The indefatigable Ezra Levant has again dug up another under-reported story for Canadians, this time out of Nanaimo City Council, no less.
Alas, while the Sun TV host is irrepressible at scouring the nation for nuggets ignored by the mainstream media, he was again on the wrong side of history this week.
Ezra publicly found fault with the decision of Nanaimo's democratically elected councilors to tear up a signed deal with a Christian leadership group and prohibit it from using city property to it hold its video-link Leadercast conference.
Unable to get with the program, Ezra criticized the decision as a violation of free speech and the epitome of intolerance, not to mention a blatant breach of contract. He was particularly piqued about a motion to protect the Vancouver Island city from any risk of having such a group granted permission to rent civic facilities in future.
The council's near-unanimous vote to prohibit "any events that are associated with organizations or people that promote or have a history of divisiveness, homophobia, or other expressions of hate" was, Ezra argued, such unconscionably broad guilt-by-association that it could include U.S President Barack Obama.
Obama, after all, came out only relatively recently as a supporter of gay marriage and therefore could, by the measure of the motion, be considered a a past-tense homophobe inimical to the political purity of Nanaimo and, indeed, all of Vancouver Island. ("Just tell the Secret Service we're not letting their President off the ferry.")
Worst of all, Ezra maintained, the motion was passed—and the Leadercast conference banned—even though it nothing whatever to do with gay rights or homosexuality. Its only (highly tenuous) link was that one of its corporate sponsors had supported American democratic groups opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage.
"Banning divisive people, and expressions of hate, eh? Sounds like the council was describing itself," according to Ezra.
Admittedly, there's a certain seductive logic to his critique. Yet is it not time to acknowledge why his jeremiads for free speech, robust pluralism, and protection of Christians from fashionable bigotry fall only on deaf ears? How could such caviling possibly matter in our immediate shining historical moment of Global Pride Parades and mass same-sex weddings?
In truth, given the moment's opinion, what exactly did the Nanaimo councilors do wrong? What is the problem with them reneging on their legal obligations to mere Christians? Why should they hesitate to create strict standards against potential hate-risk thinking and even—zounds!—the speaking of thoughts that might have the associational power to be perceived as approximately homophobic?
As elected representatives, do they not have a duty of care to ensure that all words spoken on all public grounds must make all people comfortable all the time? Of course they do. More, they have the wisdom and discernment to know, in advance, exactly what might, some day in the future, offend.
It is no mere theoretical concern. Until the door was firmly shut on the Leadercast Christians, there was a very real threat that the airwaves of Nanaimo—hence the cosmos as we know it—might resonate with the sound of at least some heads nodding in agreement with statements somewhat like the following:
"Marriage has from time immemorial been firmly grounded in our legal tradition, one that is itself a reflection of long-standing philosophical and religious traditions. But its ultimate raison d'être transcends all of these and is firmly anchored in the biological and social realities that heterosexual couples have the unique ability to procreate, that most children are the product of these relationships, and that they are generally cared for and nurtured by those who live in that relationship."
Or this: "Marriage is by nature heterosexual."
Or even this: "It would be possible to legally define marriage to include homosexual couples, but this would not change the biological and social realities that underlie the traditional marriage."
Frightening, yes? The sort of statements any wise and discerning local city councilor would know at once must be prohibited because of their blatant promotion of divisiveness, homophobia, and hate.
Okay, granted, they are all from the Supreme Court of Canada's 1995 Egan decision. They were part of the ruling upholding earlier decisions from the Federal Court and the Federal Appeal Court that Parliament had the constitutional right to define marriage as heterosexual.
But that's precisely the concern. They are from history, and history is not merely wrong. It is a fountain of shame upon us.
What matters is not what anyone—even the Supreme Court of Canada—thought 19 unimaginably distant years ago. What matters is what we correctly think now, today, this instant.
Is it not, then, the bounden duty of elected leaders to parse the past for fragments of the proto-unpopular and so safeguard us from the incipient hatred implicit in the carrying forward of yesterday's democratic ideals?
Of course it is.
Let those who disagree, those who continue to believe that yesterday's truths can, and should, justifiably be spoken out loud today, understand that they stand on the wrong side of history.
Let them stand and watch Ezra Levant indefatigably digging.