October 21, 2017

The Fight Over Transgenderism Goes Far Beyond Bathrooms

Don Johnson

You’ve probably heard enough about this topic, but the battle our culture is in goes far beyond the question of who has the right to open certain public bathroom doors. My home and native land provides an example of the next step the struggle is taking. The National Post reports on May 17 our government introduced “hate speech” legislation to make it a hate crime to expose someone to hatred because of their gender identity or gender expression.

The federal Justice Minister commented as follows (link here):

“We live in a time when discrimination in any form is completely unacceptable,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told a news conference Tuesday after introducing the bill.

“This is a message of hope to ensure that we recognize gender identity and gender expression and provide the ability in our country for people to feel safe and secure in who they are.”

She said it is necessary to make it unequivocal in law that transgender persons have the right to live free from discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crimes.

In the announcement, they had a child of ten take part in the festivities, ambiguously named Charlie, but saying, “I feel much safer,” now that this legislation was on the table. The article calls Charlie “her,” but we assume he is a “him,” or else there would be no point to his participation. No doubt using truthful pronouns with reference to Charlie constitutes hate speech in someone’s world. The poor child is terribly confused and is being used by the very people most responsible to protect, nurture, and guide him.

Not to be outdone, the current leader of the opposition, the interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Rona Ambrose, announced that she would support the bill when it came to a vote. Fait accompli, there is no political opposition in Canada. If the Conservatives were still in power, it is doubtful this bill would have seen the light of day, but it is disheartening to see that the only political hope for sanity in Canada is absent.

A blog at reason.com explains how Canadian hate speech law works:

Canada’s hate speech law has two notable actionable components. The more severe violation under the law is calling for “genocide,” the killing or “physical destruction” of the protected group. A person convicted of such an offense could face up to five years in prison.

The second category will be the one to watch out for in this particular fight (though both categories are bad law). It is also a violation of the country’s hate speech laws to communicate statements in any public space that incite “hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace… .” Those who violate this category of law face up to two years in prison. There are exceptions in this category for arguments that are founded on religious beliefs and for statements about subjects in the “public interest” that the speaker “on reasonable grounds” believes to be true.

However, concerns remain as to application and enforcement. Who decides whether someone expressing a religious opinion is guilty of “hate speech” or not? Ultimately a court decides, and hopefully someone expressing religious opposition to transgenderism or homosexuality will have the right to protection under the law. But reason.com warns:

And while Canada’s laws may have been written in such a way that appears limited, that doesn’t mean enforcement is. Prosecutors and judges will be the ones deciding what it means to “incite hatred,” and that introduces ambiguity and disagreement. That’s a good reason as well to oppose such laws. That it’s not possible to easily determine whether opinions in transgender bathroom panic debates would violate this law (or whether a prosecutor or judge might decide it does) is exactly what creates the “chilling” environment that attempts to shut down speech that ought to be protected. Back in 2010, Ann Coulter was warned even before coming to speak at the University of Ottawa that she needed to watch what she said because she could be prosecuted there for hate speech. The letter prompted outrage from Glenn Greenwald back when he was still at Salon, and he warned, “Who would ever want to empower officious technocrats to issue warnings along the lines of:  be forewarned:  if you express certain political views, you may be committing a crime; guide and restrict yourself accordingly?”

His warning from back then is particularly relevant now given that college umbrage-taking has dramatically risen since 2010. There are people out there who want to classify speech that offends them as actual violence. Under such a cultural movement, Canada’s hate speech laws are a threat to anybody who holds opinions that the country’s most powerful people believe might be disruptive to their idea of “peace.”

Do you think I and the author of the reason.com piece are too alarmist? Consider the case of Bill Whatcott, a “Canadian street preacher,” who was found to have violated Saskatchewan’s human rights laws by a 6-0 ruling in Canada’s Supreme Court. The Christian Post reports:

In 2013, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a Christian street preacher for distributing fliers denouncing homosexual behavior. The court justified the conviction on the grounds that he used “vilifying and derogatory representations to create a tone of hatred” against homosexuals, according to The Daily Caller. The court held that the pastor’s religious freedom did not excuse him from violating “hate propaganda” laws.

In an article describing this case, the Canadian television network, CTV, gives some description of the fliers in question. In my opinion, the street preacher may not have chosen the wisest method to get his message across, but I wonder what this ruling will mean for Christians going forward.

Suppose someone takes a stand against transgenderism, rightly calling it what it is (an abomination to God and a sign of serious mental or spiritual disturbance in the individual) who finds himself in court over the description. It is not beyond reason to suspect some official will seek to make a lesson of the “offender.” Even if the Supreme Court (or any court) ultimately finds this to be protected religious expression, what will it cost to gain that decision in time and money? Even more chilling, what will it cost in motivating many to keep silent lest they experience the same treatment?

You may be tired of the bathroom wars, but they are only a skirmish on the way to bigger battles and bigger problems as Satan moves men to attack truth, God’s people, and true religion. We should make these matters of much prayer, though it appears our society is sinking quickly into a deep, deep cesspool.


Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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