Equality in the 21st Century
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal.”
– George Orwell, Animal Farm
The former leader of the Wildrose Party, the Alberta Liberals, The Alberta Party, The Alberta NDP, and the left wing media have a problem. The problem is they like lists.
Special interest groups, and anyone feeling marginalized, whether they actually are in reality, all seem to like lists.
I like lists. Shopping lists are invaluable. To do lists make my daily grind easier. Contact lists are to die for. Unfortunately, as much as I like lists they all have one thing in common. They inevitably are missing things. I don’t think I ever go shopping, list in hand and get everything I need. I always get home and realize I forgot something. I forgot it because it wasn’t on the list. How many times have I been driving home from work just to realize there was something I should have done before I left work, and would have had it only been on my list. Many a time I have had the need to call a vendor, an employee or a customer and their number is not in my contact list.
Seldom, if ever is a list complete. The same holds true for lists designed to declare the equality of marginalized groups of individuals. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contains a list of who is equal.
15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.1
The Human Rights Act contains a list as well. In this case it demands that all persons have equal rights and obligations without regards to a list of conditions.
2. The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.2
Both of these lists have several items in common. The most important thing they have in common is they are not exhaustive lists. No list is exhaustive, except perhaps an employee list, or a list of students in a classroom. Even voter lists are notorious for leaving people off inadvertently.
Interestingly enough, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in its attempt to enforce equality, actually makes the listed MORE equal under the law by including the word particular before listing those protected. This seems to elevate them above those not listed.
The Human Rights Act allows me to discriminate based on a person being covered in tattoos, having ungodly dyed hair, or having nose, lip and eyebrow piercings. No? They aren’t in the list. They aren’t protected. Appearance is not protected. I don’t think I can be prosecuted for not hiring someone because their perfume or natural body odour is offensive to me. They aren’t in the list.
To rectify this the only solution is to remove the list. That’s right, remove it.
At the last AGM of the Wildrose Party the membership was asked to vote on changing a policy statement from All Albertans are equal, to a list of Albertans who are equal. The membership voted to keep the current wording of All Albertans are equal. I voted for this. We have kicked this horse until it was resurrected and died a second death. Our former leader, Danielle Smith used this vote as one of her nonsensical excuses for leaving the party, simultaneously crossing the floor to sit as a government caucus member. She used this vote to blame Social Conservatives for running her off.3
To the creators of the English language, this would seem ridiculous. Whomever coined the word ALL certainly intended it to be used as an all encompassing word.
So, the mainstream media, the Twitterverse, Facebook users, and pretty much every Albertan has had an opinion on this. They have accused those of us who argue that ALL is all inclusive of being homophobic, bigoted, religious kooks, and morons. What does that make them? Right… The list does not protect homophobes, bigots and morons. It does, however, include religious kooks. So let’s look at what the Bible says about equality, since, as a religious kook, I am protected.
In Genesis 1:27 the Bible (Torah) states, “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” Gender Equality.
James 2:2-4 states, “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,”have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” Discrimination based upon economic situation.
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” No man’s sin is greater or lesser than another man’s sin. Curiously, Paul used the word ALL, he didn’t create a list of sins. He surely would have been re-writing a lot of the Torah had he chosen that route.
Romans 2:11 “For there is no partiality with God” There is no differentiation between one person and another. Again, no list
In Galations 3:28 Paul nicely sums it all up, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” God does not make socio-economic, gender, or racial distinctions.
There are few if any lists here. Under G-d all are equal. Peter even speaks to the issues on uncleanliness, which would include those things that make one unclean as listed in Leviticus. In Acts 10:28 he says, “And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.”
He says ANY MAN. No distinctions whatsoever.
Being a religious kook, I have a right to state these things, and live by them. While I don’t always agree with a person’s lifestyle choices, I will always agree they have a right to them. I don’t need a list to treat someone ethically and equally.
Forgetting lists for now, let’s look at section 2 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. It speaks very eloquently about people being free to have the life they want. It says nothing about it being my responsibility to ensure they have that life. It speaks of their abilities and that I should not hinder that. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Act that I must top up their bank account if it isn’t equal to mine. It says nothing about economic equality being my responsibility. It places this responsibility squarely on each person’s shoulders.It also states everyone has duties and responsibilities as part of society, but it doesn’t say if you shirk yours, or you choose a lower paying job, I should have to bring you to an equal footing. The Act makes it very clear that we are not permitted to discriminate against anyone on the list, but says nothing about any obligation to place anyone in a position they have not earned or trained for. Thus, it is ridiculous to think I would have to hire a person on the list if they aren’t qualified for the position.
Even the authors of the Human Rights Act believed all are equal at birth, but are responsible for making their own way in life. This is consistent with social conservative values. It has been said that conservatives believe all start out as equals, where liberals believe all should end as equals. Fortunately, the authors of this Act believed all start out as equals and they become what they make themselves become. The only responsibility I have in the equation is not to stand in another person’s way, and not make it so they don’t succeed through any sort of discrimination. Whether or not they succeed is entirely up to them. There is nothing in the charter stating a person working at Tim Hortons should be making the same dollar I make. The charter clearly states that “all” individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have” If they wish to have my position, and my remuneration, they need to take the steps to get there.
The Bible that many write off as gibberish takes this one step further. Neither does it require I top up another person’s bank account, but it goes further than the Human Rights Act. The Bible teaches that we must not look down on another for being different. Social liberals have no problem looking down on anyone they don’t agree with. If I don’t agree with them they have no problem calling me a bigot. G-d forbid I should call them the same for the things they say about those who don’t agree with them.
Perhaps all Acts regarding equal rights should ditch their lists and simply use the word ALL. Then we ALL would be held to the same standard.