June 24, 2017

C16 and Forcing Your Religion

By Hendrik van der Breggen
June 24, 2017

C16 and Forcing Your Religion

Remember R.E.M.'s song Losing my religion? In view of the passing of Bill C16, a.k.a. the Transgender Rights Bill, I think a new song should be sung. I title it “Forcing your religion.”

Consider this.

Very apparently, if we take U of Toronto psychologist Jordan B. Peterson's arguments seriously (which I do, because I think they're strong logically and evidentially), then C16 will require Canadians to use a person's preferred pronouns.

Conservative Senator Grant Mitchell, at a November 28, 2016, senate debate said the following in defence of C16:

“There is also the argument that transgender identity is too subjective a concept to be enshrined in law because it is defined as an individual’s deeply felt internal experience of gender. Yet we, of course, accept outright that no one can discriminate on the basis of religion, and that too is clearly a very deeply subjective and personal feeling.”

Here is Senator Mitchell's argument restated: Freedom to identify as transgender is like freedom of religion, so just as I am free to determine and live according to my religious identity, so too transgender persons are free to identify and portray themselves as such to the world.

Hmmm. Let's think.

Here is an insightful reply.

Referring to the above argument at a later senate hearing, Dr. Bruce Pardy, professor of law at Queen's University, states this: “Those are the equivalents.”

“But,” Professor Pardy quickly adds, “here's the one thing that people who claim freedom of religion do not have: they do not have the right to demand that other people agree.”

In other words, in a free society religious people have the freedom to believe (and live as if) religion X is true, but they don't have the right to require others to say they agree X is true too. Similarly, transgender people have the freedom to believe (and portray) themselves as other than their biological sex, but they don't have the right to require others to say they agree with what they believe. Such agreement is implied by preferred pronouns.

So, dear proponents of preferred pronouns, by using the force of law to require others to use preferred pronouns when they disagree with them, you are in effect pushing your religion onto those others. Sheesh. Oh, sorry, I meant Zheesh.

“Oh no, I've said too much; I haven't said enough.”

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College, Otterburne, Manitoba. The views expressed here do not always reflect the views of Providence.

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