preferred pronouns as that could constitute discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Therefore, the conclusion you reach in response to concerns about C-16 and pronouns is, at best, quite misleading.

-On top-down vs. bottom-up approaches: I think we will have to agree to strongly disagree on this one. The ability for the government to ‘speed along’ civil rights is questionable at best. In the push for marriage equality, for example, they did little more than dot the ‘i’s. Promoting equal rights for individuals is the result of dialectic. The entire history of the English Common Law tradition (upon which both the Canadian and American legal systems are based) is one of the gradual expansion of individual civil liberties, promotion of equality of opportunity, expansion of freedom of speech, and secular government in response to the increasing presence of greater numbers of people in national dialectics.

-On non-standard pronouns: I think it does a grave disservice to transgender individuals to conflate their desires for greater acceptance with the theoretical use of non-standard pronouns.

-On C-16, political idealism, and political realism: You look at C-16 in the abstract, based on the stated intentions of the bill. You pay little to no attention to the bureaucracies of government and how they operate, the legal boundaries of what constitutes discrimination based on gender identity or expression, the biological and psychological background of the terms ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression,’ the problematic nature of group privileges in contrast to individual rights, and have not offered a refutation of the question Jordan Peterson posed on The Agenda with Steve Paikin regarding whether or not refusing to use a non-standard pronoun (if found to constitute discrimination) could result in a fine and potential jail time for not paying.

-On defending the law and opposing Peterson: Within the context of this discussion, I understand your main aim is to refute Peterson (though you have yet to do this). Outside of this and similar discussions, it would be incumbent upon the defenders of C-16 to argue why the law is needed. The burden of proof is on those defending legislation. For why you have failed to refute Peterson, see the previous paragraph. Even if, as you claim, that the refusal to use certain pronouns could only land someone in jail in conjunction with another action (which is by no means clear) the law is complex enough to be misconstrued/abused by administrators at Wilfrid Laurier University who (I would argue) used it in a power play to silence a contrary opinion. Can you at least agree that the law and terminology which it employs are complex enough to be misconstrued to a great degree? I have taken law classes at the university level, taught by practicing lawyers. From my experience studying various supreme court decisions, the organic nature of a common law system is necessary due to the complexity of laws and how they play out (for one such notable example see Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co (1928)). C-16 has gotten off to a rocky start. In the previous year, it has been the subject of quite a lot of controversy, much of it having nothing to do with transgender rights. Maybe the professional training of judges and lawyers will be enough to maintain the ideas of English Common Law but maybe not. The question of compelled speech is a valid one. What exactly is mean by the terms ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ is mentioned several times on various Canadian political website but the boundaries of such terminology are far from defined legally (or scientifically).

-Your view on pronouns: Just a question: Let’s say John came up to you and asked to refer to him as ‘his majesty,’ stating that it is a pronoun which better fit his idea of himself than the standard ‘he.’ Would you do it? Or would you see that this nonstandard pronoun thing is devolving into special privileges. I would argue that one should be open-minded enough to accept new ideas but not so open-minded that one’s brain falls out. Non-standard pronouns are used by almost no one. There may only be a couple people in the entire world who use the ‘zher’ pronoun in a serious sense, for example. Politicians are unable to accomplish basic things like maintaining the infrastructure. That they should spend time considering group privileges (in this case, based on pseudoscientific ideas such as radical social constructivism) is disconcerting to say the least.

[1] Real Socialism (that is, socialism which exists in the real world) has proven disastrous. Theoretical socialism is generally an upper-class fantasy (this is clearly illustrated in The Road To Wigan Pier by George Orwell, despite the author’s sympathies toward socialism. Modern university socialists probably have more in common with Marie Antoinette and her fantasy of living as a ‘peasant’ in a country mansion surrounded by perfumed sheep — both are romanticized views of what the lives of poor and working classes were and are like.

[2] https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-16/first-reading

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