A worrying trend has developed in Canada and it threatens the very basis of free speech. Certain people no longer say, “I disagree with you”, but “you shouldn’t be allowed to say that.” It occurs in all areas, but never so often as when homosexuality is discussed.
One example I particularly recall concerned a stylish and elegant book entitled Divorcing Marriage. Published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, it consisted of a series of essays by various scholars and lawyers on the subject of homosexual union, children’s rights and related issues. It was edited by Daniel Cere and Douglas Farrow.
Unlike some of the writing on both sides of the argument, this was well-documented and highly intelligent stuff from some first-class minds. It is, in fact, just the sort of offering all thinking people should have welcomed in such a vital and sensitive debate.
Although the premise of the book was that there are inherent dangers in this social experiment, one of the essayists was a gay man. Another was Margaret Somerville, one of the leading bio-ethicists not just in North America, but in the entire world. Philosophy rather than polemic, analysis rather than anger.
The book had supporting comments on its cover, from extraordinarily impressive intellectuals. David Novak, Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law at Harvard. Jean Bethke Elshtain, Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago. Janet Ajzenstat, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, McMaster University.
But not according to the student newspaper at McGill University, The McGill Daily. “Every now and then, for reasons hard to decipher, the press churns out a text so reactionary you can’t believe it was published by educated people.”
There’s fine writing for you. Then again how would I know? I’m probably not an educated person. The screaming editorial then suddenly realized that it could decipher the reasons why the book was published. And they are all about conservative conspiracy and really nasty people who, one assumes, torture kittens in their spare time.
The book was rushed through, the piece decided, in order to challenge the Supreme Court on the issue of homosexual marriage and, yes, to sell books and make money. My goodness, what swine! Actually the book had been in the works for a long time and it is only fitting that it should have been published when its subject was popular.
In one small editorial about a book on marriage, the McGill writers managed to mention not only Hitler, but also racism and western populism. Oh, and “right-wing”. Twice. Then came a classic. They also objected to the book because “the cover is ugly.” Right, yes, see what you mean. After all, I would absolutely adore Kafka and Tolstoy if only their covers weren’t so awfully dull.
In all seriousness, this was nothing less than an attempt to censor contrary opinion. What the article did not mention were the threats, sometimes to their lives and families, received by some academics that oppose homosexual marriage and the concerted campaigns to boycott their lectures and even have them fired.
It is worth considering the wider context. There is a veritable flow of books, articles and news shows about the merits of homosexual marriage. Those who oppose the phenomenon tend to be marginalised and often silenced, particularly in our universities.
Within the Canadian academic world it is, quite simply, unwise to oppose any contemporary liberal icons, and none is more iconic that homosexual marriage. “Our university press, especially when it comes to sensitive social issues, should pursue a higher objective: publish only good books” said The McGill Daily.
But this was and is a good book, as witnessed by people who know a little more than student journalists on a college rag. Good or bad, however, has nothing to do with it. It’s about right or wrong, politically acceptable or politically incorrect, in the eyes on an increasingly intolerant wave of opponents of free speech.
This story is worth remembering at a time when even alleged Catholics try to promote homosexuality in Catholic schools, when the mayor of the country’s largest city is abused and libeled merely for refusing to attend a homosexual parade involving debauchery and nudity, and when anybody who questions even a minor aspect of the homosexual agenda is certainly ridiculed, possibly professionally destroyed.
Supporting the cause of life demands a love for all people. But love for people is not the same as love for all that people do, say and believe. That’s a concept I am rather, well, married to.
Michael Coren’s new book is Why Catholics Are Right (McClelland & Stewart).