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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Intellectual freedom in Canada: News roundup

Here, Blazing Cat Fur makes known his indignation that the Campbell’s soup company advertises in a paper in which a Holocaust denier also publishes. The thread below it is lively, to say the least.

Here’s what I say about all that:

Some opinions are just so wrong that they remain branded on the brain as exemplars. One of the dumbest I ever heard was that North American media do not have a left-wing bias because they are owned by corporations. The idea was that corporations automatically have a right-wing bias.

Who knew?

In reality, corporations exist to make money for their shareholders. They will make it how they can. They can make money promoting gangsta rap to teens or sanitary aids to old folks. The corporate suits are looking at the balance sheet alone.

I don’t see any problem in principle with Campbell’s selling halal soup. Of their current dozens of varieties, I have personally only ever bothered with about five in my entire life, and have not yet got around to trying two of the ones in my cupboard. I must eventually become a martyr to some dam soup, but will wait till I have dental surgery or something.

Now, as for the corporation: They get a return on their investment? Well, they get a return on their investment. Corporations are amoral by nature. People are not.

Blazing also advises me, that 54% of Canadians in a online Leger poll backed a ban on women wearing burkas in public, surprising the pollsters. I am not sure how to think this one out because anyone who travels on the Toronto subway will soon discover a motley array of female dress/undress.

If someone boarded the subway in a gorilla suit or a space suit, I would probably be too tired to notice or care. If he said that his religion required that, I would think it was a pretty stupid religion, but would hardly provoke a public uproar by telling him so.

The key question is, is she doing it because she wants to or because she fears family violence if she doesn’t? For a Canadian, that should be the heart of the matter, not rules against religious dress.

I completely agree with Blazing Cat Fur that we must confront anti-Semitism among new immigrants, in an appropriate way. My father likes to say that anti-Semitism is the surest sign of a low-class upbringing, so the best way to confront it is public shame, not a big government bureaucracy, as happens now.

And where are we? There are “death to the Jews” marches in Canada, while the government raised heck with a retired (now deceased) Indian chief ranting against Jews somewhere on the Prairies, to no particular effect.

That is the trouble with government. It enforces what is easy to enforce. The trick is to force government to confront what matters.

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