Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Marriage: The More the Merrier?

It comes as no surprise that a lawyer has filed a lawsuit in the USA challenging the prohibition of polygamy. Those of us involved in the “same-sex marriage cases” said this is where it would lead.

It seems hard to disagree with the lawyer’s claims. As my old girlfriend and dear friend until she died at age 39, Joey Haynes (nee Turner), used to say: “it is just a question of Tab A into Slot B.”

She died some years ago, before the current challenges to the definition of marriage made Tabs and Slots more or less irrelevant. Now those who say Tabs and Slots are irrelevant do not go so far as to say that it is a question of “One” Tab or “One” Slot. For them, as for the traditionalists they seek to replace (those who believe marriage is about “male” and “female”, and one of each) it is still a question of “one” of each. How silly.

The new challengers, those who want group marriages or polygamous marriages, seek to use the same kind of arguments as those same-sex activists who wished to abolish the relevance of (and you’ll excuse the terms) “tabs” and “slots.” The homogenizers won and now the debate is about numbers though why this should be the case nobody will say.

Those who embrace “same-sex marriage” but reject polygamy or group marriage would seem to have a hard case against which to argue. Why, we might ask, are numbers important when the capacity to procreate (have children), the very essence of the "maleness" and "femaleness" requirement, is deemed irrelevant? Same-sex marriage activists say that procreation is irrelevant to marriage but deem that the fact of two persons is somehow critical. But they cannot give a single category that distinguishes "same-sex marriages" from any new claim category.

The gay activists, like the polygamists, are just pulling on opposite ends of the rope that has strangled traditional marriage. Having separated “marriage” from the idea of “maleness” and “femaleness” and those in relation to procreation, the new theorists have unleashed a confused mess upon our societies.

Did the many gay activists who sought access to marriage mean to destroy the traditional concept entirely? Some say “yes” and others, believing the same-sex claims to be a genuine attempt to get inclusion to a meaningful category, said “no.” Time will show, however, that the same-sex claims for access to “marriage” made the category incoherent. Those who want to understand the philosophy of what is going on with claims for "same-sex marriage" must read Dr. Daniel Cere’s affidavit from the marriage challenge case in British Columbia, Canada. It is a superb view of the philosophy and theology underlying the deconstructionist aspects of the current situation:

In such a setting it is not surprising that a single person (in the Nutty lands, of course), and now polygamists, seeks access to the category of marriage.

What man has joined together no logic can split asunder.

Iain T. Benson©

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Supreme Court Asked a Real Question

So the new Justice Minister has put the Supreme Court on the horns of a dilemma. The Federal Government has amended the Marriage Reference Questions. They will, at last, actually ask the Supreme Court a real question rather than simply invite them to give a blessing to "same-sex marriage".

The original Marriage Reference questions represented a serious end-run around democracy. The additional question just added by the new Justice Minister, will make the Court do a bit of work - - perhaps.

Should they actually answer the question (and judges are extremely adept at finding ways to avoid what they do not wish to deal with), they might actually have to decide whether the traditional recognition of marriage, as between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. Gosh, imagine, the Court actually being asked to deal with a legal issue!

Three cheers for Prime Minister Martin and three Cheers for his Justice Minister.

It will do us all a power of good to have the Court address their minds to this question for it is one that the prior approach studiously tried to avoid when they failed to appeal the decisions of the British Columbia and Ontario Courts of Appeal and then threw some ridiculous softballs to the Supremes.

Were I on the Supreme Court, which I am (as of today’s date) not, I would rule that the traditional recognition/definition of marriage could well be constitutional. This would put the pressure for debate and analysis back where it belongs - - on the parliamentary process and take it from where it does not belong - - in the courts.

We need to analyze whether marriage should be extended beyond those who can actually have children. We need to analyze whether, once we do so, we don’t open the floodgates to include polygamy or group “marriages.”

Canada is a poor excuse for a country at the moment. Its systems of government and law are woefully out of balance. The new question gives the Supreme Court of Canada a chance to salvage a bit of its dignity and put the debate about “same-sex marriage” back where it belongs: under the light of public scrutiny.

There needs to be a full scale Federal Government Commission on Marriage. It is no less an important issue than Euthanasia or Reproductive Technologies - - and both of those got full-blown Commissions. You heard it here first!

Let’s see if the judges have the judicial wisdom and courage to do what is necessary and the politicians have the political insight to hold the inquiry we all need so desperately.

Iain T. Benson©

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Belinda Stronach and Politics

The National Post this week carried a cover story that the heiress daughter of the Magna (International Inc.) car parts firm is running for leader of Canada's new united Conservative party. She was said to be attractive, young and a "blank slate" and it was suggested that this was a good thing. "No one knows what she stands for." Perfect. Welcome to Canada where it is a good thing to not have your views known and run for leadership of a party.

The National Post writer suggested her celebrity makes her a sort of "Canadian Arnold [Schwartzenegger]." I think a better analogy would be that she reminds one of that broad toothless smile on MAD magazine - - the face of one Alfred E. Newman - - with his beaming "what me worry?" logo. We could change that to a more Canadian communitarian motto: "What, US worry?"

I suppose if she were competing to head a company, such as the one founded by her Father, Frank, and now run by her, it would be a bit surprising if part of her application procedure was to admit to Frank (we might call this a frank admission) that she knew nothing about business!

Being young, blonde, female and rich isn't enough for politics. Sorry Belinda. Perhaps you might begin considering your ambitions by learning a little about the philosophy behind politics and the role of politics in society. Consider, for example, Aristotle: "the student of politics must study virtue above all things and must study the soul..."

From what we have seen so far it would seem that what Ms. Stronach knows about politics and the soul would fit on the head of a pin. How many of these visually angelic young hopefuls can dance on the pin-like heads of those who take them seriously?

Perhaps we can argue that, having no views on her blank slate makes her an ideal representative of a society in which "beliefs" are bias and the only things that are "neutral" are values such as diversity, equality and tolerance.

Read that last sentence again. There is more nonsense in it than one can possibly believe but to understand why that is so requires much, much more than this latest candidate appears to bring to her ambitions.

National Post Article of January 17th "A Blank Slate" by Anne Kingston.

Iain T. Benson ©

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Tolerance vs. Welcome

The Globe and Mail in an editorial over the New Year has stated that tolerance (which means, I assume, respect) of homosexuals and lesbians is not sufficient. What is required by Canadian society, opined the lead writer, is "welcome." It is such a jolly word that. "You're welcome" said with a smile by the charming young clerk after he has given one a hand with a heavy bag. But is that the sort of "welcome" the Globe writer means? Well, no.

What is being welcomed in the "gay rights" lingo after all? Something more than tolerance is required so it cannot be simply being nice to people - - for that would be tolerance. It was not clear from the carefully written editorial what should be welcomed. But only a sea slug or something equally removed from current politics in Canada could possibly not know what is wrapped up in the "gay rights movement".

The moral claim of that movement is that other moral claims are wrong. The movement's moral views of sexuality should dominate other moral views. Simple as that. And they are very effective at getting the courts to give dominance to their moral view while avoiding the moral question.

It is as if cannibalism were being regulated as a "health issue" without anyone ever discussing what is being eaten or how it got there.

The gay rights movement claims to have a trump card on the public truth of matters that liberals have for several decades said are private matters. Didn't Pierre Trudeau famously say that the "State has no place in the bedrooms of the nation?" Right then. Why are we forced to say that homosexual and lesbian sex is the public norm? And why are we forced to say it through the vacuous language of "giving welcome?"

It is all about the overturning of one moral code by first privatizing the question (see Trudeau's dictum) then slowly but surely litigating until the private freedom becomes the public right. All at the time when religious beliefs are being privatized and religious people are told that their right to religion is only a right that can be exercised privately.

That is why the Globe and Mail can have an editorial demanding "welcome" for gays and lesbians. They have now got "tolerance" but they want more. By "welcome" they do not mean shaking hands or not excluding them from meetings. Oh no. They mean that the rejection of homosexual or lesbian conduct should be viewed as akin to racism. That the moral position that animates all the great religions of the world should be rejected (after all it is religious and should therefore be private) in favour of a new moral public position and that this new moral code should be strictly enforced by law.

For the new modern liberals would like to see such "welcome" driven by law. That is why they applaud when politics caves in before law - - as we have seen with the Federal Government's failure to appeal the recent court decisions mandating same-sex marriage. It isn't really about "welcome" is it? It is about forcing one moral view on those who disagree with it and doing it in such a nice and delicate way that nobody really ever says what is being discussed.

Iain T. Benson ©

Friday, January 09, 2004

Canada, Beliefs and Tolerance

Canadians can rightly boast about being aware of the need to accommodate religious diversity and we have made strides in certain areas. But "some strides" does not justify the sore backs we collectively give ourselves through patting them so often nor establish that we have arrived at some permanent and secure destination.

Though some might disagree with it, the allowing of turbans for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was a superb example of accommodation as was the allowing of Jewish eruvs in Montreal when the city of Outremont had ordered them removed (see: the Centre's LexView of Rosenberg v. Outremont (City), Quebec Superior Court, September 6, 2002. A review of this decision may be found at:

The fact that Sikhs and Jews have had to litigate to establish their rights shows that such victories for religious accommodation did not come easily and that there are radical anti-religious groups or viewpoints thriving in Canada - - or if not exactly thriving, still able to, as in many cases, find Court Challenges money to help them grind their litigation axes.

The maintenance of religious freedom in Canada isn't something we, or any other country should take for granted. Far from it. After putting a piece in the National Post early in January 2004 about developments with French anti-religion, I got an email from a person in Saskatchewan who tells of nuns there being told they could not wear their habits when teaching in a public school and that they had to hang up their crucifixes in the principal's office - - and that was in the 1960's!

Things aren't all that much better now for Christians in Canada. In recent years Canadians have seen case after case in which religious institutions, religious elected officials and religious individuals (many of them Catholics or Evangelicals) have had to fight for their right to manifest their religious beliefs in appropriate ways. Sometimes the challenges have been in the "private sphere" and other times in the "public sphere" but they have never been in a sphere where there are "no beliefs."

The idea of a sphere that is stripped of all beliefs is simply silly. Where there are human actions there will necessarily be beliefs whether religiously grounded or not. So to strip out the beliefs of religious believers by refusing them the right to their religious expressions, beliefs or (as in France today or Canada a few decades ago) symbols means that only the beliefs of atheists and agnostics have a presence. That is hardly fair or democratic. It certainly is not an accommodation of diverse beliefs, it is a denial of them. The current French situation, like that in Saskatchewan earlier, shows intolerance pure and simple however much the French indulge in the vague claims that their anti-religious positions are based upon "the Principles of the French Revolution." Will they start to remove the veils of Muslim girls with guillotines next? That would be both French Revolutionary and revolting.

The idea of "one belief trumps all" in law or politics is a temptation that from time to time religions have given in to and such domination has given many years of argument to those who fear religions. But it is not only religions that can give in to the temptation to dominate. That is the form we would expect a particular temptation to dominance would take in religious ages. The form such domination takes in atheistic and agnostic or secularist (anti-religious) ages - - such as we are living in today, is to make the atheist/agnostic/secularist beliefs the dominant ones. And what better way to be dominant than to claim to be neutral and general and exclude the others as partial and particular?

Yet when all are recognized to be believers (it all depends on what we believe, what kind of faith we have) then it is a question of accommodation of diverse beliefs and faiths not the suppression of them and the elevation of one set to a position of primacy.

Iain T. Benson ©