Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My tipping point

Occam has made recent reference to Walsingham's essay about a nation reaching its tipping point. Occam and Walsingham maintain that Canada, as a nation, has reached its tipping point primarily because of the willful complicity of Ontarians in the Liberal destruction of Canada.

Maybe. Maybe not. It's hard for me to argue that there is literally no hope for this great country, but I think I can understand their perspective.

Today I find myself at a different kind of tipping point.

In a democratic socialist state like Canada, different political groups are always engaged in a "war of all against all", to use Rand's memorable phrase*. Different pressure groups and political parties strive to violate the rights of others in order to protect what they perceive as their own interests. So business groups want to expropriate the property of homeowners (see Kelo); NDPers want to expropriate the property of businesses (see $4.6 billion); some religious believers want to compel a nation of people to live by one interpretation of their Book (see equal marriage); Liberals want to compel a nation of people to die by one interpretation of their Book (see Medicare). I could go on.

Many principled libertarians (such as Jay Jardine) appear to argue that all the mainstream political parties are eager violaters of our natural rights, and therefore none of them deserve our support. In a way I agree, but unfortunately (and I hate to even mouth these words) I don't think that's very practical. I don't mean to imply a dichotomy between theory and practice. I just believe that we are in a position to choose between a "lesser of two [or more] evils". It may be true that the CPC would violate my rights, just like the Liberals and NDP would, and it is certainly morally correct to aver that one ought not vote for any of them. But I have believed for many years that Canada's "right-wing" parties (PC, RPC, CA, CPC) would violate my rights less, or at least more slowly, than the alternatives. So I have supported those parties, with time, with money, and with my vote. I have done so knowing that these parties were not "morally good" parties, but believing that they were at least morally better than the others--if, unlike Rand, one is willing to bargain about inches of evil.

The actions of the CPC surrounding same-sex marriage are changing my mind.

Harper and the CPC appear to be opposing SSM with a tenacity, a ferocity, that they reserve for absolutely nothing else. Not health care, property rights, war, trade, separatism, terrorism... nothing. It is easy to conclude that fighting an inevitably losing battle against allowing gay Canadians to wed one another must be the single most important thing in the CPC platform. We hear from the CPC nothing but compromise on the issues that will actually affect my personal life: compromise on taxes, compromise on medicare, compromise on fatty foods for Heaven's sake. But on a matter which will not directly affect me at all, the CPC is ready (aye, ready!) to Fight To The Death. It has become readily apparent to me that the CPC doesn't actually care about my issues at all. They evidently care about the issues of those who don't much like gay people, and who don't think homosexuality is normal. But I like gay people--at least, I like them as much as straight people, which is to say I like them as much as I like any individual. And I think homosexuality is normal--at least, it's as "normal" as any type of human predilection in which no-one is injured and in which all participants engage willingly. I accept that for millions of Canadian Christians, Jews, and Muslims, homosexuality is considered evil. They're wrong, and I no longer wish to associate with a party that acts as if it agrees with these Canadians.

People can think what they like. Canadians are free to think homosexuality a sin... although one wonders why it seems to be treated so much more seriously than other more injurious sins, like adultery or neglectful parenting. Actually one does not wonder at all. It is terribly easy for the self-righteous to condemn a sin which it is impossible for them to commit, such as having a romantic interest in one's own sex if one happens to have been born straight. A white man may as well consider Africans sinful because they have dark skin. This way of thinking is abhorrent to me. Yet I accept the right of people to hold abhorrent views, and I accept the right of churches to promulgate hatred from their pulpits. I believe in freedom of speech. I just don't want to be the one holding the song sheet.

This has been my tipping point. I am no longer willing to endorse this aspect of the Conservative Party. I made a mistake. I thought it was okay, to bargain away the rights of some Canadians, because other rights (of mine) were at stake. In this political war of all against all, we are each obliged to make this kind of choice, to the extent that we participate in politics at all. I can choose to support Christians and Jews and Muslims in their hatred towards gays (i.e. I can vote CPC), or I can support socialist fools in their hatred towards America and freedom and property of all descriptions (NDP), or I can support corrupt wardheelers in their hatred towards liberty in health care (Liberals). I was willing to make the first choice, because the others were too hideous--and, let's face it, because I'm not gay. It was easy for me.

But it's not easy any more. I was willing to let the CPC's homophobia slide, in part because it was so obviously a losing cause. The Libs and Dips and Bloc were going to pass SSM, so who cares if the Tories wanted to wage a quixotic battle in opposition? I guess the answer today is: I have decided that I care.

I don't mean to pretend some kind of rediscovered virginity in my politics. I know that to engage in democratic politics in a socialist state is to compromise some values--to violate some rights--in the hopes that one can defend and protect other values and other rights. But I have tipped past that point with today's CPC.

If they were willing to say "private health care is a Canadian right," if they were willing to say "we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies in fighting terrorism," if they were willing to say "we support amending the Charter to protect Canadians' rights to property," then I might be willing to tolerate the CPC's distaste for gay people. After all, the NDP and the Liberals actively want me to die: in opposing private health care, these parties are acting to hasten the deaths of any ill Canadian. I'd pick hatred over suicide any day. But that isn't my choice, is it? The CPC aren't offering me anything to balance the hate. It's not hate with a side order of health care freedom. It's not hate with a delicious creamy topping of liberty. It's just hate. And that's not good enough.

So why today? After all, this is nothing new. The CPC have been backsliding away from every single policy in the platform for months now--well, except for the whole gay-people-suck policy, which is evidently carved in mystic runes upon the very living rock. What's new is not the policy weakness. It's today's promise, the first promise Harper has made about what he would do if elected PM. He would overturn equal marriage.

I was wrong. The Flea was right. Jay Currie was right. I was wrong. I cannot support this Tory party. They take my money, they take my time, and they offer me nothing but all-gay-marriage-all-the-time in response. And when the dust has finally begun to settle, once the policy options again open up for Harper and his team of otherwise bright souls, what does he do? He promises to Keep Fighting The Good Fight so that my lesbian friends can't be married.

I can't take it any more.

I'm tipped.

*I am reliably informed that this phrase originates not with Ayn Rand but with Thomas Hobbes, specifically Leviathan. For example, see here. My apologies. My literary background is inadequate to the level of philosophy to which I aspire! ;-) This is what comes from a non-liberal-arts education, I'm afraid... Thanks to commenter "MemeWarrior" for the correction.



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