GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

January 23, 2008

Covenant Zone

Filed under: GA — adam @ 5:57 pm

 Another urgent post by truepeers over at Covenant Zone:



  1. well, i thought the wording of this particulat post to be just a little over the top and almost doctrinaire in its overall effect somehow.. the mimetic theory very quickly recrudesces into identifying the ‘real nazis’, no? I mean, would a casual reader of this post come away with much than that, do you think? especially if he was actually like, visiting from the ‘otherside’?

    I also thought ‘hmmm, so these chaps treally believe there ARE NO ‘right-wing religious bigots’ in the continental united states or provinces of canada? That a person’s ‘personhood’ is actually distillable out from his sexuality somehow? That Himmler and co’s fancies should discredit the fight for proper treatrment of animals?

    Comment by lightweed — January 25, 2008 @ 7:57 am

  2. It is a blog entry written in protest of some pretty oppressive (and potentially much more oppressive) practices of the postmodern state regulated by the regime of “international human rights” so it is angry, and says so, but what, exactly, is your yardstick for measuring the appropriate degree of outrage? What is the “top” and what goes “over” it? I take part of the point of the post (and the series of posts it follows up on) to be that such questions can only be worked out in civil society, through dialogue, through me deciding I don’t want to listen to you anymore (or you me), or me trying to persuade you to tone it down, etc.–the problem is that the state has now arrogated to itself the right to make such calls, which means power flows from the intensity of expressed outrage. And that arrogation is an appropriate cause of outrage, because such outrage is in the name of the liberal center that makes it at all possible for us to freely discuss this in the first place.

    I took part of the value of the post to be the way it presses GA into service in making public arguments regarding the hijacking of public discourse by the outraged victims and their self-proclaimed spokespeople. Do you accept its contention or, at least, suggestion, that the arguments it reproduces from Gans and Bertonneau could quite easily, under the terms of the law it cites, be forbidden as “hate speech”? Is my comment, here, hate speech? Could I not be said to be exposing protected groups to hate and contempt–after all, I am accusing them of “hijacking” a process–aren’t there subtle, insidious undertones there, shades of the claim that all Muslims are terrorists, raising the spectre of 9/11, etc.? I could write up the complaint myself in fifteen minutes.

    So the questions don’t really concern sexuality and personhood or the quantity of right wing bigots in North America. Do you honestly believe that any other measures are necessary to counter genuine bigots aside from the opprobrium that anyone who expresses explicitly racist comments recieves, or the protection laws against incitement to violence (and, of course, violence) provide? Please explain how my saying that the Christian tradition forbids homosexuality and I accept that tradition as my own and agree with that judgment, all by itself, increases the likelihood that violence will be committed against a gay man or lesbian? I can’t stop anyone from shunning or ridiculing me for saying so; I can’t stop others who agree with me in general but want to more insistently and explicitly disassociate themselves from even the remote possibility that someone will act violently on such beliefs from doing so; I can’t stop others from undertaking to reinterpret that tradition, or to explain how I’m misunderstanding it, etc.–all of this is what makes for free public exchange. If the state steps in and says I have committed a crime, none of this happens. And that’s the point.

    Comment by adam — January 25, 2008 @ 9:27 am

  3. Thanks, Adam; I (truepeers) am not trying to argue against the existence of right wing religious bigots or to settle the questions of sexual desire.

    But Lightweed is right that the post’s tone is somewhat “over the top” in relation to a law that is just that.

    The human rights law in Canada developed the notion that truth is no defense when you are accused of a crime of “discrimination”, real or potential, against a validated victim or victim group, out of the judgment on the prosecution of a neo-Nazi, Ernst Zundel, who was an early pioneer of www antisemitism. Backed, in part, by the leading Jewish organization in Canada, the human rights establishment has made prosecution of “neo-nazis” central to their concern. But today, these left-leaning Jews don’t quite know what to make of the fact that their questionable law and tactics have now been turned on Jew-ish writers by Muslim radicals.

    More outrageously, allegations have now come out in the Canadian blogs that agents and a serial user of the Canadian Human Rights Commission have been posting nasty or provocative stuff under pseudonyms at neo-nazi web sites in order to drum up cases against these very same web sites. Unless a certain website, embroiled in its own legal dispute with these “human rights” people, and that is presenting the details to the bloggers, is engaging in a neo-nazi fraud, the evidence for this claim seems to be good, even admitted in some degree in the (alleged) trial transcripts of people charged with hate speech.

    So, it may be hyperbolic how I have put things, but the reality does seem to be that GA is quite right in warning that the asymmetrical “Nazi-Jew” relationship is readily inverted and compounded by a victimary culture and state. Such www “entrapment” (it’s more than that) of “nazis” by an organ of the state is not full nazidom, to be sure, but it is a gesture towards a totalitarian state that could turn itself (back) on Jews in the present or future.

    The way the courts have evolved Canadian human rights law is to suggest that constitutional guarantees of free speech are rightfully limited as is “justfiable in a free and democratic society” – following the wording of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In other words, they have institutionalized judicial and quasi-judicial procedures to, on occasion, pass judgment, for example, on when journalists are being fair and balanced. Instead of admitting the reality that journalists are inevitably political animals, and deferring to decentralized and market means of negotiating differences and rewarding or punishing free/hate speech, they have set up a legal system where all sorts of claims of discrimination can, in theory, be referred to high arbiters of the “mommy” state that takes on the duty to treat every offended “child” fairly, i.e. without fair or unfair discrimination. One may not be allowed to be “over the top” if one thinks, say, one side in a (potential) dispute is clearly the ethically weaker side. A magazine like Maclean’s (now being hauled before the tribunals, at considerable expense, as publisher of “Islamophobic” Mark Steyn) is pressured by the law to giving “the other side” equal care and consideration, if the latter are capable of claiming victim status according to the law’s privileging of “historically underprivileged” groups.

    The great and heroic “balancing” acts of the judges, for which they have established various protocols in claims of “discrimination”, and competing claims of free speech, suggest a world view in which ordinary people continually defer to high arbiters, or lawyer make-work projects, instead of negotiating and marginalizing hate speech in our own decentralized arenas. I see this as a form of soft tyranny, what a friend calls “velvet fascism” or what the recent Goldberg book calls “liberal fascism”. Whatever the noble ends the judges imagine for their campaign against “discrimination”, the means they must use – institutionalized regulation and judgment of public speech – can only lead to an unfree society, if taken seriously. So I don’t.

    Comment by John — January 25, 2008 @ 1:43 pm

  4. I might add, as to my last point that there is no shortage of criminal and civil law in Canada to which people who feel harassed or done wrong may appeal. The supposed further need for the human rights legislation is thus debatable and its existence suggests a world view in which “discrimination”, now taking the revelation of “Nazi-Jew” oppression to heart, can only be mediated by high officials and courts. The defenders of the human rights law, on the other hand, like to invoke the need to make access to “justice” cheaper (for the state-backed and -financed “victims”; the accused, and those who have regard for common law procedures, established rules of evidence, etc., see the cheapening otherwise).

    Comment by John — January 25, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

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