Doreen Beagan
The Interim

“Canada is a free country,” the young journalism student declared. “We can express our opinions freely.” He had quite bluntly stated his strong objections to homosexual activism and same-sex “marriage.”

Given today’s prevailing politically correctness, it was startling to hear such forthright statements. “In your field, you will need to choose your words carefully when you talk about these topics,” we cautioned.

“But people have a right to information and knowledge,” he said. “We have a right to debate. We have a right to free speech, don’t we?”

Where does one start to explain? With Leon Konik, evicted from his Toronto apartment after 30 years because he placed a sign in his window that read, “Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman”?

With Chris Kempling, PhD, the persecuted B.C. teacher, clinical counsellor, church elder, chairman of his district health council?

With MPs who tried to inform the House of Commons about gay-connected medical problems?

With St. Simon’s Anglican Parish in B.C.? The Knights of Columbus in Durham, Ont. and Coquitlam, B.C.? The hounding of Bishop Fred Henry in Alberta? The veiled threats to other churchmen?

They have all discovered that free speech and freedom of opinion aren’t so “free” these days.

But people do indeed have a right to knowledge and information. Then why is it so hard to get out the truth about the abortion-breast cancer connection? The truth that mercy killing is not “death with dignity”? That school sex education programs are contributing to our social, spiritual and medical problems, not solving them?

A major factor in all of this is political correctness – which seems more and more like an oxymoron. Anne of Green Gables – The Musical depicts attitudes and behaviours in a small P.E.I. community a century ago. After several seasons, the school pageant scene celebrating the founding of Canada was censured for “portraying a demeaning image of First Nations peoples.” The rewrite no longer accurately reflects the attitudes of the era it is meant to depict, but it’s politically correct.

Some Nova Scotia schools recently refused to let students attend a play based on Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mocking Bird. It seems the book is no longer on the school reading list. It does not pass the education department’s “bias evaluation.” In this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, the white lawyer, Atticus Finch, fights in Alabama’s courts for justice for a black man. Called “nigger lover,” he says, “I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody.” He also admonishes, “You shouldn’t call them niggers; you should call them Negros.”

But Mocking Bird is now considered harmful, at least by some. Does that mean “bias” has won?

In his book 1984, George Orwell depicted a futuristic world where disinformation and intellectual bewilderment were the norm. Today, it seems more real than fiction. The chilling words he created – newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime – fit right in with hate crime.

Yet in an essay on the book, Kara Chiodo points out that the human heart is strong and humans are resilient and persistent.

So, with our strength and resilience and persistence, what can we do? Whatever we can, whenever we can. For starters, as Christmas approaches, we can:

• Keep in mind the “reason for the season” and choose wisely the ways we will celebrate it

• Say “Merry Christmas,” not “Happy Holidays”

• Think carefully about the nature of the gifts we give and the parties we host and attend

• Send greeting cards that reflect the occasion more truthfully than Santa Claus, snowmen and reindeer. (And buy them through Campaign Life and local Right to Life groups)

• Encourage community organizations and families to erect nativity scenes

• Pray for politicians, teachers, public officials, parents, clergy and journalists and encourage them to continue bearing witness to the truth, despite the attacks

• We can even go as far as Ken Zakem, who annually erects a large sign in front of his Charlottetown restaurant proclaiming: “Christ is born. Let us glorify Him”

We should also make sure that our nearest and dearest know why we are so politically incorrect. If we all do what we can, maybe Canada will begin to recover and freedom of speech will again be the reality the zealous young journalist thinks it still is.