Vancouver Sun

No First Amendment? In Canada, calling a trans woman a 'biological' man is hate speech

No First Amendment? In Canada, calling a trans woman a 'biological' man is hate speech

Whenever I’m looking for news about religion that’s beyond weird, I only have to look north across the border to the latest oddity happening in western Canada.

Canada doesn’t have freedom of speech in the same way we enjoy it down here. Its constitution gives its citizens the right to free speech with “reasonable limits” and its Human Rights Act prohibits the “communication of hate messages.”

And so, if you call a trans woman up there a “biological male,” that can be construed as hate speech, which is what led to a Christian activist getting fine $55,000. We’ll start with what the Toronto Star wrote last week about all this:

VANCOUVER—A Vancouver human-rights tribunal has ruled there’s no room for public debate about whether transgender people are who they say they are.

Well-known trans advocate Morgane Oger filed the complaint against Christian activist Bill Whatcott after he distributed flyers disparaging her for being a trans woman…

The flyers Whatcott distributed described Oger as a “biological male” and a “transvestite” who is “embracing transgender propaganda and trying to live a lie.” They referenced Oger’s pre-transition name alongside a photo of her before she transitioned.

The flyers were distributed in the Vancouver-False Creek riding in 2017 when Oger was running for office with the B.C. NDP.

Oger’s human-rights complaint said the flyers were discriminatory and hateful. Whatcott denied the allegations, asserting that his freedom of speech and religion entitled him to publish his views on Oger…

Oger said she is relieved by the decision but is also feeling emotionally drained, having just read through the decision before speaking with the Star.

“I am really so happy, that in a tribunal, using the law, we finally put it down that someone publishing hateful material that says that a transgender woman is a man, got in trouble,” she said.

Now think about that. Is it hateful to merely say a trans woman is a bio male? The Toronto Star and the Vancouver Star seem to be interchangeable, by the way and the same reporter who wrote the above story also wrote this thinly disguised editorial celebrating the end of “transphobia.” There is not a contrary view to be found anywhere in it.

But hey, who needs objectivity above the 49th parallel? And what exactly did Whatcott say? I had to go to the (Vancouver) CityNews to find out:

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Chinese 'evangelical Trumplicanism?' Vancouver Sun floats a totally new buzz word

Chinese 'evangelical Trumplicanism?' Vancouver Sun floats a totally new buzz word

Sometimes there’s an unusual religious group out there that reporters don’t have the contacts or the linguistic abilities to crack. One such group are the 100,000 Chinese Christians in Vancouver, B.C. They’re too large to ignore but if you don’t know Chinese, it’s tough to get an entrée.

Actually, Vancouver has 400,000 Chinese total, so the 100,000 estimate may be a bit low. And so Douglas Todd, the religion blogger for the Vancouver Sun, has found a way around this problem by engaging a bilingual scholar who can interpret this people group.

What do you know? Todd discovered -- taking American politics all the way outside our borders -- that these folks are very pro-Trump. The larger question: Why does this matter and how it this linked to larger religion issues?

Here’s what he wrote last week:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is getting support from an unusual source -- Chinese evangelicals in Canada.
Social media in Canada is ablaze with Chinese Christians coming out in support of the bombastic would-be strongman. Trump’s Chinese supporters see him as a beacon of authoritarian stability in a world that could be headed towards apocalypse. The Chinese Christians also think Trump could ensure their ongoing prosperity.
“Trump … is (seen as) a dose of strong law-and-order medicine on the world stage,” says Assistant Prof Justin Tse, who studied Metro Vancouver’s more than 400,000 ethnic Chinese while obtaining his PhD in geography at the University of B.C.
Some Chinese evangelicals in Canada are supporting Trump to “ensure the stability of global markets through authoritarian law-and-order regimes,” says Tse, a visiting assistant professor in the Asian American Studies Program of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, Chicago.
At my request, Tse wrote up a short analysis of Trump’s Chinese-evangelical support, in which he refers to the cohort as “Trumplicans.”

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Crux profiles martyrs who don't fit the typical categories

Crux profiles martyrs who don't fit the typical categories

Many times this blog has mourned the lack of decent coverage on the persecution religious minorities, which should be the No. 1 religion story in the world every year. The numbers of people dying for their faith -- or for stands mandated by their faith (and there is a difference) -- is at ever increasing levels according to the latest Pew research.

Which is why it was nice to see Crux’s package this past Sunday on Christianity’s new martyrs in Colombia. Assembled by veteran reporter John L. Allen (who was down that way for beatification ceremonies in El Salvador for Archbishop Oscar Romero), it concentrated on a part of the world that has gotten less attention than, say, the Middle East in terms of human suffering. Allen, of course, is the author of the book "The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution."

Allen begins with:

BOGOTÁ, Colombia -- Anti-Christian persecution is unquestionably a premier human rights challenge in the early 21st century. It’s happening not just in the Middle East but around the world, including nations where Christians are a strong majority.
Compassionate concern over that stark reality should not short-circuit legitimate debate over the positions some Christians take on social and political issues. And there is no suggestion here that Christians have a monopoly on pain, because plenty of other groups are suffering, too.
Yet the numbers nevertheless are eye-popping. Estimates vary, but even the low-end guess for the number of Christians killed each year for motives related to the faith works out to one every day.
Given the scale of this global horror, it’s sometimes easy to forget that behind the statistics are flesh-and-blood people whose experience is no less intensely personal for being part of a broader pattern.
Two encounters in Colombia last week — where a civil war has dragged on for a half-century and left 220,000 people dead, including scores of new Christian martyrs — drive that point home.

Allen said the carnage is so bad in Colombia, it's become a "factory" for martyrs.

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