Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I had a very interesting lunch today. I was invited to attend a special luncheon meeting, hosted by the local Campaign Life office. Let me say first of all the pizza was delicious. I am very influenced by the quality of pizze available to me. I will also say that it felt a bit funny being the token protestant. I mean no disrespect, its just pro-life meetings and movements are heavy with catholics. Not, to quote Jerry Seinfeld, there's anything wrong with that.

Besides the pizza and demographics what made it a fascinating time was the speaker. The guest was a well known member of parliament who is very outspoken on this opinion of pro-life and other subversive thoughts. He was extremely articulate, quoting from diverse thoughts as the US Declaration of Independence to John Paul the Second. He discussed what is the definition of democracy and in light of this day and age, it's important. He states that democracy, to be understood from a Christian perspective is that it is a system of government that is predicated on the truth of the human nature, that made in the image of God and as such possesses inalienable and inviolable rights. He further stress that any democracy which does not adhere to this principle is in danger of turning into a veiled form of fascism.

All this was said in light of recent directives from the Prime Minister who believes that the issue of abortion is not to be discussed on any level. As you may know Stephen Harper said he would allow a private member's bill to be tabled on the issue of abortion and that there would be a free vote. What the speaker pointed out despite the hue and cry, this is simply enforcing the rules of parliamentary democracy. This is true, there is a place for private member's bills, they are accured the right to a free vote and many are so tabled. Usually the bill tends to be defeated but it allows members of parliament to bring forward issues they feel is important. It appears the man, Paul Martin, who once lamented on the "democracy deficit" is willing to increase the deficit on this one issue.

I have real problems when anyone decided that an issue can't be debated in an open manner, I wonder if it is because the side desiring the suppression cannot argue their issue in an open manner. what is the problem, is abortion an issue that can stand on its merits? What other social issues will Paul Martin declare to be not open for discussion. I wonder are we truly in a time where democracy is becoming a veiled form of fascism? In the quest for tolerance are we becoming intolerant. Whether a person agrees or not we live in the age of the marketplace of ideas. The idea of the marketplace was articulated by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. He believed; "In 1919, Justice Holmes filed a dissent in Abrams v. United States in which he created the powerful and enduring "marketplace of ideas" metaphor to encapsulate the concept of freedom of speech. In the marketplace metaphor, ideas compete against one another for acceptance -- with the underlying faith that truth will prevail in such an open encounter." This analogy is crucial for the survival of democracy, if we place arbitary limits, not for reasons of human safety but for reasons of a particular idealogy, we undermine democracy. If you want to read more follow this link.

It has to be understood that democracy can be messy, people can and say some rather unpleasant things, they can espouse views which are not very nice. However do we say that because we shouldn't say such things, are we empowered to supress them. Most people would probably agree that such thoughts should be suppressed, but what if its your turn to have your thoughts suppressed. The Poem on the wall of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC says it best: " "When they came for the gypsies, I did not speak, for I am not a gypsy. When they came for the Jews, I did not speak,because I wasn't a Jew. When they came for the Catholics, I did not speak, for I am not a Catholic. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak."

Where does it end is the question, what next shall be declared sacrosanct and no longer discussed. In our day and age of alledged tolerance, heaven help you if you uphold an opposing view, because you shall be declared a danger and a threat to society.


No comments: