Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 5, 2001
The limits to 'tolerance'
Columnist wants social conservatives' steered clear of political power
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
I frequently marvel at how liberals, including social liberals who are fiscal conservatives, can utter the word "tolerance" with a straight face.
Take for example this Jan. 20 outburst by Financial Post editor Diane Francis, a doyenne of Canadian neo-conservatism:
"I don't believe social conservatives should hold political power and influence. That's because they are moral interventionists and totally out of sync with society, which is comprised of social liberals."
Pause, if you will, and carefully re-read that last statement.
Francis is asserting, rather forcefully, that "social conservatives," which is essentially code for Christians and adherents of other major religions who actually try to practise and apply the principles and standards articulated in the Scriptures and doctrines of their faiths, must be relegated to second-class citizenship, and barred from holding public office, because they don't conform to political correctness as prescribed by secularist liberal humanism.
Diane Francis regurgitates sloganeering about how "scary" Stockwell Day allegedly is, but appears unperturbed by her own enthusiasm for disenfranchising millions of Canadians because they don't share her political and philosophical world view on social issues. I find that chillingly scary.
What sparked Francis's tirade was the $800,000 defamation lawsuit settlement that Alberta taxpayers got stuck with as a result of an ill-considered letter Day wrote, while he was Alberta treasurer, to a Red Deer lawyer defending a client on pedophilia charges.
I actually mostly agree with Francis' take on that affair, although I wish she would get a bit more exercised about the outrageousness of the size of the payoff, regardless of who does the paying, but that's grist for another day.
I agree with her that Day acted rashly, even recklessly, that his attack on the lawyer for doing the best job he could for his client was totally wrongheaded, that the pedophilia defendant was entitled to due process and that Day has not handled the consequences of his unfortunate actions satisfactorily.
However, it is a quantum leap from legitimately criticizing the actions of one prominent individual Francis categorizes as a social conservative, to advocating that all social conservatives be arbitrarily banned from public office.
As an unapologetic social conservative, I am deeply affronted by Francis' rhetorical excess, and I suggest she needs to get out more. Out of the ideologically gated community of Toronto finance and journalism, that is.
Reading Francis' commentary, it is obvious that she considers social conservatism to be a minuscule lunatic fringe that can be safely discounted and discriminated against.
I am reminded of the late Queen's University historian (and social conservative) George Rawlyk's recollection that when results of the 1993 Maclean's magazine/Angus Reid poll on religion in Canada were tabulated, Maclean's editors, who inhabited roughly the same sociological/ideological orbit in which Diane Francis circulates, were genuinely shocked and astonished that an overwhelming majority of Canadians (79 per cent) affirmed personal
Christian faith in their own understanding of what that means.
But even if (as is probably the case) social conservatives are a minority in Canada (albeit a much larger one than Francis imagines), does it follow that they should be purged from public life and service because they disagree with the (probable) liberal majority? Unhappily, Francis is far from the first prominent Canadian to contend that they should. Given the self-righteous liberal mantra of "tolerance," this would be a hoot if it weren't so dangerous to democracy.
Can you imagine what would have hit the fan had a journalist of Francis' stature suggested that virtually any other demographic or cultural minority be banned from holding public office? Think about it. Hard.
As for Francis' assertion that social conservatives are "moral interventionists," my retort is "and liberals aren't?" Ms. Francis: join the real world.
Politics is about nothing if not questing after the power to implement a particular set of ideas about how things should be ordered, and application of moral order is part and parcel of that. Liberals are certainly not at all reticent about ramming their code of morality down everyone's throat.
Liberals like Francis declaim that social conservatives have no right to "impose their morality" on society, oblivious to the reality that moral principles must derive from somewhere, and conveniently arguing that secular humanist values are somehow "neutral," and don't constitute an equivalent imposition when written into public laws.
Freedom House's 1998-99 global survey of political rights and civil liberties found that of the 88 countries rated as "free," "79 (90 per cent) are majority Christian by tradition or belief."
Christian principles are the greatest inspiration for just society and good government humanity has ever known, or will ever know, and secular humanists want to chuck them out and replace them with the banality of liberal political correctness. Shame on them.
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