In early October in Ottawa the police arrested five students from Carleton and Queens universities for displaying a pro-life exhibition at Carleton. They were peaceful, merely expressing an opinion and showing people the realities of abortion. Some of the pictures were graphic in nature but then abortion is graphic in nature and death and killing are bloody and nasty. In an age where violence is shown in gory detail on television and in movies it should not be shocking to see similar and far less romanticized images on the street. This was also at a university where, allegedly, our brightest young people study and question. If they are not being challenged at such a place we are truly doomed.
In Toronto, at almost exactly the same time, the trial began of a man arrested and charged by the police for defending his store against a career criminal with 43 convictions. The police offered the drug-dealing crook a deal if he would help their case against the model citizen of a storeowner. The inescapable conclusion is that while the police in this country are supposed to be guardians of the people, they are increasingly becoming agents of the state. Anybody who has witnessed the robotic arrest of peaceful pro-life activists outside what I now insist in calling “abortion camps” will have seen just how uncompromising and military the police have become.
That they are political, or at least obey political masters, is surely now beyond dispute. Notice how they repeatedly refused to arrest or charge violent native protestors in Caledonia, Ontario even after there was filmed evidence of the demonstrators attacking people and destroying property. Such refusal to apply the law when sensitive or controversial politics is involved is now common in Canada.
Less violent but similarly illegal is the phenomenon of men taking their clothes off and strolling around downtown Toronto during the Gay Pride Parade, sometimes simulating sex acts or participating in the real thing. Those who complain have been ignored or even threatened with arrest themselves if they do not move away. These incidents may not be typical of the parade but they are regular and common and the police must be aware that they happen and will happen again. They appear to have been told not to arrest or interfere, whether the law is broken or not.
What happened in Ottawa with a group of young people with a social conscience, however, is extraordinary. They have hurt nobody, they were not demanding special privileges or grants, they were not insulting people, not even raising their voices. They were displaying a visual argument that the slaughter of the unborn is akin to genocide. Unlike pro-life groups at many other universities they were not physically beaten by pro-abortion zealots, followed home or threatened with death. There is no need to do this when the police make political arrests of those defined as a problem by the university authorities and those who have influence over such authorities.
If anybody walking past the display didn’t agree with it they only had to do what social conservatives have been told to do for decades every time they complain about pornography on television or obscene behaviour: “Turn away.” “Don’t look.” “Ignore it.” Odd how when more conservative individuals are offended they’re called prudes and told to grow up or ignore what they see yet when allegedly liberal types are upset the result is police intervention and hours spent in a cell.
Contrast all this with what was happening in Colorado where five young people were being persecuted by the state for being dissidents. A public and publicly-funded gallery was featuring a picture of Jesus Christ taking part in an obscene sex act. The museum, the artist and the funding have all been defended,by some of the same people who have called for the arrest of activists from the American branch of the movement that participated in the pro-life display in Ottawa.
Or closer to home we should consider the arts event that occurred in Toronto two days before the arrests occurred when a city-wide art show, backed by hundreds of thousands of tax-dollars, featured, among other things, two women posing naked for more than 24 hours. Parents with children were not warned before they entered and some complained. They were told not to have, “such closed minds”.
Actually their minds were not closed but their hearts were open. There is a major difference between having an open mind and an empty one and there is something repugnant about hypocrisy, particularly when it is backed by police muscle and a legal system that prefers political fashion to the absolutes of the law. The right to offend, the right to be different and the right to speak freely are supposed to be protected in Canada under our ancient laws and the more recent Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The same Charter, of course, that seems to justify every strange and weird concept and fashion that arises. There is no business like Charter business, unless you believe that life is sacred and it’s a cause worth making a fuss about.