February 12, 2004 – The BC Supreme Court has applauded the punishment of Chris Kempling for publicly challenging the desirability and morality of homosexual conduct. The ruling calls to mind a warning from George Orwell. “We have now sunk to a depth,” he wrote, “at which re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”
To re-state the obvious: education in a democratic society should teach students how to manage controversy in a manner consistent with democratic freedoms. Among other things, Justice Holmes makes freedom of expression conditional upon its not causing controversy. His message seems to be, “No ‘dissonance’, please: we’re Canadian.”
Teachers who support homosexual conduct may publicly identify themselves, and even form professional associations like Gay and Lesbian Educators (GALE) to facilitate the expression of their beliefs. But their opponents, according to Mr. Justice Holmes, must not do so. They are second class citizens who must learn to live in their closets so that others can participate freely in public life.
Consistent with this reasoning, School District 28 has imposed a gag order on Chris Kempling to prevent him from expressing his opinion about homosexuality in any District 28 facility. But the District has not similarly gagged members or supporters of GALE BC.
As Orwell would say, everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.
The court has not attempted to balance the legitimate interests of those involved in this debate so that societal participation is ensured for all. Instead, it has sided with one group in order to suppress the political and social participation of its opponents.
To re-state the obvious once more: fear of controversial public discourse and the repression of public dissent are not the hallmarks of a free and democratic society.
But if the shadow of authoritarian rule is not troubling enough, Mr. Justice Holmes clearly implies that authentic Christian teaching about homosexual conduct is a harmful lie, and that anyone who spreads such lies – Christian or not – deserves to be punished. The implications of this decision are ominous.
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