OPINION: False equivalences in our public discourse

The two ‘sides’ in some cultural debate aren’t even

For those who pay attention, and for many of us who work in the information dissemination business, it’s been a hard slog, wading through weeks of discourse at such low levels.

One of the big challenges tacitly undertaken by all media is when to cover certain issues and topics, lest we give voice to hatred and ignorance.

The man standing on a street corner shouting conspiracy theories, for example, is a curiosity, not a news story.

And in the debate over controversial issues we see false equivalences abound left, right and centre.

• READ MORE: Neufeld will run again on ‘gender positive’ platform

• READ MORE: Education minister blasts Chilliwack school trustee on gender issues

Much attention has been given lately to school board trustee Barry Neufeld for his “brave” stance in religious defiance of LGBTQ-inclusion in the school curriculum.

This is a man who called those who support inclusion for gay students “radical cultural nihilists.”

We often talk of the two “sides” of issues. But here one is in favour of a teacher resource that “includes” gay and lesbian and transgendered kids, and the other that seeks to “exclude.”

The same false equivalence has emerged over the years regarding all kinds of sex education in schools, feared in some circles as perverse. Knowledge versus ignorance.

Prominent Christian social conservative broadcaster Michael Coren put it well in a wry Tweet: “I sympathize with those who fear that sex ed will sexualize kids. Our youngest studied WWI on a Monday; by Friday he’d invaded Belgium.”

Coren himself has been excoriated because of the content of his 2016 book Epiphany: A Christian’s change of heart and mind over same-sex marriage.

“My children have been called gay, and I have been compared to a child molester and a murderer,” he says. “These are new experiences for me. Until last year, I was considered something of a champion of social conservatism in Canada and was well known among politically active Christians.”

His crime, of course, is moving from exclusion to inclusion.

Another example: Back in September, without any discussion, city council created a new policy directive to deny requests to decorate crosswalks. The only real crosswalk decoration, of course, is the rainbow, which is seen in many cities including Vancouver, Fort Langley and Vernon.

On Aug. 10, city hall received an email request from an individual to put a rainbow crosswalk somewhere downtown. Then, lo and behold, on Aug. 15 the city received a request from Chilliwack Pro-Life to install a “pro-life crosswalk” depicting “painted crosses or infant feet.”

(The woman who sent the email request did not respond to my question about the coincidence.)

The rainbow flag says everyone is OK. Being anti-rainbow flag means not everyone is OK. A “pro-life” crosswalk? That would be an activist statement showing the city condones a position in violation of the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Canadian law ensures fair treatment, and as a result, the City is unable to pick and choose between multiple applicants,” according to a city staff report.

False equivalence.

City governments and elected officials make choices all the time. That’s why women have reproductive rights and why homosexuality is legal.

There are some who would like to return to times when women could not access safe healthcare and gay men were jailed, but as a society we are past that.

The issue of SOGI and sex education has created a really toxic discourse, and not just from the anti-SOGI side.

But the “sides” here are not equivalent.

We can quibble over the details of how the resource is used, but essentially one “side” is about information and the other ignorance.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sarah Wark faces do-or-die match at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Wark’s rink will face Manitoba Thursday morning with a championship pool berth on the line.

Chilliwack Chief Kevin Wall nominated for BCHL awards

Wall is in the running for MVP and top rookie, and will find out if he’s won before the playoffs.

Permaculture group planning a seed swap

The AGM is Feb. 23 for Valley Permaculture Guild members

Chilliwack-Kent MLA unimpressed with ‘classic NDP high-tax-and-spend budget’

Laurie Throness said there was nothing in Tuesday’s presentation for Chilliwack

Effort to move Chilliwack heritage house on Maitland falls through

Next up is an open house where interested parties can purchase heritage elements from the developer

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could save the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Missing Surrey snowshoer caught in avalanche found dead on Vancouver mountain

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

Most Read