Saturday, April 05, 2008

Quintuple standards, and counting...

I don't have much more to say about the travails of David Ahenakew than I said back in 2005. But it's telling indeed, I think, that he continues to be subject to civil banishment while the conservative commentariat are already trying to downplay the hateful remarks of Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski.

Is there no statute of limitations on homophobia, Damian Penny asks?

Well, that's a very good question, and I, for one, haven't heard a good answer to it. I'm not even sure I have one myself. What I have noticed, however, is that different standards are being applied all over the place, and the time factor doesn't seem to have much to do with it.

In 2006, Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, a passionate defender of the Saskatoon police implicated in the infamous "starlight tour" that killed Neil Stonechild, was caught in a lie: he falsely claimed that the police were simply dropping off local Indians at a "drinking shack."
No apology was forthcoming. He remains an MP to this day, although, despite the strong backing of his boss Stephen Harper, he had to quit as Chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

That same year, while Ahenekew was in the news again because his hate-speech conviction had been reversed on appeal, a prominent Ottawa rabbi was awarded an honorary doctorate from my own alma mater, Carleton University. This was despite the fact that he was known to be a sitting member of the "scientific advisory committee" of a homophobic outfit in the US that promotes "reparative therapy" to "cure" gays of their homosexuality. It wasn't six years before, or seventeen, but at that very moment in time. Violating its own human rights policy, and to its shame, Carleton went ahead with its award. A local right-of-centre talk-show host expressed indignation that the good rabbi would be subject to unseemly protests. And Rabbi Bulka subsequently received a United Way "Community Builder" award.

Meanwhile, a comment by a CTV journalist about "knuckle-draggers" has attracted the ire of She Who Must Be Obeyed. Robert Fife has now officially joined the bigot community, by virtue of having
attacked bigotry in a phrase. The same source that wants us to forget all about Lukiwski's hateful views, and urges addicts to share needles, infect themselves and die, would like us to rise up angrily when it is suggested that a homophobic Conservative is, well, somewhat less advanced on the evolutionary scale. Come on. This was merely hyperbolic, maybe a tad rhetorical, but now we have a whole new minority to protect. And here I thought the Right was against precisely this sort of proliferation. Is it perhaps the notion of evolution that offends?

Anyway, to sum up: Ahenakew will never be forgiven, as long as he lives, for his anti-Semitic remarks. Strong voices are raised to rehabilitate
Lukiwski for his homophobic remarks. An MP who falsely used an anti-Native stereotype to defend police brutality against Native people in Saskatoon is still an MP, and has never apologized. A rabbi is given an honorary doctorate whilst serving as an advisor to homophobic quacks. And a senior CTV commentator is called a "bigot" for using a colourful word to describe a homophobe.

Double standards? That's for wussies. Try four or five, for starters. This is politics in Canada, folks, and we've got enough standards for everyone.

ERRATUM: My original title was "Quadruple standards and counting," and it appears thus in the Progressive Bloggers blogroll. My apologies, but the count goes on.

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