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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Tourism Chilliwack rolls out mobile visitors’ centre in an RV called Winston

Part of an innovative recovery plan following the hit local tourism has taken from COVID-19

Search continues for person seen floating in Coquihalla River in Hope

Rescuers halted the search Thursday night as darkness fell

Missing Chilliwack woman has not been in contact with family for several months

The RCMP are asking for the public’s help in locating 35-year-old Chantelle Chenier of Chilliwack

Rescuers halt Coquihalla River search due to darkness, after reports of person in river

No information to indicate a child is involved, RCMP state, after this information surfaced on social media

June weather was mostly rainy and cool across Chilliwack

June rainfall total was 83.1 mm close to a normal amount but over more days than usual

UPDATE: Military reservist facing 22 charges after allegedly ramming gates at Rideau Hall

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

Greater Vancouver home sales start to tick up, with prices holding steady

Residential sales last month reached 2,443, a 64.5 per cent jump from May

Langley Lodge’s deadly outbreak declared over

Fraser Health and long-term care home administrator confirm Friday declaration

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read